If you want to take content marketing beyond blogs and the occasional YouTube video, starting a podcast can be a very effective way to grow your audience and your brand, increase traffic to your website and ultimately make more sales.
For more benefits of podcasts, see our previous post: 6 Reasons to Start a Podcast for Your Business
There are no barriers to creating a podcast and sharing it across the major platforms, as long as you're committed to the long-term project. To set your podcast up for success and avoid common mistakes, here are the basics you need to know for how to make a podcast from scratch.
1. Planning your podcast
What's the theme?
The purpose of your podcast may be digital marketing for your website, but that's not why people will tune in every week. Giving your podcast a clearly defined theme makes it easier to create content, promote your podcast and attract an audience looking for content like yours.
Who is it for?
Like any other type of content, you need to have a specific audience or audiences in mind when recording and marketing podcasts. Creating audience personas and keeping them in mind will help keep your podcast series on target.
Choose a format
Think about the podcasts you've enjoyed or listen around to decide what style will work best or that you'll be most comfortable with. The most common podcast formats for businesses are:
- solo show
- roundtable discussions
Plan episode topics
Like all content marketing, consistent publishing is key for a successful podcast. Drafting ideas related to your main theme and working out a publishing schedule will make sure you don't run out of topics to cover.
2. Equipment and software
The only equipment you really need to record a podcast is a reliable microphone. You don't need to invest in the highest quality audio equipment to sound professional, and in fact most podcasts use simple USB microphones. However, the sound quality will reflect on your brand – so using your laptop's built-in mic is a definite no!
Recording and editing software
Free audio software such as Audacity (PC/Mac) and GarageBand (Mac) includes the basic tools you need to record and edit your podcast and save it as an MP3 file. If you want more features, you can look into professional grade software such as Adobe Audition.
If you're planning to make phone calls during your podcast, such as for interviews or call-ins, you'll also benefit from software that can record calls over Skype, Zoom and other services. These include Callnote (PC/Mac) and UberConference (PC/Mac and mobile).
3. Recording your podcast
A podcast is typically looser and more rambling than written content such as a blog post, and few podcasters read aloud from a prepared script, but few go in unprepared either. Make notes beforehand of points you want to cover, including specific facts and figures you want to reference, aiming to have enough material to last the show.
Having a familiar structure in place for each podcast will help to keep you and your listeners on track, as well as making it easier to edit and insert ads. This structure is likely to evolve as you get more comfortable and figure out what works.
How long should a podcast be? There's no single answer, as it largely depends on how your audience is listening to it. If you're targeting commuters, episodes around 20 minutes could be ideal, but a more in-depth conversation could be an hour or more – as long as you can hold your listeners' interest.
4. Editing your podcast
Using editing software
Recording and editing software isn't hard to figure out, with no shortage of step-by-step tutorials online. You can choose whether to tighten up the recording by removing pauses and mistakes or to keep it intact and just add intro music, ads or other clips.
If you don't have the time or interest to edit your podcast yourself, you can outsource this responsibility to someone else in your company or hire a producer.
Be careful when using music in your podcast. Just as you need the rights to use images on your website and blog, you should avoid using commercial music you don't have the rights to and stick to royalty-free clips. Free music is available from sites like Incompetech, but as these are widely used by podcasts, you might choose to use a paid service to make yours more distinctive.
5. Publishing your podcast
Once you have your completed edit, it's ready to upload to a podcast hosting service such as BuzzSprout, Podbean, SoundCloud or others. Different platforms have different price plans and other features to compare when deciding which one is the best fit for you.
Before publishing, you should fill out the following details needed to identify the podcast and help listeners find it:
Giving your podcast series a descriptive title rather than something more abstract will help people to find it through searches. Individual episode titles should be distinctive and relevant to the topic, so regular listeners will know if they've heard it before.
Descriptions are even more important than titles for search engine optimization (SEO). These should include the keywords you want to target, while also sounding engaging.
Eye-catching and professional-looking cover art helps greatly with podcast promotion and making first impressions. Any text in the images should be easy to read when reduced to a small thumbnail, but the images you upload should be at least 1400x1400px.
Hosting platforms organize podcasts by category, so check out all the options and choose the one that's most relevant. If you're not sure, look to competitors or other podcasts in your field for guidance.
6. Promoting your podcast
Your podcasts aren't limited to one site. Once they've been uploaded, you can use the host platform's tools to automatically share the link to major podcast directories such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify and more, helping you to reach more people.
Some hosting packages include a website for your podcasts, but these are fairly limited compared to having your own custom site under your own branding and control.
If you want a dedicated podcast website, Limecube themes include specialist podcast themes and other designs that can be endlessly customized to suit your business and make it easy to get started.