Over at the Small Business Trends Radio show site, we have published a great big list of 100 small business podcasts.
The Back-story Behind the List
Staci, the Program Manager for the Small Business Trends Radio show, has been working on the list for a couple of weeks now. To put together a list of that size is a painstaking and lengthy process. (If you’ve ever done something similar, you know!) I estimate conservatively that it took 20 hours of work.
After Staci assembled the links to podcasts, Steve Rucinski (Executive Producer of the show) and I would review them in the evenings and on weekends if we were not already familiar with the series.
Observations About the Podcasts
Certain trends and lessons stood out after reviewing so many podcasts back to back:
- Longevity: Often a podcast series would start out energetically, with a large number of episodes in a short time frame. Then gradually the episodes become farther and farther apart. The lesson: it’s easy to start something, but hard to stick with it. Podcasters probably underestimate the time it takes to regularly produce podcasts, and soon tire of putting in the effort.
- Differentiation: With 100 small business podcasts, you’d think they would all be the same. If anything we were quite surprised by the differentiation among them. Sometimes the focus is geographic. Other times the focus is on functional topics (such as sales or management or technology). Some focus on businesses of a certain size or characteristic, such as home based businesses, microbusinesses, startups or franchises. Some focus on vertical markets, such as lawn care or the fitness business. Some are humorous. Some are serious. Yes, there is duplication. Some podcasters do a better job than others of identifying their precise niche or approach. But overall, we found a range of different approaches that was impressive.
- Content Topics: We were able to organize them into 10 content categories: leadership and management; marketing and sales; operations; tax and finance; starting a business; home based business; technology; business opportunities and franchises; “all around” small business; business news. However, we noticed a great deal of overlap in topics. Some podcasts could have fit into multiple categories. Some seemed to “drift” over time as the founder moved away from the stated topics. Lesson: As a podcaster be clear about your topics — it helps listeners.
- Transcripts: Very few provide written transcripts. When available, they were welcome. A few podcasts had excellent show notes — that helped, too. Lesson: Shows without a good written description make it harder to find the show in the search engines. A lack of descriptions also makes it less likely a visitor will click on the show and listen if they don’t know what to expect.
- Length: The podcasts cover a wide variety of lengths, ranging from 1-minute to two hours. Many seemed to be 20- to 30-minutes in length.
- Radio vs. Podcasts: Purists may disagree with including radio programs along with private recordings, as we did. But the distinctions between radio and podcasts are breaking down — fast. By many measurements, the line between radio and podcasts is the grayest of gray. For instance, many terrestrial radio programs now stream their shows live over the Internet and make their archives available as downloadable podcasts online. More and more podcasts are delivered live and allow call-in questions, just like radio. Therefore, we included any small-business audio where the archives could be found on the Web in MP3 format — no matter what it was called or how it was produced and distributed.
- Production Values: Sound quality and production values vary widely. Some podcasts are professionally produced. Others are unapologetically by amateurs. The amateur shows sometimes had the most useful and practical content, and the most creative approaches. Some of the professionally produced shows left you wanting more — more time from the guest; and more usable content. Lesson: you truly cannot judge a book by its cover.
- Guest interviews vs monologues: The number of podcasts with a format of a host interviewing guests is quite astonishing. Dozens of podcasts feature guest interviews. Knowing how much time it takes to schedule and work with guests, I expected more of the podcasts to be monologues. Lesson: If you have a message for the small business market and are willing to take the time to appear on podcasts with sometimes small-ish audiences, you have considerable choice as a guest.
- Trend of Audio Turning to Video: Some podcasts have started morphing into video series, as video becomes more popular. This is happening only in a few cases, but it is an interesting trend.
Why We Created The List
We created the list because there was no place we could find with an easy-to-scan list of small-business audio.
While a number of good podcast directories exist, it still takes considerable work to sift through and identify those with a small business focus. No single directory had a comprehensive list. We had to search through over 10 podcast directories and did our own searches in Google and Technorati and several other sources, in order to assemble the list.
I’d like to take a moment to point out the Podcast Review series that Steve Rucinski hosts over at the Small Business Trends Radio site. Every week he writes a detailed review of a podcast. The Podcast Reviews are another resource for small business audio.
Add Your Podcast to the List
If you have a podcast series that you feel should have been included, I invite you to leave a link to your podcast, below. Spread the word.
Read and discover: the Top 100 Small Business Podcasts list.