Creating successful podcasts has been on the mind of the Bowery Capital team since our Startup Sales Podcast launch in October of 2014. Throughout the past year we have refined our approach a ton and learned from the community of experts that make up this awesome world of podcasting. We recently distilled our learnings down to 4 key insights for our portfolio founders and thought it would be worthwhile to share with our broader community. For anyone interested in starting their own podcast or for an existing professional who wants to learn how we do things below lays out some ways we have been able to start creating successful podcasts.
(1) Focus On Controlling Your Live Environment – Early on, the team was happy to go anywhere and interview anyone. Our goal was to maximize the content calendar and get as many people onto the show as possible. While it was a good idea in theory, this ultimately resulted in many of our early podcasts having a tremendous amount of background noise. Listeners were not happy and would write in to our team to try and get better quality copies of the podcast. We didn’t have them! We quickly learned to do almost everything live in our offices after normal business hours and generally in an insulated or interior room. Today, this is the primary approach we take and it has been one of the best lessons for creating successful podcasts.
(2) Use Notes & Prepared Questions To Guide The Discussion – We have sales, marketing, and customer success guests on our podcast every week. None of them are trained commentators or speakers. Using a rough version of liner notes is usually a good idea to ensure focus and to guide the discussion. The process for creating successful podcasts at Bowery Capital is usually going back and forth on a topic with potential guests and then agreeing before you begin. From there we do a fair amount of google searching and researching questions to ask. We then finalize well in advance of the discussion to allow for ample time for the guest to prepare answers. This way when we come to our live interview the conversation is scripted, tight, and chock full of information.
(3) Throttle Your Gear Purchases – One of the best pieces of advice we ever got was not to splurge on gear purchases, especially expensive equipment. We simply didn’t know if the podcast would take shape and that it would be something that we could spend a fair amount of time on. The v1.0 of our podcast was recording using QuickTime Player then transferring audio files to Hindenburg for editing then uploading to Libsyn for release. We did this for about 10 episodes. The v2.0 of our podcast was recording using a Blue Snowball iCE Mic then transferring audio files to Hindenburg for editing then uploading to Libsyn for release. Today, the v3.0 of our podcast is recording using Shure SM58 mics and a Zoom H4N then transferring audio files to Hindenburg for editing then uploading to Libsyn for release. We have probably spent less than $500 total on gear through three rounds of purchase and are way smarter about what works and what does not.
(4) Add Voice Overs & Theme Music – When listening to some of the best business podcasts out there we found that voice overs, theme music, intro music, outro music, and other elements were added to really professionalize the podcast. If the pros can do it why can’t you? To up the ante on the professional nature of the podcast sites like Voice Jungle give you a wide selection of voice over narration for very little money. Our Bowery Capital description at the end of every episode came from this site. In addition, places like Incompetech are a great resource to search royalty free music.
Nothing about podcasting will come easy at first but with a little bit of time and effort we found ourselves well on our way to producing high quality content and building great audiences. We hope these tricks can be helpful to the next generation of wannabe podcasters.