February 12, 2016
How to Make a Podcast
Podcasting is blowing up. According to Clammr, there was a 42% increase in the number of Google searches for “podcast” from 2014 to 2018. You could blame it on Serial, but with companies like Basecamp and Slack starting podcasts, it’s time for startups to pay attention. As a recovering radio pro turned podcaster, I’ve seen first hand how podcasting can grow businesses (including dry B2B companies). Podcasting can help…
- **Generate more qualified leads: **Anyone willing to listen to a 30-minute show is probably more interested in your product than someone skimming a 500-word blog post.
- Create a voice for your company (literally): Your show’s host puts a voice to your brand, making your company more relatable and human.
- Build a better connection with your audience: A 30-minute show with 5,000 downloads in one month is 300,000 hours, or 1.5 years, of direct one-on-one engagement. Amazing.
Long story short – podcasting can help your startup grow. In this post, I’ll share what your startup needs to know to create a winning podcast from scratch.
Make your show entertaining for listeners
Remember that you’re competing for your audience’s time, so your show must be entertaining. Podcast listeners have different expectations for content – even if the content is primarily educational. Mechanically speaking the “top ten tactics for viral marketing” isn’t going to have the same draw as Serial or The Tim Ferriss Show. It’s tempting to jump into podcasting with a run-of-the mill interview based show. Part of the reason this seems like a no-brainer is because there are tons of people already doing this, but the world doesn’t need another “Viral Marketing Rockstar” podcast interviewing the same guests as all the other marketing shows. Present a fresh take on your customers’ passions and pain points by creating a unique and consistent format. What about doing your interviews during happy hour? Or starting each episode with a hilarious segment that only your niche understands? The format of your show must be as unique as the value proposition of your product.
Use a hosting service that submits your podcast to directories
Podcast audio is stored on media specific servers that automatically generate an RSS feed to submit to podcast directories like the Apple iOS podcasting app. Libsyn is the most popular solution, but other options to check out are Blubrry and Spreaker. They all provide metrics and dashboards to track listening and growth. Apple iOS and iTunes is by far the most popular platform for listening and discovering podcasts, accounting for over 80% of all mobile listening. 66% of all podcast listening occurs on mobile, and the iOS podcasting app itself is responsible for 74% of the listening on the iOS platform. Translation: Submit your podcast to Apple’s platform to put yourself in front of the largest possible audience.
Give your podcast a home on your website
Although the audio itself is the central piece of content, each episode of your podcast needs a home on your website. This is known as the “show notes” page. It’s also where you’ll find the majority of SEO juice created by your show. Here’s a show notes page example from SkilledUp: Your show notes pages should have a simple URL so users can remember the link and access episodes later. Embedding the audio is simple. Wordpress offers a number of plugins that sync with the audio hosting servers. My personal favorite is The Smart Podcast Player by Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, one of the top-rated shows on iTunes. PowerPress by Blubrry is a great alternative. And most hosting services offer HTML5 embedded players that are easy to insert within your CMS.
Focus your podcast content strategy on the long game
If you’re going to test podcasting as a marketing channel, you’ll need to play the long game. You won’t see results overnight, and it will likely take a few months of publishing regular content until you see a core audience develop and a return on your investment. I recommend publishing once a week for at least 12 weeks. Here’s why… iTunes rankings are somewhat of a mystery. What we do know is the iTunes podcast home page provides front and center exposure for all new shows gaining traction. In my experience, this lasts around eight weeks and afterwards podcasts experience a dramatic drop in listeners. Continuing to publish for four additional weeks allows for basic insight into what your company might expect into the future.
Rank higher with listener reviews and iTunes SEO
Like Google, Apple doesn’t publish the secret sauce to how podcasts rank within their podcasting platforms, and there’s no equivalent of Google Analytics or Mixpanel specific to Apple platforms. However, there is enough anecdotal evidence, and common sense, to suggest that rankings revolve around the number of downloads in a given period of time and the quantity and quality of reviews a show receives. If you’re working at a startup with less than 200 employees, it’s a quick win for everyone to listen and contribute ratings and reviews. You want as many reviews as possible, so your podcast storefront crushes it like the StartUp Podcast: Outside of word of mouth marketing, which accounts for 74% of audience growth, iTunes SEO is among the most significant factors for discovering and growing and audience. For both the podcast as a whole and individual episodes, titles, descriptions, authors, and all other text fields are where you create the greatest SEO value. Check out this article on iTunes SEO if you’d like to learn more.
Automate your podcast production (without skimping on quality)
You don’t want your show to sound like a low powered FM radio station with a weak signal. The bad part is that great sound and editing takes time. Even once you get the hang of editing, chopping up audio quickly devolves into mechanical grunt work. The good part is there are a number of excellent services that could take this off your plate. Podfly is a full-stack production service that handles all your audio. They’re my personal favorite and aren’t outrageously expensive. They’ll even post the show notes to your site and help with content strategy.
Track your success to see if it’s worth it
Libsyn and other distribution platforms offer decent metrics on audience engagement that can be broken down by episode, day, time, geography, and the technology used to listen to the podcast. However, the most important part of tracking podcast success occurs in your analytics software. This includes measuring traffic to your website, conversions, or any other KPIs. The most important metrics to keep in mind are time spent on the show notes page, and most importantly, bounce rate. I once produced a show that had a bounce rate that was half of all other content pages. These metrics give insight into whether podcasting is a viable channel to grow your startup.
Is podcasting for you? Give it a shot.
For well under $500 you can get your show up and running with 30 minutes of fresh content each week. And if you’re still on the fence, consider this: in the next 60 seconds, over 300 hours of video will be uploaded to YouTube but it’s estimated that there are only 180,000 active English language podcasts. It’s far easier to make a splash. Just remember to…
- Make your show entertaining for listeners
- Submit your podcast to directories, especially Apple’s
- Give your podcast a home on your website
- Focus on the long game by publishing for at least twelve weeks
- Optimize your iTunes SEO and ask for listener reviews
- Automate your podcast production without skimping on quality
- Track your success to see if it’s worth it
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a killer podcast for your startup. Do you have any more questions on how to start a podcast? Or still trying to decide if it’s right for your company? Let us know in the comments.