Are you trying to promote yourself as a subject matter expert (SME)? Do you want to share tools and techniques to help people succeed? Do you need a way to build awareness but have a small budget? Have you thought about starting a podcast?
The last several months I have been learning to podcast and developing episodes for a June launch (I plan to have ten episodes uploaded to provide immediate content for listeners). I thought I would share my experience to help you pursue this path with minimal pain and expense. If you like sharing information and want to expand your reach and increase awareness, podcasts are a great way to get noticed and build your business.
Podcasts are growing in popularity and are an economical way to create and distribute regular content. So what is a podcast? It’s an episodic series of digital audio. You record an episode, upload it to a web host, and people listen to it on computers, phones, etc., anytime, anywhere. Pretty simple.
Just like terrestrial radio but on the internet. The best part is you have total control of your content, production, etc., unlike radio which has editors, is difficult to get on, and has a lot of legal restrictions. Podcasts are the wild west of the new age of digital media.
The best part of starting a podcast is you can talk about any subject. You also don’t need any fancy equipment. Just use your smartphone’s voice recorder, upload the file to your computer, edit it, and upload to your web host. The production level won’t be very high, but it is a great way to “dip your toes” in the world of podcasting without spending money. Here is a great article to show you what you might need (https://www.omnicoreagency.com/best-podcast-equipment/).
Once you get some experience and decide you really want to do this long-term, you will need some higher-end equipment. There are many different levels of equipment (e.g., price, performance), from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, and a lot in between (https://www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-equipment/). Podcasting will not break the bank. I highly recommend you watch lots of YouTube videos and read various blogs (as well as listening to a lot of podcasts) to figure out what works best for you. I am a total geek, so I read lots of books, watched hundreds of videos, and listened to hundreds of podcasts to learn this really cool digital media platform.
What pulled me in to the podcast world was my love of comedy. Comedians are the pioneers in this relatively new medium. Comedians such as Marc Maron (http://www.wtfpod.com/), Adam Corolla (http://adamcarolla.com/), and Joe Rogan (http://podcasts.joerogan.net/) led the charge. They realized they could control the content and the medium while providing content their fans enjoyed.
Other comedians followed and realized the benefit to their careers. Comedians such as Tom Segura and Christina Pazsitzky (http://www.yourmomshousepodcast.com/), Bert Kreischer (http://bertcast.com/), and Ari Shaffirr (http://www.arishaffir.com/category/podcast/) built massive followings that turbocharged their careers. The majority of comedians have podcasts – good or bad.
Many celebrities have also started podcasts to build new audiences and additional income streams. Professional wrestler Steve “Stone Cold” Austin has a great podcast (https://www.podcastone.com/Steve-Austin-Show), actor Dax Shepard just started his podcast (http://podbay.fm/show/1345682353), and historian Dan Carlin has one of the best history podcasts (https://www.dancarlin.com/). Most of these podcasters create their episodes in their homes. It doesn’t take a fancy studio or expensive studio-grade equipment. You just need passion for your topics and to produce great content.
When creating episodes, the following is a very high-level to-do list.
- Decide on a topic
- Create an outline or script
Develop a theme you want the podcast to cover (e.g., business, history, car racing, model trains). Make sure you have a clear target audience and know what they like to listen to (e.g., topic, length of episode). Dependent on the type of podcast you decide to create – interview people, share information, discuss various topics, etc., you will need to do the following.
Podcasts take a lot of work. You need to create and post new content weekly. You want fresh content to keep listeners coming back each week, as well as ensuring you are found during search results (Google search loves fresh content).
It requires new skills (e.g., recording, editing, promoting). The benefits will help you develop your business or improve your skills at your current organization. For example, the ability to create audio and video content allows you to transfer the same skills to your market research reports, new product requests, etc. The more interactive your content is, the higher the overall engagement.
Here is a rough overview of how I am figuring out the podcast world. I knew I wanted to do this and wanted a well-produced show, but on a budget (except the microphone and recorder). I did not want to pay someone every week to edit and produce my shows; I knew I could do it myself.
My podcast consists of weekly episodes focused on business strategy and innovation topics. The podcast is not focused on interviews, so I do not have to worry about finding guests. I just need a weekly topic that will help people become much better at business.
I purchased the following equipment (along with estimated expenses):
- Zoom H4n Pro recorder w/extra memory cards – $220
- Zoom H4n Pro accessory kit – $50
- Heil PR40 microphone, boom arm, C-clamp mount, shock mount, cables, pop filter, and windscreen – $500
- External hard drive – $150
- Sony MDF7506 Pro Headphones – $80
- Logo – $65
The total I’ve spent is about $1,000. The Zoom recorder and Heil microphone are high-end, but I decided to spend the extra money as I wanted high-quality sound to provide a professional image. In addition, I knew I was going to do this for a long time and wanted to invest in good equipment up-front.
You can start your own professional-sounding podcast with a lot less money. There are some great microphones for about $100 (a Blue Yeti microphone is excellent and only $130) and you can record directly into Audacity, so no need for a recorder.
You can also buy a low-cost mixing board for about $75, to allow you to ensure your audio levels are perfect (I use the Zoom recorder for this). I like the mobility of the recorder to take on the road and be ready to develop episodes or interview people on a moment’s notice, so there will be multiple uses.
I’ve spent the last few months learning Audacity, free audio editing software. There is a lot of audio editing software available but Audacity is easy to learn and gets the job done – for free. I also practice every day to improve my on-air voice – try to eliminate awkward pauses, weird mouth noises, etc. (just become good at speaking into a microphone).
I hired someone from www.Fiverr.com to create a logo. This logo will be used on iTunes and other places I upload my episodes, as well as my website. In addition, I will use it for my microphone cube, to look really cool during video episodes.
I also plan to hire someone to record a professional sounding intro and outro for each episode. A professional intro keeps people engaged while a professional outro reminds listeners where to find additional information, how to subscribe to the podcast, and share various calls-to-action (CTA).
If you have a website created in WordPress you will need the Blubrry plug-in to handle the files (https://www.blubrry.com/). You also need a web host for your files (such as Libsyn (https://www.libsyn.com/)). It takes a little work to figure out how to use these, but there are plenty of great videos to help you get started.
Don’t freak out. This is not really difficult, just takes some time and a plan. The more organized you can be while developing the podcast, the easier it will be.
Each episode consists of several different audio tracks:
- Professional intro
- Background music
- Episode intro
- Background music
- Episode outro
- Professional outro
I am still developing the “design” of the podcast, but using seven separate tracks in each episode provides a professional and engaging podcast. I drop each track into Audacity, set the various settings (e.g., normalization, compression, equalization), combine each with proper fade-ins and fade-outs, and develop informative show notes.
A few months before I launch the podcast I will interact on various groups or forums (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn). Daily interactions will help “prime the pump” prior to my full launch – get people to notice me as a reliable source of business information. Then in June I will post within the various groups and forums about each episode. Each weekly episode will also be supported by a related blog post and video. I also have a detailed content calendar to ensure a continuous stream of daily and weekly information.
I try to be as efficient as possible, so when I am developing each script, I leverage the content to write my blog post and record videos. I am able to develop and create multiple pieces of content by myself, without the need to outsource. I am serious about growing my training and consulting business, so I do all this work during my lunch hour and at night and weekends (I currently have a 9 to 5 job). I have basically given up TV, though still read a lot.
It takes time and dedication to create a weekly podcast, but I have a lot of fun developing, recording, and editing each episode. In addition, I now have several new skills to leverage for future job opportunities. I am using my free time to learn new skills and develop my side hustle (which I hope will become full-time).
If you want to create a platform for a future side hustle (e.g., training, consulting, teaching, market research, writing), you need to be serious and dedicated. If you really want to do something you love, you have to put in the time and effort. If you are not familiar with podcasts, listen to a few of the ones I mentioned or topics that interest you. Watch a lot of YouTube videos and see if this is something you want to do.
Just remember, it takes a lot of consistent work but the rewards can be great. You need to be a lifelong learner. Learning how to create podcasts will provide you with great skills and ways to avoid spending money outsourcing (it will also provide new skills to increase your value within your organization). The more you practice, the better you will become and it will be easier – like anything. You just need to create a daily, weekly, and monthly habit. Have fun and share valuable content to new audiences all over the world.