January 23, 2021

It’s International Podcast Day. Here’s How to Start a Podcast for Your Business

Let’s be honest, this year has been a challenge. For many it’s hard to get motivated about much of anything new right now. Except, there’s never been a better time to start something new for your business, and it has nothing to do with the pandemic. There’s just never going to be a better time than now to get started. 

Starting a podcast for your business could be one of the most effective ways to connect with your customers and find potential customers. Before I walk you through how to get started, here are a few reasons why a podcast might be a worthwhile investment for your business:

You’re the Expert

Hosting a podcast establishes you as an expert in the minds of your audience. Not everyone hosts a podcast, but the fact you do provides a level of validation that you are recognized as someone who can be trusted. 

It also gives you the opportunity to speak to issues that matter to your audience, in a way that provides them with valuable insights and information. In turn, your company’s name and brand will be top of mind when it comes time to make a purchasing decision for the products or services you offer.

Expand Your Reach

A podcast also gives you the ability to reach people you might not through other marketing avenues. Since anyone can listen to your podcast, and since the ones who do are presumably interested in the topic you cover, it allows you to speak to a target audience you may not be able to reach through Facebook or traditional marketing. 

Engage Your Fans

Podcasting gives you the ability to connect with your audience in a more personal way. Listening to you talk about the areas of interest that you share with your listeners creates a stronger connection with your brand. It also gives you the ability to build community–podcast listeners tend to be more loyal customers in general.

Here are six steps to start a podcast:

1. Define Your Concept

Maybe the most difficult thing about starting a podcast is defining the concept. What will your podcast be about, and what is your unique angle? That’s an important aspect since there are a lot of podcasts out there. Your job is to figure out why yours will stand out.

For example, the podcast I started,  29 Steps, is all about the intersection of technology, remote working, and life. We cover the tools, tips, and productivity hacks that help you navigate all three. There are a lot of tech podcasts, and even more about productivity. We wanted to approach each from the perspective of why they matter to someone working remotely.

I recommend you sit down and not only brainstorm ideas, but also decide the following:

  • Format: Will your show be interview style, narrative, or some combination?
  • Length: How long will each episode be? Some of the best shows are only 20 minutes long, but there are many great podcasts that easily run two hours or longer. Decide which yours will be so your listeners know what to expect.
  • Topics: What specific areas of interest will you cover each week? Try to map out at least 8-10 episodes worth of content before you even get started. That will help you know if you have enough to make it sustainable.

2. Create Your Artwork

Apple Podcasts, in particular, has very strict requirements for your artwork–it has to be exactly 1400×1400 pixels. Beyond that, however, you have a lot of freedom to design artwork that represents the theme and feel of your show.

Keep in mind, however, that since it’s the first thing people see, it should be clear and memorable. Bright colors, bold fonts, and limited text work best since most people will be viewing it in a feed of shows and you want to make sure it stands out. 

Canva offers a few great templates to help you get started, but if you need more help, services like Fiverr or UpWork can help you connect with a freelance designer that can give your artwork a professional and polished look.

3. Get Hosting

There are a lot of options for hosting a podcast. In some cases, you can even host it on your website, but you probably shouldn’t. A hosting service like Libsyn makes it easy to set up your show, upload episodes, and publish to Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Since every other podcast player (besides Spotify) uses Apple’s directory, once you’ve published to those two locations, your listeners can get your show anywhere. Also, Libsyn has plans that start at $5 a month, making it an affordable way to get started.

4. Record

This might seem like the hardest part, but it really doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need is a microphone, a computer, and recording software. There are plenty of options for podcasting microphones. For example, the Blue Yeti X is an affordable USB microphone ($169.99 at Sweetwater and BestBuy) that connects directly to your laptop. There are certainly better options out there, but if price and simplicity matter, the Yeti is a great choice. 

If you’re using a Mac, you can either record directly into GarageBand, or via QuickTime. Both are free, and once you’ve recorded, you can edit using GarageBand, and export as an MP3 or M4A file for uploading. I also recommend checking out Ferritte, an iPad app designed just for recording and editing podcasts. 

5. Publish 

Once you’ve recorded your podcast, and have a final file ready to go, it’s time to publish. If you’re using a service like Libsyn, the process is relatively easy. You will need to set up an account with  Apple Podcasts in order to connect your feed to the directory. Also, one important note, when you publish your first episode, it can take a couple of days for Apple to approve it. It won’t show up in anyone’s player until that happens, so plan accordingly. 

6. Promote 

When you’ve launched a podcast, and your first episode is live, it’s time to start promoting your show. I highly recommend using a service like Bitly.com and registering a short domain for your show. Then, you can create a short url that links directly to your feed in Apple Podcasts and Spotify. For each episode, you can than create a branded short link that so that when listeners click on it, it opens in their player. For example, for our show, we use this format. If you visit 29steps.co/episode3, it will take you directly to that episode. 

Then, every time you publish an episode, use those short links to promote it on social media, or to your audience. You can also use the “Listen on Apple Podcasts” graphic, with your link, to promote your show on your own website. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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