Yesterday, we invited Chris Davis and Jay Quiles to answer your questions about podcasting via Facebook Live.
Half a dozen questions later, we had some insights we knew were worth sharing. You can watch the full, half-hour Ask Me Anything on our Facebook page (and we highly recommend you do)—but we’ve also distilled the answers into the key takeaways you can find here.
First, some quick background on Chris and Jay.
Chris Davis is the Director of Education at ActiveCampaign. He’s the host of the ActiveCampaign podcast, where he brings on ActiveCampaign users, internal experts, and marketing thought leaders to talk about the latest in marketing and automation.
Jay Quiles is a Channel Partner Account Manager at ActiveCampaign. In his own time, he has four podcasts as part of the Yay Network. He runs a basketball podcast (NB-Yay), a food podcast (Eat Yay Love), a podcasting podcast (Yay…I Started a Podcast), and a baseball podcast (Double Yay).
What do you need to start a podcast?
A great podcast starts with a good idea.
When you start a podcast, you need to start with an idea that you really care about. Both Jay and Chris agreed that you need to be able to talk naturally about a subject.
There’s an audience out there for every style of podcast – even podcasts on really obscure topics. Your podcast needs to be something you can speak about with passion, because if you’re speaking robotically it comes out in the audio.
A good indication you’ve found a podcast idea is when there’s a topic you can’t not talk about. If your friends say things like “don’t call [your name] unless you want to talk about [topic],” you’re on the right track.
After the AMA, Chris and Jay also shared a few pieces of equipment they recommend for new podcasters.
- The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, an affordable audio recorder
- This affordable microphone kit from Neewer
- The Audio Technica ATR2100, an affordable microphone
- Descript, an audio transcription service
If you want to learn more about podcasting equipment, listen to Episode 54 of the ActiveCampaign podcast: How to Start a Podcast.
How to do you get people to listen to your podcast?
Before you think about the specific tactics that go into promoting your podcast, it’s important to get the right theory down. Chris noted that it’s important to think of your podcast as a community of listeners.
Even though podcasting is a one-way medium, thinking of your listeners as a community changes the way you approach promotion. Instead of thinking “how do I get people to listen,” you start to approach the problem as “how do I engage my community.”
Stitcher. SoundCloud. iTunes. Those are the basic platforms where people can find your podcast, but you can also look at other ways to promote your podcast to your listeners.
In ActiveCampaign, you can use automations to trigger emails or SMS messages every time a new episode comes out.
Jay recommended using social media to promote your podcast. Create a 15-second podcast “trailer” and share it, with a link that lets people subscribe. Ask your followers to tweet out hashtags specific to each episodes. Ask people to leave reviews, which boosts discovery.
Embed your podcast on your website—this is a great way to reach people who otherwise might not listen, but don’t have time to read your written content.
Podcasts are extremely consumable. If you can get your podcast in front of the right people, they’ll listen.
What’s the purpose of a podcast within a larger content strategy?
If you start podcasting because you want to get a lot of ad revenue, you’re going to be in for a rough time. In general, ad revenue for podcasts usually isn’t great.
Where podcasts thrive is as a relationship-building tool. When someone listens to your podcast, that’s a half hour or an hour that they’re spending listening to you and getting more engaged with your brand.
The more your listeners hear your voice and engage with you, the more they trust you and view you as a thought leader in your space.
Consistency is crucial. Podcasts are habit forming—once people listen to a podcast they tend to listen regularly. Being consistent helps you get time with your listeners as often as possible.
You might not be able to get a lot of ad revenue, but podcasts are a great way to create deep relationships with your audience. And you can still use podcasts to drive listeners to custom URLs and landing pages that are designed to get conversions.
Chris and Jay both noted that there are other big benefits of podcasting.
At ActiveCampaign, our podcast is great for users. But it’s also a great way to keep everyone informed internally.
Podcasts are also a great way to network and get in touch with people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get access to. Having someone as a podcast guest is an easy way to start a relationship.
How do you measure the success of your podcast?
Chris and Jay both agreed that podcast analytics are still in their infancy. Listener and download numbers are still pretty unreliable, so you may need to turn to other sources to measure your podcast’s success.
Jay suggested using audience engagement as a way to measure your success. Ask your audience to post with a particular hashtag, or to @ you on social media. Call out a URL that’s specific to your podcast.
On your site, use UTM parameters and Google Analytics to track which episodes are getting attention from your visitors.
These are all imprecise measurements, but engagement with your audience is a good place to start until other analytics get more developed.
Sometimes the value of a podcast can’t necessarily be measured by a number at all. As Chris noted, if you get noticed by an A-lister like Tim Ferriss or Tony Robbins, that gives you a certain amount of credibility—even if your download numbers are low.
What opportunities are there to monetize a podcast (outside of ads)?
Podcast monetization can come in a lot of different forms. If you run a business, the monetization of your podcast can be its ability to bring in new or repeat customers.
At ActiveCampaign, our Sales, Support, and Success teams all send out relevant podcast episodes to our users. Ultimately, this helps our users get more out of marketing automation and helps us retain more customers.
Outside of supporting a larger business, a lot of podcasters monetize through sites like Patreon. Patreon is a platform that helps content creators get monthly donations for their audience.
Not only can this help you monetize your podcast, but it gives you another platform to use for your marketing—one that’s specifically designed for your most engaged listeners.
When you become a thought leader through your podcast, people come to you with other monetization opportunities. A lot of podcasters build online courses, start consulting, or get speaking opportunities based on the thought leadership they build.
How do you prep for an interview?
Both Chris and Jay put together a rough outline of the podcast interview. Jay commented that he likes to listen to older and more recent podcasts produced by his guest. Chris prefers to stay relatively in the dark—so that he can preserve genuine surprise that comes through in the audio.
How long does it take to run, manage, and publish a podcast?
At first, it takes a long time to get used to the equipment and software used in creating a podcast. But after you have some experience, both Jay and Chris agreed that podcasting can be a relatively quick process.
With some reusable audio clips, some teammates, and familiarity with the software, the part of podcasting that takes the longest is finding people to interview.
Jay also noted that YouTube videos are a great opportunities for podcasting. If you already produce video content, it’s easy to download that video as an MP4 and upload it as a podcast episode.
Chris uses the ActiveCampaign CRM to keep track of potential podcast interview candidates. Jay has had a lot of success using Instagram DMs, Twitter, and Facebook messages. Using channels other than email can help you stand out.
One of the best ways to get more listeners and subscribers? Appear on other people’s podcasts!
What’s your favorite podcast?
Chris: I used to really like Pat Flynn’s, Smart Passive Income and other business podcasts. I still like those, but as I’ve advanced in marketing and my career I’ve found myself looking for a different type of podcast, which I haven’t found yet. Every year, I reread two books
I’d love to find a podcast similar to those two.
Yes you read that right folks—Chris’ favorite podcast? Two books.
Jay: My favorite podcast is the Bill Simmons podcast, mostly because I aspire to be him. He’s built a podcast empire, which is something I’m trying to do with the Yay Network. I also really like Joe Rogan, which used to be a running joke here at ActiveCampaign (how much I like Joe Rogan).