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When did podcasts become so popular and how did it even happen? We’re only asking the important questions here, people.

Everywhere you look, there seems to be another podcast popping up. At the same time, it seems as if people are busier than ever. That right there is the story of the 21st century, and it’s also why people have become so obsessed with podcasts. People want to be able to quickly get their news and their information on the go, while they’re commuting to work or working out at the gym. In fact, some 24 percent of Americans over the age of 12 (yes, 12; you read that right) now listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. By 2021, it’s predicted that there will be more than 100 million podcast listeners in the United States alone. The proof is in the podcast, and not only is this trend enjoyable, but it can also be a viable tool for marketing.

Why Podcasts are Gaining Popularity

In just the last few years, podcasts have been rapidly gaining popularity. It seems as if it basically happened overnight and now everyone and their mother has their own podcast.

The biggest reason as to why podcasts have taken over is because of the shift to mobile. Consumers are moving away from computers and using mobile devices like they’re an additional appendage. Even search engines are changing their algorithms to give mobile the priority, making it more important than ever for businesses to focus on advertising to mobile devices. People have begun to rely more heavily on the accessibility of mobile devices, and podcasts on your phone can be downloaded and listened to in a matter of minutes.

This also deals directly with people’s lack of time, another reason why podcasts are stealing the show. Nobody has time to sit down, read a book, or even watch TV without distractions. Multitasking is now like an inherent skill; people want to get as much done at once as possible, and podcasts make that all happen.

How to Start a Podcast

If you’re a business and haven’t hopped on the podcast train, you’re missing out. We have, and yes, this is our box of podcast shit. Yes, we could definitely store this box of stuff in a more organized fashion, but I digress. To hit you with some numbers, we spent about $480 for this gear, which allows us to produce a monthly podcast that drives traffic and engagement to our website.

While we are marketing experts, we may not be podcast experts here, but we’re learning, and this set was more than enough to get us started. In this box of stuff, we have a mixing board, mic’s, headphones, amp, cables, interface cable, desktop mic stand and pop filters for mics. For reference, we work on Mac’s and use Garageband for editing. Sometimes we make some sick beats too if we’re feeling a jam sesh.

Speaking of GarageBand, because we’re all about honesty here, we used YouTube to help us learn how to better leverage the software. Here are a couple of videos on how to use the software for beginners. It’s really pretty intuitive, you just need to familiarize yourself with the interface:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIQTdZKHRrc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFlcLTqzIR8

The equipment that we have listed – or the stuff that you’ve seen listed on other DIY podcast blogs – is pretty simple to use. You’d be surprised at the level of quality that you can get from relatively inexpensive gear. The mixing board that we selected is basically just plug in and play. Since we use Mac’s, once you connect the USB and launch Garageband, the software recognizes the hardware pretty quickly. If only all technology was that easy. The quality of the audio from is solid, and that’s really it; the quality of your podcast is really contingent on your ability to capture clean audio. The process of recording a podcast itself, however, needs a little planning.

Everyone needs a starting point, and this post was ours. It’s always crucial to do your research and make use of the resources available too. It’s also crucial to settle on the right tone for the podcast before you start your in-depth planning. Tone is everything. Will your podcast be funny? Is it NSFW or more serious, is it educational and informative or opinion based? These decisions should be made based on the understanding of the persona that you ultimately want to target. Also, don’t discredit the value of visual appeal. Sometimes, to stand out on the iTunes Charts, you just need some clever imagery for your podcast cover art. Putting some time in, or perhaps hiring a graphic designer,  would be a smart move.

Chris Laurenzo’s Favorite Podcasts  

Caveat – I’m not a marketer yet, but I’m a high school intern with a general understanding of what a successful Podcast looks like. That counts right? Numbers don’t lie and these podcasts pull in some great scores when it comes to popularity and overall subscribers.

The Joe Rogan Experience:

The famous Joe Rogan is one of my favorite podcasters. The Joe Rogan Experience is a free audio and video podcast hosted by the man, the myth, the legend himself. From comedian to actor to sports commentator, Joe Rogan does it all Launched in December of 2009 by Rogan and fellow comedian, The Joe Rogan Experience has grown to become one of the world’s most popular podcasts. This podcast gets around 30 million downloads per month, which is wild. It’s so popular because it feels so natural. It’s as if there isn’t a script. Rogan talks about the things that other people are too afraid to talk about, but he does it while constantly making the listener laugh. That right there is what I like most about his podcast.  

The GaryVee Experience:

Everybody knows the name, Gary Vaynerchuk. Whether you’ve watched a video of him giving a motivational speech or have heard him laying down the cold hard facts of a debated topic, he’s all over the internet. Vaynerchuk is an American entrepreneur, author, speaker and internet personality. First known as a wine critic who expanded his family’s wine business, Vaynerchuk has now become best known for his work in digital marketing and social media, leading New York-based companies VaynerMedia and VaynerX. People love his podcast because he keeps it real. Gary is always very passionate and isn’t afraid to say what others are thinking. He always gives real advice and doesn’t care if he offends anybody. That apparently seems to be a common trend here when it comes to my favorite podcasts.

Pardon My Take: I’m a big sports guy, so Pardon My Take had to be on my list. Pardon My Take is a comedic sports podcast created by Barstool Sports. It was first released in February of 2016 and it debuted at number one on the United States iTunes charts later that March. It’s basically just two normal guys talking about sports. They always have famous guests to interview, such as 2x Super Bowl champion Chris Long or one of the best QB’s in NFL history: Dan Marino. Pardon My Take also features intense debates on the most relevant sports topics, trades, and interviews. The best part? There’s always some sort of funny bet involved. The most recent bet was that if Duke doesn’t make the final four, Hank has to get a cat; if they win the national championship Dan and Hank have to get henna tattoos that say “Duke’s year” on their neck. I’ll be tuning in just to find out the outcome of that.

RadioLab:

Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, this podcast was founded in 2008. In a 2014 interview on The Colbert Report, Abumrad explicitly says the show is about experimenting with storytelling as its main framework. It’s not science journalism, but storytelling. The show started off very science-focused, but it’s still super interesting and accessible. Recently, one episode entitled “Smarty Plant” has been generating a huge buzz. You’re just going to have to check it out for yourself. Abumrad and Krulwich have so much passion for science. Their passion shows in their storytelling, and that’s what listeners are drawn too.

Serial:

Serial is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig, narrating a nonfiction story over multiple episodes. I was initially drawn to this podcast for uniqueness and its storytelling. I don’t know about you, but the whole concept of investigating huge news stories and finding out as much detail as possible is very intriguing to me. Season 1 is about the death of Hae Min Lee an 18-year-old student at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore. Season 2 focuses on Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, an American Army soldier who was held for five years by the Taliban and then charged with desertion. Season 3 is meant to be an analysis of the normal operation of the American criminal justice system. These stories are wild, I swear, and they’ll have you hooked after one listen.

NPR:

NPR consists of many different podcasts from a variety of different categories. In one of its most popular economic podcasts, Planet Money to Hidden Brain, e Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that shape our choices and direct our relationships. NPR has 8 of the top 20 podcasts according to analytics.podtrac.com and is number 1 when it comes to their monthly audience. What is their audience, you ask? It’s over 19 million. Yup. What fans like about NPR is the various different types of podcasts offered. People want choices and NPR seems to cover every category.

How Podcasts are Changing Marketing

Content, Content, Content. Three times is barely enough to stress how important good content is when it comes to modern marketing. We are always looking for new ways to drive engagement, which has become the most important KPI (key performance indicator) in our industry. Podcasts are yet another example of the evolution of content driven by the digital space, and mobile devices in particular. They provide a platform for businesses or individuals to educate their marketplace, to entertain their target personas and, ultimately, to gain yet another touchpoint to deliver their message. They are also exceptionally good at inspiring conversation and debate. They are not, however, easy to execute successfully. Logistically, it’s very simple to purchase the gear and get going. However, it really isn’t that easy to be “entertaining”, and being entertaining is a key value to a successful podcast.

While podcasts can build brand recognition, authority, and trust among your intended audience they can also have the opposite effect if they suck. There’s an inherent entertainment value to the most successful podcasts and bridging this gap between business value and entertainment can be tricky.

Self-endorsement alert – this is why it makes sense to find a marketing agency with experience developing podcasts to help guide you in the right direction. It’s more than just successful editing – it’s the overall quality of the content being delivered and the way it’s being delivered. Launching a podcast is just the beginning. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around….well, you get it.

So, how do you promote your podcast so people actually find it?

Tactically, a business has many ways to disseminate messaging to its audience. Email marketing, newsletters, blog posts, social media posts, direct mail, etc. These can all be great vehicles to promote your content and we suggest using them all! Don’t hold back. For the podcast to be successful, it needs an audience and you shouldn’t be shy of promoting it aggressively. Lastly, and most importantly, podcasts are meant to be fun and engaging. So, don’t be afraid to be yourself and talk about something that you have a strong passion for.