How to start a podcast for your business: the complete 17-step guide
Podcasts are officially HOT. Starting a podcast for your business is fast becoming the ‘content-marketing-move-of-choice’ for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). And looking at the stats it’s not hard to see why.
The numbers for podcast publication and consumption are HUGE. Checkout these stats from the global market:
- 51 per cent of the population has now listened to a podcast
- There are now thought to be 1 million podcast shows published
- New shows have doubled (increased by 500,000) within the last year
- 75 percent of the population is now familiar with the term ‘podcasting’
And closer to home in Australia, 33 percent of the population has listened to a podcast within the last month. To top it all off, technological advances in podcasting equipment has lowered the notional barrier to entry. It’s now easier than ever to sound like a broadcasting pro.
But have we reached ‘peak podcast’?
When satirical TV shows beg the public not to start a podcast, there’s certainly something going on. But my view (as both the publisher of a show, and a voracious consumer of other podcasts) is that the exponential growth in podcasting has probably only just begun. There is plenty of opportunity left for good podcasts, but you DO need to work harder to cut through.
What follows is a complete practical guide on how to start a podcast for your business. It’s based on both my own recent experience launching Nerds of Business, and the (extensive) research I did before taking the leap. There are five main stages:
- Podcast show development
- Podcast show pre-production
- Podcast episode production
- Podcast post-production
- Publish your podcast!
And across these discrete stages, I have documented a 17-step process to starting a podcast for your business. Let’s get started!
a) Podcast Show Development
1. Set your goals and objectives
You need to be clear on why you’re starting this podcast, and what you want to achieve. If the answers are to a) to become famous and b) make lots of money selling ads – then go and buy a lottery ticket. You’ll have about as much chance.
Ideally you want to tie the podcast to clear measurable objectives related to the growth of your business. Here are some common reasons business owners start a podcast:
- Build brand awareness
- Attract new customers/followers
- Grow brand authority
- Improve conversion of existing prospects
- Enhance personal branding for the founders
- Educate customers on process/product to enhance efficiency
- Demonstrate thought leadership
- Build influence and grow your network
The list goes on, but choose one or two and set some targets so you can measure your ROI from all this effort (and it will be a lot of work).
2. Develop a strong podcast concept
I hate to break it to you, but rambling monologues or chats with your best mate over beers ain’t gonna cut it. In terms of how to start a podcast, this might just be the most important part. You need to devise a concept and content structure for your show that has just enough ‘uniqueness’ to make it compelling to your target audience.
You don’t need to reinvest the wheel. But you DO need to have show concept that is:
- Clear on WHO it’s for (ie the target audience)
- Easy for people to instantly understand
- Intriguing enough for people to ‘try out’
- Designed to consistently deliver the target listener with real value
- Published on a regular frequency ie; weekly, fortnightly, or monthly
TIP: for Nerds of Business I cycled through several variations of the show concept before I settled on the final structure. It took me 3+ months just to get this part right!
PS: if you need help on podcast show development, reach out to a digital marketing agency with experience in this area or contact us here at Webbuzz.
3. Think of a good name for your podcast
You need a great name. Period. So put your thinking cap on, and get to work!
Boring, predictable names won’t cut through. There was a time when you could use a descriptive show name to own the vertical eg; The Digital Marketing Podcast, and benefit from the search algorithms in Apple and Spotify, but those days are probably over (unless you go down to ever smaller niches, with ever smaller audiences).
The naming of your podcast is essentially a branding exercise. So you might even want to listen to this episode of my podcast on how to create a brand identity.
TIP: research other podcasts in your industry to see what competitors are doing. Make sure you don’t simply ape something someone else is already doing better. A good place to start for podcast competitor research is Chartable.
(b) Podcast Show Pre-production
4. Plan the podcast content (in advance)
Trust me: the last thing you will want is to be running around on episode deadline frantically trying to pull together guests and content. Who needs the stress!? Do yourself a favour: plan (and record) all the content in advance. Use Google sheets for this so you can collaborate with production people.
5. Buy the podcasting gear
Now the fun part of how to start a podcast! Buying podcasting gear is soooo much fun. You don’t need to spend a lot, but if it’s’ for business my advice is to budget at least $500 for audio gear. You’ll get a solid result for that money. But if you stretch just a little further to about $1,200 you’ll get AMAZING full broadcast-quality sound, with all the toys that radio producers have been using for decades.
I’m a big fan of the Rodecaster Pro. The video below is from a day when we took the studio ‘on the road’ to interview one of Australia’s top entrepreneurs. About halfway though you can see my full podcast recording rig in action.
PS: Some people go crazy on building podcasting home studios. Check out this selection.
6. Practise your interviewing or podcasting technique
Guess what? Podcasting is just like learning a musical instrument. The only way you get good is to practise practice, practise. There are no shortcuts here. This is where family is handy; make them endure your early failures and embarrassments! And ask – no, demand – they be brutally honest with feedback. It will shorten the learning curve and make you better, faster.
Do the time, or do the ‘crime’ – of shit-awful podcast content out there forever in the public domain. Capiche?
7. Book the podcast guests
I was able to book seven top entrepreneurs worth a combined $2.5 BILLION without a single piece of audio recorded, or even a web page.
How did I do it? Well that’s the topic for another future blog post…
The first thing to do is make a wish list of guests. You won’t get many (any?) of this original list, but it will help you define the type of guests who will be prepared to come on your show.
TIP: create a ‘Podcast Guest Info Pack’ document. It will help persuade guests to appear on your show.
8. Choose a DAW (digital audio workstation)
You might have heard of Pro Tools? That’s a DAW. It’s a piece of software that allows you to edit audio files. But unless you’re a fairly competent audio engineer, you’ll want something a lot simpler. Audacity is a good choice, but I use and recommend Reaper.
Reaper is affordable, easy to use and comes with handy presets for EQ and compression, which are the most common sound effects you will need for editing.
(c) Podcast Episode Production
9. Research guests and interview preparation
It pays to do your research. Remember a lot of guests are also appearing on other podcast shows too. So in order to get that unique, compelling content (that all hosts should be aiming for) you need to be asking a different set of questions.
I typically spend at least 30- 60 mins researching each of my guests. I then devise questions with a unique twist so that I’m less likely to get a rote answer that’s been heard before.
10. Record the interviews with guests
This is actually the easiest part of how to start a podcast. By now you should have invested so much time in the pre-production, practise, and guest research, that the actual recording of the interview is a breeze!
That’s not to say that you won’t encounter technical issues, nerves, or the occasional difficult guest. You might. But compared to all the preparation required to get to this point, I find the actual recording to be easy and enjoyable.
TIP: if you’re recording remotely via Zoom, Skype or a phone (as is so common these days) test the connection before you start the interview. And make sure you immediately back up your files in the cloud. Losing interviews that you worked so hard to get will devastate you!
PS: don’t forget to film your interviews too for promotion and socials 🙂
(d) Podcast Post-production
11. Editing and audio
This is where your DAW (above) comes in. No matter how eloquent you might be, there will be sections of audio that are too long, too boring, or where the audio is impaired due to signal dropouts or technical failure.
You will absolutely need to edit each episode. You will also want to edit out the ‘ums’ and ‘uhs’ that are so annoying to listeners. Be prepared for this to suck up a lot of your time. Basically, the more ‘produced’ and polished you want your show to sound, the more editing time it will take.
If you don’t have appetite (or the skills) for this, then outsource this function. There are plenty of podcast virtual assistants and audio production services out there.
TIP: For the budget constrained Fiverr is a good starting point, but remember that old adage: you get what you pay for.
12. Choose a podcast hosting service
Your podcast episodes live on the internet, which means they need to be hosted somewhere. Because audio files can be quite large and require some particular technical specifications such as ‘bitrate’, you need a specialist podcast hosting service.
These companies not only ‘host’ your episodes, in many cases they also effectively act as the intermediary between you and the big podcast networks such as Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts.
13. Record a podcast trailer
Just like a TV show or movie, your podcast needs a ’trailer’. This is like a short ad for the full experience, and will help build anticipation and awareness for your podcast. The trailer also acts as a mechanism for people ‘try before they buy’.
Your podcast trailer should be between 30 second and 2 minutes long. It should contain the absolute best bits of your podcast, whilst accurately portraying the tone and overall value proposition to the listener.
14. Produce a podcast show jingle
You gotta have a jingle! Podcasting is the new radio, and can you imagine a radio show without a jingle? NO. So buy some royalty-free music and get your audio tech to stitch together a jingle. It adds a patina of instant credibility and professionalism, even if (like me at the start) you are nothing but a rank amateur!
15. Design a podcast logo or show cover
Many years ago when I was a student, I worked in restaurants as a cook. The head chef once told me something I’ll never forget: “people eat with their eyes”. That is to say, the presentation of the food is just as important as the food itself.
Same goes for podcasts. The visual presentation is super important in convincing people to give your podcast a go – so invest in good design, and develop a cover for your show that looks cool. Here’s ours:
16. Write the podcast description and show notes
Just like the Google algorithm can help users to discover your website, so too can the algorithms of the big podcast directories (Apple, Spotify etc) drive discovery of your podcast.
The algorithms work partly on the recognition of text-based data, so to give yourself the best chance of discovery you need to write a detailed, keyword-rich show description. For the same reason you should also write good ‘show notes’ for each episode.
Once again, this all adds to the time it takes to get your podcast out here. But without such supporting text, your podcast will just become another one of the thousands of anonymous audio files sitting unloved out there in the vast realm of cyberspace 🙁
17. Publish to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and everywhere else
Showtime! You’re now ready to publish to all the major podcasting directories. Most of the major hosting services aggregate the publication points for each of the main directories, but some manual sign up is still often required.
Once it’s done however, it’s done and you’re then set to keep publishing when ever you like into the future.
TIP: be sure to go back and check how your episode text is formatting on each of the major podcast directories. Often you will find text looks OK on one, but is a mess on the other.
How to start a podcast for your business: conclusion
Hopefully this (epic) post has explained how to start a podcast for your business. You can see that to do it well, is a LOT of work. But don’t be put off by this – it’s actually an opportunity.
It means the effective barrier to entry is quite high. Most of your competitors will not go to all this trouble; even if they do have a go at podcasting it’s likely to suck and they’ll give up pretty soon after launching. Which means that if you persevere and build a great podcast over time, your business will be the one talking to their customers – and that’s a competitive advantage that money can’t buy.
NEXT: we will soon follow up this post on how to start a podcast, with how to promote a podcast.
PS; for any advice on show development or podcast marketing feel free to contact us