MAGAZINES FOR YOUR EARS
Podcasts are basically like magazine subscriptions you listen too – a vast array of subjects which you can download and listen to on the go. Like having a radio station dedicated to your exact interests, there are few subjects which aren’t given the podcast treatment.
A big fan of llama farming? Let’s face it, who isn’t? Well, obviously there is a podcast for that. Knitting using jumbo needles or cooking using roadkill? Yes and yes, you guessed it – there is a podcast for almost any interest.
So, you get the idea, podcasts are blogs you listen to – and so they tap into the psyche of those who care enough to produce, aimed at those who are passionate enough to listen. Once you subscribe to a podcast, you are delivered all the latest issues – but here is the kicker, many are free! It really is a wonderful world.
The term podcast was coined in 2004 and in 2005 Apple released iTunes 4.9 which allowed users to subscribe and listen to podcasts via iTunes on a desktop or synced to an iPod, and then the iPhone was born and change everything. A whole new genre of entertainment, news, and online activity was unleashed. So let’s all hail the Podcast.
Like we said, there is an almost limitless amount of subjects, and of course that means those who produce them are a pretty diverse group too. There are all kinds of podcasters, from well-known media companies, celebrities to amateur enthusiasts.
You can find thousands of podcasts with regularly updated content, from entertaining, educational and funny, to interesting, challenging, anarchic or just plain daft…the big wide world of podcasts is whatever you want it to be.
The fact that there are so many options has led to a real boom in podcast listeners. In the USA, podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016 – which was already a massive leap from years gone. The trend continues to climb.
The fact is, the potential podcast audience is bigger than many anticipate, and there is still room for much growth. Data from the US, shows that the same number of Americans listen to podcasts and use Twitter. The Edison Research, annual Infinite Dial study puts the podcast audience at 57 million Americans in total. Read all about it here http://www.edisonresearch.com/infinite-dial-2017/
WHO WANTS WHAT PODCASTS?
With the mobility given by smartphones, there is a voracious appetite for content for people on the move. From commuters to drivers, walkers and joggers – people out and about want to have more options of what they consume.
Obviously the more mainstream and popular a topic, then the bigger the natural audience. So sports features well – football, of the soccer variety, is particularly big in the UK. While fashion, politics and technology also figure highly.
It is not always as obvious as you might think – the podcast consumer is a very sophisticated beast, and the shows they listen to are sometimes surprising. The fact that listening can be a very private form of consumption perhaps explains that self-help and psychology podcasts often do very well.
As an example of how surprising some of the podcast hits are, the current UK number one podcast is about interior design. “At home with…” is a podcast which talks to people about how their lifestyles and influences translate into their home. In the United States, it seems that politics is coming increasingly to the fore. Given how the nation has undergone a seismic shift in the landscape, this is perhaps not surprising.
MAKE YOUR PODCAST MARK
With so many people producing podcasts, and such a wide audience, it can be hugely tempting to begin making your own. So what are the twelve tips and traps to avoid if you decide to become a podfather…or mother?
- Find your passion and make it happen – You won’t be able to fake it, so make sure your podcast taps into a genuine interest you have. You will run out of steam and bore listeners otherwise. Can you talk about your subject for 30 minutes without notes? No, then think again. Yes? You have found your topic…you may proceed.
- Who else is doing it? – When you have decided on your topic then search iTunes for other podcasts in your niche. Are there loads? If so how can you stand out? Are there very few? Great, but how will you find your audience.
- All about the brand! – The name matters a lot. Too clever and people won’t know, too obvious and they may not want to know. Find a name that is memorable and captures your topic and your audience will like. Often the more direct, descriptive names work better than abstract or overly creative names. It’s also a good idea to include a keyword or two within your show’s name.
- Time for a logo – Yes ok, so podcasts are for the ears, but often it is the eyes which help the audience choose. It’s important to come up with an attention grabbing logo and a show image for your iTunes listing. Stand out, shout about your content and make people want to know more or support you.
- Planning – Podcasts are personal and often relaxed, but that belies the planning that has to go into them. Aside from great content, a podcast is about pushing personality, and an authentic voice. The simpler something seems, often the harder the work to get it there. This is the archetypal swan paddling – serene on air, paddling furiously behind the scenes.
- Scheduling – Once a week? Once a month? Whatever schedule you choose, be sure to keep it consistent. The audience will look elsewhere if you don’t deliver, they want a regular schedule, and even a regular day of the week.
- Length of podcast – Some love a quick blast, so under 20 minutes. Others want their entire commute to be consumed, so perhaps 30-50 minutes. The target audience will know what it wants, but you know what you have – so find that balance and sweet spot.
- Plan Your Content – You need to map out the podcast content. You need to plan your topics, the conversation flow, personality, and overall engagement. If you have an idea write it down, and then develop it. You may want to feel it is all organic and relaxed, but even a very basic form of script is useful. It doesn’t have to be the words which will be said, but just a few sentences written out beforehand to use as the introduction and then with the show’s topics as bullets for the points to be covered.
- Record and Edit – The better the equipment, the studio and facilities used for recording the podcast, the better the end product. So while many great from humble beginnings, the biggest podcasts are produced, recorded and edited with the best equipment available. “Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar”, runs an expression you can ask your granddad about. But is means don’t scrimp on the little things which can damage the big…your podcast deserves the best, as does your audience.
- Grow Your Audience – You have created it, you have developed content, and you’ve recorded it, now it is time to give it to the world. Have a website and online presence to parallel how great your podcast is. Build a community around it. Engage online, get fans and talk to them. Get a sense of momentum surround it.
- Show me the money – A podcast is built on quality and content first, then the money comes second. That said, there are riches to be made – you can sell advertising and placements, shout outs and plugs. Be careful though, your authentic voice is silenced with every paid word. Perhaps a better route is to use your podcast as a vehicle for your personal business interests. More interest in your should translate into better business opportunities. That is the way to the cash.
- Enjoy it – The last point is that podcasts should be enjoyable. They should make the audience happy, but so too the producer. So stay engaged, keep the content focused and delivering –and that is a recipe for a great podcast.