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2022-05-14 11:42:52 By : Ms. Bonnie Shao

Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing.

OPINION: Would starting a podcast help your business?

Just over a year ago I launched my podcast MAP IT Marketing. Now with 52 episodes under my belt, I’m often asked, “Is it worth doing as a small business owner?” While I’ve enjoyed nearly all of it, I do admit that it takes far more time and energy to maintain a weekly episode than I would have expected, and that’s taking into consideration the help I get from my team.

The majority of podcasts don’t make it past eight episodes before fizzing out. I know that was certainly true with the two podcasts I launched before this one. As someone who often starts things in a flurry, then burns out once it starts to feel a bit too much like admin, I was determined to make this podcast one I could commit to.

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I had no idea who would listen to an episode, or what numbers were good. To be honest, I still don’t! We’re often in the top five of our category which is called Marketing. In terms of listener numbers, we get just under three hundred downloads a week, across the platforms.

Measuring your podcast on numbers alone won’t tell you the whole story. Listener numbers is not a pure science, and people may download and not listen, but it gives an indication of how many you need to rank in our category. I’ve talked to podcasters who have thousands of downloads a week, and others with less than a hundred.

What I do know, as someone who has run many events, is that getting three hundred people in a room to listen to you talk is a huge feat. When I start to feel overwhelmed about podcasting, the visual picture of people three hundred people listening in a week is pretty motivating!

This is part of the “why” of podcasting. If you want to get your message in front of a group every week, a podcast is a dynamic and effective way to do just that.

You will need to consider what format you’ll use. Some people run theirs solo, some with guests, and some have a blend. My shows are run with a mix of just me as the host, and then guests. I often use the podcast to help me write weekly columns for Stuff, including this one. It’s helped me come up with content for blogs, posts and TikToks. I’ve also enjoyed building my professional networks with other business owners I admire, and some of the podcast topics influenced my new book about content marketing (coming out in June).

If you’re going to start a podcast, you need to have a very clear idea of your why. It’s likely going to be partly to grow your own profile. While you can make sales and get new clients from a podcast (we’ve had clients who began as listeners), I’d put a podcast at the initial stages of your customer journey. It’s primarily for brand awareness and trust building. You will need to consider where your listeners can go next if they want more of you. We have opted to use a Facebook group, and sometimes offer downloads, or extra materials as part of the episode to help move people closer.

It’s a very good idea to listen to other podcasts, not only in your niche, but over all. Listen out for factors and elements you enjoy. Think about how the host introduces and winds the podcast down. Consider if you want it to have breaks throughout, or be a continuous stream of story. I used four or five of my favourite podcasts to help me work out my first intro. I personally needed someone else’s structure to help me work out what to say and how to say it.

Podcasts do take up a fair amount of time. I sectioned off Fridays last year to be my podcast and writing columns day. I tend to batch two or three episodes in one week, and then use the alternate week to create the show notes, the intros and outros, and any promotional material. I share my podcast across all our platforms, and that’s a job I have chosen to not outsource.

One of my early (and best) decisions was to outsource the editing. This has been an extra cost to us as a business, but has meant countless hours of technical angst was not mine to experience! Initially I worked with a company called Podcast VA. The owner Lyndal Harris helped me work out all the different steps I needed to take, helped me with initial podcast designs and helped me set up my folders and systems.

Since December, we’ve taken this in-house with an audio engineer contractor. Along with her ensuring it’s all loaded and ready to go each week, the podcast production is well taken care of. I’ve talked to some other podcasters in my space who still do their own editing. For me, it was a question of how my time is best spent, and that is not on editing audio! Depending on your own strengths, budgeting for this to be outsourced would be worthwhile

If you are going to have guests, you need to consider how to book them in, and what you need from them prior to the recording. I have templated emails my assistant sends out to guests that includes a form requesting everything we need. This form then feeds into a spreadsheet, so it’s all in a central place. The spreadsheet also helps me plan the order and expected dates of our podcasts and tracks the progress of each episode.

You may get pitches for guests. Nearly all my guests have been people I’ve personally sought out, because they’ve captured my own interest. I have said no to many people who’ve pitched me a message they want to share, without considering my audience. I’ve also had guests tell me what questions I have to ask them. That leads to a definite NO from me. If you’re going to have guest, you’ll need to think about what your audience will most want to listen to. You should also consider what expectations you’ll have of your guests around sharing and prompting their episodes.

To get out a weekly episode, you need to be on top of admin. We have folders in our drive for the raw and completed audio for each episode, for our podcast images, for the music we’ve purchased, our show notes records and more. It’s all about setting up a system to help make sure your information is on hand when you need it.

I’ve opted for a weekly podcast. This means I purposely choose a broad topic - marketing for small business owners. If you want to choose a niche topic, you could create a short season of podcast episodes instead. This can also be a more manageable solution if time or resources are tight.

Money for expensive equipment shouldn’t be a barrier. While I see some business owners spend thousands on a set-up, ours is incredibly low budget. I recently bought myself a Blue Yeti microphone and a desk stand for it as my reward for a year of podcasting. Before that I used a $90 microphone, and we’ve recorded each episode over a Zoom call. I’ve either recorded in my office, talking towards a sound absorbing wall, with my fake wall made from a moveable clothes rack blocking me from the rest of my large room.

If you don’t have an office, any small room will do. While in lockdown, I made myself a studio in my walk-in wardrobe, a windowless tiny room with poor lighting and no seating. It had great sound, but recording a podcast on a laptop balanced precariously onto of two cardboard boxes, having to sit on a hard floor, facing a floor lamp shining a hot bright light on my face was less than ideal!

I often record my intro and outros on a free phone recording app. At home I’ll duck under the bedroom covers to ensure it’s a good sound. If I’m at the office, I pop into the car to get a better sound.

Like any of the marketing we do, I have to prove that any money and time we spend on any one thing is worth it for us as a business. After a year, our podcast has brought in enough new business to show it should remain a core part of our weekly activity. I’m thankful to for anyone who’s reviewed it, or recommend it to others. As a marketing tool it’s helped me define my voice, get in front of new people, and build a community. When people ask me if it’s worth it as a small business owner, my response is, “Most definitely yes”.

If you’ve had it in your plans, and you love talking, I would say go for it. Don’t wait until you can afford all the expensive equipment, get help where you can afford to, and choose guests you want to talk to. You’ll be doing something you love, and benefit your business at the same time.

Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing.