It’s time for the more powerful marketing methods.
These are stronger methods than the ones I’ve covered so far, but they do require more work. That said, don’t be afraid of them. You never know, just one could really take off and get you so much work that you don’t have to do anything else.
The first method is podcasting. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s basically an online version of a radio talk show or recorded audio presentation.
You, the producer, create an audio recording and publish it online on a regular basis (I’m ignoring video podcasting for the moment).
One of the key things to podcasting, especially for marketing, is that you publish regularly. Most podcasts are episodic and run on a consistent basis. e.g. every week, every two weeks, every month, etc. (notice how that’s scheduled like other marketing tactics…)
Why you might want to consider podcasting to reach clients
There are many reasons you’ll want to consider podcasting, but I’m going to cover three of them that apply to freelancers.
One: First off, podcasts are audio based: you’re creating them by just talking. You might have multiple hosts or guests on, but all you have to do to produce the first version is to talk. This can be a huge win if you hate writing. Spend 5, 15, 45 minutes talking into a microphone instead.
Two: As a listener, podcasts can be consumed almost anywhere. Most regular listeners will listen while doing something else, myself included. Housework, cleaning, and exercise are the prime times I’m listening to podcasts. I’ve been listening to audiobooks on my long runs, which backed up my queue of podcasts, and have now filled my iPhone.
This is one of the killer features of podcasts and any audio content: even the most busy people have partial downtime where they are doing something but aren’t 100% occupied. If your ideal client is someone who is busy but commutes, travels, or has any other partial downtime, a podcast can be the ideal way to get into their head.
Three: We are taught to listen to people talking and treat them with respect. Especially if we can’t interrupt their talking, we tend to perceive them as an authority figure.
Parents when we are kids, teachers, professors, government officials, conference speakers.
All of these roles have a position of (relative) power. With a podcast, your listener can’t talk about points you make right away so it can feel like a speech or lecture where you’re the authority figure.
This perceived authority, combined with them hearing your exact voice, will elevate you in their eyes (and ears).
Disadvantages to podcasting
Podcasts aren’t the be-all-to-end-all content vehicle though. There are disadvantages to them. But those are also barriers preventing your competitors from following you, if you use podcasts right.
One: Even though podcasts are a digital outgrowth of radio and audio engineering, podcasting is still technology heavy. It’s not as scary as it used to be but it still takes a lot of effort to create and produce a quality podcast.
One easy way to shortcut this is to pay someone to handle it for you. If you can get setup with some good equipment upfront, build a process for the podcast creation, and hire someone skilled at audio production, it’s actually not that difficult to create the content. Remember that it’s just talking.
Two: Getting quality sound is a pain.
For the launch of 30 Days to Become a Freelancer I created a series of audio training for some packages. I had them scripted, recorded, and was ready for my audio editor to do the final pass on them.
What I didn’t realize was that my (new) microphone was creating a bunch of electronic noise that you couldn’t detect until you edited out the basic background noise. The noise was so bad, I’d either have to re-record or scrap the idea. I scrapped it.
Three: Getting a quality sound adds up too. I’ve heard and seen figures of 4-10x the effort required to edit and publish a podcast. So a weekly, 30 minute podcast would take another two (4x) to five hours (10x) before it’s ready.
The vast majority of this is audio editing (above), and it’s the kind of task that you’ll have a difficult time planning for upfront. One recording might be crystal clear and automatic editing gets it clean enough. Another might be plagued with issues so bad that you have to scrap the recording and start over (like my 30 Days to Become a Freelancer audio).
I’ve heard of some podcasters doing more off-the-cuff recording where they record whenever they want and do no editing. I think it can work but for a client-focused podcast, you’ll look unprofessional and disorganized. Not something you want a new client to think.
Tips to get started
If you’re considering starting a podcast, here are a few tips from my years on The Freelancer’s Show and the Business of Freelancing.
Build a community with your listeners. Give them multiple ways to reach out to you (especially if they have work) and try to get them to connect with other listeners. An easy way to do this is to use blog comments, forums, and have them call in voicemails to you. This community will help serve as your niche network.
Over time, even a crappy podcast will get better if you stick at it. Being consistent with your publishing schedule, whether it’s every week or every month, will help people build a bond with you.
Like much of my other marketing advice, make sure to focus on your clients and not your peers. Talk about success stories your clients or other companies have had with copywriting if you’re a copywriter. Talk about different places copy can help. You know this by now.
Lastly, have fun. If you don’t enjoy it, change and try again. But don’t force it because I "said you should". Podcasting isn’t for everyone and might not get you any results. But give it a try and get over that learning curve before you pass a judgment.