This week, we’re talking leveraged podcast production workflow, including promoting your show and outsourcing the heavy lifting of the whole end-to-end process for each episode. It’s the third and final part of our series The Power of Podcasting to Build an Engaged Audience.
We talked in part 1 about why you might want to start your own podcast, and how popular audio is becoming (big understatement) as a channel and I shared some staggering statistics about podcasting as a growth trend and a way to reach a massive audience.
And in part 2, I shared my launch strategy and some of the lessons learned, both from the person who helped guide me, Anna Parker-Naples and my own experience and things I picked up being part of various podcast communities.
So now, let’s get to the heart of how you can leverage a successfully launched podcast show.
PREFER TO LISTEN?
There are three aspects to the leverage piece here.
First, it’s about growing an engaged audience, as distinct from just building an email list or social media following. It’s less about the numbers and more about their engagement and responsiveness.
Second, it’s about making the podcast production process as efficient and hands-off for you as possible.
And last but not least, it’s about monetisation and how to be intentional about your content so that your listeners stay engaged and move towards the next natural step of wanting to work with you.
Let’s dive into the first of those two pieces, and talk about growth. And that means the ongoing promotion and PR for your podcast. You want to see consistent increase in your downloads – which you can track within the hosting platform. You also want to be sure you’re setting yourself up for long term growth and the opportunities that come from having a long-standing, successful show.
Ongoing Promotion for Visibility & Leveraged Growth
The momentum you create from all the launch activity, you want to keep it going or your show will just fade away. You want to keep increasing your listenership, attract more people, attract great guests, attract sponsors maybe too.
The first obvious way to grow your listenership is by submitting to all the major “podcatchers”. As well as Apple podcasts, there are dozens of other directories or destinations that collect and play podcasts, and there are a host of websites that feature new podcasts and assist with discovery.
Libsyn, the podcast hosting platform I mentioned I use, actually does this for you. You can add a whole list of destinations that your episodes will release to, automatically. It’s magic.
So how do you promote your show going forward. Well, really it comes down to an important philosophy – the ‘just ask’ philosophy.
One of my very first guests on the Leveraged Business Podcast, Andy Lopata came on to talk about leveraging professional relationships and one thing he highlighted was the importance of asking for help, asking for support. In fact, he thinks this is so important he wrote a book with the simple title: ‘Just Ask’ – he understands that asking for help is something many of us find crazy difficult. We don’t like to bother people!
And yet, the truth is, people who like us really love to help out. And beyond the launch and your trusty team of supporters, you want to start collecting ambassadors for your show who appreciate the value of what you do and are happy to help, if you just ask. Plus your loyal subscribers – just tell them what you need them to do – which is to subscribe, rate & review your show, so you stay in the charts.
The way I do this is through my book, and through my outro in the show – I invite people to subscribe, rate and review if they’re enjoying the podcast. Why not, it takes just a few minutes to do that. But you have to make it super easy for people. Give them the iTunes link directly – create a shortlink like I have Reviews.LeveragedBusinessPodcast.com – ok not so short because my domain is quite long, but it’s basically a prefix to the podcast website domain. It’s not hard to remember.
If you have guests on your show, make it easy for them to share your podcast with their audiences by giving them marketing blurb and creating promo snippets.
- You can use Canva to create colourful, attractive little quote boxes to share on social media too.
- You can create teaser videos – I use Headliner you can upload to YouTube – subscribe to my channel – if you prefer listening there – it’s another high volume for content searches.
- Audiogram is also quite popular for creating soundbites though we haven’t used it in earnest yet.
Another way to promote your own podcast is by being a guest on other people’s. It wasn’t my strategy, but a lot of podcasters create a whole media campaign and get themselves invited onto relevant podcast shows and other speaking events as part of their podcast launch – kind of like a book tour equivalent.
I’m not sure why, but I haven’t actually been a guest on anyone else’s podcast yet. I’ve had a fair few invites! It’s just not something that’s in my strategy. And that’s probably just a bit crazy and I’ll leap into doing that when the time’s right.
For now, I’ve been a bit busy with looking after clients I already have. Nonetheless, being a guest on other people’s shows is a great way to build your own audience via other people’s audiences.
And the other area I’m not covering much because I haven’t really done it is sponsorship. A lot of podcasts monetise by attracting sponsors of their show. I’ve no idea the going rates, because it’s never been part of my strategy. But I gather how much you earn from a sponsor depends on the number of downloads that your episodes earn. They pay by the mille – per thousand, so it’s pocket change until you’re quite established, but it can help build your audience.
So when I got approached a few weeks ago, it took me a little unawares! I was contacted by an agency that puts together sponsors and podcasts, and it took me by surprise, partly because it was unsolicited and partly because I hadn’t really thought much about it. I’m not keen to have to add in sponsor promotion in my show.
Given this sponsor was Monday.com, the workflow software company, I wonder if I was a tad hasty – because it does really fit the whole leveraged business theme for sure. I may revisit that idea at some point.
Increase Efficiency with a Leveraged Podcast Production Workflow
In the show notes for episode (where this article stems from), there’s a screenshot of my workflow spreadsheet. This is where I’m at now, 35 episodes in and planning ahead. So I’ve been going for more than half a year, amazing. Time flies when you having fun!
What you’ll see on the workflow is how I break down every single step of the process – including guest liaison and content creation – and it’s how I’ve been able to see clearly what my VA can do and what I want to keep hold of. It’s evolved over time.
It’s quite a long workflow, which may look a bit daunting. The task list seems like a lot of work. But that’s just because I like to break things down to every little step, so nothing gets missed and it’s all in the most efficient order. That’s just how I run my business – I map out everything – maybe a little OCD on that, but it works for me.
So what are the different tasks. First on the general episodes, it starts with our content plan, which isn’t in the podcast workflow – it’s a separate spreadsheet entirely. It’s pretty much like the plan we talked about in episode 28 with the wonderful Laura McDouall, my content strategy guru. And the link to download her content planner is in the show notes, episode 28.
So next we move through the content creation, repurposing and web page scheduling:
- We pull the titles into our podcast workflow.
- For each topic we do our SEO research, to home in on the best keywords or key phrases that will get us the best search results for that topic – find the ones with a high volume, so you know there’s interest with lots of people searching for it, and the ones you stand a chance of doing well with in terms of getting on page 1.
- Next, we dig into content we already have and can repurpose, content we can put an outline together for and go do some research, and content we need to write from scratch that’s more thought leadership kind of stuff.
- Then we write the blog article – or for some I’ll just record the content from the outline structure then transcribe it.
So that’s all the content side.
If the topic is for a guest episode, it will still fit our content plan, and we will have gone out scouting for good guests who are experts in that area, or people I know who are doing interesting things or who are really great speakers, some who I’ve listened to their podcast if they have one.
Once we have the article and audio recording, we go into the audio editing territory.
What I have now is a workflow that’s 70% outsourced, so moving away from me having to do all of it. I still do a lot of the content planning, but the content curation can be done by someone else, because I have a lot of content to draw on.
- Once the audio recording is done, it needs to be converted from zoom audio m4a format to wav format to import into Audacity. I just used the free tool at convertio.co to do that and I picked wav rather than mp3 because, as the raw audio we’re working from, it’s higher quality. The audio is then edited for quality and we wrap the intro and outro with the music track around it – and then export the finished episode as mp3, because that’s what Libsyn requires.
- We also create timestamps – using a little wordpress plug-in called Fusebox and add that to the show notes. And we write the summaries for the episode descriptions.
- The next task is to add the tags using ID3 Editor – a little tool that adds all the right things in the right places that any of the podcaster destinations can pick out – they all use slightly different tags so that takes care of that.
- It’s then uploaded into Libsyn with the ID3 tags and you have to add a few extra bits in there for Apple Podcasts specifically. You check the details, upload your artwork and set the schedule date and time for publishing. Done – all ready to go!
- Then there’s the podcast website page and episode show notes pages to create. Ours is part of our WordPress site on jayallyson.com/podcast – and so we’ve created a template in the theme’s library that just clones a previous page and is edited from there.
- So we create a new blog article post and copy/paste in the text. We update the links between the article and the episode pages. So essentially, on the podcast you can read the article and on the blog you can play the episode.
- For guest episodes, we also pick out some fun video stills from the original zoom recording and create collages to add to the show notes page and to use in promotion and to give some dynamic to the episode.
- Both the episode show notes page and blog post are scheduled to be published shortly after Libsyn. We later go in and add in the specific episode links for Apple and Google to the page, just to add more convenience for people.
- We also go into Mailerlite our email marketing system and add in an update message about the episode. And we create social media bits and bogs with some nice visuals. And once released we can create video snippets too.
You can really do as much promoting and marketing as you want. And you can also outsource as much of it as you want.
For some episodes, we’ll do a pre-release promotion to say what’s coming, sometimes we’ll send a refresher a few days after. That’s all in the workflow.
Oh and later we’ll go back into the articles and add in more internal links to other episodes, which increases the SEO.
Consistent Offer Positioning for Leveraged Enrolments
If I take you back to part 1, I said that deciding to start a podcast was first and foremost about strategy. I already had a successful consulting practice, I’d been doing internet marketing already for a decade, and started moving more and more into online education, as part of a leveraged strategy for better work-life balance.
And that meant raising my visibility and brand awareness in the digital space and creating a signature program. A lot of what I share on the leveraged business podcast here, is what I’ve personally done and what I help others to do as a business educator, mentor and coach.
So to that end, I wrote and published a book, recorded the audiobook version and moved seamlessly to creating and starting a podcast from there.
I created the Leveraged Business Accelerator programme, which is a version of an existing digital roadmap programme that I redesigned into an online group programme to support individual practitioners and small business owners.
For my purposes, the podcast is part of my strategy – strategic marketing for business growth. It’s another vehicle for building my credibility and my audience beyond my consulting work with corporates, and working with people through the iSuccess Business Academy – the online education side of the company.
If you’re wondering, how do you know if your audience would respond to a podcast? From all that I shared about the podcast stats, in terms of trends – audio seemed a good way to leverage my expertise, to build trust and a connection faster than other media.
The statistics for podcasts show that most people now are really getting on board with audio, with listening. So I don’t think you would lose anyone. I think you would gain a lot of people.
Not everyone wants to read stuff. And interestingly, what I’m finding is that people either read everything, they might email me, some sign up for my programme, so they go the whole customer journey. But a lot of my subscribers and followers on social media, they just observe, they consume, or they tap into little bits and things.
So with the podcasting, what I felt is my customer journey goes a lot faster. |t feels like people don’t need to hang around in my world as long before they actually make contact. And that I think harks to the point I made in part 1 about connection and feeling that they know me; that they’re getting to know me faster than when they consuming my written stuff.
One of the remarkable benefits is that I had a 300% increase in the number of visitors to my website. And people were staying on my pages way longer than ever before.
Although as usual, I can track which pages are attracting the most traffic – so which topics and SEO is working the best – the fact that I put up an article version of my podcast and provided a show notes page of resources was undoubtedly a big factor in keeping my audience more engaged.
And that leads to better conversion and more pre-educated customers that then become great clients.
So I think you need to think whether or not that is likely to be the case for your audience as well, how connected you are right now with them. So if you’re currently say running Facebook lives or doing webinars, they’re probably already seeing you in that kind of format. And there may be less of a difference if you have a podcast.
But if you’re delivering courses, writing articles, or you have a book, and that’s your main channel, like I was, then I think it’s a really good complement to a book, for your audience to hear you and interact with you in a different way.
And it also depends on how willing you are to open up to your audience on a personal level. I don’t mean sharing masses of detail about your personal life, I mean sharing your personality, sharing stories from your experiences, or from things you’ve noticed, things you’re reading.
Just being more you helps you connect with your listeners on a human level. I want people to understand my personal journey so they can see that their journey is similar.
Although I did an audiobook, and that’s audio – it’s formal, it’s way more formal than larking about on a podcast. And it’s been an interesting reveal for me. Because I come from the consulting world, I can be quite serious, ultra-professional and very kind of, you know, factual, practical, get down to business. And so it was actually really big, doing the podcast forced me to kind of get over that, to be more relaxed with y’all, to share more.
You’ll notice, I don’t share really deep personal stuff, but I feel I have been opening up slowly because my fundamental belief is about work-life balance, so it’d been weird if it was all about business and not about life. And of course, because the podcast covers mindset, marketing and money elements, the mindset piece was really interesting because that’s probably where my story comes through most and when I open up the most.
That vulnerability. Part of my story comes through the most because I concentrate on working smarter, not harder. I’m very much about leverage and work life balance. Then I have to share a little bit of why that’s important to me. And that’s where my, my personal stories and experiences come through. So if you’ve missed all those juicy bits, you’ll just have to listen to the podcast to hear all that.
Patience, Consistency and Lessons Learned
Starting a podcast is easy. Launching a successful podcast is easy when you know what you’re doing. But keeping a show going is quite a big commitment. And the results can take a while to come through.
So getting a leveraged podcast production workflow going is super important so you can release episodes consistently, dependably and enjoy the parts you do personally whilst outsourcing the heavy lifting of almost everything else.
So if you’re the instant gratification type, starting a podcast may be a bit of a thrill. But the longer term planning and benefits may feel like you’re doing it for nothing for a while. Like with any content plan, if you just kind of do it ad hoc, or dabble, or you stop too early, it’s probably not worth even having bothered at all.
I know, we think it’s easy. As I said, right at the beginning, you just need a mic and start talking. There you go. But as a strategy for business growth, it’s something that won’t really be worth it unless you commit to it and play the long game. And that means having patience.
Because there’s a big frontend investment, you can’t give up too quickly if you’re not seeing results right away. The bigger commitment is a lot to do with the planning and workflow if you want to do it well, then there’s the equipment and editing.
It’s not vastly expensive. I’ll tell you that you do want to pick your tools and get a good process in place, that’s a bit part of the leveraged solution for managing the work involved in running a podcast.
And what’s interesting is that sometimes when you start, whether you start blogging, whether you have a podcast, sometimes you wonder, is anyone actually listening? Is anyone getting value from all this effort? And sometimes you think people aren’t engaging, that they’re just passive. It’s the same with Facebook groups sometimes. There can be a sense of inertia.
But actually people are listening and they are watching and they are seeing you. And it can sometimes take a while before things take off.
And so when you start a podcast channel, I think one of the reasons why a lot of the shows start and then end and only have a few episodes is that those people have given up way too soon.
Building an engaged audience, it starts slow and then it takes off. And I’m still in the taking off phase for sure. Most of the podcasts that stay in the game, sometimes it can take six months to a year, even more before things really fly.
So you have to feel that this is something you’re in for the long haul that you enjoy doing. There are lots of ways you can interact with your audience. And of course, the most leveraged strategy is where the things you do choose are nicely synergistic.
However, one of the best pieces of advice that I give to my clients is don’t try to be everywhere because you’ll just exhaust yourself. And you dilute your audience actually, cause they don’t know where to find you.
So pick your best platform and show up as the leader on there, consistently without fail. Anything else you do is just playing a supporting role, it’s a bonus that’s promoting your hero content, as my lovely guest Laura McDouall calls it.
So now that I’ve got some perspective and a lot of experience, one question I got was what I would have done differently. And to be fair, a lot of the lessons learnt are built into what I’ve shared over these three episodes, because I followed a plan based on someone else’s lessons learned.
For me, personally though, I think it would be to give myself permission to enjoy the process more. Because I was incredibly new to audio, it was a new medium for me, in the early episodes, I was over-preparing and I over-thinking everything. And I don’t think my natural voice or my personality came through as much as the later episodes.
It maybe took until episode seven or eight to find my radio show host vibe. And I’d done a couple of interviews by then as well. And I thought actually, I’m quite a good interviewer – probably drawing on my experience an evaluator – and I hadn’t realized that about myself in terms of how that skill would benefit me as a podcaster.
And now I’m wondering have I got the balance, right? Cause I do one guest interview every four weeks. We have the two topics I do solo and a Q &A with Dr Jay episode that picks up things that come up often for my client work. So I alternate the style slightly, but it’s not as distinctive as I thought. And I think the thing I would do maybe do differently into the future is have more guests.
Because doing the interviews is fun. It’s quite lonely doing solo episodes, it’s very one-way and you have to produce the content rather than it coming from the interviewee. Whereas once you get on a roll with your workflow and inviting guests, then I’m getting the questions together and just go with the flow and enjoying it and being natural. So yes, maybe more guest episodes that could be my lessons learned.
So that’s over to you, let me know – what do you like most – do you like the current mix, do you want more guest speakers, do you find the topics are relevant and insightful, do you want more of this and less of that?
Get in touch and let me know at jayallyson.com/contactme.
Hope you’re enjoyed these three parts to this series and that it’s helped you make a decision about podcasting and whether it’s right for you. Please send any questions in about implementing a successful podcast launch plan.
And whether not podcasting is for you, I’d love to help you clarify best strategy for business growth.
Let’s talk strategy.
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