The Small Business Guide To Podcasting

This is Episode 20! Join Visceral Concepts Founder Michael McNew and get educated on the value of a podcast and what you need to do to start one.

You’ve probably heard about podcasting by now.

It’s kind of like your own radio show available via iTunes, Google Play Music, and a number of other audio services.

Maybe you listen to them. Maybe you don’t.

However, millions of people do, and you could be reaching them.

“How,” you ask?

No, not through sponsorships (even though that would work).

You could be reaching your share of podcast listeners if you had your own.

Today, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to get started.

There Are Tons Of Reasons Your Small Business Should Be Podcasting

Podcasting is a unique content medium.

Your small business can get tons of benefits from a great podcast.

This might explain why it’s a rising trend as a marketing format.

Let’s go over some of those benefits before we dig into our how-to.

I want you to really understand why podcasting is worth your time.

You’ll Connect With Your Audience Better

The human voice can be powerful.

Listening to someone’s voice for hours on end month after month can create a connection well beyond what a blog article or YouTube video can.

Even though podcasting is one-sided, it’s proven to be excellent at building relationships with the audience.

Your listeners tune in because they feel like they connect with you.

They have something in common with you or your brand.

This relationship improves the trust your audience has in your brand.

That’s going to improve conversion rates and sales.

After all, people would rather buy from a friend than a stranger.

Your Audience Can Consume Your Content Nearly Anywhere

Have you ever tried to read a blog article while sitting in traffic?

God, I hope not!

I know you’ve seen those people who watch videos while they drive.

There is literally nothing safe or smart about driving distracted.

However, listening to a podcast while you drive is perfectly safe.

Also, sitting in traffic is a great time to do some learning, and many people opt to.

In fact, 23% of Americans have listened to podcasts in their car.

See, the beauty of a podcast is the portability.

You can listen while you work, work out, or drive to and from work.

When listening to a podcast, your hands are still free to cook dinner, send an email, or wrench on a car.

That kind of flexibility allows your audience to consume your content while they go about the rest of their lives.

Something that just isn’t possible with an article or video.

And, because podcasts are free and readily on any phone, they’re limitlessly accessible to your target audience.

There’s nothing else like it.

People Will Listen To More Than They Read

If you’ve read our articles before, you’ve probably seen the read timer at the top.

People want to know how much of their day will be taken up by anything they read.

Over 55% of people are only sticking with your blog for 15 seconds.

The rest will usually stick with a quick read of 5 to 10 minutes.

If you’re in a real niche market, you might get someone to stick around for 15-20 minutes.

Longer than that and people are looking for the TL;dr.

Videos can grab a little more attention, but not usually for long.

If a video exceeds 5 minutes, people tend to watch less of it, and usually, don’t make it to the end.

Podcasts, however, tend to average over 30 minutes, and people will listen to them completely.

That ability to get your content heard and provide complete value to your audience can’t be overstated.

People Will Recognize You As An Industry Leader

When you podcast, you’ll be using a ton of different formats.

Some will be interviews with industry leaders.

Others will be discussions about your topic.

In the eyes of your audience, you’ll become an industry leader too.

Many people have built entire empires around their podcast.

They’ve been interviewed on podcasts all over the country.

And, as an added benefit of their empires, they’ve been invited to speak at all kinds of industry events.

They can be a huge value for your small business.

Yes, a podcast can do that.

You Can Get More Mileage For Your Content

Content is king, and if you don’t know that yet, it’s time to learn.

In a world where Google and Social Media rule, getting more mileage for your content means you’ll get seen more.

That means you’ll get found more, too.

Repurposing your content is a smart move if you want to get your message into more people’s heads. Click To Tweet

By putting your content into multiple formats, you can reach more people where they’re willing to find you.

Some people hate reading. However, they may like podcasts.

You’re also putting trusted content in more places that are connected to you, showing Google that your information is relevant.

That ups your SEO as well.

Small Business Podcasting Is Simple, But Not Easy

Listen, the idea behind podcasting is super simple.

Convey your content by recording your ideas through a microphone.

The process, which we’ll go over in just a minute, is pretty simple too.

However, getting yourself to move forward with a podcast can be difficult.

There are a few things you may have to work your way around.

As we talk about what you’ll do to get your small business’ podcast going, we’ll address those as well.

I want to make sure you’re totally prepared to start your podcast and make it successful.

Here’s Everything You Need To Know To Get Your Small Business Podcast Going

By now, you ought to be ready to start a podcast for your small business.

But, before you go spending money on studio time or expensive equipment, you ought to know what you need to do to get started.

Today, I’m going to cover the basics, the industry recommendations, and what I personally do for the following topics.

  • Research
  • Content Planning
  • Equipment
  • Format
  • Scheduling & Marketing

By the time we’re through today, you’ll be equipped to get your podcast off the ground and start seeing the benefits that your voice can bring.

Let’s get started.

Do Your Research

To start your small business podcasting journey, you’ve got to learn about other podcasts.

You’ve got to know what a good podcast sounds like.

Make sure you give these a critical ear, too.

Try to think in terms of an audience member.

What makes the podcast interesting? What don’t you enjoy about it?

Does it offer anything that will help you?

I want you to make sure you listen to some podcasts from great podcasters in your field.

However, I also want you to check out these great entrepreneurial podcasts.

  • The Jocko Podcast: A former Navy SEAL that uses military stories to teach discipline and leadership.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show: Ferriss is an entrepreneur, author, investor who breaks down what successful people do for you to duplicate.
  • EOFire: John Lee Dumas is quite possibly the best podcaster of all-time, interviewing entrepreneurs the world over to find out the secrets of living your passion.
  • The MFCEO Project: Andy Frisella is a no-nonsense fitness entrepreneur who digs into self-improvement with a foul mouth and hard-earned experience.

While you’re at it, you can check out our podcast over on SoundCloud too.

As you listen to these podcasts, try to learn something from them about success, too.

I mean, why not grab all the lessons you can while you’re there?

Put together notes on the podcasts you listen to.

They’ll help put together your plan.

Determine The Content Your Audience Wants

Here’s where the real difficulty comes in.

That is if you’re averse to doing work.

Podcasts aren’t a work-free path to success.

There’s a ton you have to do before you get your podcast running when it comes to creating the content.

If your podcast is off-topic, boring, or outright offensive, you can unplug your microphone now.

Unless, of course, you’re some kind of blend between Andrew Dice Clay and Ben Stein.

Ben Stein is known for being a boring teacher. He's not really a teacher.

Start thinking about who your target audience is, just like any of the other content you create.

If you haven’t put together a set of buyer personas yet, now is the right time.

If you have put them together already, think about some of the content you already have that’s successful at bringing the right people in.

Those topics are a great starting point.

Try to expand the value in some way.

Switch up the content a little bit but keep the foundation the same.

It’s one of many ways to repurpose successful content.

Be prepared to handle a little bit of technical work, too.

Your content won’t always be ready to go the second you’re done recording it.

We’ll discuss the tools you need and any challenges you may face here in a minute.

As you start getting a feel for the right content, be prepared to spend about 3-6 hours a week on the tasks around your small business podcast.

You’ve got to edit, prepare the podcast file on a host, market your podcast, and create content for your episodes.

That’s what most people call them. Get used to the idea. Click To Tweet

Again, it’s a lot of work, and some of it may seem technical in nature, but most people can get the hang of enough to produce a decent podcast without a problem.

Thankfully, all it takes is a little time management to get it done.

When you do, your podcast will become a benefit to your company.

You may even start to enjoy it, as I found I have.

Make Sure You Have The Right Podcasting Gear

Ok, here’s the biggest section of content you’ll need to pay attention to.

You might want to take notes.

As I said earlier, I’m going to go into what the most basic options are, what the pros recommend, and what I personally use.

I think this is the second most important part that you need to understand next to the content itself.

Getting the equipment wrong can become a very expensive mistake.

See, back in the day, podcasters used to use anything they could record digitally with.

Literally didn’t matter.

That’s why the medium got made fun of so much. And still does.

Now, it’s a helluva lot more sophisticated, and that means a lot of advice you’re going to get comes from gear snobs.

You know who I’m talking about.

So, let’s run down the list, shall we?

A Computer

To start with, you need a computer that you’re going to center all of your podcasting around.

You need a spot to plug in the mic.

You need something to record from.

Editing your podcast has to happen somewhere.

And you’ll need to be able to listen to your recording.

Factually, this doesn’t have to be a computer.

  • The Basics
    A phone.
    Literally any smartphone.
    As long as you can run SoundCloud or Anchor, it works.
  • What The Pros Suggest
    Actually, the pros don’t have any specific suggestions for this.
    Any computer that can run the software you want to use without lag will be good enough.
  • What I Use
    Specifically, I’m using an HP Spectre X360 15” laptop.
    While I rather enjoy it, I didn’t buy it for the podcasting.
    The other things I do require something at this level.
    Don’t spend more than you need to.
A Microphone

Microphones can get a little tricky.

There are dozens of options out there at the beginner level.

If you’re not in the audio field already, you don’t know what most of the specs mean.

Like, what’s a cardioid mic?

I wasn’t familiar with any of the terms that go with audio equipment.

Some of it is still a mystery.

However, I did figure out what I needed to get started.

  • The Microphone Bare Minimum
    If you can’t get anything else, use the mic on your phone.
    Or the one in your earbuds, more specifically.
    That’s because it works on both your phone and your computer.
    Is the sound quality the best? No.
    However, it’s what I did my first 3 episodes on, and it works.
  • Microphones The Pros Suggest
    Audio-Technica microphones seem to be the favorite.
    The recommendations tend to be a toss-up between two different mics.
    The ATR2100-USB or the AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Mic.
    I haven’t personally tried either.
    The ATR2100 seems like the better value.
    And Tim Ferriss, who I suggested earlier that you listen to, uses it for his show.
  • The Mic I’m Using
    You’re currently hearing me on the Blue Snowball ICE
    I love the sound that this mic produces.
    I selected it because of a review I listened to.
    I don’t remember who did the review, but he put several mics to the test in the same video.
    The sound from the Blue Snowball was almost as good as his mic, which cost 5 times as much.
    That was before processing.
    I highly recommend it.
Recording/Editing Software

The nitty-gritty.

Your final output is going to be heavily influenced by the software you choose.

If you’ve got too many bells and whistles, you might get overwhelmed in the beginning.

If you haven’t got enough features, you’ll be left having to re-record over every mistake you make.

However, most of the software that’s available allows you to at least trim out mistakes.

  • The Most Basic Software
    Going back to your phone on this one.
    Anchor and SoundCloud allow you to record directly in the app.
    However, if you want to edit in SoundCloud, you’ll need to trim the mistake and re-record.
    Anchor, on the other hand, allows the most basic editing features.
    You can trim and splice your audio.
    It also has music and sound bites you can add into your podcast.
  • Software Advice From The Pros
    There is more than one available software at the same quality level.
    You can look at Garage Band on Apple devices.
    Adobe Audition CC works great if you’re already subscribed to Creative Cloud.
    But the experts seem to unanimously agree on Audacity.
    Audacity is a full-featured audio recording and editing platform.
    And it’s free.
    It easily rivals anything you’ll have to pay for.
  • Where I Do My Recording & Editing
    I agree with the pros on this one.
    I personally use Audacity.
    I’m a huge fan of open source software.
    This one is a big recommendation from me, too.
    If you choose to use Audacity, Buzzsprout has a great how-to to help you get familiar with the editor.
Headphones

Headphones are a key component to recording a great podcast.

You ought to be able to hear what things sound like as you’re recording.

You also ought to be able to hear details as you edit.

That’s where a great set of headphones comes in.

  • You’ve Already Got The Basics
    Just like the microphone, use what came with your phone.
    Your earbuds can work on either your phone or your computer.
    Most of them do a decent job of getting rid of background noise, too.
    That lets you hear the audio you need to edit better.
  • The Headphones The Pros Suggest
    It should be no surprise that the pros recommend the same brand of headphones that they do mics.
    After all, great sound is great sound.
    The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones are known as the best bang for your buck.
    The detachable audio cable allows you to switch for a Bluetooth adaptor, giving them wireless ability.
    You can also use a longer-than-stock cable if you prefer.
    They say they aren’t noise-canceling, but reviews say they do a great job of blocking a lot of the noise.
  • My Headphones
    I’m not that picky when it comes to headphones.
    However, I alternate between 2 pairs.
    First, I have my Jabra Evolve 40.
    Technically, it’s a phone headset for office use.
    But the sound is good, and I already had it.
    Second, I have my Samsung Level U Wireless Headphones.
    Again, a phone headset.
    Again, already had it.
    This one has some of the best noise canceling ability I’ve ever used, though.

I suggest you go with whatever you have around.

If you have to buy something, this list has some great options for you to try out and see what you like.

Optional Extras

There’s a bunch of other little conveniences you can grab, too.

They’re not necessary, but they make the quality of your small business’ podcast better.

In this category, I’m not going to discuss what the basics are or what the pros use.

I’m simply going to talk about what they are and what I have for them.

Whatever I don’t use, I’ve got a list of options for.

  • A Mic Boom Stand
    Most mics come with a stand.
    They’re usually short desk stands.
    They can be hard to stay close to and record on.
    A boom stand can fix that.
    I have the Earamble Pro Boom mic Arm.
    It’s got a clamp-on desk mount.
    That allows me to secure it to my desk and place the mic close to my mouth.
    I can record a lot clearer that way.
  • A Pop Filter
    Certain sounds make nasty pops and sibilance when you record.
    They’re caused by air hitting the mic at high speed.
    A pop filter is a screen that diffuses that air.
    It reduces the amount of noise the air makes when it hits the mic.
    I use the Earamble Pop Filter.
    It’s easy to use and universal.
    It’s also inexpensive.
  • An Echo Dampener
    High-end podcasts are recorded in soundproof rooms.
    They’re covered in acoustic tiles.
    Those tiles stop echoes from feeding back into the mic.
    Those echoes can create a nasty tin-can sound in your recording.
    You could opt to set up a soundproof room for that.
    However, if you don’t have a place like that – as I don’t – you can still prevent that echo.
    Personally, I have a piece of foam and flannel attached to the wall behind my mic.
    You have two decent pre-made options for eliminating that echo.
    One, you can attach an acoustic tile to the wall behind your mic.
    Second, you can get a portable sound recording panel.
    The first option is cheaper, but the second is cleaner.
    It’s also better if you can’t attach your acoustic panel to a wall.
  • An Audio Intro
    Almost every podcast has an intro.
    They set the tone for the content you’re going to share.
    It’s a simple soundbite that you’ll play at the beginning of every podcast.
    Lots of podcasters grab songs that are CC0.
    Some pat for licensed work.
    Others create songs of their own as we have.
    Public domain songs are hard to find.
    However, you can use Free Music Archive and FreePD if you like.
    Anchor also has a list of songs and intros you can add to your podcast.
  • A Mic Splitter
    If you plan to have more than one host or plan to record face-to-face with your guests, you’ll need a way to split audio input.
    Most USB mics won’t work on a standard input.
    You’ll likely need a more advanced setup.
    I haven’t done this yet, but the recommended starter option is a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
    If you go this route, I recommend mics that use XLR cables.
    Also, use 2 of the same mics to keep the recording bitrates the same.
    It helps avoid compatibility issues.

Get your equipment together and you’ll be ready to record.

You can grab our basic kit here.

Mix Up Your Podcast Formats

Your podcast’s format is going to play a big role in its success.

But which one will work the best?

Well, that highly depends on what your target audience prefers.

And the only way to find out is to experiment with formats.

Like a blog post, you can try out tons of different ones.

Literally, any format you use for a blog will work as a podcast.

That’s a great way to assure that you can continually create content in every format.

Try out some different options.

  • News In Your Industry
  • Interviews With Industry Leaders
  • How-tos
  • Product Reviews
  • A Rant Or Two
  • Audience Q&A
  • Case Studies In Interview Format

Try and error.

It’s the only way you’re going to find what works.

Like Everything Else, Consistency Matters

Want to lose any potential fan base? Be inconsistent.

Just like a TV show, podcasts get the most followers when they get released regularly.

Content calendars are a great way to stay on track.

They help you plan your content ahead of time, which will make your podcasting more efficient, keep you more focused, and increase the quality of content you record.

Secondly, you need to create a process for your podcasting.

Find a way to create a production schedule for your small business podcast.

This will help you keep your guest scheduling, recording, editing, uploading, and marketing organized.

Pod Parrot has a great walkthrough using tools you might already be familiar with.

Speaking of marketing, that’s all a part of consistency.

You need to not only release your podcasts on a consistent schedule, but you need to have a consistent marketing strategy too.

Determine when you’re going to announce your podcasts, through which marketing channels (social media, email, etc), and what they’ll look and feel like.

There are literally a hundred plus ways to market your podcast.

The key to marketing well is to choose what you can do consistently.

It’s not a great idea to sporadically market. It makes the campaigns impossible to track.

Your Podcast Can Bring Your Small Business To New Heights

The opportunity that podcasting provides your small business can’t be beaten.

The ability to talk directly with your audience for hours every month is something you can’t get from any other medium.

Initially and throughout it takes a ton of work.

If you want the most benefit, take the time to educate yourself completely.

Prepare your overall strategy.

Prepare carefully for each individual podcast.

Listen to and learn from other podcasts so you can continually get better.

If you put in the work, your podcast could become far more than you expected.

It’s happened to others and could happen for you too.

Just make sure you take this information and put it to work.

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.