Tom and I were good friends and we both worked in the startup sector. It was an area that we understood well and we had a strong network of potential guests. Even so, we spent a lot of time thinking about our “niche”, the core concept of our podcast that would help us stand out from the crowd.
We then made a list of six podcasts in the field that inspired us – like The 20 Minute VC, This Week in Startups, and Equity by TechCrunch – and listened to them for weeks without a break. We rated them all based on their structure, content, host / guest chemistry, editing, style, etc. Based on our ‘analysis’, we’ve recorded the best parts of our favorite podcasts.
Next we looked at the “target listener”. We wanted the podcast to speak to early-stage founders. We thought about what they want to know, their listening habits, and the time they might have to devote to a podcast episode. We used this to come up with ideas for themes for episodes before reaching out to relevant guests for each episode.
When contacting potential guests, we wanted to make 15 minute briefing calls and block 1 hour from recording. Setting up a structure for the episode and submitting sample questions in advance can help your guests prepare to maximize the quality content during the recording.
There are several options for recording. Recording in a studio can cost as little as £ 50 / hour. If you want to record at home, you need a good quality microphone. Our first choice was the Rode NT-USB, followed by the Blue Yeti. Prevention is better than cure with background noise; Cutting it out can be painful. Therefore, strive for silence. I would also recommend recording in a separate room for a co-host so that you have two separate audio files that are easier to edit into one.
You will need recording software to record the episodes. Zencastr gave us the ability to invite guests using their email address, create multiple audio files instead of an MP3 file (which makes editing easier), and create live backups for Dropbox. However, Zencastr is only available for audio. So if you prefer face-to-face virtual shots, Zoom and SquadCast are great alternatives.
To get a high quality podcast with clean audio and vocals, no background noise and perfect content, you need to edit your episodes. If you’ve got a little cash, Adobe Audio is the way to go, but we’ve found Audacity to be a great free, open source alternative.
Editing audio files can be daunting, but the most important aspects are: a) cutting unnecessary content and unwanted sounds (‘ums’ and ‘uhs’) and b) adjusting the volume so hosts and guests sound in sync. Once you’ve mastered it, the equalizer, normalizer, fade in / out, voice over, tempo, and compressor functions can be fun to play with. As a benchmark, this process can take 2 to 4 hours for a 30-minute episode.
Alternatively, you can outsource editing to a podcast technician on a site like Fiverr. This is getting increasingly cheaper as more people perfect technical skills in editing podcasts but are expected to pay around £ 40-50 per episode for quality editing.
Podcast detection is fragmented. To begin with, you rely on the audience to see your cover and make the quick judgment to quickly hear it. We wanted our cover to clearly show what the podcast is while being eye-catching and unique.
We wanted to have the right mood for our intro and outro; something that was modern, almost futuristic, and unique and self-contained, so that it would automatically connect to our podcast when the listeners heard it.
However, often an afterthought until it’s too late: music copyright. You can only use music where you have the license, whether you only use it for a few minutes or your podcast is not monetized.
There are two ways to get around this:
- Create the jingle from scratch – that way you own the copyright or,
- Buy the license of the track you want to use.
We chose the professional production label West One and paid a one-time fee to license one of their tracks. There are plenty of free or cheap alternatives online, but remember to check the copyright before using!
The boring legal stuff starts with trademark. In the UK, the Gov website offers a free trademark exam. This quick search could prevent angry trademark owners from getting into trouble months or years later.
Consider Copyright Laws all about music, cover art, songs and lyrics. Usually, you need permission from the creator to use someone else’s work. Guests imply their consent by being on the podcast in the first place. To be extra careful, you can ask them to sign an approval form in advance, which will give you the right to use the content in any scenario.
How do you actually post your podcast on streaming sites? Unfortunately, Spotify doesn’t have the ability to upload your music directly. Instead, you post episodes on a podcast hosting site like Sounder (the site we use), Buzzsprout (the biggest name), Podbean, Castos, etc. These use an RSS feed to bring your episodes to all major streaming sites transfer. One word of caution, these websites must “accept” your podcast before it can be hosted. Spotify lasted 24 hours, Apple about a week and Google a month. So I would recommend starting this process as early as possible.
Sounders (as well as others) have excellent analytics that allow you to keep track of the number of listeners. Audience demographics by country, time of day distribution, applications, devices; and much more. This helps to understand what content your listeners are most engaged in, what time of day they post, etc. To date, our most listened to episode is Henry Whorwood (Research Director at Beauhurst): What happened to fundraising in the UK in 2020 .
We used our personal social media accounts to market the episodes and asked our guests to post them to expand the reach of the podcast. We have also created company pages on LinkedIn. Twitter and Facebook and encouraged listeners to follow us to keep up to date.
Over 60% of podcasts are consumed on Apple. Hence, it is important that you have a great rating and ratings on Apple. We encouraged this by mostly referring users to Apple and encouraging them to leave reviews.
We also created our own website to improve search engine optimization after potential users googled startup podcasts. This started with website builder Squarespace until we felt it didn’t have the features we needed and turned to seasoned website builder Chris.