Webinars have been around for a while and their popularity only continues to grow. In fact, this effective marketing tool is poised to approach $1 billion in the next decade.  And yet, webinars aren’t always treated with the attention they deserve. Sometimes they come across as overly scripted or just plain boring. So, the challenge for those looking to host a webinar becomes, how do you make your presentation more engaging, personalised and interactive? Here’s everything you need to know about creating a webinar.

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So you want to start a podcast. However, you are worried because you do not know where to begin and may be concerned that you are not “techy enough” to pull it off.  Isn’t podcasting super complicated? Let’s dive into how to start a podcast. 

One of the biggest misconceptions about starting a podcast is that you have to have an audio engineering degree. Or that you have to have the latest and greatest equipment, and know all the technical lingo.

I am not a super techy person and I work in the podcasting space full time. Hopefully that encourages you that if I can do it…you can too.

The number one thing that you “need” to start a podcast is the resolve to start one. Everything is “figureoutable” including gear, tech, and RSS feeds. I promise.

I hope through this post, to demystify some of the technical blocks that keep people from hitting “publish” on their show. It will hopefully encourage you that if hosting a podcast is of interest to you, you should give it a shot. 

You never know, you might love it, and it might just change your life.

Forming your show’s concept

Looking back, one of the things that I wish I would have spent more time on was forming my show’s concept. I knew that I wanted to talk about leadership but how was I REALLY different from all the other shows on leadership?

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you want to start a marketing podcast. How will your show stand out from the rest? Can you explain in a few seconds the core philosophy of your show and what listeners will gain by listening to YOU?

When someone sees YOUR marketing podcast will they know immediately if it’s for them or not? Is it for women and men? Is it for beginner marketers or advanced? How is what you teach different from other marketing shows right next to it in iTunes?

Now when you start to dig in and research what is already being done do NOT become discouraged. The fact that there are other shows like the one you want to start is a great thing, it means that there is a market for it. Don’t allow fear to set in and think,  “There is nothing special about my podcast. My industry is oversaturated. I do not need to start a show.

This honestly is just a bad mindset. There are leaders who I ADORE (and follow all of their work) and I have friends who have NEVER heard of them. If leaders with HUGE audiences still have yet to reach everyone, there is surely plenty of listeners to go around.

If you struggle with separating yourself from other shows ask yourself, “What do I wish existed a few years ago that I did not have access to?” or “How can I add more of my story or personality into this show?”. We are all unique so do not be afraid to add more of YOU in your show to separate you from the crowd.

 

The break down when thinking about how to start a podcast

To simplify podcasting for you here are the most basic of steps. Of course, you can dig and learn/implement many more details to this process, but technically this is all you need to get started.

First, you need your audio, then you need to submit that audio to your “feed”, then that feed updates all the directories (iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, etc). That’s really it. Not as bad as you thought, huh!? 

Audio

Seriously, you honestly do not need to spend tons of money on audio equipment. There are actually many people who record a podcast simply from their phones. 

You technically only need a .mp3 recording of your voice (and that of your guest, if applicable).  As for equipment, you can always start small and build. Buy something to get you started and upgrade when you can.

Same goes with editing your show. You can download a free program like Audacity and watch tutorial on Youtube on how to perform basic editing techniques to your file (adding an intro/outro or taking out filler words like “um, ya know, etc”)

Hosting site

There are many, many, many sites that can host your podcast. You need these sites to actually “house’ your show and give your podcast an RSS feed that you can submit to directories like iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.

These hosting sites range from free to only 30 or 40 bucks a month. Usually, they charge for more space (how big is your file?) and how detailed the analytics you receive are.

The simple idea behind hosting is that you only have to upload shows to one place and it does all the heavy lifting for you (hold your actual shows and distribute them to all the directories).

Submit to the directories

Once you have your audio, upload it to a hosting site, you take the RSS feed that the site creates for your show and submit it for (normally) free to a variety of major platforms. No, you do not have to continually update these platforms, they pull information from your RSS feed, so when your feed is updated (shows added, cover art changed, etc) your show will be updated too.

Every once in a while you have to go in and manually update your show on some of these platforms however that is very rare. Normally hosting sites like Libsyn allows you to update your show in all the places right there on their platform.

Wait, no. Shouldn’t there be more?

There IS more you need to consider when starting and growing your show. We could go into things like branding, distribution, whether you should have a website or not, etc. etc. However, these things can be figured out and tested as you get more comfortable with podcasting. 

One of my favourite quotes is, “Action creates clarity.” and it’s true in podcasting too. Sometimes you don’t know “all the things” you should be doing until you simply START. When you have people listening, and you get more comfortable, it will become clear what you need to grow.

The real reason that’s holding you back isn’t that you don’t know how to start a podcast

I think what keeps people back more often than not from podcasting is the simple FEAR of starting. Often we make things more complicated than they are and allow perfection to keep us immobile from taking action.

No matter how much you plan, your podcast won’t be perfect. Even more, your podcast is probably going to change as you grow your show and “find your voice” podcasting. 

Planning is GREAT and you should be clear on what kind of show you want to create and who it’s for (remember what we talked about with your show concept) but the actual tech side of your show is fairly simple. Remember that there is a natural learning curve to just about anything worthwhile and if you hang in there, producing your show will get easier and easier, I promise.

Let us know what questions you have and maybe we can answer them in upcoming posts!

Heather Parady should I start a podcastAbout the Author – HeatherParady

Heather is the host of The Unconventional Leaders Podcast. She interviews successful entrepreneurs who have overcome great adversity and built something great.

Creating a website, whether personal or professional, can take a lot of work. There is so much room to show your creative flair. However, you also need to consider the practical aspects, such as how to select hosting for your website.
There are a number of different options to consider, primarily determined by your budget, but also consider the specific requirements of the platform or content management system (CMS) you are using.

Where to start

Each CMS has a specific list of minimum hosting requirements. This will include the type of web server, the programming language or runtime that needs to be supported and the database it needs to use. Different versions of a CMS may also require a specific version of the language and that additional features are installed on the webserver.
Hosting a website requires a web server. You can choose between cloud hosting (public or private), dedicated hosting, virtual hosting or shared hosting.


Cloud Hosting

In principle, cloud hosting is the idea of hosting your website where it doesn’t exist on one specific physical server. Instead, you pay for a level of processing power, memory use and disk space.
Cloud hosting is best for websites that require a high level of availability and are available in multiple world regions. It does require a high level of expertise to setup correctly and optimise. However, you pay for the resources you use rather than a fixed amount. Cloud hosting can also be less performant but offers flexibility to increase the server resources available when required.


Dedicated Hosting

A dedicated hosting plan is where your website is hosted on physical servers with exclusive use. Dedicated servers generally offer the best performance and you have complete control.  Some hosting companies do offer managed VPS plans where they will look after the maintenance, backups and monitor usage and network availability.


Virtual Hosting

The virtual will have a dedicated amount of processing, memory and disk space allocated to it and often come in a range of sizes to suit small to large busy websites. In it’s simplest form a virtual server appears as if it is a single dedicated server but is one of many virtual servers sitting on one physical server.
A virtual server is a good option for small to medium-sized businesses. Maintenance and backups can be handled in-house or outsourced to a managed web hosting provider. As with a dedicated server, the virtual server will often give you full control over the environment.


Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the budget solution that is a great option suitable for small businesses.  It is a shared environment so your website can be affected by the other sites the hosting is shared with. This means selecting a reputable company is important.
Shared hosting is cheaper, you may pay $15 dollars per month, rather than hundreds for a virtual or dedicated server. However, shared hosting also limits your ability to run specific environments. Shared hosting is commonly used for CMS systems.

How to select hosting for your website

Small businesses

A dedicated server may be overkill and cloud hosting too unpredictable in cost for a small business. Shared hosting is most likely a good option for you however, check if your CMS has extensive functional customisations.


Medium – to large businesses

For a medium to large organisation, a virtual or dedicated server would be a better choice, especially if you’re running an online store or if you handle sensitive client data.
If you have a large customer base in other parts of the world, then a cloud solution may be better. This is especially true if your web site is duplicated across a number of regions but still appears as a single website for administration.

Considerations when migrating your website to new hosting

  • Your email may also need to be re-hosted. You could continue to host it yourself either in the same hosting environment as the website or on an in-house mail server. Many organisations are increasingly switching to third-party providers such as Office365 or GSuite. Whichever way you go, don’t, forget to run a back-up first and ensure this is copied outside of your mail program. For example, run a backup onto a USB just in case something takes an unexpected turn.
  • When updating your DNS records to switch the address from your old hosting to the new, there can be a period where visitors can be sent to either server. This is not a problem for information-only sites as visitors won’t experience any downtime. For an online store or custom application, this can be problematic should a customer place their order on an old website.
  • switching on the quietest day of the week, and possibly outside of business hours is beneficial.

About the author

Katrina O’Connell is the Managing Director at kmo. Having started her career in the early days of web, Katrina was a part of a team that was one of the first to build a multi-currency payment gateway for both real-time and batch payment processing. In 2007 Katrina started kmo, a web development agency located in Brisbane and works with both clients and agencies throughout Australia. Read more about their work at kmo.com.au


I don’t know about you, but it seems as though every day someone announcing that they started a podcast. From big brands to small business and even those trying to build a personal brand. Podcasting seems to be becoming a more and more attractive means to deliver your message. Which leads many to ask, “Should I start a podcast?”.

Podcasting began to catch fire around 2004 and has only increased in production and consumption since then. According to Edison Research [1] there are more than half a million podcasts and more than half of Americans have listened to podcasts.

I am a huge fan of Gary Vee, who is a digital marketing guru and advocate for content marketing. He is constantly hypothesizing that content that is consumed passively (like audio) is more appealing to the general public. Why? Well, because we are busy.

As a culture, there are many things pressing for our time. Stopping to read a blog or watch a video is becoming a commodity. However, we can more readily tune in to a podcast on the go or while we are multitasking.

Considering that this is how many of your potential clients are consuming content it is probable that as a leader and small business owner the thought has crossed your mind, “Should I start a podcast?

Should I Start a Podcast?

Yes.

Well, no.

Okay, maybe.

See how much help I was there? Before we can address whether or not you should start a podcast, let’s first talk about what podcasting is and isn’t.

Without getting too technical (I am not the most techie lady) a podcast is simply an audio show that listeners can download a single or multiple episodes of.

Itunes, Spotify, Anchor, Google Play, Stitcher, are just a FEW of the major podcasting platforms which can stream your show for little (or sometimes) no cost. After your show is “aired” there are opportunities to repurpose content across your social channels. This provides valuable content even to non-podcast listeners.

What I have loved most about podcasting is its ability to connect with people from literally all over the world. It is also an incredible way to bring a more relational element to your brand. You are actually SPEAKING to your audience. It is a cool way for them to “get to know” the person behind the product or the brand.

You Should Not Start a Podcast.

Whoa. What?

I just spent several paragraphs raving about podcasts and now I am going to tell you not to start one? Well, no.

I like to end on a high note, and tell you all the benefits of YOU starting your show. However, it would be a disservice to you if I did not share the not-so-pretty side to podcasting. My goal here is to paint a broader picture and help manage expectations.

Okay, ready for the cold hard truth?

  1. You will not get immediate results.
  2. It is a lot of work.

Sounds like fun right?

The reality is that ALL content marketing doesn’t yield immediate results and is a lot of work. So this should not come as a surprise to you to hear podcasting is the same way. However, I am still surprised at how many people start shows and get discouraged when the download number is not as high. Like with anything else, content marketing or not, results take time.

Of course, there are new tactics you can learn, and ways that you can improve your show, but more often than not it comes back to good old fashion grit. Another difficult aspect of podcasting is getting feedback from your audience. Unlike blogging or social media posts, it is harder to interact with listeners because they are consuming your podcast a variety of different ways through different apps, most of which do not give the option to comment on individual episodes.

The investment of podcasting

One more thing worth mentioning is the potential investment of podcasting. Before you spend hundreds of dollars on equipment, make SURE this is something you are committed to for at least a year before you quit.

Besides the investment in a good microphone and potentially recording and editing software (you can edit your shows for free using audacityteam.org)  you may decide to hire an editor, someone to design your show’s artwork and outsource promo material for your show.

You can, of course, do it yourself. I recommend doing it yourself at first just to learn the basics even if your long term plan is to hire out. Reason being, in the event that your assistant quits suddenly or is unable to produce your show, you are not left hanging and can still deliver your show on time.

Not to be discouraging, but realistically these are things you need to consider before taking the leap!

You Should Start a Podcast

Okay, here is the fun part, the reasons why you should start a show.

As mentioned before this is an INCREDIBLE way to connect with your current audience and be discovered by new audiences. Again, it is a long-term marketing strategy but has the potential to add SO much to your brand and reach.

If you decide to host solo episodes it can position you as an expert in your field. You can also share about your services (not too much because no one likes feeling sold to!) and even grow your email list by mentioning any free opt-ins that you have.

Interviews are also very popular among hosts for a couple of reasons. One, it is another resource to provide incredible value to your listeners. Second, it gives you an excuse to talk to really cool people in your industry and ask them any question you want. Let’s just be real here, that is pretty cool.

Lastly, it is A LOT of fun. I know I went on about how much work it is, but if you enjoy listening to podcasts you will likely really like hosting one. It feels really good to put together something that you are passionate about and have people actually listening to YOUR show.

No, really? Is podcasting right for me?

All in all, I am an advocate for podcasting. To say it has changed my life is an understatement. It has connected me with amazing people from all over the world and helped me build a platform where I can share my message which I am passionate about.

There have been times, especially at the beginning when I felt discouraged and wanted to quit, but I think anything you do that is worthwhile will have those moments where you question yourself and wonder if it is worth the effort for you.

Not everyone is going to enjoy podcasting or would necessarily benefit from it. I think all in all it is a personal decision and ultimately needs to be something you would enjoy. If the idea of starting a podcast sounds daunting and you already struggle with being overwhelmed, and time restraints, it may not be the best idea right now.

However, if the thought excites you and you are willing to keep a big-picture perspective and have reasonable expectations with starting one, I encourage you to try. You never know what might come from your show.

Heather Parady should I start a podcastAbout the author

Heather is a regular Leaders in Heels contributor and host of The Unconventional Leaders Podcast. She interviews successful entrepreneurs who have overcome great adversity and built something great. Read more about Heather Parady

 

[1] https://www.edisonresearch.com/infinite-dial-2019/


With many social media platforms available to businesses at the moment, it can be difficult to figure out which ones are worth focusing on.

By identifying which platforms will generate the most engagement and conversions, you’ll be able to save huge amounts of time and resources. Rather than trying to maintain a consistent presence on every single platform out there, why not focus your time and energy on curating content and imagery for the ones that will serve your business best.

Here’s a breakdown of the top social platforms on the scene to help you figure out which social media platforms will boost your business.

Facebook

Description/How to use: Create a business page and regularly post images, videos & links that appeal to your target audience. Your Facebook business page is also an extension of your website, where you can share basic information such as address, contact number and telephone number.

Main audience: With over 1.44 billion active users across a wide demographic aged between 18 and 65+, Facebook is the market leader for social networking websites. Your business should undoubtedly have a presence on this platform.

Pros:

  • Good engagement – You and your users are able to ‘like’, post, comment and share posts as often as you want
  • Easy to share new products and services as well as provide basic information (such as contact number, address and opening hours)
  • Easy to post a wide range of content
  • Use of hashtags make it easy to spread your company message to an audience searching within Facebook

Cons:

  • Negative feedback on your business page is highly visible to other users
  • If your followers ‘like’ a large number of pages, your posts may get lost in the mix
  • Investing in paid advertising has become the most optimal way to gain exposure on Facebook. In other words, organic content is no longer cutting it – you need to have a paid advertising campaign to see results.

Summary: Facebook is a highly-effective platform to connect with your target audience and share products, services and other relevant pieces of content that will promote your brand and encourage loyalty from your customers. It also provides a useful platform to gain feedback from your customer base, whether they post on your wall or send you a private message.

Star Players: Skincare company Burt’s Bees Facebook page has an impressive 2.7 million fans and features, polls for market research, discount coupons, rich visual imagery and allows customers to purchase product directly from Facebook.

Twitter

Description/How to use: Create a Twitter handle and start tweeting to get involved in discussions that are relevant to your business and target audience. To encourage engagement, ‘reply to’, ‘favourite’, ‘retweet’ other users that are participating in the same discussions. Users are also able to post photos, graphics and video, however due to the 140 character limit, Twitter remains a text-focused social media platform.

Main Audience: The majority of Twitter users are aged between 18 and 29, making the platform suitable for companies skewered towards a younger crowd. Initially Twitter was utilised by a male-dominant user base, but in recent years there has been a sharp increase in female users.

Pros:

  • Great way to increase engagement as long as you tap into the right discussions that attract your target audience so that you can gradually build up a following
  • Your followers can easily ‘favourite’ and ‘retweet’ your posts, which will be visible to all of their followers and lead to high levels of engagement
  • Effective platform for companies with the time and resources to get their branding and messaging out there
  • A valuable customer service or tech support outlet allowing customer queries to be answered quickly

Cons:

  • For business’ with limited resources, constant Twitter activity may be difficult to achieve
  • While you can post pictures and videos, this will take up some of the 140 character limit, making it hard to fit in both media and text into one post
  • Think before you tweet! Negative tweets can spread very quickly and have unrepairable effects to your business

Summary: If you and your brand have a lot to say then Twitter is the perfect platform for you. Make sure you decide on your Twitter personality and develop a content calendar to ensure consistency.

Do you want to be funny? Informative? Controversial? The possibilities are endless, but at the end of the day your posts should fall in line with your company’s key messaging. You have the potential to gain a huge amount of followers (and customers) so make sure you come up with a rock-solid strategy before you start tweeting to your heart’s content.

Star Player: Etsy’s Twitter presence is a perfect example of how quality content keeps people coming back for more. The peer-to-peer e-commerce site specialising in handmade and vintage items does a great job of mixing up products they tweet about – not just targeted towards women. They also have a great sense of humour and often retweet followers when they’re mentioned.

Instagram

Description/How to use: Create an account and start posting images or videos that showcase your brand’s products and/or services. You can choose from a series of filters to enhance your images as well as use hashtags so that your content is easily searchable within Instagram. Instagram only allows users to post using mobile devices as it’s a social media platform that’s geared towards people on the go.

Main Audience: Instagram has a community of more than 300 million users and 60 million photos daily. More than half of Instagram users are aged between 18 and 29 years old, with the dominant gender being female (although not by much).

Pros:

  • A great platform to encourage followers to post their own images or videos of your products, which can then be re-purposed to use across other platforms (user-generated content)
  • The use of hashtags makes it easy to spread messaging to an audience searching within Instagram
  • Great for companies whose products are highly visual in nature, such as fitness, beauty and lifestyle brands
  • Brands can get creative with photos, videos, captions and hashtags to appeal to their target audience

Cons:

  • Not able to post links in individual posts (only in bio on the users main page)
  • Isn’t as effective for service-based businesses, although this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a presence on the platform.
  • Posts can only be made through a mobile service, not on a laptop or desktop, which may prove to be inconvenient for some

Summary: Instagram is the perfect platform for brands to communicate visually with their followers, which will in turn increase engagement, build loyalty and increase website traffic. Think of Instagram as a form of free advertising for your business, which can gain huge amounts of exposure if your strategy is done correctly.

Star Player: Fashion label Topshop’s Instagram account features a variety of different visual content that appeals directly to their target audience, such as products in diverse settings, behind the scenes imagery from fashion shoots and photos of customers and models wearing Topshop pieces.

LinkedIn

Description/How to use: Create a LinkedIn business page start building your profile. Make sure to include background information about the company (specialties, website, industry, company size etc). Start connecting with other businesses and individuals in your industry and post regular updates and pieces of content that will help distinguish yourself as an expert in your field. You and your employees should all have professional and up-to-date profiles as this has a direct effect on how the company is perceived.

Main Audience: Unlike most social media platforms, LinkedIn users are an older demographic, with the majority of users falling within the 30-49 age group. They are usually business professionals who are interested in growing and maintaining their network as well as accessing useful information and advice from key influencers in their industry.

Pros:

  • Once you publish a post, the content is available site wide, not only to your followers but to potential new customers or connections that could be of benefit
  • LinkedIn is segmented by industry, so you’ll naturally fall into your niche with like-minded peers that will appreciate your original/unique content.
  • A convenient place to share latest company news and updates as well as basic information, such as website url, contact number and address.

Cons:

  • LinkedIn’s audience is mainly skewed towards business professionals, making the platform unsuitable for companies targeting demographics such as stay-at-home mums and teenage boys.
  • Because of its discerning audience, it may take a bit longer than other platforms to establish yourself and your business as an influencer in your industry.

Summary: LinkedIn is the largest social media platform for business and your page serves as your company’s online calling card. It’s the perfect place to research company and people for employment recruiting, lead generation and job searches.

Star Player: Mashable has tons of content to share, which makes LinkedIn the perfect platform for the online media company. Although they publish a wide range of subjects on their website, the Mashable team sticks to more business-oriented topics to appeal to the professional demographic on LinkedIn. They regularly well-written, relevant content that generates high levels of engagement, such as ‘If ‘House of Cards’ characters used LinkedIn’.

Pinterest

Description/How to use: Sign up for an account and create different boards that are reflective of your business. For instance, a bridal company would create boards that focus on wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, venue inspiration, wedding favours etc. Now for the fun part! Start pinning items of interests from your own product line and other products that inspire. Don’t forget to repin posts from within Pinterest as well. The goal is to create a carefully-curated scrapbook for your brand.

Main Audience: Pinterest attracts a predominantly female-based audience who are interested in aesthetics, DIY, fashion, fitness, lifestyle and food.

Pros:

  • Each pin links back to the website it was ‘pinned’ from, which will increase referral traffic back to your website if you regularly pin your own products.
  • Pinning to specific boards will help you easily save and keep track of your content
  • When a user repins one of your posts, it is automatically shared to their followers

Cons:

  • Doesn’t lend itself well to service-based companies due to its visual nature
  • Targets a very specific audience – Pinterest users are made up of 85% females, of which 70% are under the age of 45.

Summary: If your social media strategy falls within the niche target audience that Pinterest appeals to, then it’s worth the time and effort to ‘pin’, ‘repin’ and ‘heart’ on a daily basis. However, if your main audience isn’t spending time on this platform, then it might be worth using your precious resources elsewhere.

Star Player: Pinterest ticks all the right boxes for Sephora as a social media platform: plenty of visual content to share, female target demographic and the perfect way to link back to their website product pages. Sephora’s Nailspotting board takes it a step further by encouraging Sephora community members to share nail designs, hence connecting to their customers and creating pins to their products at the same time.

Snapchat

Description/How to use: Once you sign up for a Snapchat account, you have the ability to post photos and videos (up to 10 seconds long) that will stay on a recipient’s device for 24 hours before it disappears.

Main Audience: Snapchat has increased dramatically in popular amongst the 13 and 34 year old demographic and is a great opportunity for businesses to create clever campaigns to reach their target audience.

Pros:

  • Snapchat generates 7+ billion video views daily, making it an ideal platform to increase brand exposure
  • Gives customers a ‘behind the scenes’, personal view of your business
  • Easy to include Snapchat scannable code on other marketing materials and social media platforms to allow users to add your business.

Cons:

  • If your target audience falls outside of the millennial demographic (13-34 year age group) it may not be worth the time to dedicate resources to regularly post video and imagery.
  • As more and more businesses get on board with Snapchat marketing, the potential for ‘spammy’ posts to increase will eliminate the personal and fun aspect of the platform.

Summary: If you’re looking for a fun and creative way to connect with your customer base then Snapchat may be perfect for your business – just make sure your target audience is frequenting this platform. Visual communication is becoming the driving force of engagement across all social media platform, so Snapchat is an obvious platform to get on board with.

Star Player: McDonald’s is well known for their high-profile ad campaigns, and the fast food giant uses Snapchat to give their followers a sneak peek into what goes on behind the scenes with their favourite celebrities and athletes, such as LeBron James. Connecting with their audience on a more personal level gives McDonald’s the opportunity to break away from the corporate angle they’re usually associated with.

 

kristine-bioKristine Stone is a copywriter at Sydney-based design agency Orion Creative. She’s obsessed with social media, blogging and keeping up with the latest digital marketing trends. A self-confessed word nerd, Kristine has experience writing about women’s lifestyle, bridal, technology, interior design and a wide range of other industries.