I’ve been listening to podcasts, (especially business podcasts) for ten years. I remember them being particularly useful for long marathon training runs. (Pipe the right podcast into your ears, and you’ll be amazed how painless a two-hour run can be!)
I loved the ability to run and learn at the same time. I tried to get friends on board with the medium, but the most common response I’d get was a blank stare and ‘What’s a podcast again?’
The Serial podcast changed all that.
In October 2014 Sarah Koenig and her team dropped the first episode of a show that would take podcasts from something only people like me knew about, to being mainstream. It was the fastest podcast ever to achieve 5 million downloads; capturing the world’s attention thanks to high-level production, sublime storytelling, and a killer cliffhanger at the end of every episode.
Serial changed everything in the podcast world and unsurprisingly, the number of podcasts being created exploded. What does this mean for podcast creators? Well, in 2014, it was relatively easy to get traction for a new podcast. In 2017, it’s much harder because the sheer number of shows you’re competing with is much larger.
So, is there any point to starting a business podcast in 2017/2018 given it’s so competitive now? I think there are many but here are the three main ones.
Three reasons you should start a podcast (for your business or hobby)
1. Podcasts fast-track the ‘know, like and trust’ factor
Marketing is all about getting people to know, like and trust you. That’s why video marketing is so popular right now. There’s nothing like being able to see someone’s face and their body language when they’re speaking. It’s a fast way to create trust.
Not all of us are keen to do video, however. I can say from experience that I’m far more relaxed simply speaking into a microphone than look down the lens of a camera. And the more comfortable you are doing something, the more genuine you can be.
Podcasts put you in people’s ears. That makes it a hugely intimate medium right there. The fact they can hear your voice and hear your tone when you’re talking about something makes it easy for them to feel like they ‘know’ you. And if you’re helping them with what you’re saying – it’s a fast path to ‘like’ and ‘trust’ from there.
2. Podcasts tick the two key marketing boxes
I once heard Tim Grahl say marketing is two things:
- Creating long-lasting connections with people, through
- Being relentlessly helpful
A podcast is amazing for both these things. The intimacy of the medium makes it easy to connect. And when you share your knowledge with people, you’re being relentlessly helpful.
3. Podcasting is a relatively fast way to create content
I’ve been a writer my whole life. Writing has always been my preferred way to connect with people and share my knowledge with them. When I started podcasting, however, I was shocked at how much easier it was.
Firstly, podcasting is a very forgiving medium. People don’t mind you making mistakes, or having to re-phrase something. (In fact, people prefer it. I remember when Amy Porterfield first started her podcast, people told her she was too polished. She had to dial back on the amount of re-recording and editing she was doing.)
Secondly, it’s far easier to have a conversation about something, or speak your thoughts on something that it is to write them out. When you’re speaking, your words already have tone. When you write, you have to add tone in. This takes time and skill.
The other thing I love about podcasting is the way it allows me to share incomplete ideas, or discuss something I am not completely au fait on. I’d never get away with that in writing, but on podcasts, it’s totally ok.
Writing blog posts takes me 2-3 hours by the time I factor in editing and re-writing. It takes me 30 minutes tops to record a podcast. The audio file then goes off to the producer who tops and tails it with the intro and outro, cleans up any major fluffs … and then it’s ready to go.
The other beauty of podcasts is they can be transcribed. This allows you to put them on your website as written content which Google loves. Re-purposing for the win!
Ok – so now you’re convinced – starting a podcast is a great idea for your business. Before you race off to hit record, however, you MUST get these things right first.
Three things to get right before you start podcasting
1. The hook
If you wanted to start a business podcast where you could simply share your best business tips, or interview other business owners to get their tips, the best time to do that was five years ago. If you start such a podcast now, you’ll be but one fish swimming around in a sea of sameness. You’ll struggle to get traction because you won’t be able to distinguish yourself from the already well-established shows.
If you’re starting a business podcast now – you’re going to need a good hook.
Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle School podcast focuses specifically on helping people who work a regular job and want to start an income-earning project on the side.
Millennial Money with Shannah Compton Game is the millennial go-to for all things money and lifestyle.
The hugely popular StartUp Podcast follows the story of a single business at a time, sharing the real ups and downs of getting a new venture off the ground.
2. The format
Will it be just you talking on the show? Brian Moran from the 5 Minute Marketing Podcast does this.
Will it be you chatting with the same co-host every week? Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon from Being Boss started out using this format and built a hugely popular show before they started introducing interviews into the mix.
Or, will you be interviewing someone different every week? This is probably the most popular show format going round – mainly because it gives the podcast creator the chance to chat with experts and influencers they’d never be able to access otherwise. There are several problems inherent in the interview format, however.
One, interviews are time-consuming to prepare for – they require a lot of research.
Two, they make for an inefficient recording process. When you’re recording shows solo, or with a co-host, you can record shows in batches. When you’re interviewing people, you often find yourself recording at inconvenient times, and if they’re a no-show, it can really disrupt your scheduling.
Three, they are really hard to do. The best interviewers aren’t just asking questions from a list they prepared earlier. They’re actively taking part in a conversation with the interviewee, listening for things that are interesting and asking them to expand on those thoughts. Interviewing is a skill – one that usually takes years to master.
3. The equipment
You don’t need anything fancy, but you do need to get the basics right. Podcast listeners are used to good quality audio these days and will be pretty unforgiving if your audio quality is off.
Ok, now that we’ve got the above sorted, your next question is probably …
How do I start my own podcast?
Here are two of the best courses going round. It’s worth investing in one of them as they’ll step you through everything and ensure you’ve ticked all the important boxes before going live: