Have you been thinking about launching a podcast for your business, nonprofit or pet project? Great idea—podcasting continues to gain serious steam among listeners, making it an effective way to reach passionate audiences and build your brand.
Nearly 40% of American teens and older – about 104 million people—now report listening to at least one podcast a month, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital. Among “super listeners”—defined as those tuning into five or more hours of podcasts per week—the average listening load stood at 10.5 hours a week in 2020, up from 9.8 in 2019.
That’s a lot of content, and a lot of potential engagement with your brand if you can create a show that resonates with listeners.
Of course, with new shows launching every day, that’s easier said than done. Apple now says there are more than 2 million shows on its Apple Podcasts platform alone, including more than 730,000 "active podcasts," meaning those that have released episodes within the last 90 days.
With so much competition, how do you cut through the noise? Here’s five pieces of advice we share with podcasting clients here at Informatics.
5 Tips for Starting a Podcast
1. Find your niche & voice
Just like any other piece of content, you’ll generate the most interest by creating targeted, authentic and unique episodes for listeners. In today’s attention economy, people have a limited amount of time to spend on entertainment, whether that’s television, streaming services or podcasts. Why should they spend it with you?
Two out of three “super listeners” identified by Edison said that it’s important or very important to watch or listen to unique content you can’t get anywhere else.
So forget about doing a “cat podcast” or a “fun show about movies." A commercially successful podcast needs to have a specific niche, point of view or “hook” that drives listens and shares.
Are you a topical HR and accounting show featuring the region’s leading experts? An interview show focused on BIPOC entrepreneurs? A fishing show with a distinctly Minnesotan attitude?
Use that information to refine your show titles and descriptions, which are the top ways listeners decide what to listen to, according to a survey by The Podcast Host. It can also pay off in terms of SEO, allowing you to target more long-tail keywords and improving your performance in search.
2. Invest in top-notch audio production
Podcasting is a popular format for amateur broadcasters because it doesn’t require fancy equipment to get started—but if you’re hoping to draw a broad base of listeners, and potentially advertising dollars, you’ll want to invest in high-quality audio production.
For those just exploring the medium, a USB microphone from Rode or Blue connected to Apple's GarageBand platform can be enough to produce listenable podcasts. Record at the highest quality possible and focus on creating a great audio capture environment, with lots of soundproofing (or even just heavy blankets on the walls).
Here at Informatics, we base our setup around an Apollo Twin audio interface from Universal Audio, Electro-Voice condenser mics, and broadcast-grade post production tools to ensure your episode sounds great everywhere from reference-grade speakers to earbuds. Remember, you get what you pay for.
3. Have a few podcast episodes in the bag
In today’s binge-happy media culture, no one wants just one of something. It’s recommended that you have at least three episodes of your show available at launch to hook new fans and give them an extended preview of what to expect.
Not every episode needs to be a fully fleshed episode—feel free to experiment with mini-episodes, roundtables, outtakes and more—but multiple entry points are key, especially at launch.
4. Get your show on the right platforms
If you’re going to spend the time to produce a high-quality podcast, you want to make sure you post it where listeners are going to find it.
Apple Podcasts remains the top podcast listening app, drawing 30.5% of total podcast listens, followed by Spotify at 28%. The numbers fragment and drop off sharply after that, with Google Podcasts drawing roughly 3% of listens and Stitcher only 1.4%, for example.
Considering that most podcast fans rely on streaming/listening apps to access their favorite shows, your show needs to be on Apple Podcasts and Spotify at a bare minimum. Many DIY podcasters also use an hosting/RSS service like Podbean or Buzzsprout to distribute their episodes to the various streaming platforms. Here at Informatics, we can plan and handle distribution for you, ensuring it’s findable by the most listeners.
One other platform many podcasters forget about: YouTube. As the world’s second-largest search engine, posting video versions of your podcast, or even just audio with a static brand graphic, can help you reach listeners who don’t necessarily use streaming apps but are still interested in your specific content.
5. Promote your podcast launch (and keep going)
Once you have your first few episodes recorded and prepped, introduce it to the world. Make a plan to promote your new show that incorporates both pre-release, day of and post-release messaging across channels, including social media, blogs and e-newsletters.
Consider producing images with pull quotes, short teaser audio clips or “audiograms” to post on social media, and leverage your guests’ networks by tagging them in posts or sharing promotional assets with them to push out to their followers.
Remember that it often takes multiple marketing touches to convince listeners to give a new show a try, so plan on a sustained marketing push for your launch—and follow that up with regular episodes (at least once a month) to keep users hooked once you win them over.
Podcasts can be a fun and impactful way to reach audiences and build a following for your business or project; it just takes a little planning and effort. If you’re looking for help producing your next show, or just need help with the details, reach out to the media experts at Informatics—we’re all in on podcasting.