Published on June 5th, 2015
Remember the good ol’ days, when the whole family gathered around Grandpa’s radio and listened to the latest shenanigans of Little Orphan Annie?
Ok, maybe that’s just a memory I stole from A Christmas Story, but let’s picture it anyway.
The theme music, the story unfolding, the audience listening intently. While this may seem like a scene from a simpler time, it is actually one making a huge comeback thanks to the popularity of podcasting.
Podcasting is “trendy”. In fact, according to Edison Research, approximately 46 million Americans listen to at least one podcast a month (growing by 14 million since only 2008.)
As a Marketer, it’s better to start podcasting when it’s “trendy” than when it’s necessary.
Think of it like today’s blogging. In the early 2000s, people were skeptical, too reluctant or even lazy to take the leap when the medium was just emerging. Today, many of those businesses are struggling to catch up in a market already saturated with competitors who beat them to the punch.
Don’t let the same happen with podcasting. Here’s a quick-hit checklist we’ve put together to help get your podcast launched in 7 days.
1. Develop Your Angle
Before you say your industry or product is too boring for a podcast, let me stop you right there. Your podcast doesn’t have to be directly about your product or service. It’s actually better if it’s not.
Find a theme or interest that relates to your industry and audience’s passions.
For example, take HubSpot’s podcast, “The Growth Show.” While HubSpot sells Marketing automation software, their podcast is targeted towards entrepreneurship or as it says, “ growing a movement, growing an idea, growing a team.”
Like HubSpot, look for the overarching interests of your buyer persona and use your podcast to start a conversation around it. You don’t want to sell, you want to spark interest and establish yourself as a thought leader.
2. Gear Up!
If you want people to take you seriously, you don’t want to sound like you’re talking out of a tin can. What your listeners hear will automatically be a reflection of your organization and brand so invest in equipment and tools that will produce professional quality results.
When competing with the likes of NPR, ESPN, CNN, and other broadcasting greats, voice quality trumps all. The best way to ensure you’re up to industry standards is a quality microphone.
This Audio-Technica USB/XLR Handheld Microphone will plug directly into your computer and deliver the “smooth, extended frequency response” needed for professional recording (and will only run you about $60.)
Pair it with this Auphonix Pop Filter for about $20 to eliminate the “boom” from your B’s and P’s and other round letters and you will ensure that your audio is crisp and feedback free.
With your mic in hand, how will you actually get your voice on tape?
Most podcasters make use of Skype voice-calls along with ecamm’s Call Recorder to put together their programs. Currently only available for Mac, this easy-to-use program delivers stunning HD call and video recordings from Skype that can then be saved, shared, and edited as MP3s.
Call Recorder is available for a one time fee of $29.95, but if you’re not ready to commit just yet, they also have a free version you can take for a test drive.
Post-production, you will want to use editing software to clean up any disruptions or background noise that may detract from your recording’s listening experience or make it difficult to understand.
Auphonic is a web-based audio editor that automatically analyzes your recording and, “does what is necessary to achieve professional quality.”
If you’re just starting out, you can get up to 2 hours of free audio processing each month with Auphonic XS, but if you require more, they have a number of affordable plans or credit options to choose from ($11-$89.)
3. Find Your Hosting Platform
After your podcast is edited and ready to be heard by the masses, you’ll need to find a reliable host. Though varying in their features, SoundCloud and LibSyn are both popular choices.
The more widely known option, SoundCloud, is available for an affordable $6-$15 a month and allows you to embed a player anywhere you’d like online, making sharing extremely easy. The platform’s pro accounts also give you access to detailed statistics and faster upload times then their free alternative.
LibSyn, on the other hand, comes highly recommended by HubSpot and comes in packages ranging from $5 to $75 .
While it does not offer an embedded player like SoundCloud, its basic “podcasting packages” boast basic analytics, a custom Podcast page, and free distribution to the Windows, Amazon Android, Google Play, and iTunes App Stores through its “Podcast Listing Source.”
Which Should I Choose?
The right platform for you depends on your resources, audiences, and podcasting goals. For example, if your audience is very active on social media, SoundCloud’s embed feature could be an extremely valuable tool.
If your team is short on time, LibSyn’s free distribution could offer the convenience you need to get ahead. Evaluate each option thoroughly and pick the one that's features align best with you and your organization.
Aside from producing the podcast itself, syndication may be the most important piece of your overall podcasting endeavour. Syndication (or distribution) is what gets your program readily available to the largest audience possible and makes it more easily searchable to the masses.
Let’s take a closer look at two of the most popular directories, iTunes and Stitcher.
Actually submitting your podcast to iTunes is easy enough (simply follow the steps here), but aligning to their specifications and getting approved can be a bit harder.
To help make sure that your podcast makes the cut, follow the specifications and steps below directly from Apple:
- “Create your first episode, which can be an audio or video recording or a text document. Podcasts can be in the M4A, MP3, MOV, MP4, M4V, PDF, and EPUB file formats.
- Create an RSS feed (an XML file) that:
- Conforms to the RSS 2.0 specification
- Includes the recommended iTunes RSS tags
- Contains pointers to your episode with the <enclosure> tag
- Create your cover art, which must be in the JPEG or PNG file formats and in the RGB color space with a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels.
- Post the RSS feed, cover art, and your episodes on a server that supports byte-range requests and a publicly accessible URL. Support for byte-range requests allows users to stream your episodes.”
You can find more detailed tips on how to meet these qualifications, on the full specs page here. Once you have been approved, it’ll take up to 24 hours for your listing to appear in the iTunes store, but once it does, it will be accessible to over 800 million active users.
Though not as widely known as iTunes, Stitcher is a rapidly growing directory that offers useful statistics about your podcast downloads and the habits of listeners as well as opportunities to monetize your use of the platform by encouraging others to to start listening.
While not crucial, Stitcher is proving to be a viable contender in the podcast arena. To explore it further or submit your podcast, can apply to be a Content Provider here.
While syndication will help expand your reach, promotion will always be needed to help get it off the ground. (This is where your conventional Inbound outlets come in handy.) Here are few quick ideas to try:
- Consider using your social media profiles to spread the word by sharing episode links and mentioning any guests or brands you may be discussing.
- Upon or even prior to releasing your newest episode, publish a blog article encouraging readers to check out the episode and including a CTA directly to it. After it’s release you can then publish a follow-up post, offering a bonus resource or sharing something else you may have talked about on the recording.
- Email your existing contacts informing them of your new endeavor. If you’re using Soundcloud, you can even a short snippet or preview to further entice them.
- Get reviewed! Reviews and ratings in the iTunes store help improve your rank and encourage casual browsers to give your podcast a listen so don’t be afraid to ask or mention it at the end of your show.