How To Start A Podcast For A Nonprofit
Setting up a Podcast for your nonprofit can be an effective strategy for giving your nonprofit a voice and a personality for potential donors and volunteers to connect with.
It will also allow you to bring people ‘into your world’ in a more informal way. Reeading articles about nonprofit work can be a technical or bit dry. Talking about your work in a conversational tone on a Podcast can be a great way to make your nonprofit’s work more accessible and relatable.
Select A Niche
The first point to make here is that you should focus on one niche. This is because we live in a world of platforms that operate with algorithms.
You know that the algorithms of all major platforms are focused on encouraging people to continue consuming
more content on that platform.
One of the most effective ways for them to do this is to suggest content that is similar to the content that a user just consumed.
If a user just listened to one of your episodes and enjoyed it then there’s a high likelihood that they will want to listen to more episodes from you.
If your content is all about one topic the algorithm is more likely to suggest more of your content to the user and the user is more likely to consume that content.
If your content is not about one topic the algorithm is less likely to suggest more of your content to the user and, even if it did, the user is less likely to consume that content.
So the best way to deal with this is to make sure that all of your content relates to one topic.
This is especially important when you start because the people that consume your content have no personal interest in you or your brand.
They just want the information (or entertainment). You can expand into other niches after growing a larger audience that likes to consume your content because they’re interested in what you personally have to say and not just getting information.
If you’ve already worked through the branding sections of this course you should already have your nonprofit name, domain name, and social media user names so you just need to use the same name for your Podcast in order to keep everything consistent.
If you don’t have a name for your nonprofit, read my article about ‘Branding’.
It would be helpful if you included an important keyword in your Podcast name because it helps the algorithms to understand what your channel is about…
but don’t spend too much time on this because most algorithms will figure out what your content is about by interpreting the content in the episode.
The most important messages to communicate with your artwork are:My Podcast is about [whatever it is] and this is why you should follow me.
Most Podcast platforms will have an about section. People that listen to your episodes and want to find out more about you will often not want to leave the platform they’re using. This is why the about section can be important.
If someone has gone to the trouble of reading your About section they must be very interested in you or your nonprofit so make sure you include a clear paragraph that says something like:
- This Podcast is about [whatever it is]
- This is what you will learn/enjoy
- We provide the following products/services (if applicable). Check our website to learn more.
Include any important keywords for your niche or industry.
Content – Target Audience
If you have an existing following then you will just be offering a new platform for your existing audience.
If you have no existing following then you need to build one and that requires you to work with algorithms.
Algorithms always want to categorize you and your content. If your category is not clear to an algorithm it will have trouble matching your content with a specific audience.
So you need to create content that is easy for an algorithm to understand. Talk about one topic and avoid references to unrelated topics. Now this sounds very rigid but it will generate the best results when you’re starting out.
You’ll be able to get less rigid as your audience grows and you become less reliant on the algorithm for all of your traffic.
The important point to make about the length of an episode is that it should be as long or as short as it needs to be to give the user what they want.
Cutting it short is a bad user experience and adding extra padding for no reason is also a bad user experience.
Research your competition and use the length of their episodes as a guide for getting started then adjust later as you get to know your audience.
You need to find the best combination of quality and quantity. You also need to consider what you can commit to on a regular basis.
If you’re not sure then you should pick a frequency at the bottom end of the range then increase the frequency in the future after you get more comfortable with the entire production process. The key here is consistency.
Content With A Purpose
If you’re creating a Podcast to use as part of a broader marketing strategy to collect donations, create awareness or sell your products or services, it’s important to focus on making content that naturally leads to this outcome.
The typical structure of this type of content is to outline a problem and a solution and use your product or service as an example of the solution.
Title. Make sure your title includes the most important keyword so that your content can be discovered on platforms that use search. And try to add something that distinguishes it from other episodes about the same topic.
Thumbnail. The thumbnail can be as important as the title. You know from your own scrolling through a feed on social media that images capture your attention. You can get templates from design tools like Canva and Picmonkey.
Description. The description serves two purposes. One is to provide information about what the episode is about.
The second purpose of the description is to include links to your website, affiliate links, social channels, or whatever you want people to do after listening to the episode.
Tags. They exist to help the algorithm understand what your episode is about but algorithms can get this information from your title, description, and the content in the episode so go ahead and enter the major keywords as tags but spend more time on your content, title, and images.
These are your options:
The Solo Show
Pros: You don’t need to rely on anyone else. You’re building authority on your topic.
The podcast is exclusively yours so you can make all decisions about sponsorship, monetization, or anything else. And you don’t need to split the profits with anyone.
Challenges: One of the biggest challenges of the solo show is dealing with the feeling that you’re “talking to yourself”. It’s also less dynamic.
The Co-Hosted Show
Pros: A simple way to deal with the nervousness that comes with recording alone is to chat with someone else. You can use a co-host so that you have someone to bounce off or debate. It usually leads to a higher energy episode.
Challenges: You have to work with someone else’s schedule. You might not have good chemistry. There’s also the question of ownership: who owns the podcast?
Do you split income 50/50? And what happens if your co-host loses interest or becomes unavailable in the future?
The Interview Show
Pros: Talking to people that you find interesting. Doing an interview show gives you the opportunity to chat with people that you admire or want to learn from.
Your guests will also have their own audiences and they might listen to the interview and end up subscribing to your show. This is a great way to grow your audience.
Challenges: Interviewing is a skill so don’t approach any big names until you’ve figured out how to do it well. You’ll constantly need to find new guests and you’ll have to rely on the technology that your guests uses.
The bare minimum you need to record a podcast is a computer with a USB microphone and access to the internet.
But, keep in mind that listeners are not very tolerant of bad audio. You should search YouTube or Google for the ‘best mic for Podcasts’ and select the one that is the best fit for your existing equipment and budget.
When you plug your USB microphone into your computer, you will need some software to actually record and edit the audio.
– Audacity: This is a good quality and free option that should be all you need.
– Adobe Audition: This is a Pro-level production tool and it has a steep learning curve but if Podcasting is going to be important to you then you should try it out.
If you’re planning on shooting a video of the podcast (or shooting videos for any other reason) then the video editing software you use for editing those videos will likely have the audio editing features that you need.
Talking Into A Mic
The reality is that every combination of voice, equipment, acoustics, and editing will sound a little different. The only way for you to get this right is to test it.
The most important thing to test is how the volume, clarity, and quality of your voice change based on the distance from the mic.
One common misconception is that you upload your podcast to places like iTunes. That’s not how it works. You need a podcast hosting account (sometimes called a media host).
This is a service that stores your audio in the same way that a web host stores your website and it allows people to listen, download, and subscribe to your podcast.
Here are five options:
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