Would starting a podcast help your business?

Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specializing in lead generation and content marketing.

OPINION: Would starting a podcast help your business?

A little over a year ago, I launched my MAP IT Marketing podcast. Now, with 52 episodes under my belt, I’m often asked, “Is it worth doing as a small business owner?” Although I enjoyed almost everything, I admit that it takes a lot more time and energy to maintain a weekly episode than I expected, and that takes into consideration the help I get from my crew.

Measuring your podcast by numbers alone won't tell you the whole story, says Rachel Klaver.

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Measuring your podcast by numbers alone won’t tell you the whole story, says Rachel Klaver.

The majority of podcasts don’t go past eight episodes before they die out. I know that was certainly true with the two podcasts I started before this one. As someone who often starts things off in a rush and then tires out once it starts to look a little too admin-like, I was determined to make this a podcast I could engage with.

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I had no idea who would listen to an episode, or what numbers were good. To be honest, I still don’t! We are often in the top 5 of our category called Marketing. In terms of listener numbers, we get just under three hundred downloads per week, across all platforms.

Measuring your podcast on numbers alone won’t tell you the whole story. Listener count is not a pure science, and people can download and not listen, but it gives an indication of how many you need to rank in our category. I’ve spoken to podcasters who have thousands of downloads per week, and others with less than a hundred.

What I know, as someone who has organized many events, is that having three hundred people in a room to listen to you speak is a huge feat. When I start to feel overwhelmed with podcasting, the visual image of three hundred people listening in a week is quite motivating!

Rachel Klaver: For a few, launching an online course was a huge success, but for many more, their course, membership program or online offering didn't make them the money it did. they hoped.

Provided

Rachel Klaver: For a few, launching an online course was a huge success, but for many more, their course, membership program or online offering didn’t make them the money it did. they hoped.

This is part of the “why” of podcasting. If you want to get your message out in front of a group every week, a podcast is a dynamic and effective way to do it.

You will need to think about the format you will use. Some people run theirs solo, some with guests, and some have a mix. My shows air with a mix of me as host and then guests. I often use the podcast to help me write weekly columns for Thing, including this one. It helped me create content for blogs, posts and TikToks. I’ve also enjoyed building my professional networks with other business owners I look up to, and some of the podcast topics have influenced my new book on content marketing (out in June).

If you’re going to start a podcast, you need to have a very clear idea of ​​your why. Part of this will probably be about developing your own profile. Although you can make sales and get new customers from a podcast (we’ve had clients who started out as listeners), I would put a podcast in the early stages of your customer journey. This is mainly for brand awareness and building trust. You’ll need to consider where your listeners can go next if they want more from you. We have chosen to use a Facebook group and sometimes offer downloads or additional material as part of the episode to help bring people together.

It’s a really good idea to listen to other podcasts, not just in your niche, but overall. Listen to the factors and elements that you value. Consider how the host introduces and ends the podcast. Consider if you want there to be breaks or a continuous flow of stories. I used four or five of my favorite podcasts to help craft my first intro. Personally, I needed someone else’s structure to help me figure out what to say and how to say it.

Podcasts take a long time. I separated Fridays last year to be my podcast and column writing day. I tend to bundle two or three episodes into one week, then use the other week to create the show notes, intros and outros, and any promotional materials. I share my podcast across all of our platforms, and it’s a job I choose not to outsource.

One of my first (and best) decisions was to outsource the editing. This was an added cost to us as a business, but it meant countless hours of technical angst that weren’t mine to go through! Initially, I worked with a company called Podcast VA. Owner Lyndal Harris helped me figure out all the different steps I needed to take, helped me with initial podcast designs, and helped me set up my folders and systems.

Since December, we have taken this in-house with a contractor sound engineer. Along with making sure everything is loaded and ready to go each week, podcast production is well taken care of. I’ve talked to other podcasters in my space who are still doing their own editing. For me, it was about how to best use my time, and it’s not about audio editing! Depending on your own strengths, it would be interesting to budget for this to be outsourced

If you have guests, you need to think about how to book them and what you need before check-in. I have email templates that my assistant sends to guests that include a form asking for anything we need. This form then feeds into a spreadsheet, so everything is in one central place. The spreadsheet also helps me plan the order and scheduled dates of our podcasts and track the progress of each episode.

You can get places for guests. Almost all of my guests are people I have personally sought out because they have captured my own interest. I said no to a lot of people who threw a message at me that they wanted to share, regardless of my audience. I also had guests tell me what questions I should ask them. This leads to a resounding NO on my part. If you have guests, you’ll need to think about what your audience will most want to listen to. You should also consider the expectations you will have of your guests regarding sharing and incentivizing their episodes.

To release a weekly episode, you need to be on top of the administration. We have folders in our player for each episode’s raw and full audio, for our podcast footage, for the music we’ve purchased, our show notes recordings, and more. It’s about having a system in place to make sure your information is at your fingertips when you need it.

I opted for a weekly podcast. This means that I deliberately chose a broad topic – marketing for small business owners. If you want to choose a niche topic, you can create a short season of podcast episodes instead. It may also be a more manageable solution if time or resources are limited.

Money for expensive equipment shouldn’t be an obstacle. While I see some business owners spending thousands on a setup, ours is incredibly low budget. I recently bought myself a Blue Yeti microphone and desktop stand as a reward for a year of podcasting. Before that, I used a $90 microphone and we recorded every episode via Zoom call. I either recorded in my office, speaking towards a soundproofing wall, with my fake wall made of a moveable clothes rack blocking me from the rest of my large room.

If you don’t have an office, any small room will do. During lockdown, I made myself a studio in my dressing room, a small windowless room with poor lighting and no seats. The sound was great, but recording a podcast on a laptop balancing precariously on two cardboard boxes, having to sit on a hard floor, facing a floor lamp that lit a warm, bright light on my face wasn’t ideal !

I often record my intro and outros on a free phone recording app. At home, I’ll hide under the blankets in the bedroom to make sure it sounds good. If I’m in the office, I jump in the car to get better sound.

Like all marketing we do, I have to prove that all the money and time we spend on something is worth it to us as a business. After a year, our podcast has generated enough new business to show that it should remain a core part of our weekly business. I am grateful to anyone who has reviewed it or recommends it to others. As a marketing tool, it helped me define my voice, introduce myself to new people, and build community. When people ask me if it’s worth it as a small business owner, my answer is, “Definitely yes.”

If you have it in your plans and you like to talk, I would say go for it. Don’t wait until you can afford all the expensive equipment, get help where you can afford it, and choose which guests you want to talk to. You’ll be doing something you love and benefiting your business at the same time.

Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specializing in lead generation and content marketing.

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