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Podcast has existed for a long time and only starts to take off recently. The global interest over podcast has more than doubled compared with 5 years ago. Take a look at the trend below:
Starting a podcast could be a smart tactic for both marketers and publishers. This article focuses on the stuff you should know about podcasting and how to start a podcast to grow your businesses. I will touch base on various aspects of starting and making a podcast with a focus for marketers and business owners.
Introduction to Podcast
What is a Podcast?
Ben Hammersley originally suggested the word “podcast” as a portmanteau of “iPod” (a brand of media player) and “broadcast” in 2004.
A podcast is an episodic series of digital audios that a user can download and listen to. Listeners can subscribe to a podcast channel on a preferred desktop application or a mobile app such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher.
New podcast episodes automatically download via syndication to the user’s computer or mobile application (whichever you use to listen to podcasts such as Apple Podcasts app).
Why should you pay attention to podcasting?
For marketers, any channel or media you find existence and engagement of your target audience is worth considering. Let’s check out some statistics. The number of podcast listeners has increased sharply this year, according to a new report.
Podcast penetration is strongest among the 18-34 years-old, which can be difficult for many advertisers to reach. The average podcast is 45 minutes and the average podcast ad is 90 seconds; yes, much longer than traditional ads. And, know this, 85% of people who listen to podcasts, listen to the end, according to Edison Research.
The same study from Edison suggests the average podcast listener listened to five podcasts per week. With 5G coming and the ongoing IoT revolution, podcasts will likely be integrated with smart hardware, such as Apple Watch, Alexa speakers, and automobile to reach even much broader audience.
And, with maturing speech recognition and AI technologies, podcast audios can be accurately auto-converted into text, which will allow search engines to index the content. Users and your target audience could discover your brand through search engines and virtual assistants (such as Siri).
In fact, some brands have realized the value of starting a podcast and added value to the digital strategy mix such as HBR and McDonald. And, haven’t you heard of Spotify’s $200M acquisition of Gimlet Media and the release of new subscription platforms like Luminary and Brew? Podcasting is getting more and more serious for businesses.
According to PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2018-2022, podcast ad revenues will grow at a 29.7% CAGR to $1.6 billion in 2022.
If your business and brand target countries like the U.S., Canada (28% of its population over 18 monthly podcast listeners), Australia (18% over the age of 12 monthly listeners), U.K. (5.9 million of the region’s population over the age of 15 can be considered weekly podcast listeners), and China, you should be seriously consider podcasting for your overall digital strategy.
The continuous fast podcasting growth in the leading markets will have an impact on other markets as well. When everyone around you talks about podcasting, it’ll be much harder for you to win the podcast channel with a lot more required resources.
You can find more podcast statistics on the Infinite Dial report (PDF).
How to start a podcast in 10 minutes?
For those who want to get started fast, follow this section of my personal podcasting experience. Being new in podcasting, I started by using Anchor.fm to record and create my podcast China Digital Trends; I use it to distribute to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify (details below in the distribution section). Anchor does the hosting too.
Anchor is now part of Spotify, so you don’t have to worry about whether it may shut down any time soon and losing all your audios. And this app does all the work for a podcaster including monetization, for free. Just go to App Store or Google Play and download Anchor mobile app and register an account.
Creating a podcast on Anchor takes the following steps after account registration:
- Record your podcast episode using your smartphone; the key is to make sure wherever you record it, make sure it’s as quiet as possible
- Listen to your podcast before you publish
- Publish after you enter podcast title and description along with season and episode numbers
- Don’t forget to include up to 5 tags; keep them related to your content
- Use auto-distribution
Before you start, here are some tips from my podcasting experience for you:
- I suggest you record in segments. I usually record in multiple 3-5 minutes segments; it’s easier to re-do any segment before publishing as Anchor’s editing function is quite basic.
- Save and properly name your intro and outro as two separate segments so that you can reuse for future episodes.
- I prefer self-submitting instead of automating this with Anchor, which could potentially get into some ownership issue in the future. If you want to do self-distributing manually too, here is the guide. Details are in a later section of the article too.
Note: Anchor supports one podcast per email account; so, if you want to set up multiple podcasts such as one about cooking, one about marketing, and one about market news, you can only do so by registering multiple accounts with different emails. Yes, you do need to log out and log in again every time you want to switch.
How to do a podcast?
So how do you start a podcast? You need a podcasting strategy first and clearly identify how podcasting fits into your overall business objectives and digital strategy. Based on the strategy, you should develop your podcast content strategy, which supervises your podcasting creation and marketing activities.
In planning your podcasting operation, you should figure out and develop the following:
- Content ideas and calendar
- Podcast recording
- Podcast hosting and distribution
- Promoting your podcast
First of all, you need a proper name for your podcast channel, which should be memorable and preferably projecting the topic of your podcast. You can brainstorm with your team or use tools like podcast name generators to generate some ideas for the name of your podcast; you can try this, this, or this.
P.S. You need a podcast cover design, which I’m covering in details. You can find this guide helpful if you need some help.
Podcast Content Planning
Unless you are just a digital enthusiast playing around podcasting, you should fit your podcast strategy to your overall business objective and digital strategy. I know I’m repeating this but this is so important to make sure your podcasting efforts will convert to business results.
Once you’ve done that, you can start generating ideas and planning your podcast content.
Generally, you can make a podcast by recording it with as simple as a smartphone and a mobile app (the simplest would be a free voice recorder). The sophistication comes with you are after better sound quality which can be achieved with more expensive equipment and pricey software.
Repurposing to podcast audio from other content
In addition to recording a podcast, you can repurpose your existing content to create a podcast from webinars, videos, live broadcast, etc.
You can even create a podcast from text content such as your blog post. Let me introduce you a few tools to do that easily.
- Play helps to narrate any website’s article in more than 30 types of voices with excellent quality. It’s quite affordable with free options as well.
- If you are a WordPress user, there is an Amazon AI Plugin for WordPress to make content available for listening
- Blogcast is another tool
Creating a fresh podcast will require you follow the podcast topics developed in your podcasting strategy to meet your goals. Besides the marketing side, you may want to craft a structure and outline of your podcast.
Get creative and strategic when defining your podcast topics, it’s similar to developing a content marketing strategy.
You can refer to the list below to generate some podcast ideas and map it to your selected and prioritized topics:
- Trending news
- Live commentary on live events
- Podcast series
- A chat with customers
Each topic of your podcast should be correlated with the others. If not, you should consider creating more than one podcast channel.
I strongly recommend you narrow your overall podcast topic and start with a niche; it’s easier to build a brand for your channel. You can always expand your topics or start a new channel once you establish your brand in that niche.
Make sure you have a content scope ready and include the topics you’d like to cover in a recording before you record your podcast. And, one way to do this easily is to script a podcast in advance and follow it closely while you record it. Some podcasters just prepare an outline and make the podcast. I’d recommend a mix of both. It’s up to you; try both and see which one works better for you.
How to set up a podcast
Creating a podcast involves recording, editing, hosting, and distribution. If you work on enterprise podcasting, it’s not a bad idea to skip this section and leave the technical aspects to your experts.
How to record a podcast
Recording a podcast requires podcast equipment, especially the podcast mic. This can be as simple as a smartphone.
Any microphone will work for recording your podcast, but low and high-quality microphones lead to different sound quality. Check out the five recommended microphones from Lifehacker or this list from makeuseof. I’d recommend analog ones versus USB mics, which convert analog sound into digital connecting directly to computers with lower audio quality.
If you run a small business and are tight on budget, you can research some budget mics when you can record in a very quiet environment.
Podcast recording and editing software
So, how to record a podcast? A choice of equipment and software. There is a wide range of software options for podcast recording and editing.
For professional Digital Audio Workstation software, you can consider REASON (US$399) or Pro Tools (US$30 per month). Adobe Audition costs around $20 per month; REAPER costs $60 or $225 for commercial license. Hindenburg costs from $100+ to over $500.
Don’t be scared away for the price tag. If you run a small business or want to start a personal podcast, start with free, open-source, cross-platform audio software Audacity. If you are on a Mac, another free option is GarageBand.
There is a small learning curve here with Audacity; it’s easier than the interface looks. Check out this guide.
Many podcasters record and edit the podcasts using smartphones. If you want to do that too, you can use Anchor, available for both iOS and Android platforms. You can use it to create and host unlimited episodes, distribute your show everywhere, and make money.
If you are new to podcasting, I’d recommend you record 10 episodes and play around podcasting using Anchor; it’s free and provides every function you need to run a podcast channel.
Read this article to learn how to record a podcast on iPad.
Podcast Hosting & Distribution
So, now you have made your first podcast audio; and, it needs to be hosted online for future subscribers to download and listen.
Generally, podcast hosting is not expensive ranging from free options to a few dollars a month and more. In addition to hosting the audio files, they are supposed to generate an RSS feed to describe the files as well as download options. Some may also enable distributions, which I will cover in details in the next section.
I’d recommend you pick a host that includes a blog or website for listeners to visit (and search engines unless you set up a microsite on your existing website yourself), collects listener feedback, provides analytics data, automatic uploads to popular Podcast directories (Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Google Play Music, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.).
Free podcast hosting
First, let’s see the free podcast hosting options:
- Podbean: currently hosts over 240,000 podcasters with more than 7.4 million episodes combined. Free but limited to 5 hours of storage
- Buzzsprout: unlimited storage for free plan, but limited to monthly 2 hours’ upload; only 90 days of hosting for a free podcast
- Spreaker: free for 5 hours of audio storage and 15 minutes of max live streaming (in a single session)
- Anchor: unlimited storage
- SoundCloud: free for uploading 3 hours of audios per month
- Amazon S3: it’s not a free option but the cost is significantly much lower if you are tech-savvy;
Most of the free hosting options above offer paid options with advanced features. More expensive options include:
- Transistor.fm: from $19/month
- Simplecast: from $15/month. It powers some of the largest brands in podcasting, including Kickstarter, Nike, Facebook, and HBO.
- Captivate focuses on growing podcast audiences, from $19/month
- Castos is a full-featured podcasting plugin for WordPress, from $19/month
- Blubrry: their plans come with WordPress hosting as well, from $12/month
Distributing Podcast Audios
All tools mentioned in the previous section could help you distribute podcast audios to the major podcast platforms. So, I’ll skip the tools needed for podcast distribution.
Different mobile users have different preferences on where they want to listen to your podcast; some already a regular podcast listeners on iTunes (Apple Podcast), some on Spotify, …the idea is to provide your target audience with the least obstacle to subscribe to your podcast.
Note: listeners can subscribe to the podcast on computers too; but, I’m not covering details on this part as mobile is the key driver and main listening platform of podcasting.
Now, you need to know the popular platforms I recommend you upload your podcasts for distribution. These are strongly recommended (follow the links to the detailed guide):
- Apple Podcast (Itunes podcast)
- Google Podcasts Guideline
- Go to this address to submit your RSS feed to generate a direct link to your podcast if indexed by Google Podcasts; if not, wait.
- Google Play Music (not available in all countries)
- Amazon Echo
Spotify’s approval is the fastest when I submit my podcast, taking about one day. Google Play Music took 3 days and Apple Podcasts 4 days.
Others you can also consider include Sticher, TuneIn, SoundCloud (this one is a bit different as you need to upload straight to the site rather than using an existing RSS feed), iPodder.org (the oldest podcast directory).
It’s a bit confusing to some people about Google Podcasts vs. Google Play. Google Podcasts is a stand-alone app that indexes all the podcasts in the world. Google Play Podcasts is part of the Google Play Music app, which may not be available in your country (such as Singapore); you can use a VPN to access and submit your podcast to Google Play.
It’s very important here to note that when you submit for the first time, it will normally take days to get approval, after which the subsequent episodes will only take hours to be available to listeners. Keep in mind planning your content schedule.
Auto-inclusion. Some podcast listening platforms will crawl and index your podcasts such as Overcast. Your podcast will appear in more platforms than you submit.
Promoting your podcast
Utilize your existing channels and communities
I also recommend you:
- Create a checklist of digital properties you own or have a presence for your launch campaigns
- Your own social media channels
- Facebook Groups owned by others which you (Page admin) has joined
- Other social channels or online communities you have formed a partnership or worked with previously
- Create a microsite on top of your main domain (or with a separate domain) to list your podcast episodes
- Don’t forget your email template and campaign
Repurposing your podcast audios
What you want to achieve here is to maximize the usage and value of the created digital content – podcast audios.
Convert podcast audio to text.
In addition to providing a transcript of your podcast on your microsite, you can also optimize and format it to an article for your blog or other channels.
What I mean by “optimize” refers to both the readability and search engine optimization aspects; so, you need an editor and someone familiar with optimizing content for search engines.
Indexing podcasts by search engines like Google has just started. Even if each of your podcast is indexed by every search engine, publishing an optimized text copy will potentially broaden your audience reach.
If your podcast hosting provider doesn’t provide or generate a podcast transcript for you, you have several speech-to-text transcription options (of course you can listen and transcribe yourself but the idea is to save yourself for doing something more valuable):
- Use “Voice Typing” feature of Google Docs (Tools > Voice Typing)
- Try Sonix, an AI-powered transcription software, $10/hour (free trial for 30 minutes available)
- Rev costs $1 per minute with human intervention, meaning you can expect a high-quality transcript
- Temi (from Rev) speech to text transcription costs $0.10 per minute
Depending on the content, you can also consider creating a whitepaper, eBook, or other media formats. And, it may not be worth it to do this for all your podcasts; make sure it adds value to your audience. And, the same principle applies to convert podcasts to other media.
Convert podcast to videos.
Pick your content wisely for this repurposing. What it does is to merge the recorded audio with a video or image background. You shouldn’t spend too much to do this manually but find an automatic way to achieve it.
Voice2V provides a quick online solution for free. All you need to do is to upload the audio file, select a background (or upload your own) and your logo, and create the video in a few minutes. You can upload and publish your video to your designated channels like YouTube, Facebook, or others. There’s another tool Wavve better suited for social media publishing or audio files.
Wavve gives you the power to leverage the audio content to create social videos that drive more reach & engagement around your brand & content. Great for promoting episodes, highlighting guests, and sharing show clips. Each social media platform has its own preferred images requires.
Wavve offers pre-formatted design sizes so your post will work perfectly on an Instagram Story or Youtube. The free option allows up to 1 minute only. Another option is Wofox.
Again, before you do the conversion and repurposing, make sure the content is suited for what you want to achieve instead of flooding all your channels with poor quality content.
Now, happy podcasting! Leave your comment and questions below if you have any. =)