Over the past 10 years, podcasts have skyrocketed into public awareness. And that rocket has picked up speed with each new celebrity-/entrepreneur-hosted show. The likes of Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, and Ben Shapiro have each grown their following because of successful podcasts.
Even people who don’t usually interact with digital media have heard of shows like This American Life, Serial, and Planet Money. There’s a show for every niche because there are always audiences waiting for content that aligns with their interests.
Even better, podcasts appeal to a huge pool of customers who might just be more accessible than you’d expect.
Join The Conversation
You already know that social media is an effective way to interact with customers and build a personality for your brand. There’s already a conversation about your company, and a podcast provides another way to influence — or even inspire — that conversation.
By associating a name and a voice with a show, you are building a “face-to-face” relationship with listeners. (As a byproduct, being open and honest on a podcast can make you seem like a passionate professional in your field rather than a corporate spokesperson.)
It’s also an easy way to create new brand pieces. Whether that’s creating a podcast logo or finding the perfect background music, your show can be a way to add new layers to your company brand.
But the biggest byproduct of a podcast is that it establishes a new way to interact with customers. You can start new social media accounts dedicated to the show. And those could provide extra content, drive traffic to your company’s primary channels, or both.
You can also provide new resources for your customers. A podcast leverages a new platform, and that creates opportunities that might not be possible through a blog or newsletter.
Maybe you’ll organize interviews with other entrepreneurs, or chat with successful personalities from your industry. Maybe you’ll plan for special Q&A episodes to dive into customer questions. Or maybe you’ll discuss new trends in your industry and how they affect your business.
Either way, a podcast creates a long-form dialogue between you and your customers. And it puts you in a position to steer that conversation, or even start new conversations that could overflow into other channels.
Find Your Inspiration
Maybe the best example is the show “StartUp.” This podcast gave an autobiographical look at the creation of a company from start to finish. Host Alex Blumberg gave his listeners a seemingly uncensored look at the whole process, including his mistakes and oversights.
Blumberg didn’t just invite people along on his journey — he gave them an honest look at his personal life and his professional goals. Because of that, he built a dedicated following and established a customer base before his company secured investors or office space.
In a way, finding out how you can provide that same sort of insight is the most exciting aspect of starting a podcast. You can create lasting, authentic connections with people, and those people can become fans or even advocates for your business.
Assess The Cost
Of course, every business venture comes with some sort of risk. If you just read through the benefits of starting a podcast and thought it was too good to be true, you’re right. There are costs involved.
Podcasting can be a surprisingly cheap expense if you research hardware and software. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a bit.) But the one investment that doesn’t have a price tag is time.
Like any new platform or channel, starting a podcast takes time — time to create it and time for it to start generating results.
You’ll need to set aside time to prepare episodes, whether that’s researching or scheduling interviews or even just brainstorming conversation points. Then, you’ll need to choose a date and time to record.
After that, you’ll probably want to give yourself a few hours to edit the audio file. (Audiences are pretty podcast-savvy these days, and nothing turns people off like poor sound quality.)
But even once you’re producing and distributing episodes, you can’t expect to jump to the top of the iTunes charts. Promoting your show, finding sponsorships, and cultivating an audience takes time, and it’s hard to expect any measurable results within the first few months.
Fortunately, the financial cost of starting a podcast — and all the benefits covered in the first half of this post — make that time investment a little more bearable.
Prepare To Record
If you’re looking to start a podcast with the absolute minimum budget, there are three things you’ll need to choose: microphones, recording software, and a hosting service.
Choose The Right Mic
When it comes to starting a podcast, you don’t need to build a fancy studio or hire a mix engineer — at least, not at first. But one thing you absolutely need is a great microphone.
This is one area where you can’t afford to cut corners. Audio quality goes a long way in establishing your podcast as an expert voice. (No pun intended.) And the first step in producing high-quality audio is choosing the right mic.
The site Mic Reviews dedicated an entire post to the best mics for podcasting, and it’s a great starting point. Their suggestions range from $50 up to $200, and all of them are from respected brands in the industry.
Get Ready To Record
When it comes to software, you may want one program for recording and one for editing. But in reality, the only thing you absolutely need is a way to record audio. And one specific program has become the industry standard, especially for newcomers.
Audacity is an open-source program that is widely used by both first-time showrunners and Top 100 shows. It offers every feature that a new podcaster might need, and its popularity means that you’ll find hundreds of tutorials and tips online.
And the best part? Audacity is 100% free.
As you become more comfortable with podcasting, you may want to start exploring the editing, mixing, and engineering side of things. Logic Pro and Adobe Audition are great options for that, but these programs can be a bit pricey if you’re working with a tight budget.
Find A Hosting Service
In a nutshell, a podcast host stores and distributes your episodes. These companies serve the same role as your web host — you upload episodes to them, they provide the audio files to places like iTunes and Stitcher, and then they provide listener data for you to review.
As the podcast industry has grown, so too have the number of hosting options. It’s a competitive market with a huge number of free entry-level offers. Podcast Insights created a list of the top hosting options in 2019 that will help you find a good fit for you.
And that’s it. With just a few hours of planning and as little as $100, your company can launch a podcast. And in return, you’ll get a new platform to build a relationship with existing customers, connect with new customers, and establish yourself — and your brand — in your industry.
In hindsight, it really doesn’t make sense not to start a podcast.