Podcasting has been around since the early 2000s. And in that time, businesses and individuals have found many different ways to provide useful, entertaining and informative content using the audio format. But not all podcasts are going to actually benefit a business. So before you blindly jump into the world of podcasting, it can help to get an expert perspective.
Wailin Wong is one professional who has made use of podcasting for years. Wong is one of the hosts of Basecamp’s Rework podcast. And she’s previously hosted another podcast for Basecamp called The Distance. So Wong’s experience isn’t just about the logistics of running a podcast, but also about using the format as a way for businesses to communicate with their customers and target customers.
Wong said in an email conversation with Small Business Trends, “I got into podcasting as a listener the same way a lot of people did, which is via Serial. It was also around that time that we at Basecamp started discussing whether we should launch our own podcast.
“I’d been reporting and writing longform features about old businesses for an online publication called The Distance, and there was interest in telling those stories in audio form instead, so we turned The Distance into a narrative podcast.
“Then, in August, we wound down The Distance and launched a new interview-based show, Rework, that’s based on Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s 2010 book.”
Expert Podcast Tips
Here are some tips from Wong for small businesses looking to best utilize this audio format for their own efforts.
Share a Unique Point of View
There are plenty of business podcasts out there already. So you need to have something unique to say if you want yours to make any real impact.
Wong says, “For Basecamp, the biggest benefit from podcasting has been the opportunity to share the company’s point of view. Jason and David have long been contrarians in the tech and business worlds. They like pushing back on the idea that you have to raise money, scale fast, get huge, and sacrifice everything on the altar of hustle and workaholism.
“The Distance reflected this philosophy in an oblique way by focusing on long-running businesses that don’t usually get a lot of press coverage. Rework is a more straightforward declaration of what Basecamp believes. Jason and David appear on the show frequently, so the podcast is an extension of the writing and public speaking they already do on their favorite topics.”
Listen to Other Podcasts
One way to ensure that you can differentiate your podcast with a unique point of view, and to keep a finger on the pulse of trends in the industry, is to regularly listen to other podcasts. You can listen to those that are similar to your, but also gain inspiration for things like storytelling and interview techniques from seemingly unrelated podcasts.
Carefully Consider Your Goals
Before launching a podcast, you also need to consider if it’s even the right route for your business and its particular set of goals. Think about what you’d like your podcast to accomplish so you can really shape a strategy around those goals.
Wong explains, “It’s worth considering, and reconsidering, whether it’s the best use of your time and resources as a business owner to make your own podcast. Really drill down into what your show will be about, how it will stand out from other shows, and what you’re looking to get out of a podcast. A bump in sales or traffic to your website? A platform for expressing your ideas? A creative exercise?”
Make Sure You Can Handle the Workload
Podcasting is also hard work. So before committing to it, create an actual plan to handle the workload and make sure it’s something that you can fit into your schedule.
Wong elaborates, “Think in practical terms about what it will take to make your show. Will you need to book guests regularly? How much editing do you want to do? How often do you want to release new episodes?”
Choose a Specific Podcast Format
There are plenty of different formats you can choose for a podcast. You can have an interview based show. You could choose a first-person storytelling method. Or you could go with something really innovative.
Practice Your Interviewing Skills
Many podcasts, regardless of format, do integrate interviews in some way. So interviewing is definitely a skill that you should practice if you’re thinking of starting one. You can also learn something from listening to great interviewers in other podcasts.
More specifically, listening is a huge part of being a successful interviewer. You have to be engaged in the actual conversation so you can ask questions that go along with your guest’s narrative and keep the conversation moving in a natural way.
Guest Interview on Other Podcasts
Whether you’re looking to grow an audience for your own podcast or just determine whether podcasting is right for your business in the first place, Wong recommends being a guest on other podcasts as a great way to get your foot in the door.
She says, “You can tap into an existing show’s established audience instead of trying to build your own. Another advantage of interview-style podcasts is you can usually talk at greater length than you would if you were being interviewed for a magazine article where you’re one of several sources being quoted. “
Edit Episodes Carefully
Once you’ve planned out exactly how you want your podcast to sound, it’s time to actually make that happen. And it’s not just about the actual recording process. Wong believes that a failure to edit properly is a major mistake among a lot of today’s podcasters.
She says, “Editing is vastly underrated — in many areas of life, not just podcasting! But definitely in podcasting. Not everyone edits their interviews and I understand that the process is super time-consuming and kind of tedious, but it’s important. I also like erring on the side of brevity. Be honest: How many times have you spaced out while listening to some 60-minute conversation between two people on a podcast? If you find yourself doing this, assume that other people will do the same while listening to your show, and be ruthless about cutting everything but the most compelling bits.”
Set the Scene
You can also make your podcast stand out by using audio elements aside from just your own voice. Sound effects, music, powerful descriptions and background noise can help you set the actual sceneif your podcast is about more than just a conversation you’ve recorded in your own studio.
Wong adds, “When I was doing The Distance, I liked featuring businesses with interesting audio environments, like manufacturing companies where I could record sounds of humming machines. But any topic can come alive in audio with the right story and storyteller.”
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