There’s almost no way you’ve gotten through your time as a small business owner not hearing all about content marketing this and content marketing that. Well, guess what—podcasting is a great way to do content marketing. And for podcasting, you don’t have to worry (too much) about your writing, design, or video skills; the only real skill you need is the ability to talk about things that matter to your audience.
Podcasts are consumable anywhere—cars, walks, planes, desks—which is important because it means your audience can listen whenever is convenient for them. No fighting for slices of time they’re online. Not to mention that the demand for podcasting is notably up: Podcast listening grew 23 percent between 2015 and 2016, and 21 percent of Americans 12-years-old and older listen to podcasts. That’s 57 million people.
Podcasts also offer a wide variation of possibilities for format. You can just talk about something you know about, you can interview experts your audience wants to hear from, answer audience questions advice-column-style, have debates, give updates on developments, or any other thing you can think of. The possibilities are far more than the constraints.
Plus, your podcast will help connect you with others within your business community; having industry experts as guests on your show helps you network, and you can leverage their network in promotion of your podcast.
How to start a podcast
We’ll go into some specifics about starting a podcast, but this is not an in-depth guide. If you’re looking for that, check out The Podcast Dude, who has a podcast about podcasting and goes into all the ins, outs, and need-to-knows you’ll ever, well, need to know. But for now, here’s a primer to get you started.
The technical stuff for your podcast
It may surprise you to learn that you don’t need to invest a whole lot of resources into starting a podcast. Of course, if you can buy a nice mic, that’s ideal, but you can produce it on your mobile phone with the headphones that came with the phone, a voice memo software, and a simple editing software like Garage Band (for Apple products).
Here’s a list of the things you’ll need, and you can decide how much money you can invest in the things that cost money:
- A quiet space. If you don’t have a studio, think a secluded, walk-in closet or the inside of your car (if you park somewhere quiet). Note: You might not want to invite someone into your closet for an interview. Exercise your best judgment.
- Editing software
- Cover artwork for podcast channels
If you’re having guests on your show who won’t be physically with you to record, please, record over Skype. Do everything you can not to record over a phone line. You’d even be better off putting some money into Skype and calling a phone through Skype. We’ve found that Skype has the best sound quality, better even that online meeting or webinar software. So call them through Skype, and make sure they use headphones with a microphone. You’ll get much better sound quality than through the computer microphone.
There’s also a plugin for Skype called ecamm, which will record your Skype call as two separate tracks, which will make for better quality and editing ease. If you don’t use ecamm, we strongly urge you to ask your guest to also record their end of the conversation locally on their computer. That way you have your recording with them on Skype, and you have a clean recording of them from their side. That way if you experience any problems with connectivity or Skype, you won’t have distortions in your finished product.
It’s easy to do—Mac users can use QuickTime, which is already on their Mac, and Windows users can use Sound Recorder, which comes with Windows computers. Then, just have your guest send you their recording afterward (it may be too big for email, but any file sharing software will do).
Distributing your podcast
There’s not really a point to putting all your work into producing a podcast only to have no one hear it. First, you’ll need to think strategically about what you’re going to create that your audience will actually want to listen to.
A great way to start is with your audience’s pain points. What’s a burning problem they need a solution to, or a situation they need to know how to deal with? What it really comes down to is what do they care about? That is more important than what you want to talk about or what you think would be fun. If you want your podcast to be an integral part of your marketing strategy, you need to be thinking from the listener first.
Then you’ll want to think out how you’re going to tell people that your podcast exists, and you’ll need more than one channel. Do you have a newsletter? A blog? An email list? Budget for paid social promotion? And you need more than just a one-time blast; any successful podcast needs an ongoing promotion strategy. This post has a lot of useful information and data on promoting and building a subscriber base, so check that out and start testing out some tactics of your own. Plus, our pals over at Digital Marketer have a great podcast episode about launching a podcast.
Remember: Don’t assume people are just going to listen. They have to know it’s there and know there will be value.
The other side of distribution is the more technical side—on what platform(s) will your podcast live? One way is to just put it on iTunes and be done with it, since many other players take podcasts from iTunes, and it’s probably the most effective platform if you’re only going to go with one.
But if you’re going to go full hog (and it’s not hard to go full hog), it’s definitely worth distributing to SoundCloud and GooglePlay as well. The easiest way to do this is to use Libsyn, which allows you to upload your podcast to one place and then distributes it to all your platforms for you. (This is what we use for The Small Business Success Podcast.)