Time for a new episode of The Story Behind the Lemon, my podcast about podcasting and the fun of running a business in the world of podcasting. (New episodes drop, as the kids say, every Friday afternoon.)
For this episode I’m answering the question: When should you start a podcast?
You can listen right here on the site thanks to Transistor’s sweet embedded player – in dark mode (cue dramatic music):
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I remember back in the old days when blogging was what every business was supposed to start doing or else they were going to be left behind, there was a common response to the question of “When should your company start a blog?” “yesterday” – and I see the same thing happening these days with podcasting. Podcasting is the hot new thing and so there’s a ton of pressure to “get a podcast for your business” or else!
Sidebar: I’m often asked “Should we be using Instagram? Linkedin? TikTok? Twitter?” and besides the time commitment and technical abilities to use all the platforms out there, one other issue people have is that it can feel like social networks and services come and go so why should we put time and effort into something when it’ll just get replaced in a couple of years?
And I feel that as well. As a solo business owner there’s only so much time in the day or week. Besides serving my paying clients, when can I publish an Instagram Story, write a blog post, send an email newsletter out, be active on my Facebook page, make sure I look busy, productive, and successful on LinkedIn, record a viral TikTok video, and send amazing tweets on Twitter? The reality is that I can’t do all of those things and so you have to pick what works for you, what makes sense for your business or brand – and go with it.
There was an interesting quote I heard from Gary Vaynerchuk about this idea of “wasting time on a platform” and how you shouldn’t view it as wasted if or when the platform disappears:
So don’t feel like your time is wasted on any particular platform, even if it disappears. If you’ve done it well, the following and attention you’ve built up on that platform can follow you to whatever is next – provided you’re able to bridge the gap. And the time you’ve spent developing your creativity, branding, and technical skills can only help you with whatever comes next.
Ok… back to podcasting.
When should you publish a podcast?
Let’s start with the big picture version of this question.
You should start a podcast when you feel like you have something to say. Something that just doesn’t work as well in video or written form – or perhaps compliments those mediums. You want to bring value to your listeners, especially if it’s for a business. If it’s just you and some friends talking about your favorite movies, go for it right now. It’ll be fun and you’ll learn a lot as you go.
But for businesses who have to consider marketing budgets, return on investment, and other boring words their accountants say to them – it’s worth considering whether you have something of value to say. What’s valuable to one person might be completely boring or useless to another person, so don’t worry if your friends or family don’t necessarily get why you’re doing a podcast. For a business, you’re doing it for your clients. Or prospective customers. Or to show the world you’re an expert in a particular area.
Here’s some examples of different types of businesses and the corresponding kind of podcast they might consider:
- A coffee shop might consider a podcast that’s just a 3 minute marketing blurb saying what their specials and events are that week in their shop. Or stepping it up a notch, they could have a weekly interview with local artists. Record the conversations on site at their shop, with all the sounds of a coffee business in the background. Maybe ending a 20 minute interview with a quick mention of specials that week.
- A shoe repair business could talk about ways to repair and maintain your shoes which might be interesting for some. Or they could talk with local walkers and runners about great places to get exercise and how to stay warm out there.
- A bar could have a weekly podcast interviewing upcoming bands that are going to be playing on their stage. Call them on Skype wherever they are in the world and talk about their current tour.
- A non-profit could feature conversations with local supporters, or interviews with people talking about the impact of whatever it is they do. Or some combination of that combined with monthly episodes talking about ways to support the non-profit.
- A home builder might talk about the behind the scenes work that goes into making sure a home is built exactly the way a customer wants. Have an episode on each stage of a home being built, incorporating real customer conversations along the way.
- If you’re a home theatre installer, start a movie review podcast with some of your keenest customers. Or just sponsor one to start locally. Put out a call to your clients and see if anyone is interested in starting one and give them a budget to produce 10 episodes about their favorite movies with the requirement that they mention your business as a sponsor and link to your Instagram or website.
- A podcaster who edits podcasts for other people might record a podcast talking about the benefits of starting a podcast… and then once the basics are covered, he might interview people who are using podcasting in interesting and unique ways. I should write that one down for later.
What I hope you’re hearing is that there’s a lot of different ways for you to incorporate podcasting into a business beyond just replicating the boring “here’s our specials this week” flyers and Instagram posts you might be doing right now. People will listen once or twice because they’re interested in you. But they’ll subscribe because you’re telling a great story or giving them information they need to hear. And when someone subscribes to your podcast, that’s when you’ve literally got their ear to talk to them on a regular basis in a way that email newsletters and social media marketing campaigns just can’t compete with.
When Should I Release Podcast Episodes?
Ok so that was the big picture “When should you start a podcast?” The practical question of “when should I release podcast episodes?” is answered with a “it depends”.
It depends on the style of podcast you have, the type of content you’re delivering, how easy it is for you to put together an episode week after week. You can adjust as you go, but you also don’t want to set expectations and disappoint or confuse. Starting a podcast with “Your weekly look at home renovations” and then releasing it every 3 or 4 months when you get around to it is not a great way to build the expectation that you’re a reliable home reno company.
It also depends on your target audience. If you think it will appeal to people on their morning commute into work, then make sure new episodes are out before 8am. If it’s something that’s more appropriate on a weekend, then put it out Friday afternoon so they have something to look forward to.
For this podcast, I’m releasing new episodes Friday afternoon because that’s what I know I can commit to doing. And for right now, at this phase of my own business, I have to be a bit selfish and smart about it.
I’m curious when you listen to podcasts. It’s just a few questions about what day and time of day you prefer for podcast listening.
Got Questions for a Future Episode?
If you’d like to send in a question for a future episode, there’s a few different ways to do it:
- Leave a comment at the bottom of this post.
- Send me a tweet on Twitter.
- Send me a DM or reply to a Story on Instagram.
I hope you enjoy the podcast. I’m excited to continue telling both my own story in podcasting as well as answer your questions about podcasting. I’ve been podcasting for almost 10 years and it’s awesome to see how it’s grown and changed over the years. I continue to believe that it’s one of the best ways to engage and communicate with your audience, fans, or potential customers.