What medium infuses stressful morning commutes with learning, laughter, and life lessons? That’s right, we’re talking about podcasting. Commuters are giving up their radio subscriptions in exchange for the entertainingly informative content that podcasts frequently provide.
This boom in listeners is giving brands, entrepreneurs, and creatives alike a platform to share their stories, engage and grow their audience, and establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry. Business podcasts are especially appealing to entrepreneurs looking to increase their SEO and content ROI through audio and video material.
How should you format your podcast?
Whether you aim to paint a picture of a scenario or event, inform listeners of your processes step-by-step, or introduce them to new people in your network, there are a few different ways successful podcasts format their episodes for the ultimate listening experience.
If you’re a regular podcast listener, odds are you’ve heard an interview or two. From news-focused podcasts like The Daily to creator-focused podcasts like Guy Raz’s How I Built This, you’ll find interviews in virtually every genre. They’re a perfect way to introduce a new voice and perspective to your audience.
With interviews, make sure to have some questions prepared, but don’t be afraid to allow the conversation to flow organically. Give the guest an opportunity to share their story without biased or leading questions. Interviews are a great opportunity to cross-promote your podcast to an entirely new audience by asking the guest to share the episode with their audience. This exposes your content to their followers, generating an entirely new group of listeners.
Like an interview, the panel discussion format features a host and multiple speakers to offer perspectives on different issues. NPR’s Code Switch podcast is known to feature multiple guests and offer points of view of different people in the industry. This format is ideal when talking about a topic that caters to multiple viewpoints or has the potential to be controversial with advocates championing multiple angles of the story.
Since this format features numerous points of view and various voices, it’s important to make clear introductions at the start of the episode and outline each person’s background, expertise, and knowledge on the subject at hand. It’s also beneficial to open with a brief, unbiased overview of the topic being presented followed by a series of questions fielded by the host or a separate moderator. Most importantly, give all of the guests an equal opportunity to express their point of view uninterrupted.
Whether it be investigative journalism, in-depth coverage of a story or event, or the biography of a famous person in your industry, narrative storytelling can captivate your audience and create an urge to keep listening comparable to everyone’s favorite Netflix binge. This format works best when the host has done significant research and can tell the story in a conversational yet informative tone.
This means going beyond the contents of a basic Google search and giving your audience new perspectives that they may not have otherwise been able to find on their own. It can also be helpful in these instances to bring in an expert and create a dual-sided discussion that incorporates multiple viewpoints, similar to the way a panel discussion or interview would.
How can you promote your podcast?
Build an Audience
Now that you know the type of content to create and which format(s) will work best, you need to reach an audience that’s passionate about the information you’ll be presenting. If you already have a community established in the form of an email list or social media platform, it’ll be easier to target them and convert them into listeners of your podcast.
While having an established community will make it easier to gain listeners, it’s not uncommon or impossible to build an audience from scratch. Don’t dismiss traditional digital marketing methods like paid Facebook and Instagram ads to get your content in front of more eyes.
Create a Backlog of Content
Recording a few episodes at a time will give you a nice buffer of content and allow you to advertise the topics of episodes ahead of time to generate buzz. If podcasting is only one facet of your content strategy, use a content calendar to align all of your content to a particular topic over a certain amount of time.
Sticking to a theme can ensure your audience remains engaged. It’ll also give you a better sense of what type of content your audience resonates with most.
Another way increase exposure is to feature guests with their own audiences on your podcast and ask them to help promote that particular episode to their audience. Similarly, asking to be featured on other people’s channels is a great way to cross-promote and spread your message to listeners who may not be aware of your brand. Collaborations are a great way to increase your conversion rates and optimize your marketing efforts.
How do you monetize your podcast?
So you’ve formatted your material. You’ve built your audience. Next, profit! Three ways to earn extra income from your podcast are to create exclusive content, collaborate with sponsors, and offer affiliate discounts to your listeners.
Create Premium Content
Offering exclusive content behind a paywall to dedicated listeners gives you the opportunity to build another community within your community. Premium content is often a great indicator in determining if your listeners are willing to spend money on your brand.
Tracking how your audience responds to your offer of premium content will give you insight on how to boost your conversion rates and allow you get a gauge on content measurement. It will become clear what demographics and parts of your audience are eager to shell out their cash on your expertise. If your audience pays for premium content, it’s a great indicator that they would be willing to pay for other offerings like online courses or merchandise in the future.
Provide Affiliate Discounts
Affiliate marketing lets you work with brands to offer a discount on services and products to your listeners while earning a portion of the profits. As an affiliate, you’re still part of a larger organization. Usually, you’ll receive a link or code that offers your users a discount on a particular product or site. When people use your affiliate code to get their discount, you receive part of the profits. Win-win, right?
With most affiliate programs, you only begin to make money if your audience spends money on the product or site you’re promoting, so like premium content, it’s a good test in measuring the content metrics of your listeners against sales made to the affiliate.
Sponsorships require you having a bit more of a relationship with a brand, but the money you make isn’t based on commission or sales. With most sponsorships, a brand is interested in using your platform to gain exposure to your audience. Many sponsorships come with a flat fee that a brand pays you to run their ads or branded content on your platform.
With sponsorships, you won’t make commissions unless it is written in the contract. While sponsorships may seem like a great monetization tool, be wary of promoting brands that don’t align with your mission, vision, or audience. That’s a quick way to lose listeners—and revenue.
In a time where content marketing is the buzz of the industry, marketers are always searching for ways to revamp their content strategy to inform and entertain their audiences. Podcasting is quickly growing in appeal as a platform that’s both relatively easy to produce, and easy to consume for listeners in virtually any industry.
Brands can take notes from the hundreds of successful podcasts that have created cult-like followings and used their platforms to build their brands, further their reach, and grow their empires. And, yes, make money.