What You Need to Know To Start Your Own Podcast
Podcasts are a great way to reach out to your community of prospects and clients. You have so much latitude to explore the topics that both serve your audience and most interest you. You provide people with new perspectives. You introduce them to new ideas and personalities. You can even inspire. Podcasts can be a great way to ease yourself into other forms of marketing that require even more visibility, like video. It’s also a chance to explore how you talk about your own business and get really practiced at it. Not many people have mastered the art of monetizing their podcast. So, think of a podcast as primarily an avenue of marketing, getting the word out about the value that you offer to an interested audience. To get your own podcast up and running, here’s a checklist of things to do. It’s not that complicated, but you do have to prepare before you air your first episode! þ Choose an enticing theme and title Choose a theme for your podcast that draws attention. An eye-catching, even provocative theme will attract listeners. To get the best return on your time and energy investment, be sure your theme aligns with your business and your marketing strategy. I chose impact for the Work Alchemy podcast, making a positive difference, because that’s the focusing point for all my work with my business coaching clients. Plus, everyone has a different take on their own impact, so it becomes an interesting way to explore other businesses and other business people for both ideas and inspiration for my audience. Scope out the title that best encapsulates what you’re covering in your podcast. Check out iTunes for other podcasts in your subject area to get ideas. Combining intrigue with clarity is a good combination. For example, my podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews has both the intriguing word, ‘Alchemy’ combined with clarity about the theme of impact and the fact that they are interviews. þ Value high audio quality There are so many podcasts out there now, for you to really stand out, you have to meet some minimum requirements to be heard. Ensure the recording is high quality. Nothing makes a person click away faster than bad audio. To achieve that, it’s likely that your episodes will require tweaking or further editing to get the best quality you can achieve. If you’re so inclined, you can do that yourself, or hire an audio technician to do the editing for you. Hiring someone doesn’t have to be expensive. Ask around for who’s adept with the software to do the job for you. I was connected with my audio tech through my VA (virtual assistant). I’m not a techie, so that’s the approach I use. þ Choose a reliable recording platform Find a means to record your podcasts that is reliably clear. If you’re doing a solo podcast, or interviewing someone in person, you can use recording software built into most computers. I have a Mac, so I’ve used GarageBand for that purpose. If you’re recording an interview with someone remotely, then you have several options. I use Skype, audio only to get the best possible strength of signal. Most people have Skype, so it’s not usually a big deal to arrange an interview that way. You can also record over the phone using services like Audio Acrobat or a conference service, some of which are free. I’ve found phone interviews to be problematic, because people often use their cell phones for convenience. Depending on where they are, cell service doesn’t always give the best audio. þ Invest in good equipment It’s worth it to have good equipment. That doesn’t mean paying a fortune! I use a good quality microphone* with a pop filter that does a great job. To minimize echo and other distracting sounds, I also use a podcast ‘booth’ that I pull out for interviews that sits on my desk. There are many YouTube videos out there about how to build your own (here’s one as an example), which are pretty simple to put together. I just could never figure out how to build my own booth where it served the audio purpose as well as allowing me to easily see my notes. * The links I’ve provided here are just examples to make things easier for you: I don’t benefit in any way from you using those links. Test out your equipment well in advance with some practice recordings, so you can use them easily. Tweak settings on your microphone, computer, and recording platform to find what gives you the best quality recording. þ Plan ahead Prepare multiple episodes before launching your podcast. All the preparation required can feel overwhelming, and to also add in scheduling and recording episodes will be tough on you. To bypass that stress, prepare at least 5 episodes in advance before your podcast debuts. Depending on the platform you choose, you’ll have to allow a few days for the first episode to air while they process your information, so plan ahead with your promotion of the podcast accordingly. þ Decide on and leverage your platforms To distribute your podcast, you’ll have to choose the appropriate distribution platforms. iTunes is so popular, that’s a no-brainer. A bonus is that iTunes gives you an opportunity for your podcast to be heard by a bigger audience. If you can get a significant listening audience within the first 8 weeks of your podcast, you may be featured on iTunes’ podcast home page in New and Notable podcasts. It’s worth putting a big effort into a campaign to get as many people listening and subscribing as possible during that time frame. Email or call everyone you know to put the word out. Like any new product you launch, use all your marketing avenues to publicize your launch. Most podcasts are listened to or downloaded onto mobile phones, so you’ll want to serve Android listeners too. After some research, I chose Stitcher Radio as my Android platform. There are numerous options, and new ones pop up all the time, so do your own research too. Just make sure it’s a platform that connects easily with the more popular Android podcast apps. When you decide on a platform, you’ll be asked to choose your subject area. Do a little advance work to see what similar podcasts and people you’d like to be compared with did. That will give you great guidance. þ Get a professional to design your podcast artwork Your podcast artwork, the image people see when they’re scanning iTunes, is an important determinant of whether they’ll click. It’s worth it to involve a design professional to get the most striking image. Include text so that the theme of your podcast is clear. Chances are, people won’t hunt for the information. Do a little advance work to see what other podcast artwork looks like, and select the ones that most draw your eye. Ask your designer to come up with 2 or 3 different versions, and run them by a few people in your desired audience to see how they react. Be sure to check into what your distribution platforms specify for podcast artwork, or ask your designer to do so. þ Find a good home for your podcast Podcast episodes don’t actually live on iTunes or any other distribution platform. You simply link your episode from its online home to those platforms. If you create videos for your business, chances are you already have a platform for them, like Amazon S3. Most platforms will do the job of hosting the videos, but one important thing to consider is their ability to provide metrics. The distribution platforms for your podcast, like iTunes, don’t provide you with any metrics. At all. From my research, several platforms are available to you, all paid services, to get the metrics you need to determine your reach. Libsyn is among the most popular, but check out your options to see which best helps you meet your goals for your podcast. þ Track your progress Oh, there’s that metrics thing again! Like any aspect of your business, it’s important to track how you’re doing, so you can make adjustments. It does little good to just keep putting episodes out there if no one’s listening, right? Good basic metrics to track are: number of subscribers and number of listeners to a particular episode. When you start seeing more interest in a particular topic, you know you’ve hit on something that people want to hear more about. That can give you ideas for future episodes and guests. You can do a series on a particularly juicy topic that resonates with your audience. You can bump up those numbers with promotion on social media or your own platforms, like specific emails to your list or a newsletter if you have one. Keep your podcast in people’s awareness with ongoing promotion. þ Maintain consistency and select the best timing Subscribers to your podcast will start to look forward to new episodes, so keep the flow consistent. As with all other marketing, you’re building trust. Showing up when you say you’re going to is a big part of that trust building. Create a schedule from the start that you feel good about maintaining. Some people have daily podcast episodes. These folks create huge backlogs, conducting 10 or 12 interviews a day. With my schedule and the level of support I currently have in my business, I would find daily podcasts difficult to maintain. To ensure I could be reliable for my listeners, I chose the more common weekly broadcast schedule for the Work Alchemy podcast. It was one I felt I could maintain and people could keep up with, and it’s frequent enough to keep people interested. If you do go with weekly, choose the day for your broadcast of new episodes after researching the current stats. Yes, it does make a difference which day you broadcast your episodes! When I did my research, Wednesday was one of the best days to draw attention to new episodes. Perhaps it’s because it’s mid-week, and people are looking for something new to carry them through the rest of the week. Like everything else in the online world, things can change, so do your own research before you decide. þ Maintain a buffer You’ll find if you’re interviewing that people will occasionally cancel at the last minute, so be prepared with one or more backup episodes just in case. Even if you’re going solo, your schedule may get busy. To manage the process with more ease, stay at least a few episodes ahead of your schedule so you have some backup. þ Keep it fresh Like any online content, keep your podcast content fresh. Explore new variations on your topic. Mix up your interviews with people in different fields or areas of expertise. I like to mix well-known people with equally inspiring small business owners doing good things in the world who are less well known. In response to audience requests, I now also do an occasional solo episode, to add my own perspectives to the conversation about impact. Podcasts can be a whole heap of fun – I sure have found that to be true! Keep an eye on the technical aspects, so you deliver a really accessible, high quality recording, and on the creative aspects, providing great topics and conversations that people will want to listen to. If you give a podcast a try, let me hear how you’re doing! I’d love to support you in your marketing.
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