I wasn’t a podcast listener until 6 months ago when I became the host of the Microsoft Partner Network Podcast. I am now an avid listener (a few of my favorites being NPR’s How I Built This, The Thrive Global Podcast, Gimlet Media’s StartUp, and Disruptive FM) and in these few short months, I have learned a lot about podcasting. Since I’ve been asked several times what it takes to start a podcast, I figured I’d take a minute to share my experience and the key learnings on the process.
Podcasts are Growing Fast
Podcast listening has been rising steadily over the last several years. AdWeek reports that 57 million Americans are listening monthly (up 23% year over year). They also say that podcast listeners get hooked, citing that those in the UK listen to over 6 hours per week and those in Australia listen to 5.5 hours per week.
Much of this growth is due to high quality content creators coming into the podcast world and doing an incredible job of storytelling through the medium. Think about how everyone had to tune into Sarah Koenig on “Serial,” made by the creators of “This American Life”. Koenig’s journalistic voice kept listeners’ ears glued to their phones while she investigated the truth behind a real-life crime. Since 2010, radio has been on a steady decline and, with the invention of the smart mobile device, many listeners are turning to podcasts as a replacement.
4 Reasons Why Podcasts are Awesome
1. On-demand content
Most listeners have a smartphone and can quickly access their iPhone app or other tool like Soundcloud to tune into podcasts when it’s most convenient to them, whether they’re at the gym or on the bus.
2. Ease of use
When you subscribe to a podcast, it immediately gets downloaded to your device so they’re easy to access and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
There isn’t any topic that isn’t covered on a podcast, regardless of your interests. That variety provides podcasters with the perfect outlet to share their story or their experience with an engaged audience.
The ability to listen to a quick episode on the way to work or even listen to an entire series on a long plane ride makes podcasts a mobile source of information or entertainment that listeners love.
How to Create Your Own Podcast
It might seem like a challenge to start your own podcast, but trust me it’s an amazing experience. Here are a few steps I recommend to get started on the right foot:
1. Decide what your podcast stands for
When I started at Microsoft almost a year ago, we owned the Microsoft Partner Network Podcast channel, but nothing had been done with it. I always believe that if you’re going to use any channel, it needs to serve a distinct purpose. Knowing that my primary audience is business and technical decision makers, I wanted the podcast to bring the realities of digital transformation to life in a casual and authentic way.
I do this by interviewing thought leaders from CEOs to industry experts and Microsoft CVPs like Gavriella Schuster, who was recently featured in our podcast series. Our podcasts provide relatable stories and helpful insights into what businesses can do to shape big ideas in the technology industry.
2. Create a consistent release schedule
Most podcasts release one episode per week and I decided to have that same cadence. You want your listeners to continue to come back, so repetition is key. Knowing that I wanted to release an episode once a week meant creating a production schedule that could handle that.
I’m usually in the studio every other week with two podcasts back to back. Then it takes a few days for the editors to make cuts, upload, and keep our schedule on track. I’m fortunate to have access to the Microsoft Studios at a very reasonable cost, but you can easily purchase microphones for about $100 US and use a free recording service. I do have a handy iPhone microphone for when I’m mobile that works really well too.
3. Promote across multiple social platforms
I use LibsynPro to host our podcasts, which makes it incredibly easy to distribute the podcasts across multiple channels at one time. For a small cost per month, I’m able to upload the podcasts, write descriptions, include photos, and distribute across iTunes, iHeartRadio, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Google Play Music. It’s awesome!
To help drive traffic, remember to mention your other social platforms on the podcast itself. Ask for written reviews and ratings from your listeners. Be sure to include a description and links to more information to accompany each podcast. This helps with SEO and also allows a user to interact with you on other platforms, hopefully leading to extended interactions. Finally, as you promote, ask people to subscribe on iTunes because your podcast will automatically get uploaded to their feeds.