Podcasting is a fun and affordable way to promote your business, connect with influencers, and tout your expertise. Or you can start a podcast as a home business.
The challenge for many who are interested in starting a profitable podcast is that technical know-how and logistics can seem overwhelming. While there is a lot to plan and do to start a podcast, it’s not difficult if you take it step-by-step.
What is the Goal for Your Podcast?
Some home business owners podcast to complement their existing business. For others, the podcast is their home business. Or maybe your goal is simply to have an online radio show as a hobby business. All are acceptable, but your end game goal will dictate some of the decisions you make along the way.
What Topic Will You Cover?
Like most other business ideas, narrowing your niche enough to be unique without making it too limited to support a long-term show, is the best way to pick your topic. For example, if you want to start a health and wellness podcast, pick a sub-topic or a specific market, such as clean eating or diets for middle age moms.
Who are You Podcasting For?
This is where the target market comes in. Like any other home business or marketing strategy, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money if you hone in on a market that wants what you’re offering.
Name Your Podcast
Coming up with a show name is one of the most important tasks, so take time to do it right. In many ways, it’s similar to naming your business, in that you want a memorable name that describes the nature of the show. If you’re podcasting along with your current home business, you’ll want to maintain your brand, so you’ll want to include your business name in the show.
Decide Your Show Length, Frequency, and Format
Most podcast experts agree that 20-45 minutes is an ideal show length. Some podcasters post daily, while most posts weekly. However, you can post monthly if that’s what it takes to produce a solid show full of value for your audience. Finally, how will the show be organized? Are you the only person speaking or will you have a co-host or a guest interview? Will you have different segments to your show, such as a Q&A or tip of the week?
Create Graphics and a Website for Your Podcast
The graphic will be used on podcast directories, as well as show up on your listeners' devices. You also need a hub from which to share and promote your show. Many podcasters use WordPress to create their website because there are some great podcast-related plugins, but you can use any option that gives you a professional web presence.
Make the Commitment to Your Show
Once you start and have an audience, you’ll be expected to produce shows. This can’t be a haphazard thing or something you do only when you feel like it. It can help to plan 10 or more shows in advance and take time each week to plot out future show ideas to ensure you always have something to record for your show.
Gather Your Tools and Equipment
The good news is that technology is more affordable than ever. Even so, you want quality equipment to ensure good sound and editing. Here are the items you need to record your podcast.
This is one thing you don’t want to skimp on. You can get an affordable USB microphone that can record directly into your editing software for around $50. Most podcasters have desktop microphones, but there are some quality headset ones as well.
Skype for Interviews
If you plan to interview guests, Skype is a fantastic, affordable option, especially if your guests live in a different country. You can do plain audio calls or video calls if you’d like to do a videocast. You can call Skype-to-Skype for free. Skype-to-phone has fees, but it’s very affordable.
Software to Record Interviews
If you’re doing a solo show, there is no need for this, but if you want to record Skype calls, you’ll need a third-party software that will record the call. Some options include Pamela for Skype (Windows), ECamm (Mac/iOS), and MP3 Skype Recorder (free).
A long time, affordable (as in free) option for podcast editing has been Audacity. Mac users have Garageband standards on their machines. There are other audio editing options as well, but you’ll want to find one that allows you to fix sound issues, cut segments, and add elements (i.e. your intro and outro). Another option is to outsource audio editing. If you’re doing a videocast, you’ll want the same elements except it should edit video.
Find a Hosting Service
Audio files are large, so you need a place where you can store it, and also, get playback options you can embed onto your website. Libsyn and SoundCloud are two of the most popular options. Podcastwebsites.com offers a single place for everything (website and podcast) if you like simplicity. It’s pricey for the beginner, but there are no limits on storage or bandwidth, which can jack up the price of podcasting with some other options. When choosing a service, consider whether or not they can distribute your show to iTunes and other popular podcast sources. You can do this yourself, but it’s a nice feature if the host can do it for you.
Before you record your first real show, have a test run to learn how to use your equipment and software, and fix your glitches. For example, make sure your recorder is actually recording your Skype call. You don’t want to interview someone only to discover the call wasn’t recorded.
Produce Your Podcast
You’ve got everything in place, now it’s time to put your show together. Here are the steps.
Create your intro and outro
These are the music and spoken segments that will appear on every show. You can do these yourself or hire a voice-over specialist. Make sure any music you use is royalty-free and you have permission. Don't make them too long. People are eager to hear the meat of your show, so don't make them wait too long.
Outline or Script Your Show
The most interesting podcasts are conversational in nature. So while you may want a script to stay focused and avoid rambling, you don’t want to read your show. If you’ll be interviewing a guest, get or share questions in advance so you both know what’s going to be covered.
Record all the Segments of Your Show
Many shows are divided into different segments. For example, the intro, brief welcome by the host sharing about that week’s show, an interview, a tip, and the outro. This is just an example. Perhaps you’re doing a quick and dirty 5-minute show in which you only have an intro, your show, and the outro.
Edit Your Show
Colin Gray has several YouTube videos on using Audacity to edit podcast audio. If you’re using different software, follow the instructions for editing. Your goal is to level out the sound, improve sound quality, reduce static and other sound issues, and slice together with your show segments.
Tag the Audio (MP3) of Your Show
It’s not enough to name the file with your show and episode name. You want to tag it so that those names also show up on people’s podcast listening devices. This is where you add your podcast graphic as well.
Upload Your Podcast to Your Host
Use your host’s instructions for uploading your show.
Share Your Show
Once your show is up, it’s time to let listeners know about it.
Embed the Show on Your Website
Most hosts will give you a code that allows people to hit play and listen to the show right from your site, or to download if they’d like to listen to that way. The best way to do this is to have a blog post about your show, add the code, show notes, and any other information that goes along with the show. For example, if you interviewed an author, you can add an Amazon affiliate link to his book. Or if you mentioned resources on the show, you can include links to them.
Add Your Show to Podcast Directories
The most popular are iTunes, Stitcher, and SoundCloud. You’ll need to apply and be approved before your show will be available.
Share your show on social media and include information about your show in your email newsletter. Lastly, add slides or graphics and turn your audio into a video to share on YouTube. Or consider doing a videocast from the outset.
Make Money From Your Podcast
It can take time to make money from a podcast, but if you produce a quality (in content and sound) show geared toward a target market, you can make money. Here are a few ways podcasters make money from their shows:
Just like you can use affiliate marketing to make money from a blog, so too can you from a podcast. The trick to affiliate marketing on a podcast is delivering your unique affiliate URL. If you use WordPress, you can use the Pretty Link plugin to create easily spoken URLs with your domain name that will direct listeners to your affiliate product. For example, if you want to promote the book “Amazing Acme Tips,” you can get the affiliate link from Amazon, and then create a redirect from your website to the book. That way you can tell readers, “To pick up your copy of Amazing Acme Tips, visit mydomain.com/amazingacmetips,” and your redirect link would then take the listener to the book on Amazon.
Sell Your Own Product or Service
Podcasting is an excellent option if you create a product or service targeted to your podcast listeners. For example, if you have a bookkeeping service, you can have a podcast on bookkeeping secrets for small business owners. You can use the show to share tips, but also, share your expertise and services. Podcasting works well for generating clients for coaches and consultants, as well.
You’ll need to have developed a show with a good number of listeners before you can offer to advertise, but once you do, you can sell 20 to 30 seconds of time for other offers. You can also have these ads on your website with the episode of the show.
Similar to ads, you can get show sponsors. You’ll need a sizable audience to get a business brand to regularly send money to sponsor your show. It will be important for you to gather stats on the number of listeners and downloads to appeal to a sponsor. Not only would your sponsor be mentioned on the show, but also, you should have information about it on your website.
Similar to the freebie offer as a way to entice people to join your list, you can use the podcast as a mechanism to entice people to pay for more detailed content. This can be access to more in-depth interviews or interviews that weren’t aired on the podcast. Or it can include joining a membership or community site. In order for this to work, your podcast needs to do a great job enticing people to want more than the podcast offers. Further, the premium content needs to be of good quality and value.
There’s no harm in asking for donations to help support the show. While most people like free, there are those out there who will donate if they feel they’re getting great value from the show.