In this post I’m going to go into detail on why and exactly how to create and publish a great podcast for your business.
Despite the long post it’s pretty easy, I started my first podcast Web Domination 1 day after deciding that I wanted to start a podcast.
At the time of writing, my podcast Web Domination is only 30 episodes old but I’ve been blown away with the results.
Here are some benefits of podcasting and some specific examples from my show or other shows.
- Monetizable content – Podcasts are a great rapport and authority builder and can be much more personal than a blog. For this reason they can often be monetized in surprisingly effective ways. Dan Andrews runs a 6 figure forum, physical events and much more on the back of his successful Lifestyle Business Podcast.
- It’s easy to get noticed – No one noticed my blog before but since launching my podcast, people like Dan Andrews, James Schramko and others have taken notice. There is much less noise in the podcasting world.
- Authority by association – People have heard me chatting to people like James and Dan, Neil Patel, Allan Branch etc. In a lot of cases these guests have shared these episodes among their own audience. Since launching my podcast I have been asked to present at 3 conferences, having not been asked for years prior.
- It’s easy to produce content – For a lot of people once you get past the initial technical hurdles, it’s much easier to have a conversation for 30 minutes than it is to write out a blog post. If you are that sort of person then podcasting is definitely for you.
- Networking – My podcast has been great for networking helping me get to know the guests and their audience. I’ve attended a number of in person events where people have ‘known’ me from the podcast.
- Social Media – Podcasts are great material for sharing on social media. Social media is crucial for building networks, authority and even search engine rankings. My podcast generally gets shared on Twitter and Facebook more so than my other blog posts.
- Attract a new audience – While there will be some overlap with other content, there is a potential new audience to get in front of when you podcast. Pat Flynn credits his podcast as his number 1 source of new blog followers.
- Prove your chops – Dustin from Your WordPress Engineer puts it this way “anyone can copy and paste someone else’s work in a blog post and call it their own; however, if you can explain / teach a point with confidence in audio, your fans will know what you are talking about and trust your expertise.”
There are many other benefits including helping to build confidence and communication skills, great tool for learning for your own business and more.
I hope you’re convinced, now let’s get into the details of setting it up.
Software, hardware and services
Setting up a podcast can be daunting at first. There is a lot of information out there and once you start delving into the options and what people think of this mic vs that one etc it can get overwhelming. The truth is to get started you don’t need anything more than a USB headset and a computer but from there the sky is the limit. Here are some notes on a simple setup and a more complex setup.
Simple setup to get started
Basic headset / mic setup
I use a Plantronics 655 Multimedia Headset. You can buy the exact pair on Amazon for $25 here. Logitech also make great affordable USB headsets.
These mics are easy to use, you don’t have to worry too much about wind etc like you do with more sensitive professional mics and they sound great. I don’t believe you need anything better than this to get started with podcasting.
I also use eCam Skype Call recorder ($20) which is a Mac based skype call recorder. It automatically records all skype calls I make or receive and also includes a bunch of great free utilities that I can use for the editing for things like breaking up both sides of the conversation, converting to different formats etc.
There are windows based alternatives like Pamela.
The bigger problem with getting decent sound will probably be your environment. Best scenario is a carpeted room with plenty of stuff in the room, perhaps on the walls, quiet and something that absorbs the sound well – i.e. canvasses / curtains etc. My first few episodes were done in a tiled office with nothing on the walls and the audio was terrible.
More basic setup tips
Jonathan Taylor from the Beginners Internet Podcast has written a useful article with a bit more detail on a nice basic podcasting setup.
The article goes into some of the equipment options to use on a tight budget and the BIB site includes a bunch more useful articles on podcasting.
More advanced setup
If you are interested in something more advanced check out this great video from Pat Flynn where he runs through a number of different options. This also covers a bit of software stuff as well as part of his How to start a podcast tutorial.
I’m in Australia so most of the mics mentioned are $250 or more, a lot more than you pay in the US.
More advanced software
A lot of podcasters recommend investing in good audio software and spending a bit more time on audio is well worth the effort. Tim Conley from Foolish Adventure is one such person. He provided this insight for us and also swears by Adobe Audition as mentioned above.
Note it’s also possible to record phone calls. Michelle Davidson from RainToday.com provided this insight:
“We conduct our interviews using the phone using a service called Record My Calls.
The calls are recorded and saved on their server where we can bring them down for editing.”
And if all of that fails whip out your iPhone. Glen Laundry uses his iPhone regularly while on the go to record his video / audio podcasts.
One more mention in terms of audio setup, Cliff Ravenscraft is THE man when it comes to podcasting. His Learn how to podcast guide covers everything from beginners to advanced. The advanced stuff is pretty mind blowing, check out the video below which is part 6 of his Learn how to podcast course.
You might also consider using 2 optional services for setting up your podcast.
RSS Provider like Feedburner - With an RSS service, you can submit your podcast RSS feed (more on this later) to the service and then they manage your subscribers and the submission to iTunes. This way if you change your domain you won’t have to update iTunes and you can get subscription stats out of the RSS provider.
Feedburner have recently discontinued their API so I am a bit reluctant to use them and have decided to just use the inbuilt WordPress RSS feed.
Stat or file hosting – Your normal web host should be fine for hosting your episodes but I use Blubrry Media Stats which is a free service that will give me download numbers for each episode. You can also use them to host your podcast episodes if you want but this is a paid service.
All I do is host them myself on my normal cPanel hosting account and use Blubrry for their free stat service. You can sign up here.
Again I’m not going to go into the specifics of this service but I will show you the Blubrry plugin in the next section and what you need to put in to get it working with the media stats.
I’m going to assume you use WordPress and it’s already set up. If not you will have to apply these instructions to your own system. Here is exactly how I would go about setting up your site for podcasting:
Setting up the category
First let’s set up the category to use for Podcast episodes.
- Mouse over posts on the left and click Categories.
- In the name field put ‘Podcast’ and click Add New Category.
Simple. Now when you create new posts for each episode just make sure you put them in the ‘Podcast’ category.
Blubrry Podcasting plugin
There are a few plugins you can use I like the Blubrry one particularly since I’m using them for my stats but you can use others if you prefer. So, first off let’s install the Blubrry plugin.
- Mouse over plugins in the WordPress back-end and click Add New.
- Search for Blubrry and click Install Now next to the Blubrry Powerpress Podcasting Plugin (make sure you back your site up first in case you kill it when you install the plugin).
- Mouse over PowerPress down the left hand side and click settings and click through the settings and see if there is anything that you need. Most of it you can leave as is but I’ll go through the basics.
- I have ‘Category podcasting’ under advanced checked because I have 2 podcasts on the once site. If you only have 1, you don’t need this.
- Under Service & Stats click the button to configure Blubrry settings (assuming you are using them for hosting or for stats) and enter your Blubrry credentials).
- Under the iTunes tab enter the podcast name, summary, keywords, itunes image, name and your email. The artwork should be 1400px x 1400px (this is for retina devices, you can get away with making it smaller) and it’s a good idea to make it look nice (more on this later). I would just upload it to WordPress using “Media / Add New” on the left and copy the URL into this box.
- We will come back and enter the iTunes subscription URL later once we have submitted to iTunes.
Let’s get this show started
The first consideration is working out whether you are going to fly solo or find a co-host. I think the best 2 formats are either a co-hosted show to a consistent schedule or an interview show where there’s one consistent host who interviews someone new each week.
Just having one presenter talking about something is hard to make interesting so I think these 2 formats work best or a combination of these formats.
The choice of presenter format may help determine the content but in general here is a list of options:
- Unstructured interviews with guests (For example The Smart Passive Income Podcast with Pat Flynn)
- Interviews with guests structured around a particular topic (this is what I try to do with Web Domination - also check out Entrepreneur on Fire which is very structured)
- News content (see This Week in Startups News Roundtable episodes)
- List based (Lifestyle Business Podcast)
- Regular guest contributors (Tim Conley has a few co presenters that are regulars on Foolish Adventure)
- Quick Tips (James Schramko does 4-5 quick tip episodes a week)
One thing that is especially important in this form of marketing is being entertaining. It’s really crossing over into competing with mainstream media (i.e. turning up in cars, on phones etc) so if you are boring it’s going to be hard to compete.
Create art, as Seth Godin would say. No one wants to be bored to death on a podcast. Just think, you’re engaging ONLY one apparent sense–hearing. So, you have to be extra good to engage feeling”
Here are some ways my favorite podcasters do this:
- Dan & Ian have a really entertaining podcast (the Lifestyle Business Podcast) and Dan uses humour to introduce his co-host each week. I’m not going to try to explain it here because it will sound crap but go and listen to an episode. This one was awesome.
- Speaking of entertaining intros I LOVE the intro on This Week in Startups Jason really lets rip. Here’s a sample of what you might expect if you check it out.
- Tim Reid is one of the people who inspired me to get into podcasts, his shows Small Business Big Marketing and Freedom Ocean work well because he’s got a great sense of humour (among other reasons).
Whatever it is that works for you, keep this in mind when creating a podcast.
Paul Boag from Boag’s World also adds this insight:
“It’s important to remember when podcasting that people aren’t paid to listen to your show. Even if the show relates to their job (as in our case) it isn’t something they listen to at work. They tend to listen on their commute or while at the gym. Because of this it has to be as much entertaining as it is informative. At the very least it should feel like a group of friends chatting while having a drink down the pub.”
Pay attention to what works
SiteVisibility’s Internet Marketing Podcast has been downloaded by over half a million people. I asked them for their number 1 tip – Do what works:
“Once you’re up and running one of the best ways to decide what topics to cover is by looking at what has worked for you in the past and using that information for your upcoming shows. It always surprises me what’s popular and certain topics I thought would be a huge hit have died. Learn from your experience and keep refining.”
Performance tips from Dan Andrews
- Switch topics fast, leave stuff and ‘call it back’ like a comedian.
- Give your listeners hooks, segment shows with sections and sounds so it doesn’t all blend into a heap.
- Balance personal updates with useful content.
- Consider use of a narrative that runs from show to show.
- Don’t worry if you feel like an idiot – Dan does too.
If you are doing an interview show, then these tips will help. First off check out what James Schramko has to say. Interviewing people is not easy and it takes a lot of practice.
James has a number of shows with different formats but he is a great interviewer and his interview show is my favorite, you can check it out at Internet Marketing Speed.
Here’s another treat tip on interviews from Spencer Haws from the Niche Pursuits podcast.
“Let the guest of your podcast be the star of the show! You bring guests on for a reason: because they have an interesting story to tell. Let them share their story with minimal interruptions and just a few questions. Of course you want to keep things on track and dig deeper as need, but when you have a guest, let them shine – not you.
This makes everyone happy: your audience, the guest, and as a result your show is better.”
Michelle Davidson from Rain Today adds:
“I’d also suggest that if people do the interview style of podcast, that they create a script to use as a guideline. You can stray from that script, which I often do, but it helps keep you on track and within the time limit you set. Guests also like having an idea what questions you’re going to ask so they can prepare.”
Show notes and copywriting
I use Evernote to capture ideas wherever I am and also as a structure for each show. I can add ideas when I’m out and about (iPhone) or from any computer. I typically also use it when interviewing people to take down notes and afterwards when I listen back to write up the show highlights before moving it into WordPress.
- My Evernote is filled with ramblings that eventually turn into episodes of Web Domination.
The notes in Evernote end up becoming the show notes for the episode so a this point it’s good to consider copywriting. Just like normal blog posts, things like titles are crucial.
SiteVisibility provide some more advice:
“Don’t under-estimate the importance of a good title. In the past I’ve been lazy when writing titles and had podcasts really struggle to get listens even from subscribed fans, a slight tweak of the title to be more descriptive and a little bit more sexy and they’ve got far more listens. Most listeners struggle to keep up with all their subscriptions so you’ve got to avoid giving them an excuse to give one of your episodes a miss.”
Record and publish an episode
So you have your strategy down and you’re ready to record and publish your first episode. The steps are going to differ depending on your software and format etc but here is a step by step of what I do.
It’s a great idea to have a pre-recording checklist. David Baker form ReCourses explains:
“I developed a checklist for myself, all of which need to be done before I start. It just helps me not waste time. Things like a glass of cold water (with a straw, which is easier to use if you have a headset mic on); turning off phone ringers; go to the bathroom; etc. I can share the whole thing if it would be helpful.” (BTW check out David’s awesome comment in the comments section below).
I Dan and Ian from the LifeStyle Business Podcast do something similar including checking that the audio input is set to the recording mic, turning off notifications in Skype etc.
Make and record the call
I do my recordings with Skype so I just launch Skype and make sure Skype Call Recorder is running and is recording by default (this happens every time I make a Skype call). It’s also a good idea to go into Skype preferences and turn off sounds in case people message you during the call. You can ask your guests to do this if you feel like it.
An optional step is to open Audacity and have your guest do the same and both record it as a back up. Tell your guest you are going to say ’1,2,3 record’ and they have to hit record when you say ‘record’. Then you can add the files in side by side into your audio program later. This is more complex so I’d only do this as a backup or if your guest has a particularly bad internet connection.
Assuming you are using call recorder, after the call your file will be saved in the ‘Skype Recordings / Saved Calls’ folder which you can set in under Skype Preferences.
Convert to audio
I use the utility that comes with Skype Call Recorder called ‘Convert to AIFF’ for this. Simply open the utility and drag the Skype call (which will be a video format) into the app and it will spit out an audio version. If you are on a PC you can use the ‘Convert to WAV’ utility.
Edit in audacity
Open audacity and choose File / Import / Audio and bring in the audio file. Some things you might want to consider are:
- Deleting any long pauses (you will see them in the wave where there is no sound – just select most of the space and hit delete).
- Deleting out ums and ars (I tend to leave most of mine but you can go through manually and do this if you want)
- If you have bad noise you can use the noise removal features but assuming you are in a decent space you shouldn’t need it.
- If you are using and intro or different sections you can bring in extra audio using the same steps as above and line the tracks up so it all fits in.
Upload to Auphonic
I’ve chosen to not do too much editing and instead just upload it to Auphonic.com. I simply choose File Export and Export a version in AIFF format to upload to Auphonic. I leave the default settings and it spits back the final MP# for me to upload to my server.
Publish in WordPress
Now the fun part. Here are the steps I go through to publish an episode:
Upload audio – The instructions for doing this are going to be different depending on how your setup works. I use cPanel so all I have to do is log into cPanel and put a new folder under wp-content/uploads called ‘podcast’ and upload my MP3 file to there. If you are using a media host you will upload the files via their system and they will give you an address for each file after you upload it.
Create the post – Under ‘Posts’ click ‘Add new’ and create your post. Make sure you choose the ‘Podcasts’ category. To ensure that the audio file is embedded and recognised as a podcast scroll down and update the audio section with the URL to the episode (this is part of the Blubrry Powerpress plugin).
Note if you are using Blubrry media stats then this is where you change the URL to include the Blubrry re-direct (see the bit at the start of the address below). Blubrry will give you this part of the URL when you sign up. You just replace the ‘http://’ in your episode address with the URL they give you.
Publish and check – Hit the publish button then visit your feed and make sure the episode shows up. Your feed address should be something like ‘yourdomain.com/category/podcast/feed’ and if your episode is working properly you should see the audio file in the feed like the screenshow below.
Submit to iTunes
You need to submit your podcast to iTunes as a one off step but it makes sense to do it after you’ve got everything else set up because they will examine the feed as part of the submission profess. Here are the steps.
- Open iTunes on your computer and click on iTunes store then on Podcasts up the top.
- Click on ‘Submit a Podcast’ and you should get a field to enter your podcast feed URL. If you are using an external feed service like Feedburner, you can get this feed from there. It will be something like ‘http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourpodcastname’. If you are using just the inbuilt WordPress feed the feed should be ‘http://yourdomain.com/category/podcast/feed’ this will just be the feed for your new ‘Podcast’ category.
- When you submit it, hopefully it all goes through ok. If it doesn’t there may be problems with your feed. This is when it can get tricky. If you do need to troubleshoot issues here your options are to (a) talk to a web developer, (b) google it, the Apple forums are pretty good or (c) you can actually email apple at firstname.lastname@example.org and their support is pretty good.
You should get emails notifying you of the submission and then a day or so later notifying you of their acceptance of your podcast. From then on, any episodes put in your ‘Podcast’ category should end up in iTunes (after a slight delay of an hour or so).
iTunes will also give you your show URL. If you are ever unsure, just Google ‘your podcast name’ itunes and look for the itunes link. It will be something like ‘https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/podcastname/id534263498′.
Once you have it, go back into PowerPress in WordPress on the iTunes tab and paste the URL in there and click Save Changes.
If you want more detail on submitting your podcast to iTunes here is a great video from Ray Ortega from the Podcaster’s studio.
Promoting and leveraging content
Once your content is published the fun doesn’t stop. Here are a few ways you can promote and leverage your content to spread it wider.
Blog posts and social media
This tip comes from Ilise Benun from the Marketing Mentor podcast.
“Drive traffic to your podcast by summarizing in a blog post one (or more) of the main points. Then include a link to that blog post in an email newsletter. Then tweet it out and Facebook it (or whatever social media your listeners favor). Give your interviewee the tools necessary to spread the word. And, of course, make it easy for all your listeners to share it.”
Obviously also share your episodes on social media as mentioned above but another thing you can do is a ‘mentions post’. i.e.:
“Mentioned in this week’s episode @tropicalmba, @jakehower & @James Schramko”
These will often get retweeted by the people mentioned.
Forums are a great way to drive traffic, I like to put recent episodes in my signature or refer people to the episode if it’s relevant (and within the forum rules).
You might consider putting your audio to an image or a slide and publish it to youtube. This is easy work to outsource and depending on your show, there could be a useful audience there for it. I would definitely do this if you have short shows.
You can also get your show transcribed and publish the text directly on your site or use it for other content. I have used Fox Transcribe for this and they have been great. This will increase your long tail SEO traffic as well (I am currently doing a case study on this to see exactly how much it boosts traffic).
Podcast content can also be great for re-purposes in other forms. Dan Andrews put together his auto responder series here based off podcast episodes. I’ve done a similar thing with my Content Domination email course.
If you have an email list, this can be a great way to promote new shows. A lot of podcasts will try to encourage people to go back to the site and sign up for an email list to be notified of new shows.
iTunes will probably be your main source of listeners. Here are a few tips for improving your rank in iTunes.
- Make sure you have a nice podcast badge. You won’t be featured without a nice one.
- Encourage your users to add reviews.
- Use your keywords in your episode titles.
- Make sure you publish frequent episodes.
- Stick with it. A lot of podcasts drop off so you will naturally come to the front if you can stick with it.
- Encourage listeners to subscribe via your site and via your show (not just download individual episodes).
Tracking your performance
Once you have your show going it’s a good idea to keep an eye on some key stats to work out:
- If people are listening
- If people are sharing
- If it’s leading to customers for your business.
I’ve written a detailed post on this called tracking podcast statistics which you can check out. One really simple way to do it is use Informly’s post impact chart to get a quick summary of who is visiting your show pages and sharing it on social media.
Here is a picture of the post impact chart but feel free to check out the detailed article on podcast statistics here.
Want more advice?
I’ve had a lot of podcasters send me some great advice for this post a lot has been incorporated above but there are some more quotes that cover a few topics which I’ve put below.
“I think your guide is great and I wish it was around when I got started. Here’s a few things that I do and have learnt along the way. One, I adopt an interview style of podcast and use guide questions as a way to help the flow of the conversation and keep you on track. Two, I write up the highlights of my interviews so they are blog posts and podcasts. That way, I don’t exclude my readers.
Third, I use a DIY style with no intro or outro as I want to make sure that we get straight into the conversation and focus on the content only. Personally, I think it is DIY and no-frills but it does make it easier to do and focuses on the content and not the branding. Some podcasts I have heard overdo the intro and outro bits.” Adrian Swinscoe
“In the spirit of Nike, “just do it”. There are plenty of reasons to procrastinate (trying to build the perfect recording setup first, brainstorming topics, etc). For Product People, however, we just dove headfirst into recording our first call and have been iteratively improving. It’s much better to start putting stuff out there ASAP. That way you can get feedback & practical experience right away. Don’t over think, just record!” Kyle from Product People
“Shoot for excellence. Go out with the intention that this is going to be THE best show on the subject you are covering. Then realize you might have a lot of work to do to hit that goal. Figure out what you are lacking, and then go fix it. :)” Jaime from Eventual Millionaire
And this awesome advice from Aaron McHugh
“There are a million reasons you will find to not beginning or continuing with your podcast. I worked in the Radio industry for ten years and back then it took millions of dollars to own and maintain a radio station. Terrestrial Radio is dying and you have the opportunity to become one of the new voices of influence. It is easier than you think to get started but harder than you think to gain an engaged audience.
- Maintaining a niche focus in an area or topic that you are both passionate and knowledgeable.
- Focus on quality vs. quantity. It is better to create one really solid podcast per month than two or three marginal one’s.
- Constantly revise and improve. Don’t wait for perfection to begin, but don’t rest. Keep improving areas e.g. quality of guests, quality of audio production, promotion of your shows.
- Even if you only experience a handful of people downloading your show, remember that Rome was not built in a day. Even though the medium allows for instant distribution, slow and steady still wins the race.”
And this equally awesome advice from David Stiernholm!
“Plan for longevity: Think of how much time on a recurring basis you might reserve for planning, recording, editing and publishing your episodes. In accordance with that, decide on how often you will make available a new episode. Regularity is key to build a base of listeners. If people like your podcast, they make listening to it an enjoyable routine in their life. Maybe they prefer your voice to accompany their commute home on Friday afternoons. Then, you want to be true to them and publish each and every Friday.
Be concise: There are a plethora of podcasts out there, so the competition is tough. The avid listener probably subscribes to more than a handful, and of course you want yours to be one that he or she prioritizes to listen to regularly. Just as we tend to complete the short tasks on our todo-list before the more complex ones, it is tempting to choose to listen to a podcast that is short and precise before one that drags on for hours. So, know what message you want to convey and deliver it in a light manner. If you have a guest on the show, focus relatively quickly on the subject at hand. Sure, to get to know the interviewee and set the subject in context is valuable, but too much talking to and fro about completely different stuff is, I’m sorry to say, often boring.
Decide on the show’s structure: That said (about conciseness), you might still succeed in creating a brilliant show that has long duration if you have a consistent structure, i.e. how the show is built up. Design different segments that recurs from edition to edition, so that the listener feels “at home” (and may be able to easily skip parts of the show that they are not particularly interested in). One of my favourite podcasts is often between 1,5 and 2 hours long, but since the tempo is high and the structure is the same (and the content varies a lot within the structure), I never get bored.”
I have done my best to cover the main aspects in this guide but if you have any questions please feel free to leave them below.
Thanks to the following awesome podcasters who have inspired, contributed to or shared this guide.
If you want to share the post please do so and let me know in the comments so I can update the list with your iTunes image and link.