Podcasting: It’s simple and important for businesses

The idea of starting up a podcast can be understandably intimidating. You might already have a video strategy in place, but the podcasting world is still foreign to you. Well, it's easier than it looks and it is absolutely more useful than you might think. 

Podcasts have seen rapid growth in listenership over the last 10 years. Recent stats show that there are over 750,000 podcast programs available and over 50% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast. That is 144 million listeners, many of which are loyally dedicated to their shows of choice. 80% of listeners finish each episode they listen to and come back for more.

So let's run through the process of getting your podcast planned, recorded and uploaded for the world to hear.

Plan out your podcast

A business’ podcast needs to have a planned approach. There are plenty of podcasts out there in which the hosts casually chat and naturally find discussion topics. These can be great, but the audience you’re looking for needs structure and confidence in your discussion.

Your topic should be something specific enough to compete with other podcasters in your industry. As a business, you want your program to be an educational tool for prospective customers. Build a dedicated listenership by standing out and being the go-to product for a specific area of business. You can always expand your topics in later episodes to grow your audience.

The name of your podcast should be fairly straight forward. You want audiences to know its coming from your business. In the end, the goal is to drive listeners to become customers of your business. And if the podcast’s name is more recognizable than your business’, it needs to be rebranded.

Choose the hosts

Podcasts have found success in having both regular and rotating hosts. If your desired hosting crew isn’t always going to be available, start by having at least one regular host. This can be the lead host that guides each week’s guests through the discussion topics. 

Eventually, one of the recurring guests can take over the lead host’s role in some episodes, freeing everyone up to  join when they can.

Though there are many successful podcasts with only one host, this can be tough for new podcasters. Conversation will flow more naturally with at least two people, and audiences enjoy hearing more than one voice.

Stick to a format

While there isn’t a magic number for podcast length, you need to consistently hit your desired length. 22% of listeners tune in while driving, which is important to consider when planning to have a 10 minute or 60 minute show. So long as you're being consistent, listeners will stick around. No one wants to plan to leave on a 60 minute show during their commute, only to have to find a new show when yours ends 30 minutes early.

Frequency is another consideration to make. Most podcasts are weekly, so we’ll operate on that assumption. But you can also run a monthly, or bi-weekly show. Again, consistency is key.

With each week’s discussion varying, you’ll need to plan segments for each episode. After recording a few episodes, you should be able to predict how long each segment will run and plan around that. 

You don’t want your hosts to feel rushed, but the lead host can pose questions to the others in a way that encourages quick answers when necessary. If you feel like your main topic is going to run long in an episode, plan to cut out the listener mail segment. 

What you don’t want to do is to verbally call attention to a segment running long and telling your guest hosts that you need to skip something. If the guest hosts are new to podcasting, they might get stressed about making sure they’re following the structure.It is the lead host’s job to make others feel comfortable speaking.

Necessary podcast equipment

A common misconception about podcasting is that high-end equipment is necessary. Essentially, all you need is a computer with recording software and at least one or two microphones. 

The most commonly used software is garage band, which you likely have available to you since it comes installed on every Mac computer. This will allow you to easily monitor audio levels and edit the final product. 

There are more advanced programs like Adobe Audition, but luckily, podcasting doesn’t require much technical work beyond recording, saving and uploading.

As far as recording goes, better equipment will result in a cleaner product, but expensive mics aren’t required. Plugging in headphones with a microphone into a phone will work, but the sound quality won’t be great and you won’t be able to balance each host’s volume levels. So plan to eventually get a separate mic for each person.

Uploading your podcast

There are a couple quick steps to take before your show will appear in front of audiences. 

First, you’ll want to have attractive artwork that conveys your topic and business name to users browsing podcast apps. Keep your artwork on brand with your marketing.

Next, you will need to host your show as an rss feed on website. This can be done with your own wordpress page, or podcast hosting sites out there that charge a minor fee. The rss feed is the crucial aspect of getting your show on big podcast directories like iTunes and Spotify.

You will need at least one episode of your show published and available on your rss feed to get approved for iTunes. Speaking of getting approved, follow these requirements by Apple, and your feed should be set for approval on all major apps that you want to live on.