Podcasting can be quite daunting. You need to have a topic for your show, the right hardware and software, a distribution channel—even the idea for the name of the podcast requires effort! But the stats don’t lie: more than 60 million Americans listen to podcasts. There is an audience for your business just waiting to hear from you.
If we break down the process of how to record a podcast, you’ll see it’s actually something you can do. And, if you’ve got a business or brand, it’s something you should do.
Depending on your business/brand/website, you need to pick a topic for your podcast. It should be focused (Windows PC Hardware reviews, instead of Technology reviews), but not so much that you’re stifled (Advice for Entrepreneurs in San Diego, instead of How to Start a Business in San Diego for Under a Hundred Dollars). Here a few ideas to get you started:
Hobby – Create a podcast about your comic book collection. About the movies you love. About your favorite recipes. The sky is the limit. You could be the sole voice in your show, or you could have multiple people involved. Going solo will let you guide the topic much easier, but you might run out of things to talk about. On the other hand, having 3 or people involved will make it harder to edit the show.
Tutorials – If you are able to convey instructions to people where they can’t actually see the steps, this is might be a good topic for your show. If you have a companion website, then you can give people the best of both worlds.
News – This topic is one of the most grueling because you’ll have to be topical. No sense in talking about something that is passé. You’ll need to keep up to date with your industry to have something intelligent to say.
Interview – Say you’re a realtor. You may have a weekly podcast where you interview people involved in the process of buying a house. You’re giving valuable information, and showing that you’re knowledgeable, so people should hire you.
There are many more types of podcasts out there. Search and ye shall find.
You can record a podcast with just about any type of hardware. The more you invest in hardware, however, the better your sound quality will be.
Built-in Microphone – Your desktop computer probably has a built-in mic, and your laptop/tablet more definitely does. These are the lower-end alternatives; the sound quality often leaves much to be desired, as they are more of an afterthought added to the device.
Plug-in USB Microphone – Here the possibilities open up immensely. You have options such as the Fifine USB Microphone and the Blue Snowball. Our favorite is the Zoom H2n because it allows you to plug another mic into it (to record multiple people at once).
Lapel Microphone – The previously-mentioned mics have been those that sit at your desk, or are arm’s length. There is a class of mic that clips onto your clothing and is near your mouth. They are the lapel (or lavalier) microphones. Again, you get what you pay for, so if you can afford it, get a more-expensive model. Some examples: Neewer 3.5mm Hands-Free, Sony ECMCS3, Audio-Technica ATR350.
After you’ve learned how to record a podcast, you’re, then, going to need to use software to edit it. Most people will make mistakes while recording, and it will be necessary to remove them. You will, most likely, also want to add intro and/or outro music the episode. Optionally, you can add a music bed to your episode; that is, music that plays at a lower volume below your conversation. To accomplish any of these tasks, you need audio editing software. There is really only one you need to know about:
Audacity – Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. This piece of software lets you fade in/fade out your sound easily. It lets you add multiple tracks (one for your voice and one for your music bed, for example); it lets you add filters to make the sound better; it lets you export in a variety of formats (MP3 being the most common). And the best thing about Audacity is that it is a free download.
- Once you’ve recorded, edited, and exported your podcast, it’s time to “broadcast” it. Basically, you’ll upload it to a central location and then it’ll be picked up by a variety of podcast apps.
- SoundCloud – Use this as your central location for all your episodes. The free version lets you upload 3 hours of audio (in total); the highest paid tier gives you unlimited upload time. SounCloud provides a great guide for setting up your podcast.
- Stitcher – After setting up SoundCloud, use Stitcher to reach more of an audience. Follow the Content Providers guide to see how.
- Google Play Music – Relatively late to the party, people can now find your podcast on Google’s music store. After you set up SoundCloud, you submit your feed in the Podcasts in Google Play Music portal.
- iTunes – The platform that brought Podcasts to the masses. Even if you don’t have an iOS device, you need to make sure your podcast is found by iTunes. Read the iTunes Connect article on how to do so.
- Schedule – Whatever the schedule, make sure you follow it. As you build an audience, they will expect a shiny, new episode to be available to them on a regular basis. It’s very common to have a weekly podcast; that’s a good goal. It’s much more work, but you could release a daily podcast (if you develop a streamlined system of production, it may work). As a beginner, a once-a-month podcast is a good starting point.
- Length – Another area of podcasting that is malleable. A tight, five-minute podcast on a topic could work very well. On the other side of the coin, an hour-long show could work, too. Anywhere in the middle is very common. Pick a length that “feels right.”
For business and branding, the main purpose of your podcast is to create attention for yourself. It is a form of advertising; you create content that reaches the people that care about that content, and drive traffic to your website or online store.
A secondary purpose for your podcast is to make money from it. Here are some ideas on how to make money from podcasting:
Revenue Sharing – Both SoundCloud and Stitcher provide ways for you to profit from your show. After you set up your account on either platform, read the FAQ to find out what you need to do to share revenue.
In-show Sponsors – Podcasting is Radio 2.0, and what worked for Radio 1.0 was sponsored advertising. Try inserting a short (15 seconds or less) ad for a company you’ve partnered with. Setting up a sponsorship with a company is beyond the scope of this article, so you should search the topic online. When to place your ad is important, so read this article about picking Pre-, Mid-, or Post-roll advertisements.
Show Note Affiliate Links – Every episode of your podcast can have Show Notes attached; either as meta data in the file, or more commonly on the companion website (you have a companion website where you can expand on your episodes, right?). Use the Show Notes as a place to include Affiliate Links. The Amazon Associates is an excellent program that pays you as you use links to promote their products.
Whatever your goals for you podcast, have one above all else: Have fun.
If you’ve set up a podcast because you “had” to, if you’re jumping on the bandwagon because “everyone else is doing it,” or you’re simply going through the motions after enjoying it in the beginning, podcasting might not be right for you. It’s work, sure. But it can be fun work.