Dec 4, 2020
Ready to start planning your own podcast? In this bonus episode, the DMI podcast team - host Will Francis, producer Emma Prunty, and technician Brian Cahill - talk you through what you need to know to get in the podcast game. We cover it all, from researching your niche to types of microphone, budgeting to promoting and sharing on your social channels.
We were inspired to create this podcast after Will's hugely popular webinar on the same topic and the many questions people had on how they could get their own podcast off the ground.
Will: Welcome to "Ahead of the Game," a podcast brought to you by the Digital Marketing Institute. This episode is a special one, all about podcasting. A few weeks ago, we hosted a webinar for DMI members on how to plan, produce and promote a podcast. There were lots of great questions throughout. So we thought we'd address a few more of those here. They are very common questions around podcasting. So whether or not you caught the webinar, you should find this a useful insight into what it takes to create your own podcast. Emma at the DMI is going to ask me some of the key questions. And we also have Brian, who works on production here too, to chat about some of the more technical aspects of audio production. Hi, Emma, over to you.
Emma: Thanks, Will. It's great to join you on this side of the mic for a change. So Will, yes, we recently ran this webinar, and you did a great job of covering the general plan people need to make to get their podcast up and running and how to plan to do it regularly, how to find guests, how to...you covered a lot of different areas. So we could start with why would you want to do a podcast.
Will: Yeah, I mean, I suppose the why to do a podcast, I suppose, obviously, with any booming medium, and platform, and podcast is having a real boom at the moment. And I know it's had several kind of cycles of hype over the last 20 years almost. But I think the one that we're going through at the moment is one that's really seems to be sticking with audiences and podcasting has become truly mainstream. So I think that now is as good a time as any to launch a podcast. And the thing about launching a podcast for a business is that I think that it gives people a window into what you do and why you do it in a way that's so much more intimate than like a blog post or an article or a white paper. Because they get to hear your voice. And they get to hear directly from you. And you're in their head, like you're in their headphones. It's a very...I mean, there's no other way to put it, it's a very intimate format in that way.
So yeah, you've got both the audience are there for it now, there's a lot less technical hurdles to subscribe into a podcast, and it's a lot more mainstream friendly. And the fact that I just think it's a fantastic way to talk about what you do. And I talked about examples in the webinar, the people like Shopify, that's an e-commerce platform, and they get some of the world's best experts talking about e-commerce and how to become better at it, how to improve your profitability, and the people from Shopify do that. And you get to know the team and you get...really, you get to build a relationship with that brand. And what happens over time, I think, is that you become less likely to then skip over to a competitor and start spending your money with them. Because you've had this deeper relationship with a brand through podcasting. I think that's what's powerful about it.
So I think that's really the motivation behind a lot of businesses getting into it today. We actually ran a poll at the beginning of the webinar. And we asked people, whether they listen to podcasts primarily for entertainment or for information. And two-thirds of people...and this is like quite a lot of people that were on the webinar, two-thirds of those people said, "For information," and it's a great way to hear experts, because you get all that stuff that you don't get in a carefully written and edited article, you get to hear a far more candid account of how they do what they do. And that's what I love about our podcast is that I get to sit down with these people and ask them the questions I've always wanted to ask an SEO expert or a business coach. It's fascinating. And hopefully it is for our listeners as well.
Emma: Yeah, no, we've had more than excellent reviews and feedback. So we're delighted that it's working for us. And we just want to keep developing as we're getting more voices in and helping people.
Will: Yeah, absolutely. I noticed one of the questions from the webinar was, "What's driving the voice-first shift from screen and visual?" And my answer to that would be that I don't think there is a shift from screen to voice-first. I think they maybe kind of misconstrued what I was saying. But I think it's we just consume more and more content. So it's on top of all the screen-based content we're consuming. We've also discovered that when we're lying in bed, going to sleep, or walking the dog, or doing the dishes, we can also consume audio content and we now...you know, lots of people own AirPods and products, Sonar speakers, products that make that easier and more fluid so it was a perfect time for us to launch podcast, certainly.
Emma: I'll just mention majority of our listeners are actually female, young females, which is quite telling, I think. I was curious to see how that would work out. So when we started tracking, which you can easily do with the different podcast platforms that you use, you can easily see the statistics of who's listening, what device they're using, and so on. I don't know why, but I thought it might be middle-aged men who sit in cars all day and have time to listen to podcasts. I had this idea in my head. But now I see... My older daughter's 14, and she's a big fan of various YouTubers, of course, not so much TikTok, she's more into YouTubers. And she spends almost more time listening to their podcasts, which I find intriguing. They'll have their YouTube thing, whatever it might be. But she actually would rather lie in bed and listen to them talking in a podcast form. So it does say something about the prevalence of screens in our lives, and the way audio wraps around that or complements that.
Will: Yeah, it does, it very much complements it.
Emma: So Will, we talked a bit about how a podcast can be part of your content strategy, we could just touch on that briefly. And maybe think about formats. Think about what style of podcast people could think about.
Will: Yes, true. A podcast is one of your key pieces of content marketing. Content marketing is where you create media of any kind that's of genuine value to people out there. It's not promotional content. It's not advertising. But it's what we call inbound marketing, where people find it because they see value for themselves in it. And so they're attracted to it, and they come and consume it. And then they start a relationship with your brand that way. I think podcasting does that very well, very effectively. Like with any content marketing, you kind of have to work out, "What are the themes, what are the core themes that I have unique experience and expertise in that I'm uniquely placed to create content around so that it will be of true value to people." And we call that content pillars. And your average brand might have, let's say, five or six, as an example, content pillars.
So they would be like...basically, they would form your editorial remit for your articles, your blogs, your social media, and your podcast. So for example, if I was a golf retailer, my content pillars might be golf gear, golf skills, great golfers through history, stress and calm and the mental health aspects of golf, etc., etc. And I might decide that those are the handful of themes I'm consistently gonna talk about again and again. And then I look to how I can do that in the channels. So how can I best articulate those things on Twitter, or Instagram, or in an email newsletter, or in a podcast, right.
And so once you've done that, then the job is to basically, say, you're gonna concentrate on one particular pillar in your podcast. And so if I'm this golf brand, I might talk about just golf skills, I might do a podcast about improving your game. And so then I would break that down into what are my podcast episode titles, what are the kind of sub-topics that make up that bigger theme. And a good way to find out what that should be is use basic research tools online. So go and look on Reddit, and go and look...I would go and look at the golf subreddit. And I would go and see what kind of questions people are asking about golf skills, like are people very concerned about swing? And then you could identify that as what we call a content need, an informational need on the part of your listener, and you go, "Well, people clearly need information about this, I will create an episode about it." And on and on you go to really cover that broader theme, episode by episode.
Some of the research tools that I find very useful are answerthepublic.com, which you enter a keyword and it tells you what questions people are asking Google about that topic. It's almost like an instant content plan. You could just take what that spits out, and that could be your next 20 podcast episodes. You can use Google Trends as well. Google has a great tool for looking at trends in terms of what people are searching their search engine for in different locations, and through the lens of various themes.
Also, if you're gonna start researching podcasts, because another thing you want to do is make sure that someone already hasn't created that podcast that you are planning. So my search engine of choice for podcasts is a site called Listen Notes, listennotes.com. And that's not only just a search engine for podcasting, but it also has a trending section and it shows you which podcasts are hot, essentially as they call it in any particular area or topic. So that's a good way to also make sure that you're filling a niche that needs filling. And then you can also use keyword research tools. One of my favorite ones is Ubersuggest, which is a very...it's actually most of the functionality's free. And even if you pay for it, it's about €9, or about $10 a month. And that allows you to look at the volume of particular searches on Google. And that gives you a good indication of whether a significant amount of people really want to know something. That's what you're trying to find out there.
And again, that can inform how you can answer the questions that people have, because that's what you're doing with good content marketing, you're answering the questions that people have, and being useful by providing good-quality, high-authority information to them. So that's what you want to work out.
And then you want to think about your format. And a lot of people were very curious about this as well when they tuned into our webinar, and there's really no right or wrong answer. One of the most popular podcasts in the world, "The Joe Rogan Experience" is well known for clocking in episodes regularly of two, three, even sometimes four hours long, right. And this guy podcasts every single day, and it's the most popular podcast on the planet. So every day, he interviews a different person. And now he does focus on popular science, technology, and politics. And he's also very into MMA, mixed martial arts as well. So there is an element of that randomly, which comes in from time to time. But usually it's about he interviews controversial figures like, yeah, in politics, in...you know, people who are kind of public commentators, but it's just a straight up interview format. But he goes so deep into the topic, and people are really happy to spend those hours with him.
But then you might have a 15-minute podcast, because really, you just got a daily news bulletin in your niche. And that's fine, too. I think what you want to do is work out what the subject requires, and go and look on something like Listen Notes. And look at what the current formats out there are, and work out whether they're right, because you might find that all the other podcasts in my topic are all 15 minutes long. But actually, I think this subject deserves a podcast that goes deeper. And there's an opportunity to have that and stand out for that reason. That's up to you to kind of go and research.
Emma: I think it's also worth mentioning at this point that it's very important, when you do your research, to possibly say to yourself, "You know what, there is no need for us to do a podcast here, we can't...there might be a niche there for a golf retailer like ourselves with a specialized focus on whatever it might be." But it's very important that you only launch yourself into it if you know you can do it. So I think our example of a golf retailer, for example, if they knew they have connections with the Ladies PGA, for example, like a women's golf or some kind of area of slightly more specialization, and they have a lot of contacts and potential guests and potential areas to discuss that as a more deeper level, then they might think, "Oh, you know what, that would actually be really great." I think in terms of your content strategy, it is a different direction for people to take. It's not like producing a blog post with a bunch of keywords that would be particularly good for SEO and to help your Google ranking. And it's more complex than that.
Will: But just ask yourself how long do you need to do that. That may be that you can cover what you need to talk about in 15 minutes, or you may think that it needs two hours, and then also you're gonna want to answer the question of how often are you gonna do it? Is it gonna be weekly, biweekly, monthly? And I think that largely comes down to resource, how much time do you have to actually produce and edit this, if you're gonna interview people, then there's obviously sourcing guests, that's a whole job in itself. So it is also limited by your own resources. But what I would say as well is that I don't think once you start a podcast that you have to continue it for forever, till the end of time.
There are many examples of people doing seasons of podcasts. And that's if you're worried about the resource side of it, I would say to put parameters around it and say, "Let's do 10 episodes, let's do a first season of 10 episodes that they'll go out every 2 weeks. And then we'll kind of cut that off and see how sustainable that was and how we actually found the process and whether we actually ended up creating a good podcast," and if so, then you can do a season two, three and four. So you can...it doesn't have to be...it's not like other channels like social media where once you start, you feel like you just have to keep going, even though you've run out of ideas or it's too hard, you know?
Emma: That's right. Yep. So Will, it's worth mentioning at this point, if people are really interested in getting their podcast up and running on the DMI platform for members, we offer an ebook, which goes into great detail about all the different aspects you would need to get your podcast up and running, from figuring out how to do the design work, choosing a name, creating schedules, planning ahead, and the different platforms and the different editing software that you can do. We'll just focus now on a few of these different points. Will can answer some of these points for us, as well as Brian who is another of my DMI colleagues, who has some great expertise in audio. So in our recent webinar, as we mentioned, Will, a lot of people are very interested in microphones, voice recorders, and the nitty-gritty of the technical side of recording a podcast.
Will: Yes, indeed. And, of course, this is one of the areas that your average marketer or business person doesn't naturally have expertise in, right. So I get that. Now, I would preface this by saying that a great microphone and an expensive audio recorder doesn't make a good podcast. You don't have to buy expensive equipment to do this. It's far more important that the content of your podcast is well planned, well thought through and it's got a reason to exist, and it contains really valuable or entertaining content. Right. So that being said, yes, a good microphone is a good starting point. And there are a range of different microphones from professional vocal mics that require plugging into some sort of recorder or interface, or USB mics that you can just plug straight into your computer and you don't need any other equipment.
Now, I personally use the RØDE NT1-A microphone, which is a very popular and quite low-cost vocal microphone. And now I plugged that into a audio recorder, and I use the Zoom H4n Pro. Brian, what are you using today for your voice recording?
Brian: Hi, Will. Yeah, that's funny. Actually, we're almost using identical setups at the moment. I have a Zoom H4n Pro portable recorder. And I'm also using a condenser microphone quite similar to a RØDE NT1-A, it's one of the Thomann kind of own brand one, it's called a T.Bone. Exact model is eluding me right now at the moment but it's very much modeled on a RØDE NT1-A.
Will: So you talked about it being a condenser microphone. What are the key different types of microphone that people will find if they go browse in an audio store?
Brian: I suppose dynamic and condenser are the two main types of microphone, I suppose you could say in terms of their inputs. The main difference for them is a condenser microphone essentially needs something called phantom power which is an electrical current that runs through a microphone cable to make it work. But yeah, there's not too much of a difference between them really when it comes to podcasting. Again, either will work well but a condenser mic is good if you've got quite, I suppose a...not a treated space but a space that has less ambient sound within it. It's more sensitive to pick up ambient noise.
Will: So if someone's starting out, should they look for a certain type of microphone, do you think?
Brian: I think like anything it comes down to budget. You touched on it earlier, how content is king when it comes to a podcast but in 2020, I suppose the quality has changed a bit, there's a lot of recording over Zoom. I listened to some podcasts over Zoom that are recorded purely over Zoom. Again, it comes down to it's very entertaining content. I think audio is almost like a...it's like a thankless task, I think. I think people are very quick to identify poor audio but they won't notice really good quality audio, if that makes sense. And for having great audio it's almost...that's what I say, it's everywhere now because it's very available, readily available and cheap to achieve it.
In terms of starting out, yeah, I think a condenser mic along the lines of what we're both using today will work well, portable recorder. Some of them are USB-based so you can plug them straight into your computer and record directly to your computer too.
Emma: That's what I have actually. I have just €100, £100 Yeti microphone. It's very popular, got that on Amazon. And it plugs directly into my laptop. And after a bit of fiddling, we got it working through the voice recorder. But the quality is fine. And I think a good pair of headphones is also very important as well, isn't it? Just to be able to capture the sound.
Will: It is. I mean, what's really important is that...particularly if you're doing a remote recording, what's really important is that your voice isn't coming out of the other person's computer, because that just bleeds into their microphone. And it also echoes around their room. So even if you stop talking and they start talking, your voice can still be present bouncing around their room. And particularly if you talk over one another, or you kind of talk between each other quite quickly, you will inevitably capture your tinny voice coming out of their laptop speakers going into their microphone, so you need to both be wearing headphones so there's no bleed. And all that you're recording is each of your own voices. And that's something worth mentioning. When you're recording people remotely, ideally, you want your guests to record themselves on a device at their end. Because if you just record a Skype or a Zoom call, that's fine. And of course, there's plenty of quite popular podcasts that managed to do that. But because the content is so good, people forgive it.
And that goes, in general, when talking about microphones, your smartphone has a great microphone. I've used my iPhone as a field recorder. And I did that for a project I did years ago, like when I had a very early version of the iPhone. And the recording quality is...if you keep it close to your mouth, can be pretty much as good as a radio outside broadcast. So you don't have to necessarily buy lots of dedicated equipment. Some of the bits about equipment that people seem to be very curious about is the other bits and bobs, that we don't get so much to the limelight, so a stand. Sounds...it's boring, but important. And what's really important with microphones is that they don't get touched, and that they don't absorb any vibrations around them. So that's why we use stands. And that's why a lot of those standards have these kind of cradles on that the microphone sits in. And that's a shock absorbing cradle.
And so that's so that if your knee brushes your desk, or if a lorry goes past your house outside like a big truck or something, that your microphone doesn't actually end up receiving those vibrations and those rumbles through the stand or through a stack of books that it's on. So ideally you would have some sort of stand. You can get very cheap boom arm stands that clamp to a desk or sit on a desk for less than 20 dollars or pounds or euros on major ecommerce sites like Amazon. So that's an important thing. And you also mentioned a pop shield, that would be very important, it can ruin a record in when it spikes because the sibilants, as we call them, the "p," "ph," "b" type sounds, they make a kind of a wall of air brush over the microphone grille and they overload it. So that's important. Anything else to add there, Brian, in terms of gear?
Brian: No, I think that's good. There's always the option of a lapel microphone as well. But in terms of, I suppose the best audio quality, I think probably a condenser mic will be your best bet.
Emma: A lapel microphone being one that you attach to your clothes?
Brian: Yeah, exactly, yeah.
Will: Hello, a quick reminder from me that if you're enjoying our podcast series, why not become a member of the DMI so that you can enjoy loads more content from webinars and case studies to toolkits and more real life insights from the world of digital marketing? Head to digitalmarketinginstitute.com/aheadofthegame, sign up for free. Now back to the podcast.
Emma: So how about recording and editing?
Will: Well, when you've got your audio files, so let's say you've interviewed a guest, and they've recorded themselves at their end, and they've sent you an audio file, you've got your audio file that you've recorded on your audio recorder, your phone or your PC. And how do you actually make that into a podcast? It's a very good question. You're gonna need some software. And you can use very similar software to professional podcasters and music producers. We're all kind of using the same stuff because they are quite...they're easy to start using, but they can be very hard to master, but you don't have to worry about that. So the main things that I use for podcast editing, I use a piece of software called Reaper. And it's a piece of software for Mac, PC and mobile. And I switched to it this year for podcasting from Logic Pro X, which is Mac's kind of...which is Apple's professional music production software, which I still use for music. But the workflow with Reaper is a lot easier.
If you want something that's free and they're similar to that, Audacity is incredibly popular, probably the most popular piece of software. For Mac and PC, it's totally free, it's open source, it's very versatile. But at the same time, it's very easy. If you don't know what you're doing, you can just open it, press record, and you've got what you want. Also, you can drag and drop your audio files from other sources into that. And then just kind of very easily drag the ends of your audio files on a timeline, neaten it up, cut bits out, it's very intuitive, would take anybody who can use a computer about 10 minutes to learn the basics. So they would be my kind of go-to tools.
And then there's also if you really want to take the hard work out of it, you could consider using Anchor. So anchor.fm, which is now owned by Spotify, is a great way to publish a podcast. And that's how we publish "Ahead of the Game" at the DMI, isn't it?
Emma: That's right. So placing each episode and the whole podcast on Anchor distributes it to all the major platforms that we know, iTunes, Google, and so on.
Will: Exactly. Yeah, like Spotify and iTunes, what have you. However, what Anchor's app does is it also allows you to record and edit your podcast right there in the app. You can also get your guests to download the app, and you can actually have a conversation that's recorded and made very easy to edit right there in the app. They even have some royalty free music that you can add. So if you really want to bring the kind of tech barrier down, you could use that. And someone with really no appetite for learning audio editing, and very little tech knowledge could use an app like Anchor to do the whole process almost effortlessly.
Emma: And it's free.
Will: And it's free. Yeah, that's it. That's another good thing to mention. It's totally free.
Emma: So let's talk, while we're at it, about guests, and how we would get a guest involved in the recording process. Especially if we're doing it remotely.
Will: Yeah. So you've got your guest lined up, you've got them to agree to be on your podcast, you've scheduled your time. What I would suggest is before that time, a few days before the recording, is to send them some show notes. So like a call sheet, which is a one or two-page document that basically has all the information they need about the podcast. So if there's a link to a Zoom call that they need to be on, you include that. And if your contact details, include that. But most importantly, list the kinds of questions that you're gonna ask them, the kind of topics that you're likely to be covering, so that they can just have a think about that ahead of time and they're not unprepared. As anybody who works in podcasting will tell you, the real work of podcasting happens before and after the recording. The recording itself is the easy bit.
So you really want your guests to be thinking about the kind of subjects that you're gonna cover so that they're more prepped, and that will make them more concise, it will make them answer questions in a kind of more self-edited and ultimately valuable way for the listener, and it also makes your job editing it easier. So do that. And then also, like I said, have them record themselves at their ends so that you get better quality audio and give them instructions, and you might have to guide them on how to do that, especially if they're not particularly tech-savvy. So yeah, that would be my advice in terms of handling guests. And once you've done that and you've got your audio and you're starting to edit, one thing you will come across is you will realize that you need to apply some processing to make your podcast sound as good as the ones that you've been hearing in your research. Brian, what are the main things that we need to do to audio to make it sound really nice and like it's professionally produced?
Brian: The one thing you touched on, Will, and I can't stress enough is getting the highest quality audio at source as possible. There's a somewhat crude term in the audio industry in that they say you can't polish a turd. So you need to have the best quality audio at source, it is by far the most important thing and just spending the time an extra 5, 10 minutes to make sure you got the best quality is crucial. Once you have that, then I suppose the main two techniques will be using EQ and compression. So just a quick background on the two. When it comes to EQ, it's essentially altering the frequencies that we hear. So it's largely thought that...I suppose the human ear can hear frequencies from as low as 20 hertz up to 20,000 hertz, which is a very low bass-y sound at the low end, and very high-y sibilance at the other end.
And so when we're using EQ, we're essentially changing, altering the frequency spectrum and what we're hearing. So we can cut out some of maybe the nasally sounds that we don't like hearing back. Or we can push up some of the higher frequencies to make it add a bit more clarity to someone's voice. So doing bits and pieces like that can really help, just very small adjustments.
Will: Is that why the voice on like movie trailers, the voiceover sounds really kind of deep and fallen, boomy?
Brian: Yeah, exactly. Again, that's a...I can't take the man's name there but he naturally has a very deep, boomy voice, but I'd say...but EQ treatment and also a heavy dose of compression too, which leads me nicely into compression. So essentially, compression changes the dynamic range of a piece of audio, essentially makes the louder parts quiet, the quieter parts loud. So in essence, what compression does, it'll turn down the very higher volumes of your audio, squash it down closer to where the lower volume sounds are. And then you can turn it all up, if that makes sense. So in essence, you're squeezing your audio, so it's...
Will: All at the same volume.
Brian: Exactly. Yes, yes. So if someone moves away from the microphone for a bit, for example, or they're speaking very animatedly and loudly [inaudible 00:31:52] parish, but then kind of a bit more...a bit slower, a bit kind of...I don't know, not quite as loud in another part. You can squash it together a bit more so it sounds a bit more natural. So basically people don't have to turn up their audio and turn it down throughout the whole podcast. It's a more seamless, and I suppose enjoyable listening experience afterwards.
Will: Well, that's it, it makes it easier to listen to for the listeners, isn't it, because it's predictable, they don't have to keep adjusting their volume. And it's predictable for them. And it's actually easier to listen to also in a noisy environment as well, because they can set the volume very precisely on their device, let's say if they're working out at the gym or something. And it's not just gonna change through the course of the podcast.
Emma: I have a question for you, Brian. If Will were to be producing, recording a podcast with somebody through Zoom, as we're doing now. So let's say the other person in the conversation is just using their iPhone, which is quite a good quality sound, or their laptop, is there a way that you in the editing process can equalize them to some degree and improve their quality?
Brian: Yes, absolutely, you can. Again, it depends on what the quality of the audio is, whether you can achieve a similar level, but you can definitely treat it enough to make it a bit more of a seamless experience. Something that I've done in the past, actually when recording someone who didn't have quite as good quality audio, and this is kind of a, I suppose, reverse trick, I don't know if I'd recommend it, but I'll talk about it anyway, is that I degraded the quality of my own audio to actually make it more sound in line with the other audio just to make it more consistent, I suppose. And by saying degrading, I don't mean I ruined it, I just mean I made it a little less clear, or took out a bit of the clarity just to keep consistency throughout the podcast.
Will: I mean, I do that with "Ahead of the Game." I try and match the EQ to some extent. And there are tools to do that. So the frequencies are a bit more similar than they would be naturally between the two voices. So it's less of a jump between each voice and the air [SP] having to adjust to very different sounds. Something as well to mention is that what we do in podcasting, but also it's a broadcast tool as well is used this industry standard tool called iZotope, and it basically is a noise reduction tool. And it can even remove room echo to some point. So if someone sends you a recording and it's in a very echo-y spare room, it's recorded on a phone, is thin-y, and there's all sorts of maybe clicks and pops and hiss and all kinds of undesirable artifacts in that audio, iZotope is the best known tool to remove all of that stuff and can really clean up audio. So there are tools to do that. But as you said, Brian, as with any digital media, with photography, with film, and with audio, capturing the best quality to start with saves an awful lot of headaches further down the line.
Emma: Well, I have a specific question that came in from one of our listeners to the webinar. They're wondering about if you're actually in the same place with the person that you're talking to in the podcast. Is it okay to share a microphone? I mean, obviously, ideally, you'd each have one, but let's say, cost issues and so on. How would that work?
Will: I mean, if you only have one microphone, then yeah, absolutely, then that's what you're limited to. But ideally not because microphones have different response patterns. Most microphones are designed to record sound coming from one direction. So the condenser vocal mics that you see in like pop videos, when people are singing into a microphone in a studio, they are designed to pick up whatever's in front of them and exclude sound to the side and behind them. So someone will sound very different talking from the other side of the microphone. You can get microphones that have a figure eight pattern where they pick up the front and the back. But that would be quite a specialist microphone for someone to own. And probably not the situation you're in if you've only got one mic. So no is the answer. It's not ideal at all. Perhaps if you had a way to pass it between you without making handling noise on the microphone or on the audio recorder, then yeah.
But actually, I mean, the field recorders that we've talked about, so the Zoom H4n Pro that I use, and that I'm using now, that has two microphones on it that point in two opposite directions. And it's specifically made for radio interviews, essentially, amongst other things, as well as recording stereo sound in a space. So there are some audio recorders that have microphones pointing in opposite directions. So that would be quite a useful device to have in that situation.
Emma: So, Will, another question in terms of guests is placing yourself. Again, we're all working remotely, and we will be for the next while. So how should you position yourself? This is not a Zoom call, necessarily, it's not just a regular meeting, it's a recording of types, you have to place yourself in front of the microphone correctly, you have to think about ambient noise.
Will: Yeah, and the radio industry really had to grapple with this. If you listen to your favorite radio show, a lot of that is actually coming from the broadcaster's home now. And you can sometimes kind of hear that. But anyway, there's been a lot of talk in the audio industry in general about that. And the general consensus is that there are two approaches to this. There is the clothes cupboard or closets where you basically go and set up your laptop and your microphone or whatever it is, basically, with a chair in a wardrobe, if that's something, or a wardrobe or a closet full of clothes, that is a fantastic recording environment, because it's what we would call a dead space. It's acoustically dead, there is literally zero reverberation or echo in that space. And so it has that sound, that dead sound of a vocal booth or a radio studio. If you don't have a wardrobe big enough to go and sit in, place a chair in, then the other approach is to build essentially a pillow fort, and to surround yourself with soft things.
So the worst environment is an empty echoey room. The best environment is a cluttered space that's full of things of different shapes. And hopefully lots of those things are also soft, as opposed to hard. What that means is that your voice doesn't ping around a room audibly, but it scatters and it gets absorbed by soft furnishings and things like that. So what I tell people to do is if you've got a microphone on a desk, put a blanket on the desk because a desk has a very bouncy hard surface. If you've got a wall near you, is there a way that you can put up pillows or cushions against that wall? And then around your microphone to place some pillows, just get pillows off your bed and cushions from wherever you can and place them around your microphone.
And also, if you've got a window in the room, close your curtains as well. And so all those things help to make the sound less like someone in a bouncy echoey meeting room, like that awful conference call sound, and more like the sound that you're used to when you switch on your radio and hear that kind of nice warm broadcast sound. So that is very important to brief your guests on that and there are lots of lists of instructions available online to do that.
Emma: None of which I have followed for this podcast. So let's hope this works out okay. I'm sitting beside a window here and you're just telling me I have to pull the curtains?
Will: Yeah, it's a big one, that makes it...if you've got heavy curtains, that does make a big difference.
Emma: Yeah. And the laptop sitting on top of a jigsaw. Okay, Will, so you've recorded your podcast, you've edited it, you have it sitting there, now you have to think about, "How do I get it out into the world? What kind of promotion do I need to do? Do I pay for it? Can I get it for free?" Let's talk about that.
Will: Okay, well, the first thing you're gonna need to do is host your podcast, podcasts have to live somewhere. As I said, Anchor is a great platform because it's free, and it syndicates your podcast to iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, etc., etc. However, if you want more professional tools and analytics around who's listening, you might want to go with one of the paid providers. So people like Podbean, Libsyn, Buzzsprout, Transistor, Simplecast, Spreaker, Blubrry, they are some of the most popular options. I can't really recommend one over the other. They all provide very similar things. So you need your podcast to be somewhere, and make sure that it's on as many platforms as possible so that when people search their podcast platform of choice, so I personally use Overcast on my iPhone, I will search that for marketing podcasts, you want to make sure that your marketing podcast shows up. Right. So that's a basic of podcast promotion.
But then, of course, you actually want to proactively get people coming and listening to it because there are over a million podcast shows now, and you are a needle in a haystack. So the first thing to think about is how can you actually turn your podcast into other types of content, because these types of content are gonna be easier to use as marketing collateral. So for instance, you might want to promote your podcast to your Instagram and your Twitter and your Facebook audience, it's quite hard to do that with an hour long MP3 file. So what you could do is use something like Headliner, which is headliner.app. And that's something that I use to create short videos. And you may have seen them in social media, they're these kinds of videos with a little moving waveform that moves to the audio, and a little maybe a pic, some of the podcast artwork in the video and some other nice graphics. And Headliner makes that very easy. They've got templates, you literally just drop your audio in, and boom, you've got a video of your podcast. And what you might want to do is choose some of the choice quotes, some of the best points that came up in the podcast, say one or two minutes. And use that one or two-minute video that you've created in something like Headliner, to promote on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc., LinkedIn as well.
And then what I would also do is I would boost that post. If you're not too ofay with the professional ad platforms, you could just do a very simple boost of that post with $20, $30 or euros or pounds budget to get it to more people. So if you're doing a marketing podcast, you could promote that to people who have an interest in marketing, for instance. Something else I would do is transcribe your podcasts. So you could use a transcription service, there are many of them. I use something called Otter.ai, partly because it's free, and you can transcribe 600 minutes of audio a month for free. And that turns your podcast into text, which is then crawlable by search engines. And that's, again, quite a basic thing that I would recommend. And also, so you can turn your podcast into an article, have that sit on your website. And that's another kind of content. That's useful, right? That's great. And then that's something that Google can crawl. So that's fantastic.
You did some research probably in your podcast, you perhaps went on to sites like Reddit, and went and looked and found that people had questions about...in the earlier example of a golf retailer, questions about how to improve your swing. Well, why not go back to those questions on Reddit and go, "Hey, I've just created my latest podcast episode. And I talked to one of the country's leading experts in reducing an awful slice in your golf swing. Here it is." It's really closing the loop on that customer need, that informational need. So that's a really nice way to do it. You could create quote images using a very popular tool Canva, which is like a very simple online design tool and place them on Twitter and Instagram, Facebook. And like we talked about earlier, if you're doing it on Zoom or Skype or something like that, you could record that video and post that video to YouTube, or to Instagram Reels, or Facebook Video, something like that. That's a very popular thing to do.
So these are all things you can do essentially for free before we've spent any money on advertising. But of course, then there's also things you can do too if you've got some budget, you can pay for ads in some of the podcast apps. So again, Overcast, and there's some of the other podcast listening platforms, you can pay to have your podcast appear alongside similar podcasts. Spotify's ad platform is now open to everyone. So anyone can go and place 30-second audio ads in Spotify and target them at certain people. So you can have a trailer for your podcast targeted at people with certain interests or certain demographic quality. And like I've said, social ads are probably the simplest way to do it, create that nice little bit of video or a quote image, or just a promotional image of your podcast, and boost it with...you can start with a $10 budget doing that. So that's a very simple way to pay to reach that broader audience. And the fact is, in such a crowded marketplace, I think you really have to do that, I think you are gonna have to put if only a small amount of investment behind it to get it to your target audience.
Emma: Some of the things I've mentioned there also, Will, are you should have a page on your website that hosts, or links to the podcast. So in the case of the DMI, for example, we have a page devoted to all the podcasts. We created slightly different artwork, so it kind of shadows of whether...it mirrors how you see it on Spotify, or iTunes. And a key element of that is the description, it's very important part to describe what happens in this podcast, to include some keywords because that is the little short description that will appear on iTunes, or so on, and grab somebody's attention to actually come and listen to that podcast. It is a 45-minute, potentially hour-long thing that you're devoting your time to, to listen to. So it's key that it's clear what it is you're getting into. Also just to mention about social promotion there. In our case, we have...you know, we come up with a question, "Well, if we're gonna promote this podcast and get it out into the world, do we link to iTunes? Or do we link to our websites? Or do we link to SoundCloud?"
Will: That's a really good point, actually. There are services. One is called Podkite. But there are many services that they basically auto create a landing page for your podcast that basically gives people a range of options, whether they're on mobile or desktop. And those if you've got that app installed, it will link you straight to your podcast in their app of choice. So I would use something like that to promote because you're kind of taking a bit of a risk pointing to specific platforms. There's no reason why you can't do that, but I would use one of those services that creates a landing page with all the different buttons on personally.
Emma: Indeed, and if it's done well, it can be part of your lead generation strategy, you're leading people into your funnel. So if you're trying to sell your golf products in your podcast episode, for example, you can mention a specific landing page you've created for that episode, potentially. And that'll link people to a particular page on your site, they might see the transcript of the podcast, and then a number of calls to action CTAs that would get them to sign up for something or to submit their email.
Will: Yeah, I mean, I think...you know the podcast "Serial" that really, I think, was a major factor in popularizing podcasts. "Serial" was around in 2014. And it was that true crime podcast about a murder in America. And what I loved about "Serial," and you can still go and check it out, is that they made the website and the landing page for the podcast, not just a promotional thing, but they made it part of the podcast. So when they talked about how likely it was that Adnan could have drove a certain distance in the time that the police record say he could and all that kind of stuff. They had these interactive maps of that on the website. So you could really dig deep into the story. You could look at evidence, look at phone records, look at pictures and police evidence. It was really great way, I think it is one of the best ways I've seen integrating that.
So even for your brand podcast, which you might think sounds a bit less exciting than a true crime podcast, how can you integrate? So if you talk about a resource, include that, create resources on your site that are kind of must have things. Like we do, we're talking in this episode about the podcast templates that we've created. So we've created a podcast schedule template, podcast planning template, a podcast show notes template, and we're telling you that you can go to the DMI website to get those and how can you do that and create a kind of two-way dialogue between the audio on your website, a real reason for people to go and get more value from the website.
Emma: That's right. That's right. One question that came up from some of our members, a question that I have for you is, would it ever be a good idea to sort of limit your audience to the podcast so that subscribers only, for example, could access it, that's gated content? Would that work with the podcast?
Will: My personal view is that you should give your best content away for free in most cases, and that depends what kind of business you are. But I think that if you've got a good podcast, then that should be seen by as many people as possible, because as you just said, it's a way to bring people gently into the top of your acquisition funnel. I can't think of many cases where having a gated podcast would be a good idea. However, that being said, if a podcast becomes a central part of what you become known for...if you look at some of the top podcasts on iTunes, some of them have become so popular that they have become subscriber-only, and they've become gated. So there's a very popular podcast I subscribe to. And that has now...you only get half the episode in the free feed. And you have to subscribe monthly to get a private RSS feed where you get the full episodes. But you would only arrive at that if you'd actually created a really successful podcast that people had a real appetite for and would pay for. If you're a business promoting yourself through a podcast, why would you limit the reach of essentially what is a promotional asset? I don't see a good reason to do that.
Emma: And as we saw, there are ways to utilize that to pull people in in other ways as part of your general content marketing strategy.
Will: Yeah, right. I mean, if you create a landing page, and you create really good resources on a landing page, you point people through to a podcast, you can then remarket to those people who went to the landing page in their social feeds, you can capture their email addresses and start a relationship with them there. I mean, you're drawing people into your funnel with this stuff. So I can't imagine it's a good idea for most businesses to gate it or put any friction in front of listening to that podcast.
Emma: And of course, like any element of your marketing, digital marketing overall, you need to keep track of what you're doing, what's working, what's not working. You mentioned on the main platforms, it's easy enough to get basic statistics of what's working well.
Will: Yes, so some of the hosting platforms have built-in analytics. And as a general rule, the more you're paying for your hosting platform, the better, more robust, more detailed analytics you'll get. But then there are also free tools aside from...regardless of where you host your podcast, there's tools like Chartable, like Podkite, that will essentially scan the charts on platforms like iTunes, and feed that back to you in a weekly update email. So I get that email for our podcast. And it tells me when we're charting with certain episodes in certain countries, and that's really good feedback, because over time, that kind of keeps you informed about which categories you chart in, and which geographical locations you chart in, and you can perhaps start to actually reflect that back in some of the content that you include in future episodes.
There are certain countries that come up in our audience that we would never have thought to serve, countries outside of our immediate kind of cultural sphere come to mind. And I think that that really reminds us where our audience is and reminds us how we need to talk about what we do and the way that we frame the subject matter. That's so useful, I think. So absolutely. If you've got a podcast, sign up to one of these services, they're free to start. There is a free version of things like Chartable and Podkite, and they will give you those kind of basic stats every week.
Emma: Okay, I think we're nearly close to the end of our chat here, Will. There's one question that was in my head, and I know others were interested, which is music.
Will: Yes. So I think a really good way to make your podcast sound professional is have a little bit of music in the intro and the outro. And you can get some fantastic royalty free music on the internet. So freemusicarchive.org is a really good place to get that, I find. It's my favorite place. Now, despite the fact you can download any of that music for free, some artists ask that if you do use it in a podcast, that you make a payment to them, but it's usually very cheap. We're talking maybe £10, £20, £30, or £50 for unlimited use of a piece of music I think is more than fair.
There's another site called bensound.com, which again, offers music for free, but asks that you pay €34 if you use a track, which I think is very cheap considering. So yeah, music is a great way to give your podcast that kind of professional radio station feel. It doesn't have to be a big kind of bombastic, cheesy jingle type thing. It can be quite ambient music as well. And most software gives you the ability to very easily do what we call ducking, where basically, as you talk, the music reduces in volume. And then when you stop talking, it comes back up again so that you get, again, that nice kind of professional production sound. And a lot of software can do that automatically for you. So it's not a big scary thing to kind of edit that in.
Emma: So Will, some people have said that podcasting is the new blogging. So it's worth thinking about, is there a sort of community of podcasters, should you consider being a guest on other people's podcasts? How do you tap into that community?
Will: Yeah, I mean, podcasting is like blogging in a lot of ways, in more ways than one. But one way that it's very similar is back in the blogging world, we do a lot of guest blogging to basically gain exposure to other audiences and other similar relevant audiences. So if I have a golf podcast, I might want to appear on other golf podcasts, but I also might want to appear on all the sports podcasts as well, because it's likely crossover there, too. So, yeah, once you've got your podcast up and running, and it looks like it's going well, I would really suggest trying to get yourself as a guest on other people's podcasts, and maybe offering them to obviously come and be a guest on yours as well in return, so that you can share audiences basically. You may be essentially competitors, but ultimately, there's more gains to be had from sharing each other's audience and growing together, and collaborating. And this model works across any format, to be honest, most of the big YouTubers that you've heard of became famous by being on an already famous YouTubers channel. And a lot of that has happened in podcasting as well.
Now, that's not to say that you should go and try and hound Joe Rogan to interview you on his podcast, because that's unlikely. What you should do is find podcasts of a similar size, or maybe slightly bigger, and try and get yourself on their podcast and really pitch your expertise. And what I would suggest in the approach is that you make it very clear the topics you want to talk about so that it's easy for your prospective hosts to think in their head what they're gonna ask you about, rather than just saying, "Oh, I'm a marketing expert, can I come and talk on your podcast?" Say, "I'm a marketing expert. I'm currently really interested in marketing automation. Is that something you'd like to talk to me about? I've been pioneering that for several years now." And that's instantly they can see what that episode is about. It makes it very easy to say, "Oh, yeah, great, when are you free," rather than having to do a lot of work and think about how they integrate you into their podcast. So I would really, really advocate that kind of guests approach.
Emma: Good stuff. So before we wrap up, I wanted to ask each of the three of us if we can recommend or tell everyone what our own personal favorite podcast might be? You're only allowed to pick one.
Brian: I'm a huge supporter of "Irish Craft Beer." That's one of my passions. And yeah, so they're just quite a few of them in the space actually. But I suppose the longest running one would be "The Irish Beer Snob" podcast, which is a husband and wife, Wayne and Janice, who interview various brewers and various I suppose industry professionals around Ireland. So that's my one I'll pick.
Emma: Did you say "Irish Beer Snob?"
Brian: Yes, exactly. Yes. It's a tongue-in-cheek title.
Emma: Very good. Will?
Will: One of my favorite podcasts is called "HowSound" and it's all about...the way they describe it, it's the backstory to great radio storytelling. And it's all about how to really craft great stories in the audio form. And they talk to people who do that as a job, radio producers, radio journalists, and I like to try and bring some of that into our podcast. So it's a really fascinating insight into how some of the best audio producers are doing what they do today.
Emma: You're right, a podcast can tell a really great story and storytelling, like in any content strategy is what people are drawn to, aren't they? So I would say my own personal favorite podcast would be one called "Heavyweight," which is...I think they're run by Gimlet Media but it's similar enough to "This American Life." It's a very storytelling-focused series where the host, Jonathan Goldstein, a Canadian, delves into a story from the past involving one or two or three people. And it's just very engrossing and he pulls you right in like a really good story.
So I think we've covered everything today, Will and Brian, we've covered a lot of ground here. I'll just mention again that on our main MyDMI membership area, we have a lot of more detailed elements to help you get your podcast up and running. We have an ebook, which goes into great detail. We have Will's webinar and his presentation. And we also even have a couple of interesting case studies you'd be interested in, one about Spotify and its history, and the other by Gimlet Media. And of course, you can access all of our podcasts "Ahead of the Game" on all the major platforms and on our own website, digitalmarketinginstitute.com. So thanks very much, Will.
Will: Thank you. And thank you, Brian, for your input as well about audio engineering. That was really interesting.
Brian: No problem. Thanks for having me on, guys.
Emma: Great. Thank you.
Will: If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And for more information about transforming your marketing career through certified online training, head to digitalmarketinginstitute.com. Thanks for listening.