Thank you! The Tech Marketer podcast has just been featured as a “new and noteworthy” show in the iTunes NZ store. This milestone completes a personal goal I set for the show when I got started back in April. We’re now 10 episodes in and it feels like the show has found it’s voice.
However, I’ll admit, the learning curve has been steeper than I expected. I’ve learnt an enormous amount since Episode 0! Here’s a few things I’ve learnt along the way:
Let others know what you’re starting
It’s scary to start a new project, I had no previous experience with voice recording or audio editing. It was a steep learning curve! I’m a big fan of positive peer pressure, telling a few people what you’re planning and using their interest to help you make good on the commitment.
Ask for help
Many others will have gone through this before you so learn from them as much as possible. Thanks to Cam Findlay, Aaron Carlino and Charli Prangley who were generous with their time and advice in the first few weeks.
The technical side
Be prepared to get frustrated – while podcasting popularity has taken off recently, it’s still not mainstream to be a creator. Expect to have to learn a lot of things the hard way and have to figure a number of things out for yourself. I found the “The Podcast Dude” podcast and Audacity blog helpful in getting my head around the technical side of podcasting.
iTunes stats sucks – you get nothing. iTunes passes responsibility to your hosting provider, which for me is Feedburner/Wordpress. This was an easy starting point but also lacks transparency. This is a constraint I wasn’t aware of when I started out. That said it was a solution that was quick and simple to set up without developer skills so it was a good choice to start off with.
iTunes support sucks – again there’s nothing. You can try posting on the community pages but don’t expect any support from Apple. It’s free to distribute your podcast in the iTunes store (apps on the other hand pay a percentage of sales back to Apple), so I can’t complain too much. However, without deep technical knowledge this can be frustrating. I’m currently looking at moving to a paid hosting for my podcast audio to gain better support access.
Imagery – I had a good friend Alicia Sowerby help with the branding for this site and the podcast. I made sure that we had a plain thumbnail image for iTunes that was easy to read. My personal peeve is over-complicated thumbnails that are impossible to read. I usually glaze right over those!
Audacity – I use Audacity open source software to record and edit my podcasts. It’s not the prettiest interface but it give me lots of freedom. It’s taken a long time to get used to, especially zooming in and out of views, but their blog is comprehensive if I ever get stuck. You can also use Sound Garage if you’re on a Mac.
Tip: To export from Audacity as an MP3 file for iTunes, you’ll need another plugin LAME Library
Editing is slow but you get faster
Currently editing takes me 3-5 hours per 30 minute show. As I learn, I’m creating better raw audio and editing faster. I’m getting faster but predict it will always take a couple hours per episode.
Spend time creating building blocks
I have a standard intro and outro track which tidies up each episode and makes them sound more professional. Creating these took a lot time but were worth it as I’ve reused them every show. You can find free music that is released through creative commons to use. Look for tracks that are free for derivates otherwise you can’t edit them. I ended up licensing this track which cost roughly NZ$10 to be able to edit it. Also if you’re creating a company podcast then you’ll to look for a creative commons track that allows commercial use. I ended up licensing this track which cost roughly NZ$10.
Building a community
Momentum is important – podcasting takes a lot of time and effort so you need to be excited to produce new episodes regularly – every 2 weeks minimum. iTunes stops automatically downloading new episodes when a subscriber hasn’t listened to your show for over 15 days. iTunes stops updating podcasts that haven’t been listened to for 45 days.
This means your listeners will need to manually download new episodes, having more than a week between shows can negatively affect listener numbers! Be prepared for the novelty to wear off, and to feel like you’re podcasting to no one. You have to push through this stage and keep going. Celebrate the small wins like a positive review, getting featured on iTunes or someone quoting your podcast.
Experiment with formats
Find out what works for you and what type of show you enjoy producing. I listen to a lot of podcasts to get ideas for formats. One I enjoy is tech news podcast Charged. Hosts Owen and John have great chemistry and listening feels like sitting down for a cup of coffee with close mates. Owen’s kiwi accent probably helps reinforce this for me! Following this format, I’ve started working with digital expert Nicola Cloherty to co-host shows.
Having another person to bounce around ideas for new episodes has added a new excitement and motivation. I also feel self-conscious creating solo shows, they were great for establishing my voice and podcasting processes but aren’t nearly as much fun as co-hosting or interviews.
Podcast interviews are a chance to pick the brain of someone I find inspiring, it’s the same as a coffee date, but I share them. Podcasting has taught me a lot about preparing for and conducting interviews. It’s still a skill I’m working hard to improve at but it’s becoming slightly less terrifying (I still have massive butterflies before each interview).
Podcasting doesn’t replace blogging – Google doesn’t index the content in audio files, you still need to blog about your podcast to help your SEO using relevant keywords. Also you might want to pull key content out of podcasts into blog posts for those who prefer written content. For example, I shared part of my podcast interview with Danu of Rush Digital as a follow up post on tech trends.
Starting your own podcast
Podcasting has grown rapidly in the past few years. Currently 21% of Americans listen to podcasts, that’s the same adoption as Twitter! Podcasting takes more time and effort than blogging, and you have the extra fun of listening to yourself talk for hours during editing (cringe!). But it’s also a great way to connect with people and building an audience.
Six questions to consider before starting a podcast
- Can you commit to a weekly schedule? I’ve struggled with this one while travelling so have moved to formats that make this easier
- Will you produce and edit the content yourself? If not, do you have the budget for professional editing? I took on this myself, which was ok while I had time to learn. If you’re considering a company podcast you might want to think whether your time is better spent on content than editing
- Can you come up with ideas for your first 10 weeks? This will test whether you’ll have enough content to produce a weekly show or if it will dry up fast
- Do you know who will listen to your podcast and why they should give up 30 mins a week to do so? I built my podcast off my experience creating the Wellington Marketing Meetup which taught me there’s a hunger for practical marketing advice shared peer to peer
- Do you know they listen to podcasts? It takes a viral sensation like Serial to change podcast listening behaviour, your job will be a lot easier if your core audience already consumes podcasts!
- Do you know how a podcast help you achieve a longer term goal? For me it was establishing my field of expertise in marketing tech, ensuring I had options when I returned home from 5 months of travel, it’s also a format to keep me learning and meeting new people
If you can answer “yes” to all those questions, then you should get started!
Reviews are great, but subscriptions rule
Recommendations are great feedback and social proof for others thinking about checking the show out. But when it comes to rankings in iTunes, subscriptions rule. Podcasts are ranked on subscriber number alone, so please do subscribe!