Podcasting isn’t the future. Podcasting is now.
It is becoming increasingly popular among listeners as well as organizations using it as a marketing tool.
There are millions of blogs out there but not millions of podcasts. You know how hard it is fighting for people’s attention.
So, why not give podcasting a try?
If it looks complicated and you don’t know where to begin, I understand completely. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are the phases involved in a podcast project that creates a new podcast:
1. Show idea formation and title creation
The first thing you have to do is come up with an idea for a show. When we dove into the phases of a nonprofit website project, we talked about the discovery phase where your website vendor would learn more about you and your audience.
The show idea phase is similar to discovery. What you need figured out are the following items:
Who are you trying to reach with this show? Here’s a hint: who are you trying to reach with your organization?
Your constituents, including donors and program beneficiaries, that you target every day will be your podcast audience.
What is your nonprofit known for? What is your mission/cause? Do you have stories that you can tell on a podcast?
There are several possibilities for show formats. The two most often used are:
- Solo show
- Interview show
A solo show is just you as the host. That’s the easiest to produce and get started. All you have to do is talk into a microphone, and that’s it!
An interview show is self-explanatory. You have to invite guests on your show to be interviewed about your chosen topic.
An interview show is more difficult to produce and get started than a solo show. However, if you thank your guests for their time and ask them to share your podcast with their colleagues, then that will be a great way to get you more exposure.
Once you’ve decided on your audience, topic, and format, you will then be able to create your show title. Think of it as a headline for a newspaper article or blog post. Make sure it’s catchy and speaks to your intended audience.
This next project phase is where things can get intimidating if you’re not tech savvy. No worries, I’m here to simplify it.
2. Technical infrastructure
This phase involves choosing the software that will host all elements of your podcast. It will make them available on the Internet for people to see.
The first piece of the puzzle is:
It is highly recommended that you host your audio files on a separate server than where you host your website.
When your podcast starts getting more listeners, it could potentially take down your website if your audio files are hosted on your website’s server. That’s why it’s better to keep those two components separate.
I have personally used Spreaker to host my podcast audio files, and they provided great service inexpensively.
Website host for your show notes pages
Show notes are incredibly useful. For each podcast show, or episode, that you publish, it should have a corresponding web page containing important notes from the show. These notes can include:
- Main ideas and take-aways if you’re educating your audience on a particular topic
- Links to resources that you mentioned in the episode
- If you have an interview show, links to your guest’s website, social media sites, etc.
If you currently have a website, then you can use that for your show notes pages. Or you can create a new website if that would work better for you.
For the sake of time, I would recommend integrating your show notes pages into your existing website if possible.
An RSS feed is a tool that allows media to be consumed by feed readers and then distributed to the person that will be reading/listening to that media.
For podcasting, an RSS feed allows your podcast to be submitted to iTunes and other podcast directories.
If your website is hosted on WordPress, then you can use the PowerPress Podcasting plugin to create an RSS feed that is specifically optimized for iTunes. This special feed will include your show’s name, categories (i.e. business, entertainment, technology, etc.), and cover art.
3. Choosing equipment
The equipment is what you will use to record and edit your show. The most important piece of equipment you will need:
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be expensive to purchase a microphone. I love and personally use the Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB microphone. You can plug it directly into your computer and immediately get great sound quality.
You don’t have to spend lots of money on headphones either. You want them to be good enough to hear exactly what your show is going to sound like so you can record and edit accurately.
I have a pair of Sony MDRZX100 headphones. They sound much better than your average headphones without a huge price tag.
Recording and editing hardware/software
If you have money to spend and want to experiment like the professionals do, then you can always invest in a mixing board for recording and editing.
If you’d rather keep things simple, then you can download software like Audacity and simply record directly into your computer using your USB microphone.
Once you have chosen your equipment, the next phase is:
4. Obtaining audio-visual assets
Your podcast involves both audio and visual branding. The two main elements that you’ll need are:
1. Show intro/bumpers/outro
A show intro is simply a recorded introduction that plays at the beginning of each show. A show intro script can be structured like this:
“Welcome to [name of your show] with your host [name of host] where we talk about [subject matter you talk about].”
It immediately lets the listener know what the subject matter of the podcast is. That lets them know whether or not they are in the right place.
If they are interested in your topic, then they’ll stick around. It will then be your job to keep them as a listener by giving them great content.
Bumpers are simply audio signals that indicate a transition. For example, you could record a short introduction to an interview that you did, and then transition from that introduction to a recording of the interview.
The bumper can be a sound effect or a short music clip that signals your transition from the short introduction to the interview. Without the bumper, the transition will sound awkward. The bumper makes it sound professional.
The show outro is simply a signal that the show episode is over. Your outro script can be structured like this:
“Thank you for listening to [name of your show] with [name of host]. For more episodes of this podcast, go to [your website] or subscribe on iTunes.”
You can also include any other calls to action aside from listening to more episodes, such as going to your website to sign up for your email list or make a donation.
Now, for your visual branding:
2. Artwork for iTunes and other podcast directories
If your podcast will be available in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and other podcast directories, it will need artwork. It looks like a CD cover and is how your podcast is differentiated from all the other ones.
If you’d like to design your own podcast cover art, you can easily do so using Canva. Just make sure that you use the file size recommended by your podcasting RSS feed tool. As of this writing, iTunes cover art needs to be a minimum of 1400 X 1400 pixels and a maximum of 3000 X 3000 pixels.
5. Obtaining guests for your interview show
If you have decided to do a solo show and not an interview show, then you can skip this step.
Make sure you have enough guests for your interview show to know how long it can potentially last. For example, if you plan on releasing one new episode a week, then 12 guests will allow you to have three months of shows.
When thinking about who you’d like to invite to be your interview guests, you can think about the following categories:
- People who benefit from your programs to tell their stories
- Donors to talk about why they give
- Key staff and board members to talk about why the work is so important
6. Putting together the show
There are several steps to actually putting together the show:
If you’re recording a solo show, then you can simply talk into your USB microphone and record directly into Audacity.
Make sure to keep this simple. You don’t have to use Audacity to edit out every breath or time you say “ummm” or “uhhh” or anything else like that. Podcast listeners like their hosts to sound human and not like machines.
Only edit out things that are big distractions or disruptions.
A very easy and automated way to make your audio quality sound top notch is to run it through Auphonic. I use it and love it.
3. Show notes page
If you’re using WordPress, you can simply create a new post to use as your show notes page.
If you’re using the PowerPress plugin, make sure to upload your audio file to your chosen audio host and then copy and paste the link to the audio file where it tells you to do so. This will make an audio player appear on your show notes page so people can listen to the episode right from there.
7. Submitting to iTunes and other podcast directories
Submitting to the iTunes directory requires you to use iTunes for the PC or Mac. You’ve already created the feed using PowerPress, so now you can simply submit your podcast feed to the iTunes store.
Other podcast directories you should consider are:
iTunes and Stitcher are by far the most popular ones, but maximizing exposure by taking a bit of time to submit to other directories is always worth it.
Congratulations on your new podcast!
That sure seems like a lot of work. It is worth it, especially since podcasting is a quickly growing marketing medium.
You can do as much of this yourself as you want to. For whatever you don’t want to do, you can contact me and we can talk about how I can help you.