Do you want to create content for your small business, but you feel like blogging or videos aren’t the right fit for you? Podcasting might be the answer you’ve been searching for. Podcasting has been steadily growing in popularity since more and more people consume content on the go. Commuting, exercising, and business and leisure travel all lend themselves to extended, uninterrupted time to listen to podcasts.
Dianna Rands is a colleague and friend of mine. She owns Chill Digital Marketing in Boulder, CO, and is an avid podcaster. I invited Dianna to the blog to share the basics of podcasting so small business owners interested in giving it a try can learn about the Ins and Outs of how podcasting works before scheduling their first podcast guest. Keep reading to see all the podcasting goodness Dianna has to share with her fellow small business owners.
Podcasting 101 for Small Business Owners
Q. What is podcasting and why should a small business owner consider it?
A. Podcasting is a way to share your message in a different format than the written word. More and more people are turning to podcasts to get the information they are seeking.
You may hear often that video is the method we should all be turning to with its higher organic reach and ability for the viewer to process the information faster. While this is true, the world of voice has advantages too. One of the biggest advantages for the listener, is that they can be doing something else while they consume the content. Whether it’s working out, cooking, driving or doing yard work, consuming in an audible format is quite advantageous. For both the written word and videos, it requires the person to devote their eyes to the message, thus leaving little room to do other things.
And here is where things get interesting. 55% of the US population has listened to a podcast. The average number of shows a listener subscribes to is 6. And the icing on the cake is that 93% of listeners will consume all or most of each episode. You would be hard pressed to find stats like that for video.*
* All stats in paragraph from this article: https://podcasthosting.org/podcast-statistics/
The other advantage to podcasting vs a video marketing strategy is cost. Yes, there are plenty of people that claim you can have a great video strategy with just your smartphone. But you have to put some effort into how you look and know a bit about video editing. With a podcast, you can literally wear your jammies!!
Q. What are the essential tools needed for producing a successful podcast?
A. Before you even get started producing a podcast, you want to make sure you have the right equipment. The great thing about podcasting is you really can do it at an economical cost.
The first piece of equipment you want to check out is a microphone. For an entry level set up, you can get a lavalier lapel mic and plug it into your smartphone or laptop. I have a PowerDeWise lavalier mic that I’ve used in the past. On Amazon you have an option of one with a 79” extension cord or an interview mic, both in the $30-$40 range.
Of course there are cheaper models, but this is the brand I’ve used and recommend.
The next level up, which is the mic I use to record my podcasts today, is a Blue Yeti. It’s a simple to use USB microphone. I got a kit with a pop filter and headset for about $145. One side note about Blue Yeti’s is that they are a heavier microphone so you want to get their Compass Boom Arm as I’ve tried others and they can’t hold it up.
There are other options that go higher in price, but I wanted to keep the options on the lower end. And if you just want to dip your toes into podcasting to start, there is nothing wrong with starting out with the earbuds that came with your smartphone, as they all come with microphones now.
After the microphone is determining what tool you will use to record and edit the podcast. Audacity is a free open source program that a lot of podcasters use. It is available for both Windows and Mac computers. If you are a Mac user, then GarageBand is free to use. I personally use GarageBand. If you want to buy software (which also starts getting more technical in how to use them), you can check out Adobe Audition or for Mac users Logic Pro X.
The next biggest decision before you start producing which you need to nail down is where you want to host your podcast. For beginners, you may want to check out Anchor. Anchor is 100% free and it even gives you the option to monetize your podcast after you grow your audience. They also do all the heavy lifting getting your podcast dispersed to many different players (like Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Breaker, Spotify and more). I use Anchor for one of my two podcasts.
Another popular option that many podcasters use is Libsyn. You do have to pay to use Libsyn, but their rates are very reasonable. The backend interface is still a bit dated, but it’s relatively easy to use. I use Libsyn for my other podcast. Mainly because you can only have one podcast with Anchor.
Q. Can you take us through the steps of producing a podcast, from recording it to publishing it?
A. The first step I take is mapping out on my editorial calendar what the topics for the episodes are going to be. I usually plan on a quarterly basis. Once you plan that out, then you can back into some other dates. For instance, you need significantly more lead time if you are going to have a guest on your podcast as you will need to coordinate your schedules. Plus, it takes more time to edit interviews than when it’s just you. Another type of episode I do often are book reviews, so you would need to give yourself time to order and read the book.
When I was first starting out, I would write out in long form each episode and read it for the recording. But after about 3 months, I started just writing an outline to keep me on track and remind me of all the points I wanted to cover in the episode. It definitely sounds better when I free form the episode vs reading it. Or you may find writing the whole episode is best for you, so just practice on making your reading voice sound more like a conversational voice.
When you start recording, take notice of your surroundings. Put your computer and cell phone on “do not disturb”, turn off your ac/heat , turn off any items that may come on. When I started out I was recording in my office at my office, and I have a dorm fridge in there. Well, it would randomly come on and you could hear it in the recordings, so I always had to unplug it. If you have dogs that bark at the door, put them in a room where they won’t notice someone walking by. If you have a landline, turn the ringer off.
You also want to make sure you are in a room that can buffer an echo. You may laugh, but your closet may be the best room in the house. With all the clothes in there, it can really absorb any echos you may have. Definitely stay away from a room with no carpeting and high ceilings.
Once it is recorded, I start the editing process. I promise the first time you go to edit your recording you will cringe at all the speaking tics you have. My big one is using the word “so” a LOT! Over time you will find you can catch yourself and not continue to say them. And your instinct will be to get rid of them all. Don’t do that either. If you say “um” or “like” a bunch, remove 50-75%. Leave the rest, because it is a better reflection of who your true authentic self is.
I also have a pre-recorded intro that I attached to the beginning of every episode. While my outros are recorded with the episode, I usually end with pretty similar endings each time. And don’t forget to reference the show notes page (which I’ll get to in a bit) in every episode.
Now that you have a finished mp3 file, you are ready to upload it to your hosting platform. Be sure to write up a simple 2-4 sentence summary of the episode. I also share the link to the show notes page.
Even though you are creating a podcast, you also need to have a form of written content so that search engines have content to crawl. I create a show notes page for every episode I release. This is also a way to share any links you talked about or contact information if you have a guest. I have a WordPress site, so I use the plug-in Pretty Links to make my urls match the episode number. Take episode 60 on my podcast which is about the OAK Journal, its PrettyLink is https://chilldigitalmarketing.com/60.
Q. What are the best places to publish your podcast?
A. There are a few places that you want to make sure your podcast is available. Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Spotify are the big ones. If you choose to use Anchor to host your podcast, they will get your podcast on these platforms. If you choose Libsyn, you will have to get your podcast signed up on each player you want to use.
Q. Can you put your podcast episodes on your website?
A. You can definitely have your podcast episodes on your website. I would just recommend you host the files on an external site. The main reason for this is because you don’t want to take up the storage space that is allotted with your website host for your episodes. The way you would get them on your website is to embed them on there. We do that for every episode we release on its corresponding show notes page.
Q. How much time, on average, would you say it takes to record, edit, and publish a podcast episode?
A. At first it will take longer. As with all new things, eventually you will become more efficient. For an episode I do with just me (no guest) it takes about 20-40 minutes to record a 15-30-minute episode. Then it takes another 30-60 minutes to edit the episode. I would say it takes about 10-15 minutes to upload the episode to the hosting platform. And then it takes another 30-60 minutes to write up the show notes page.
I always write the show notes page as I’m listening to the final draft of the recording. Even though you either have a script or outline, you want to make sure you capture any added nuggets you may have shared. And my show notes pages are not transcripts, they are summations of what I talk about. Check out our page for The Chill Business Journey to see the correlations to what is covered in the audio recording and what I write up for the show notes page.
Q. Tips for incorporating podcasting into your overall marketing strategy and calendar?
A. One tip I would highly recommend is batching the work that goes into producing a podcast. If you can plan one day of recording 2-4 episodes, then another day just editing, another day to write up the show notes pages, etc., you will find the process goes more smoothly.
If you end up choosing a podcast as your content creation modality, then I recommend releasing at least one episode per week. If you have the bandwidth to produce more, by all means go for it. If your episodes are longer, like 2-4 hours, then once a month is good.
The sweet spot is 15-45 minutes. I personally shoot for 15-30. I prefer to get through an episode in the time it takes to drive to my office (22minutes). Therefore, I make sure my episodes fall in that range. But more important than what length you choose, is that you are consistent. Your audience will come to expect a set length of time for your episodes. Don’t veer away from that expectation.
Q. Anything else a small business owner should know before getting started podcasting?
A. Play around with it before you commit. Meaning record a few episodes to see if you can keep up with it. There is nothing worse than finding a podcast you like only to find out they didn’t keep up with it.
Connect with Dianna Rands Online: