How to Start an Association Podcast
Online consumption has reached a high point, and there’s never been a better time to invest in content. In that same vein, podcasts have grown exponentially since the early 2000s and represent the fastest growing media category. The popularity of podcasts and the accessibility of the technology make launching podcasts easier than ever. If you’re a new podcaster — or your association is just looking to dabble in the medium — here is a guide to getting started.
According to Edison Research, 104 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly. (That’s 37% of the U.S. population!) Since 2018, the firm reports that the average time spent listening to podcasts remains steady at around 6.5 hours per week per consumer.
As the audience for podcasts continues to grow, there has never been a better time to start a podcast for your association. Follow this guide for considerations that will help prepare you to best take advantage of the podcasting medium.
According to podcast host Buzzsprout, there are at least 600 million blogs, 23 million YouTube channels, but only 800,000 podcasts in Apple Podcasts. This means that for every 1 podcast, there are 750 blogs and 29 YouTube channels.
Step 1: Develop a concept
Podcasts are as varied as the producers who create them. With so many excellent podcasts in circulation, covering a wide array of topics, you’ll want to start by answering a few questions to set goals for what your show could be, like:
- "Why are we starting a podcast?" (For example, lead generation vs. recognition as thought leader.)
- "What is our podcast about?"
Once you've answered the why and what, consider an official “concept”. This basically means you’ll need to identify the theme or topic of your show, i.e., the podcast’s ultimate focus. A few considerations include:
- Expertise (What do your members value most? Are you already a leader in a topic that could be complimented by a podcast?)
- Consistency (You may want to only consider topics/themes that you will be able to regularly contribute to.)
- Market Saturation (Find your niche! Search topics you’re considering in Apple Podcasts to see how many podcasts currently exist with similar topics/themes. Are there too many? Too few? None?)
Step 2: Choose a format
Some podcasts just have a single host, while others have two or more, and some podcasts offer scripted stories or feature in-depth interviews. When it comes to podcast format, there isn't one right answer. Your association should choose a format that best fits the topic/theme you’ve selected. Some common formats to consider include:
- Interview: Often features a single host who interviews individuals (or groups) within a particular industry.
Examples: Fresh Air and ArmChair Expert
- Scripted non-fiction: Typically a serial podcast that has a single theme for one full season.
Examples: Serial and Hardcore History
- News recap: This podcast format summarizes the news either broadly or within a specific industry.
Examples: The Daily or Planet Money
- Educational: Scripted non-fiction that focuses on teaching the audience a skill or informing on a subject.
Examples: Stuff You Should Know and Before Breakfast
- Scripted fiction: Similar to radio dramas, this podcast format often employs voice actors and is both scripted and highly produced.
Examples: Limetown and Deadly Manners
Step 3: Budget Building
When it comes to this part, a strong understanding of your show’s cadence is a must. For example, you might decide to publish every day, like Before Breakfast, or release a series every two years, like Serial. Most experts recommend once/week cadence, whereas many associations aim for once/month.
Given the low barrier to entry, it can be relatively easy to begin the process of podcasting with little overhead or experience. I mean, you can record an episode with just an iPhone and a pair of headphones. That said, the quality of production and content is important.
When it comes to your budget planning, considerations include:
- Equipment (Will you need a mic for in-person recordings? Will all episodes be scheduled and recorded virtually through software such as SquadCast or Zoom?)
- Editing (SmithBucklin Content offers editing services in-house!)
- Hosting (Will you pay for a service with robust analytics like Buzzsprout or SoundCloud? Or, go the free route and use Anchor?)
- Marketing (A breakdown of needs follows in Step 5.)
Step 4: Recording Episodes
Now is when things get real… It's easy to get caught up in the idea of recording a podcast and quickly lose steam when things get technical or just plain difficult.
We recommend following these steps to optimize your chances for successful recording sessions:
- Plan – It sounds simple but plan your top guests (and backup guests) if your show will rely on experts and reach out early to ensure a wide window for recording times.
- Prepare – Develop an outline for each episode. Rambling or not having an idea of flow before you record is a common mistake of new — and even seasoned — shows.
- Test and Set Up – Considering sound proofing a space, or scouting an already sound-proofed room, for in-person recordings. If recording virtually, share tips and tricks with all participants to ensure the audio quality that comes through is the best that it can be.
Step 5: Launching Your Show
Now that your podcast is recorded and going through the editing process, it’s time to prepare for release. Final behind-the-scenes items that require preparation include:
- Branding – Your show will go nowhere without a basic brand. For an idea of assets you’ll need to prepare, review the considerations below.
- Distribution – Map out your approach to listings and identify where you want your show to appear. If you will not gate the show as a “members only” offering, we recommend launching on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts at a minimum.
- Marketing – Every launch needs a strategic approach. Consider the channels at your association’s disposal — social media, email, blog/publication, direct mail, etc. — and make sure your team has considered the rollout approach (i.e., a “grand opening” launch day or a “soft”, more spread out release).
Here's Apple's advice for picking a good name, or title, for your show:
Pay close attention to the title, author, and description tags at the and level of your podcast. Apple Podcasts uses title, author, and description fields for search. The metadata for your podcast, along with your podcast artwork, is your product packaging and can affect whether your podcast shows up in relevant searches, and how likely users are to subscribe to it.
Make your title specific. A podcast named Our Community Bulletin is too vague to attract many subscribers, no matter how compelling the content.
From Apple’s Podcast Best Practices
Almost every show needs music for transitions as well as the opening intro and closing outro. If using SmithBucklin Content, work with your editor to identify royalty free music that you can use in your podcast, or consider purchasing the rights to a track you have in mind. Don't stress over this; almost any song will do.
Put your best foot forward by establishing artwork for your show that will great in every podcast directory.
Recommended technical specifications (based on Apple’s Podcast Artwork Requirements):
- 3000 x 3000 pixels
- Resolution of 72 dpi
- PNG or JPEG file type
- Colorspace RGB
A podcast episode description, also known as show notes, is considered part of its metadata. The metadata for a podcast includes the name of the show, its description, episode number, the release year, etc.
Good show notes are essential to your success as keywords used will help individual episodes be more searchable within directories. Use the space to explain what the episode is about and share links to your site, sponsors, etc. Make sure you're telling listeners what's in it for them, and make it entertaining, too!
Are you ready to launch a podcast? Talk to us about getting started!
Emily Drake is a content and marketing manager for SmithBucklin.
SmithBucklin Content helps you position your organization as an authoritative source of timely, relevant, comprehensive and engaging industry intelligence. Contact us to learn about partnering with SmithBucklin Content to create a customized content strategy for your organization.