Podcasts are a great way to promote your brand and to help build a community. They are easy to produce and you probably have most of the equipment to get started.
If you don't know what a podcast is, imagine being able to subscribe to your favourite radio show, the latest episodes of which are downloaded automatically to your device so you can listen at a time that suits you -not just when they are broadcast. Your device can be a smartphone, laptop, desktop or specific audio device such as ipod or mp3 player.
That's effectively what you get with podcasts. Video podcasts are possible too, but we'll mainly focus on audio here.
The term 'Podcasting' was first coined in 2004 by broadcaster and journalist Ben Hammersley writing for the Guardian Newspaper, to describe the automatic downloading of an audio file. Before too long the name stuck.
What are some of the benefits of producing a podcast?
Podcasts allow you to build a community around your cause, product or brand. They allow you to promote yourself as a knowledge centre for your interests. It can get you in touch with other thought leaders in your industry as you interview them to find their take on a key issue.
There are podcasts covering all manner of subjects from public speaking to learning Portuguese, from daily motivation boosts to career advice, and pretty much any subject you can think of.
As with most marketing efforts, a podcast shouldn't be seen in isolation. It should be viewed alongside your website and social media output. As 'content is king' a podcast -if produced well, can be another strong avenue of content that you can promote through various social media channels to create greater brand awareness.
How do you go about creating a podcast?
I have created podcasts in one guise or another since 2008. The process has not drastically changed in that time, it's just the quality of equipment that has improved.
You can start out creating a podcast pretty much just with your laptop. However, to improve quality you will want to think about purchasing a decent microphone. Additionally, if you are regularly interviewing others you'll need a way to record Skype calls -if recording remotely, or two mics if you are recording your interviewee face-to-face.
But before all that technical stuff you'll need to do a bit of planning. Here are a few questions you'll need to answer:
What type of show do you want to produce?
- Will it be an interview show like our own Insight Podcast or Natalie Sisson's The Suitcase Entrepreneur.
- Will it be a magazine style show like The Frequency, where you may have several guests over time but with a couple of main hosts?
- Will it be focused on one host talking direct to the audience like Sheep Dressed like Wolves Podcast?
How frequently will you produce it?
The beauty of podcasts is that they are not subject to a full broadcast schedule. You can effectively release an episode when you want. Having said that, it is better to release them on a regular schedule to create a more solid audience.
Just like website blogs, those that are updated more frequently are promoted higher than those whose content is sporadic.
Whatever your schedule, if it's regular then you can build up anticipation to each new release. I know that with the podcasts I listen to on a weekly basis, I look forward to their latest episode on the same day each week.
Who is your show targeted at?
This is crucial. It may change over time as you develop your voice and content, but initially you will need to know how to communicate to your intended audience and you can only do that if you know who they are.
The type of show you choose to go ahead with may be influenced by your audience, but there's no reason why you shouldn't experiment with different styles.
Will you produce it yourself or hire in additional expertise or support?
When I started Insight Podcast I did everything myself. Planning and booking my guests, writing the questions, developing the brand, designing the web page, recording and editing the show and uploading it to the website, then promoting it.
It must be said that there is a lot of work that goes into creating podcasts. It's certainly not a five minute job, but as you get more experienced there are many time savers you'll learn.
For Insight podcast and sometimes Hatch Podcast, my assistant now books the interviews which saves me time. I generally know or have a feel for the questions I will ask my guests so this doesn't take too long. The longest, most time-consuming part is the editing, mainly as you have to listen through it several times. So for a forty minute podcast, the time can quickly mount up --but it's worth it. If things go really well you may find there's not much to edit and it's ready to go straight away.
The Hatch Podcast Process
Here's my process I go through each time to create the fortnightly Hatch podcast.
- Decide topic (if different from annual plan)
- Book guest host
- Duplicate programme schedule document in Google Docs and update with contents for current topic
- Share this with guest host and allow them to add their own comments
- Write up final script -- this is not word for word, but a guide to our conversation
Production (with guest host on Skype)
- Open Hatch template file in Adobe Audition software --this includes the intro and outro jingles and separate tracks to record me and my guest host
- Commence Skype call with guest host -record this with Call Recorder as a backup
- Plugin and test mic (Rode Podcaster USB mic)
- Record podcast, reading through script as necessary
- For regular guests, I get them to record the sound their end using a free application called Audacity (or something else they may be familiar with). This overcomes the issues with Skype dropping out. They then send the file to me via Dropbox.
- Edit the file taking out any extraneous content or pauses.
- Export the file as mp3 and upload to website
- Create post for episode --by duplicating previous one and editing
- Link the uploaded mp3 file to the new page and publish
Your process may vary and will be dependent upon the type of show, but this has served me well for the last year and a half of recording Hatch podcasts.
One thing I should say is that podcasting is a long term activity. Don't expect engagement from day one and if you have visions of loads of business coming your way after the first few episodes --think again.
But if you're wondering whether it's worth your time, take note of this comment from the incredibly successful entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck.
''No immediate return on investment' is NOT the same thing as 'not worth your time.' If anything, platforms that force you to play the long game provide MORE value if you're willing to stick with them.'
Watch the whole interview here as it's very insightful.
If you're already into podcasting please share your tips too. If you have any questions just let us know using the comments field below.