Genevieve asks, “What tips would you give to someone wanting to start a podcast?”

Having been a podcaster since 2005, I have so many. To keep it simple we’ll focus on the best practices. There are 10 basic best practices that are important for starting a podcast and doing it well for your business:

  1. Have clear, measurable goals.
  2. Start small. Your smartphone and a $40 headset or mic are good enough.
  3. Your first 10 episodes will suck. Acknowledge it.
  4. Use AI to transcribe if you don’t have time to do it yourself. The text is still how search engines find things, even today.
  5. Be regular and frequent – the Seinfeld rule.
  6. Great content follows the 3E rule (educate, entertain, engage) – so must your podcast.
  7. Podcasters always worry about the tools – worry about the audience.
  8. Expect to pay for ads to grow your audience unless you already have massive brand equity.
  9. Measure your podcast with Google Analytics™ and traffic to your podcast website. Downloads aren’t useful.
  10. The most powerful marketing tool for your podcast is an email list. Build with that as a secondary goal to your overall business goal.

 

Have clear, measurable goals.

Before you start anything new, you always want to understand why you’re doing it and what problem it solves. Make you know why a podcast is a solution and what the end goal is. You should also be asking yourself if you have the marketing resources to support a podcast. If you don’t have a clear goal, you’re not ready to start a podcast. 

Start small. Your smartphone and a $40 headset of mic are good enough.

Save your money for advertising. Your smartphone and a $40 headset are good enough. Podcasters tend to worry a lot about the technology. Focus on gaining an audience first and once you gain some traction you can upgrade your equipment. 

Your first 10 episodes will suck. Acknowledge it.

That’s just the way it is. Expecting your podcast to be perfect out of the gate is not going to happen. Your show will evolve over time. There will be changes to how you operate.  There’ll be updates and upgrades along the way. So, acknowledged the first 10 episodes will be awful. They will be the things that you will go back and laugh at.

Use AI to transcribe if you don’t have time to do it yourself. Text is still how search engines find things, even today.

Use artificial intelligence to transcribe your show if you don’t have time to do it yourself by hand. Search engines still rely on text. There are a number of good services that can transcribe at very low cost. Some examples include Amazon transcribeOtter.ai; Google speech to text; Watson speech to text from IBM – to name a few. Take a look at them and do some testing to see what works for you. I would say, give Google, Watson, and Amazon a shot at transcribing a podcast. My recommendation is read off of a set of prepared notes and then record your reading. Then you can upload your audio into each of the services and compare the transcripts that come back. Whichever is the one that’s most accurate for your voice, use that service because the services handle speech differently. Google seems to do best with my voice in the way I speak because I tend to speak very, very quickly. The other services, don’t do as good a job, they kind of mangle things a little bit. Make sure to do your due diligence. 

Be regular and frequent – the Seinfeld rule.

Whenever I speak about podcasting and marketing, in general, I will ask the audience “when was Seinfeld on?” and people typically know it was Thursdays at 9 pm on NBC. This is more than 20 years later. Seinfeld went off the air in 1997. Why do people still know when Seinfeld was on? Because it was great content and it was on regularly and frequently.  Your content not only needs to be good quality but should be regular and frequent. Establish a schedule so that people know when to expect it. One of the signs of success for podcasting, blogging, any form of content is if you miss an episode someone should ask “Hey, where’s this week’s thing?” It that shows that you’re doing it right because people want it and they miss it and they know when it’s supposed to be there.

Great content follows the 3E rule – so must your podcast.

Content has to be engaging, educational, or entertaining. One of those three things has to be true in order for content to be good. Ideally, it’s all three. If you can hit the 3E trifecta all at the same time you’ll have great content. If your content has none of those elements, no one’s going to listen to the show.

Podcasters always worry about the tools – worry about the audience.

Podcasters always worried about the tools first. Instead, you should worry about the audience. Focus on growing your listener base unless you have a defined audience from the start, like say employees. If you’re using your podcast for marketing purposes worry more about getting an audience and worry less about the tools. 

Expect to pay for ads to grow your audience unless you already have massive brand equity.

If Walmart or Amazon wants to roll out a podcast and they put it on the front page of their respective websites, guess what? They’ll have a million subscribers tomorrow, easy. But for everybody else, it’s not like that. Another example is Will Smith. When he started his Instagram account he gained 10 million followers almost immediately. Why? Because he’s entertaining, engaging, and sometimes educational but he has massive brand equity. He had no trouble getting followers because people already love him. Most of us (all of us) are not Will Smith, so expect to pay for ads. The idea that you can use unpaid social media alone to grow your podcast isn’t going to happen anymore.

Measure your podcast with Google Analytics and traffic to your podcast website. Downloads aren’t useful.

I’ll say it again, downloads are not a useful metric. Here’s why: So many services will grab the raw audio file, but they will then cache it, meaning they will keep a copy of it so that they can serve it up to subscribers without having to re-download and hit your server over and over again. It’s not a reliable measure of your podcast’s growth. It can be directional and a metrics to look at but it’s still not great. Instead, make sure you have Google Analytics hooked up and look at how your podcast drives website traffic. This is the way to go because you can see how many people are actually showing up there. It’s a much better barometer of success. Plus, if you focus on traffic to the website, then you will capture all of the attributions needed for your other conversion goals, such as form fills, for example.  

The most powerful marketing tool for your podcast is an email list. Build with that as a secondary goal to your overall business goal.

Your podcast should have an email newsletter. The newsletter should go out every time a new episode goes out and contain the show notes for that episode. Growing that list is your secondary business goal. That list is an important asset that everybody in marketing and sales can use. You can also use that email list in your remarketing ads. 

There you have it – the 10 best practices for starting a podcast. Want to list to the Trust Insights podcast? Click this link to get in-ear insights

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