Picture: Davis Sanchez/Pexels
Picture: Davis Sanchez/Pexels

When you start talking about podcasting, it doesn’t take long before someone asks how you can make money from it.

Podcasting is growing in popularity in SA, but we are still a while away from making real money from it. But that does not mean that it can’t be used as an effective marketing tool for your business.

As a communications tool, podcasts will be to the 2020s what blogging was to the 2000s and corporate video was to the 2010s. Podcasting gives your business all the power of radio – intimacy, immediacy, engagement and authenticity – without the price tag that comes with marketing and advertising your business on radio.

I think it’s also important to remember that we need to develop an SA way of producing, distributing and using podcasts, whether as a hobby or a business tool.

I have found so many tutorials, blogs and articles, but none seems totally relevant to SA. Sure, there are universal topics like technical setups and editing as well as uploading to Apple and Spotify, but the nuance of SA means we need to develop our own podcast story and style.

So the first bit of advice: don’t rely only on international podcast tactics and styles.

If your business operates in SA, it must deal with challenges that the same type of business overseas does not, so why should your style of podcast not embrace that?

Step 1: What is your content?

You probably already know what this is if you’ve come this far. The two most common approaches for business podcasts are: showing potential clients that you are the undoubted thought leaders in your industry with knowledge and a contact list of potential guests to get people’s attention; or you’re just really cool people to hear from and no matter what the topic, you can talk about it.

I’ve never encountered a business podcaster who didn’t know what they wanted to talk about.

Also remember, your business podcast doesn’t need to be public. My longest-running podcasts are internal – businesses are using podcasts as induction tools, insurance brokers are using them to keep clients up to date with new products, schools have adopted them, and training is being done through audio. In today’s work-from-home environment, podcasts are a quicker way to keep in touch with staff.

Step 2: Where is my audience?

OK, here’s the tough part – but it shouldn’t be. Most people starting a podcast want to get onto Apple and Spotify right away as a badge of honour, but in SA it really means little, especially if it’s a marketing tool. How can you be sure that your existing client base, even if listening to podcasts, will find you?

If you’re already doing any sort of marketing for your business, whether through mailers or social media (maybe you hosted a webinar recently – who didn’t?), then you already have a base of people receiving and consuming content from you, so make sure you get your podcast to them first. It could be as simple as sending them the mp3 or embedding it in an e-mail. If you can convert 10% of people consuming your message into listeners, that is really powerful. This brings us to the question of how big a podcast audience should be. Once again, look at that 10%. Some will keep coming back, some will listen to parts of it, some may simply be aware that you have a podcast. That’s OK. Remember, this is a business tool – you don’t want to be a media star. You don’t need thousands of listeners – you may need one or two prompts to give you the business that makes this all worthwhile.

Step 3: What should my technical set up be?

There is a technical setup for every budget. Your podcast is a business tool, so any equipment or software you invest in needs to make sense to your business.

At a starter level, look at a USB mic around the R1,500 mark; it’s not my favourite but it will get you started. Also get some sort of mic stand or mount. You’ll be shocked how much you move around, and these minimise any knocking or banging that will ruin your podcast.

You can spend all you want on a mic, but if you’re not recording in a ‘’treated room’’ it’s not much use. You don’t need full soundproofing yet, but close the curtains (if you’re not including video), and carpets also help. You’ll also find sound absorption products for a range of budgets online; any little bit will help. And don’t laugh, but a parked car in a garage can be the perfect cost-effective studio.

In terms of recording your podcast, you can use the record function on all video conference software, or seek out online tools like Zencastr, Hindenburg Systems and Riverside.fm. There’s something for every budget and capability.

In terms of editing, Audacity is a free and sworn-by piece of software. It’s limited but easy to learn. GarageBand is a piece of software bundled in with Apple Macs. If you’re looking to spend more, you have options such as Cubase, Logic, Adobe Audition and Pro Tools.

Every podcaster will go to war for their software, so just explore to find something that works for you. Most will offer free trials.

Step 4: Just do it!

The excuses are endless. No time, need equipment, need to get my ducks in a row. No. You. Don’t.

A podcast is a business tool, one that has the potential to be useful. It’s not something to turn you into the next Joe Rogan or Gareth Cliff. Your potential customers could be waiting to hear from you and if you aren’t saying anything, they’ll find someone who is.

The best part is that you don’t have to do podcasting alone. The space in SA is filled with passionate and knowledgeable people wanting to grow the industry. They may already have their own podcasts and have made the mistakes, so you don’t have to. Spend your time making contact with them, instead of making excuses about why you’ve thought of starting a podcast for your business but haven’t.

*Paulo Dias is head of creative at Ultimate Media

Podcasting is growing in popularity in SA, and can be used as an effective marketing tool for your business


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