Living in the modern world means living in one that’s so fast-paced that it’s hard to keep up.
Everyone is busy every hour of every day, to the point where finding time to rest and relax after a hard day’s work has become a privilege.
None of us can make time stand still or turn one hour into eight just to balance work, hobbies, chores, and sleep. So how do many of us deal with this kind of pace?
With our attention split here and there, it’s unlikely that any of us can give 100% of our focus to consuming online content. For businesses, this means that a percentage of your audience just skim through your blogs or watch a few seconds of your full-length videos, no matter how interesting they are.
While of course, engaging blogs and videos should still be part of every business’ marketing strategy, it’s also important to cater to those who don’t have the time to sit down and give your content their undivided attention.
That’s where podcasts come in.
Podcasting has exploded in popularity, and that’s no surprise. What’s not to like about having something interesting and educational to listen to while you go about your day? It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
Instead of needing to find time just to watch or read online content, podcasts allow you to get that amazing content while you drive to work, do housework, work out at the gym, and accomplish all your other time-consuming tasks.
In fact, podcasts have been gaining such massive traction in recent times that Spotify bought podcast production companies Gimlet Media and Anchor and also struck a deal with Joe Rogan to stream The Joe Rogan Experience, his popular podcast series with millions of listeners.
So as an entrepreneur or marketer, it’s high time that you start your own top-quality podcast series if you want to widen your reach, gain trust for your brand, and generate and convert leads.
What is a podcast?
Merriam-Webster defines a podcast as “a program (as in music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the internet.”
Imagine the talk shows and dramas we see on TV. Now, remove the visuals and just keep the audio (maybe add some narrations here and there). Voila, that’s a podcast.
Record yourself reading an ebook you wrote. Upload it chapter by chapter. Ta-da, you’ve made a podcast series.
There are a plethora of ways to describe a podcast because of the range that it can cover. So to summarise them all, BigCommerce gives these three simple definitions:
- Audio content similar to talk radio shows or ebooks.
- Podcasts are about anything and everything, exactly how radio, books, television, or movies explore every topic under the sun.
- Podcasts are free to access across desktop and mobile devices. Anyone can listen to a podcast with an internet connection and a pair of headphones.
Podcasting is now one of the best lead-generating forms of content. According to PodcastHosting.org, 60% of podcast listeners have bought something from a podcast ad. That’s a huge number, considering that there are now more than 1.5 million podcasts and 34 million podcast episodes available (and it’s a number that will keep increasing).
So if you haven’t started a podcast series yourself, what are you waiting for?
How to create a podcast that grows your audience
With the rapidly growing market for podcasts, your content must stand out for your brand to be noticed.
That’s why it’s not enough to simply create a podcast. Your podcast series needs to be good. It needs to engage and add value. It needs to leave a mark on your audience.
So to turn a podcast from just another piece of content into something that has purpose and meaning, you need to focus on four elements: podcast content strategy, format, recording, and post-production.
Podcast content strategy
As with any form of content, podcast creation should start with a content strategy.
You can’t just start recording anything you want to say and upload it on Podbean. If you don’t want to bore your listeners to death and drive them away from your brand, you need to plan out what kind of content you want to record.
You need to hook your listeners so that they’ll stay tuned for the rest of the series, grow fond of your brand, and eventually buy your products and services.
Here are the steps you need to include in your strategy:
Be clear on your end-goal for your podcast: What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to build your brand persona, increase brand awareness, position yourself as a thought leader, generate leads, or something else? Understanding your overall goal for your podcast will help you determine the type of content you’ll focus on.
Identify topics you’re an expert on: If you’re hosting your podcast, you want to talk about something you know by heart. Since your podcast should engage your audience, you need to have a lot of knowledge about the topic you’re sharing. Starting with something you already know will make your research process easier, too.
Identify your target audience: Who are your ideal customers? Who needs your products and services? Who has access to your offers? They should be the target audience of your podcast.
Decide on the topic or theme for your podcast: Now that you have a list of topics you’re an expert on and a target audience in mind, you need to choose a topic in that list that your target audience wants to hear about. Knowing what your audience likes requires a lot of research. Check what kind of content they consume. Study the topics that your bigger competitors are talking about in their content.
Determine the frequency of publishing: Content marketing is all about consistency, and podcasts are no exception. It’s important to decide how frequently you’re going to post. Having a schedule that you stick to will give your audience something to anticipate regularly. Knowing this will also help you know how much content you need to make and how to split topics between episodes.
Determine the length of each episode: Longer episodes don’t necessarily mean better content. Make sure that your focus is on how much useful information you can put into one episode. When you’ve calculated how long that could be, set the standard length for you to target when recording every episode. As with frequency, consistency is key.
Creating a podcast content strategy that works is not an easy task, that’s why we conduct podcast workshops that will help you understand:
- the end goal of your podcast content
- what your customers need from you online
- how your content should be created
- how your products or services can be pitched in content
From here, we will build out a six-month content strategy and a monthly publication calendar that target your customer at every stage – unaware, problem aware, solution aware, product or service aware and most aware.
The second stage of creating a great podcast is to decide on the format you want to follow.
For a good podcast format and flow, here is what you need to consider:
The style of podcast you need: There are several podcast styles that you can adopt. Some of the most popular and effective forms include:
- Branded podcasts
- Narrative storytelling
- Interview and panel discussions
Scripting a podcast: Since podcasts are generally audio-only content, we remove one of the senses that keep people engaged: vision.
For this reason, you need to focus even more on making the flow and pace of your podcast perfect. This means staying on topic and knowing what to say instead of padding-out or deviating from the original intention of the podcast.
So, having a script is important in keeping on-air talent on track.
Deciding on who to interview in your podcast episodes: The people you interview should be those with authority in your industry. This means they need to have a decent network and are experts in their field.
Choosing a guest who has both knowledge and experience makes them more credible and guarantees the listeners that the speakers will be able to give valuable insights.
It’s also a plus if your guests are eloquent speakers (e.g. they don’t mumble a lot), since this will make your podcast more engaging and easy to listen to.
Writing briefs for guests: Your guest interviewers need to know what topics will be talked about and if possible, provide them with some of the questions they need to answer ahead of time. This will help them come in confident and prepared. Nothing’s worse than an interviewee coming in cold.
Creating run sheets: This will help everyone on recording day know what’s going to happen and stick to the schedule. Run sheets keep everything in order, avoid confusion, and make sure everyone involved is moving towards the same goal.
Now that you have your content strategy and your podcast format with all the scripts, briefs, and run sheets, you can move on to the fun part of podcast creation – actually recording it.
But like everything else, it requires an understanding of what you’re doing first to make it a success.
Equipment: It’s not just simply recording on your phone or the built-in mic of your laptop.
Setting up a good podcast means using quality equipment to make sure that your audience will love what they’ll hear. These includes:
- Computer: You need a PC or laptop to record the audio. There are a ton of podcast recording software that you can download, such as Audacity, Logic Pro, and Adobe Audition.
- Microphones: The microphone attached to your AirPods won’t cut it. Use USB microphones or microphones with an XLR output for more flexibility and better audio quality. Also consider if you’re getting a condenser or dynamic microphone.
- Mixer: This is a bridge between your computer and your microphone which gives you control over levels, inputs, and outputs.
- Pop filter: Pop filters prevent plosives or air blasts.
- Headphones: Hearing yourself talk will be weird at first, but it’s something you need to get used to if you want to make sure that you’re going at the right pace, with the right volume and intonation.
In-studio recording vs at home (or in the office): Another factor you need to consider is where you’re going to record your podcast. Obviously, you want your podcast to have the best quality possible, but then you need to factor in your budget and how much you’re willing to spend on it.
So here’s a pros and cons list of in-studio recording and recording at home to help you decide which one will be better for you.
Pros: Two things will impact the quality of your recording the most: the engineer and the equipment. Recording in a professional studio will guarantee you both.
Just like in any form of art, having expensive tools and equipment won’t make you an instant expert at producing amazing podcasts. A professional recording studio will give you access to people who know the ins and outs of recording, and that will amp up the quality of your recordings.
You can also be sure that their equipment will be impressive, and that will save you from the problem of looking for your own equipment (and potentially buying bad gear).
Cons: With the assurance of good equipment and actual recording experts, it’s to be expected that the price of recording in a professional studio is higher.
Pros: This is definitely the cheaper option. As long as you have the right equipment and a podcast recording software, you can record away.
Professional studios will allow you to work with them for certain periods of time (i.e. one hour, a full day etc). With recording at home, on the other hand, you can take as much time as you need, which is very helpful if you’re just starting out as a podcast creator.
Cons: Recording, mixing, and achieving a professional-sounding podcast involves a lot of work and technique, and unfortunately, this isn’t something that any beginner can master overnight. Additionally, the equipment in recording studios are also very expensive, so your moderately-priced equipment at home won’t be able to achieve the same quality.
There is no better option between recording in a studio or recording at home. Ultimately, the better choice for you and your business will depend on what you need and the resources that you have.
The last stage of podcast creation is the post-production, which involves how you’re going to distribute your podcast content.
There are four steps in post-production that you must follow for your podcast to reach your target audience: cover art, podcast hosting, submitting it to directories, and writing show notes.
Cover art: Just like music albums, movies, and TV series, every podcast should have a digital “poster” or cover art.
Your cover art is the first thing your potential listeners (and potential customers) will see, so it’s responsible for their first impression of your podcast.
That’s why having good cover art is essential in attracting listeners. Don’t just use a random stock photo or some fancy text you converted from a PowerPoint slide to a .jpeg file. (God forbid you just stick with the default blank CD logo of your podcast host.)
Aside from being visually appealing, your cover art should be able to communicate the tone and mood of your audio show and what it’s about.
More importantly, it should accurately represent your brand. So, the design must be consistent with your brand colours, fonts, etc.
To make sure that your cover art will attract listeners, consider working with a graphic designer. Apart from your cover art, they can also work on your website and social media graphics.
Podcast hosting: Listeners have easy ways to access podcasts, as they are readily available for everyone.
But as a podcast creator, there’s more that you have to consider. You can’t directly upload your podcast on Spotify or Apple and Android apps.
You need to first upload them to a podcast host, which generates an RSS feed – a web page that serves as your podcast library, storing all your audio files, cover art, and title and descriptions for every episode.
You can find podcasts in a variety of podcast hosting sites like Podbean, Buzzsprout, Castos, and SimpleCast.
All of these podcast hosting sites seem to do the same job. However, each site has specific features, which we explained in a previous blog.
Things like storage capacity, download limits, and customisation will vary per hosting site, so if you want to distribute your podcast the best way, you must make the right decisions around which site you’re going to upload your show on.
Submitting your podcast to directories: Now that you’ve decided on which hosting site to use, you need to submit your podcast to directories so that users can find, access, and download your series.
Here are some of the top podcast directories:
- Apple Podcasts: iPhone, iPad, and Mac users can access podcasts through iTunes or Apple Podcasts App. This has always been the top platform for podcasting, but you need to remember that Android and Windows users won’t have access to your podcast if you only submit it here.
- Spotify: An all-rounder available on any device from iPhones and Android phones to laptops, Spotify now ranks second on the list of most popular podcast directories. It’s also very convenient, since you can access both podcasts and music on the same app.
- Google Play Music: For Android users, one of the best platforms for podcasts is the Google Play Music app, which is already installed on their phones by default.
- Google Podcasts: This is a decent alternative to Google Play Music. While it has garnered some criticisms since launch, you can’t really go wrong with a company the size of Google.
- Stitcher: Stitcher is a mobile app only, so you can’t access it through your laptop and desktop computer. While it has only 2% of the total podcast downloads, it’s still worth considering if you really want to further widen your reach.
Writing show notes: Lastly, a very useful feature to give for your listeners is detailed podcast show notes.
This isn’t just a one-paragraph summary of each podcast episode. Podcast show notes give more detail by highlighting all the important takeaways from the episode. It tells users what a podcast is about before they download and listen.
Podcast show notes also contain additional resources like links to articles or blogs mentioned in the podcast, guest bios or social channels, and calls to action.
Podcasts are quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of content marketing.
With its growing audience, it’s important that you tap into the market and start creating your own podcast series to further grow your brand and generate leads.
But of course, for your podcast to be effective, it needs to stand out. To do this, there are many elements to consider, mainly your podcast strategy (your goals, target audience, themes, and schedules), format (the style, script, briefs, and run sheets), recording (equipment, where to record), and post-production (cover art, podcast host, podcast directories, and show notes).
It can be difficult for brands to get podcasting right at first, that’s why our podcast services are geared towards taking away the stress of creating a podcast from concept to delivery.