Shunte Gamble, a teacher living in east Texas, is on a mission to use her talents for the greater good. “I love the classroom but I have so much more to offer,” she says. One day, Shunte told her mom, “I think I want to teach the world.” That’s how MixedTalkRadio was born.
Shunte’s goal is to build an online radio station that spotlights local artists and interviews inspirational guests. She built the elements of her media company over time. She now oversees a podcast, a magazine, a radio station, and live events – all part of MixedTalkMedia – and is chief marketing officer for all of them.
As a business coach for other entrepreneurs, Shunte advises them to develop a customer base by launching their own podcast. “You don’t have to be a big influencer with millions of followers. You can start with a Facebook page, then use graphics that look professional and that reflect what you’re trying to promote. That’s the way to stand out.”
Here are Shunte’s ten steps to starting and promoting your own podcast.
Define your purpose
Shunte says, “Don’t start by researching how to do a podcast. Start with: What is my purpose?” She admits that research is critical when you’re entering new territory. But first, figure out what goal you’re trying to achieve. Your purpose shapes all of your next steps. Clear goals will sustain you when things get complicated.
Identify your target audience
You already may have some idea about who you are trying to reach with your podcast. Even so, it is helpful to drill down to clearly define your ideal listener. Some people do this by building a podcast persona that defines the attributes of their typical listener (i.e. Sarah Listener and Dave Audience are 25-35 year-old college graduates who live in a large city and work in the gig economy).
Once that persona exists, you can make decisions about everything from programming to marketing by asking the question, “Would this appeal to Sarah and Dave?”
And no matter how many listeners you have, it’s helpful to find out what they like and how they found your show. Shunte uses her Facebook and Instagram pages to engage her listeners, and add clickable links so they can leave reviews on iTunes. (See step 9 for tips on creating scroll-stopping social media posts.)
Establish your brand
All visuals you create should attract your target audience. Shunte uses PosterMyWall to design her podcast cover art, website graphics, e-newsletter visuals, and social media posts.
“I think purpose and branding go together. Whatever image you put out there – a flyer, a social media post, an image of yourself – that’s going to define your brand. So you have to be sure it aligns with your purpose,” says Shunte.
Decide on your format
Podcasts come in all shapes and sizes. The options are limitless. But successful podcasts establish parameters around length, content, tone, and format. Audiences are likely to be disappointed if your show is a hilarious half-hour interview one week, then a serious one-hour educational lecture the next.
On her show “Let’s Talk Life XL” Shunte talks with a community entrepreneur to find out what motivates them in business and life. Her half-hour program uses a friendly approach to explore serious questions that resonate with her audience. “Consistency is key,” says Shunte.
Invest in quality recording equipment
Shunte built a professional studio, but you can start a podcast with just a computer, a good microphone, and a set of headphones. Although your guest may only have access to a computer microphone, as the host, your voice should be crisp and clear. A decent USB microphone costs $100- or more. Be sure both you and your guest wear headphones – even if they are just earbuds. The quality of the earphones isn’t as critical as the quality of the microphones; they just prevent feedback.
And while you don’t need to set up a special soundproof room, you do need to find a quiet place where you can close the door to keep out extraneous noise. During the recent pandemic, even professional podcasters who had to work from home sometimes recorded their shows from a closet.
Edit for clarity and professionalism
Few conversations or interviews are fit for publication in one take. If you’ve really made your guests comfortable, they may want to retract something silly that they’ve said or there may be several minutes of hysterical laughing that should be edited down to just a few seconds.
If you just want to remove portions of your podcast, Alitu is a simple, free editing software for audio podcasts. Garageband is great for combining tracks — think music overlays, ad spots, and a canned intro and outro – but it’s for Mac users only. Audacity is free, powerful, and works on both Macs and PCs – but it takes practice to use it proficiently. There are many more options. As Shunte says, “Google is your friend when it comes to research.”
Upload your audio file to a hosting site
Unless you know how to create your own RSS feed URL, you will want to post your podcast to a hosting site. The hosting site is the middle man that lets you push your podcast out to listeners and lets listeners find your podcast. There are lots of free podcast hosting sites, but check the terms and conditions carefully. Some of them actually end up owning your RSS feed URL, effectively owning that episode of your podcast so you can’t move it to a different platform in the future.
Post your podcast to streaming platforms
Since the beginning of podcast time, Apple’s iTunes has always been the number 1 podcast distributor, but Spotify has been gaining listener share every year. According to eMarketer, Spotify will overtake Apple this year.
But there’s no need to choose one over the other — just upload your podcast to both. In fact, Shunte recommends increasing your audience by uploading your podcast to as many podcast directories as you can.
Spread the word
Shunte uses email, a newsletter, and social media to promote her podcast. She relies on graphics that communicate her message at a glance because people are busier than ever. “PosterMyWall liberated me. I don’t have a lot of time and designing graphics is not my thing. But the templates on PosterMyWall really helped me make great looking promotional pieces in just a few minutes,” says Shunte.
She likes to include video snippets and audio clips to tease upcoming shows, or to add animation to her flyers – all features found on PosterMyWall. “I want a flyer that’s active – that has motion. People are on the go. We’re all online and online is congested. You have to be able to attract attention.”
Create an app
Podcast apps make it easy for your listeners to tune in as soon as you release a new episode. Shunte launched a free app, then used her newsletter, email list and social media pages to announce it.
By following her own 10-step program, Shunte continues to add new listeners and expand the reach of her podcast. As eager as you may be to start podcasting, Shunte reminds everyone not to skip the first step. “I’m all about purpose. Set clear goals and remember the why of what you’re doing,” says Shunte. That’s good advice no matter what project you’re about to start. Shunte is, indeed, teaching the world.