As you may know, I have a podcast, the Website Coach which I launched in October 2022. As I’m approaching my 50th episode I thought it would be good to look back and think about what I’ve learnt about podcasting and the impact having a podcast has had on my business.
Why did I launch a podcast?
I chose to start a podcast because I wanted to reach more of my target audience and to deepen the relationship with those who already knew my business. To increase the “know, like, trust” factor. Ultimately with the intention of having a greater impact and selling more websites/other services.
A podcast is just another platform for connecting with an audience. There are lots of podcasts out there – just over 2 million podcasts, with about 850,000 considered to be “active”, ie still posting episodes (source: Podcast Insights). But there are about 600 million blogs (source: Growth Badger). Significantly fewer people are podcasting than blogging. As you may have noticed, I still publish a lot of blogs. Almost all solo podcast episodes are blogs too. They’re repurposed.
Personally, I listen to a lot of podcasts. I listen to them when I’m walking the dog on my own, ironing/sorting laundry and sometimes in the car. The great thing about podcasts is you can listen to them whilst you are doing something else. You can’t read a book (or blog post) or watch a youtube video in the same way. As a result, I get most of my business education from podcasts.
My target audience is busy too. And whilst they may scroll through social media, I don’t think they have the time or inclination to watch a youtube video or read blogs as much either. A podcast is a good way to reach them. In fact, I know many of them do listen to podcasts.
Podcasting is a more intimate form of marketing. You’re in someone’s ears. They can hear your voice. They get to know you in a different (more personal) way compared to reading a book or a blog post. Unless your podcast episodes are very short you also have their attention for a longer period of time. It is a powerful way of marketing.
So what have I learnt?
1. It’s no silver bullet
Launching my podcast has not transformed my business. It hasn’t turned me into an overnight success and I’m not being touted as the next Amy Porterfield…
Just because I have a podcast doesn’t mean that I suddenly have queues of people wanting to work with me (although my business does continue to grow steadily).
A podcast is a brilliant edition to my business, but it is not a game changer.
There is no shortcut in business. No one thing that is going to suddenly catapult your business into the next league.
Like anything, it takes time. You need to be patient (and consistent). Find ways to get in front of new people who are your target audience. Create (or recycle) content that connects. Present offers that persuade them to buy from you (either when they’re ready or when it suits you).
A podcast gives credibility and it definitely builds “know, like and trust” with potential clients. The fact you’re in their ears and they listen for a longer period of time than they would read a social media post, deepens the relationship.
At a recent networking event it was funny the number of people who I didn’t know but when I introduced myself told me they listened to my podcast. And, as a result, we started a discussion from a point where they felt they already knew me. That is valuable.
2. It doesn’t market itself
I must admit I feel a bit mis-sold here. I thought that having my podcast listed with Apple, Spotify etc meant they would promote it/people who I didn’t know would find it.
Some listeners may have found me this way, but I doubt it is many.
I empathise now more with people who think that having a website means people who are searching for a business like yours will automatically find you. They won’t. It’s a competitive world.
Of course the shows that are in the top 10 in the charts, or who get featured in the “new and newsworthy”, get a boost, but why would Apple choose to promote my show (targeted at entrepreneurs and small business owners and about websites, marketing and running a small business) over something that has wider appeal?
No, you have to market your show yourself. No-one else is going to. And yes, it is hard work!
Like anything, you need a strategy and you need to follow through on that strategy. Inviting guests onto your podcast (and asking them to share the episode with their audience), guesting on other podcasts, promoting via social media and even ads are different ways of building your podcast audience. I know there is much more I could do.
3. You need little equipment to record a show
You don’t need a soundproof studio, fancy mics or a mixing desk that looks like something a 1980s DJ would have to record a podcast.
I have a blue snowball mic (which I already had) and just use the same Mac I design websites on. I put a couple of cushions behind the mic/against the nearby wall to reduce sound bouncing around. And I have a sign (which my family bought me at Christmas) that I put on the door to say I’m recording in the hope they’ll be quiet. The sign does not work. My family will start banging doors, grinding coffee, playing music etc. I’ve found it easier to record when they’re not at home…
You literally just need a device to record on (it can have an inbuilt mic) and a space that is not noisy/too echoey.
4. The sound quality doesn’t have to be perfect
Every podcast coach will tell you that the sound quality is super important. As a listener I will tell you it isn’t!
I spent a frustrating couple of hours thinking I was recording episodes with headphones covering my ears before realising that you can’t record in Apple Mac’s app Garage Band with bluetooth headphones (I have hours of silence recorded despite lots of trying). Lots of podcasters, radio presenters etc wear headphones (over ear ones being better) to avoid feedback. But I realised that I couldn’t hear any difference in sound quality between episodes recorded with headphones and ones without. So I’ve ditched them.
I record in a largish room with wooden floors (and one rug!), a table tennis table (don’t ask!), desk and other surfaces where sound can bounce. It’s not ideal but it is my office that doubles as family “play” space. I’ve tried recording in our airing cupboard as there is lots of bedding to absorb the sound. Fortunately it is big enough to sit in but not at all comfortable (and I didn’t like using the laptop – preferring my usual desktop). I’ve also tried a “blanket tent”, literally sat with blankets over my head. Also not comfortable.
And then I started listening to the podcasts I was listening to with a different perspective and realised that the sound quality wasn’t always great, especially if they were interviewing someone else. Sometimes you could even hear a dog barking, doorbell ring or other external noise. Sometimes it would be commented on, sometimes not. Because most podcasters record from home.
I’ve even noticed it on TV. How many times have you seen “experts” interviewed from their homes over zoom/similar? Or even celebs on radio shows phoning in from their car?
It just needs to be “good enough”.
That’s not an excuse for lots of background noise or very poor sound quality. But recording somewhere at home where you can be on your own using basic equipment is perfectly fine.
5. The tech isn’t difficult
I suspect the tech used to be a lot more difficult a few years ago, but it isn’t anymore.
At its most basic you just need to load an mp3 file onto a podcast platform. I use Captivate. Captivate is brilliant. It hosts your podcast, allows you to add shownotes and will distribute it to all the major players like Apple, Spotify, Google etc. Once I have the mp3 file it takes me about 15 – 20 minutes to upload each episode, add shownotes and schedule.
I only ever “lightly edit” episodes. If I make a mistake I just rerecord that bit (if I’m interviewing on zoom we’ll just do that bit again and then I cut out the mistake). I don’t edit out ums and ahhs or the occasional word stumble. I now use Descript (that helps to edit out the mistakes) and it has a “studio sound” toggle which improves the sound quality and balances out the difference in volume if I have interviewed someone.
Many podcasters outsource editing but I do it myself as it isn’t difficult, doesn’t take long and often I’m recording so close to the episode going out that it isn’t fair to ask someone to edit on a Sunday…
6. It doesn’t need to be expensive
I use equipment I already had (microphone, Mac and sofa cushions to absorb the sound). I pay for Captivate and Descript, which amounts to a few hundred pounds a year. And I edit it myself which costs me time rather than money.
7. Solo episodes take a lot of time
I’m not someone who can set up a mic, have a title and talk for 20 minutes. At least not in the way that I want to come across (polished, professional and sounding like I know what I’m talking about!).
Very few podcasters do that.
Most work from an “outline” that has been prepared earlier. That may be notes/bullet points or it may be a full script.
I always write the blog post first. Most of the blog posts associated with a podcast episode are 2,000 – 2,500 words long. Whilst I type (and think) quickly, that still takes me a while. I’ll then often add stories or change the words up when I talk, but it allows me to speak fluently and thoughtfully. In a way that makes sense (hopefully!).
Each solo episode takes me a lot longer to write and record than I had anticipated when I decided to start a podcast. But I enjoy it.
8. Interviews are worthwhile
I publish a combination of solo episodes and interviews with other small business owners.
I’ve chosen to interview small business owners that you don’t find on other podcasts. I think it is helpful to hear from people who have been where you are now and are just a bit further on (or maybe at the same stage). And I like to give my own clients a platform to expand their reach.
Interviews aren’t always easy. They take time to set up/schedule, prepare for and edit afterwards (I always listen to them all the way through). And because they’re at a set time during the day it is often harder to ensure a quiet house. The doorbell almost always rings!
One of the benefits of inviting guests on is that they share the episode with their audience, therefore expanding your own reach. I’m also genuinely interested in how others have grown their business and found clients.
9. Content can be repurposed
I knew this before I started, but like any long form content, podcasts can be repurposed.
Almost every solo podcast episode is also a blog post (I actually write the blog post first and repurpose it into a podcast episode – many podcasters do it the other way round). I’ve probably published about 30 new blog posts since I started, with about another 10 being updated.
I’ve started to publish those blog posts as LinkedIn articles. I also use the content for Instagram posts and reels (there’ll probably be a reel about what I’ve learnt about podcasting!).
I even did an episode (and blog post) on this, How to Repurpose your Blog Content
10. Podcasting is enjoyable
I genuinely enjoy podcasting.
I don’t find it difficult to come up with topics. Although sometimes I will sit down to outline an episode and change my mind about the topic or slant on it (sometimes because my mind has gone blank!).
I enjoy interviewing guests too. I’m curious about their businesses, how they market and tips they have.
I now actually enjoy recording the episodes. I suspect more recent episodes sound better than earlier ones because I have found my “voice” and it flows better.
And so many listeners have told me how valuable they find the episodes to be. That I’m helping them. Which is what I set out to do.
Almost a year into my podcasting journey I must admit I feel very proud of what I have achieved. I have published an episode every single Monday since I started (a single one was a couple of hours late – I thought it was scheduled to go out at 6am as usual but clearly must not have been!)
It has definitely been harder work and taken more time than anticipated. And it hasn’t had the impact on my bottom line that many podcasting coaches tell you it will have. That’s probably why so many give up podcasting within the first few months (“podfade”) or don’t publish regularly.
But I’m convinced it will pay off in the longer term. Consistency matters. And I’m willing to be patient!