A few months ago, I wrote about launching a weekly marketing podcast. It took a little longer to get it off the ground than anticipated, but I’m happy to say that Flip the Switch finally hit the airwaves a little over a month ago.
Since then, we’ve been navigating the podcast arena, trying to learn as much as possible so we can make something people love.
After a living and breathing podcasts for the last few months, I thought I’d share a few early learnings and some tools and resources that were key in launching Flip the Switch.
But first, a little context...
Why a Podcast?
First, in recent years, we’ve been experiencing a kind of podcast renaissance. Despite the fact that podcasting began in 2004, only in the last few years has it exploded. Case in point: the number of podcasts on iTunes doubled between January 2013 and 2015 podcasts.
There are a lot of possible reasons for this – more people have smartphones and easier access to podcasts than they did in 2004, it’s easier to create and publish a podcast, and let’s not forget: the Serial effect.
As more people consume content in this way, it just made sense for us at Uberflip to experiment with podcasts and see if it’s something that might resonate with our audience.
The second reason? I am a total podcast junkie. I love consuming content via audio. It’s easily my favorite medium and there are so many great podcasts to dive into.
Since we’re newbies, there’s still a lot to learn, but a few things became apparent fairly quickly.
It’s not about ideas, it’s about focus
Like any type of content you’re creating (especially if it’s for business) you need to be really focused on who you’re talking to. It’s easy to come up with plenty of amazing (and also some “meh”) ideas for different episodes, segments, guests, etc.
But that can detract from staying true to what your target audience wants to hear. At the end of the day, we’re doing this as part of a broader content marketing strategy. It’s important to keep your eye on the ball.
Downloads, subscribers, and reviews
Many podcasters have already talked about this, but one thing that helps promote your podcast (and get placed in the coveted “New and Noteworthy” section) is to boost the number of downloads when you first launch and try and get as many reviews as possible. This should be the first step in a multifaceted strategy to drive growth.
We’re not going to dive too deep into this here, but you can check out this post by my friend Franco Varriano (host of Hack To Start) for a look at specific tactics that can help grow your podcast.
Get a few in the can
Before launching the podcast, I had a great conversation with John Wall from Marketing Over Coffee and his biggest piece of advice was to “get a few in the can” – meaning have at least a handful of podcasts (we had five) that you could launch with. This can help with download numbers and give people enough content to consume without making them wait for your next episode.
Process is key
Staying organized and building a process around how you create, edit, publish, and promote your podcast (and other collateral around it, like show notes) can help you save time and streamline things for you, your team, and your guests.
Here’s how we do it (note: all resources mentioned will be linked to below):
We do this both around who we’d like to have on the show as well as topics, making sure that we’re delivering episodes that we know our audience is interested in. This could be based on existing content, conversations with customers, or trends we’re seeing.
Booking a recording time.
To avoid the back and forth through email (and to save me time) I created a Calendly link with times exclusively for podcast recordings so speakers can book a time quickly and easily.
I try to do this as much as possible and stay ahead of our publishing calendar. For example, right now, we’ve got all of our podcasts recorded for the next 6 weeks.
We have a template that we use to send a list of topic ideas / questions to the speaker. If you’ve listened to the podcast, you know we like to keep things conversational, but this helps guide the conversation and keep me focused.
Podcast interviews get recorded and automatically saved to a dedicated Dropbox folder (we use Skype + Call Recorder for this so we can set the destination folder and the audio is automatically saved).
We use this template to write the description (this is the one that gets submitted with the podcast), script the Intro and Outro (which are recorded separately from the core conversation), and draft the show notes.
Following a publishing calendar.
After the recordings are done, audio is edited and cued up to submit to Libsyn, our podcast hosting service. We keep track of our publishing calendar a simple google spreadsheet. Here’s a template you can use.
On the day the episode is released, three things happen:
Show notes are published on our Content Hub. We’ve created a marketing stream exclusively for our podcasts at uberflip.com/podcast.
We notify our guest and send them links they can share with their network.
We promote the podcast on our end (this is a massive topic that we’ll tackle in a different post.)
Podcast metrics suck
But we knew that going in. We look at the number downloads per episode and the total number of downloads per month.
What’s interesting is that the episodes seem to have a good shelf life, presumably because we’re growing our overall listener base and they’re downloading older episodes (although time will tell if this stays consistent).
Length doesn’t (seem) to matter
Again, time will tell if this is true. We have podcasts ranging anywhere from 25 to 50 minutes and the length doesn’t seem to be a good predictor of how many downloads the episode gets.
I would love to be able to see how far into each episode people listen and what the drop off rate might be. But, alas…podcast metrics suck.
Feedback is hard to come by
I was recently chatting with Dan Levy and Stephanie Saretsky from Unbounce, the brains behind the Call to Action Podcast (and also my own personal podcast Yodas) about this. Qualitative feedback for podcasts is important because there’s so little meaningful quantitative feedback. But trying to elicit constructive (and critical) feedback is tough.
As much as I love to hear how “great” the podcast is, what I’d love more is to hear what’s missing. What do you think we could do better? Which guests/topics resonate with you the most and why? Which guests/topics didn’t you like?
If you have thoughts, hand em’ over! Feel free to tweet me or email me at email@example.com
Tools & Resources
As promised, below is a list of tools and resources that were key in launching the podcast in a relatively lightweight way.
This step-by-step guide to launching a podcast in iTunes helped us figure out exactly what we needed to do.
Skype + Call Recorder to record podcast interviews.
Calendly to set up recording sessions.
Template we fill out to send interview questions.
Template used for each episode show notes.
Audacity for Editing
A Snowball to record (mostly because we had one from doing webinars, but there are many good ones to choose from)
Thinking about starting a podcast? Have feedback about Flip The Switch? Would love to hear from you. Find me on twitter or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to subscribe to Flip the Switch on iTunes!
About the Author
Hana is the Head of Marketing at Shopify Plus.Follow on Google Plus Follow on Twitter More Content by Hana Abaza