“I want to start a podcast”
I hear that a lot. I suppose it makes sense. As far a content goes, podcasting is second only to blogging as a democratic medium for distribution. Anyone with a half decent smartphone and the ability to ramble for a few minutes can declare themselves a podcaster and claim a certain level credibility – even if they are only talking to themselves.
The truth is most podcasts you find on your favorite app have very few listeners and often fewer episodes.
Like blogging it’s very easy to start a podcast. The hard part is keeping it going once it stops being the shiny new thing and becomes an obligation. That’s especially true if you don’t get a huge following right away and find yourself howling into the digital wind.
For every successful podcast there are thousands that simply shrivel up and die on the vine. But with a little planning you might actually beat the odds and find an audience who cares enough to subscribe – and maybe even buy some of your products and services.
Successful podcasters know who their ideal audience is, have a goal for what they want that audience to do, and have guests that attract that audience.
I was recently speaking to a client who has a podcast with almost 50 episodes. He’s committed.
But after doing the podcasts for over a year, he is struggling to find a reason to continue.
He’d been given advice that he should focus on finding “influencers” with large followings as guests – even if those influencers had nothing to do with his key messaging and their followers were unlikely to help him with his business.
In short he was given a strategy to boost numbers and not revenue.
If you want to start a podcast – that’s awesome. But as a professional, you need to look at the business case for spending your time creating something that’s going to take a while to find an audience.
Define your audience
If you’ve read any of my previous articles you’ll know how much value I put on defining who your ideal audience is. It’s important when you’re writing a blog and it’s important if you are deciding to start a podcast. Who do you want to listen? Obviously “everyone” is not the right answer.
Ideally you want to attract the audience that’s most likely to push your business forward. There’s no point in having a million punters who won’t ever make you a dime. So define who it is you NEED to be listening. Who are the people who are going to hire you or buy your products and services?
What are you selling?
Next you need to have a plan for what you want these “ideal clients” to do. Do you want them to hire you to speak? Buy your books? Bring you in as a consultant? Whatever it is, this is important.
When starting a podcast most folks will put a significant amount of effort into creating intros and outros. If only that put that much effort into their calls to action. For most the only mention of their own products of services comes at the end of the episode.
But if you listen to podcasts like Slate’s Political Gabfest, The Gist or others produced by major league producers, you’ll find that their sponsors are promoted within the episode. I particularly like how on Political Gabfest David Plotz, the host/moderator, drops ads in mid-discussion.
If you’re going to start a podcast to drive your business, you need to think of yourself as if you were a sponsor and put as much time into your promo spots as you put into those intros and outros. Do this and your podcast is already a more effective business tool.
Why will anyone listen?
Are you still with me? We’ve defined an audience and also defined what we want that audience to do for us through our ads.
The last thing we need to figure out what guests will attract the audience you want to reach. Remember that client with the 50 episodes under his belt? He was committed but he didn’t have the right guests to attract the clients he needed to make it worth his while. Random guests = no return.
Instead of focusing on “influencers” he is changing his focus to bring in guests who his ideal audience wants to hear.
When all is said and done, there are plenty of reasons not to start a podcast as a money making venture. But if you put a little thought into things you might find that your podcast is actually a business driver for you in other ways.