With an estimated 400 million podcast listeners worldwide, it’s hard to ignore the call to pull out your microphone, take advantage of the growing demand for podcasts and connect your business with your customers. But where do you start?
As founder and CEO of Audiotocracy Podcast Production and instructor for the UW Specialization in Podcasting & Audio Storytelling, I know podcasting can be very rewarding but also tricky and time-consuming. Luckily, there are steps you can take to set yourself up for success, such as thinking about your goals for the podcast and the resources you’ll need. Before hitting record on your business podcast, here are 10 questions you should ask yourself.
1. Why do you want to start a podcast?
Consider what your motivation is for entering the podcast world. Would you like to attract new partners or educate existing customers? Do you want to host conversations about current events with other experts in your field?
Are there questions in your industry you’d like to investigate? Many of my clients want to start podcasts to establish themselves as thought leaders in their industries. Be sure to come back to your “why” as you reflect on the following nine questions. Not only will your “why” keep you motivated and curious, it will give your podcast continuity and cohesion.
2. How much time and money are you willing to spend?
If your company is willing to pay to produce a podcast — great! If you’re a business owner, be aware that most podcasts are self-funded and making money directly from a podcast is challenging.
A small number of people get funding from sponsorships and advertising. Some individuals cover the cost of their podcasts using crowdsourcing services like Patreon and Kickstarter.
3. What’s your podcast’s style?
Think about who on your team will host your podcast. Will you invite a single guest to each episode or a panel of experts? Will you narrate a story or use an interview format? It’s okay to test out a few styles as you figure it out.
4. What‘s your episode length and cadence?
Twenty minutes used to be the sweet spot for a podcast because that was the typical amount of time someone spent commuting to work. Recently, podcasts have begun to run longer as people listen to them while doing other activities, like gardening, washing dishes or walking the dog. If you’re unsure about the length, remember that your podcast should only be as long as it needs to be to tell the story.
Regarding frequency, I suggest starting with two podcasts a month. It’s a good cadence because it’s manageable for new podcast creators and frequent enough for listeners to stay engaged.
5. What topics should you cover?
Think about your main subject from different angles. Then create a content calendar listing all the different topics you would like to discuss in your podcast for the next six months.
6. What artwork and music will you use?
Choose music that goes with the feel of your podcast, whether it’s sweet and slow or fired up and heavy. Don’t forget to get the license for your music so you don’t violate copyright!
Since most people listen to podcasts on their mobile phones, your podcast artwork will appear small. Create simple, clean artwork with bright or bold colors.
7. What gear is appropriate based on your budget?
One of the wonderful things about podcasting is you don’t need fancy gear. You can create a podcast with just your smartphone.
For a nicer setup, get a set of headphones, an external microphone, a boom arm and a pop filter. Headphones will help ensure your recording sounds great. An external microphone will cut out ambient noise. A boom arm will hold up your microphone, which will help cut the noise you make physically moving around during the recording. Finally, a pop filter will help you diffuse the rush of air you make when you say words with the letters c, p and t.
For software, you can start with free and open-source audio editors like Audacity or explore paid tools like REAPER or Hindenburg.
8. How can you spread the word?
In addition to spreading the word about your podcast through your business’s usual marketing channels, one quick way to get the word out is by doing a trailer swap with other podcasters. Offer to attach another podcaster’s trailer to your show and ask if they can return the favor. This is an excellent way for you to attract a larger audience.
9. What tools can you use to keep your listeners engaged?
Podcasts are intimate. Work to develop relationships with your listeners by setting up engagement engines with tools like Twitter, Instagram or TikTok to allow your listeners to reach you with their questions and comments.
10. How do you skill up to be the podcasting expert for your business?
In the UW Specialization in Podcasting & Audio Storytelling, I teach students how to build a six-month content calendar, develop a budget, find and interview guests and create the best possible audio. Their final project is an eight-minute episode of their podcast to use as proof of concept for a show.
Since human brains are more inclined to narratives than a series of facts, we emphasize how to deliver information using narrative storytelling techniques. Finally, I teach students how to pitch their podcasts to their teams so their leaders understand how the podcast can serve their business.
Looking for other ways to share your stories for your business? Check out our entire portfolio of marketing, communication and design offerings to find the right program for you.