Podcasting is a great way to boost your visibility and deliver useful content to a growing audience. People prefer on-demand content these days and listen to podcasts on their commutes or at the gym. With a few years and awards behind my podcast, I'll share some hard-learned do's and don'ts.

These essentials will help you rock that first podcast season, save some money, and have more fun--all with less work:

1. Stay mission focused.

If you're an entrepreneur, the purpose of your podcast is to create commercial opportunities for your business. Don't BS yourself or others. If you can stay honest and direct while giving value upfront, you're more likely to achieve your goal. Write your podcasting business goal on a post it note and put it on your microphone.

2. Don't spend too much money on equipment.

I spent a small fortune on all this professional equipment my first season. I barely used it. My audience didn't care. All you really need is a decent microphone and basic editing software. A simple Blue Yeti microphone or Audio-Technica ATR2100-usb with a cheap pop filter to cover it provides golden audio. Worry free audio allows you to focus on something more important, like the content.

3. Keep it simple with hardware and software.

Becoming a professional  sound editor isn't going to plug into your schedule. You don't need the Photoshop of audio recording. The more complex the software, the longer it takes to learn and produce content. GarageBand and Audacity are good enough can serve you well. Leave the advanced stuff for later seasons as you gain an audience.

4. Find a good host with an easy interface and deep analytics.

You need a place on the web to upload your podcast.  The two main hosting players are LibSyn and SoundCloud. Both are good, but I went with SoundCloud. That said, when considering a podcast host, there are several criteria to consider including:

  • Stability of the service, and the company

  • A solid mobile app, because people will engage you when you're on the go

  • Ease of integration with the Apple and Google and other podcast libraries

  • Analytics to help you track who is listening, how, when and where they tune in and out, etc.

5. Collect analytics from day one, look at them, but lean into your gut.

A key data mistake that entrepreneurs make is they let small insignificant sample sizes of data inform their decisions. The data isn't actionable if it can't represent enough of your market. Trust your gut for your first season. Use the analytics to compare seasons and to set goals to improve.

6. Content is king and 10-15 minutes is the sweet spot.

The average commute and relaxed cardio session (treadmill time) are about 20 minutes. Realistically, after dial in time, that leaves you with about 15 minutes for an audio session. I ignored this to my peril in my first season and some of my episodes were over an hour long. And as the Internet meme will tell you "Ain't nobody got time for that" and indeed it turns out they didn't.

7. The recap is a huge value add for your audience. Be sure to tell them what you told them.

Help your audience remember the important things. Have you ever listened to an audiobook and drifted off in thought only to come back to reality and not know what's going on? It happens all the time. This is why the recap is key.

8. Script it out and riff it when you go live.

At first I'd write a script and recite it verbatim. Despite impressing myself with prose, the result was clunky and unnatural. It's better to draft some notes, read them through a few times, and then wing it when you record; using your script as a reference point to bring you back on point. The more you do this, the shorter your scripts will get. They become less of scripts, but useful later on for show notes, descriptions, and blog posts.

9.Get the podcast out there. Share and post your podcast on your brand's web presence.

I use iMovie to create video versions of my podcast that I upload to YouTube and Vimeo. I add in descriptions, keywords, to try and increase discoverability. I embed the videos in blog articles. I submit to smaller podcast collectives that hold contests, and capture bragging rights when I reach number one. Collecting and sharing the accolades helps draw in new listeners.

If you're attentive to these tips, your rookie year will be better than most. And your audience will be larger. Sadly, there's no work around to replace putting in the time. You'll find a stronger formula after that first season exploring and reflecting on the numbers and lesson learned.

Published on: Oct 31, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.