If you have an inquiring mind and speak clearly, chances are, you would excel at podcasting. A podcast is like a radio show that you produce, but people can listen to it any time they like and you can record it any time you prefer. There’s no set schedule, and the equipment you need to get started is inexpensive. All you need is a theme for your show and some good ideas.
Have you ever listened to the radio and thought, "I wish I didn’t have to listen to all these ads"? If you’re like me, 99 percent of the time the ads on the radio are for things that don’t even apply to you, your interests or your needs. I often wonder about the advertisers -- are they really taking the time to test and analyze whether their money spent on radio ads is actually converting? Or are radio ads just a strategy some marketing consultant told them to implement and no one is paying attention to see if there’s a return on investment?
Imagine the difference in experience when someone is listening to a high quality, informative, interesting podcast that’s ad-free. At the end of the podcast, perhaps the host (you) says, “If you’ve just heard this podcast, you earn a promotional code! Enter the code ‘WINNER’ on our website and get 10 percent off all our new...” Or “Get our free ebook on this topic at...” If you just gave 15 to 30 minutes of quality content, you’ve earned the right to pitch. And your audience is much more likely to trust you and follow your direction because you’ve earned the right to pitch to them respectfully and fairly.
According to an article, “The Rising Popularity of Podcasts,” there are six reasons a business owner should consider podcasting:
- It doesn’t take much to get started.
- Podcasts are perfect for storytelling.
- They’re extremely convenient to consume (most are only 15 to 30 minutes long).
- You can become known as an industry expert.
- Your listeners are in it for the long haul (because they subscribe).
- You can reach a new, targeted audience.
How to set up your podcast
There are three phases to setting up a podcast.
Phase One: Show format
Before you decide on your show’s format, answer the following questions:
1. Do you want to produce your show every week? Every other week? Monthly? Don’t do a daily show unless you have a clear strategy in place. Start weekly or twice a month. That’ll be plenty.
2. Will you have guests? (Most do!) Who are the top 100 people you’d like to interview? (Hint: Choose people who have big lists to promote your interview of them to, or who are exceptionally interesting, or whose friendship could really grow your business.)
3. What’s your one specific statement? My literary agency’s statement is “We sell good books to good publishers.” If I were doing a podcast for that company, that is the last thing I’d say at the end of every podcast, so people remember it. If you have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition -- something your company does to make you unique or rare in your category), put it on an index card so you can use it at the end of your podcasts.
Phase Two: Set up your studio
You don’t have to start out with anything expensive. To start out, you’ll need the following items:
- A quality microphone
- A pop shield that goes over the top of the microphone (about $20)
- An extender arm to move the microphone closer or further from your mouth
- Headphones that don’t “leak” sound (in-ear or cupping your ears)
Phase Three: Launch like a linebacker
First you need to arrange a time to talk with your first guest. Then do some research about your guest and prepare a list of good questions that you want to ask him or her. (Decide if you want to share the list with your guest in advance -- it’s not mandatory!)
Prepare yourself and your space. Put the dog outside. Shut your office door. Unplug the phone and turn off your cell. Get rid of ambient noise (air conditioning, forced-air heating, a fan etc.). You don’t need a swanky sound-proofed studio to do this. Take a few breaths and remember that this is your first podcast, and it’s normal to make a few mistakes.
When the time comes, thank your guest, tell them how excited you are and promise them that you will give them time to pitch their book, song, product, website or whatever it may be at the end of the interview.
Hit record when the conversation begins. Relax during the interview. Pay 100 percent attention to your guest. Talk naturally, but get your questions in, unless something more interesting happens, and you find yourselves walking down a different but fascinating conversational path.
At the end of the interview, ask your guest if there’s anything else you should have asked; prompt them to talk about their product or service and repeat the URL after they mention it.
Stick in your call to action -- “Come to the website to get your discount code” or “Free ebook” or whatever it is that you want to pitch -- and remind your audience when the next episode will be released. Tell them where, and how to get your podcasts. Finally, end with your USP, give the audience the hyperlink one more time, and thank them for listening. You did it! Podcast one is complete!
Publishing and promoting
Where do you put your finished podcast? How do people find out about it? When your audio file is ready to go, you can upload it to a site like www.LibSyn.com, which hosts podcasts in the same way that Vimeo or YouTube host videos and the same way your website host sponsors your website. From there, you promote it and make it available in various distribution arenas. The website www.LibSyn.com creates the RSS feed (Rich Site Summary) that you can use to connect to sites like iTunes, www.Stitcher.com and Google Play.
Podcast expert Stephen Woessner advises, “Just because somebody doesn’t have a network or a platform or a [mailing] list already doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start one. Go spend a couple hundred bucks on a Facebook campaign, create a website, link your website to your podcast, which you’ve uploaded to iTunes, and use Pat Flynn’s Smart Podcast Player. Drive people to your website, give them a great gift to open the podcast link.”
Making money from your podcast
Once you have a lot of regular listeners, you can:
- Sell sponsorships
- Have people pay to be interviewed by you
- Sell advertising (like a radio station does)
- Sell from the podcast (an ad at the end, a pitch during)
- Convert listeners by giving them something on your website and then having your reps sell to them directly.
There are pros and cons to each option. Think it through before you determine your strategy.
All the podcasters I know consistently describe it as the single most important thing that exploded their lead generation. Of course, we know that once upon a time in the history of American business, the cotton gin and the telegraph did similarly amazing things. But heck, you’re here now. May as well take advantage of the technology that’s working at this moment in history.