What I’ve learned about podcasting as a podcaster

Make it professional – Make it relevant – Make it regular – Promote it like a product

For the last two years, I’ve hosted an author centric audio and video podcast on the Authors on the Air network. My views and listens vary depending on the content. I’m in a niche so any show with over 5,000 as a hit.

Here are some uncomfortable data points:

The average attention span for my YouTube vodcast is less than a minute. People spend more time with audio than video. The audience is fickle. I have a group of P1s who consume every program and interact with us on our social outposts. Paid advertising and promotion has not impacted consumption.

When I decided to enter the maelstrom, I came from two decades as a podcaster, creating one of the earliest and longest running podcasts. My tech evolved from telephone interviews to network quality audio and video with high production values.

As my good friend, Fred Jacobs constantly reminds us, podcasting is simply another transmitter. Podcasts can be a helpful part of a portfolio of promotional tactics to help execute a communication strategy. They are not a magic bullet.

However, if you decide to include podcasting, treat it with respect. Do it right or don’t do it. All the rules of powerful content creation apply.

Make it professional:

Create high quality opens, closes and bumpers. Brief but effective production pieces elevate the program’s vibe, separates you as the host without also having to serve as the announcer. Edit out dead space and uncomfortable ahhs and ums. Re-record your questions to make them crisp and short.

Set tech standards where both you and your guests look and sound good. Invest in a high-quality webcam and an upper end pro-sumer audio chain. I use Riverside.fm as a recording platform. The quality is not determined by the speed of someone’s internet connection, and you get discrete audio and video files from each participant that are limited only by their equipment.

Create a hot clock so listeners know what to expect and follow the plan. Advertising should be pre-produced and in sync with the show’s personality. Focus on the guest. “Play the hits,” as we say in radio. Unless you are the reason people listen, Drew and Mike and Dax Shepherd are examples, you’re not, keep your questions brief and keep the spotlight on the guest.

If you are YouTube centric, create chapters so viewers can find exactly what they want easily. Include time bookmarks in your SoundCloud descriptions to accomplish this in the audio-only environments.

Listeners tend to consume media while doing something else. And attention spans are short. Don’t do a thirty-minute show unless you have thirty minutes of great content. Shorter is better. Leave the audience “wanting one more.”

You are selling something. Sell it. The guest is usually there to promote something. Shine a spotlight on it effectively and often.

Make it relevant:

Think of podcasts as radio formats. Build your programming so it fits the brand. Avoid going off format or you will lose audience.

Make it regular:

We are creatures of habit. If you decide that Tuesday at 8am is when you release an episode, stick to that timeline every week. If you’re on vacation, re-release a best-of on the appointed day and time.

Promote it like a product:

Viral rarely happens without a significant push. Create social outposts for the show. Engage on each one. Take tit “on remote” and perform before audiences that share your interest but may not know about your schtick. If your budget allows research advertising platforms that connect the audience to you. If the brand supports it, develop merchandise with your logo front and center Support the program with a blog with categories and keywords to maximize search engine optimization, create promos and make public appearances. Always drive people to the show link. Think one-click.

It takes time and work:

I am truncating my video to short teasers that direct the YouTube audience to my SoundCloud audio podcast home. Their best quotes appear up front, in the first thirty seconds. I end teasers with a link to the audio version. “Hear the full interview here!”

I listen to audio with a critical ear, apply processing where needed to minimize distracting noise and edit to make each speaker sound their best.

Consider how much of your time you are willing to invest in the creative process. Video creation time with the right tools and skills is four hours for every thirty minutes of content. Unless you’re a pro, your ratios will be longer. Audio production, if you follow format can be as little as sixty minutes for a thirty-minute show.

Who ultimately benefits?

Do it right and you will benefit. Podcasting has favorably impacted my personal brand. Within the book space, Authors on the Air is recognized as a premiere promotional venue for authors and a go-to for both writers and readers. Our network holds public recording sessions at conferences that draw crowds. I was stunned to walk into an SRO green room at the Killer Nashville conference last week.

A consistent branding execution slowly developed a vibe that draws invitations to appear on and moderate panels. I get advance copies of books from publishers. Their PR teams contact me when a client has a new product launching. My own book sales have increased during the time I have podcasted.

Calculating ROI

Podcasting gives me a platform to talk with fascinating people who share my interests. I have developed mutually beneficial relationships that have contributed to my own growth. Consider the value of the intrinsic return on investment as you evaluate the time and money you spend to create your content. Profit isn’t always in dollars and sometimes the greatest return requires a long tail.

The Bottom Line

Podcasting is a tool with the potential to help you grow in skill and visibility. It can be a launching pad to other activities that build a profitable and rewarding career, one of many platforms to disseminate compelling content. Do it right and your program will add value to the lives of others, enriching your own life in the process.