Are you ready to start a podcast? Whether you want to host a podcast or want to know more about the behind-the-scenes world of podcasts, this three-episode series will help you see why you might want to start a podcast. It reveals the why, what and how of podcasting to build an engaged audience. I’ll be sharing some stats as well as my own experiences having launched last October.
We’ll kick off today talking about why you might want to start a podcast, what’s involved – and then next week we’ll focus on the how to go about it the right way to launch a successful podcast.
PREFER TO LISTEN?
Hosting your own podcast can be a great way to establish yourself as an authority among your target audience and increase your visibility. While you can do that to some extent guesting on other people’s podcasts, there’s nothing better than having your very own show!
And knowing how much we love to binge on series these days, as you stack up your episodes, listenership can really snowball. Sounds like the perfect tool for lead generation, doesn’t it? Well maybe, or maybe not. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should!
So in part 1 here, I’m digging into the key question of why start a podcast, how and what starting your own podcast involves, so you can understand what the questions are to be asking yourself and you can decide whether this is right for you and how you can move forward.
And because the devil’s in the detail as they say, I didn’t want to just give you headlines and highlights. I wanted to give you an inside look – a peek behind the curtain so to speak.
So I’ve divided the epic tale into three parts – the first where we look at what are the benefits and what’s involved, then if you’ve decided you want to move forward, in part 2 I’ll go into the things you need in place to launch and in part 3 we’ll cover more about how you can create leverage going forward in the production and promotion to grow and leverage your leadership and your listenership.
Hopefully, this helps take you through everything in some nice manageable pieces.
As part of the iSuccess Business Academy, I launched The Leveraged Business Podcast back in October and we shot to the top 10% of global rankings in just a few weeks. After just a few months, I started noticing other benefits that I’ll talk about later on. But it’s not for everyone. And my success was no whim. It took a lot of careful planning and preparation.
My whole business is built on the premise of aligning purpose, profitability and positioning within the digital marketplace. As you’d expect from me, starting a podcast is very much part of a wider leveraged business strategy.
In this first article, I’ll go through why podcasting is worth considering as a business growth strategy, and what’s actually involved in getting off the ground.
Then in part 2, we’ll get into some of the nitty-gritty. I’ll go through some Q&A based on questions submitted. For instance, do you start your own podcast or should you start with guesting? What are the pros and cons of each? How do you actually start, what do you need to get clear on before you even decide whether podcasting is a good idea? And then a few things about equipment and what it costs to get going.
In part 3, I’ll share some of my journey and what’s happened since. I might put you off because I’m going to give you an inside view of the podcast production workflow as well. I’ll also show you a little bit further down the road, where I’ve got to so far in terms of growing and monetising the podcast.
There is a whole piece around how you can re-purpose your content and how you can outsource some of the heavy lifting in podcast production, tagging, uploading and promoting, as well as correspondence with guests if you have guests as I do.
So I’ll try to interweave a bit of all that too, and I’m happy to field any questions that come up for you, just drop me a message at jayallyson.com/podcast/qa.
Getting Clear on the Purpose, Audience and Occasion
So, what I thought we’d cover today is why start a podcast and drill into the purpose, audience and occasion – and by that I mean talk about the medium of a podcast, as a channel for reaching people.
In fact, purpose, audience, occasion was my standard mantra for my students in a communications course I ran at Warwick University for several years – and a great ‘occasion’ these days is a podcast.
So that’s where you start exploring the idea of whether you can use a podcast as a platform to sell your courses, your signature program or your services.
I think the biggest thing is people think, oh, you know, do a podcast, do a solo podcast, it’s super easy. You just need a mic and starting talking, or have a chat with someone interesting. Upload it to a podcast hosting service, and there you go, you’ve got a podcast.
But it’s actually a little bit more involved than that. It actually is pretty easy to create a podcast. It’s not so easy to create a successful podcast, one that actually works to grow your business.
And so as you know, I’m a big one for strategy. And I think this is all about having a really good strategy, not just for the podcast, but how it fits into your whole business.
So I’ve got to come from that angle really. And I want to share openly what’s involved – the bottom line of what you need to consider, so you can make a decision on:
(a) if it’s for you; and
(b) if it’s worth it, which is a really big question in terms of weighing up the cost-benefits – cost in terms of your time and energy, and benefits in terms of the return on investment.
Does it generate new leads, do those people actually engage with you, do they buy from you, are you increasing your influence and impact as well as your income.
And in fact, there are actually quite a lot of similarities with some of the questions that you would ask about starting any new content plan.
Say if you were going to write and publish a book, because that too is a big piece of work. It requires a lot of planning and it requires strategy.
And I think it’s quite interesting to think that I’ve done both. And what’s the difference.
So I’m happy to answer any questions around that too, if that comes up for you.
Being Strategic About Starting a Podcast
Right, let’s start with a few high-level things around the power of podcasting to build an engaged audience. So I am just going to share a few things that came up in the interview I did with Anna Parker-Naples, who’s the person that got me into podcasting in the first place.
When you’re strategic about how you put yourself out there and whose world you want to enter, who you want to bring into your world, a podcast can really do that on steroids.
And I thought that was such a powerful statement. I actually put it at the beginning of the episode that I recorded with her as a kind of a teaser, it’s episode 16 if you want to check it out.
So even though podcasting is just one piece of what might be your content puzzle, the really big thing to understand is that right now, audio is becoming the place to be.
And I’m going to share some statistics with you in a moment that if it’s doesn’t get you really excited then perhaps podcasting or maybe business aha isn’t for you!
The big reason I looked into podcasting, and the question that came up for me that led to me exploring it in the first place is this:
Where do you want to be seen in your field?
And in my coaching work, I talk with my clients about their vision of success, their goals and it’s often a case of thinking bigger. That whole ‘big me’ versus ‘little me’ thing, not wanting to play small – which in many ways I’d been doing by just focusing on the high-end consulting work.
I only really been dipping my toe in the bigger opportunity for what I knew I wanted to achieve. So for me, my word in 2020 was visibility and despite Covid and the stretch of months and months as the global pandemic hit everyone, I kept with the plan.
The first step was finishing my book and getting it out into the world. I stepped up.
And the next natural step up was planning out a podcast and deciding to take the plunge and launch it. These were two of the main ways, I went about making myself more visible.
The third way was to take my blog articles and start syndicating key pieces to a few online magazines that my target audience would be reading.
Now in the webinar I did, a lot of people had been guests on podcasts, but very few had their own podcast. And I wondered what keeps y’all back?
There was one person who has had a radio program for 18 months. It’s very interesting, actually, what’s the difference between a radio program and a podcast, it seems the boundaries are blurring and I can’t really speak to it as I’ve never been on a radio program or presented on a radio show.
A lot of it comes down to style and I’ve certainly drawn on some of these style of radio shows in terms of how you connect with an audience, because it’s very one directional when you’re on a podcast, you know, on a zoom session I can see people’s faces who I’m speaking to.
But on a podcast, you’ve got to kind of imagine the audience is out there just like they do on a, on a radio show.
And of course, I totally realise that some of you are driving your car whilst listening, or out for a walk or doing the washing up!
Tapping the Massive Growth Trend of Podcast Listening
So I mentioned major growth trends. Here are some stats and I’ll rattle through these, but I’m sure if you do a search on podcast statistics or podcast growth you can find all kinds of staggering facts, which is driving people to start a podcast.
In fact, Semrush published a really insightful piece on podcast statistics just recently.
But the statement I heard that shocked me the most is that:
Right now, podcasting is the fastest growing medium on the planet.
As of May 2021, there are now over 2 million podcasts and almost 50 million episodes. That growth has literally doubled every year and it’s not slowing down.
Although maybe half those are active podcasts – meaning people launch then don’t continue – those are still pretty astounding numbers, right?
Well, here’s some more eye-openers – or should I say ear-openers!
In 2020, 20% of people listened to podcasts on a weekly basis and most podcast listeners (75%) listen to learn new things, which is great for all of us in the education business!
In 2019, podcast app usage was up 60% from just one year prior. In most countries, the majority of the people have heard about podcasts.
Podcasts date back actually about two decades, previously called audio blogs, but there wasn’t a good means of distribution until more recently. Apple have been pretty instrumental in changing that with the iPod – which is where the pod in podcasting comes from.
And with that, not only music but any audio broadcast became portable – you can listen on the move, and while doing other things.
Nowadays, people are listening mostly on portable devices like a tablet or smartphone or on a smart speaker like an Amazon Echo or just from a player on their desktop computer or laptop.
So it’s true to say that podcasting in 2021 has gone mainstream and it’s here to stay. Podcasting will drive marketing and audience engagement forward as businesses battle to grab their share of consumers.
It’s not just a peak that’s happened because of the pandemic. It’s actually changed the way that people want to interact with content, by all accounts.
And something else that people are saying is that every business out there within the next three years will have launched a podcast.
So just like five years ago, everyone had a book now you’re expected to have a podcast. So, a really good sort of halfway step towards that is to start by becoming a guest on other people’s podcasts, and to get that experience.
There are ways to leverage the podcast space, to build your authority, credibility, and audience that will not be available to you in a few years’ time, because they will be so many podcasts out there. And you won’t have the head start that you would have if you started in the next kind of 12 months.
I don’t want to push you into a ‘fear of missing out’ mindset, I just think the whole podcasting space is a really an interesting phenomenon and worth consideration.
I know sometimes there are these trends that that come and go, but some things come and they keep going, they keep escalating.
2021 holds the record now for hours spent listening to podcasts, with 15 billion hours.
By 2024, according to that Semrush article, it’s estimated there will be 100 million podcast listeners in the US alone.
What’s also important about podcasts is that it’s not content that you just publish out there and then disappears; it’s legacy stuff. It’s available and searchable on demand for everyone across the world.
I mean, what’s interesting for me when I look at my trailer episode and the number of listeners is that it’s just continuing to increase. So people do start with your trailer in your first few episodes, even when I’ve now published, what 33, each episode continues to gather speed.
You know, that’s like a whole load of snowballs that are gathering momentum and growing in size to build your audience, increase your visibility, getting your message out to the world and driving growth in your business.
Hopefully, you got it.
The stats about podcasts, the massive impact, huge growth potential for building an audience that grows your business.
One of the interesting things why people start a podcast is that it’s a fast-growing audience, and partly because people now want to listen when and where they want, but it actually builds loyal subscribers.
So people tend to be more engaged with you as listeners of a podcast than they are on your email list, or if they follow you via other kinds of medium and like your blog or social media.
And the interesting thing here is the data that shows that 81% of people who listen to podcasts, take action with the intent to purchase on recommendations. They hear on a podcast and that’s why apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, audible, and the like one to play in this space because it’s so influential and has huge potential to increase revenue.
It’s also why advertisers and sponsors are investing heavily in podcasts. I got an email a few weeks ago now, which is interesting because that means I’d probably only got 27 episodes out at that point.
And I got an email from our sponsor saying, we’d like to sponsor your podcast. And I was like, I was like, I hadn’t even thought about that.
For me the monetisation part was to drive traffic, to get leads, to get people to know me, like me, trust me, to want to work with me. So I hadn’t even thought about monetisation in that sense. And I actually said, “No I’m not looking for sponsors at the moment.” And I’m still thinking was that a really terrible business decision or not.
But yeah, we shall see, we shall see.
Why Not Just Do Guest Podcasting?
This is a key question. And if you’ve been a guest or have done guesting already, you’ve maybe already seen the advantages of that. It’s certainly a great place to start:
1, because guest podcasting means you can leverage other people’s audiences so you get marketing exposure beyond your own current circle; and
2, because it’s very flexible; you don’t have to turn up every week and it’s up to what you commit to doing. You can decide how often you do guest podcasts, how many you do and who’s shows you want to be a guest on.
So if guest podcasting is something that you want to do, or continue to do, like anything, my advice is to be really strategic about it. Don’t just try and get on anyone’s show – ‘anyone who’ll have you’ kind of thing – be very intentional.
And there are some ways in which you can increase your chances of getting invited or getting accepted. If you want to put a proposal to a podcast host, all you really need is a bio and an offer, and possibly some examples of you in action, so audios or videos.
You can approach people you know in your sphere of influence to be on their show. It’s not as powerful as having your own show, but it’s a good referral approach and will generate you some leads and possibly result in some sales.
But there are some things you need to watch out for to do this well. And I tell you this from being on the other side of this, and having guests on my show. Because it also works both ways.
The question is always whether you’ve got enough of a match with the audience of that host and whether you vibe with them, that you have enough rapport with them for their listeners to get a sense of who you are and what you’re about.
Authenticity and openness and having a story people resonate with is how you build that connection.
And you’ve usually only got 40 or so minutes in an interview. Their listeners are meeting the guest for the first time, and if you don’t have much rapport with the host, you won’t get the benefit of building trust through their trust of the host. It could even be quite damaging for both of you if it doesn’t go too well.
If you can get those criteria pinned down, if you can have a good rapport and it’s a good match with their audience, guest podcasting can be a good strategy. In terms of the return on investment of the effort though, it’s hard to put numbers on how effective it is.
For instance, I couldn’t say how many podcasts you’d have to be a guest on to get X number of sales. It’s not something that’s easy to answer because there are quite a few variables at play, not least how good you are in that mode.
I guess you have to just pick and choose and test out. And so one of the big things is tracking where your leads are coming from, so that you can actually do some analysis on it as you, as you proceed.
Now, in terms of your own show, there’s a much longer list of benefits, but it’s obviously more effort and more of a long-term commitment.
The advantage when you have your own show is that it’s much more intentional, you can be very focused on what you want from it. It’s not a one-off, something you start then drop, it’s something that gathers speed.
You own show is more likely to be geared towards your exact target market, and it’s very much about building your authority.
But it has to fit your content strategy. So if it is a fit, yes it’s an excellent medium for you to use. It builds your own following and can help you attract clients and customers for your business.
As a lot of the questions I get about podcasting are around how to choose the format, what’s the best frequency, what’s an ideal length, what kind of style to pick. And the best answer is that it’s really up to you, you know?
I mean, you have to consider what’s a fit with your audience naturally, but generally speaking, we did our research and made the choices that suited how I like to roll.
I think the only other thing that’s not on here is whether you do episodes that are kind of. One-off so whether you run a series, um, and I’ll talk about that a little bit.
When we talk about content planning and you also get to invite your own guests, so role reversal. So those guests for me have been people that fill in my expertise.
So I want to have guests on my show that I’m going to have a good and interesting conversation with, who I’m going to vibe with or blend with, you know what I mean?
So if I have someone on my show, I’m going to always do like an intake survey with them if I don’t know them at all, or I’ll do an interview with them. Sounds more formal than it is.
Many of my guests come from my communities of practice, my networks, so they’re usually somebody that I know or I’ve already collaborated with, or I’ve heard speak. And I’ll just have a chat through the kind of thing that I’d like them to talk about, to give them a bit of background and a structure Then we just take it quite informally and let it flow naturally.
Starting Your Own Podcast – don’t decide just yet!
If you want to learn how to host your own podcast, because you’ve already decided it’s a go-er, then this will be a good reminder of all the positives and some things you might not have thought of.
And if you’re just kind of curious and maybe, only interested in guesting or improving what you’re doing with guest podcasting, or if not sure if you’re kind of on the fence and that’s kind of why you tuned in, then great – lots of this will help guide your decisions now or what you might do in the future.
So in a session on this when I asked “what’s your feeling about starting a podcast?” I remember one person said they’re “intensely curious, but daunted” and I have to say, that’s exactly how I was when I first thought about this.
Anna, the lady I mentioned at the start, she ran this 5-day online challenge, and I thought I’ll do that just to explore what’s involved in starting a podcast. I thought I’ll just kind of, you know, put my toe in the water and think about some of the planning questions that I need to consider, I’m not committing to anything.
And I got excited, very excited.
So perhaps this is a good way for you too, just explore, start the ball rolling and you can stop at any time. You decide yes it’s for you, or no it’s not!
And to get things rolling, Anna has a free podcast checklist you can grab that takes you through the steps. I’ve put the link in the show notes for you.
Okay. So why start a podcast?
Because it is simple, but it’s also a lot of work, particularly at the front end when you’re first doing it, because it’s all new. And it’s new in terms of organising yourself. It’s new in terms of skills, it’s maybe new in terms of the tech.
So you have to start with the strategy question: what I really want from this, where do I want to be able to get to at the end of this.
So I want to help you answer: is a podcast is the best place for me to invest my time, resources and energy.
And there’s three things I considered, and the way that I kind of set it out for myself – there’s a diagram in the episode show notes for this episode at jayallyson.com/podcast.
First, there’s the high-level thinking. If you’re going to start a podcast, does it fit your business strategy and is it playing to your strengths?
Is content marketing a real thrust for your business growth?
Does audio as a medium fit your skills in terms of speaking?
And in terms of some of the tech – what’s the learning curve or can you afford to pay a podcast production VA or agency.
And also, does it fit your brand in terms of your style and personality.
So all of that is about YOU. Then it’s a question about your audience, so second, how does it fit your audience?
Are they likely to be podcast listeners?
Are they likely to want information and insights and tune into your show
Is it a medium they enjoy or are they more a reading articles or taking courses kind of crowd?
And is it a platform that allows you to connects with your perfect people in terms of showcasing your personality?
One of the reasons I picked a podcast and I’ll be totally honest with you, is that I hate being on video. It’s still something I’m really working on because I’m a teacher and I’m a writer and, you know, that’s kind of how I think and process.
So to go straight to video or do ‘live’ broadcasts even, just isn’t natural for me. So creating visibility through YouTube or Facebook lives would have been a big deal for me, even though I know video is brilliant for marketing.
But with podcasting, it’s a halfway house, because I felt that it was an easy next step for me. I could repurpose content that I’d already produced for my book, my courses and my articles.
I started off writing then recording the audio, and later I recorded an audio and just transcribed it into an article – it works both ways round. So I had a feeling that it would fit with me.
And the third thing is in terms of credibility. Because all mediums if you promote them will increase visibility, but is audio the space that you want to be in?
Is audio the best medium for you to shine in your confidence and expert authority?
Does it help you build your list and does it help you build trust?
Those are the things that really made me think. I’d written a lot of stuff and people had read my book, but a podcast offers a very different way to express your voice, so to speak (literally!).
And for your audience it’s more intimate hearing you so they can get to know you, hopefully like you, and importantly trust you. Until your potential clients or customers hit those three points, they’re unlikely to hire you or buy anything from you.
For all those reasons, a podcast was very appealing to me in terms of getting my credibility out to my perfect audience. Those are the things that swayed me in terms of leveraging audio. And as I said, as far as reaching people, it’s one of the places to be right now.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Podcasts have a growing audience and already a massive audience.
- A podcast gives you access to new and different audiences perhaps to who you’re currently engaging with.
- A podcast allows you to make a more intimate connection with people than written media.
- Podcasts are now giving people more visibility than blogging and other social media.
- Podcasts can easily be repurposed into other kinds of content. I create an article and a podcast episode on the same topic – because people like to consume content in different ways. There may be cross-over but generally my readers are not the same audience as my listeners. Interesting huh? What do you prefer? Reading, listening or watching …?
- Always available ‘on-demand’ content for your audience
- And search engines, interestingly – and I’m probably not exploiting this enough – they can actually search audio, not just the titles and descriptions of your episodes but the actual audio.
So, there do seem lots of reasons why a podcast is a great medium for lead generation and connecting with your audience – like me, perhaps it becomes your main content marketing strategy. But how do you decide if it’s right for YOU, and for your particular business?
How to Decide if Podcasting is Right for You
Here’s the thing.
Even if you’re not entirely sure yet if you’ll actually start a podcast, and if it’s the right thing for you, planning it out can be hugely beneficial to your business strategy, whatever you decide is the right vehicle for you.
Start by thinking about the purpose and audience, just like we talk about for any content strategy.
- How would a podcast fit your business strategy?
- How can you play to your strengths – in speaking, teaching, interviewing?
- How does it showcase your personality?
- How does it differentiate you from other people who do something similar to you?
And then also:
- How does it fit your ideal customer persona?
- How does it fit your audience’s way of consuming content and engaging with your topic?
- What format, frequency would suit your target listeners’ work-life balance?
And think about the leverage opportunities?
- How does it complement other content marketing and PR you do?
- Can you repurpose and use time twice?
- Could you maybe get sponsorship?
So to dig into this, first, ask yourself this: What do YOU like to listen to? How do you listen? Chances are your ideal avatar is like-minded!
Some of the reasons people love podcasts are to do with the convenience, like:
It’s curated content. It’s a time issue. I can listen when I’m out running or walking. A lot of people comment that they can do it while doing other things. They like that aspect of it.
So it’s interesting because being in the business space that’s most of us are, um, I had to wean myself from kind of my doing things that were work related at my desk to listening to podcasts and cause I always like to take notes.
I’m always curious how people engage with podcasts, how are behaviours shifting?
And, and that has to be part of how you plan and think about the content for your podcast, because if somebody needs to take notes, and it runs for an hour, it’s not something they’re necessarily going to listen to while driving or out walking.
They might listen to some of it that way, but they feel a little frustrated. So maybe structure and sectioning become important then. For me, it’s good they can listen and then – except for the interview episodes – they can read the article version if they wanted to return to the detail.
So I think you have to think about some of these things for your listeners as well.
It’s like, when are they going to listen?
What are they going to be doing whilst listening?
How do they want to consume the content?
And then there were a whole set of reasons that were more about connection.
I feel like I’m a part of a conversation.
I get education as entertainment.
A podcast seems more live compared to reading stuff.
And that it feels like you can get to know the host and it’s a useful learning opportunity.
Convenience and connection, those are two of the main key advantages of podcasting that come out for me.
And if like me you weren’t already an avid consumer of podcasts, go for a tour round Apple podcasts or Google podcasts, or Spotify or Amazon and have a browse. What categories are you drawn to most? What shows grab your attention? What is it that jumps out for you?
Have a listen to a few – what do you like? And if you’re someone who listens to podcasts frequently, what do you like about the shows you’re subscribed to?
So let me check-in here … have I put you off or got you excited???
There’s a couple of other things I want to mention here too before we wrap up part 1.
First, yes you need to promote your podcast, like anything you do – there’s an element of getting found organically, but a bit of social media, PR or advertising can help get people to find your show and bump up subscribers and episode downloads.
But you know, some weeks, if I’m busy, I don’t even have to do anything. The podcast hosting system I use is beautifully all automated. I set up the episode release schedule and it sends it out to a whole list of destinations, including the usual podcast players like Apple, Google, Spotify, and also YouTube and Heart Radio. It’s just awesome!
I’ll say more on all that in part 2 when we talk about the podcast production workflow, putting an episode together from start to finish, all the tags, uploading and promoting side.
So next week – part 2 – we’ll focus on the actual launch – the preparation (that thinking part we pretty much covered today), leading into planning, production and promotion.
Because you can do a whole bunch of stuff before you launch and decide at any stage if it’s not for you. It gets you super focused on your purpose and commitment to podcasting as a key channel for connecting with your target audience.
- Choose A Topic/ Focus
- Pick a Format
- Decide on the style and vibe.
- Choose A Music Track.
- Create Cover Art.
- Have a go at Recording & Editing
- Write your Intro & Outro
- Overlay the music
- Build a launch team
And think about how you will promote the show once you’ve launched to keep momentum, grow your listenership and list, and monetise your podcast.
Launching is a great euphoria – and huge celebration, especially if you’ve followed the plan and you shoot into the podcast charts. Best feeling ever!
So tune in next week when I’ll take you through four steps to successful launch.
Ciao ciao til then!