How To Start A Podcast If You’ve Never Edited Before

You’ve baked sourdough bread, cleaned out the hall closet, and video-chatted everyone in your contacts. The next logical thing to do during this quarantine is to start a podcast. Whether you decide to add value to the 1,400 episodes discussing COVID-19 or join Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon in the sub-genre lovingly called couples in quarantine, podcasting is a creative (and promotional!) outlet you can really dig into.

I mean, hey, you’re good at talking! You have interesting things to say! You have a couple of bucks to spare on a microphone now that you’re cooking all your meals!

To be totally honest, you wanted to start a podcast anyway but never had the time to dedicate to it.

With your idea set, your makeshift studio put together, and your partner further quarantined to the living room to reduce sound, the only thing standing between you and this treasure-trove of creativity is editing.

Audio editing is a critical component of the audience experience. As a solo producer, it can seem daunting to learn a brand new technical skill. The lingo! The time! The intricacy! The time and complexity of editing depend on the makeup of your specific podcast. Maybe it’s just you and a co-host chatting, or perhaps you want to create a new fictional world with characters and atmosphere. Do you have transferable skills, or are you brand new to the audio editing world? Should you learn to edit yourself? If not, what are your options? Let’s take a closer look.

Is podcast audio editing a good use of your current skills?

There are a lot of elements that go into the production of a show, From flow and strategy to researching topics and conducting interviews — even editing and promoting. A lot goes into the final product! Your professional background may lend more to one aspect of producing than another. For instance, someone with a full-time publicity job will likely be stellar at promoting her show.

When it comes to editing, ask yourself, am I the type of person who enjoys learning a new technical skill? Do you dabble or work in tech? Do you quickly pick up video games or computer programs? Do you enjoy repetitive yet rewarding projects? Are you comfortable concentrating on a computer screen? If yes, editing may be in your wheelhouse. If not, read on.

Would you enjoy learning a totally new skill?

Becoming a great audio editor can lead to lots of fun possibilities. Think of all the entertainment we interact with that involves sound — movies, T.V. shows, radio programs, music, and video games! By learning how to edit and mix audio, not only will your podcast sound fantastic, you might consider helping others edit their shows for a small fee. Perhaps you’ll find a natural skill you didn’t know you had!

To be a great podcast editor, here are some topics you’ll want to become familiar with:

  • Terminology: You will come across lots of new terms and definitions when editing like pan, clip, and gain, to name a few. Learning them will make your experience smoother. Here’s a handy guide.
  • Software: There are many versions of Digital Audio Workstations out there (DAW for short). These audio editing programs allow you to record right into them using your microphone. Audacity and Garage Band are great free options. Pop open a program and play around to see if it’s something you want to pick up.
  • Podcast editing tools: With all the free and simple tools these days, you may not even need a whole program. Experts recommend apps like Aluti, which are do-it-for-you editing.
  • Music licensing: Jingles help give a podcast a polished feel, and music helps make a show memorable. But to use a specific piece of music for your podcast, you’ll have to determine whether you can license it for use. Here’s a good overview of the process.

While editing isn’t hard to master with dedication and practice, you’ll need to have a bit of patience. It will take a bit of time to get proficient at it. It can also be a timely process that requires stopping and starting a new episode multiple times to edit. Some people enjoy that kind of work. Others find it menial. But it’s a challenging and useful skill to learn, as you can always apply audio editing in other areas of your professional life or personal hobbies.

What to do if you answered “no” to both questions

If editing still doesn’t sound like a skill you’d like to learn, you still have several options that can leave you with a great sounding podcast. Below are a few options.

1. Don’t edit

It may sound counterintuitive, but not every podcast requires hours of editing. If you and your guest or co-host have a solid conversational flow, you may not need to edit. Writer Tim Ferriss has a podcast with more than 60 million downloads, and he champions the fact that he performs minimal editing. He removes obvious errors from the broadcast, but for the most part, the episodes represent the original conversation. Meaning minimal editing can leave your podcast with a more authentic style.

In fact, The Podcast Host has dubbed this the “Minimum Effective Editing” approach. They lay out several ways to make mistakes easier to catch in the editing process, eliminating the amount of time it will take you to edit. They also advocate doing plenty of planning and preparation for your guest or subject BEFORE you record. That way, whether you’re conducting an interview or discussing a topic, you’ll be less likely to make a mistake that needs to be edited out.

2. Outsource

You can also outsource your editing. Prices range from $10 to a couple hundred, depending on the length and complexity of your episodes. Browse around Fiverr’s podcast editing section to get a feel for the potential cost.

When choosing, ask for clips from past projects, and have a thorough conversation so you can get to know them and make your expectations/needs crystal clear. What exactly do you want an editor to do for you? Volume leveling? Noise-minimizing? Make a list before your initial call. It’s best to find an editor who has a personal interest in your show.

3. Select a co-host that enjoys editing

We mentioned earlier that your professional background might lend more to one aspect of producing than another. Why not sit down with your potential co-host and list your natural skills? You may be great at research, and she may be amazing at tech. Since there are many duties involved with podcasting, you two can split duties evenly. If you’re on the hunt for a co-host, make editing a clear part of the package.

Don’t let a lack of editing knowledge stop you from podcasting

If you find yourself in the position of wanting to start a podcast, don’t let your lack of editing knowledge intimidate you. There are multiple ways for you to either A) learn how to edit or B) find someone to assist you with the process. Podcasting is too rewarding and fun to let it stand in your way!

Once your show is edited and ready to broadcast to the world, it’s time to choose a podcast hosting platform. With Sounder, you can receive a whole host of great perks, like free hosting, free transcription, Pinpoint Audio Share, and a caring team. For more information about Sounder, check out our website or visit our Podcast Mastermind Group Facebook page.

11 Creative Ways To Successfully Promote Your Podcast

Boom! You published another amazing podcast episode, and now it’s time to put on your marketing hat to promote it. Maybe you post a photo on Instagram and link on Twitter, but, eh, you’re just ticking a box.

We hear from our Sounder creators that promoting their podcast is generally a pesky task that they know they have to do to grow their listener-base, but don’t enjoy. First, we’d love to do a little re-framing of this aversion to promotion.

Let’s say you decide to cook spaghetti from scratch. (Stick with me.) You buy the flour and local eggs, find your Grandma’s recipe and pop on an apron. You even decide, what the hell, let’s make the sauce from scratch! For hours you kneed, chop, roll, and cook. Glee fills your heart. Smells of Italy fill your home. Alas, you finish with far more than you can eat by yourself. You plate your creation, sprinkle on some Parmesan, and enjoy the freshest spaghetti you’ve ever tasted. You grab your phone to call your mom, or invite over a friend, or Gram a photo, or… AH HA.

Promotion is just the process of telling people about something you’re proud of.

Promotion is just the process of telling people about something you’re proud of — screaming from the rooftops about your fantastic new episode. Without it, you’ll be eating spaghetti alone. The way you promote your show to new and existing fans speaks to your brand identity. It’s an extension of your lister’s experience.

We asked 11 new and seasoned podcasters how they successfully promote their show. And no, it’s not all about social media (seriously). You can do a ton of off-social promoting to grow your audience. Creativity doesn’t have to stop when you hit publish. In fact, it’s the creativity of these featured podcasters that got them in this article in the first place (more on that below). Try different things! Switch it up from week to week! Have some fun!

1. Go to networking events

“For the last five years, I’ve attended about seven or eight podcast fan festivals and comic conventions— places where my target audience goes. We typically purchase a table at each event and give away stickers, sell books, and raise awareness not only for our show but for podcasts in general. Many people at comic book conventions are oblivious that they can get free entertainment. We’ve made quite a few long-term fans that way.” — Travis Vengroff, co-host, and producer of The White Vault Podcast

“One of the hurdles podcasters and entrepreneurs in general experience when it comes to marketing is that networking feels icky. It’s important to kick ourselves out of the way and let our work speak for itself. When the right listener finds our show, it’s a win-win, and they get the support, advice, and sense of community that they need. If we don’t get over our angst about networking, they may never learn about our show and might miss out on all of the goodness.” — Robbie Samuels, host of On the Schmooze podcast and author of “Croissants vs. Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences”

2. Tease your episodes with an interactive element

“Before recording every new episode, we post hypotheticals from the previous episode to our Instagram and allow our listener’s the final say. We then review the results of those polls at the beginning of each new podcast. Arguments About Nothing is a deep-dive into silly hypothetical questions, which lends itself pretty seamlessly to Instagram interactive polls. We also solicit questions from listeners to answer on the show. We hope that by creating a truly interactive product that our listeners will be more likely to recommend the podcast to their friends.” — Shelby Sampsel and Hannah Bennett, hosts of Arguments About Nothing

“I also solicit questions on social media that I promise to answer on the show. Listeners can email me a question, or they can record a question right on my website so that I can play the audio and then answer it. There is a simple website plug-in called SpeakPipe that makes this easy to set up.” — Will Bachman, co-founder & Managing Partner of Umbrex and the host of Unleashed

“There should be a step before the episode drops, and that is a teaser of what’s to come. It’s up to the show what that teaser is. It could be an audio clip, or a video teaser, or a picture with a waveform and text. There needs to be a social media push the day before the episode drops. — Brianna Peters, Founder/Owner of Gotham Podcast StudioHost of Bit Different Podcast

3. Make it easy for your guests to share

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

“When it comes to promoting your podcast, don’t miss what’s right in front of you — your interviewee. The guest you invited on your podcast has their own following and community. They are the ones most likely to listen and share. Time and again, our most-listened-to episodes feature people who have active and engaged communities online. Here’s the secret sauce: You can’t just ask them to share in an email, you have to give your guest assets they are excited to use. For The Corporate Dropout podcast, we always share a bundle of images they can use that feature the guest and include the episode title and podcast name. Launch your episode with a wave of appreciation your guest can’t miss. Share the episode on Instagram, Instastory, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and be sure to tag your guest. Most often, guests will reciprocate and share the episode with their followers — and some of them will subscribe and become regular listeners.” — April Sciacchitano, co-founder of Mix+Shine Marketing and The Corporate Dropout podcast

“Give your guest really good assets to post on their social platforms. For instance, I’m working on launching an interview series with top Gen-Z influencers. They have unimaginably large audiences, larger than four times my max growth potential. To leverage this, I cut together materials that they can post on their social media. Everyone needs more content. The key is to create a piece that fits with their audience and to give them several options to choose from. Make it as little work for them as you can. I’ve been featured in vlogs that got 250,000+ views this way.” — Timothy Bach, Multi-Media Journalist, and Creative Lead at The Creator Factory

“Building an audience requires patience and persistence: following the steps below, I’ve reached a total 100,000 downloads after starting my show three years ago and publishing 225+ episodes. For each episode, I create a custom graphic that includes the photo and name of my guest, and then I send that graphic to my guest along with a permalink to the episode on my show’s website. I encourage my guests to post the graphic and link on LinkedIn, Twitter, or their website.” — Will Bachman, co-founder & Managing Partner of Umbrex and the host of Unleashed

“As a podcaster, you don’t want to speak into a vacuum. Meaning, if you continue to only talk to those who already listen and follow you, then you are missing out on huge potential listenership by not asking your guest to share with their community/followers/subscribers/etc. Explain to your guest how much it would help you and your show, most people will help, however they can.” — Brianna Peters, Founder/Owner of Gotham Podcast StudioHost of Bit Different Podcast

4. Engage your local community

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At first, Julie and Stacey didn’t have much to say about promotion, as their entrepreneurship podcast rose to popularity quite organically due to the idea behind it (they interview local businesses) and their connections in the Charleston area. I was like DING DING DING, let’s hear how they engaged their community, which is a form of promotion. Here’s what they had to say…

“We have quarterly get-togethers at a local cheese and wine shop, Goat, Sheep, Cow North. They’ve been on the podcast! Getting together ensures we keep up with what our previous guests are up to, and can also lead to new partnerships through friends of guests. We also support the people who have been on the podcast either by donating, referring, or shopping. People love to tell their stories, and we like to listen. It is a perfect way to get the best of both worlds. So as much as we can, we try to do the interviews face to face. The connection is super personal, and many times once the mic is turned off, our guests will sit for hours and continue telling stories. We built as a platform for people to tell their stories and use it for their own marketing needs.” — Julie & Stacey, Co-CEO’s & Founders of the GSD Entrepreneur podcast

5. Get fun tags from guests

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

“Have a script of maybe three different lines that you have all your guests read that promote you and your brand. You’ll see this done on E-News and Entertainment Tonight. Something like, “Hey guys, it’s X here, (you)’s the best podcast EVER… make sure you subscribe, like, and share! Here is an example from my own social. — Timothy Bach, Multi-Media Journalist, and Creative Lead at The Creator Factory

“When I interview someone, I ALWAYS get a tag for the show. You will always hear my podcast start with “Hi! This is such and such, and you are listening to Sound Vapors.” There is another use for guest tags as well. I create a quick 15-second video with the tag that they’ve recorded and use it on social media to announce an upcoming episode. Fans of the show really seem to get a kick out of these. This has been extremely effective for me. Bonus is — if the (in my case) artist or band re-tweets or IG Stories your video tag to their following, it creates that much more buzz.” — Tommy Marz, founder of Sound Vapors

6. Hand out physical swag

“We put topical flyers up for our shows at every coffee shop, bar, and cafe that will give us permission!” — Travis Vengroff, co-host, and producer of The White Vault Podcast

“I designed my business card to have a version of my podcast graphic on one side with the URL to my show and my business contact info on the other. Every time I hand out my card, I start by showing them my business side and then turn it over and point out my show. If they show interest, I ask if they listen to podcasts and, if so, which ones. That way, I’m engaging the topic of podcasting without overtly selling my show. Usually, as that conversation wraps up, they commit to giving my show a listen.” — Robbie Samuels, host of On the Schmooze podcast and author of “Croissants vs. Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences”

7. Don’t just post, add value on social media

“From the LinkedInFormed podcast hosted by Mark Williams, I’ve learned how to make these LinkedIn posts more engaging. Instead of just saying, “here is the latest episode” with a summary, I always try to invite comments on my LinkedIn posts by posing a question. To anyone who comments or likes my LinkedIn post, I’ll send a connection request thanking them for the engagement and asking if they’d like to get the weekly email for my podcast. When people sign up for my weekly email, I send them a curated set of the Unleashed Essentials—selected set of episodes I see as the most practical and useful.” — Will Bachman, co-founder & Managing Partner of Umbrex and the host of Unleashed

The most important part of podcast promotion is not promotingNow I don’t mean you should never market your show, but the most compelling podcast recommendations travel through word of mouth. Thus, it’s critical to immerse yourself in your audience’s community to show you provide more value than a hasty hyperlink. Contribute to Twitter conversations, make niche memes only your audience would truly appreciate, talk shop with influencers, and reblog aesthetically pleasing, industry-relevant content on Tumblr. All this is good boots-on-the-ground proto-promotion that engenders trust. More specifically, we are a big fan of using Headliner, a free to start tool that helps content creators produce captioned audio snippets that can then be posted on social media. Rather than just linking a show and hinting at the topics covered, put your audio right on someone’s timeline to hook them into hearing the rest!” — Dan Goubert, Co-Host of The Empty Bowl and Creator of Cerealously

“After your episode drops, post about the episode and make sure to ask questions to your audience. Remember, social media was made to be social, not to just talk at each other but with each other.” — Brianna Peters, Founder/Owner of Gotham Podcast StudioHost of Bit Different Podcast

8. Talk about your show in real life

“As far as advocating in our day to day lives, we both have taken different tacks. Hannah added the podcast to her LinkedIn and the signature of her personal emails. We’ve gotten listeners from both of those strategies. For my birthday this year, I asked my friends and family on Facebook and Instagram to download the podcast in lieu of wishing me Happy Birthday, which resulted in the largest spike in downloads that we’ve seen. “I have a podcast” has become my go-to fun fact about myself. I even mention it on my dating apps, which has also turned out to be a winning strategy. Hannah works at a smaller company, so everyone at her office knows about it. I work at a larger company. An all-company email would be a little inappropriate, but most of the people I work with regularly know about it. Basically, anyone who would ask me, “Hey, how was your weekend?” knows about it because my go-to response is “It was good. I worked on my podcast.” My advice to people trying to get a podcast off the ground would be to have your elevator pitch ready and be proud of your work.” — Shelby Sampsel and Hannah Bennett, hosts of Arguments About Nothing

9. Get on HARO

“I respond to two or three HARO pitches a week. What I like to do is try to find any tangential connection to gardening and give as much value as possible, and then let the chips fall where they may. That’s led to my work being used without credit but also some incredible guest features on some great publications (cough cough) that I would never have gotten on otherwise.” — Kevin Espiritu, founder of Epic Gardening

10. Make your show a website

Team Sounder stepping in here with this one. A website is like passive promotion (ahh, can you hear the ocean waves?). It’s a collection of your brand, show, contact information, and blogs that hang out on the internet and pop up for people who are curious about your topic. And while social media is a great way to promote your show, it changes on a dime. You need the space to build a brand that YOU own. Someplace you can send listeners, collect emails, and sell swag.

11. Be yourself

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“I feel like this goes without saying, but a key aspect to making any podcast successful is being yourself, and that extends into promotion as well. Make sure that while promoting your podcast, you are the same genuine self at all times. People see right through fake influence.” — Timothy Bach, Multi-Media Journalist, and Creative Lead at The Creator FactorySounder.fm

Podcast Current Events to Keep You on Top of Your Game

The podcast industry is rapidly growing, so Sounder is making it easy for audio creators to stay on top of it all with a bi-weekly roundup of the most exciting podcasting news and tips. Made for experts and beginners alike, treat these creator-friendly posts like your podcasting handbook. Let’s see what’s on deck this week.

This week we cover

A new technology that can remove the “ums” and “uhs” from your podcast without hours of editing, which airline is stepping up their in-flight entertainment to include podcasts, resources for new podcasters, including a list of beginner regrets from seasoned creators, and which loved (and not at all satirical) news outlet is starting a podcast.

1. Easily edit out the “uhs”

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could edit out the “uhs” and “ums” from your podcast? Well, Project Sound Seek, a tech tool featured at the Adobe Max Sneaks 2019 event, can do just that. Justin Salamon (@justin_salamon on Twitter) began presenting Project Sound Seek by staggering through his speech, confessing how nervous he was. Then stopped to note, “how great it would be if we could take the audio recording of this session and edit out my ‘uhs’ to make me sound a little smoother.” That’s why Salamon and his small team created Project Sound Seek. “It’s like the Photoshop Magic Wand, but for sound,” he says.

Here’s how it works: select one “um” in your audio file, hit analyze, and the program learns the sound on the spot, highlighting it throughout the recording. Then you can delete or adjust. Sound too good to be true? Well, it may be. While this Adobe event is held twice a year showcasing “what’s brewing in Adobe Research,” writes Lauren Friedman, head of Adobe Global Social Business Enablement, it doesn’t quite mean these technologies will be live any time soon. “At best, some of these innovations actually make it into Adobe products,” writes Friedman. Fingers crossed!

If you want to read more. If you want to watch more.

2. We’re flying this airline from now on

Photo by Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash

For some, flying is stressful. For others, it’s simply another part of the workweek. But for all Jetblue travelers, it’ll be so much more entertaining thanks to the airline’s new deal with Spotify. Launching this month, podcast titles like Business of HYPE, Conspiracy Theories, Dope Labs, Heavyweight, The Horror of Dolores Roach, and Superwomen with Rebecca Minkoff will be available for free, 30,000 feet in the air. “…we are once again re-defining inflight entertainment by listening closely to our customers’ feedback and offering even more options to make the most of their time on board,” said Mariya Stoyanova, director of JetBlue product development.

If you want to read more.

3. America’s finest news source goes audio

This just in, The Onion, American’s favorite comedy, news, and satire brand is teaming up with Sony Music Entertainment to produce a daily podcast called “The Topical.” No, really, it’s true! This January, you can tune in to listen to that same satirical content you know and love.

The Onion will oversee all creative aspects of the podcast, including writing, producing, and recording. Jordan LaFlure, Executive Editor at The Onion, said, “A daily news podcast provides an opportunity for The Onion to access and inform billions of presumably illiterate people previously deprived of the finest reporting the world has ever known.”

If you want to read more.

4. Podcasters tell their biggest beginner regrets

Photo by Matthieu A on Unsplash

Sometimes starting a podcast can be daunting, so this week, we’ve got some awesome resources to get you moving and grooving.

Up first, a brand new book titled Pod Life. Not so much a how-to guide, this book is instead a collection of motivating, funny, and insightful stories from a wide range of podcast hosts, like James Wylder (@arcbeatle on Twitter) host of Tales by the Blue Light, about what it’s like to run a podcast. We love hearing about how they juggle jobs, kids, and other hobbies with their audio career. It’s so real, we could cry.

Next, Google and PRX joined together in creating a friendly, comprehensive video series titled Podcasting 101 to support early-stage podcasters in everything from recording to scriptwriting to monetizing. It’s hosted by podcast hosts Luvvie Ajayi of the Rants & Randomness and Jesus & Jollof podcasts and Sean Rameswaram, host of Vox Media’s daily news podcast Today, Explained. One of the main goals of Podcasting 101 is “to fuel the growth of podcasting around the world by providing the next generation of audio-makers with the tools and training needed to succeed,’ says PRX CEO Kerri Hoffman. That’s why the series will be transcribed in Spanish, Hindi, French, Arabic, and Portuguese to reach podcasters everywhere.

And finally, beginners can take some comfort in listening to last week’s episode of School of Podcasting, where host David Jackson asks fellow podcaster’s their biggest regrets when starting a podcast, so maybe you don’t have to live them yourself. Coincidently, Jackson is also a contributor to Pod Life.

5. We can’t stop listening to this new podcast…

If you don’t already know, we love to cheerlead our awesome Souder audio creators. (Just one of the benefits of being part of this super supportive team!) So we started a campaign called #podlight, where we interview and feature a new podcast every week.

Stepping into the #Podlight this week is Krista and Amanda of Project Hundo Podcast! If you relate more to dank memes than motivational ones, this is the podcast for you. It’s about getting healthy with a sense of humor (and occasionally half-priced wings).

How it all began:

Krista and Amanda have been friends for approximately 335 years, give or take 300. They have loads in common — a love of being down the shore, a sense of humor that leans toward absurd, the ability to laugh at themselves, and a fondness of half-priced wings. Which brings us to another thing they have in common — decades-long struggles with weight and overall well being.

Instead of doing something run of the mill, these two hilarious women decided to throw the idea of dieting out the window, and just focus on building healthy habits instead. “Looking for inspiration in existing podcasts didn’t work,” says the pair. Turns out, they do not respond well to people who are overly upbeat and optimistic. “Where was the sarcasm? Why didn’t anyone admit some of what you have to do to get healthy just plain sucks? Why does everyone love kale so much?” questions Amanda of ProjectHundoPodcast.

Obviously, the only answer was to start their own podcast so they could invite everyone along on their journey and entertain others that need a relatable voice like theirs.

Welp, that’s all we have for you on this week’s Sounder roundup! We hope you learned something new or got to know one of the many creative minds mentioned.

Launching a Podcast: How to Start a Podcast for Free

Nearly a third of people in the US listen to podcasts. That’s up from less than 10 percent in 2008. And even if they don’t listen to them regularly, 70 percent of US adults know what podcasts are.

Launching a podcast is a great way to reach your audience and with the tools and technology available today, you don’t have to be an audio engineer or technical wizard to get started. Plus, you don’t need to spend a dime to get your podcast out into the world. Let’s look at what you need to get started in podcasting for free.

Planning Your Podcast

When you’re thinking of starting a podcast, it’s tempting to jump right in and start recording your first episode. But if you’re in it for the long haul, you need to do some planning first.

The very first thing you need to decide is what you want your podcast to do:

  • Bring new customers into your business?
  • Expand your circle of influence?
  • Entertain and educate your listeners?
  • All of the above?

Having a goal in mind when you start makes it easier to choose between different options as you move forward with your podcasting career.

Picking a Topic and Name

You should choose a topic for your podcast. There are some successful general-interest podcasts but it’s a lot easier to get noticed when you target a specific niche.

The best way to get started is to focus on a narrow topic but choose a name that will let you grow into a wider range of topics within the same general niche.

That way, you can start growing your audience with people who are interested in the specific topic but you can get more creative as your show gets more popular.

Another important thing to consider when choosing the name of your podcast is the domain name of your website. Try to find a name that you can register as an exact match address for the website. For example, if your show is called My New Podcast, look for MyNewPodcast.com.

A .com domain is always the best choice but if you can get the name you want with another extension like .co or .fm it’s worth considering.

Alternatively, you can use the show page URL that is provided to you by your podcast hosting provider.

Test the Name Before You Launch

Once you’ve picked a name for your podcast, it’s a good idea to test it on some people before you go full-steam ahead.

Share the name with friends and family, on social media, in forums, and anywhere else you can get some feedback. Ask people what they think the podcast is about based on the name and whether it would catch their attention if they saw it mentioned.

Choosing Your Show Format

If you listen to many podcasts, you’ve probably noticed that there are lots of different formats to choose from. Some podcasts are interview style with a different guest on every episode. Others have two co-hosts who discuss the topic of the episode.

Some are even a single host delivering news or other information about the topic of the podcast. And over the last few years, story-based podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale have become popular.

One format isn’t better than another but you need to choose one that you won’t get sick of anytime soon. There’s nothing that says you can’t change formats but your listeners will get used to a certain type of show so changes can sometimes affect your listenership.

Scripted or Unscripted?

Some formats, like story-based fiction, need a script to work from while others, like interviews, will be mostly off-the-cuff.

Whether you work from a script or not, it’s always a good idea to have an outline for your show and some show notes to work from. That way, if you find yourself drawing a blank for the next thing to say or the next question to ask, you’ve got somewhere to turn.

Deciding on a Show Schedule

Another important thing to decide upfront is what kind of schedule you want to follow. It can be tempting to set an ambitious schedule like weekly or every few days when you first get started but make sure you can keep up with whatever schedule you choose.

Your listeners will get into a routine when they start listening to your show regularly. If you tell them new episodes are released every week and you miss a week or two, you might get a lot of emails or social media messages asking about the “missing” show.

And if you miss your schedule too often, you can lose listeners.

Designing Cover Art

The cover art for your podcast is what most people will notice first. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but in reality, most people do.

Your cover art should convey the general topic of your show as well as catch people’s eye when they’re scanning through a podcast directory like Apple or Google Podcasts. It should also be at least 1,400 x 1,400 pixels in size so it gets picked up on various podcast listening sites.

If you don’t have the artistic skills to create something yourself, consider getting help with this stage. If you know an artist that can put your cover art together, go ahead and ask. If you don’t know someone, check with a local high school or art school to see if they have any students who are looking for ways to add to their portfolio.

A nice free way to create cover art would be to use some of the various free templates located on canva.com which makes it very easy for anyone to start designing.

Once your show starts generating some revenue, you can reinvest some of it into professional artwork through a website like 99 Designs but until that time, try to find an artist that can help rather than going the do-it-yourself route.

Intro and Outro Music

The intro and outro music helps to brand your podcast so it’s a good idea to have this in place for your first episode. It doesn’t have to be a long song (and shouldn’t be), but it should be catchy and an appropriate tone for the topic.

The most important thing to remember about using music in your podcast is don’t use copyrighted songs. That song by your favorite band might be the perfect fit for what you’re trying to get across but distributing a podcast with unlicensed music is asking for trouble.

You can quickly find yourself in a legal mess with no way out but a costly settlement.

Tip: YouTube has a variety of sounds and music you can download for free.

Recording Equipment

A discussion of how to choose the best recording equipment for your podcast could fill an entire book. If you spend any time researching this topic online, you’ll quickly find recommendations that will cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

None of that is necessary to get started. If you have a reasonably up-to-date PC or a smartphone that was released anytime in the last few years, you’ve got everything you need to get started.

Modern PCs usually have a built-in microphone, especially if you’re working on a laptop. And smartphones all have a microphone built-in. These mics aren’t going to record with the same quality as something that costs a couple of hundred dollars or more but your listeners are more interested in what you have to say than how you sound saying it.

The same goes for fancy recording equipment like compressors, digital interfaces, and the like. None of that stuff is necessary to get your podcast started. Once you’re making some money from it, you can revisit your equipment and start reinvesting in things that will improve the sound quality.

Recording and Editing Software

Software is similar to the recording equipment — you can spend hundreds of dollars on high-end applications but there’s no need to when you’re getting started.

If you use a Mac computer, they all come with an app called GarageBand. A lot of big-name podcasts used GarageBand when they first started (and some still use it).

If you use a Windows PC, you’ve got free options as well. Audacity is a free audio editor that’s available for both Windows and macOS. And despite the cost, it’s one of the more powerful options so you can continue using it as your needs grow.

If you have podcast guests that aren’t sitting directly across the table from you, you’ll also need software to communicate back and forth with them. Most podcasts — new or established — use Skype for this purpose. Skype is free to use for Skype-to-Skype calling so you can chat with a guest from anywhere in the world. If you want to record the video for distribution to YouTube and others, you can use the free version of Zoom.

Your recording software can record the Skype conversations but once you have a bit of money to spend on expansion, you can get apps that are dedicated Skype recorders. Ecamm Recorder for macOS and Pamela for Windows both record the Skype conversation into an audio file that you can import into your editor for the final edits.

Distribution and Promotion

Distribution and promotion of your podcast are where the rubber hits the road. The best podcast episode ever recorded means nothing if nobody ever gets to hear it.

There are two steps to distributing your podcast. You need to host the audio somewhere and then you need to add your show to podcast directories so your audience can find and download it.

We’ll get into the hosting side of the equation shortly but as far as getting listed in podcast directories, there are a few that you need to be in for maximum exposure:

  • Apple Podcasts (the 800-pound gorilla)
  • Google Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Stitcher
  • Spotify

Once you add your RSS feed to these directories your work is done. They will update your listing when you release a new episode using the RSS feed on your website or through the podcast hosting service you use.

Promoting Your Show

Once your show is listed on the major directories, you need to start promoting it so people know to go looking for it. Get the word out everywhere you can.

If you have a following on Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media platform, start talking about your show there. Post links to new episodes when they’re released and direct people to the listings on the podcast directories.

You should also highlight the show on your website. If you write a blog, make sure you add posts for every new episode. Add links to subscribe to the show on the major directories to every page on your site.

You can also convert your podcast episodes into videos by using images along with the audio then upload those to YouTube. People can listen to them on YouTube, which becomes another unofficial podcast directory for you.

And lots of people search YouTube for things they’re interested in so it can be a great way to reach a wider audience.

Choosing Hosting for Launching a Podcast

With the growth in podcasting, lots of hosting services have popped up over the last few years. Most of them have a monthly fee to use the service, some quite high.

A few of them offer free plans, but they have significant limits on how many hours of audio you can store and how much bandwidth you can use every month. If your show gets even remotely popular, you’ll burn through the free tier pretty fast.

Sounder.fm takes a different approach. We offer unlimited free hosting so you can use our podcast hosting for any length and number of shows without spending a dime.

As your show grows and starts generating revenue, you can upgrade to a paid plan to get extra features but the free tier gives you everything you need to get started.

It’s Not Too Late to Get Started

It might seem like the podcast market is too crowded for a new show to break out and get popular. Don’t kid yourself, there’s no better time than right now for launching a podcast.

More people listen to podcasts than ever before and there are huge untapped topics just waiting for a good show to jump in. With the level of technology available and the free tools and services you have at your disposal, you can get started today for no cost other than some of your time.

If you want to learn more about starting a podcast, check out Episode 6 of the Sounder podcast where we share 50 podcasting tips. That’s right, a podcast about podcasting…

Tips to Make Your Free Podcast RSS Feed Successful

Did you know that over 30% of Americans listen to podcasts? That means that more than 90 million Americans are tuning into podcasting feeds on a regular basis. Want to get in on the trend?

You’re in luck. Fortunately, there are several ways to make your free podcast RSS feed successful. Read on for some of our best tips to make your free RSS feed successful.

First off, What is a Podcast?

You might be wondering: what is a podcast, anyway? We’re glad that you asked. To put it simply, podcasts are a collection of audio series that usually focus on a certain subject or topic, such as startups or cycling.

For the uninitiated, you can easily subscribe to your favorite podcast show on your smartphone to hear podcast episodes on:

  • Your home speakers
  • Your daily commute
  • Your personal headphones

But here’s the catch. Most of the time, you can only listen to podcasts, meaning there are no visual elements. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any video podcasts out there.

That being said, podcasts are meant to inspire and educate people by bringing fresh, diverse content on interesting topics. With tons of fun subjects to choose from, it’s no wonder that so many people tune into podcasts in their car too.

Not only that, but podcasts are also great to listen to while:

  • Working out at the gym
  • Mowing your front lawn
  • Cleaning the house

Dying to know what a podcast should sound like? To be quite honest, it totally depends on the topic that you choose. For instance, if you’re obsessed with something like triathlon racing, you’d probably want to focus on that subject every week.

For those who are unaware, each podcast episode typically has at least one host who chats about a unique subject. Bonus points for podcasts that add some top-notch guests to the mix too. The point is, most podcasts prefer to keep it simple.

You know the feeling — the podcasts that make you feel like it really is just two friends chatting away about their favorite subject.

Pro tip: the best podcasts use music, editing, and sound effects to take it to the next level. But what on earth are RSS feeds?

All About RSS Feeds

Curious about how to create an RSS feed for podcast creators? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s the breakdown.

First things first, let’s take a good look at what “RSS” actually stands for. In a nutshell, RSS stands “really simple syndication.”

RSS feeds give creators a simple format that allows other websites to grab the feed and update the audio content on a consistent bases. This makes it easy for listeners to listen to and subscribe to audio content regardless of what podcast app they are using.

We can’t emphasize this enough: having an RSS feed is a requirement for anyone who wants to syndicate or distribute their own podcasts. That’s because it’s also the uniform resource locator for your podcast show!

So, what exactly is a podcast feed? Basically, you’ll find out as soon as you get started posting audio content with your podcast hosting provider. Every hosting provider gives you a unique RSS feed URL that you can then syndicate to podcast listening sites like:

We highly recommend that you make your RSS feed podcast-only as opposed to one that uses other types of content. For example, a generic RSS feed generator can have video and other non audio related content in your feed that won’t work with Apple Podcasts and others.

Want to learn more about the history of podcasts? Thankfully, researching how podcasts got started is a breeze!

Perks of RSS Feeds

Interested in creating your own podcast? It’s important to submit your podcast-only RSS feed to every podcast directory and app that you can. For those that don’t know where to start, you can’t go wrong with sending it to places the following places.

When it comes to creating a podcast RSS feed, there are tons of perks involved. For instance, they literally contain all of your podcast’s data, including its:

  • Title
  • Image
  • Description
  • MP3 file URL
  • Category

In addition, your RSS feed lets you distribute content to several platforms to reach a wider audience without them having to track down your website. So, what are some more benefits of having an RSS feed?

If you’re a huge fan of podcasts, then RSS feeds mean you won’t have to worry about any annoying push notifications or emails for the most popular podcast shows. Besides, it’s super simple to keep up with your most-watched podcasts in a single podcasting app!

And if you’re a podcast creator, RSS feeds are a fantastic way to reach a bunch of new audience members without having to put a lot of time and effort into newsletters or an email database. Also, they can help you increase your engagement by sending listeners to your official website using the RSS Reader.

As if that’s not enough, RSS feeds can help you upload all of your content to a single place as well. After that, your RSS feed will automatically send your content to every podcast app that it can. This is usually updated daily. Not only that, but you’ll be able to upload and update your audio all from one central place, your podcast hosting provider.

How can you beat that?

Best Podcasts Locations

Question: where’s the best place to create an RSS feed for podcast creators? We got your back. The answer is simple. Sounder.fm, a single place to manage, market, and measure your podcast. Sounder offers you free hosting, transcription, in-audio search, and analytics to help grow your audience — plus much more.

While it varies for everyone, you need to ask yourself if you’re going to self-host your program or leverage podcast platform. Of course, there are pros and cons to each hosting style. Let’s talk about those that want to self-host their podcasts first.

For starters, self-hosting means that you do everything yourself as it relates to hosting your audio and developing an RSS feed. Most people are not this technically inclined so this is limited to developers and others who want to build their own site.

What about leveraging a hosting platform to host your audio content and develop a podcast RSS feed for you? Essentially, hosting platforms are meant to take care of a podcaster’s specific needs. For those who are scratching their heads, hosting platforms automatically update your RSS feed with the latest technology.

Plus, there’s always a user-friendly support team for you to call on too. So, no more headaches about server meltdowns or data invasions. If you’re still having a hard time making your decision, just think of it this way: your RSS feed is the foundation of your podcast show.

Thus, you have to make sure that your RSS feed hosting service lets you redirect your podcast. Luckily for you, most hosting services let you do this. In fact, some even include a special option for RSS customization too.

Simple as that!

Managing Your Podcast

Curious about how to make an RSS feed for a podcast? To be honest, it’s all about managing your podcast well. Amazingly, RSS feeds nowadays give users a ton of control over their own content.

As a matter of fact, most podcast hosting platforms let creators customize their RSS feed with things like:

  • Your categories
  • Your name
  • Your e-mail

For instance, at Sounder we offer a variety of customizable fields to be added into your RSS feed including:

Author
Show Type
Categories
Summary
Owner Name
Owner Email
RSS Redirect
And More

What if you want to switch podcast hosting providers?

So, what if you want to switch from one podcast hosting provider to another?The RSS feed allows you to do this seamlessly. All you have to do is point (or redirect) your old hosting provider RSS feed to your new podcast RSS feed.

What does redirecting a feed mean? It means completely owning your feed, including old and new posts. So, if you ever want to move your podcast to a different hosting platform, you can do it without losing any of your previous listeners.

What if you want to add functionality to your current RSS feed?

What is nice about the RSS feed and using it with a hosting provider is you can always add a prefix to your RSS feed. This means that you’ll be able to add more services to your hosting platform. Let us explain.

In case you didn’t know, a prefix is a website address that’s put at the beginning of your episode’s uniform resource locator. This runs every time someone downloads or plays your episode.

It works like this: by redirecting your podcast, your prefix can gather data about all kinds of download requests, sending it back to your hosting platform. How can it possibly get any easier?

On the hunt for a beginner’s guide to podcasting? Make sure that you do your research before you hop on the mic!

Make Your Free Podcast RSS Feed Successful

Still not sure how to make your free podcast RSS feed successful? We’re here to help. From creating podcasts and RSS feeds to distribution to various podcast locations, we’ve got you covered.

Need a push in the right direction? There’s nothing wrong with sending off your podcast to as many podcast sites where your listeners may be listening. When it comes to podcasting apps, there’s never too many out there.

The point is, the easier your podcast is to find, the more listeners you’ll have. Naturally, you have to set up a podcast-only RSS feed for that to happen. But don’t worry — we’ve done all the hard work for you.

Radio Giant Gets into Podcasting, 50 Podcasting Tips and More.

Listen to the episode below:

Full Episode Transcript

This week we discuss, radio giant acquires podcast businesses, 50 tips to grow your podcast show, Google improved podcast search and the top random podcasting thought of the week.

According to the Wallstreet Journal, Entercom, one of the largest US radio broadcast companies, bought two podcast related companies. Studio Pineapple Street Media for $18 million and the remaining assets of Cadence13, valuing the company at $50 Million.

Buzzsprout, collected comments from over 200 podcasters and asked them a simple question, “How are everyday podcasters building their audience and finding success?” Here are a few tips and quotes from these podcasters on how they grow their podcast show.

  1. Love your topic — Kirk with Kicking it with Kirk says “Ultimately I believe your ambition and passion for any project is what truly sets apart from other shows that just “upload episodes” every week. People recognize when you truly care about something and that is what raises growth. If you care, they care.”
  2. Be a unique voice — Nadia from Little Voice, Big Business say,s “Be yourself in your business and on your podcast. Be a unique voice. Not a clone of someone you look up to or want to be like. Be someone who connects deeply with your specific kind of people.”
  3. Invest in Audio — Rob from Major League Eventing Podcast suggests all podcasters should “Have the best audio possible within your budget. Content is great but if the listener struggles to understand then they will move on.”
  4. Use Data — Jake from Convoy Radio suggests, “Build a Google Analytics-backed landing page for your library of episodes. This helps you understand where your listeners are coming from, which can help you optimize based on channel.”
  5. Use Paid Ads — and Nicholas with Growth Marketing Toolbox says, “The single best tactic I’ve used to grow my podcast has been Facebook Ads. It may sound counterintuitive to pay for advertising, but it really can make a difference. The amazing thing about Facebook Ads is that you can get very targeted listeners for your show, if you set up your campaigns correctly. And this can lead to loyal listeners who will leave reviews and tell their friends about the show.”

There are a ton of great tips within this article, we suggest you head over to the BuzzSprout blog and review them all.

Google this week, has finally announced that they will start to improve podcast search and discovery. The company will now transcribe and surface individual podcast episodes in search results. This is a huge next step in making podcasts even more mainstream and will eventually and dramatically increase listener engagement and listens for podcasters. The company will also soon allow people to ask Google Assistant to play podcasts about specific topics which will then find and play on their mobile or smart speaking device.

Today’s random podcasting thought of the week will be a little different. Today, I wanted to talk to you about The Emotional States of Resourcefulness which can be applied to your podcast strategy.

“Rational thoughts never drive people’s creativity the way emotions do.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson

The act of being resourceful is not derived from one single thought or action an individual or group has or does. It is, however, a combination of consistent and decisive thoughts and actions that are within the spectrum of a variety of resourceful emotional states. Resourceful people and companies always find the resources to reach their audacious goals.

In 1990, J.K. Rowling was on a delayed train from Manchester to London and had the idea of “Harry Potter.” It wasn’t until 7 years later, after her mother died, the birth of her first child, poverty and a divorce, that she took this pain and transformed it into what some would say is one of the greatest creative masterpieces of our time.

Thomas Edison was one of the most resourceful people in history. In 1914, one of Edison’s plants exploded in chemical-induced flames. The New York Times reported that Edison simply said, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow….There is only one thing to do, and that is to jump right in and rebuild.” According to a 1961 Reader’s Digest article, one of Edison’s sons, Charles, said as the fire was burning down the multimillion-dollar plant, his father came up to him and said, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again.” When Charles objected, Edison said, “It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.”

That night, Edison lost $23 million in today’s dollars that could have ended his career. But as always, his stoicism, determination and perseverance enabled him to rebuild quickly and generate $10 million in revenue the following year.

In 1999, Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com had a decision to make, stay at his cushy job at Oracle making over $1M a year, or go out on his own and jump into starting a business.

“Through a lot of deep contemplation, you have to go inside for that answer. You can’t get that answer outside. Only you know what is right for you: Your purpose, your ideas, your time frames, how all those things line up, that’s what’s in you,” he said at one of his annual Dreamforce conferences. “And then all of a sudden, I’m like, ‘This is it. That’s the trust.’ I learned to trust myself because now I have the message, it’s time to go, it’s time to actually make that leap.”

Marc tried to raise money from traditional venture capitalists like Sequoia and US Venture Capital among others.

“I had to go hat in hand, like I was a high tech beggar, down to Silicon Valley to raise some money…And as I go from venture capitalist to venture capitalist to venture capitalist — and a lot of them are my friends, people I’ve gone to lunch with — and each and every one of them said no,” Benioff said. “Salesforce was never able to raise a single dollar from a venture capitalist,” he added.

He said they thought the idea was ludicrous. Instead of giving up, Marc used resourcefulness to figure out other ways to get to where he wanted to go. He decided to talk to his friends and see if they would invest in his idea. They did and as they say, the rest is history.

In an interview with Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape and now the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz’s, Marc said, “Why even go to venture capitalists? You should just raise money privately unless someone like yourself (referring to Marc Andreessen) actually adds value because you’re an entrepreneur. But most of them (VCs) aren’t going to give you any value anyway.”

Paul Graham, the incredibly successful founder of Y Combinator, wrote a post in 2009 entitled, “Relentlessly Resourceful.” In it he was trying to figure out how to describe to investors what to look for in entrepreneurs. “They’d be relentlessly resourceful…..If I were running a startup, this would be the phrase I’d tape to the mirror. “Make something people want” is the destination, but “Be relentlessly resourceful” is how you get there.”

Burn the boats

There is a common saying, “burn the boats”, meaning give yourself no other option but to move forward. There is no returning to safety. You must win, or die.

This reference is from the 1519 exhibition of Mexico and eventual conquest of the Aztec empire by Hernán Cortés and hundreds of his men. Cortés faced imprisonment or death for defying the governor if he returned to Cuba. He had a choice to return to Cuba or fight. He decided to fight and ordered his men to destroy the ships so they could not return. They entered the point of no return. The common misconception and expression of “burn the boats” should actually be “sink the boats” since Cortés’ men were ordered to actually scuttle the ships. However, burning the boats gives us a better visual to motivate and take action. Be relentlessly resourceful.

Podcast Episode — Popular Podcast Formats, Live Podcast Events up 2,000% and More.

Listen to the episode below”

Transcription of the audio:

Mark Leonard posted in article in Medium entitled, “The Seven Most Common Podcast Formats”. We were interested in seeing which formats are the most common and here they are.

At number 1, One-on-one interviews. This is the most common simply because it is the easiest to develop content around the guest you are interviewing. Solo commentary came in at number two, an example of this would be this very podcast you are listening to right now. Panel, Guest Interview or Discussion came next. This is a little more difficult as it takes good panelists and topics to make it educational for listeners At number 4, Nonfiction Narrative Storytelling. Examples of this would be Serial or This American Life. At 5, Fictional Story Telling, examples include Welcome to Nightvale and We’re Alive: A “Zombie” Story of Survival. 6, Hybrid. This is of course a combination of any of the above and coming in at number 7, Repurposed Content. This is popular amongst historical radio shows that have repurposed their show to be in podcast format.

Something very interesting is happening within the podcast industry where listeners are paying relatively high ticket prices to see live podcast shows in theaters. According to Vivid Seats, live podcasting events have grown 2,000% since 2012. Live events offer podcasts the opportunity to monetize outside of audio ad revenue, which is growing but still pretty small compared to radio ad revenue. With that said, ticket prices range from $58 a ticket to over $117.

Are podcasts getting shorter or is it just my imagination? With This WeekInPodcasting we keep our shows under 10 minutes but what are the trends within the industry? In fact, in 2014, roughly 15% of the top 500 podcasts were over 90 minutes long. In 2019, this has significantly dropped to only 3%. However, episodes ranging from 0 to 15 minutes, like ours, has gone from 3% of total in 2015 to 16% in 2019. We believe short form audio is the future and we will see a much larger percentage of podcasts falling within this range.

Today’s random podcasting thought is…. “Deep fake audio,” We still live in a robotic voice world. Siri, Alexa and OK Google are boring and still sound like robots underwater. All of this may eventually change. What if you were able to select your smart speaker voice based on your favorite actor, musician or athlete? Theoretically, if there is enough audio data from a particular actor for example, you could feed the audio into an AI voice machine and that voice could become your personalized voice assistant.

An AI company called Dessa has built some incredible deep fake audio using the trove of audio data with Joe Rogan’s Voice. This could be the first step into making our voice assistants less robotic.

That’s all we have for this Week in Podcasting, we will talk to you next week.

Defining Your Customer Through Personas

If you are just getting started in creating a new business and have an idea now it is time to understand exactly who your customers will be so you can get quality feedback from them before you start spending more time or money building out the company.

You need to create a detailed customer persona of your customers. Your existing customer assumptions may change over time as you get more feedback and data but this will be a good starting point. You will also use these personas to target and acquirer customers for the lowest possible cost which we will discuss in the future chapters.

For example, when Bill Gross dropped off his 5 year old at school, he waved goodbye to him and suddenly worried, “What if he doesn’t fall in love with learning, like I did?”.

From there, Knowledge Adventure, a suite of software products built to make kids fall in love with learning was born. Originally, the product was aimed at children between the ages of 5 and 15 and the sales stalled and slumped. They tried everything but it only helped sales marginally. They decided to go with a new customer profile. And asked the question, “What if we made a product for a much narrower audience — like, say, the four million 5-year-olds in the US?”

After testing the new messaging and developing new marketing boxes focused only on five year olds, sales took off. While at the bookstores, parents would see these ‘Jump Start Kindergarten’ boxes and say to themselves, “Hey, I have a 5-year-old, I need this product for him/her.” Once they started to focus on the right product for the right customer, sales took off.

Asking the right questions when developing your customer personas

As a rule of thumb, startups should have no more than 3 customer personas. If you have more, narrow down your focus similar to what Bill Gross did above. You can start the process by following the below buyer persona template.

You must become very intimate with your customers and their personas. This is why some of the best products and companies that are built are done because of personal frustrations. They were the original customer who wanted to build something better for themselves and others who were experiencing the same problems. They by default, were already in the minds of their future customers. With that said, we recommend even these companies build out their customer personas and ask potential and existing customer questions to help them focus on the right features and marketing messages.

For those companies that “eat their own dogfood” and use the products themselves every single day, they tend to have better adoption rates, lower attrition rates and greater success since they are the first to fix bugs, continuously iterate on the product and are constantly in the minds of the customers. But this by itself is not enough, they too must also continuously speak with their customers to constantly improve and enhance the product.

Below are some questions to ask yourself and potential customers when developing your customer personas.

(Demographics)

  1. Who are your customers?
  2. What is their age, sex, education, income level, where they live, etc?

(Background)

  1. What is their job?
  2. What is their title, role and responsibilities?
  3. How big is the company they work for? What Industry?
  4. How is their job measured?
  5. What knowledge and tools do they use in their job?
  6. What does their average day look like?
  7. What does this potential customer do on a daily basis?
  8. What decisions do they make?
  9. Do they have to get approval to make decisions?

(Psychographics)

  1. Why would they use your service or product?
  2. What motivates them to use your service or product?
  3. What do they value the most when making a product or purchase decision?
  4. Do they value support, price, time savings, productivity, personal growth, etc?

(Goals)

  1. What are their primary goals?
  2. What are they responsible for?
  3. What are their inspirations for the future related to their career?
  4. Where do they go for information?
  5. What sources do they use to improve their work and get better?

(Challenges / Pain Points)

  1. What are their current challenges and pain points during their day to day work?
  2. What pain points do they experience related to your or a similar product or service?
  3. What are their most common objections from using your service or product?
  4. What are they saying on why your service will not meet their needs?
  5. What are their concerns or hesitations from using your product?
  6. What language would this customer use to identify their current problem?

Competitive Analysis Through Spying

When you have greater visibility into your competition, you are able to answer internal strategic questions much more quickly than if you were to go through the process of solving the problem yourself. For example, strategic questions like:

  • How can we dramatically increase qualified traffic to our site for free?
  • What marketing message is most likely to work the best?
  • What are the most common times customers may visit our location?
  • What technologies should we use?
  • How can we cost effectively reach our target audience?
  • How can we dramatically increase customer support options?

With that said, this should only be used as a starting point since your own unique value propositions, technology, experience, etc will change the way you approach certain problems. In addition, the way you approach and solve problems your competition hasn’t quite noticed yet will give you a short term competitive advantage until of course, they start spying on you.

Marketing Copy and SEM Spying Tools

A tool we use frequently is called SpyFu. Spyfu indexes over 6 billion urls across 84 million domains. They take a snapshot of every index from the last 11 years to allow you to search a competitor and see every keyword they bought, review keyword position, explore the ad copy they used the most often, review ad variations and even look at the organic ranking of their organic keywords.

For example, you can view the best call to actions and marketing messages that have worked the best for your competition to get ideas on how you could potentially market your product. Let’s say you are developing a new CRM product and Salesforce.com would be a major competitor. You can get an endless amount of data to help with your market research and competitive analysis.

You would be able to see every one of the 94,494 keywords Salesforce shows up for within Google organic search to help with your own organic keyword focus and content creation. You can see that Salesforce pays for 42,951 paid keywords on search engines and uses a variety of different creatives and marketing language depending on the keyword searched. You can also see all of the other Salesforce competitors and see how their keywords overlap.

With this tool, you can also see all of the quality links that link to Salesforce to help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) outreach when you are ready to increase your site’s SEO.

Semrush.com is another tool that is similar to SpyFu. They say they search across 130 million domains, 800 million keywords and have 1 million users.

SEO Spying Tools

The leader in this space is moz.com. Moz has been focused on the SEO side of the business more so than the SEM (Search Engine Marketing) side. Moz is the trusted thought leader within this space and offers a variety of tools to help focus on improving your SEO. You can view the links to your competitors, Do keyword research, track organic rankings and more.

Technology Spying Tools

Sometimes is it important to see what type of products your competition or even potential customers are using. SimilarTech allows you to track the technology stack your competition might be using so you can either replicate or not waste time on a technology they may have recently removed. Let’s use the Salesforce.com example again. Below you can see that Salesforce has been adding and removing software providers from their website. This can give you insight into what maybe has been working or has not been working for them in the past.

Or let’s say, your new product idea is targeted at businesses who use certain email providers like Gmail / G Suite. You can use this tool to see every business on the internet that uses Gmail to power their business emails.

From there, they can generate a list of businesses you can reach out to that are using Gmail so you can better target your marketing and sales initiatives. Go ahead and spy on your competition, it will only make you both better.

The Emotional States of Resourcefulness

“Rational thoughts never drive people’s creativity the way emotions do.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson

The act of being resourceful is not derived from one single thought or action an individual or group has or does. It is, however a combination of consistent and decisive thoughts and actions that are within the spectrum of a variety of resourceful emotional states. Resourceful people and companies always find the resources to reach their audacious goals.

Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

In 1990, J.K. Rowling was on a delayed train from Manchester to London and had the idea of “Harry Potter.” It wasn’t until 7 years later, after her mother died, the birth of her first child, poverty and a divorce, that she took this pain and transformed it into what some would say is one of the greatest creative masterpieces of our time.

Thomas Edison was one of the most resourceful people in history. In 1914, one of Edison’s plants exploded in chemical-induced flames. The New York Times reported that Edison simply said, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow….There is only one thing to do, and that is to jump right in and rebuild.” According to a 1961 Reader’s Digest article, one of Edison’s sons, Charles, said as the fire was burning down the multimillion-dollar plant, his father came up to him and said, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again.” When Charles objected, Edison said, “It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.”

That night, Edison lost $23 million in today’s dollars that could have ended his career. But as always, his stoicism, determination and perseverance enabled him to rebuild quickly and generate $10 million in revenue the following year.

In 1999, Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com had a decision to make, stay at his cushy job at Oracle making over $1M a year, or go out on his own and jump into starting a business.

“Through a lot of deep contemplation, you have to go inside for that answer. You can’t get that answer outside. Only you know what is right for you: Your purpose, your ideas, your time frames, how all those things line up, that’s what’s in you,” he said at one of his annual Dreamforce conferences. “And then all of a sudden, I’m like, ‘This is it. That’s the trust.’ I learned to trust myself because now I have the message, it’s time to go, it’s time to actually make that leap.”

Marc tried to raise money from traditional venture capitalists like Sequoia and US Venture Capital among others.

“I had to go hat in hand, like I was a high tech beggar, down to Silicon Valley to raise some money…And as I go from venture capitalist to venture capitalist to venture capitalist — and a lot of them are my friends, people I’ve gone to lunch with — and each and every one of them said no,” Benioff said. “Salesforce was never able to raise a single dollar from a venture capitalist,” he added.

He said they thought the idea was ludicrous. Instead of giving up, Marc used resourcefulness to figure out other ways to get to where he wanted to go. He decided to talk to his friends and see if they would invest in his idea. They did and as they say, the rest is history.

In an interview with Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape and now the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz’s, Marc said, “Why even go to venture capitalists? You should just raise money privately unless someone like yourself (referring to Marc Andreessen) actually adds value because you’re an entrepreneur. But most of them (VCs) aren’t going to give you any value anyway.”

Paul Graham, the incredibly successful founder of Y Combinator, wrote a post in 2009 entitled, “Relentlessly Resourceful.” In it he was trying to figure out how to describe to investors what to look for in entrepreneurs. “They’d be relentlessly resourceful…..If I were running a startup, this would be the phrase I’d tape to the mirror. “Make something people want” is the destination, but “Be relentlessly resourceful” is how you get there.”

What are some of the emotional states of resourcefulness that inevitably leads to success?

Burn the boats

There is a common saying, “burn the boats”, meaning give yourself no other option but to move forward. There is no returning to safety. You must win, or die.

This reference is from the 1519 exhibition of Mexico and eventual conquest of the Aztec empire by Hernán Cortés and hundreds of his men. Cortés faced imprisonment or death for defying the governor if he returned to Cuba. He had a choice to return to Cuba or fight. He decided to fight and ordered his men to destroy the ships so they could not return. They entered the point of no return. The common misconception and expression of “burn the boats” should actually be “sink the boats” since Cortés’ men were ordered to actually scuttle the ships. However, burning the boats gives us a better visual to motivate and take action.

Be relentlessly resourceful.