The benefits of blogging are obvious. Thanks to your optimized posts, you can rank well at the search engines and drive high-quality traffic to your website. Blogs have a huge potential user base… basically, anyone who knows how to use the internet and Google stuff. There’s easy adoption: people already know how to read and Google, so once they get to your blog post, they can consume your content with no additional special skills or knowledge. And assuming your blog is part of your website, your blog readers are right where you want them! That makes it easy to shepherd them over to your contact form, rate calculator, or e-commerce store. Podcasting, on the other hand, podcast, doesn’t appear in the search engine results, unless you’re taking the extra step of transcribing your shows or putting together optimized recaps and posting them as show notes.
The Case Against Podcasting
Pew Research has shown that the current user base for Podcasting is quite small, even among adult internet users.
It’s more difficult for people to listen to podcasts for the first time. If you want to listen at someone’s website, you have to hope you’re not going to be disturbing a co-worker or family member by listening. If you want to listen on a mobile device, you have to have special software to listen and subscribe. Many people who have the software as part of their iOS don’t even realize it’s installed, or know how to download, listen, or subscribe to a podcast.
When someone is listening on a mobile device there’s no guarantee they’re at your site. Unless you add show notes there’s no place to leave comments or simple way to provide feedback. There are no links to click, and even if there were, you might drive off the side of the road looking for them!
So why would you invest your time in podcasting?
- The audience is growing.
I love having a podcast. Yes, there are fewer potential listeners (currently), but I’ve found the ones that do listen are quite passionate. There’s also the potential that podcasts will grow in popularity as companies make it easier to onboard new listeners.
The Podcast app is now standard (and un-removable) on iPhones. Android phones are finally getting a native podcasting app of their own. Many new cars are coming with podcast platform Stitcher Radio built in, just like satellite radio was built into new cars previously, leading to an influx of new satellite listeners. Also, other audio-focused companies like Spotify and Audible have started offering access to podcasts as well.
- You can literally get inside someone’s head.
The human voice is a powerful tool. Speaking to someone through a car stereo or earbuds gives you access in a way no other channel does. I’ve had people tell me it feels like they know me after listening to a few episodes.
- Podcasts can reach people where other channels can’t.
Many, if not most people, listen to podcasts when they’re driving, at the gym, or mowing the lawn. Three places where they can’t be reading a blog or watching a video (safely), but it’s easy to do these tasks while listening to a podcast. Also, many people are “auditory learners.” They prefer audio books over written books because that’s just the way they prefer to learn.
- It’s inexpensive to turn your podcast into a blog post.
There are services that will transcribe your entire episode or just put together show notes which can be put into a special blog post with the audio from the show.
- People subscribe to your podcast.
Through services like iTunes or Stitcher, people can subscribe to your podcast. That means that once you post a new episode, it automatically downloads to their phone or computer. (Usually. There are different settings depending on your device.)
- It has the benefits of any social platform.
It allows you to establish your expertise. It allows you to attract and build an audience. It allows you to easily create content.
- It helps you generate income.
When most people think of monetizing their podcast, they think of getting sponsors. That’s not a bad approach, but sponsors generally pay depending on how many downloads you get (that’s the most watched metric in podcasting). You’ll need a fairly popular show to even make your money back, and unless you want to become a professional podcaster, that may just be taking you away from what you do best.
I was on the fence about bringing on sponsors to my own show, podcast. I wanted to start generating income from my podcast, which was averaging about 10,000 downloads a month. Based on those numbers, I only would have made $ 100-$ 200 each month, and I would have had to include a 30-second, a 60-second, and another 30-second sponsor message in each show.
I just didn’t feel it was worth it.
While I was hemming and hawing over this, one of my listeners posted a link to a recent episode about website conversions on his Twitter account along with the message, “We could use help on this!”
I tweeted him back, which led to some direct messages, then emails, and finally a phone call. In the end, he ended up hiring flyte for a six-month engagement that was worth over twenty-thousand dollars! At the time of this writing it’s been extended to over $ 40,000 of revenue for flyte.
I’m not sharing this story to brag (seriously!), but rather to point out that your podcast can be a great source of leads for your business.
How to Get Started with Podcasting
Most of the successful, passionate podcasters I know are avid podcast listeners. If you haven’t listened to a podcast, I recommend that as your first step.
Visit iTunes or Stitcher radio and do a search for Podcasting in your niche. In iTunes it’s easy to see which are the most popular shows in a category. Download and subscribe to a few of these.
It’s also a good idea to listen to shows from other categories to get new ideas. When I first started my podcast, I downloaded the most popular show in every category to see how other people were doing their shows.
Podcasting tends to fall into three types of shows:
- Solo: this is more like a lecture or presentation. It often requires a lot work, but you get to establish yourself as the expert.
- Interview: you interview guests who come on your show. You have to share the spotlight, but it’s a lot less prep work on your part, and you benefit from the expertise of others. (This is the style of my own show.)
- Panel: a cast of regulars weigh in on topics. Sort of like Meet the Press or ESPN’s Around the Horn. Sometimes the panel rotates with new people, but usually there’s a core group.
Of course, you don’t have to have just one style. Most of my episodes are interviews, but I’ll occasionally do a solo episode to mix it up.
Being a Guest
One way to get your feet wet in podcasting without jumping into the deep end is being a guest on other people’s podcasts.
Being a guest is a lot less work than having your own show. You just need to show up on time, do your 20-40 minutes of answering questions, and be on your way. For this investment in time you are introduced to your host’s audience and generally will get at least one inbound link from their show notes to your website.
To find an appropriate show to appear on, head on over to iTunes and do a search on your area of expertise. Chances are there are already a number of podcasts that speak to your audience. Find ones that are interview style (meaning they’re looking for guests) and listen to a couple of episodes. If it feels like a good fit, find the host’s contact information (often on their website), and reach out.
Explain why you’d be a good guest. Give some examples of topics you could speak on where you have some expertise. If you have any previous interview experience you can include links where they can check you out. If you haven’t been on any other podcasts, you might send them a clip of you speaking from a YouTube video. If you don’t have that, considering creating a brief, two-minute video so they can get a sense of who you are and upload it to YouTube.
Hosts are often looking for people they know will be good guests, so make sure you have something you can point them to, and be clear about the value you’d bring to their audience.
When searching for podcasts, don’t just look for podcasts in your direct niche. For example, if you’re in Public Relations, other PR podcasters may not be interested in having a “competitor” on their show. However, if your firm focuses on the hospitality industry, you should find podcasts that have an audience of innkeepers, restauranteurs, and other professionals in the hospitality industry that could benefit from some positive PR.
Being a Great Guest
If you really want to nail your guest spot, you’ll want to prepare.
Listen to a few episodes.
You should have done this before reaching out, but if you find yourself in this situation, make sure you listen to a few episodes before going on the show to get a sense of the host’s style. Some hosts send out frameworks for the show, others send the questions in advance, but others are more laid back and just want to see where the conversation goes.
Have a microphone.
You want to sound GREAT on your interview, so speaking into your computer mic just isn’t going to cut it. I’ve got some recommendations below, but at a minimum you want a USB headset. You can pick one up at Amazon or a local store for under $ 30. Most interviews I’ve been on are done on Skype, although some shows prefer Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting. Regardless, most are recorded on a computer, so you’ll want that USB powered headset.
Be prepared and show up on time.
Ask the host (if he doesn’t tell you in advance) how the show will be recorded. Audio only or video, too? (You don’t want to roll out of bed or have a stained shirt on only to find out you’re going to be on camera.)
Does he mind if you promote a new product or service? Can you provide a giveaway for his audience?
Show up on time! I can’t believe how many times I’ve shown up for an interview and the guest or host isn’t around! Assuming you can give his audience a freebie, do it. Whether it’s a download, an assessment, or a discount in your store, provide it at your website with a nod to his show.