One of the most economical and effective ways to boost your company’s brand or image is through podcasting. According to recent reports, podcasting is projected to be a $1 billion industry in 2021. Is podcasting for business right for yours? Let’s take a look inside this fast-growing medium.
iPod + Broadcasting = Podcasting
The idea of podcasts began in the early 2000s when Tristan Louis proposed attaching sound and video files in RSS feeds.
The word “podcasting” was introduced in 2004 when a journalist with The Guardian suggested the name by combining Apple’s iPod with broadcasting. This new technology emerged when a recorded audio show produced by the NFL’s New England Patriots was made available for fans to download manually. However, the first official podcast goes to Doug Kaye’s IT Conversations, which ran from 2003-2012.
Podcasting came into vogue a few years later in 2009 when ground-breakers like comedian Joe Rogan began recording conversations and interviews for their fan base to enjoy. Since then, podcasting continues to evolve, with top shows generating financial returns.
In May of 2020, Spotify signed an exclusive deal with Rogan worth over $100 million, whose podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, receives north of 200 million downloads each month and the first podcast to reach over 1 billion downloads.
While the number of business podcasts is dramatically increasing, the industry remains in its infancy. According to eMarketer, the number of podcast listeners in the U.S. is projected to grow 16 percent annually to about 106 million active listeners.
The latest data released in April of 2021 indicated there are slightly over two million podcasts, with a few thousand added each day. Interestingly, only 64 percent are “active podcasts.”
To understand how podcasting works and what tools and services you’ll need to begin, we’ll cover the basics before exploring how your company or brand might benefit from starting a podcast.
What Is Podcasting?
Podcasts are recorded digital audio files that use an RSS feed uploaded to the internet. Most podcasts are recorded and produced in multiple episodes. Individual podcast episodes are then available to download via a computer or mobile device.
By subscribing to a podcast, episodes will automatically be made available. You can also listen to individual episodes by searching for podcasts on any number of podcast streaming platforms (i.e., Apple, Spotify, iHeart, Stitcher, etc.) or when available on websites.
Individuals, companies, news and media outlets, religious organizations, and entertainers all use podcasts to reach larger target audiences. There are no predetermined formats for podcasts. Episode lengths range anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
Successful podcasts all have one thing in common: professionally edited, quality content.
How Do I Start A Podcast For My Business
Did you know that you can start podcasting with nothing other than your smartphone? All you do is make an audio recording on your smartphone, upload the recording to a podcast host website, and hit “publish.”
While the basic process is simple, top-quality podcasts require planning, and purchasing, or having access to professional recording equipment. It’s also essential to find the right podcast media host, determine who will host or co-host the show, edit for audio and possibly video quality, and promote your content. Don’t let this information overwhelm you because we’ll break it down into bite size chunks.
Plan Your Business Podcast
Just like building a website, laying the groundwork for your business podcast is critical. Here are few items you’ll want to consider:
- What topics will you discuss?
- Will the show have a single host, or will one or more co-hosts be involved?
- Is the format discussion-oriented, or will you interview different guests?
- What type of equipment will you need and how much will it cost?
- How often will you publish an episode?
- Is the subject matter something you can cover in a series, say in two to five episodes?
- How many episodes are in a season?
- What is the approximate length for each episode?
- Who will edit each episode? Do you have someone in-house, or will you need to contract with a freelance audio editor?
The first item is determining your topic. Let’s say you’re a company that provides marketing services to independent financial advisors. Your company invested thousands of dollars in a new website to promote your services, and you would like to drive more traffic to specific pages. Over the past year, you’ve introduced three new client acquisition programs, including how to identify, market to, and close new business.
For our example, the podcast title is Financial Freedom for Financial Advisors.
Our Co-hosts for this example are Susan, the company’s marketing director, and Tom, the company president. The show will record and publish a new, 45-minute episode each week. Some shows will be discussions between Susan and Tom, while other episodes will feature guests that they interview.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “content is king?” The same applies to podcasting.
There’s no magical formula to determine the length of your podcast episode. The Joe Rogan Experience produces five, three-hour episodes each week. However, unless you have amassed a tremendous following and have a plethora of excellent content, I wouldn’t recommend anything much longer than 60 minutes. The bottom line is if your content and delivery are good, people will listen.
Once the title of your podcast is determined, and co-hosts are in place, the next step is producing cover art.
Remember the covers of your favorite album, CD, or book? Your podcast cover art should highlight the show’s title and co-hosts. Producing eye-catching cover art is vital because it’s the first thing people will see. You can create podcast cover art through websites such as Canva or hire a professional graphic artist.
Make sure you adhere to size guidelines and that your artwork highlights the show’s title. Whatever podcast media host you choose will recommend cover art guidelines.
Podcast Media Host
To format, publish, and store your episodes, you’ll need to find a podcast media host. Think of your podcast media host as where your show and episodes live.
The podcast host site will provide an RSS feed that will include important details such as the show title, description, cover art images, and options for sending to podcast directories like Apple, Spotify, Pandora, iHeart, Stitcher, Google Play, and others.
New podcasters often ask if hosting podcasts on their website is an option. No, it isn’t, and for several reasons.
First, your web server probably isn’t configured to optimize audio files and handle download requests. Sure, you could purchase enough space, but the cost is prohibitive compared to other options. Plus, podcast media hosts typically provide valuable analytics, promotional tools, WordPress plugins, and customer support.
There are several options for podcast hosting, and some are free. However, Libsyn comes highly recommended by many podcasters.
Libsyn, which is short for Liberated Syndication, has been around for over 15 years and not only hosts new and small podcasts, they also host many of the bigger shows like Rogan and Marc Marron.
Libsyn offers several plans, ranging from $5 to $150 per month. One of their most popular options is the Advanced 400 plan for $20 a month. The Libsyn team can walk you through everything you need to get started.
Besides providing 400 MB of storage, this plan offers a slew of other features. Plus, you can purchase additional storage if needed. For Susan and Tom’s show, this plan should be plenty. Their more advanced plan, LibsynPro, offers even more options, including custom mobile apps and private podcasting. Prices for this upper-tier option depend on your specific needs.
Yes, you could indeed record and publish a podcast episode from your smartphone. However, experts recommend investing in quality equipment if you want your episodes to reflect your company’s commitment to quality.
Regardless of how you record podcast episodes, investing in a quality microphone is essential. If you choose to use a laptop computer to record your podcast, USB microphones like the Shure MV88 are good choices. For professional-quality sound, XLR microphones by Rode, Shure, and ElectroVoice are wise choices.
Make sure you have the proper connection or adapters between the mic and computer. It’s also a good idea to use a foam mic cover or wind screen to help reduce wind and breath noise.
It’s best to have a dedicated space to record your podcast episodes. Ideally, the space or room you record podcast episodes should absorb sound and be free of outside noises. Boom mic stands attached to a table are ideal because they secure the microphone, which helps eliminate unnecessary noise. However, if portability is essential, use short, tabletop mic stands like those used to amplify drum sets in a recording studio. Just make sure the base can sit firmly on a solid surface to ensure the mic is steady.
Yes, headphones are a vital part of recording podcasts because they allow you to hear precisely the sounds recorded. Making minor adjustments like knowing the proper distance from the mic and other audio nuisances is why professional podcasters and their in-studio guests should always wear headphones. The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x, at around $49, are excellent headphones.
Mixer & Recording Devices
As previously mentioned, you can record directly into a laptop computer with one or more USB mics. An excellent mixer and recorder developed by Rode is the RodeCaster Pro, made explicitly for podcasting.
The RodeCaster Pro is a fully integrated podcast production studio in a compact device with a combination mixer and recorder. It features inputs for four XLR mics, automatic level settings, one-touch recording to a micro SD card or computer, and eight buttons to use pre-recorded or programmed sound effects easily.
Phone and Bluetooth capability ensure quality audio from remote guests recording through their phone or services such as Zoom. You don’t have to be an audio engineer to use this mixer, and you’ll have the basics mastered in no time. Plus, when they introduce new features, Rode provides timely software updates. At around $600, you can’t go wrong with the RodeCaster Pro.
Professional audio and video websites such as B&H sell this and other related products, including pre-packed kits that contain everything you’ll need for one, two, or four people. Also, make sure you have all the necessary accessories such as cables, adapters, etc.
Using Professional Podcast Studios
Another option for businesses to record podcast episodes is using professional podcasting studios. Many coworking spaces now offer packages where you can record and have your podcast episodes professionally edited.
Prices vary, depending on your needs. However, you can save money by purchasing your equipment and recording in your own space.
Editing Your Podcast Episodes
Just like content and copywriting, your audio files also require editing. As stated earlier, the key to any successful podcast is content. To make good podcast content even better, it must sound professional.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to hire a full-time audio engineer, although contracting with one will make your episodes come to life. There are many things, from “pops” and “crackles” to mispronounced words and names, incorporating additional audio examples, etc., that require audio editing. Remember, since podcast episodes are recorded, removing questionable content or mistakes during the editing process is simple.
Can you or someone in your company edit your podcast episodes? Sure, if someone has the time, knowledge, and expertise. If you use Apple products, you can edit episodes with Garageband. Other popular audio editing software programs are Adobe Audition, Audacity, and Logic Pro.
It’s undoubtedly feasible to train yourself or someone in your organization to edit your podcast episodes. But be forewarned; podcasting editing requires skill and patience, so it may take more time than you want to invest.
Contracting with an experienced audio professional may be your best option. Qualified freelance recording and sound engineers are widely available on a contract basis. Most charge either by the project or an hourly rate. Audio editing costs range from $50 to $400 per episode, depending on the quality and services provided.
Is Podcasting For Business Actually Good For Business?
Yes, and the reasons are many. Podcasting is a relatively inexpensive way to connect with your customers, prospects, and draw more unique visitors to your website.
Building your company’s brand requires hard work and plenty of patience. Podcasting for your business provides another tool to build customer confidence and loyalty. Plus, creating podcast episodes should be fun and give others a glimpse into the personalities of those that create your company’s product or service.
In summary, here are a few of the benefits to starting a business podcast:
- Exposure for Your Business
- Establishes You As An Authority
- Develops a Niche Within Your Specialty
- Creates A Potential Revenue Stream
- Creates An Authentic Voice
- Builds Brand Awareness
- Creates Additional Social Media Content
- Another Opportunity To Engage With Clients & Industry Insiders
Why & How Are Business Podcasts Growing
The beauty of podcasts is that people can listen anywhere and anytime. Around 2006, in the early days of podcasting, only 22 percent of the adult population in the U.S. knew about podcasting. In 2020, that number skyrocketed to 75 percent.
Podcast market projections indicate that in the United States alone, almost 80 million people will listen to at least one podcast episode each week. More importantly, podcast listeners tend to be affluent, young, and well educated. They are also more open to podcast advertising, which could provide an additional stream of revenue for your company.
Media companies like iHeart are taking full advantage of the growth in podcasting. You may recall that in 2018, iHeartMedia filed for bankruptcy protection. By the end of 2019, the company showed revenue of $3.68 billion.
Promoting Your Business Podcast
Now that you’ve decided that podcasting is right for your business, you’ll want to promote your podcast content so your clients and potential clients can benefit from your expertise.
The obvious place to start promoting your podcast is on your website. Next, make sure to utilize your social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. When you publish episodes using Libsyn, you have the option to automatically have the show feed published on multiple social media platforms.
Writing quality show notes is another important aspect to successful podcast promotion. Describe in detail the important points you discuss, including information about any guests and what credentials they bring to the subject matter.
Don’t neglect to ask any guest to also promote your podcast episodes. Well all know that organic impressions are best, so take full advantage of every opportunity to let others know about the quality of your podcasting efforts.
Finally, be patient. Podcast promotion, like all other marketing endeavors, takes an investment of time and financial resources. Experts suggest it takes two to three years to firmly establish a podcast, which is why most never advance beyond a few episodes.
Transcription Services For Podcasters
Several podcasts produce detailed show notes that provide listeners the opportunity to read a copy of the audio file. Producing transcript’s of your audio podcast allows those with hearing disabilities to explore your content. Obtaining the services of a quality, U.S. based business transcription company is your best option.
Transcription Outsourcing can easily and affordably transcribe your podcast audio files in verbatim or non-verbatim formats, just as we do for all types of businesses.
Now is the ideal time to start a podcast for your business. Good luck, and we look forward to hearing your new episodes soon.