Insurance Journal Ad & Marketing

How (and Why) to Start a Podcast

By | April 5, 2019

I’ve been a podcast fan for many years. So, starting a podcast for me was an exciting opportunity. Though, it was not something I had expected I would ever do. After a year of publishing Insurance Happy Hour, I don’t consider myself an expert. But, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about this channel. And, if you’re thinking about starting a podcast, maybe some of what I’ve learned will help you.

Why a Podcast

As the story goes, Laird Rixford and I were in a bar at a conference talking about various industry matters. And, witnesses to this conversation would comment about how entertaining it was. Thus, Insurance Happy Hour was born.

That night inspired us to start recording our conversations because we thought it would be entertaining to others in the industry as well as informative. It may have taken us a couple more years to launch the podcast, but for us, that is our why. We always go back to that night as the start of Insurance Happy Hour.

Knowing why you’re doing a podcast gives you a story to share as part of your podcast. But, it also gives you that baseline of what you’re doing. Whenever you’re not sure what to do, having a why can help refocus you and move forward.

Starting a Podcast

We talked a lot about our podcast before it even had a name. We talked about the format. We talked about the frequency. We talked about the equipment.

If you want to start a podcast, you want to think through some of these things. The answers will inform what you do and how you do it.

Audience

Who do you want to listen to your podcast? Are you going to be consumer facing? Or, industry facing? Knowing who your audience is will be one of the primary items that drives the direction of your podcast.

Goal

Like with any marketing tactic, you want to have a goal. Because a goal allows you to know when you’ve been successful. And, as you make changes, it will help you know if you’re going in the right direction or not.

How will you know if your podcast is a success? Will it be the number of listeners and/or subscribers? Will it be the reviews you get in the podcast apps?

Are you going to use your podcast to drive business? If so, then your goals will need to focus on how many leads or clients you get from this channel.

Are you podcasting to build your brand? If so, your goals will focus more on the reach of your podcast and the feedback you get.

Format

Before you start, decide what the format of your podcast will be. Do you want it to be a monologue, just you and a mic? Or, are you going to have a co-host or guests? Will it be scripted or an unrehearsed conversation? Will you record in one take? Or, do you want to be able to edit the recording to cut out unnecessary or unwanted parts?

Remember, you’re not stuck with what you do in the beginning. You may start off with a scripted monologue style podcast. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t change it if you decide you want to add a co-host or feature guests.

Frequency

Like with any content marketing, a podcast is a commitment. Decide before you start what frequency you are comfortable committing to. Be upfront with your listeners about when they can expect new episodes from you. Most podcasts are weekly. But, that doesn’t mean yours has to be. There are podcasts that come out every week day. And some that have a much more limited release schedule.

If you don’t want to commit to a regular schedule, you could record several at once, maybe 10 or so, and do seasons. Then you can take a break between seasons. This break can give you the time to plan your next batch of episodes. Plus, record and edit those episodes.

Equipment

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on equipment to record a podcast. So, don’t let the assumption that you need to spend thousands of dollars stop you from getting started.

I do recommend though that you don’t use your phone or computer microphone. The audio quality will be poor. But, you can get what you need for not much money. And, even some of the higher quality equipment isn’t too expensive.

You will need a microphone and headphones for each host, a pop filter, recording and editing software, and a website with RSS feed to publish your podcast. This article from Entrepreneur gives some recommendations on the technology you need.

Promotion

How will you promote your podcast? The answer to this question should start with knowing your audience. Who are they and where do they spend time? How are they already interacting with you?

If your target audience is your client base, mention your podcast in your customer communications. This may include your newsletter or social media. You could also put a link in your personal email signature.

If your podcast is going to be for the insurance industry, connect with some influencers. Ask them to listen to your podcast and give you feedback. Chances are that if they like what they hear, if they find the content of value, they’re going to share it with their networks.

My Favorites

The best way to figure out the answers to some of the above questions is to listen to other podcasts. Listen for what you like. What you don’t. What you want to try to emulate.

You can even get ideas from podcast outside the industry. Whatever your interests, I guarantee you will find podcasts dedicated to those topics. Here are just a few of my favorite podcasts.

  • Agency Nation Radio – From the folks at Agency Nation / TrustedChoice.com. This industry podcast features real people in the industry talking about their challenges, initiatives and creative ideas.
  • The UnPodcast – From the authors of UnMarketing and other best-selling books. This no-nonsense podcast discusses real examples of business marketing mistakes and (occasionally) successes.
  • The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe – Featuring the star of Dirty Jobs and founder of Mike Rowe Works. This podcast is a great example of excellent writing and masterful storytelling in 10 minutes.
  • Akimbo – From the keynote speaker and author Seth Godin. I’ve long been a fan of Seth’s approach to business and marketing. His podcast is just another channel for me to absorb his wisdom.

Final Thoughts

After more than a year of podcasting, I still don’t know everything. But, here are a few more things I’ve learned from publishing content on this medium:

  • Be your authentic self. If you try to be someone you’re not, it will be obvious. And, people will relate to the real you far more than they would any character you could create. Plus, people will want to get to know you. Which leads me to…
  • Podcasting is an intimate medium. You may have hundreds or thousands of people listening to your podcast. But, it’s still more of a one-to-one communication. I think it has to do with how we consume podcasts. Often with headphones on or in our cars by ourselves. Again, people are going to get to know you in a way that they don’t always through social media or email.
  • Don’t be afraid to change course as you go. If you want to try something new, or something isn’t quite working, adapt your process or content as needed.
  • Dead air can be your friend. Don’t think you have to fill up every second of the recording with talking. Give your listeners a chance to absorb what you say before rushing onto the next sentence.
  • When people give you feedback, be open to it. It means they care.

While podcasting can be a lot of work, it can also be a lot of fun. If you’re thinking about podcasting but don’t know where to start, I hope this article gave you some direction. And, when you launch your podcast, be sure to let me know as I would love to listen to it.

You can see the iJam vodcast with Becky Schroeder and Laird Rixford here: https://www.insurancejournal.tv/videos/17630/

About Becky Schroeder

Schroeder is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ITC, which provides websites, marketing, rating and management software and services to the insurance industry. You can follower her on Twitter at @beckylschroeder. To learn more about ITC, visit GetITC.com. More from Becky Schroeder

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