I just hit the six month mark in podcasting...and they said it wouldn't last. I do it a little differently than many as our podcast, Technology For Business Sake, is actually repurposed from a weekly radio show I co-host on a business talk radio here in Atlanta. As the guy responsible for producing the show and the podcast, I've learned a few things that you may want to consider if you've been thinking about taking the podcasting plunge. These tips won't focus on the technical side of podcasting, as there are a number of great resources for this type of information, like www.podcast411.com or http://www.apple.com/itunes/store/podcaststechspecs.html. These are things we found made the podcasts get better over time, according to the folks who listen to us.
1. Write down the focus and format
This has got to be one of the most important, and overlooked, things you can do. People think they know in their head what they want to do but I guarantee you don’t really know until you see it on paper. And I’ll also guarantee what you first write down is not going to be what your show ends up being. So take the time to write a mission statement for your podcast, and to create a format for the show with these components:
• Overall show length
• Number of segments
• Segment lengths
• Timeframe (daily, weekly, monthly, etc)
Our podcasts typically last 45-48 minutes long, but that’s really because it’s a radio show first. You may want to keep it short and sweet and max out in the 10-20 minute timeframe. Remember people’s attention spans are getting shorter as more things are coming at them all the time.
2. Think of your podcast as Infotainment
I’m sure many of you are looking at adding podcasting to your marketing mix, which is totally understandable as studies chronicle its growing importance. And you want to put a lot of meat in each show to make it interesting to people who could use your services. But don’t underestimate the power of entertainment. Interesting means more than just spouting facts, figures and best practices. It also means making all your great facts and figures appealing to take in. Some people have written books I’ve enjoyed a great deal, but when I listened to their podcast I found myself needing a glass of water they were so dry. Now you don’t need to do stand-up or improvisational skits, but please don’t be afraid add a little personality.....PLEASE.....
3. Don’t be afraid to go to the hoop strong!
One thing we learned early on is that our intended audience, small and midsize business owners, want to listen to recognized experts they’ve heard of before. So we decided to go after guests that were pretty recognizable. On our third show we were able to get GoDaddy.com founder Bob Parsons on with us. Since then, we’ve had best selling authors (Chris Anderson, Geoffrey Moore, John Battelle, Don Tapscott), executives at well known companies (RIM, Microsoft, Google, Intuit, etc) and other great guests on with us. And the question I get more than any other is how do you get all these high profile guests. It’s pretty simple….we asked them and they said yes. I sent an email to a “press@” email address and eventually ended up getting Parsons, as well as Google’s director of online sales Emily White. Some folks, like Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine and Six Apart’s Anil Dash I just sent an email to directly.
Now I know our show airs first on the radio, but being a new show we couldn’t tell how many people were actually listening, but because we shared the mission of the show with people and had a nice website that served as a marketing mechanism, we’ve been able to continue attracting great guests, like this week’s guest NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson. So don’t be afraid to ask a star in your industry to participate in your podcast.
4. Have a strong web presence for your podcast
It goes without saying that you want your podcast to sound great. Well you’ll also want a great look for your podcast as well. Make sure you have pages with show summaries, giving people the option to listen to the podcasts on the site or to download them. Let them know how long the show is and provide links to other information that comes up in the conversations. This also should give people interested in your podcast a chance to interact with you, which is extremely important. Remember we're in a Web 2.0 world, where mass collaboration is the name of the game. And if you want a mass audience, you better find ways to create a conversation with the folks you're aiming to do business with.
5. Dress up your RSS feed
Now that I just told you how important it is to have a strong web presence, I also have to tell you that 75% of all podcast downloads come from iTunes. This means there are a great deal of people who may listen to your podcast who may never see your site. So it’s really important to take time to write catchy descriptions of your podcasts in your show’s RSS feed. The feed is the way the majority of folks will learn of your show, so you want to make sure you set it up correctly. Many podcast directories, especially iTunes, are very picky about this, so before you submit your feed go to www.feedvalidator.org to get it validated. Also sign up with www.FeedBurner.com to begin getting stats on who’s subscribing to your podcast. Also you can use a tool like www.feedforall.com to walk you through creating the RSS feed. I used it to get our feed created.
There is just the tip of the iceberg, but a few things to think about before taking the plunge.