Should You Start a Podcast?

Podcasts are HOT! Should you start a podcast for your brand?

I used to think that they were a platform enjoyed by people on long commutes. Not so. The last two years has seen a dramatic increase in listeners from a broad demographic.

Podcasts in 2022

A 2021 Statista survey found that 56 percent of US-based respondents aged 12 to 34 years old had listened to a podcast within the preceding month, compared to 26 percent of those aged 55 or above. Adults in the latter age category have been increasing their podcast listening consistently for years, and the share of those who had listened to a podcast in the last month almost doubled between 2017 and 2021.

Further, there are now more than 1 million podcasts available. Topics are diverse.

A Tool for Your Marketing Mix?

Is a podcast a good fit for your marketing efforts? Here are some things to consider.

What You Offer

Is your area of expertise something that lends itself well to a listening audience. If people need to see what you are talking about to understand, or look to you for step by step demos, this may not be the right format.

If you want to monetize your effort, you might want to reconsider. Very few podcasts earn an income. In fact, the vast majority of podcasts have a negative cash flow because of production costs.

If you want to talk about topics and have a unique perspective or expertise to bring, a podcast may be a good fit. You need a voice that is easy to understand (remember, this is an audio only platform).  Having a network of people you can tap as guests is a plus too.

Editorial Calendar

Do you have enough material to fill a multi-episode editorial calendar? Sketch out ideas. The effort can give you a sense of how often you might want to release episodes.

How often will you publish episodes —weekly, biweekly, monthly or daily? Will your podcast be divided into seasons? Will the seasons have themes?

If you have just a few topic ideas, you may be better off being a guest on someone else’s podcast rather than creating your own.

The Right Format

What format works best for you? Will you be the sole speaker, or will you have a co-host? Will you interview others?

When planning your podcast, it’s important to think long-term. In our case, we decided to publish episodes biweekly, because monthly felt too seldom and weekly would have demanded too much time for our specialized PR firm to dedicate to the podcast.

Getting Your Podcast Started

If you get through the planning and think this is a good tool for your marketing, it’s time to take some concrete steps:

  • Name your podcast. Choose a name that is related to the content. Keep the name short and catchy.
  • Create a logo/brand. You will need a visual identify for your podcast.
  • Gather recording and editing tools.  There are lots of options, some free and some that need to be purchased. At a minimum, you will need to record, save, and edit.
  • Pick a hosting platform. Your podcast must be hosted online. Again, there are several options at various costs. Be sure to pick one that will facilitate your podcast being picked up by a large number of podcast services like Apple Podcasts and Google Play.
  • Develop episode outlines. You need an audience and you need them to keep listening. Plan episodes that will appeal to your target listener. They must find your podcast content interesting, entertaining or beneficial.

Share Your Passion

If you have gotten this far, you know that starting a podcast isn’t a trivial exercise. So, be sure this is a platform that you will enjoy using to share your passion. If you are excited each time you record a new episode, you will engage listeners and keep them coming back. You will create the engagement and relationship needed to make this a successful marketing effort.

What to Know When DIYing Your WordPress Site

WordPress is a free and powerful tool to use to build a website. In fact more than 455 million websites use WordPress. Here are some things to know if you are DIYing your WordPress site.

WordPress Is Free, But There Are Costs to Having a Website

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to create a site and add content. But that is not all you need to have a functioning website. There are other essential items that you will need:

  • Website host. Web hosting means storing your website data on a server, which users can access via the internet.
  • URL/domain. You need to purchase and register the domain that you want to be the online address of your website.
  • Design. There are many free WordPress designs, but these often have limited function and sometimes even quirky coding errors. More robust designs range in price, but may be worth the investment.
  • Content. There may also be costs to purchase images and other content for your website.

Tips for Best Practices

DIY Site Set Up

When you first install WordPress, WordPress will create a sample page and blog post for you. Make sure you delete the default items or they will show up in searches! Similarly, there may be some placeholder images that come with your setup. Remove these too, as they take up space.

When installing your theme, create a child theme and make your changes in the child theme. By doing this, you’ll be sure that when your initial theme sees some updates, you won’t lose all your modifications.

If you are adding content to your site from Word or another document type, if you use the “copy”  function the formatting comes with it too. Formatting means stuff like links, color, size, and any other HTML code which get copied into your website. This can can cause a lot of frustration with your content not looking like you expect.

The best practice is to use the “Paste without formatting’ or “Paste and match style” option. You can then use your design’s style sheet and the WordPress formatting tools to make it look however you want.

Don’t copy and paste images into your site. If you do, they will actually be linked to the original location. Use the WordPress Media area to upload images, then inset them into your pages and posts. Always check if you have the right to use images before using them, too!

DIY Website Maintenance

WordPress, plugins and themes all will need to be updated regularly to the latest versions. Updates are also free and they often patch issues and security flaws from previous versions. So, it is important to keep everything up to date.

On a related note, be sure to remove any plugins or themes that you don’t use or need. These can create conflicts that make your site work oddly and/or create security issues.

Change page addresses with caution! Page and post URLs, also called “Permalinks”, are meant to be permanent. So, once you’ve set them, you really shouldn’t change them again. If you change your permalinks, visitors coming to your site via search engines will end up on your site with an error message saying the post could not be found. You want to avoid those at all cost.

If you are DIYing your WordPress site, be sure to keep up with the latest developments with WordPress so you can leverage the latest, and find alternate solutions for options that are no longer supported. WordPress is free, but the need for attention never ends.

How to Use LinkedIn Profiles to Market Your Small Business

LinkedIn is having a moment as a result of the pandemic. While it has been more than a job seeking and hiring platform for some time, many more people realize the platform is a great place to make business connections and create brand awareness.

A brand’s “home” on LinkedIn is the company page. A company cannot use a personal profile for this purpose without violating LinkedIn’s terms of service. However, it is as important for brands to pay attention to the profiles of the people behind the brand as it is to manage the company page.

Personal Profiles Matter for Brands

For small businesses, LinkedIn is the place to highlight the expertise of the person or people behind a business. Small business leaders need to rethink their LinkedIn profile to make it less of an online resume and more of a testament to the expertise they bring to the business.

Companies need to take time to ensure that all of the principal leaders have profiles that contribute to the brand messaging and position. Profiles that seem to talk about different businesses muddy your messaging. So do profiles of leaders that completely fail to mention the business!

LinkedIn Features to Use

Everyone involved with the company or brand also needs to be well versed on how to use LinkedIn tools to network and engage on the platform.

  • News feed – This stream shows the posts and updates from connections, and provides the ability to like, comment, and share. This is a great place to keep up with the pulse of connections and the industry.
  • Search – LinkedIn has a powerful universal search box at the top that allows searches for people, companies, jobs, and keywords. Use this to find connections and research companies.
  • Messaging – This tool lets users message with connections in real-time.
  • Targeted Recommendations – LinkedIn makes recommendations to strengthen your profile and for people and businesses to connect with.

LinkedIn Strategy for Small Business Owners and Staff Members

  • Engage with connections – Like, comment on and share posts. When you support others’ content, people are likely to return the favor.
  • Add posts and articles – Post regularly on LinkedIn so that connections are reminded about you and your business. Post to your timeline and write longer content by clicking on the ‘Write an Article’ tab.
  • Keep profile up to date – Complete profiles get more views. Pay attention to LinkedIn’s recommendations and optimize the profile. Adding skills is especially important for attracting potential employers or clients.
  • Add visuals – Don’t keep the default images that LinkedIn provides. Be sure to replace them with images that are specific to the person and the business.
  • Follow thought leaders and companies – Follow relevant industry leaders and companies to solidify your industry and focus. Get insights by seeing what others are doing and talking about.