Podcasting is one of the fastest growing media forms of recent times. According to research, almost 80% of people in the U.S. are aware of podcasting. This is a dramatic increase from the 22% of the population who had any idea what a podcast was in 2006. Podcast listener numbers in the U.S. alone are estimated to be around 155 million people. The average listening time is more than six and a half hours per week.
According to Neal Schaffer, there were 850,000 active podcasts worldwide comprising some 48 million episodes. Podcasts are available in more than 100 languages. Consider the fact that 45% of podcast listeners have a household income of over $250,000, and you may start to see the potential a podcast may hold for your business.
People are listening to podcasts while they are driving and they are listening to them in their homes while doing housework. They listen while they walk. They listen mostly on their mobile devices, or on computers and smart speakers.
We can safely say that podcasting is experiencing massive growth and the potential to cash in on this growing media form should be top of mind for any business. Revenue from podcasting advertisements are expected to grow by 35% in the short term, predicted to surpass the $ 1.1 billion mark this year. When you hear that 69% of listeners were introduced to new products or services through podcasts and 38% of listeners reported that they purchased something mentioned in a podcast, podcasting deserves serious attention by any and all businesses.
How Difficult is it to Start a Podcast for Business?
A business podcast can be easy to get off the ground, provided a few basic steps are followed. While it is true that some podcasts have large production budgets and are expertly produced, podcasting is essentially an easy media format to master. Getting started is always the biggest challenge and some perfectionists never get off the ground because they put too many obstacles in their way.
You can always improve your podcast as time goes by and you learn what works and what doesn’t. It will take time to build an audience anyway, so just getting a few episodes produced, even if they are not initially great, is better than having nothing for people to listen to.
Recording a few episodes on your phone and using free software to edit it is easy enough for the beginner. A small or medium business can always rope in some podcasting experts to help where they fall short and this does not necessarily have to break the bank. Larger corporations with an image to uphold and a budget to spend may use the services of a professional company from the get-go. It all depends on what your business wants to achieve.
That being said, let’s look at some essential things you need to take into consideration when starting a podcast.
Things to Consider When Starting a Podcast
Who is the Ideal Listener?
Many people make the mistake in thinking that they are addressing a large audience when they record a podcast. Remember, there is no audience of hundreds sitting together in one space listening to your podcast. Your podcast has to speak to an individual person, probably someone driving to work in their car or taking a walk with their earphones on their heads.
You have to decide who your ideal listener is. It is only once you have created an avatar of this person that you can start understanding who this person is and what their pain points are. Once you start unraveling this mystery, it will guide you in what content will be valuable for this person.
The secret to a great podcast is that the listener must feel that they are the only person listening to it, and that it is helping them solve problems they experience in their life. When a listener gets real value from your podcast, they will start talking about it and sharing the information with those in their circle of influence.
Understand Your Own Reasons for Podcasting
Why are you wanting to create a podcast? Do you just want to sell something or do you want to help your listener in some way? What information do you have to share and what are the benefits of sharing it, both for your listener and yourself?
Any content marketing worth its salt will ultimately build your brand and, if you have been able to add value, start creating rapport with a potential customer. The clearer you are as to your own motivations for getting into podcasting, the clearer your messaging will be.
In the past few years, there has been a big move from in-person to online. This makes building relationships both easy and challenging at the same time. People generally are becoming more adept at distinguishing between what is real and authentic, and what is less than true.
It is only when you are authentic, when you are all that you are, that you will be confident and that will come across to your listener, leading to them trusting you.
Once you can establish trust, you are already halfway in your journey of building a relationship. Authenticity will also lead to rapport, and your listener will return again and again to listen to what you have to say, provided of course they find your information valuable.
Start with a Minimum Viable Product
Your first few episodes will be far from perfect. The process of podcasting will be a tremendous learning curve and you will need to solve problems as they crop up. As time goes by and you gain experience, your podcast will develop and grow, both in terms of content and production. Always be open to getting professional advice and help when you need it.
Next, make sure that your personality shines through and beware of coming across as rigid or professional. Just be you and provide information in an entertaining way. You should never be afraid of taking a risk and exposing your true personality. Some people adopt a “radio voice” and this will come across as fake. It is said that podcasting rewards the difference, so don’t be scared of criticism, you should welcome it. One thing you should never be and that is boring.
What Value Do You Bring?
If what you have to offer has no value, then do not go to the trouble of even starting a podcast series. Be very clear about the value, as that will attract the right audience as well as guests you may want to interview.
It might be a useful exercise to connect with other podcasters and interview them, as well as being featured on their shows, to test out the value proposition before you get stuck too deeply into producing your own podcast. Test the waters, as it were.
Don’t Give Up
Of all the podcasts available on Apple iTunes, some 26% have just one episode. There are many reasons why people start and then don’t get past episode one. Perhaps they expected many listeners and were disappointed when only their parents listened, or they overcommitted and were then overwhelmed by the amount of work it would take to regularly produce episodes.
It takes time to grow an audience. It might take months or even years to build up a following. Regularity is key. Don’t quit. Keep going.
Know What’s In It for the Listener
You first of all need to be very clear as to what the purpose of your podcast is before you will get an inkling of what it will achieve for your intended listener. Nobody does anything if they do not get something out of it, so you have to answer this question as if you are your target listener: “What’s in it for me?”
A bit of market research will not do you any harm, so be brave and ask a few people what it is they want and what they would want to get out of listening to your podcast. As soon as you have an answer to the “what is in it for me” question, you should share this as widely as you can. It should be built into your promotional branding and the podcast introduction, as well as all the descriptions when you upload it to your podcast host.
Know Your Limits
One of the big reasons podcasts don’t make it past episode one, is that a person would decide to do multiple podcasts per week or month, overcommitting themself, and then getting stuck as soon as they start. It is better to create a few episodes first before even thinking of publishing one. This helps you to create some leeway for yourself, as you have already ‘banked’ a few episodes, giving you some breathing space.
Some people publish a series of perhaps 12 episodes all at once, so that there is browsable content for a listener, while others publish regularly, perhaps once a week or once a month. Whatever schedule you choose to adopt, make sure that it is sustainable and that it fits in with all your other responsibilities. Keep going for at least 12 months before doing an evaluation on the way forward.
Niche Into the Niche
Oftentimes when asking a podcaster who their intended audience is, they answer, “Everyone.” This is the worst mistake they can make, as ‘everyone’ usually translates into ‘no-one’. To have a successful podcast, you have to first find your niche. Your ideal niche will align with both your expertise and your passion. Once you have found your niche, you then have to dig deeper into that niche to get as specific as you possibly can.
You may have to initially play around with different formats and styles before you will discover which resonates most with your listeners. It will take some time before you get comfortable with podcasting. Once you have established a rhythm, producing regular episodes that are filled with compelling content, your audience will grow beyond your niched niche and have wider reach.
Take It One Step At a Time
Think of podcasting as a process and break it down into its various steps. Start by experimenting and learning the basics. Find out what your audience likes and change what needs to be changed. Ask questions and get feedback. Then gradually work on the quality of your content, which will grow your audience.
The more entertaining the content is, the more your reach will increase and the more it will resonate with your audience. You are going to learn so much, not only about podcasting, but about your topic and, more importantly, about yourself.
Podcasting might seem overwhelming and scary for someone who has never done it, and it can be. The benefits that will accrue to your business outweighs any trepidations you might have. Starting a podcast is much easier than you think. Just take it step-by-step and be open to learning as much as you can. There are many experts who have years of experience in this field, so make contact if you need some help to get going.