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Five reasons NOT to start a podcast

By Alex Jungius

1. You want an overnight success

Most things in life worth having don’t come easily or necessarily quickly and podcasting is certainly one of those. If you’re looking to launch a podcast you need to be committed to the idea of audio content and be willing to stick with it for, at the very least, 12 months and in reality a lot longer. At Distorted we’ve been working with some clients, coming up to 10 years and those are the clients that have made podcasting not only a huge part of their online presence but see huge impact from their commitment to the format and in some cases millions of downloads each month.

Audio is sexy again and for someone who has spent their entire career in audio and at times experienced it being the poor sibling to video and online content it’s great that it’s getting the respect it deserves but that means it shouldn’t be treated as the cool shiny new play thing and approached like building any other content, with a clear plan, resource and creativity to make it a success.

2. You don’t have a goal

We get so many enquiries coming to us at the moment with the idea of starting a podcast, probably more than we’ve ever seen in the past and yet so few have a goal for why they want to enter into the audio space. Again, podcasting is the cool thing to have at the moment and many companies just want to get in on the action. That said, without knowing your “why” it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Podcasts can be great for many things and ironically the huge numbers and reach of the top 10 podcasts on Apple or Spotify should be right down at the bottom of your list. Podcasting is quite hard to use as a reach builder but it’s incredible at brand building. It’s the perfect extension if not centrepiece to your content delivery plans and creates huge engagement and super-fans but that’s only if you know exactly what your goal is from the beginning. Expecting a podcast to solve all your problems without knowing how is never going to work.

3. It’s not integrated into your whole marketing plan

To repeat a line from my last point, podcasting as a tool to create reach is incredibly tough. That said you can increase your listeners and your presence over time if audio is carefully integrated into the rest of your marketing plan. There are so many very good podcasts out there that no one knows about because not only is discoverability difficult but no one is being told about them. Creating a good podcast that serves your brand well is in some ways the easy part, the hard part is letting people know about it. Are you maximising the touch points where people can come into contact with your podcast content? That could be audio or video clips from episodes, graphic overlays of interesting quotes and transcriptions turned into blogs. This commitment and integration into your entire marketing plan is essential. If you play this part right however then your podcast can be the centre of all your marketing activity. I often say to prospective clients, “What if you could turn your next conversation into a month’s worth of content”. That one always gets the marketing and content teams excited!

4. You’re not willing to invest in some kit

This is a simple one. Although sound quality isn’t everything, it makes a huge difference. Yes, we’ve all been doing Zoom and Teams calls throughout the pandemic and yes you think they sound fine but the reality is that when you want to create engaging audio content you want all audio to be pleasing on the ear, easy to understand and free from distraction. That last point is probably the most important. If you sound like you’re coming through a tin can or that you’re recording your podcast at the altar of your local church then it’s distracting. You could be saying the most engaging and interesting content but it’ll be hard to follow. Yes, many people are now going back into studios and getting professional recordings and that is always ideal but it’s not always possible and what the pandemic has taught us is that we can now speak to whoever we want, wherever they are in the world and that opens up many opportunities that can help get great content.

All I’m talking about is a relatively inexpensive £100 microphone, taking advice on the location of where you record each episode (small rooms, low ceilings and lots of soft furnishings) and some cheap headphones. Very simple, yet very effective in creating good sounding audio. Sending microphones out to guests and prepping them properly also adds a level of polish to your content that many others don’t replicate and means you’re giving your listeners fewer reasons to tune out (at least from an audio quality point of view).

5. You don’t enjoy the process

If you’re involved in any new work project it can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle getting it off the ground. Obviously working with a dedicated audio agency can take most of the pain away but you still need to be invested and enjoy the journey of podcasting. It’s a more real and raw form of communication, a bit more unfiltered and fly on the wall at times. Listeners enjoy that and so should you. We find that one of the little spoken about benefits of podcasting, especially when you’re speaking with people outside your bubble, is that it’s a networking tool. It opens doors to interesting people and interesting ideas and that can be invaluable in itself. A 30 minute chat, building rapport and sharing ideas can create new networks and friendships.

The thought of sitting down and writing this blog post filled me with a bit of dread. I’m always writing then deleting as I find it tricky to get into the headspace where I enjoy writing. Eventually I took my own advice and the advice I’m telling you now. I spoke this blog into my phone and had my thoughts transcribed. Yes, it was one slightly incoherent stream of consciousness but within those sometimes poorly transcribed words were the basics of this post. A bit of finessing and here we are!

My point is that audio is the most perfect way to communicate your thoughts and ideas and all our clients actively look forward to recording their next episode because as much as there is a plan for the episode, who knows where the conversation will lead.

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