Following last month’s International Podcast Day and ahead of the best UK podcasts being celebrated at the Vuelio Online Influence Awards in November, we’re exploring how and why you should start your own podcast and join this rapidly-growing industry.
In September we enjoyed a fact-packed evening at Blooming Founders, learning from podcast producer and consultant Julie-Anna Needham and picked up a few tips that might help you if you’re thinking of starting a podcast of your own.
Why start a podcast?
As with blogs or vlogs, it’s probably not a good idea to start because you think it will make you rich. Podcasts are influential to their listeners – 76% had acted on adverts or sponsor messages in podcasts, but Julie-Anna suggested you need around 8,000 subscribers before brands are likely to be interested in advertising or sponsorship opportunities.
However, as part of a marketing plan for you or your
business, podcasts make a lot of sense. You can establish yourself as an expert
with a niche podcast, or if you’re a brand or small business you can integrate
a podcast in to your own content marketing as you would a blog or newsletter.
If you’re already a writer, author or blogger, a podcast can be a way to get
closer to existing readers and connect with new audiences. Once your podcast is
established, you could also go on to make a living from your hard-won expertise
by offering podcast services to brands – journalists looking to diversify their
income might be particularly interested in this aspect.
Where to start with
Julie-Anna broke the process in to seven basic stages:
1) Plan your
content or find a niche – go beyond ’health‘ or ’business’ to ’wellbeing for
students’ or ’time management for sole traders’; do lots of research to try to
make sure you’re offering a unique perspective with your own expertise or
2) Find a
platform – you need a physical home for the recordings you’ll make, using
platforms like Soundcloud, Acast, Audioboom, Pippa or Podbean. They’ll host
your content, record analytics, and will help you get on to the directories
where your future listeners are looking for new podcasts.
3) Create a trailer – this helps for your submission to iTunes as you need audio to submit before a new podcast is approved, and you can also use it when you promote your finished podcast.
– the most exciting and probably the most challenging bit, recording and
editing your podcast doesn’t require tons of equipment but a bit of investment
and thought can hugely improve the quality of your content.
visual and written materials to attract and keep listeners. This includes
shareable clips, images (selfies with your guests can help), thumbnails for
listings and possibly a blog or other social media account to include summaries
or even transcriptions. The more material you can produce the better your SEO
and the more chance of growing your audience.
and promotion – you’ll need to make sure you’re listed on all the main
directories, including iTunes where you need to apply directly, and then
promote, promote, promote as you would with any other content you want to share.
and assessment – check your analytics, look at your listener feedback, see what
works and what you enjoyed doing, improve and keep growing!
Podcast equipment and
software – where do you start?
The mobile phone in your pocket is a possibility, but you can improve sound quality with a plug-in microphone or a separate recorder. Julie-Anna stressed that there’s no one-size-fits-all kit list, but brands to consider include:
• Recorder – Zoom H6 recorder, which can take up to four microphones and costs around £250
• Microphones – Rode, Shaw or Yeti are brands to consider
• Software – Adobe Audition, Auphonic or Audacity for editing, Audioblocks for stock music
• Recording studio – hire from around £120/hour. Sharp intake of breath? Your airing cupboard is a more affordable option but the key thing is a room with lots of soft surfaces and limited external noise (so no open street windows) to avoid echoes. Try different locations in your home or office – at a pinch you can even clip blankets around a room to improve sound quality
Some top tips for
It would be impossible to share everything we learned here,
but these are a few of the most memorable tips:
discussion format with two people is a great starting point. It provides
variety for listeners, taking the heat off you, while not being too challenging
energy to your voice by using bullet points (never read out from a script) and
consider standing up during recording
a series can be less stressful for you and more attractive for listeners; you
can always start a new series soon after but it offers a logical point to make
changes (based on all the evaluation you’ve done and what you’ve learned from
your listeners’ feedback)
episodes are easier to get in to and for listeners to fit in to their day –
this is especially true for business audiences. 10 or 15 minutes is a good
guideline. A leisure audience listening with coffee or while doing the
housework might welcome longer episodes but, if in doubt, keep it short.
– Get to
know your equipment: each microphone has an optimal distance from the person
speaking; low male voices can be picked up better than women’s voices; a pop
shield can protect against breath sounds on words beginning with ’p’ and ‘b’
and some microphones are one-directional so you need to make sure they’re
facing you or your guest
– Record a
bit of ambient sound at each session – when you edit the episode, you can
insert this for more natural sounding ’silence’ between segments.
not only add interest to your content, they can also help you widen your reach
– look for guests with good social followings in sectors you want to break in
to. They are likely to share the episodes they appear on and you’ll both
If you’re an established podcaster, you can source interviewees and experts on the Journalist Enquiry Service – go to https://responsesource.com/send to find out more (you’ll need to have been going for three or more months and be able to provide some metrics). You might also want to put yourself forward for a listing on the Vuelio Media Database.