The Power of Podcasting
My major successes in content marketing have all come through podcasting. This is the channel that has allowed me to reach the most people and earn the most revenue.
Let me start by defining podcasting. A podcast is nothing more than a digital audio file (or series of files) made available on the Internet for download to a computer, mobile phone, or other portable media player. Should someone subscribe to a podcast, they are chosing to receive new episodes or installments automatically.
Essentially, a podcast is like a radio show on demand, as opposed to live. A huge benefit of podcasts is that they can be consumed ‘on-the-go,’ meaning anywhere — like during a commute to work, a workout at the gym, or even while doing yard work. You can now access your market at a time when the consumer previously couldn’t engage with your written articles.
The four podcasts that I am involved with have been downloaded over 2 million times and have generated over $200,000 in sponsorships, over a period of approximately three years. Just as importantly, they have grown my brands, and helped to generate income in ways other than direct sponsorship — such as product and event sales. Podcasting is a very mobile content model, in that I can podcast from anywhere, and have even kept my podcasts going while spending 42 days traveling in Italy with my family.
I am not going to go through all of the technical details of starting or publishing a podcast in this book, but you can find a wonderful free guide online at www.PodcastingTutorial.com, which was created by Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. I used this tutorial when I launched each of my podcasts.
What follows are the crucial, can’t-miss steps to publishing a high-quality podcast. To actually grow the show’s following and scope, I recommend using all of the steps in this book. It should be obvious that the podcast you start will be in your niche, named for the niche, and that it will contain all of the valuable topics you have determined your market needs.
I also recommend being really smart about naming your podcast, and using similar strategies to those discussed for naming your business in Section 4 of the first chapter. As I’ve already mentioned, all my podcasts were the first of their kind, so I named them with a ‘The’ at the beginning, knowing that if I was out in front and had ‘The’ podcast in the industry, it would be hard for competitors to catch up to or replace my brands. Here are the four podcasts I am involved with, the first three of which I am a host on:
- The Engineering Career Coach Podcast
- The Civil Engineering Podcast
- The Italian American Podcast
- The Stem Cell Podcast
Assuming you now have a name for your podcast, and you have the initial setup complete, the following are the steps I follow for each podcast episode I publish. You’ll notice that the steps are somewhat similar to those I follow for blogging.
- Decide on a very specific topic for the episode. Make sure it’s based on your research. I have found that the fewer subject ideas it contains, the better an episode will be received. Also, by limiting the subject ideas discussed on each episode, you will have content for several episodes. Decide if the episode will contain just you, or a guest interview. If the latter, reach out to said guest and set up the interview.
- On a blank piece of paper or word processing document, brainstorm all of the important points within that topic. If you will be talking with a guest, ask the guest for their biographical information and some talking points that you can use.
- Create an outline for the episode, based on your brainstorming exercise. I usually try to create different sections with their own headers for each point, or a bulleted list of the points. The structure of your episodes may be driven by your listeners, which is important for listener engagement. For example, with my engineering podcasts, we make an effort to give the episodes very defined structure. One episode was titled 10 Steps to Obtaining Your Professional Engineering License. I’ll let you guess what we covered. Engineers think analytically, so episodes with numbers and lists tend to be better received. This is another benefit of really understanding your niche; you will know how to best engage them.
- Based on your outline, create a script for the episode. For each of the podcasts I am associated with, our teams have created a standard podcast script, which we customize for each episode. For example, the show might start with, “This is the Italian American Podcast, the first podcast dedicated to, etc.” The script also outlines the different segments, and includes any sponsorship advertisements that have to be read. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t script out my episodes word for word. I have tried doing this, but it comes off too mechanical and sounds like I am reading — because I am. Instead, I just list the main ideas in bullet points and then talk freely about each point while recording.
- Review your script and then record the episode. I won’t go into the details of recording an episode, as you can find that information online, but I do use Skype with a call recorder called Ecamm for episodes that contain either a co-host and/or an interviewee. If it is just me, I record in GarageBand on my Macbook Air. I also use a Roland portable recorder when I am traveling, or recording episodes on project and event sites.
- Perform the audio editing. This is a big step. While most recording programs will give you a fairly decent sounding result, you want your podcast to sound professional. I made the decision early on that I would not do the audio production or editing on any of my podcasts, and I have stuck to this. It is not my specialty and it would not be a good use of the 20% of my time I should be focusing on, based on Pareto’s Principle. I found an audio producer using the freelance website Upwork, and he has been with me ever since, across all of my podcasts. He charges about $15 per hour, and typically it will take him anywhere from two to four hours per episode, depending on the length. This is another example of putting the Pareto Principle into practice and spending your time on the 20% of tasks that will generate 80% of results.
- Write up detailed show notes for the episode. Show notes are nothing more than a summary of the episode that listeners can refer to or read through. The way I publish my podcast episodes is to create show notes, which are essentially a blog post on a WordPress website. I then insert the media file URL, which is hosted on a third party website called Libsyn, and publish the episode through my blog (this is all covered in PodcastingTutorial.com). Once it is published on my blog, the podcast episode automatically publishes it to the major outlets that I have set up, like iTunes, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, etc.
- Think of a catchy name for the episode that encompasses the search keywords you are aiming to target. Ensure these terms are located throughout your show notes.
- Have someone proofread your post, add a nice photo or two, then publish it, making sure you use the keywords properly to maximize your SEO. (I’ll talk more about SEO and making your content visually attractive in Sections 5 and 6 of Chapter 4.)
- Share the episode through your email list and social media sites.
If you do all this correctly, you will be accessing two of the biggest search engines in the world, Google and iTunes. That’s right –– iTunes is a search engine, a big one, that people tend to forget about. In my opinion, this is why podcasting gives you such a huge advantage over content marketers who only blog. I had been blogging for years through The Engineering Career Coach website, but it was only when I launched my podcast that the brand really started to gain traction.
The other huge advantage of a podcast is that if your listeners subscribe through a podcast player, every time you publish an episode it gets pushed to their devices automatically. In some cases, it will even pop up a notification that a new episode is live. A podcast allows you to get your message and content into the eyes and ears of your target market quickly and efficiently.
You can also add video to your podcast for a third dimension, but this will require more time and work. I have also found that guests being interviewed tend to prefer audio only, but again, if your niche demands video, then add video.
There you have it. This is the strategy I have used and continue to use to create high-quality, engaging podcasts episodes that have been downloaded over two million times. That’s my recipe distilled, for your use.
Start creating your own podcast now!
Author of The Content Marketing Equation