We recently published a blog in our PRedictions series, which claimed that 2019 would be the year of the podcast. But if you’ve never dipped your toe in the water, how do you get set up? Steve Austins, Director of Bengo Media gives his six top tips for things to think about when first starting out.
1. Nail the idea.
So you want to start a podcast and tap into the growing market of nearly 7 million Brits who listen each week.* Congratulations! But don’t make the classic first mistake of skipping straight to technology. A lot of people rush out to buy a microphone or fancy piece kit to get going, but don’t spend the time boiling down exactly what it is they want to communicate and to whom.
Start with the idea first. Get your iPad, your notepad or your post-it notes and start writing down and finessing the idea. The key questions are: what is the podcast, and, crucially, who is it for? And then do your research. What else is out there already in the podcast market for people who are searching for this or related topics?
Podcasting is still growing in the UK, so it may be that you are an early entrant, which can give you a competitive edge. The key to differentiating yourself is a clear USP – what can you offer to listeners that other players can’t?
2. Concept, concept, concept!
So you’ve got your first episode down pat. Awesome. Your next challenge is to think about what the first five episodes are going to look like, then the first ten. Ultimately, you need to envision a whole series. If you’re struggling to do so, then maybe your initial idea doesn’t have the legs you think it does – and it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Work out a name. What will capture the imagination of your target market? Whilst it might not be your schtick, “My Dad Wrote a Porno” has had over 150 million downloads, no doubt, in part, due to its catchy title.
What do you want your podcast to feel like and to look like? Imagery is very important because people don’t just stumble on podcasts, they actively click when something catches their eye. Make sure you stand out in a page full of cover art.
3. Consider tech and audio quality.
When podcasting was still very niche, listeners’ threshold for bad audio was higher, as long as the content was interesting. Nowadays, there has been such an influx, that the quality bar has been raised significantly. The days of simply sticking your phone in the middle of the table to record have long gone.
When thinking about quality, make sure that you know your way around the logistics first. Who is on the podcast? Is it just you? Is it you and one other? Are you going to do a roundtable, or something more fancy?
If it’s just you, as long as you have a microphone with USB input, you can, for a very small price, record into your laptop. The best on the market starts at £74 on Amazon today. If there are more people, in order to get the quality right you either need more mics or a good condenser mic and a soundproofed room. Either way, the costs start to increase.
4. Pick a host with the most.
Just like websites, podcasts need good hosting companies to host the audio and pump it out to iTunes, Spotify and Google Podcasts. There is a free site called Anchor which will get you started for no investment. Alternatively, you can spend relatively small amounts of money (£8-£10 / month) with sites like Spreaker and Libsyn to get really comprehensive statistics to help you analyse your podcast’s performance.
5. Get listed.
Make sure that you get out there on relevant podcast directories. There are tons to be on and you should make your best efforts to get on as many as possible. But some are more important than others.
Number 1, by a country mile, is Apple Podcasts (or iTunes as most people know it). To get on the platform, you need to make sure that your podcast is registered with iTunes, a process that will take up to 10 days. As long as you follow Apple’s rules to get on board, once you’re there, you’re in a really strong place. Number 2 is Spotify, rapidly emerging as the second biggest platform for podcast listening.
Google also has entered the market and they have stated that they want to double the amount of podcast listening in the world over the course of the next couple of years. Google Podcasts is a native app for Android, a big step forward for the podcast market and even more of a reason to get involved.
6. Market mercilessly.
For members of the PRCA, this should come as second nature, but you’d be amazed at how many people publish content then leave it alone.
As with anything, a product is only as strong as how it is marketed, and you shouldn’t rely on the directories alone to do this for you. Promote your podcast relentlessly on all channels and make sure that it is known and seen by the right people.
We are big fans of audiograms (a still image with text and embedded audio) as fun and engaging ways of promoting your podcast. Just make sure you have a social plan to get it out there to the people who want to listen.