How To Start Podcasting: Planning
More good news: you don’t need expensive equipment to start. The Blue Yeti microphone (one of my favorites) now plugs directly into an iPad. Using an app called BossJock, you can have a pretty slick sounding podcast for less than $150 (plus the cost of the iPad, if you don’t own one).
Think about your format. Currently in business podcasting the biggest yawner is the interview format show. You’ve heard this too many times: bring on some guest and just talk to them for half an hour. Everyone’s doing it, and unless yours is different, there’s no reason for people to listen to your show.
That Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t Steal
Steal everything you like about other shows, but in the words of author Austin Kleon, “steal like an artist.” In other words: don’t plagiarize or rip off another show….but take good ideas and find ways to creatively make them your own.
While I’d never pretend to have the world’s best podcast, I’ll use Stacking Benjamins as an example. Rather than host another show interviewing random people, I decided I really liked a few things:
- Experts who were funny and engaging instead of “teaching.” Who was my model? Car Talk. These guys know cars, yet I rarely learn a thing from them about automobiles. I decided to try and bring Car Talk to the financial crowd.
- Short show segments. I like magazine style podcasts such as Filmspotting, Inside the Magic and The Dice Tower. Because financial topics are all over the board (and people’s interests vary widely) I “stole” that idea to keep the show moving.
- Roundtable discussions. I like The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, which is a lively discussion about how movies are made. Also, the uber-geek in me really enjoys Gamers With Jobs and the comedy lover likes Doug Loves Movies. All of these have some sort of roundtable discussion. I wanted that in our show.
- The idea of “setting.” Our show is “live from my parent’s basement.” People have told me they thought I “stole” that from Wayne’s World. Not at all. I actually stole it from an old XM Kids show called “Absolutely Mindy.” Her parents were distraught because she wouldn’t quit pretending she had a nation-wide radio show from her bedroom, and she used a hairbrush as a microphone. My kids (and I) absolutely loved hearing about Mindy being grounded, having to clean her room, and having sleepovers. It was really cool radio for kids. I know it sounds nuts, but I hoped that I could do something similar in the financial arena. Mom’s basement was born.
- An aftershow. Long-time listeners of our show can neither confirm nor deny that there may or may not be a hidden track on our Monday and Wednesday podcast episodes. I took this idea from another nerdy video game podcast called the Major Nelson Podcast. They got rid of it some time ago, but I thought it was a cool little “Easter egg” part of the show. We “stole” that, too.
As you can see, I’ve “stolen” much of our format from other places, but if you listen to the Stacking Benjamins podcast, you’ll see that what we’ve done with the “parts” has created a setting and pace that’s all our own. If you’ve heard our show, whether you enjoy it or not, I think you’ll agree that it’s different than any financial show you’ve ever heard.
Ask yourself two questions:
- What do you like in other podcasts?
- How can I “steal” it to create something original instead of just another “me too” podcast?
Advertising Your Work
Studies show that podcasts and cruise ships have one very big marketing problem in common. People who take cruises nearly always take a second one. People who listen to podcasts are likely to try many different ones (usually six). Sounds good, right?
Here’s the problem: studies have also shown that people who DON’T take cruises really don’t want to take one, and people who don’t listen to podcasts are really good at ignoring any chatter about listening to a show using their phone, computer, or iPod. In short, increasing the size of the pool is incredibly difficult.
Podcasters and cruise ships constantly knock their head against the wall to try and get new listeners. I took another tack. I’ve decided not to fight against the tide and instead focus all my energy on people who already listen to podcasts. Why? It’s a ton easier to convert a listener than it is to create a new one.
If you follow that logic, you know that you’ll have to market your podcast differently than you do your blog. There are three crucial steps to building a following once you have a great format and you’re rolling on creating shows.
- Know how to launch your show on iTunes. Apple is happy to do much of the heavy lifting marketing your show IF you know the rules. Many people have talked about how to land on the New and Noteworthy pages of iTunes (it isn’t hard), so I’ll not address that here….but do your homework on getting your iTunes launch correct.
- Build your social media brand. We had to create better artwork for our podcast and join many podcasting closed groups to start working on getting the word out that I was a podcaster. My goal is to get beyond the nerds like me who follow podcasting closely….but I know that by focusing first on other podcasters and bloggers, they’ll use their megaphones (hopefully) to tell others how good my show really is.
- The most important part of advertising your show is to be a good guest on other people’s shows. I’ve appeared on many podcasts, and each time I try to bring an entertaining topics (I listen to several episodes of the show first to be comfortable with the format), and then I always offer a special link/white paper or page with tips to the listeners of that particular show. It shows the host that I’m honored to be on the show and that I care about making him look good in front of his “home team.”
Podcasting is rewarding in many ways and I wish I’d started earlier. I can’t believe this now, but I’ve been listening to podcasts since about 2004. It’s funny how some podcasters who’ve been around since 2006 – 2007 are now calling themselves “some of the first” podcasters around. I could have been one of them if I’d just started!
It’s the same for you. Don’t make the mistake I did and worry about how bad your first episode will be (it’ll be really bad, trust me). Just know that you have to get the first episode out of the way to do a better second one…and then an even better third. Get started, make mistakes and continually tweak your work to make your audience even happier!
Joe Saul-Sehy is the father of twins, runs marathons, plays board games and STILL finds time to be the co-host of the Stacking Benjamins podcast.