What I've Learned After Launching My First Podcast

In September, I produced, recorded, and launched my first podcast. It's called the Marketing Cloudcast, and it's a marketing-focused podcast from Salesforce.

Here's the Marketing Cloudcast website and our podcast on iTunes.

I had never before podcasted. But I knew our company had an opportunity to showcase the smarts of Marketing Cloud's customers, marketing friends, and partners in an audio format. Podcasting is easier and cheaper than videoβ€”even a podcasting beginner like me can do itβ€”and our marketing audience in particular seems to love the format.

In college, I did a bit of late-night DJing on our campus station. This "job" was mostly reading winter-weather advisories because I was Indiana. And I have no professional experience with audio editing. So producing this show was wholly new territory for me.

After two months, I've learned a lot. Our show has performed well, cracking the top 110 marketing podcasts on iTunes in its first five episodes. Even better is the nice feedback from listeners on social media and in ratings. I definitely recommend this format for storytellers (either brand or personal) wanting to explore something new. Here are a few musings from my brief podcasting tenure.

Getting the show on iTunes was easier than I thought. I use Libsyn to host the podcast, and they take care of everything. You just upload the show there, Libsyn sets up the feed, and you create a new podcast in iTunes and copy that Libsyn link. I thought it would be some kind of crazy approval process, but it wasn't. From the time I sent the link to the time our show was live was around 4 days.

For many people, podcasting is not their thing. Much has been made of the Serial effect. But tons of people just don't enjoy podcasts and would prefer to read articles or watch videos. I often fall into this category myself, as I'm a fast readerβ€”although I do admire the storytelling techniques of Serial (obviously), Freakonomics, and others. While trying to promote our podcast internally, i've learned that many people at my company still don't listen to our podcast and probably never will! And that's okay. Because on that note...

Podcasting is for more of a niche, but loyal, audience. Podcast subscribers listen to your voice week after week, accept your quirks, and keep listening. For them, podcasters are thankful. We frequently have technical difficulties on the show that contribute to a bit of background noise, a blip in the recording, or audible police sirens. (As recent Marketing Cloudcast guest refers to them: New York's state bird.) But I like that about podcasting. It's genuine and comes to you straight from my home studio (cough - closet), not a soundstage.

If you like the sound of your own voice, consider yourself lucky. Anytime I have to listen through old episodes to write a recap blog post, I always skip through the part where I'm talking. With the exception of maybe Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, I've got to believe that most people don't like the sound of their own voices. I've listened to a few episodes so I can be more aware of my vocal quirks, but most of the time, I strongly dislike the part of podcasting that requires listening to my own self.

Avoid the urge to script. I'm a writer, so my first instinct is to write out soundbites and segues so I can rely on my perfectly scripted words instead of improvisation. This is a bad practice. Genuine conversation sounds so much better on a podcast than something scripted. The more I podcast, the more I'm striving to become confident in my spur-of-the-moment thoughts. I definitely envy people like Joe Pulizzi (whom we've featured on the show) who are total naturals at this.

Scheduling guests is the #1 hardest part. My estimable co-host Joel Book has a globetrotting travel schedule that surely keeps his frequent flyer accounts happy. And we're constantly interviewing high-level marketing execs and experts who book their schedules months in advance. The hardest part of producing a podcast with multiple hosts and a guest is getting everyone scheduled. You'll need to be organized and a good planner if you want to make this type of show.

As Mister Rogers as it sounds: just be yourself. Being a good podcaster is no different from being a good writer, coworker, or human. At the end of the day, your podcast will end, and you will still be the same person. Give people the chance to know and like the real you.

I'm learning more about this format every time Joel and I record. I'll post more insights as I have them.