Podcasting is a fun and exciting way to connect with an audience. While podcasting has been around for more than a decade, it has dramatically risen in popularity over the last few years due to big shows from NPR, Gimlet Media, and celebrity shows. If you want to start your own podcast, you’ve come to the right place! Follow along to learn more about podcasting, what you need to podcast, and how you can use a podcast to grow brand loyalty and connect with new customers.
What is podcasting?
First off: what is podcasting? Think of podcasting like creating a radio show for the internet. In fact, many radio shows are also available as a podcast. What Netflix did for TV, podcasting is doing for the radio. But unlike Netflix, most podcasts are free.
According to Podcast Insights, there are over 500,000 active podcasts in the Apple Podcasts directory in iTunes, which is the largest and most popular podcast directory on the web. Think of Apple Podcasts like Google for podcasts. By far the majority of podcast listeners start there.
Just under half of the US population has listened to a podcast, and podcasts have great reach both at home and in the car. This makes podcasts a great way to connect with people. This new form of on-demand audio is changing the way people listen and how they think about radio. A decade ago no one talked about binge listening. Today that is a common subject of conversation.
What equipment do I need to podcast?
To start a podcast, all you need is a microphone and a way to record. Like with many other endeavors that use a computer, you can spend a ton to get started or focus on a more budget-friendly approach. This article will look at the best balance between cost and quality to get you started.
To record, you really just need a microphone and the computer you already have. It doesn’t matter if it is a desktop or a laptop. As long as it runs quickly and reliably, any Windows or Mac (or Linux) PC can handle the task. In either case, the best starter microphone for podcasting is the ATR-2100 from Audio-Technica. This is a high-quality microphone that plugs right into your computer via USB and costs less than $100. As of this writing, the list price on Amazon is $64. That is all the equipment you need to get started with a show.
Next, you need a way to record. If you use a Mac, you can record using the program GarageBand, which comes free with Apple computers. To record an interview, you’ll want to use Skype and eCamm Call Recorder for Skype as the easiest and most reliable way to record. Skype is free and eCamm Call Recorder costs $39.95.
For Windows, your best option to record and edit is Audacity, which is free for Windows, Mac, and Linux. To record a Skype interview on Windows, you have some free options, but you are probably best off spending 7 GBP (about $10 here in the US) for the commercial version of Free Skype Call Recorder.
That’s it! Now you can record, edit, and produce your show. But we are only part way to reaching your new listeners.
How do I set up my podcast so people can subscribe and listen?
Listeners can’t connect to your laptop and download the shows on demand. You need something a bit more powerful for that. In addition to your regular website and website hosting, you’ll need podcast hosting to get your show to your listeners. There are two clear industry leaders in this space: Libsyn and Blubrry.
Lisbyn is best for those who are less technically inclined and want a podcast hosting platform that just works. Libsyn is essentially a stand-alone hosting platform for a podcast that works outside of your website. Your podcast URL and feed are at yourpodcast.libsyn.com, so you don’t have as complete control and ownership as you do with the second option. But if you want it to be easy and just work out of the box, you can’t go wrong with Libsyn. Libsyn starts at $5 per month, but the best features unlock with plans at $20+ per month.
If you have a stronger background in websites and already run a WordPress website, Blubrry is the better choice. Blubrry integrates into an existing WordPress site with the PowerPress plugin. With Blubrry, you can just log into your website, create a new episode similar to a blog post, and complete the few basic steps to upload your episode. Blubrry hosting starts at $12 per month.
In either case, you’ll want to add your podcast feed to as many popular podcasting directories and services as possible. While Apple Podcasts is the 100-pound gorilla in this industry, Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn, and Stitcher are all noteworthy as well. Make sure to add your show to all of these directories so the maximum number of listeners can find your show.
If you build it, will they come?
There is a famous line from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” That is simply not true for the internet. A publish and pray approach may have worked ten or twenty years ago when there were fewer websites and podcasts, but now you need to do a little something to stand out from the crowd.
Just like any other part of your business, this means promotion. Whether it is promoting in person, sharing your show through Facebook ads, going on other shows as a guest, or anything else, getting downloads takes work. You can’t just set it and forget it, it does require an effort to build an audience.
But that audience can be incredibly valuable. Whether it is picking up new clients for your business, selling a product, or just building brand awareness, podcasts work. That is why they are so popular, and why podcasting may make sense for your business.