Casey Helmick, Chief Strategist for Dunham + Company, joined Dan Darling, Senior VP of Communications at NRB, for NRB Live on Wednesday, Dec. 2 to talk about podcasting and what it takes to take a podcast to the next level.
“It’s the ‘little engine that could’ media type,” Helmick said about podcasting. “It’s been around for 20 years. Every year it gets a little bit stronger, and a little bit more of our audience transitions to podcasting as one of the primary ways they stay in touch with ministries and personalities.”
Helmick’s first piece of advice for people wanting to launch a podcast was to start with the end in mind. For most people, it is either to reach more people with a message or to open up new revenue streams. He also gave some practical tips:
- Find a good hosting service. Helmick said that Anchor is good for someone coming in as a beginner and needs all the tools laid out. He also said that many ministries he works with use Podbean to host their podcast.
- Get a good microphone. “One thing we underestimate is the power of a $99 microphone,” said Helmick. “It can separate you from novice podcasters to beginner or immediate podcasters.” He said a Yeti microphone is a good place to start.
- Buy a pen and notepad. Helmick reminded viewers that podcasting is hard work and requires a lot of preparation. Make bullet points of what you want to talk about or plan out interview questions for each episode before you begin recording.
Podcasts are unique from other media in that their format is so flexible. Helmick said that some of the most fun conversations to have with people in ministry are ones where they think through how to use the flexible format of podcasting in order to best represent that person or ministry.
“When we really start to analyze how we could be most helpful in the marketplace and what problems podcasting can solve, I think that’s where we could really start to get extremely creative,” said Helmick. “You build the mechanism around who’s listening and what problems you can solve for them, which is something that we don’t always get the chance to do in other formats with their rigidity and their time constraints.”
Beyond the flexibility and creativity behind podcasts, there is also opportunity to monetize podcasts. Helmick said that 8,000-10,000 downloads per podcast episode is the benchmark for when to look for sponsors for your podcast. This is because the majority of podcast sponsors are trying to get listeners to buy a product or service, so when they’re advertising on a podcast, they are looking for sheer numbers of listeners. But it is more important for you to have the right kind of audience for sponsors than to have a massive audience.
Helmick encouraged people who want to get sponsors to actually turn their podcast to themselves first, and use their own books, resources, or events as a starting point.
“We don’t always think about our podcasts as the place to self-promote,” said Helmick. “And we don’t always think about how we need to do that self-promotion that makes it feel less like a 30 second advertisement and makes it feel more like an invitation to join a movement of people who are going to read this book together or a movement of people who are going to attend an event that we have.”
Helmick offered three primary strategies for to grow your podcast:
- Participate in the podcast space. Take the time to be interviewed on other podcasts, and let listeners know that you have a podcast too.
- Be consistent with when you post and how you share. People build their listening habits around predictability.
- Restructure how you position your podcast. Present your podcast as a major place for people to go to stay in touch with what you’re talking about, not a backup plan
Helmick closed by encouraging Christian communicators to continue to press into this podcasting space.
“Creatively we should put our time and our effort into developing programing that we feel confident can earn a spot in that six or seven programs a week that people listen to,” he said.