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The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Business Podcast
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It’s official – podcasts are here to stay. With ever-growing audiences hungry for new content, there has never been a better time to start a podcast for your business – and you might be surprised at the number of benefits it could bring you…

Podcasts offer businesses a unique way of boosting brand awareness, connecting with existing customers or growing a new customer base – all while demonstrating personality in a way that words on a page never could! Creating your own business podcast enables you to build a lasting relationship with your customers – the more time they spend absorbing your messaging and hearing you talk about your brand consistently, engagingly and with authority, the greater the trust they will have in your brand.

Podcasting is addictive – since the early 2000s, podcasts have been growing rapidly in popularity and reach. Around 7.1 million people in the UK listen to podcasts each week – that’s an incredible 1 in 8 people listening! Sources also predict that by 2023, the global monthly podcast audience will be somewhere around 1.85 billion listeners – and your business can also get a slice of the pie.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to read a business blog or expert whitepaper, and podcasts are essentially low effort information absorption. With no screens to look at, your customers can download and digest your content pretty much wherever and whenever they wish, whether they’re in the office, driving or even in the gym. Downloads also mean that your content can be replayed and provide value to your audiences again and again.

There is also a lot of untapped space in the podcasting sphere – iTunes only contains around 700,000 podcasts compared to at least 600 million blogs and over 23 million YouTube channels. The growing omnipresence of smart speakers in our homes also allows listeners to play content in any room in the house at any time, meaning it’s never been easier, or more convenient, to be heard!

So, the benefits of podcasting are pretty easy and clear to see – but the route to making episodes that your audience really want to listen to? Not so transparent. 

But never fear! Fascinate Productions have put together this ultimate guide to starting your business podcast. So, if you’ve been curious about podcasts but don’t know where to begin, or if you’ve been chomping at the bit but just need a little more info to kick things off, take a read and get inspired!

Getting Started – Time for a Think

The first thing you will need to do is clarify what it is you’re making. What are your goals? Are you looking to build brand awareness or establish yourself as an authority on a subject within your field? Perhaps you want to use your podcast as an internal comms tool? Maybe you just want to tap into some unanswered questions that your target audience would be interested in hearing the answers to? Whatever it is, make sure that your subject matter is right and relevant for a podcast, over say, a blog or a video. 

The first thing you will need to do is clarify what it is you’re making. What are your goals? Are you looking to build brand awareness or establish yourself as an authority on a subject within your field? Perhaps you want to use your podcast as an internal comms tool? Maybe you just want to tap into some unanswered questions that your target audience would be interested in hearing the answers to? Whatever it is, make sure that your subject matter is right and relevant for a podcast, over say, a blog or a video. 

The next most important thing to consider is who you want to talk to – who is your audience, and what do they need? Perhaps your target audience will be after industry secrets or an in-depth look at important issues in your sector? A how-to podcast could generate great audience interaction or discussion, or maybe you feel you could inject some humour into a topic and show your audience the human side of your brand.

What’s The Podcast Only We Can Make?

When considering what sort of podcast you want to make and what topics you want to cover, you absolutely have to think about what it is that will make your podcast stand out from the crowd. 

What can you do that other businesses can’t? You may have an exclusive insight or a story to tell that others don’t. Your business may allow you unique access to certain guests, or you may have a subject or topic that you in particular are qualified to talk about. 

Don’t forget though, your podcast will need to bring some sort of value for your listeners if you want to engage your target audience. It needs to answer a question, fulfil a need – or just be plain, old-fashioned entertaining. Ensure you have enough to talk about for a good number of episodes, and think about how future series could expand and scale to continue your series – there’s nothing worse than starting out and then struggling for content ideas!

It’s a good idea to research podcasts in your genre and have a listen to a few to get a feel of what you think they do well, and what you would improve. 

Clarify your ideas with a Podcast Playbook

Your Podcast Playbook is a vital tool in your podcast kit – it is a comprehensive document that holds specific information and advice around how to create, grow and manage your podcast. It’s your go-to bible that holds your outline of what you’re hoping to accomplish with your content; who you’re making it for (your audience), why you’re making your podcast and what kind of personality and values you want it to have. 

Your Playbook will be a key player in your podcast arsenal. It will laser-focus your thinking, assemble all your ideas, concepts and plans across one or two vital pages of A4. This will be your go-to guide when you need to refocus your objectives, to use when you bring other team members on board or to check your decision making when choosing guests or topics. 

First, write a positioning statement for your podcast:

What: Your podcast category – what is it your podcast is aiming to say, what niche are you trying to fill? What do you want to teach people? 74% of podcast listeners say they go to podcasts to learn something – what does your audience want to know?

Who: Define the listener – include a profile of your target audience – who they are, what content they read, listen to or watch. Where do they hang out? How do they spend their time? Remember if you serve everyone, you serve no one.

Why: What listener needs do we fulfil? What challenges do they face that our podcast could mitigate? Are we looking to answer difficult questions, provide some light entertainment or do you have a deeper theme? Can you provide solutions to questions through expert interviews or industry insights?

Don’t forget to outline your role as host – are you the expert? Or are you acting as a proxy for the audience?

Taking the time to craft your positioning statement at this stage will pay off many times over. Whether you’re writing copy, or communicating to guests or advertisers, this is an exercise in focus that you can and should refer back to on a regular basis. Your Playbook will also play an important role in defining your branding and positioning. Effective marketing is vital for podcasts, and to achieve this, you need to be strategic and focused.

Right – It’s Time to Start Creating!

Your Pilot Episode

So, where to begin? First off, it’s worth saying that to truly get to grips with your podcast and everything involved, before you even start recording there are a few key steps to get nailed:

  1. Gather all your ideas, concepts and plans into one or two pages of A4 and write yourself a decent script or preparation document that covers your entire episode; remember to include who your audience is, the main drive of the episode and topics to cover. Don’t forget to highlight key messages you don’t want to miss – it’s easy to get carried away in conversation and discussion and only realise once you’re in the edit that you’ve left out important points.
  1. Define the role of your host – how they will drive the podcast forwards, how much expertise they will need to have, how guest interviews will be conducted. If you’re looking for banter and conversation, will you need a regular co-host? Include who this could be and how you can collaborate in episodes to drive the conversation on.
  1. Research your guests if you have them. An exercise that needs to take no longer than an hour, the more research you’ve done on your guests the more interesting your interviews and conversations will be. Even better if you can send your interview questions to your guests beforehand to get them prepped and feeling comfortable and primed for a lively discussion. 

The more well-prepared you, and your guests, are prior to recording, the easier you’ll find your podcast is to record – and you’re more likely to get those natural, dynamic moments that make for great listening. 

Now you’re about to start recording, it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s a really valuable exercise to finish your pilot episode from end to end. This will allow you to test your format and concept, and to make sure that your podcast has the potential for growth and scalability to make further episodes and seasons. After all – you’re not going to all this effort just to make one single podcast! 

The Technical Side:

It’s important to say that you can’t record a podcast without good, or at least up to the job, equipment – this isn’t something you can just knock out on your phone (although if that’s the only way, we’ve got some specialist techniques that can help restore sound quality!). Your podcast is an extension of your brand, so good sound quality is essential. 

Invest in some decent equipment from the off. Bad quality audio will make your listeners switch off – they won’t waste time trying to listen through jarring music and lack of vocal clarity. 

Unless you’re in a studio environment, it’s best to opt for a dynamic over a condenser type microphone. These can be purchased relatively cheaply, and some can plug into your computer via USB. In our opinion, the best choice is the Audio Technica ATR 2100X, which you can pick up for around £80. 

If you have some money to spend, grab a broadcast classic: both the Shure SM7b and the Electrovoice RE20 can be heard on radio stations worldwide. To connect either of these to your computer, you’ll need an audio interface of some sort, and as both need a lot of gain, a cloudlifter or similar is necessary to avoid a nasty noise floor. All in all, getting set up with one of these will cost between £500 and £700.

Decide on whether your podcast will be regularly recorded from the same setting or whether you are going to be daring and record on location – in which case you’ll need to think about how portable and flexible you need to be.

Also consider whether you will be recording your podcasts in person, or remotely. Remote recording options can be helpful, especially if you’re considering overseas guests or those with difficult schedules. Take a look at recording software tools such as Squadcast or Riverside, which allow podcasters high-quality audio solutions even when remote recording. Just don’t be tempted to try recording a podcast over Zoom or Skype – we just don’t think you’ll get the results you want and you can run into serious sound issues.

A Tight Edit Makes all the Difference 

Good editing is the difference between your audience staying with you through an episode, and ultimately coming back for more. Smooth vocals with clear speech and no ‘umms’ or ‘errs’ or misspeaking will make for easier listening and a professional end result. However, try to remember that even the best-selling podcasts will have had ‘those’ episodes at the very beginning – keep at it, and you’ll soon be powering through like a pro.

Choose music that fits your podcasts brand. The right music can set the mood for your listeners and help identify your podcast from the outset. There are plenty of good libraries available online – try Epidemic Sound, Audio Jungle or Artlist for a decent selection. Edit an intro and outro sequence to frame your audio and use music to break up sections throughout your podcast. 

To carry out your edit, there are plenty of free and low-cost music editing tools available – Garageband, Reaper or Audacity give you everything you need to create your finished product. 

After your edit is complete, the final step is to balance audio frequencies and loudness fluctuations to create a positive experience for your listener – a process broadly known as ‘mixing’. In reality, this topic needs its own blog post just to touch the surface, but essentially it comes down to a combination of compression and equalisation. Equalisation means balancing different frequency ranges to make your dialogue clear to the listeners. 

Compression is a process that reduces the fluctuation between loud and quiet passages to create a more consistent volume. Take some time to learn about both of these processes, as getting them wrong can lead to some pretty nasty results. 

The last thing to consider and adjust is your podcast’s long-term volume – known as loudness – to ensure comfortable listening for your audience. This is measured in LUFS (Loudness Units relative to Full Scale) levels. Apple wants your podcast at -16 LUFS, and as they’re still the dominant platform for podcast hosting, that’s what we’d recommend you go for too. 

Get Yourself Heard – Branding and Marketing Your Podcast

Hopefully by the time you’re at this stage you’ll have your playbook down, and you’ve got a good idea of what you want your podcast to sound like, if you haven’t already recorded your debut episode. Now it’s time to have a think about what you want it all to look like and how you are going to get listeners to know about it!

First Impressions Count

While fantastic podcast content is vital, it’s equally important to spend some time looking at what your listeners will see in the directories – your artwork will probably be your audience’s first point of contact with your podcast. By now you’ll know what your subject and theme is and know what your tone of voice is – make sure your artwork reflects that. 

Also think carefully about what you are going to call your podcast. Naming your podcast is such an important step in your branding – be specific but not boring and ensure your name links in some way to what your audiences will expect – make it memorable and snappy.

A good description is also a really important element of your podcast branding – you need to make sure you’re telling your audience what they can expect from your content and what’s in it for them – make it compelling and catchy to encourage people to subscribe. 

To help your visibility, include search ranking keywords in your description (rather than stuffing your title with it) to get better search results and make it easy for people to find you. The most common way for an audience to find a new podcast is through a topic search, so this is a really key step. 

Spread the Word

Distribution and marketing are key to getting your podcast heard and up the rankings scale – and to gain loyal followers who will want to hear your content grow. 

Decide whether you’re going to have a big hollywood style ‘launch event’ with previews and hype ads, or whether you’re going to go down a more organic ‘soft launch’ route – reaching out to industry peers and interested audiences. 

Social media is a powerful marketing tool, and you’ve probably already got a good base audience with your own connections. Social platforms open doors to target audiences that also help you generate feedback while building good relationships with followers and fans.

Make sure you’re engaging with your podcast and your audience from your own personal account and call in those favours and big names to listen and wax lyrical about your podcast – and get them signing up as future guests! If you’re engaged and connected to your audience, you’ll add value to your podcast – offer your content as a solution to a problem they may be facing and ask for feedback and reviews to spread the word. 

Enjoy Creating Your Content! 

You’ll get a real sense of satisfaction from creating your own podcast and seeing your ideas blossom into valuable content for your listeners. If you need any more advice or if we can answer any of your questions around podcasting, technical queries or anything else, we’d be happy to chat with you.