I’m sure you have certain passions or interests in your life. It could be that you support a football team, enjoy a hobby like gardening or hiking or have a special skill – for instance, you can speak Spanish, you do magic tricks or you’re a trained salesperson.

You might even have a blog or social media feed based on one of these interests. For instance, perhaps you like to tweet film reviews or put photos from your fishing trips on Instagram. You could be in a Facebook community for your local town, or a topic of interest like horror films or folk music.

If so, then you can base a podcast on this special interest and use it to start building an audience, with a potentially profitable back end further down the line. In the short term it could very quickly direct a flow of traffic to your blog, email newsletter and social media feeds.

It won’t cost you anything more than a basic microphone. You can upload your podcast onto ready-made platforms for people to hear, such as Sound Cloud so you don’t need a website to get started (although creating one to go with your podcast will help).

The first thing to realise about podcasts is that they work like other forms of content marketing, including emails and blogs. The rules are pretty much the same:

  • You pick a niche (special interest), then deliver regular information on that topic, making it as interesting as possible.
  • You make it personal, direct and ‘in your own voice’ so you build up a human-to-human relationship.
  • You encourage feedback, questions and interaction (known as a call to action) so that the information flows both ways, you condition the listener or reader to respond to offers, and you become an indispensably useful friend.
  • You keep people coming back for more by enticing them with what’s coming next.

Whether it’s a weekly blog post, a daily email or a regular podcast, these principles will help you build an audience.

But there’s a few advantages to setting up a podcast over, say, blogging.

  • More opportunity to dominate your niche – there are so many blogs out there for all kids of niches, you’ll be lucky if you’re the only one doing it. But podcasts, despite the recent boom, are relatively under-used. Many people still don’t know about them, or are frightened away by their lack of confidence or fear that it’s complicated or technical (both fears are understandable, but unfounded as I’ll show you later. It’s highly likely that by setting up a podcast in your chosen niche it will be one of the few, making it easier to become known and even dominate.
  • Podcasts are human and intimate. There is nothing more direct and powerful than the sound of human voice, particularly when it is telling you stories. This is why in the media world, radio is known as the most intimate medium, where listeners consider DJs as their friends and become fiercely loyal to certain shows and presenters. With a podcast you get to talk direct to your listeners on a regular basis until they are as familiar with you as their friends or favourite radio DJ. You can build loyalty very quickly using a podcast.
  • Create powerful bonds of trust. In the previous issue of Digital Upstart I told you how storytelling creates addictive, compulsive chemical reactions in a listener’s brain, making them more likely to feel trusting of you, and more likely to subscribe or send you money when you ask. This works at its best when you’re using your voice rather than words on a page. Throughout history, and long before the internet and printed books, people liked to sit by the fireside and listen to stories. It’s known as the ‘oral tradition’ and podcasting is the closest online version of this.
  • Podcasts are episodic. Podcasts are designed to form an ongoing series. Like TV and Radio soap operas, they lure people into coming back every week at the same time to hear what happens next. This makes podcasting an engaging form of content marketing. It solves one of the biggest headaches that bloggers have – how can you keep your readers coming back for more?
  • Create a sense of authority – even if you aren’t an expert or a professional in your field, podcasts give you authority. This is because you can use your podcast to pass on news, deliver content you’ve found on the internet and interview people who have expertise. You’ll be amazed at how many writers, journalists, PhD researchers, artists, bloggers and CEO’s just love to be invited onto podcasts to talk. You can allow them to create most of the content each week. What’s more you become an expert by association.
  • Fun, social and collaborative – finally, while blogging and writing emails is a solitary business, podcasts can be much more social. You can get together with friends, colleagues and experts in your niche to create the podcast. You can present it with as many people as you like, or even record natural conversations as they happen, meaning there is no need to be sat along agonising over a blank computer screen. Podcasts don’t even need to be written.

So the first thing to do is start with a special interest. Perhaps you have three or four. That’s fine. But you’ll need to base your podcast on just one.  To help you pick, I’ve listed the seven types of content marketer blow and shown how they apply to podcasting.

In the next step we’ll look at which one applies to you in more detail.