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So you’ve decided that you want to take advantage of the podcast market. You have bought the necessary podcast equipment, you have a general plan for your podcasts, and you may have even recorded your first few podcasts. Depending on your hosting service, these may already be RSS fed into popular podcast download sites such as iTunes and Stitcher. Or, you may just be doing the preliminary research to learn how you are going to set your podcast up for success. Either way, here are a few great tips that will help you launch your podcast and see it downloaded by more than just a few family members and friends.
There are naysayers who will say that they have launched successful podcasts by just slipping one podcast out at a time, as they can. This lack of planning seems disastrous. Pre-planning your podcast subjects is essential to having a clear and consistent, quality podcast that is focused on your buyer persona. Be sure to have several podcasts already in the queue on launch. It makes mathematical sense to have a few podcasts at launch, as listeners have that many more chances to download your podcast. If you launch with a single podcast on launch day, and you get 1,000 downloads, you have missed out on 2,000 more potential downloads if you had launched three. Of course, nobody is going to download 24 podcasts at once, so there is a point of diminishing returns. Take into consideration that there may be a busy week where you are unable to record. For this reason, you should have at least a handful of podcasts on hand so that you do not break continuity. If your podcast comes out every week on Tuesday, nothing tells your listener that you aren’t serious about your podcast than failing to publish on time.
Give your buyer persona a damn good reason to listen. You are taking the time to produce information for your audience of a good caliber and fit. You want that target listener to be excited about downloading this podcast. The subject of this week’s podcast could be “Making Coffee using Different Methods” but is that the title that grabs your audience? “You’re Making Coffee Wrong! 5 Better Ways to Brew Your Joe” might be more impactful. “Java Showdown! How to Get the Most Flavor from your Bean” could appeal to another audience. Hitting the bullseye on your title, combined with solid content in the podcast is a quick way to get your product shared and talked about.
Hosting your podcast on the same server as your website can affect your website’s stability. Should your podcast become popular, thousands of people attempting to download your new baby at the same time can crash your server. This brings us to the next problem, bandwidth. Podcast apps check for new episodes regularly, some as often as hourly. This can (and will if your podcast is popular enough) cause you to rack up a large chunk of bandwidth usage. Launching on a platform that limits your bandwidth will have a detrimental effect on the number of downloads, and the number of potential listeners. A dedicated podcast server can alleviate these problems. The ease of podcast setup varies from host to host. So, where do you host?
One of the most well-known podcast hosting services is Liberated Syndication (LibSyn). LibSyn has been around since 2004, building a service that has more than 18 million audience users. They offer several packages ranging from $5 per month to as much as $75 a month. For example, with a $15 a month subscription, you get 250 MB of storage. Liberated Syndication employs the use of a rolling storage plan that allows you to record a specified level of content per month, and archives the previous month’s storage that can still be accessed by your audience. They offer a broad range of templates and offer packages that include statistical information. Additionally, LibSyn allows for paid, premium content.
Another highly popular site for hosting is Blubrry. There are many, many, many blogs, not to mention several great Reddit posts out there that put LibSyn and Blubrry head to head. The most impressive difference between the two is the Blubrry PowerPress feature. This feature makes it easy to create and submit your podcast with support to Google Play and iTunes, import and migration tools, as well as highly targeted statistics. Like LibSyn, they offer premium gated content, as well as paid advertising. A multi-tiered hosting plan allows for podcasters of every size.
There was a time when SoundCloud was a music only service, but now they offer a dedicated podcasting host service. The Pro ($7/mo) and Pro Unlimited ($15/mo) give you more statistical data, increase your upload times and give you more control over your playlists. Newer features of SoundCloud include RSS feed generation and embedding tools that make it easy to share on social media platforms. The “Creator Guide” is straightforward and easy to use.
If you are just testing the waters of podcasting, or you have a very limited audience, Podbean may be the host for you. The $5 monthly fee for 100MB storage and bandwidth is enough to determine your ability without breaking the bank. They offer other affordable hosting plans with the same rollover storage as seen on other sites. The downsides are slower upload speeds, iTune tag limitations, and limited page templates.
Amazon has a large cloud infrastructure known as “Amazon Web Services” that makes information widely available. One service inside their package is the Amazon Simplified Storage Service or Amazon S3. Per their site, it “provides developers and IT teams with secure, durable, highly-scalable cloud storage.” There are just as many pros as cons with using the S3 service, but the most widely celebrated pro is that for very light users, it is free, and lightning fast. The overwhelming concern is that the service becomes increasingly expensive as your podcast grows.
The best way to get the ball rolling on your podcast is to launch firing all eight cylinders. Planning is key to a successful launch. Take advantage of every platform you are using. Tell your audience that your new podcast is coming through email blasts, social media, and landing page touts with a clearly stated Call to Action. Get your audience riled up and ready to go with teasers and entertaining posts on the subjects you will cover. Offer prizes and giveaways to entice your new listeners. Trade or buy promotion from outside sources such as other podcasters in your field. Our above-mentioned coffee podcaster might talk to coffee bean roasters, coffee shops, and every related field about posting on their social media outlets and newsletters. As the old Air Force slogan says, Aim High!
Nobody wants their podcast to flop. Nothing is worse than spending hours producing a podcast, only to see that it has been downloaded by a dozen people, and you know that nine of those are your recording team, their spouses, and your weird Uncle Lou. More frustrating is when you see the other three downloads came from a foreign country, and they left spam advertisements featuring scantily clad women and a seemingly unrelated subject. Take the time to create a podcast that relates directly to your target listener, give it a good title, host with a reliable agency, and spread the word as far and wide as you can. Most importantly, stay away from the statistical data for a week. Your podcast might not take off like a rocket to Mars, but as Calvin Coolidge once said, persistence and determination are omnipotent. Continue to podcast, keep on chugging along with the promotion, and never forget the reason you are podcasting.
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