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7 Key Steps To Help Launch Your Own Podcast
Podcast listenership has exploded over the past few years and shows no signs of slowing down. More than half of U.S. adults are podcast listeners — and with more than 750,000 different podcasts totaling 30 million episodes, they've got plenty of content to choose from.
Done right, podcasts can be great customer acquisition tool for your small business. Podcasts can help you establish your expertise and set you apart from your competitors.
Here are seven steps to help you get your own podcast off the ground.
7 Key Steps To Help Launch Your Own Podcast
1. Decide How Much Time You Can Realistically Commit
Many entrepreneurs are prone to "shiny object syndrome" and prefer starting new projects to seeing existing ones to fruition. Ask yourself if you can (and will!) honestly carve out the time necessary to create and maintain a podcast. If you're unsure of the answer, a better strategy might be to look for podcasts in your industry where you can appear as a guest.
If you decide you can spend the time, know that the on -air time represents only a fraction of the regular commitment to a successful show. Plan to spend a minimum of five or six times the on-air time preparing for, producing and promoting each episode.
2. Know Your Exact Target Audience
If you try to please everyone, you'll end up pleasing no one. Get very clear on your target listener. Drill down on exactly what demographic you're trying to reach — by age, gender, income, education and geographic location.
Then, go a step further by questioning what psychographic traits your target audience shares: What do they care about? What are their interests, beliefs, and hobbies? Knowing the answers to these important questions will help you decide what content to include in each episode, what guests to book, and — eventually — which advertisers or sponsors to pursue.
3. Decide How Often You'll Publish Episodes
Entrepreneurs often ask how frequently podcast episodes should be released. The answer is no more frequently than you can commit to being consistent! If listeners don't know when to expect your next episode, they'll disengage. If they're expecting a new episode and it doesn't come, they'll lose patience and unsubscribe. Consistency is key.
While weekly shows are great, they take a LOT of time and energy to produce. Two high-quality episodes per month will perform better than pretty good weekly episodes. Another good option is to divide your podcasts into seasons. For example, you might publish weekly podcasts for 20 weeks in a row and then take a 6-week hiatus before coming back with season two. As long as you're communicating the upcoming break to your audience, they'll know what to expect and will look forward to your return.
4. Choose the Right Format and Length
How long should your podcast be? The short answer is long enough to convey great information but short enough to keep listeners from losing interest. While there's no hard-and-fast rule, many podcasters try to keep episodes around the 30-minute mark for maximum engagement.
One thing to remember is that it's unnecessary to make every episode the same length. You might target 30 minutes but may clock in at 24 minutes one week and 37 the next. The content should always dictate an episode's length. If you've got an amazing interview to include or are really in the zone with your guest, keep going! If it's a slow news or content week, don't drag it out: always be respectful of your listeners' time.
Format is another important consideration. Will your episodes include guest co-hosts? Interviewees? Syndicated content? Regular features that repeat from week to week? Again, there's no rule here. Launch with whatever feels right to you, and regularly seek feedback from your audience. Be prepared to make changes along the way until you settle into a format that feels comfortable for you and valuable for your listeners.
5. Invest in Great Equipment
It doesn't take a lot of record a podcast, but investing in one (or two or three, if you'll have in-person guests) quality microphones is a great investment. Poor audio is a huge turn-off to listeners.
It's also a good idea to capture a video recording of your podcasting sessions. Video makes for much more compelling social-media content than audio or still photos. Releasing one or two teasers of video from each episode is a great way to attract new listeners.
6. Choose the Right Partners
If you don't have time to edit your own podcast, consider hiring a producer. They can really up the production value by adding elements like music and sound effects. You'll likely find it's well worth the cost to deliver a professional, high-quality product.
Generally speaking, the more places your podcast is available for potential customers to find, the better. Unless you're an expert in the space, consider engaging a podcast distribution and syndication partner. For a few dollars per month (as little as $10 for some partners) you'll greatly increase the number of places your show is available. The podcast distribution and syndication partner can also provide analytics about where streams and subscribers are coming from and make suggestions for optimizing your efforts in the future. It's money well spent and a must for podcast newbies.
Lastly, consider having a graphic designer help create a great logo and visual identity for your show. Podcasts (like books!) are often judged by their covers.
7. Spread the Word
Promote, promote, promote! Tease your new podcast before the first episode goes live, and once it's up, ask everyone you know to listen, subscribe and rate/review on their favorite podcast platform. Send an email to your key contacts, share on all your social sites (company and personal!) and embed a link on your company blog. Also, make it super simple for your guests to spread the word by providing ready-to-go social images and snippets of promotional copy.
There's no better time to give podcasting a try! The cost and barriers to entry are low, and the potential to attract new customers is high. With some careful planning and creativity, you may just find your next calling behind a microphone.