Podcasting can help you build authority and credibility in your field and it’s an unbeatable way to connect directly to your customers. Many entrepreneurs, including Jon Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire and Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, attribute their success to the medium. Moreover, it may be the perfect time to add podcasting to your marketing toolbox because it’s not yet as oversaturated as other channels. According to a recent Social Examiner survey, only 10 per cent of companies podcast, but 26 per cent of companies plan to increase their use of podcasting in the next year.
However, if you’re used to written communication, podcasting may require some new skills, such as delving into topics at greater length and developing thoughts on the fly without as much room for editing. Read on to learn how to prepare to podcast and make sure you have enough to say to keep your audience’s attention.
You’ve probably heard the old phrase that marketing to everyone is marketing to no one. The same is true of podcasting. The clearer you are on who you’re talking to, the easier it will be to create valuable content for them. You may already understand your ideal customer (often called a buyer persona or avatar) and the main problem you solve for him or her. If not, take the time to define your avatar.
Now it’s time to figure out what kind of content your avatar will be thrilled to tune in for. Listen to the podcasts already being published in your industry, and brainstorm the following:
- What will be the primary purpose of my podcast: to inspire, educate, or entertain?
- What topic do I love to talk about and want to learn more about?
- What topic does my ideal customer want or need to hear about?
- What kind of show will help me stand out among the podcasts in my industry?
- Do I want to interview experts, and if so, whom do I want to connect with?
- Am I already doing something I could record and repurpose into a compelling podcast, for example conducting group or individual coaching sessions, leading a mastermind group, or doing public presentations?
If you already have followers on a blog or social media, don’t hesitate to survey them on what kind of content they’d like to listen to. Podcasting is a big commitment. Taking the time to understand your audience and niche lays the foundation for success.
Create a Format
Beware the blank slate. It’s paradoxical, but too much freedom can kill creativity because humans are paralyzed by too many choices. There’s no established formula for a successful podcast, but it helps to create your own and stick to it. A predictable structure makes it easier for you to produce content and help your listeners know what to expect.
Decide the following:
Will you have a co-host or go solo?
How often will you publish your podcast? (The more consistent, the better.)
About how long will the podcast be? (The beauty of podcasting is, you can change the length as needed—but it helps to have a target length.)
Will you include musical intros and outros?
What segments will you include every week? Common segments include:
- Announcements about your company
- Top news stories of the week related to your niche
- An interview with an expert in your field
- A tip of the week
- A question for listeners to answer via social media or on your blog
Most people speak at about 110 to 150 words a minute when they’re engaged in a friendly conversation, according to speech expert Lisa B. Marshall. If you fall in the middle of the range, you’ll need to say roughly 4,000 words to fill a half-hour podcast. That’s a lot when you consider the average blog post is between 500 and 2,000 words. This means podcasting is a great forum to thoroughly dissect topics you’re passionate about, but it requires a lot of research and preparation.
There are three main ways to prepare audio content:
- Script and read it
- Speak ad lib
- Make an outline
Most on-air news segments are scripted, and scripted shows tend to sound the most polished. But reading naturally from a script is not easy for most people and can require a lot of audio editing. Speaking ad lib at length is also difficult for most people. Thus, many podcasters favor a detailed outline. It allows you to create a plan for your show and script quotes and statistics, but you’ll sound natural and can speak off the cuff when needed. Moreover, you can publish the outline on your website as show notes, which will make your podcast more discoverable on search engines.
If you’re interviewing someone, script an introduction, conclusion, and some informed, open-ended questions ahead of time. Then actively listen to your guest so you can follow up on interesting topics.
It may be tempting to try to sound professional or be formal. Instead, be yourself. The biggest reason people choose to listen to one podcast over another is because they connect with the host. As Jerrod Morris writes on Copyblogger, “Podcasts have a voice… a real, live, human voice, with subtleties of inflection, emotion, and emphasis. It’s this voice that breathes life into the content.”
Once you decide on a niche, create a format, and prepare your first script or outline, practice your delivery. Relax, speak in plain language, and pretend you’re having a friendly conversation in a coffee shop. Record yourself, listen to it, and repeat the process until you’re satisfied. Then get feedback from a few objective listeners. Once you’re confident in your delivery, it’s time to dig into the technical details of licensing music and recording and distributing your first podast. Before you know it, you’ll be hearing from riveted fans.