Go to Facebook Marketplace and type in “podcast microphone” and you’ll find plenty of options. Walk down the relevant aisle of any HiFi store and you will be bombarded with audio recording gear for sale.
There’s a good reason for this. Podcasts are growing in popularity and entrepreneurs and small businesses are looking to capitalise on the trend and share stories with listeners to build their influence via streaming services like Spotify and iTunes.
Podcasts are an incredibly flexible content format that’s growing exponentially every day. More than just news and interviews they can convey stories, Q&As and dozens of other formats for all kinds of audiences on a low budget, making them a preferable option for businesses.
For audiences, videos can be a big commitment time-wise since they’re an audio-visual experience and require a lot of attention, which is why podcasts are much easier to consume.
No matter what you’re doing you can listen to podcasts and gain valuable information while working out, doing housework, driving or taking a walk, which makes podcasts ideal for people who don’t have time to sit down for ten minutes to watch a video.
With such a wide range of topics to access plus the fact that anyone can tune in as long as they have a steady internet connection, podcasts have become a massively popular medium in Australia and around the globe, driving more people to listen to more podcasts more often.
On the production end, things are just as exciting. Podcasts are an ideal avenue for storytelling, as they touch back on the verbal tradition of passing down stories but through contemporary means. By equipping anyone who has a decent microphone with the ability to tell their story, podcasts open up audiences all over the world to different narratives, making it a medium that connects people.
The history of podcasting
Podcasting has been around much longer than you think. Although it seems like something that’s only come about in recent years, it’s been around since the launch of the product that put Apple on the map: The iPod.
In 2004, a few years after the iPod launched and took the world by storm, MTV VJ Adam Curry and software developer Dave Winer found a way to download online radio broadcasts onto the device and listen to them on the go.
Journalist Ben Hammersley picked up on their innovation and wrote an article about the two as he realised that this could be the advent of a new form of content and communication that could shake up the media landscape. In his article, he ended up using the terms “audioblogging,” “GuerillaMedia,” and, finally, “podcasting” which was the name that stuck.
In 2005, podcasting became the New Oxford American Word of the Year, foreshadowing how in-demand it would become in just a matter of years. People of influence like stand-up comedians, Barack Obama, and even Queen Elizabeth II made the platform spike in popularity through either their own podcasts or guest interviews, sending the medium’s trajectory soaring.
Today, there are more than two million shows with at least 48 million episodes available for you to tune in to. It’s projected to grow even further as recording equipment and software are becoming more accessible to anyone interested in sharing their stories.
That gives small business owners every reason to tap into and make podcasts part of their campaign for boosting brand awareness and increasing services. There are some really effective ways to add value to your podcasts so that business owners see amazing results and build a loyal customer base. By using podcasts, businesses can target even the busiest moments of their ideal audience’s day, letting audiences learn about them without the hassle of trying to catch their attention as traditional marketing does.
5 things you need to consider before launching a podcast
While it is true that you can get started on making podcasts with very little setup, there are few key areas and must-haves you need before starting a podcast. These five questions will help you make sure your podcast is relevant to your audience so that you can continue developing and publishing effective content for years to come.
1. Who’s your audience and what is your niche?
Before you begin recording anything, you need to know who your target audience is and what your niche will be in order to best narrow your focus. It might be tempting to shoot for the proverbial stars and say that you don’t want to limit your brand’s audience, but that’s actually going to hurt your ability to create appealing and engaging content. If you have no focus, you’ll end up talking about anything and everything in the hope that something will stick the landing.
As counterintuitive as it may seem to have a target audience to tell your story to, this is the proven method for creating engaging and unique content that will draw in people from everywhere.
When you choose a niche, you have a ready audience—the people who are into that specific thing and like things to be a particular way. By catering to their tastes you give them exactly what they want, satisfy their needs, and get your content moving. Those listening will feel immediately welcomed and understood and you’ll have an easier time drawing people in because they’re already likely looking for content like yours.
2. Do you have the right equipment?
Just like those proud new podcasters from the HiFi stores, you need to make sure that you’ve got the right headset, microphone, and software ready for your podcast.
Equipment doesn’t have to break the bank but it’s important to have good quality devices in order to sound professional. The more high-end equipment can be seen as a good long-term investment later on.
Poor quality sound will turn listeners off (unless you’re a massive name) so it’s important not to rely on your inbuilt computer microphones. Sound quality will improve too when you record your podcast with headphones on so at the very least look to purchase a good microphone and headphones as your podcast must-haves.
Professional equipment can still be beginner-friendly. You don’t need thousands of modes on your microphone or a soundboard to tell your brand’s story. As long as you’ve got something of good quality that captures and records sound clearly then you’re good to go.
3. What kind of format do you want to follow?
No two podcasts are the same. Even if they tackle similar topics, they likely differ in format. They might be narrations, interviews or even a story complete with dialogue. The format of your podcast depends on your content and what you think is most effective. Play with some options and look at your business offering to find out what you want to do.
Finding the best format to complement your content will help you with uniformity and sounding more professional in the long run. Keeping things consistent will make running your podcast easier.
Here are some formats you can consider:
- Interview – Interviews require a guest that your host can interact with by asking them questions. Usually this guest is a business professional or someone whose insights you think can benefit your audience. The spotlight is usually on the guest and not the host, so there may be some difficulty consistently finding guests.
- Monologue – Solo monologue podcasts where the hosts spend the entire time talking are pretty common, giving the host free reign to go over topics and share their opinions. It’s an effective way to share your business thoughts or provide valuable insights in a neatly laid-out manner (just make sure you have an outline prepared to keep from becoming repetitive and monotonous).
- Panel/co-host – If your content would benefit from having multiple hosts interacting and sharing their ideas, a panel type or co-host type of format may be what you’re looking for. Just ensure that the hosts don’t speak over each other and stay on-topic.
4. How often can you realistically release episodes?
How often you release content is entirely up to you. It will be best to plot out a calendar of release dates before starting a podcast so you know what to expect and what’s expected of you.
Make sure you check in with your business demands and know that you have the time to meet your release dates. Creating a podcast means you need to have time for research, rehearsals, recording, editing, as well as publishing. All that work requires a schedule to accommodate every step so you need to decide how often you can realistically release your episodes.
Being consistent is so important and many business owners fall into the trap of only producing one or two and not being able to keep in motion.
Getting ahead of your schedule can really help. By having a backlog of episodes ready you don’t need to panic come release day. All you need to do is upload and publish an episode you have already prepared so you still have content to air even if you missed a scheduled recording day.
5. What value does your podcast offer?
At the end of the day, people tune into podcasts to learn. Make sure you provide this in your content. Ask yourself:
- What does your podcast offer?
- Are you giving relevant education or value?
- Or are you going around in circles about your brand and what you offer without any real merit?
An important part of your podcast process is ensuring that your audience has learned something new by the time your closing music starts to play. As long as there’s something that will benefit your listeners they will feel satisfied and encouraged to get to know your brand more.
As a business owner, using podcasts is a great way to draw in more potential customers and grow your brand’s online presence. You have incredible scope to provide a wide range of content and format it in a way that really gets your audience listening. By knowing who your audience is and where you sit as a niche business, you can easily pick up the equipment you need and plot out some scripts to produce your very own professional podcasts. When you offer value in your podcast content by providing your listener with something they need, you increase your service offering, gain customer loyalty, and get your brand moving in a positive direction.