Growing a Business Podcast: Planning, Equipment, & Expert Tips

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“An individual artist needs only a thousand true fans in her tribe. It's enough.”

Seth Godin, marketing guru.

 

Exactly the same can be said for a startup or small business. As an entrepreneur, starting a small business podcast will give you the tools to engage a vast audience. 


ZenCast hosts, publishes and distributes podcasts and we know the power they can offer your business. In this article, we will walk you through the process of creating a professional podcast, from brainstorming, through production, to leveraging your audio content to convert listeners into brand ambassadors. 

What A Podcast Is

A podcast is a digital audio series available through online directories like Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Like most streaming, television, or radio shows, podcasts usually appear in episode and season format. Some podcasts also appear in video form, such as My First Million, to increase the reach of people who can consume the content:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2tljx5A98Q&feature=emb_title&ab_channel=MyFirstMillion

 

 

Since they dwell online, podcasts are available on-demand, making them much more convenient than their older television and radio precursors. In addition, fans of a podcast can subscribe to receive notifications when a new episode appears. Once notified, they generally download the episode onto their smartphone, tablet, or other device and listen to it at leisure. 

Why Launch a Small Business Podcast

Starting a small business podcast is a type of content marketing that you can use to connect with new potential buyers. As a podcast host, you will speak directly to (and hear from) new and existing customers who look to you as a resource to learn from about your industry or niche. In other words, podcasts are a phenomenal tool to boost customer engagement.


For instance, Hubspot, a juggernaut in the software-as-a-service industry, runs a podcast network to lead, educate and inform through best-in-class business podcast shows featuring serial entrepreneurs like Neil Patel and Shaan Puri:


 

In addition, as your podcast grows, you will meet other specialists in your field. These interactions provide ample opportunities to collaborate and build partnerships with other industry leaders locally, nationally, and worldwide. Indeed, you may interview them to offer new perspectives to your audience or even appear as a guest on someone else's podcast.

 

Finally, running your own podcast will increase your brand authority. High-quality blogs, podcasts, and informational print media help establish your brand as a reliable source of information and build community trust around your company. When paired with high levels of customer engagement, community trust turns customers into ambassadors for your brand. 

Podcasting Starts With A Plan – First Up, a Niche

Starting a small business podcast requires extensive planning. What will yours be about? You need a topic you can discuss weekly (or daily?) without running out of material. However, you also should account for the interests of a specific audience. In other words: pinpoint a niche.

 

For example, Ecochain develops software to help businesses calculate and reduce their environmental impact. Their podcast, Speaking of Sustainability – The Impact Show, discusses a wide range of environmental topics like climate science, government regulations, and sustainable product development. It targets business owners who value the environment but addresses topics that would appeal to any listener who wants to learn about climate issues.

Podcast Names Must Appeal to People And Algorithms

 

Podcast names should appeal to their target audience, but their role is also to signal their content to search engines in the various directories people use to find new shows. Therefore, your podcast name should be memorable, perhaps even clever, but also relevant to your niche. That way, both listeners and algorithms will appreciate the name. 

For instance, Maintenance Phase is a podcast about debunking fad diets. Its punchy title is also a familiar term to anyone who studies diet and nutrition.

One Host, Co-Host, Revolving Door

 Podcasts come in many different formats. Are you a one-(wo)man operation? Alternatively, having one or more co-hosts is a great way to add personality and perspective to the show's content. 

 

Interviews also play a significant role in many successful podcasts. For example, The Joe Rogan Experience is consistently at the top of the charts and thrives on the long-form interview format. Regardless, the most important thing to consider when choosing your format is how it will facilitate bringing your content to the audience. 

Speak to your audience, don’t read to them

 

Don’t deliver content via a script. Although you may find it helpful to have an outline and a few notes, reading verbatim sounds unnatural and will put off your listeners. People don't speak how they write, and very few listeners want a professorial lecture when they choose a podcast. 

 

Speak to your audience like you are talking to a friend. Be conversational. Your own interest and curiosity about the subject will make you interesting for your audience to listen to. Even if you are an expert in your field, your listeners will relate much better if they feel they are learning along with you. 

Offer a snack or a feast, not both

Podcasts can be for a few minutes, several hours, and anything between. Since not every subject warrants the same amount of discussion, you have the freedom to choose each episode's length. However, audiences value consistency. Therefore, choose a target length that you think will accommodate your topics and choose your episode’s topics accordingly.

 

Generally, most podcasts are 20 and 45 minutes per episode, roughly the amount of content in a traditional 30 or 60-minute television show minus the commercials. Depending on your niche, this range may or may not be appropriate. Whatever length you choose, refrain from adding fluff to fill out the time or rushing to get through a complex topic. If you provide value, your audience will listen.

NPR’s Up First gives three major news stories every morning in about 10 minutes.  The consistent format and high-quality content make it a popular short news podcast among busy professionals.  

Consistency is key

 Successful podcasts have release schedules. Whether daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, pick an interval and stick to it. For building an audience and brand authority, listeners are usually happy with weekly releases – but regularity is the essential factor. All the podcast show examples we’ve shown above follow a pretty consistent publishing schedule.

 

If you are unsure that you can produce every episode in the time allotted between releases, create several episodes before launch. This upfront work will allow you both to alleviate the time crunch and market the podcast ahead of time using original teasers and samples. 

Hardware is necessary, but not necessarily expensive

 

High-quality podcasts require surprisingly little equipment. At a minimum, you need a laptop, recording software, and a microphone.

Good Sound Needs A Good Mic

 

Audio quality plays a critical role in the success of every podcast. Therefore, the most crucial piece of equipment is a reliable microphone. You will want to invest in a dedicated USB mic; fortunately, they are often under $150. Don't rely on your laptop's built-in one or anything integrated into a headset. Instead, consider industry favorites like Rode NT and Blue Yeti.

 

Set aside a quiet place lined with dense materials to absorb sound for the best results. You do not need a dedicated studio, but a small area lined with (movable) carpet will make an effective ad hoc solution for a single-host podcast. In addition, pop filters eliminate non-vocal mouth noises and make the audio more pleasant to the ear.  

There Is Great Free Audio Software

 

Recording and editing software is crucial for podcasters. Luckily, there are fully functional free options both for PC and Mac users. If you use a PC, look into Audacity. On the other hand, MacBook or iPad users should have GarageBand pre-installed on their devices. Both programs are similar, and many online tutorials are specifically geared toward helping people use them to start podcasting. Otherwise, you can invest in cheap SaaS tools, such as Descript or Riverside.

For Interviewers: Stay Alert

If your podcast uses interviews, there are some basic skills you will want to develop. Effective interviewers can relate to their guests in a relaxed and engaging manner while keeping the conversation focused on the topic. Moreover, they should pay close enough attention to engage with interesting or controversial statements. 

 

You will need additional software for remote guests to record the audio or video. Many people use common web conferencing apps like Zoom, GoToMeeting, or Microsoft Teams. These all work well for podcasts, but programs like Zencastr cater specifically for studio-quality remote podcast recordings.  

Finishing Touches To Make You Sound Like A Pro

Once you have an episode recorded, there are a few final additions before you distribute it to give it a professional feel. 

Have A Memorable Greeting And Farewell

Each episode should have an intro to introduce the show, host, and episode and an outro to drive listeners to the company website. Check out ZenCast to create websites specifically for your podcast. 


Music typically accompanies intros and outros, and voice-over artists professionally record some. However you decide to record them, use them to make a strong impression on your listeners.   

Avoid Copyright Infringement

 Choose music that fits your personality and content. However, do not use copyrighted music. Using it violates most directories' terms of service, and they will ban your podcast. Instead, try Incompetech for Creative Commons music or Jamendo for one-time fee compositions. In addition, you can try to collaborate with local artists to score some original tunes and give the band some added exposure. 

Give Visual Flair To Your Audio Streams

Podcast directories like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts display images along with podcast descriptions. This image is an opportunity to either build a visual brand or incorporate your podcast into your company's pre-existing brand. The Daily Zeitgeist sports an excellent example of simple yet memorable podcast artwork. 


 

If you have design skills, you can make your own podcast “cover art” using free software like Canva.  Ensure your image is under 1400 x 1400 px, 500KB, and in PNG or JPG format. Alternatively, you can hire professional designers on sites like Fiverr and 99designs

A Great Hosting Platform Will Empower You To Succeed

 

Instead of entering your podcast to every directory, like Spotify and Apple Podcast, you upload everything to a hosting platform. The subscription fee for a great hosting platform like ZenCast will get you storage for your files, analytics, marketing tools, dedicated websites, and more. 


 

Once you edit the audio and add images and music for the podcast intro and outro, you’re ready to export the finished podcast to your host, website, and the distribution platforms of your choice. 

 

ZenCast also provides an RSS feed for your podcast and gets it published on every platform, including your website.

Distribute Your Content

As a business owner, you need to know marketing. Apply that knowledge to your podcast. Leverage email lists, social media, blogs, business networks, and anything else you can use to build an audience before you release your first episode(s). Remember to include a call-to-action, asking people to subscribe and leave reviews. 

 

Since podcasts are content marketing, you can repurpose elements of them for different media. For example, you can publish short clips on social media or edit transcripts into blog posts. Of course, cross-promotion of all your content is vital to keep your audience and customers engaged with your brand.

 

You can reuse your podcast content on social media, blogs, and YouTube videos. This technique is a force multiplier in your content marketing strategy. Also, heed your listeners' reactions to your podcast through reviews. This attentiveness is critical if new and existing customers listen to your podcast. 

Podcasts Are A Powerful, Inexpensive Tool To Grow Your Business

Nearly every modern company could benefit from a podcast. For business leaders, their convenient format offers an opportunity to inform, entertain, and connect with customers in a unique way. For small business owners looking to get in on the game, planning, getting the right equipment, and investing in some extra polish can help you use this growing medium as a powerful engagement tool for your brand. Try ZenCast today for all the tools you need! 

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