How to start a podcast? Well, if you’re going to be successful you’ll need to stand out. On last count, there were over 850,000 active podcasts and 30 million episodes in the podcasting ether, with more than half of all US consumers above the age of 12 listening to at least one ‘cast on a regular basis. With those numbers, you got to kind of believe they’re here to stay.
Not all podcasts are created equal of course, and not all podcasts have the same purpose. On a surface level, you might think podcast land is all just TV comedians diversifying their work and self-help gurus looking to expand the ‘brand’.
But then you have all your long-serving journos getting deep into their research on a true crime marathon, or culture vultures geeking out at fan club hangouts. Podcasts echo society. If you’re searching for your people, you’ll likely find them on your favourite podcast.
If you’re an entrepreneur searching for advice on how to expand your direct-to-consumer (DTC) business then you may have come across Kristen LaFrance, the official mayor of DTC Twitter, and a veritable fountain of knowledge when it comes to the topic.
LaFrance is also the host of Resilient Retail, a podcast she runs as part of her role within Canadian multinational e-commerce company, Shopify. Over 26 episodes (and counting), LaFrance has interviewed the likes of streetwear legend Jeff Staple and businesswoman Kat Cole, making the podcast a must-listen for an engaged DTC-loving fanbase, and the perfect accompaniment to the Shopify brand.
Form caught up with LaFrance to find out how you actually go about starting a podcast, from the equipment you’ll need to finding guests and building an audience.
How To Start A Podcast
Kicking Things Off…
Show premise is the most important thing to nail down when coming up with a podcast idea. Why does your show exist? What is the goal? To inspire? To explore? To find tactical answers?
From there, knowing your target audience for that premise is extremely important. And then format comes next. How can you fulfill your premise best in the episodes themselves?
An external mic is a must before you start a podcast. The Blue Yeti is the industry favourite. You’ll also want headphones that plug in to your computer. This creates a more secure connection.
Transistor.fm is my go-to tool for hosting, as it publishes automatically throughout all of the major platforms including Apple Pod, Google Pod and Spotify.
Scripting Episodes And Editing Down
I come up with the bones of my interviews before they happen. So first, I’ll start with the ‘meat’. What’s the one thing I must talk to the guest about? What’s that moment of “oooh”? That’s the meat.
And then I build out from there. How do I bridge the convo from the intro into the meat? And how do I bridge out of the meat into a nice conclusion? Preparation is key, but you also want to leave room for off-the-cuff exploration. Be ready to go off of your script.
Dive deeper into specific things that come up. Be okay with losing the script completely. As long as you know what the one most important piece is, you can give yourself more freedom to be authentically engaged in a back and forth dialogue.
Finding guests can depend on the show, your company, and your environment. First off, I create an ‘application’ process. You’ll want a database of inbound interest. I get a lot of guest pitches, so instead of filling my inbox with back and forth, everyone is directed to a form they can fill out.
If you have low inbound interest, keep the form light. As interest increases, so should the specificity of the application. You want to weed out guests looking for an easy quick win. You want the guests who will come and commit.
Not all podcasters are podcasting for a company. But if you are, you’re sitting on a goldmine of stories. Trust is key with interviews, and your customers should already have some with the brand. Internally champion your show then, and reach out to teams who constantly talk to customers. Give them a simple process for piping you stories.
Ask your community. When I started plotting season two, I asked Twitter who they wanted to hear. I reached out to close friends with connections. I posted on LinkedIn, Slack, and Instagram.
Look at similar podcasts, virtual summits, YouTube shows, blogs, and forums. Who are the guests? Other shows are a great way to find unique guests you may have missed. Plus, if someone has already been a guest, the on-boarding process will be much easier.
Amplifying Your Podcast
Know where your target audience hangs out. If they’re not using Instagram to engage with content like yours, for example, don’t waste your time on Instagram.
Share content that’s native to each platform. Linking out to a full episode on Twitter isn’t natural behaviour for someone on Twitter, for example. They’re there to skim and read quick hits. So repurpose your interview into a tweet storm or video clips. Make sure you’re sharing the content in a way that makes sense on each platform.
Beyond that, you can ask your audience. Get to know them, hop on calls, conduct a survey. Ask your guests. Where do they hang out? Where do they get their content? Build an email list. You want to know who is most engaged with your content. Make swag. Ask your guests to share, and make it really easy for them to do so.