Firms are keen to set up their own small business podcast to bolster their brand and take advantage of the medium’s exponential growth.
According to 2019 figures from Ofcom, around 7.1m people now listen to podcasts each week. That breaks down to one in eight people which is a 24pc increase on the previous year. It seems that new audiences are still emerging – half of respondents have started listening to podcasts in the past two years. Regular podcast listeners consume an average of seven podcasts per week.
Three quarters said they’d listened to a podcast of a BBC radio programme, the highest proportion of any type of podcast, with iPlayer Radio (now BBC Sounds) being the most popular audio-only service for all age groups.
Ofcom’s findings, combined with RAJAR, Chartable and BBC, revealed that entertainment is the most popular podcast category, followed by comedy and discussion/talk shows.
Interestingly, 22pc of people who own a smart speaker use them to listen to podcasts – one in five homes in the UK now own one or more smart speakers.
Small businesses have already started to carve into the world of business and branded podcasting, but you might recognise these shows from larger names:
What can my small business gain from having a podcast?
According to Appypie.com, 39pc of SMB owners listen to podcasts generally while 65pc listen at least weekly. The upshot is that people can listen to it whenever they have a spare moment so podcasts are ideal for busy people looking for inspiration, entertainment or self-development.
Statistically, podcast audiences are educated, ambitious and affluent. Plus, they’re interested in pursuing continuous education – say, starting and growing a business. Or taking up a hobby like improvisational comedy, which you just happen to run a course in.
If you get it right, you could be seeing some major returns. Appypie.com’s research also shows the biggest increase in purchases after listening to business podcasts. Make sure to include links to products and services mentioned in the podcast with your show notes to drive sales and boost revenue. Placing a link back to your website in the episode summary will also increase your web traffic and attract advertisers too.
Having a podcast for your small business creates and spreads brand awareness, giving you authority and setting you apart as a thought leader in your sector. Not only that, having a voice adds a more personal touch to the brand.
If you post regularly, you’ll build up a loyal following. To further your reach and following, collaborate with other podcasters and build up a network. You can do a collab in person or if they’re based in another part of the world, do remote recordings. There are loads of opportunities for growth and exploration.
Convinced? Great – let’s get you started in creating your own podcast.
How to start a small business podcast
Your first set of decisions is based on the core ideas of your podcast. So, what are you going to talk about? Try and find a niche in the market you’re targeting. Have a look on podcast libraries to find out what’s already being done and have a listen to your would-be competitors. Find a new angle or a new way of presenting information. This is a handy point to decide if you’re going to do a solo show, have a co-host or do interview-style episodes. In fact, you could do something utterly different – perhaps you do antique-based podcasts recorded in different locations.
If you’re doing interviews, will you be doing those in person? Face-to-face podcasts will give you better sound quality, but with USB microphones you can operate remotely too. Just be aware that the quality won’t be as good.
Now it’s time for your small business podcast’s name. You’ve a few options here but keep it snappy and memorable if you can. Saying that, some of the UK’s most popular podcasts have longer titles, such as My Dad Wrote a Porno and There’s No Such Thing as a Fish.
Next up is length. Podcasts are typically between 20-45 minutes but you can get creative here. For example, Chompers is a twice-daily podcast that is two minutes long – the time it takes you to brush your teeth.
The shorter your episodes, the more frequently you can release them. Weekly, fortnightly or monthly is advisable. It’s best to have a regular upload schedule so that your audience know when you’ll be posting an episode. Even if they don’t subscribe, they could still be looking for it on Apple, Google Play or wherever they get their podcasts.
Don’t forget about a logo. Those with the tools and knowhow can design them themselves but there are online platforms that can help. One such website is Canva, where you can design all manner of personal media, including logos. Or if you don’t trust yourself at all, wrangle a graphic designer to create one. Websites like Fiverr have people with graphic design skills who could mock up a logo. Alternatively, you could find someone to work with locally.
Audience feedback is crucial in the setting up and running of your podcast. Ask honest family and friends what they think of your ideas and survey people with an interest in your podcast’s topic area. Find willing participants on Facebook groups and forums, but get permission from the moderator before posting your questionnaire.
>See also: Why market research is so important for a start-up business
What equipment do I need?
You don’t need a lot in the way of equipment, but one essential is a high-quality microphone.
A lot of microphones have a USB port so that you can hook them straight into your computer, tablet or smartphone and start recording.
Here are a few of the microphones on the market which are ideal for podcasting.
This desktop USB mic is unidirectional, stopping noise coming in from either side of the microphone. It’s a robust microphone that can withstand being carried around if you expect to be recording in lots of different places. The podcasting pack includes a mini tripod and USB cable.
The smartLAV+ is a compact microphone that you pin to your lapel – perfect for impromptu interviews or if you move around a lot during podcast recording. It has an omnidirectional condenser capsule which captures a lot of sound for such a tiny microphone.
It connects to your smartphone and records on the device. It comes with a foam pop shield to minimise plosives (the harsh ‘p’ and ‘b’ sounds) and has a durable mounting clip with in-built cable management.
RØDE’s larger microphone has an internal pop filter to reduce plosives as well as internal shock management for handling vibrations and noise. Reviewers say it works well with instruments too.
The pneumatic shock mount on the Shure SM58 removes sound vibration. It also has a built-in pop filter and break resistant stand adapter.
If you’ve only heard of one of these microphones, it will be the one. The Blue Yeti is USB microphone with instant mute and gain control. The headphone jack means that there are no audio latency delays and the mic can be folded down for portability or removed completely and put onto a mic stand.
The Blue Yeti mic also has settings for Twitch streaming, YouTube videos, music and lectures.
The AKG Lyra is a four-capsule USB microphone with headphone volume control and mute and intuitive capture modes. Again, it has a headphone jack to prevent audio latency and can be mounted on a mic or a boom stand.
If you’re not using a USB microphone, the Zoom H6 recorder is a handy bit of kit. It records, stores your data on Micro SD and has four microphone ports (two extra can be added with an external mix capsule). The Zoom H6 also has a unidirectional mic attachment for more focused sounds – ideal for a one-to-one chat. It can record for over 20 hours continuously with four AA batteries and costs around £350.
In this case, you’ll need a mic stand. Some microphones come with a mini tripod, or a boom arm can be purchased as an add-on. These clamp on to your desk and are flexible so that you don’t need to keep the mic on the table. For floor stands, head to a music shop or media specialist.
To give your podcast some lift and identity, incorporate a jingle. YouTube has copyright-free tracks which you can download. Again, websites like Fiverr have people on hand who can create one or, if you know somebody with a musical gift, why not ask them to write one for you?
For post-production, you’ve got the option of free (Audacity) or paid-for editing software like Adobe Audition, GarageBand (for Mac), Reaper, Descript, Hindenburg Journalist or Pro Tools.
Lastly, sign up to a hosting platform. This will be the base for your podcast, where it will be distributed to popular platforms like Apple, Spotify, Google Play and Soundcloud.
Podbean has unlimited hosting. Free podcast website with your account which you can use your own branded domain for the website.
As well as distributing to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and podcast apps, Podbean can automatically post your new podcast episodes to social networks once you connect them with your Podbean account. Podbean can create audiograms (videos with an audio track) for use on Facebook, YouTube and more.
What’s more, as soon as you publish a new episode, it will be available on Alexa devices via the Podbean Alexa skill.
For something a bit different, record audio live shows and you can sell virtual tickets for listeners. You can even record, edit and publish podcasts with the Podbean app.
You’ve got podcast monetisation tools to get rolling on the income. Use Podbean’s built-in dynamic advertising system, Patron Program, and/or the Premium Podcast service.
It has industry leading podcast analytics, featuring listener geographies, where people download from, what time of day people download episodes and user retention rates.
Unlimited audio $9 (£7) per month. Billed annually or $14 (£11) monthly.
Unlimited Plus: $29 (£22.50) per month. Billed annually or $39 (£30.50) monthly.
Business: $99 (£77.50) per month. Billed annually or $129 (£101) monthly.
Buzzsprout distributes your podcast to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Alexa, Overcast, PocketCasts, Castro, Castbox and Podchaser. People can also listen on Amazon Alexa.
To up your search traffic, transcribe episodes using Buzzsprout. Manage multiple podcasts with unlimited team members and join its affiliate marketing program so that you can monetise your podcast.
Seek help through online guides, a YouTube channel and a private Facebook community on top of their customer support.
Podcast statistics includes downloads over time, what apps people are using to listen in and where they are listening to your podcast.
Free – host up to two hours of content each month
$12 (£9.50) a month – host up to three hours of content a month
$18 (£14) a month – host up to six hours each month
$24 (£19) a month – host up to 12 hours each month
Do the free 90-day trial if you’re not sure.
Captivate prides itself on being the growth podcast hosting platform. You’ve got unlimited podcasts on all price packages and you can customise your podcast player with calls to action built in.
If you’re on another platform and want to move to Captivate.fm, you can do so for free.
Podcaster – $19 (£15) a month
Audio Influencer – $49 (£38.50) a month
Podcast Brand – $99 (£78) a month
All plans include a seven-day free trial.
Create as many podcasts as you like on Transistor – it’s all the same price.
It’s comprehensive on the analytics front. Find out downloads per episode, estimated subscriber count, listener trends marked by downloads over time (year, month or by the last 24 hours), where people are listening geographically and what platforms they’re using to listen in.
Starter – $19 (£15) a month
Professional – $49 (£38.50) a month
Business – $99 (£78) a month
You’ve got a 14-day free trial on all packages.
Third-party podcast analytics
Podcasting is a decentralised medium in that people listen in on different devices and platforms, so it’s difficult to track analytics closely. However, there are a couple of third-party platforms you can use if you want to do a real deep dive into the analytics.
Chartable offers up analytics tools which will give you a bit more than some of the hosting platforms. It can help you track your chart rankings and reviews from Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts and Breaker. That way, you can track which platform most of your downloads and listeners come from.
It’s normally $20 (£15.50) a month for the Indie version and $100 (£78.50) a month for the Pro version but you can get the free Hobbyist package is you prefer.
Backtracks is a highly regarded analytics service that lets you see whether downloads of your podcast episode actually resulted in a play. It gives you comprehensive audio and listener data to help you suss out what’s working in terms of your ads and content. Pricing is bespoke.
Dos and don’ts of podcasting
Lastly, some quick dos and don’ts.
Even if you have a dedicated and informed audience, avoid overly jargon-y language. Podcasts are generally informal and lighter in tone so you don’t want to weigh it down with heavy details.
While we’re on the subject, podcasts are more intimate than other media – a high proportion of listeners consume episodes through headphones, as if it’s just the host and listener. Audiences trust podcasts so make sure to keep them in mind when creating your content and sourcing commercial partners.
Ready to build you small business podcast?
We hope that this guide has given you everything you need to start putting together your small business podcast. Read tips from other podcasters that we’ve spoken to on Small Business or have a listen to our very own podcast, Small Business Snippets. We have interviews with Deborah Meaden, Piers Linney, Nicola Horlick and more. Enjoy!
How to use your personal brand to boost your business