Your Quick and Easy Podcasting Primer
The latest guide in OpenView’s Content Snapshot series walks you through everything you’ll need to know to start podcasting, step-by-step.
In recent years, a lot of companies have jumped aboard the content bandwagon by producing things like a corporate blog, white papers, infographics, eBooks, case studies, and bylined articles. And who could blame them? Those forms of content, after all, are fantastic ways of providing critical value to your customers and prospects, and displaying your company’s expertise and thought leadership.
But what about podcasts?
Podcasting can spice up your content efforts, bring some variety to a mostly text-based approach, and provide fodder for future blog posts and guest content. Think of it like a vocalized blog that your customers can download on-demand and listen to almost anywhere. Best of all, podcasts aren’t as difficult to create as you might think, provided you have the right equipment and know-how.
You don’t need to be tech whiz to make podcasting work within your content marketing strategy. But you do need clearly understand your target audience and invest in some basic equipment that will help you do the job well.
So, before jumping in, make sure you answer these two questions:
Do You Know Who Your Audience Will Be?
Do You Have the Right Technology and Equipment?
When you think about creating podcasts, you might picture a fancy recording studio that houses thousands of dollars worth of microphones, audio equipment, and high-tech software. In reality, you can record podcasts with tools as simple as your computer’s microphone and some free or pre-installed software like Apple’s GarageBand.
If you want to take your podcasts to the next level and create professional sounding broadcasts that wow your audience, however, you need to invest in:
- A good microphone: At OpenView, we use the Yeti Microphone, which is a versatile multi-pattern USB microphone. That might sound fancy, but the Yeti is ridiculously simple to setup and use. Best of all, it’s very affordable.
- An audio interface: That probably sounds far scarier than it is. We use the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra, which allows us to input audio from a number of sources at once and adjust those input levels.
- Audio recording, editing, and publishing software: Thankfully, this investment should be fairly inexpensive (if you need to spend any money at all). We use Apple’s Garage Band to record and edit podcasts and customize effects, and iTunes to export and publish our podcasts. Both applications typically come pre-installed on Apple computers. There are more complex audio editing software options, so be sure to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Keeping in mind that you’ll probably have to go through some trial and error to become truly comfortable with podcasting, here are six steps you should follow to ensure that you create podcasts your audience can’t wait to listen to:
For more quick & easy content tips, see the other guides in our Content Snapshot series:
Step 1: Set up a recording space
Sounds easy enough, right? It’s not terribly difficult, but you do need to consider several factors in deciding where to record the podcasts.
First, you need a quiet place with good acoustics. You don’t want echoes, noisy heating and cooling systems, or a space with a lot of traffic. For instance, you might opt for a lesser-used conference room, setting up two microphones facing each other. Make sure the space is conducive to both recording and conversation. Creating a comfortable environment will make for better podcasts.
Step 2: Hook up your equipment
Be sure to read the instructions carefully and test your equipment as you go. Most content marketers aren’t necessarily audio recording experts, so setting up microphones and mixers can be a head scratcher. While setting up the equipment, open Garage Band or whatever program you’re using and make sure the microphones and mixers are translating audio properly to your machine.
Step 3:Test everything first
Once everything is hooked up, play around with the equipment to become familiar with it. That’s the best way to learn. Recording multiple inputs can be confusing, but Garage Band (or the recording software of your choosing) should be able to help walk you through it.
If you’re using Garage Band with an external microphone like the Yeti, be sure to go into Preferences and change the Audio Input to the device you’re using. If you don’t do that, the program will automatically choose the computer’s built-in mic.
Don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t work on your first try. You’ll figure it out with some trial and error. For specific problems, check out CreativeCow.com, which provides a wealth of information that can answer even the most obscure podcasting questions.
Step 4: Recording
Once you’ve worked out the kinks and ensured that all of your equipment and software is working properly, go ahead and record your first podcast. You might consider asking a customer, vendor, partner, colleague, or industry influencer to join you on the podcast to discuss a particular subject. Or, you could simply record a quick audio guide or editorial about a particular issue.
Whatever you do, make sure to keep these podcasting best practices in mind:
- Frame out your thoughts: While podcasts are intended to be somewhat free-flowing, you don’t want to deliver disjointed, confusing commentary. Spend some time writing out a basic script and underscore the main points you plan to talk about.
- Be brief: The average podcast listener has an attention span between 15 and 20 minutes for each topic you plan to discuss. So if you anticipate a particular podcast stretching longer than that, spread the content over multiple podcasts instead.
- Don’t Be Salesy: While a brief introduction of your company and its product establishes credibility, you should avoid being overly focused on yourself. You don’t want the podcast to sound like a sales pitch.
Step 5: Editing and Publication
After recording a podcast, you’ll want to edit, publish, and promote it. Here’s the good news: editing is probably the easiest part. Here are some easy steps for editing and publishing clean, crisp podcasts:
Examples of Great Podcasts
- GigaOm: Commutist podcast
- MarketingProfs: Marketing Smarts podcasts
- Harvard Business Review: IdeaCast podcasts
- Include an introduction: If you’re creating a podcasting series, be sure to include an introduction that will remain the same across all podcasts. You can hear ours by clicking here.
- Split the track: If you’d like to delete a specific section of your audio, most audio editing software will allow you to click on that section, divide the region into chunks, and select the section you want to remove. Continue that process until your podcast is exactly how you want it, editing out errors or dead space.
- Mark the end: When you are ready to end your podcast, you’ll need to create a marker that indicates a stopping point. In GarageBand, that marker is a small purple arrow. Simply drag it to the desired ending point. If you don’t do that, your track will likely be a lot longer than you intended and include a lot of dead air at the end.
- Export your podcast to iTunes: When you’re ready to share your podcast, the easiest way to do it is to export the track to iTunes. This is done very easily through GarageBand. On the top bar, click “Share” and “Send Song to iTunes.” To ensure that as many people can listen to your podcast as possible, make sure you export it as an MP3 file.
Step 6: Promotion
Once you’ve published your podcast through iTunes, you should be able to share it, promote it, and syndicate it through an RSS feed. To be most effective, be sure to write a brief overview of the podcast that tells listeners what they’ll be tuning in for. You should also insert appropriate keywords into that summary to improve your podcast’s search engine visibility.
Your company’s website, blog, and social media channels are great places to promote your podcasts, but you should also include them in podcast directories. Sites like Yahoo! and applications like iTunes offer great podcast directories, while numerous other podcast directories exist that address specific needs or audiences.
Examples of Intriguing Podcasts
Zurb MarketingProfs Harvard Business Review
Soapbox Marketing Smarts HBR Audio & Video
Content Marketing Playbook, via Content Marketing Institute
How to Record a Podcast Via Skype, via OpenView Blog
Making a Podcast, iTunes FAQ
Don’t Miss the Other Guides in our Content Snapshot Series
Photo by: Patrick Breitenbach
The success of our businesses will largely be determined by our ability to let go of old assumptions and habits, many of which have served us well, and create the dynamic conditions that allow us to speak to our customers in ways that are personal and important to them.