Podcasting Primer – How to Earn Trust, Scale Intimacy and Profit
Last month we covered why you might want to have a podcast, things to consider before you start podcasting, how to contact potential podcast guests and even what to do for your first couple of podcasts.
This month well cover how to build listener engagement; questions to ask your podcast guest; podcast music, intros, outros and editing; where to host and list your podcast; calls to action and monetizing your podcast.
Building Listener Engagement with Q and A’s
A great way to get your listeners super involved with your podcasts is to let them ask you questions, make comments or read their reviews.
People LOVE to hear their names spoken online. They’ll tune in to see if you used their question or comment. And they’ll be much more likely to share your podcast with others when their name is mentioned, too.
What happens when they share your podcast? Their friends are likely to have similar interests, so now you’ve got new subscribers. And when they ask questions, they’ll be more likely to share your podcast as well, and onward and upward it goes.
You can ask people to tag or @ you on social media when they ask questions, which can bring in more listeners as their friends tune in to see what’s happening.
This is a great way to grow your podcast audience and your social media channels, all at the same time.
Questions to Ask Your Guest
When you conduct research on your guest and their topic, you’ll be making a list of questions to ask them.
Still, it can be a daunting process when you’re new to interviewing.
What if you ask a stupid question?
What if you run out of questions?
And isn’t there a list of interview questions somewhere that you can use to get started?
There is an excellent PDF resource from Paul Hollins that covers all of this.
And it’s free.
Not only does he answer the most common podcasting interview questions – he also gives you two entire pages of the best open-ended questions you can ask almost any guest.
It’s probably not a coincidence that the best podcasts have catchy musical intros. This is the first thing listeners associate with your show. Plus, it will be on every single one of your podcasts, so it’s worth it to pick great music.
If you’re on a budget, you can use a site like Free Music Archive to find free music. https://freemusicarchive.org/
Better yet, paying a small amount for professional-grade theme music is worth the investment. Audio Jungle is a good place to start your search for this. https://audiojungle.net/
Or try Epidemic Sound. https://www.epidemicsound.com
The best, and most expensive option of all is to hire someone to create your intro and outro for you. This will be a combination of music and a professional voice over. It’s not cheap, but it can sound awesome and give you the brand and professional touch you’re looking for.
Options for this are numerous in a wide variety of price ranges. Just Google, “professional podcast intro” and you’ll find a variety of sites vying for your business.
The Podcast Introduction
Podcast introductions are usually the first thing heard on your podcasts. The one exception is if you insert a few clips from the podcast itself into the very beginning to entice the listener, and then follow up with the theme music and intro.
Your intro will create anticipation and add cohesiveness to your podcast, and should include:
The name of your podcast
Possibly your location
What your podcast is about
Possibly a little bio or a couple of facts about yourself
“Podcasting from sunny south Florida, this is the Lazy Gardener Show for gardening enthusiasts who want the most garden for the least effort. Here’s your host, Susan Snowpea, a 12 time Gardening Grand Prix winner and perhaps the laziest gardener of all. So, sit back, relax, and let’s talk dirt!”
Once the professional intro is done, you’ll come on and give a quick rundown of what will happen on the show today. Think of this portion as teasers designed to catch the listeners’ interest, much like the bullet points in a sales letter.
The Podcast Outro
The outro wraps everything up with a bow and lets you bid farewell.
Ideally, your voice is first. You might quickly review what was covered or thank your guest. You might also give your listener an action item to get them started on what they learned today in your podcast. Or better yet, give them a call to action to visit your website, your guest’s website, or to pick up a free report or find you on social media.
And finally, the professional outro is played and it might go something like this:
“Thanks for listening to The Lazy Gardener Show with Susan Snowpea. If you like our show and want to know more, check out the podcast website at www.insertname.com or join our Facebook Group, The Lazy Gardener Show to discover 5 ways to double your vegetable harvest while doing less work.”
Your call to action at the end can be anything you like, and we’ll cover calls to action in more detail in just a bit.
Editing Your Podcast
Unless you’re already a knowledgeable audio editor, the very easiest way to edit your podcast is to let a professional do it for you.
“But why does it need editing? Can’t I just post it the way it is?”
Yes, of course you can make your recording and post it as is. But there are reasons you might want to consider editing.
Are you adding an intro and outro? Do you want to insert breaks in the audio that remind people of what they’re listening to and where they can subscribe to your list? Then you’ll want to do some simple editing to get this done.
Do you want to remove mistakes, umms and ahhs, silent moments when the guest is considering what to say, those times that you forget your place and so forth? Then you’ll want to edit those out to make the recording flow faster and keep it tight and interesting.
What about the sound quality – would you like to take out background sounds while also sharpening the quality of your voice? Again, that’s editing.
While it’s true that content matters most of all, it’s also true that quality of sound can make or break a podcast. You can have the best content in the world, but if it’s difficult to listen to, people might not bother.
Think of a time when you tried to watch a video online but the picture was pixelated. Did you enjoy the experience? Even if the content was great, the pixilation was probably a major distraction and a deterrent from watching anything else on that channel.
Audio is no different. A crisp, clear sound will make a mediocre podcast sound professional and a professional podcast sound amazing.
Here is a short video in which a true audiophile, Mike Russell, explains the process of cleaning up the audio on a podcast as well as adding a couple of sound effects, enhancing both voices separately, editing out the rogue umms and errs, tiding up the intros to remove awkward spaces, and a bunch of other stuff that pretty much blew my mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96TLMPtcYkk
He makes it look easy, which it is if you know how to do it.
If you don’t want to learn audio editing yourself, you can use a service to clean up your podcasts for you.
Search for “podcast editing” and you’ll find plenty of services to choose from. They do come at a cost, however.
If your budget is tight, you might compromise by using an editing tool. It won’t make you sound as good as a professional can, but it will help your podcast to sound better. And while you’re first getting started, that might be all you need.
Here are a few tools to consider:
Garageband – if you’re a Mac user, you might already have this installed on your computer. Offers both free and paid versions.
Audacity – available for Windows, macOS and Unix, completely free and open-source.
Power Sound Editor – lots of options to lay down tracks with external microphones, pull in audio clips or fragments from CD’s, DVD’s, media players or web videos. Free and paid options.
Music Maker – this one is marketed as a music creation tool, but it works for podcasts, too. Includes more than 400 sound and loop effects on the free version, paid version is available too.
Studio One – intuitive single-window interface with drag and drop editing. Free and paid options.
WavePad – full-featured audio and music editor for Windows and Mac, with simplified recording and mixing of voice and music tracks. Free and paid versions available.
Where to Host Your Podcast
You’ve got your podcast edited, but now what do you do with it?
It’s time to choose hosting to upload and distribute your podcast. Podcasting hosting websites are built to house your content so you can share it with your list as well as letting it be discovered by new listeners.
These hosting services provide ways to structure your shows into an overall series, making it easy for listeners to find a specific topic or episode by search. And they generate an RSS feed for your podcast, which you can use to share your show on various platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.
Some of these platforms also generate listener data and offer assistance with monetization, too.
Keep in mind that the majority of podcast hosting services operate on a subscription model of $10 to $20 per month. There are also free alternatives, but generally you get what you pay for.
Here are a few podcasting hosting services to consider:
Podbean – for over 10 years they’ve been helping podcasters of all genres and sizes. 390,000 podcasters use their services, their customer service is highly ranked and they’re known to be super reliable. And you can integrate with Spotify, iTunes and Facebook to find new audiences.
Podiant – while most hosts have a cap on maximum server speed, Podiant offers unlimited storage and bandwidth. The basic plan is about $13 a month, with more advanced packages priced 2 to 3 times higher. And they do offer some special digital presence features such as a customizable website.
Castos – this podcast hosting service offers unlimited bandwidth and a WordPress plug-in with the subscription which makes it super easy to display all of your podcasts on your own website. Plus, there are ample analytics to help you understand which episodes are pulling in the most listeners, the demographics of your audience, the listening behavior and more. You can also boost your SEO with the set it and forget it options along with YouTube republishing and automatic podcast transcriptions.
Transistor – do you want to create multiple shows? Transistor doesn’t charge you every time you start a new podcast on the same account. Each podcast you host gets a separate dashboard, RSS feed, analytics and website, starting at $19 a month.
Anchor – this is a complete podcasting package with zero fee. The analytics aren’t as good as the others, but if you’re on a budget, you might want to start here. They’ll also help match you with sponsors if you’re interested.
Buzzsprout – this is an easy way to host, promote and track your podcast. You can reach potential listeners by listing your podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and more through the Buzzsprout feeds. Free for 90 days.
Where to list your podcast
You’ve got your podcast hosting, but you’re not done yet. Now you want to submit your podcast to various directories.
The host you’ve chosen will already have agreements set up with some major places to list your podcast. But going a step further to ensure you’re listed in as many places as possible is a good idea.
To do this, you can use a podcast directory service to widen your podcast distribution for you, or you can submit your podcast yourself to each directory without using a service.
Directories where you most definitely want to be listed are:
- Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes)
- Google Play Music AND Google Podcasts
When you’ve got those covered, you might also get your podcast listed in:
- Castaway 2
- Digital Podcast
- Podcast Republic
There are more podcast directories, but these lists will be plenty to get you started.
Making Calls to Action within Your Podcast
On every single one of your podcasts – EVERY single one – you’ll want to have a call to action, preferably one that you repeat 2 to 5 times.
Your call to action is first and foremost a way to offer more value to your audience.
Decide what you want your listeners to do, and then ask them to go do it.
Have them join your email list. Offer a prime incentive for them to do this, like a book, report or something they would be willing to pay for because it’s that good.
Ask them to join your Facebook Group.
Have them listen to another podcast of yours, possibly one where you are promoting something big and wonderful.
Get them to check out your guest’s special offer. You may or may not be an affiliate for this offer, depending on the deal you struck with your guest.
Have them check out YOUR offer, whether it’s your own product or an affiliate product you are promoting.
If you want them to join your list, mention the freebie you’re offering right up front, again in the middle of the podcast and lastly at the end. The repetition does wonders for getting them to actually do it.
If your guest is going to promote something, let your audience know up front that the guest will be making a very special offer just for them at the end of the show.
If you’re promoting an affiliate product or your own product, use your judgment. It might be best to mention it a couple of times, very casually, before you do the real promotion at the end.
Generally, if your podcast is going out to people who don’t know you well, then your best option is to make them the free offer to get on your list. That way you can continue to promote to them for as long as they are on your list.
But if your podcast is going out mainly to just your subscribers, then make them a paid offer they cannot refuse.
Here’s a list of possible Calls to Action to get you started:
- Subscribe to the podcast or leave a podcast review
- Download a freebie to join your email list
- Watch a Facebook Live or join a Facebook Group
- Donate to a specific charity
- Read a certain blog post
- Listen to a specific podcast episode
- Purchase your product or an affiliate product
- Join your guest’s email list or visit your guest’s sales page
- Pre-order a product or get on a wait list for an upcoming product
- Register for a webinar
- Email you with questions
- Get a free coaching session or free consultation
- Join a mastermind
- Watch a video or subscribe to your YouTube channel
- Check out your shop
- Follow you on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.)
9 Ways to Monetize and Profit from Your Podcast
We’ve already hinted at this, but now let’s get specific on various ways you can monetize your podcast.
Build Your Email List – regardless of what else you’re doing, hopefully you will be using your podcast to add subscribers to your email list so that you can continue to sell them products and services for as long as they stay with you.
Offer an incentive, such as a report, book, cheat sheet, email course or whatever your listeners would love to have in exchange for their email address.
Sell Affiliate Products – if you have an affiliate product that directly ties into your podcast, by all means promote it. Your goal is to help your listeners and oftentimes the best way to do that is to recommend what they need to attain their goals.
For example, if you’re teaching list building, you might recommend your favorite autoresponder or a course on how to write effective emails.
Sell Your Own Products – just like affiliate products, if you have your own product that ties in directly with the subject of the podcast, then definitely promote it on the podcast.
Sell Memberships – this could be your membership or an affiliate membership. I just want to make sure you consider selling anything that offers you recurring income because this can be super lucrative for you over the long haul.
Sell Your Consulting or Coaching Services – this can work incredibly well because you’re establishing trust and authority on the podcast, making the next logical step to offer your personal help or services to your listeners.
Team Up with Guests to Sell Their Product – I subscribe to a podcaster who does a call every Thursday to an expert in her field. And at the end of the call, they always make a special offer to listeners that is good only for the next three days. She then posts the podcast along with the link, which I’m certain is an affiliate link where she splits the profits 50/50 with the expert.
Let Listeners Thank You – unless you have a lot of listeners, this one won’t make you rich but it will put a few dollars in your pocket. Sign up with a site like Patreon.com and let listeners know they can, “Buy you a cup of coffee to say thanks” for your podcasts.
Offer Exclusive Members Only Content – offer exclusive content above and beyond your regular podcasts for monthly sponsors only. Again, sign up at Patreon.com and set up a monthly rate for your exclusive “members only” content.
Get Advertising Sponsors – You’ll need a good-sized audience for this, so this method is not likely how you’ll monetize your podcast in the beginning.
You can approach advertisers yourself – for example, if there is a product you love which is a good fit for your podcast. Or you can use a service such as Advertise Cast (which requires a minimum of 2,500 downloads per podcast episode) to match you up with a sponsor.
How much you get paid will depend on the deal you strike with your sponsor. 15 second pre-roll ads are typically $15-20 per 1,000 listens, and 60 second mid-roll ads are typically $20-25 per 1,000 listens.
If you have a smaller, highly engaged audience, then cost per acquisition can pay more. Think of it as a referral bonus. You offer an exclusive discount code or affiliate link to track how many customers the business acquires from your podcast and you are paid accordingly.
As with any other product, be sure you choose sponsors that are in line with the principles and ideals of your show.
Sell Your Own Merchandise – does your podcast have a catchy name? Do your listeners love you? Then you might consider putting your podcast logo and your tagline or a great quote on t-shirts, mugs and so forth.
Your Podcasts will Improve with Experience
If you’re nervous about getting started with podcasting because you’re afraid you’re going to be bad at it, let me put your fears to rest.
Your first few episodes likely will be bad.
And that’s okay.
There is a learning curve here, as well as a confidence curve.
And it’s going to take time to build both your skills as a podcaster as well as your confidence in what you’re doing.
It’s said that if you want to blog, you should open a throwaway blog, write a post every single day for 30 days and then delete the entire thing.
That’s because what you need at the beginning is practice, practice and practice.
Podcasting is no different.
Many podcasting professionals initially create a dozen or so throwaway podcasts just to get started and learn what they’re doing.
They’ll interview their friends, their kids, their spouses or simply talk into the mike for 20 to 40 minutes to get the feel of what they’re doing.
This is especially helpful if you’re going to be interviewing experts, since you don’t really want your very first podcast ever to be with that person you’re trying to impress with your knowledge and ability to do a professional sounding podcast.
Plus, when you do your first podcasts with the intent of never airing them to the public, you can relax and enjoy the process while also experimenting to see what works best for you.
This doesn’t need to take a lot of time, either. You can easily do your first dozen podcasts in the next 7 days and be creating your first ‘real’ podcast a week from today.
You’ll be glad you took the time to practice, and your audience will be much more likely to come back and listen to your second podcast when the first one doesn’t sound like it was made by a fifth grader practicing on his mom’s podcasting equipment.
A few more podcasting tips:
Have fun. If you’re having fun, then the person being interviewed is having fun and so are your listeners. Smile when you talk because people can hear a smile in your voice. Crack jokes if that’s your nature.
Don’t be boring. Telling stories is a wonderful thing to do as long as the story isn’t boring. Switch gears the moment you notice that either you or your interview subject is droning on. Ask listeners a question that gets them engaged and thinking before launching into your next topic.
Don’t repeat yourself endlessly. Don’t restate things 5 different ways – your listeners understood you the first time, and if they didn’t, then that’s on you, not your listeners.
I once knew someone who spoke normally in person, but on a podcast he would continually find numerous ways to say the same thing and it drove everyone crazy. He’s no longer podcasting.
Know when to be succinct and when to elaborate. If you can tell a story in 2 minutes or 20 minutes, do it in 2 minutes. But if you’re outlining the process for how to do something, go into enough detail that the listener knows what you’re talking about.
Use your best judgment and listen to feedback if people tell you that you’re going too fast or slow.
Get critiques. Pick out 3 people you trust to tell you the truth and have them listen to your first episodes. When they make suggestions on what to change, don’t get mad – just listen and take notes.
Set the notes aside for a day or two and then read them over. Are they right? Giving yourself that extra time will allow you to evaluate their feedback with a clear head.
Leave your ego at the door. This is especially useful when interviewing someone. They are your honored guest and they have taken the time to be on your show. Be appreciative and let them shine.
When you’re doing a podcast solo, it’s great to be knowledgeable and confident but don’t become a narcissistic egomaniac. Acknowledge that you don’t always have the answers, and that your opinions are just that – opinions and not the gospel truth.
When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and keep going.
You will trip over your own tongue, mispronounce words and names, say one thing when you mean another and generally goof up. Even announcers who have been in the business for decades make mistakes.
And oftentimes your audience will like you more – not less – when you acknowledge your mistake and move on. Better yet, have a laugh about it to show that you can indeed laugh at yourself. Your audience will love you for it.
Speak to one person. Speak as though you are talking to a friend sitting on the other side of the table. You will sound less formal and more human this way. Use your normal vocabulary, assuming you don’t speak like you swallowed a dictionary. Use everyday words instead of jargon, and don’t use acronyms unless you’re certain that your audience knows what they mean.
Outline your podcast ahead of time. Start with the end in mind, knowing what the purpose of this particular podcast is and what takeaways you want your listeners to have. Decide what stories, points, case studies and so forth you want to use, and in what order you’ll cover them.
One last thing, and this is important:
“Is Podcasting Saturated? Am I Too Late??”
No and No!
Imagine if in 1970 someone said that every TV show that could be created had already been created, that TV was saturated and it made no sense to make another show.
We’ve had 50 years of television since then. Some good, some bad, and a lot of it forgettable, but that’s okay.
If you have something to say, then start a podcast.
If you’re a wiz at finances and stocks and forex, start a podcast.
If you’re a personal trainer or nutritionist and you can help people with your knowledge, start a podcast.
If you’re amazing at giving great relationship advice to listeners, start a podcast.
If you have a passion for a topic but you’re still learning about it, interview the experts and learn right along with your listeners.
If you have a message – whatever that message might be – start a podcast.
Whether you’re talking about relationships, health, weight loss, money, pets, hobbies or whatever, if you have something to say, then by all means say it. Put your flag out there and let your tribe find you.
I guarantee that right now, today, someone is starting a podcast that is going to EXPLODE. They are going to get so many listeners it will be crazy and they will become known the world over.
And also right now, today, someone else is starting a podcast that might only get a few hundred or a few thousand listeners, but those listeners are going to love that podcaster and buy every product that podcaster recommends and that podcaster is going to be rich.
You can be EITHER of these two people, but it won’t happen if you don’t get busy and start your podcast now.
We’ve come to the end of our podcasting primer. You’ll find that while I’ve answered most of your questions and given you an outstanding block of knowledge to get started, there is something I forgot to tell you. I don’t know what it is but you’ll find that out for yourself. And when you do, you have two choices: Find the answer or give up. The winner will find the answer.
You don’t need to be an expert on podcasting to start podcasting. You only need to START and start NOW.
Six months from now you can have 26 or 52 or more podcasts completed, a rock solid loyal following and money in the bank. And the first step is easy – record your first podcasts and learn as you go.
And hey, I look forward to hearing your podcasts and maybe even being a guest on your show one day when you are rich and famous and having the time of your life podcasting.