Fatima Zaidi —podcasting expert, SCS instructor, and CEO of Quill Inc. —shares tips for launching a successful podcast on a budget.
The popularity of podcasts has skyrocketed in recent years; over two million podcasts exist on Apple alone. In the US, 57% of the population has listened to a podcast, and the numbers continue to increase year over year.
Podcasting is a valuable tool for both brands and individuals, however starting a quality podcast on a budget requires strategic planning. As CEO and co-founder of Quill Inc., an agency where podcasters can find pre-vetted expert freelancers, I know that preparation is key to podcasting success. Expanding on the tips I shared in a recent SCS Knowledge Hub webinar, here are nine steps to help you launch a podcast on a budget from home.
Step 1: Set your objective
The first step is identifying your podcast’s objective. This is a crucial step that often gets overlooked in podcasting. With the two million podcasts that exist right now, you need to be strategic about your goals, and where you are carving a niche in your category. You want your podcast to stand out. So ask yourself: what are your objectives?
Some possible objectives include:
- Educating listeners on a topic you are credible in
- Becoming a thought leader in a specific industry
- Generating leads for your company
- Strengthening and cultivating relationships with existing and potential partners
Step 2: Choose your format
There are endless possible podcast formats you can choose for your series. You also are never permanently tied to one format, it's your show after all! If you decide to start with one format, and then over time test another format to see if that resonates more with your listeners, go for it!
Some potential formats you can use for your podcast are:
- Solo interview
- Round-table discussion
Step 3: Name your podcast
Choose a name that is creative and catchy, but also relates back to the content of your series.
Something to keep in mind when choosing your podcast name is to strategically select your name for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes. When beginning your podcast, you should select a handful of keywords that represent your work. For example, if you are launching a podcast about gourmet cooking, “gourmet chef” might be your keyword, therefore you could name your podcast “The Gourmet Chef”. Having your keyword in your podcast name is great for increasing your chances of coming up in the search results.
Some resources to help you select your keywords are:
- Google Keyword Planner
Step 4: Select a structure
Now it’s time to piece together all of the different elements within your podcast to build a structure. Having a solidified structure is going to help you stay organized and focused when it comes to the planning, production, and post-production stages of your series.
Here is a sample structure:
- Short Teaser
- Introduction to podcast series, episode, and host
- Introduction to guest
- Body of the podcast
- Topic 1
- Topic 2
- Topic 3
- Conclusion and ending remarks
Step 5: Create artwork
Your podcast cover art matters. When audiences are browsing in their podcast app, you want to make sure your artwork stands out to potential listeners.
Some ways to make your cover art stand out is to:
- Use bright, bold colors
- Use bright, bold text
- Use minimal text
- Have an eye-catching graphic or image of a person
Step 6: Select recording & audio editing tools
When it comes to recording and editing your series, you have many resources and tools out there to assist you. There are plenty of free and paid recording and editing options for you to explore.
If possible, purchasing good recording equipment is definitely a solid investment as a podcast host. This will ensure your audio sounds clean and clear. The first two pieces of equipment I recommend looking into are a good microphone and headphones.
Step 7: Sign up for a hosting site & publish your podcast
Now it’s time to finally share your podcast with the world! You have two options when it comes to uploading your podcast to major listening platforms such as Spotify, Apple, Google, etc. You can either manually upload your podcast to the platforms yourself - which is time consuming, or you can sign up for a podcast hosting site. A podcast hosting site is a platform that publishes your podcast to all the major listening platforms so you only need to upload your podcast onto the hosting site.
Step 8: Link your podcast
It’s best to link your podcast directly to a listening platform, whether this is Apple, Spotify, or Google Play, since this is where the vast majority of audiences consume podcasts. It's important to remember that your listeners are split between multiple listening platforms. For example, 40% of your listeners may prefer Apple Podcasts, 50% may prefer Spotify, and 10% may use Google Play.
For this reason, you want to have a link that will give your audience the option to choose which platform they want to listen to your show on. LinkTree is a great free resource that you can use to generate a link that gives your listeners multiple links within it to the different listening platforms.
Step 9: Examine analytics
Keeping track of your analytics, especially if you plan to monetize or look for sponsors down the road, is key. You can track your podcast analytics in each specific listening platform, as well as in whichever hosting platform you decide to use. Some hosting platforms offer a different range of analytics based on the plan that you purchase.
Key analytics that you should be tracking are:
- Unique downloads
- Retention rate
- Listener gender
- Listener age
- Listener location
- Listening platform
Launching your podcast
Follow these nine steps to bring your podcast to life! Just remember that podcasting is a journey; you will not always see immediate results once you release your series. It takes time, strategy, consistency, and marketing. Make sure that if you are thinking about launching a podcast, commit the time and effort to make it successful (with whatever your success metrics you chose)!
SCS instructor Fatima Zaidi is the CEO and co-founder of Quill Inc., the world’s first one-stop marketplace and agency where podcasters can find pre-vetted expert freelancers who will save them time, improve their podcast quality, and help grow their audience. With the expertise of veteran technical marketers, unique access to podcasting data, and a CEO that comes from a sales hacking background, Quill is positioned to be a fast-growing company. As an early adopter, Zaidi saw the promise and opportunity in the podcasting industry. This was only reinforced by her experience in marketing agency roles where clients were increasingly looking for exposure on existing podcasts or had aspirations to start their own. As a member of the National Speakers Bureau, Fatima has spoken at various events around the world on media and tech trends, leading her to keynote on world stages alongside speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk, and, most recently, Richard Branson. In addition to being a commentator for BNN Bloomberg, she is a frequent contributor to publications, including The Globe and Mail and Huffington Post. Over the past few years, she has won two Top 30 under 30 awards and been recognized as one of Flare Magazine’s Top 100 Women.