According to some reports, over the past year, the popularity of podcasts in the world has grown by 25%. Most notably, 80% of listeners remain loyal to the podcast and start listening to every episode. The most entrepreneurial and successful companies, such as Smooth Business Growth have understood this for a long time and have been successfully operating in this area. In this article, we will tell you what it is all about, how to make podcasts, and what benefits you can get for yourself, your business, and your personal brand.
What are podcasts and why are they needed?
Wikipedia says that podcasts are audio or video files in the format of TV or radio broadcasts, but sharpened for the web. Let’s clarify a little. A podcast is a series of audio recordings united by one topic, direction. As a rule, recordings are released regularly and distributed on any sites, including individual podcast services.
Videos can also occur, but most often, this is just a visualization, an image, and the whole point is concentrated in the audio track. The format can be almost anything: narration from the perspective of one person to short digests, team podcasts, and interviews with different people.
Why podcasts are needed
They first appeared and were trending when Apple introduced the first iPod. But this trend did not reach us then, and in the West, it did not become widespread: the Internet was still slow, and not everyone had an iPod. Today, the situation has changed radically, read more about it at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/business/media/podcasts-surge-apple.html?searchResultPosition=16
Now the situation has changed, and listening online or downloading podcasts to a smartphone is a couple of taps on the screen. An additional incentive is information overload: articles and blogs, social networks, instant messengers, videos must be consumed consciously. A podcast is a great and so far the only alternative when you are busy with something or on the move: gym, jogging, travel (even household – to work, from work).
A podcast is a way to attract an audience when other content is difficult to get. An additional bonus: through podcasts, you can attract an audience to other projects, the same blog or business.
In terms of goals and motives, the podcast is useful for:
- Promotion of expertise and personal brand;
- Creating a more emotional and “live” connection with the audience, building a community;
- Attracting an audience to your projects, solutions;
- Promotion of products, services, business;
- Monetization – if a podcast is viewed as a business, a form of audio blogging.
- How to make podcasts: step by step guide
- If you like it, if at least one of the motives responded to you, then it’s time to move on to practice.
Step 1: Prepare the Podcast Concept
You read a blog post, got inspired by your own podcast, and you are already itching to grab the microphone and record something. Now stop! First, you need to prepare carefully. And in general, podcasts don’t take a lot of time to record, but more on that later.
Choose a topic or direction – a global niche or a specific idea around which the entire podcast will be formed. We need a concept of the future podcast, a short and understandable wording for the audience.
- A podcast about landscaping;
- The podcast show Interview with Young Artists;
- Interviews with online entrepreneurs;
- Podcast on learning Italian;
An audio blog about psychology to better understand yourself and others. In addition to the topic, direction, you need to understand why you need all this.
What’s the goal?
This is exclusively your internal question, so answer it as honestly as possible, as then it will be easier to form a strategy and act. It is advisable that this goal has driven you for more than one month, so you don’t get bored in 2-3 issues.
Popular destinations and goals:
- Get additional traffic for other sites, projects;
- To form the image of an expert, to strengthen authority, to pump up a personal brand;
- Increase the loyalty of the existing audience, community;
- Increase sales of your services, products, attract customers.
Step 2. Exploration and inspiration
You came up with a theme, decided on goals. Before starting a podcast, check out what others are already doing. Look at the top, most popular podcasts globally – listen to a few episodes, look at the design itself, the presentation, the tricks.
Find colleagues who are already producing podcasts like you. You may not find a podcast on your topic in Russian, but you can find something similar in English. Write down separately any techniques, approaches, ideas that you will visit.
Step 3. Global plan
Think over general ideas, messages, topics that you can and will cover. To be as useful as possible to your listeners, you need to be clear about who this podcast is for. Describe these people, what they are reading, what their concerns are, what their difficulties are.
What topics are they interested in? What will be most useful for them?
If you have your own platforms, social networks, just conduct a survey with the wording like: “If I start a podcast, what topics would you like to hear audio recordings on?” Gather all the information you can to form a plan for 2-3 months.
What to consider:
- How often will the podcast come out?: 1-2 times a week, 2 times a month, etc.
- The length of the podcasts will be short 2-5 minutes (take-and-do tips), average 10-20 minutes (mini-lecture + tips) or long 1-1.5 hours (interviews, lectures, discussions).
Will this be your only content, or will you invite other people to post?
When you decide on these points, you need to draw up the first content plan for the next 2-3 months. You can do this in Google Sheets: indicate the topic, date, any nuances, speaker, if you are not doing it yourself. Then you need to prepare the structure of each individual podcast: introduction, body, conclusion. If this is an interview, then make a list of questions in advance.
Life hack: make a common feature for all episodes so that your podcast has a recognizable element. Some do a blitz for all invited guests and ask 3-5 of the same questions. Someone at the end recommends an interesting book. You can tell an interesting fact on a topic or tie it to the podcast’s release date.
Step 4. Podcast site
You can distribute podcasts in any convenient way: on websites, social networks, special platforms for podcasts.
Most popular options:
- SoundCloud is one of the most famous services. The free version is limited in time to 3 hours of recordings, unlimited access costs about 100 euros per year.
- Anchor – the service is positioned precisely as a podcast platform.
- iTunes – Introductions are hardly needed here, most people tend to advance in Apple’s service.
You can use several or at least all services at once, but it is better to focus on one site in order to track statistics and development dynamics. For example, SoundCloud + iTunes is often used. But the key point is that this platform should be comfortable for the audience. If your audience doesn’t use the service or can’t launch a podcast by simply clicking the Play button on your site, it’s unlikely that someone will specifically install the app or sign up for the service.
Step 5. Working with a podcast
You have a content plan, a specific theme, and structure for one episode. What should be done:
- Record the opening and closing parts. This can be standard for all episodes, you can add a short description of yourself and the essence of the podcast here. In conclusion – any call: subscribe, go to the site, leave a comment.
- Prepare the main part. If you are recording yourself, then prepare the entire text and remember that one episode is a solution to one problem, useful information on one specific question. If you communicate with someone, take an interview, carefully study the person and his projects in order to formulate interesting questions.
Don’t worry if something fails on the recording. Some fragments can be edited, unnecessary fragments can be cut, etc. Decide on the technical part – record at home or in the studio.
If you decide to record and edit podcasts yourself – at home or in the office, you will need equipment and an audio editor. Now we will deal with them in more detail.
How to record a podcast: parts and equipment
The easiest option is to record in a studio. Under certain conditions, you can agree to set everything up for you on the spot, record, edit the audio, balance the sound. You will receive a finished file that you can publish or further edit. It costs about $20- $30 for 1.5-2 hours. Enough for recording an interview, conversation or a whole lecture.
If you are serious about long-term work, then you can make podcasts of normal quality on your own. It is enough to deal with the equipment once, to practice, and everything will turn out fine. The main thing is not to record podcasts on the built-in microphone of the laptop, as the result will not please your audience.
What equipment do you need to record podcasts?
A podcaster’s main tool is the microphone. The first one that comes across will not work, so you need to figure it out a little.
Microphones are conventionally divided into:
- Dynamic – cool noise and echo suppression;
- Capacitor – they suppress noise worse, but when recording in complete silence, the sound will be normal.
- The type of connection can be:
- USB – plugged in like a flash drive. You can find decent models within $100;
- XLR – you need a separate interface, which will cost from $100. And the microphones are decent quality starting at $350.
- A USB microphone is enough to start a podcast career, the main thing is the normal quality of the brand and good recording conditions (silence, mostly).
What microphones to consider for podcasts:
- Samson Go Mic USB – condenser, USB connection, cost $75.
- Shure Motiv MV5 – capacitor, USB connection, $140.
- Blue Microphones Yeti Nano – condenser, USB connection, cost $140.
- Audio-Technica AT2020USB + – capacitor, USB connection, cost $220.
Almost all models come complete with all the necessary adapters, cords, and even a table stand. To conveniently record, edit, cut out unnecessary fragments, add funny melodies to the background, you’ll need a good, convenient audio editor.
Programs and editors for recording podcasts:
- Audacity is a free, intuitive editor that has all the basic features. If you want to start with something simple, that’s it.
- GarageBand is a more complex, straightforward music software for the Mac, where you can do much more, even creating your own tunes and sound effects.
- Adobe Audition CC is professional software from Adobe that is used in recording studios. There are separate effects and lessons for podcasters. Of course, it costs money, separate Audition costs $20 / month.
These editors have enough analogs. But it’s clearly worth starting with free ones; their capabilities will definitely be enough for you to get started. Over time, you can look towards Audition, GarageBand, or the same Sound Forge that professionals use.
A few technical details:
- The audio file is saved in MP3 format;
- Optimal bitrate – 128kbps;
When saving in the editor, it is worth registering ID3 tags – the name of the podcast, episode, information about you, etc. When the podcast is ready, you upload it to the site of your choice and announce it to your audience.
What the promotion stage might look like?
Uploaded the podcast to iTunes and SoundCloud. We made an announcement on our pages in Facebook, Instagram, made Stories with a video announcement and a call to go to the profile, where the link is indicated. Additionally, we made an article in the blog, attached a podcast there, and a transcript, conclusions in text. Launch a mailing list using your email database, if any. We made an announcement in the channel, in our own community, in the group.
Additionally, we launched targeted advertising for our subscribers, a similar audience. We are sure that podcasts are a great additional channel of communication with the audience. It will be useful for reputation purposes, business promotion, and the formation of expertise at the very beginning of the path. You just have to go this way according to clear instructions and see how this format suits you personally and your audience!
This article was provided by a guest writer for VELOCE.