As someone who helps people and businesses identify, develop and promote their brands, increasingly I’ve been suggesting getting into the still relatively “blue ocean” of podcasting. (“Red oceans” are those bloody with intense competition.) IF you have something to say, IF you can truly provide entertainment, information or value to a specific audience, and IF there aren’t already lots of good and popular podcasts already doing exactly what you want to do, then making moves to start your own podcast IS a good idea.
Voice platforms are getting increasingly popular with both content creators and audiences. As consumers, we all have time in our cars on commutes or on runs on our treadmills to listen to what interests us. As brands and content creators, starting a podcast is relatively simple and cheap. (One reason why my Dametown blog will be starting a podcast very soon!) For now, I thought I’d offer you a relatively simple blueprint to make having your own podcast not only possible but practical.
1. Before the “How” Let’s Talk About the “WHY”
Having something to say —and having someones who want to hear it — is a vital but too-often-neglected first step. Think long and hard about what you want to say, why and to whom. Once you have a solid idea about your topic and your audience, research what’s already out there in podcast land. As we say in branding, it’s great to be the best, but it’s way better to be the first.
2. Now Figure Out the “What”
Take some time to think about how to structure your podcast. How will your podcast flow? Is it segmented? Are you going at it alone or do you have a partner? Will you have guests? Do you plan to interview guests or will it be more like a conversation?
How will the podcast best convey your unique brand? What kind of tone will you have — businesslike, causal, irreverent? Will you cuss or will your podcast be G-rated? Will you engage listeners? What role, if any, will they have in your show?
How long will your podcasts be — 10 minutes, 2 hours, or will it change each time? And what about frequency — will your podcast be weekly, bi-weekly? (It can be daily or monthly, but I wouldn’t recommend it!)
Once you’ve nailed all this down, you can proceed to the “How.” Here are some basics…
3. Tech-y Stuff You Need to Start Your Podcast
All you really need to start your own podcast (other than having in mind both something to say and people to say it to) is a smartphone. With a cool app called Anchor you can create your podcast with a few clicks. You can even interview guests directly in-app, and publish directly to iTunes. It’s as simple as creating an Anchor account, recording, and then following directions for distributing your podcast across their platform and others.
Technically, gear-wise, you only need a smartphone to record your podcast. But higher quality audio will sound much more professional (and be easier on listeners’ ears), so if you are serious, get yourself some audio equipment. Here are some recommendations from people in the know:
This starter kit will allow you to record with up to two microphones at a time. You’ll record directly to your computer from the Focusrite interface, using the two Audio Technica mics. (Zoom H4n is an alternative to the Focusrite interface, as it records to an SD card instead of a computer. You’d plug the mics directly into it, and then put the SD card into your computer to access the raw files you’ve recorded.)
Keep in mind, you won’t just be recording your podcast, you’ll be editing it too. Audacity is a really good free audio recording & editing software, or you can use GarageBand if you have an Apple computer. (Creative Cloud types can rock Adobe Audition.) Recording and editing work similarly across most platforms, but since it works on both Macs and PCs, let’s look at how to roll with Audacity:
- Plug your audio interface into your computer.
- Plug the mics into the interface, and set up Audacity to record with them.
- Hit record; start podcasting.
(Here’s a good Audacity tutorial for ya.)
After recording your podcast, you edit. Essentially, editing focuses on eliminating awkward silences, awkward non-silences, dogs barking, sirens, belches, tantrums, that Law & Order re-run in the background — anything you don’t want in the podcast.
When you’re finally satisfied with the final cut, export the file. (If you’re using Audacity, read this to export as an MP3.)
My recommendation: Don’t push your podcast out into the world without having recorded a batch of 3-5 episodes you can publish all at once. This not only gives listeners a place to go after the first episode and a chance to hooked, it also gives you lead time to go and ideate and create fresh content. (For example, the Dametown Podcast plans to record at least 3 at a time.)
4. Distributing or “Publishing” Your Podcast
When it’s time to upload your podcasts for the world to hear, time for distribution/hosting services and podcatchers. The distribution/hosting service is where your files “live” for folks to download, and it generates an RSS feed that podcatchers like iTunes read to access information about the podcast and where to download the file. Each distribution platform does similar things, but you can research them to choose which option best suits your needs. The best distribution and hosting services for podcasts include:
Anchor – The aforementioned all-in-one app for creating and distributing podcasts
Libsyn – This is what a lot of the savviest podcasters use for their podcasts
Shoutengine – Especially great for beginners
Pippa.io – A new startup aiming to make it extra easy to get started in podcasting
Simplecast – Another low-cost alternative
Now for (…drumroll…) podcatchers! A lot of podcatchers like Overcast, will automatically begin showing your podcast once iTunes accepts it. But that isn’t always the best way to go. Below is a list of some podcatchers for which you have to manually sign up, and you have to submit your RSS feed, but it’s often worth it. Do a little research, dames!
iTunes (This is the way I plan to go; it’s more work, more in-depth, but definitely the most popular.)
Spotify (This process is a little different although Anchor and Libsyn currently support it)
4. Promoting Your Podcast
If a podcast falls in the forest, but no one is around to hear it…well, that really sucks. You need to let people know it’s out there — especially the kind of people you imagined being the target audience way back when your podcast was just a gleam in your content creator’s eye.
Be creative about how and where you promote your podcast. Promote your show across all social media (duh), websites, magazines, newspapers, press releases, newsletters, emails, friends, family, flyers, skywriting, ads, a guy screaming atop a horse — whatever will work best for your topic and content and will most effectively and efficiently reach your particular audience.
5. Now, Time to Take My Own Damn Advice!
My very Like A Boss Girl pal, Dana Burnell, will be joining me in starting a podcast that expands upon the mission of my Dametown blog. If it has to do with anything dame-y, dames of yore, dames of today, things that concern dames or can help dames, we’ll be on it. We look forward to sharing great stories, laughs, and useful information
I look forward to hearing your stories as YOU start your own podcast too – keep me posted!