Should I start a podcast?

“All my friends are doing it!”

That excuse doesn’t fly in our house, and it shouldn’t drive your marketing decisions either.

Podcasting is experiencing a well-deserved renaissance, because audio-based content is the perfect way to squeeze more productivity into our busy lives. Learn and laugh while you’re on the treadmill, while you’re driving, and while you’re brushing your teeth in the morning.

All of the great podcasts out there, and all of the discussion about podcasting, may have triggered an urge to start a podcast of your own. Before you go out and invest in that professional microphone and headphones, you need to test the idea against your marketing strategy.

A podcast can be a powerful component of your content marketing, but only if it fits into your overall business plan.

Key considerations – should you start a podcast

  • Do you have a voice for radio? If you’re going to be the primary host on air, you need to evaluate the quality of your voice when it’s recorded. Do some test recordings using your equipment, and have colleagues listen to it. Not everyone is cut out for broadcasting.
  • Are you committed to a schedule for the long term? You don’t want to burn out or ignore your primary business. Just the same as for starting a blog, you want to be sure you’re going to commit before launching your podcast. Don’t leave your listeners high and dry after three episodes!
  • Do you have a promotional plan? Producing a podcast is just the first step. Once it’s recorded, you need to know what you’ll do with that great show, and how you’ll find your audience. Check out this fantastic post from Jay Baer on producing and promoting a podcast for some inspiration.
  • Have you found a topic that you are an authority on, and is not saturated already? I don’t buy the whole “I can’t create content about X because everyone else is already covering it,” because no-one else has your specific point of view and life experiences. However, you do want to give yourself a fighting chance, so find a topic where you are the ultimate authority and can spend lots of time talking about it without running out of ideas. What are you endlessly curious about?
  • Do you have a content plan? Is the format of your show like a talk show? Will you be monologuing? If you’re going to be conducting interviews, start with a dream list of guests and do some outreach to get bookings. Bone up on the structure of a good interview, while you’re at it.
  • Do you have professional equipment and resources? The bar has been raised. You can’t just use your little white iPhone earbuds and hope for the best. The top podcasts have bumper music, logos, high quality sound, and other professional touches. You don’t have to build a studio in your backyard, but put some care into your sound equipment and it will pay off. Here’s a good summary from ReadWrite on podcasting on a budget.
  • Does your target customer listen to podcasts? Do some market research…ask your current customers if they’d listen to a podcast from you. Check out the professional research on podcast listeners and trends.

You went through the checklist above, and oops…you got derailed on a few of them. But you still want to take advantage of the power of podcasting. No worries, there are other ways you can incorporate audio into your marketing plan.

Alternatives to producing your own podcast

  • Sponsorship – Invest some of your advertising budget in sponsoring a popular podcast in your business niche.
  • Be a guest – All of those podcasts are constantly seeking interesting guests and good stories, so why not go pitch yourself to some of your favorites?
  • Invite a podcaster to your blog – Flip the tables and interview some popular (and relevant) podcasters on your blog. They’ll probably promote it to their audiences.
  • Create content that accompanies a podcast – Create a partnership with a podcaster and help develop written content (or video) that compliments the audio.

I’d love to hear from any readers who are doing their own podcasts. Post a link to your show in the comments so we can all listen!

Featured image via Flickr CC: Patrick Breitenbach

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the Hoop.la community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

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