World-renown marketing expert Seth Godin says podcasting is the new blogging. Apple announces over 500,000 podcasts. This combination makes for a perfect storm for CEOs. They suspect a podcast can increase reach and build community but have no idea what a podcast costs. If a business is going to invest in a new marketing channel, they will need to know how to project out expenses.
A simple search for “company podcast” on Google Trends reflects this interest.
Why argue about the kind of microphone while ignoring the real cost for a company podcast? The real cost is the time to prepare, produce, and promote in this highly competitive environment.
After four successful podcasts launches, companies approach me with requests to help them start a podcast. My biggest challenge is to take a novice and describe the main categories for a successful company podcast.
The cost can be boiled down to ten areas: startup costs, scheduling, show prep, the art of the interview, production, show notes, transcript, image management, email, and social media promotion.
1. STARTUP COSTS
Tasks: Artwork for iTunes and template for blog
Options: Probably want a professional for the graphics
The most important single item is the artwork for Apple Podcasts. When people scroll for a podcast, the artwork will attract them. This is the basis for the logos you will put on the microphones (called flags). Also, this is the visual image that will brand the podcast on the blog. Take some time with it.
A podcast is a team project; please assign tasks correctly. The outline below will give general directions on what you can outsource and what you must keep in house.
This article is not the forum to debate hardware; this a minor concern. Microphones and mixers are details that can be handled once the actual cost of a podcast is estimated.
When applied to a podcast, a blog is commonly called “show notes.” It is the focal point of promotion for the podcast. It is assumed that your company has a WordPress blog and staff know how to design an eye-catching page that is SEO friendly.
2. SCHEDULING 30 minutes
Tasks: Scheduling and confirming guests
Options: Virtual Assistant or staff
The best interviews take place face-to-face. Human beings get sick, get fired, and get booked up. After scheduling interviews for thirteen years, my experience shows it will take 30 minutes per show to get someone to arrive on time. This is usually stretched out over a series of emails being exchanged.
If the most difficult person to schedule is your moderator, then one way around is to bundle episodes. You may select the first Wednesday of the month at 9 AM, 10 AM, 11 AM, and noon. Stacking is efficient, but very hard to accomplish when you commit to an in-person show.
Start scheduling as soon as possible. I have worked with companies who have put together a list of 50 guests they would like to see on the podcast before they ever begin.
3. SHOW PREP two hours
Task: Prepare 12 questions for a 30-minute interview
Options: You need people who know your business
One hour of research a day before the interview; one hour of intense research before hitting “record.”
Start with the guest’s website; this will lead to LinkedIn, then Twitter, then YouTube. After fifteen minutes, you do a general Google Trends search on the topic, then go to Google and type in the guest’s name and then the company for recent news.
From there, put yourself in the seat of the listener. Try to find out what questions the listener would ask. See where any of the material presented would fit in.
Write twelve questions with specifics to be used as “anchors” for the conversation. You may not use all of these, but it is always good to have a few in reserve.
4. INTERVIEW one hour
Task: Get the guest relaxed. Have a 30-minute conversation
Options: Do it yourself, use staff, or hire local talent
Podcasts range from 5 minutes to 4 hours. From my perspective, the perfect length for a podcast is 30 minutes. That’s because a typical commute in the United States is a half hour and many people listen on commutes. They also listen when working in the yard, walking, and jogging.
Before hitting “record,” the first fifteen minutes is easing into the interview and trying to understand the guest’s voice. Thirty minutes of the interview. Then complete with 15 minutes of decompression for the guest.
If you are weak in the area of interviewing, here is an article that can help.
5. PRODUCTION one hour
Task: Normalizing the recording, place the intro and outro
Options: Audio engineer or, as a last resort, use a staff person
Please, no more than one hour of editing. Four hours of editing an interview will not produce a better product. The burden is on the moderator to have excitement and keep the conversation on track.
Over-editing is a trap hobbyists fall into. For some reason, they think if they spend eight hours editing a podcast, it will increase downloads. There is some truth to that statement, but the moderator should be full of energy and know how to manage a conversation without much editing. If the host lacks talent, get another.
This infographic is courtesy of PodcastInsights.
6. SHOW NOTES one hour and 30 minutes
Task: Give short, scannable details about the podcast
Options: Do it yourself, use staff, or hire local talent
Well-structured show notes can drastically increase the ability for your podcast to get found. The reason is you have the opportunity to use keywords and images to bring people to the podcast. When you include a transcript, you give Google an opportunity to find your show and have people subscribe to the podcast.
Part of working the show notes includes work on “links.” First, link to previous podcasts that may be relevant. If you do an interview on marketing, you may want to link to a previous interview on a related topic, like marketing podcasts. Second, make sure to link to the other relevant sites as well as the guest’s site. Third, work on developing links back to the podcast. This is an artform that people like Brian Dean can give masterful details. His site is called Backlinko.
7. TRANSCRIPT one hour
Tasks: Listen and correct terms, pull quotes
Options: Need a staff person for specialized vocabulary
Transcribing is a tedious task, and many “hacks” are available. From a business perspective, use REV.com and pay $1 per minute. This is a great investment in text. It allows you to pull quotes for “Click to Tweet” and other social media activities.
8. IMAGE MANAGEMENT 30 minutes
Task: Edit photos, apply split screens, and quote backgrounds
Options: This is a task that can be outsourced.
In a perfect world, you will hire a free-lance photographer for every episode. However, many people can take high-resolution photos of your guest in front of a microphone with a flag. If you are at a trade conference recording from the floor, then get a freelance photographer to take a lot of shots. It is worth every penny.
Once you have these photos, you will need to set up a bin for high-resolution photos and a bin for low resolution. Some WordPress themes require high-resolution photos; if you want to do print promotion, you will have the high resolution available. Social media needs low resolution. Tons of apps to grab an image and reduce the resolution. I use a free web-based tool called Pixlr.
9. Email 30 minutes
Task: Email send, manage list
Options: Automate promotion, get involved with engagement
The idea is to have a cohesive mini-marketing campaign for each episode. Fortunately, you have figured out the keywords in step #5. Put those into the show notes so they can be found in a search.
Don’t just slap any old title on the podcast. Some will say you need to write a headline 20 times; this seems a bit much, but please spend some time in this much-forgotten exercise. I have written over one thousand headlines and most are horrible.
One headline tool you can use is from CoSchedule. They will give you an idea if you are headed in the right direction.
You may want to look at your competition to see what topics and titles they have used. A free tool like Ubersuggest gives great insight in this area. You can plug in a competitor’s website and see what articles are popular, and how many companies link to their content.
The idea behind selecting a hashtag is to jump on the bandwagon. If a journalist is searching for a story on auto racing, they may go to Twitter and put in a hashtag like #RichmondRaceway. Your Tweet with “#RichmondRaceway” will improve your chances of the journalist listening to your podcast.
One technique is to go to hashtagify.me to see what hashtags are trending in your topic area. Using those will assure that people may be searching for that topic.
10. Broadcast & Engage
Task: Updates and social media activities This can be outsourced
Options: This is a task for a person who knows the topic well
Broadcast 30 minutes
Social media changes daily, you can remove yourself from these vagaries by having your email list. Most companies have an email service provider; my choice is ConvertKit. What is important is a weekly update of the podcast. Short, text-based emails seem to be working these days.'77% of users in a recent study share their content on social media less than three times' Marketing Management + Strategy Statistics You Need to Know in 2019 from CoSchedule Click To Tweet
Post to LinkedIn once a week and post to Twitter as much as you can. Some will say 65 times per episode. Use creative, original images and work on the copy.
Automating services are good for broadcasting – but don’t fall into the trap of over automation. The most important part of social media is engagement.
Engage one hour
You can start by responding to every comment on your show notes. From there, acknowledge any comments or re-Tweets of your social media posting. You may want to use a question to start a conversation.
Go to discussion sites for your topic and engage the audience. Quora and Reddit have forums for everything under the sun. You may want to answer a question and refer to your recent podcast as offering insight on that topic.
If you think your company is a good fit for a podcast, then you have a pretty good estimate of the costs for the first year.
The one-time costs are valuable for branding. Images have a profound impact on promoting anything, even a company podcast.
There are phases to producing and promoting a podcast. Scheduling is more time consuming than anyone thinks. People can hear if you are prepared for the interview. One hour of research, one hour of rehearsing questions immediately before the interview. Don’t go broke on editing. Do the interview and move on.
Show notes are the perfect vehicle to promote the podcast. Make sure you follow SEO best practices and include images, keywords, and links. Images should be stored in high resolution and low resolution. These are the goldmine for social media promotion.
Spend at least two hours on promotion, more if you can. Pour your keywords into the newsletter and social media posts. The idea here is to engage the audience with comments and responses. Human beings like to connect with fellow humans. That is the focal point of social media.
- Startup costs are widely variable. Use a freelancer if your in-house talent does not include a talented graphic artist.
- Scheduling is a hidden cost that most companies don’t include.
- Show Prep is an area where expertise is required.
- Many people freeze up in front of a microphone, it is the moderator’s job to put them at ease.
- One hour of a professional audio engineer is more than enough editing for a company podcast.
- Show Notes gives you a target for Google to find you and ways to promote the interview.
- Some people prefer reading to listening, give them that opportunity with a transcript.
- One sneaky time consumer is image management. Fortunately, this can be outsourced easily.
- Your email list is solid gold. Add new names every week
- 37% of people who share on social media just once after publication. Don’t fall into that trap — broadcast & engage.
There is no magic wand when it comes to estimating what a podcast will cost for your company. However, you can take a look at ten categories, get an estimate for number of hours, then total them up to spark a conversation with your marketing team.
What guidelines do you have for what a podcast costs?
John Gilroy The Oakmont Group firstname.lastname@example.org