Podcasting Essentials: the Whats, the Whys and the Wherefores
Have You Got a Favourite Podcast?
Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard plenty of people recommending their own ‘must-listens’. Meanwhile, a short iTunes sweep will introduce you to an extensive podcast library, covering just about every subject you could possibly imagine.
According to the BBC, 4.2 million people in the UK listen to podcasts every week, most of them during evening downtime.
Translation: if you haven’t created your own business podcast yet, it’s probably about time you did!
What Exactly IS a Podcast?
A podcast is a digital audio file that people can download online, then listen to whenever they like, either at their desk or on the move (‘pod’ cast gets its name from the original iPod downloads).
I like to think of a business podcast as your very own radio station, for you to – literally! – tell people more about you and your company in a friendly and informal way.
If that sounds a bit daunting, you could also think of a podcast as a spoken blog post, where you can chat in a relaxed conversational style that allows listeners to feel part of your business journey.
Recording a podcast can feel less intimidating than filming a video, so it’s a great way to ease yourself gently into business broadcasting. Another bonus is that you don’t have to dress up or be photogenic!
Why Record a Podcast?
We all absorb information in different ways. Some of us like to read, some prefer to actively participate, and some enjoy listening.
You will naturally boost your marketing message if you use an effective combination of these methods. For example, networking and video broadcasts count as ‘touchy-feely’ methods of active participation, while blogging and social media posts will satisfy readers. Meanwhile, podcasting helps those who love to listen learn all they need to know about you and your business.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, just think of all the places people can effortlessly enjoy your podcast from. Out for a walk, off to the gym and in the car – and that’s just for starters!
Even just by observing behaviour on public transport, we can see how common it is for people to plug in their headphones and immerse themselves in their own little bubble, far away from the outside world.
Wouldn’t it be great if you and your business could become part of that bubble?
How to Structure Your Podcast
Remember those old Reithian values at the BBC – ‘Educate, Inform, Entertain’? Well, those are a good start.
Rather than just talking and hoping for the best, it will help if you structure your podcast around a specific business topic (remember the ‘spoken blog post’ analogy?) Tackle a different topic with each broadcast or record a series of episodes if the subject you’ve chosen is more in-depth.
You can repurpose an actual blog post for the content – as regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of repurposing content! However, I wouldn’t recommend simply reading your blog post out word-for-word. The more natural you sound, the better.
Remember that you’ll have a specific audience to satisfy: your ideal customers. What do they really want to know, and in what style? Try not to ramble on, too. The optimum length for a podcast is between 20 – 40 minutes, though if you have chosen a detailed subject, you may be able to justify an hour or more.
Finally, giving your podcast a clear and interesting title will help people discover it online. For example, the Financial Times produces a podcast that’s all about how successful businesses started out, called ‘Start-up Stories’.
How to Record Your Podcast
The good news is that you definitely don’t need to set up your own wizzy recording studio to create a professional-sounding podcast. All you need to get started – at least in the beginning – is a laptop with access to the internet, and a microphone (your laptop’s built-in microphone is fine to start with).
As far as podcasting software and hosting go, my advice is always to start basic, then upgrade as necessary. Free software applications, such as the very popular Audacity, are a good place for you to begin.
Next week, I’ll be highlighting more about podcast tools and technology
In the meantime – over in The JFDI Club – I will be interviewing the lovely Louise Brogan of SocialBeeNI. Louise runs a really great podcast and will be taking time out to explain to JFDI Club members how to get started and how to keep going. A Must listen!
So, if you aren’t a member, or you haven’t signed up for your free trial, get moving …