How to launch, market and measure your podcast

All you need is an idea. Here’s how to gain listeners, work with guests, attract sponsors and measure your podcast’s success.

Are you interested in launching a podcast?

Let’s discuss how to create one, as well as tactics to gain listeners, work with sponsors or advertisers, and measure success.

How to gain listeners

Your podcast will grow organically if you produce and distribute it as you would anything else: Blog about it, distribute it on your social networks, include it in your email marketing, and have it in your email signature.

Doing these things will easily gain you 1,000 to 5,000 downloads per episode. If your goal is to attract sponsors, though, you’ll need closer to 20,000 downloads per episode. To do that, invest in paid digital marketing, such as mobile ads and social media advertising.

When I discussed this during a panel at PRSA’s International conference, Deirdre Breakenridge suggested working with a podcast network. If, however, you prefer to “home-grow” your podcast, I have a few tips:

  • Learn Audacity (the production software).
  • Take Scott Oldford’s LeadCraftto learn how to create successful Facebook ads.
  • Invite influential guests.
  • Market the heck out of your podcast; make it feel like your full-time job. (This includes asking people for reviews so you show up in iTunes.)

You have to make a risk/reward decision. If you’re OK spending more than $5,000 a month of your time to learn how to make and promote a podcast, consider joining a podcast network. It will cost about $3,500 a month.

How to create your podcast

Now that you’re ready to get started, decide whether you want a co-host program (such as Inside PR and For Immediate Release), or one in which you host guests (such as Social Pros, Women Worldwide and CoSchedule).

Then, decide how often you’ll podcast.

To gain more than 20,000 downloads per episode (and to interest sponsors), you should produce one show a week. If you produce fewer, you won’t get the numbers necessary to attract dollars.

If, however, you’re not interested in attracting sponsors and are creating a podcast simply to boost brand awareness and lead generation, you can publish bi-weekly or once a month.

How to work with guests

Podcast guests could be subject matter experts within your organization, influencers in your industry, or both.

The most important thing you can do for your podcast is prepare your guests. You don’t want to risk hosting a boring guest, and proper preparation will help you guide the conversation.

Having been a podcast guest before, here are two tips I’ve found most useful:

1. Send a form for the guest to submit all the information you need (social network handles, website URL, photos/logos, etc.), and ask pertinent questions. For instance, the form for social media pros includes prompts such as, “Share something people don’t know about you,” “What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?” and “Give us three things you’d like to discuss.”

2. Have a “get to know you” call. Limit this call to 15–20 minutes, and ask your guest some of the questions above. Nathan Ellering at CoSchedule does a great job of this. He approaches it like an interview to find nuggets of information his listeners will like. Then he sends his guests a list of questions, so they’re prepared when it’s time to record.

How to determine your metrics

Determining what you should measure depends on what you want to accomplish.

During the Q&A portion of my panel discussion, it seemed many audience members wanted a podcast purely for brand awareness.

That’s fine, but success will be hard to measure, and you’ll have to incorporate the podcast into your larger communications plan to prove any efficacy.

Your podcast should include some calls to action (“Go to this URL and download this content”), and your goal should be to gain a certain number of downloads or email addresses from each episode. You can then add those email addresses to your lead-nurturing campaign. Plus, you’ll be able to say, “X people came to us from the podcast, and it generated $XX.”

How to determine the total investment for your podcast

To launch a podcast, you have a one-time fee of buying a microphone ($99+). I would also recommend adding a filter to the microphone, which costs $20 or less. If you want to take LeadCraft to become an expert in Facebook advertising, that costs $1,000.

So, your one-time costs are about $1,120.

Then you’ll have your monthly fees, which are:

  • Zoom: $14.99/month
  • Libsyn: $5/month
  • Facebook advertising: $150/month ($5 a day) to $1,500/month ($50 a day)
  • Podcast network: $1,000-$3,500/month

Of course, the more downloads your podcast receives, the more your costs will increase. By then, though, you’ll have sponsors to offset the costs and generate revenue.

What questions or other advice would you offer?

A version of this article originally appeared on Spin Sucks.

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