Podcasting has been growing in popularity among financial advisors in recent years – and it makes sense. Listeners often seek podcasts for advice, and advisors, well, advise. So this content marketing medium should be a natural fit. However, podcasting isn’t for every advisor.
Through this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn what it takes to get a podcast off the ground, then sustain it to build your audience. This guide is focused on launching the podcast itself and getting through the early days of building your audience. Once the audience is in place, you will need to learn how to get the most out of your new show.
Realize that starting a podcast is a huge time commitment, and you won’t start seeing a return on investment right away. However, if done properly, you’ll build your personal brand, a community of listeners, and gain some clients along the way.
If you are already in the process of starting your podcast and you’ve fleshed out your idea – or maybe even recorded your pilot episode – you can skip ahead to where you are in the process.
- Should Financial Advisors Podcast?
- Choosing Your Podcast Topic and Structure
- Building Your Podcast’s Content Calendar
- Recording Your First Podcast Episodes
- Choosing Your Podcast Hosting Platform
- Marketing Your Podcast
- Sustaining Success
Should Financial Advisors Podcast?
Podcasting can help you connect with your key demographic in a way that is different than nearly every other platform. Not only can you hold an audience’s attention for longer, you get to be with them in their car, behind their lawn mower, at the gym or right in their office. Podcast listeners tend to be loyal and form a community around the show, which is great for your personal brand and your firm’s brand.
However, on the other end of the spectrum is the commitment it takes to get a show off the ground and build that audience. Financial advisors are already busy. You are working for your clients’ best interests every day while also running a business. Committing four-plus hours a week to a podcast – plus even more hours up front – isn’t always doable. If you’re planning to just record, post and move on, you may be wasting your time.
Let’s look at some of the statistics on both sides of the spectrum.
Why You Should Podcast
Whenever you’re considering a new marketing strategy, you should ask yourself two questions: Is there an audience and is my target persona included in that audience?
According to Nielsen, 50% of U.S. homes consider themselves “podcast fans.”
Meanwhile, 45% of monthly podcast listeners have a household income over $75,000. That compares to 35% of the total U.S. population. Also, 27% of U.S. podcast listeners have a four-year college degree, which is significantly higher than the 19% for the total U.S. population.
In other words, the audience is there, and it includes the demographics who typically work with financial advisors.
There is a ton of data to support that podcasts are growing in popularity, that listeners are engaged longer than nearly every other platform, and that the podcasting audience is there to be entertained and educated.
Hosting a podcast also can increase your personal brand and showcase expertise in your field. Unlike social media or blogging, using audio as a type of longform communication adds a personal touch that engages an audience. If you prove that you understand the content you’re talking about, it can raise your approachability and your respect.
However, it’s up to you to create the competitive content to capture that audience, which leads to our next point.
Why You Shouldn’t Podcast
If you are reading this guide, chances are you think you should be podcasting. And that’s a great thought. But don’t rush into the decision without considering why you should stay out of the podcast game.
You should avoid podcasting if you:
- Can’t commit the time
- Can’t create competitive content
- Don’t have a plan
- Aren’t willing to promote the show on other platforms
Podcasts can take up a significant amount of time. It’s not hitting “record” and moving on. You need to consider the time it takes to set up interviews, edit the audio, write show notes, create social media content, post to your hosting platform, include it in your email marketing, write blogs about each show topic, and account for general equipment setup and troubleshooting.
If you can do all of that, you’re well on your way to creating competitive content – which basically means you are matching or bettering the other shows in your space. If you’re not sure who is already producing popular content, listen to Dave Ramsey, So Money, Stacking Benjamins and Popcorn Finance. Get a feel for how they bring unique perspectives and styles to their show.
That leads you to putting a plan in place. If you’re one person with a microphone aimlessly rambling, you won’t have much success. The most popular shows have a clear mission, they have a consistent structure and release schedule, and they call upon multiple perspectives – whether it’s guests on the show or multiple hosts. You need to plan out a content schedule and decide on your show’s mission and structure before you sit down to record.
Finally, the best way to grow your show is to start with your own audience. You should be promoting it on social media, in your email marketing, on your website and through word of mouth with clients. You need those who know you to buy in first, then expand from there.
Choosing Your Podcast Topic and Structure
Are you going to be the only host? Will you interview guests? Will you niche down or stick to general financial planning? Are you looking for a specific type of listener (e.g. young adults, business owners, retirees, etc.)?
Creating your mission statement and show structure will make the episode planning process much easier. Start by determining the target audience and work from there. Really think about the questions that your audience would ask – these will become your episode schedule from here on out.
Before you start moving in that direction, you also need to decide if you will use a cohost or if you’re going to be the sole voice of the show. There isn’t a wrong answer, per se, but also note that a two-way conversation is much easier to sustain through a 45-minute show than a monologue.
Along the same line, the next big decision is if you’ll have guests on your show. Before you blow off the idea because of the added complexity, just remember the power of joint marketing. If you have a podcast targeting business owners, and you bring on local entrepreneurs to help you discuss topics relevant to them, chances are they are going to share that episode with their following. After a dozen episodes, you’ll be exposed to a dozen networks of other entrepreneurs and business owners. That’s a powerful way to grow your show and get in front of new listeners.
The final step in your pre-planning of the show is to think about how each episode will be structured. These are the little things that, if you account for now, will make each episode much more efficient.
- If it’s a basic interview style, determine if there are a couple questions you will ask every episode that aligns with your theme.
- Will you have some hook or fun thing to add into the show? For example, many podcast hosts open a beer at the beginning of the show and talk about what they are drinking.
- Will you have separate segments focused on different aspects of your episode topic?
- Will you always use the same opening or will you record a new one each week?
OK, so you have decided on a host. You know your target audience. You know if you’ll be interviewing guests. You have a good idea how each episode will be structured. Now it’s time to build your content calendar.
Building Your Podcast’s Content Calendar
Once you’ve decided on all the up-front details of your podcast, you can begin the fun part: planning out your episodes.
To start the process, determine how often you’d like to publish. Generally, best practice is to post once a week at a relatively consistent time. (Feel free to play around with what day or what time that is). Some podcasts are daily, some are monthly, some are multiple times a week, and some are posted as-needed or occasionally. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, but weekly will help you stay atop people’s feeds and fresh in their minds.
From there, you’ll need to start planning each episode’s content. Make a preliminary calendar with all the episodes you plan on creating. For some, that means listing topics, for others it may be listing potential guests. Regardless of which type of list you’re creating, stick to general topics for now – you can outline the episodes later.
Start with about 25 episode ideas, then organize by your preferred release date. This will change based on availability of guests, timeliness of certain topics or special episodes that come up, but you need a general idea of what you’re going for.
Next, choose a launch date. Choosing your date now will keep you accountable to get everything in place before you post the first episode. You’ll likely need about a month or two to get the rest of the steps completed before launch.
Always have three or four episodes recorded and ready to go at all times. You never know when you’ll have to take a break from podcasting to attend to your other duties running an advisory firm. In addition, many people choose to launch with multiple episodes to build up a mini backlog of content for the audience. This also gives you more promotional material that first week – which is vital to getting listeners early on.
Think about having six episodes recorded and finished before you launch. That’s three for your initial launch, and three for the backlog, so you can stay ahead and not miss an episode.
Recording Your First Podcast Episodes
Once you are done with all your planning, it’s time for the hardest step that any podcaster has to take – sitting down to record your first episode. Podcasting isn’t about having professional sound editing or a team of producers, but there are some very important considerations to make sure you have quality audio.
Find a Quiet Location
If it sounds obvious, it’s because it is. You don’t want background noise when you record – that creates more work in the editing process. And while most financial advisors don’t have a fully insulated sound studio in their office or home, everyone has a closet.
Some of the top podcasters still record from a basement bedroom or a closet. It keeps the noise from bouncing off the walls and creating an echo, leaving you with a clear stream of audio.
Of course, if you aren’t willing to jump into the janitor closet at the office to record, you can still book a conference room, tape a “Quiet Please: Recording in Progress” sign on the door, and do your best to make sure your voice isn’t bouncing off the walls or ceiling.
Be sure to test out a couple different locations in your home or office to find the best place for you. You shouldn’t be able to hear the whining of an air conditioner or stomping from the floor above you.
Invest in a Decent Microphone
You can have the greatest content in podcasting history, but poor audio quality is sure to have listeners drop off quickly. Even if you are having guests call in to record your episodes, the most important thing is your personal audio quality. You shouldn’t be recording straight into the computer microphone. While you might be able to get away with it in a pinch here or there – if you’re committed to your podcast you need a good external mic.
There are thousands of options for microphones out there, varying from $20 to a couple thousand dollars. Which one you go with will depend on the specific needs for your show. Rather than tell you which mic to purchase – there are thousands of blogs that can help you with that – let’s instead breakdown what you need to look for.
- Omnidirectional Recording: How many people are being recorded? If you’re the only person sitting in front of the mic, you probably don’t need the omnidirectional capabilities – meaning the sound is picked up from more than one direction. However, it’s a nice capability to have if you ever do record in-person interviews.
- Output: You’ll find two main kinds of podcasting microphones: USB and XLR. Your USB mics can plug straight into a computer through the USB port, or using an adapter if your computer only takes micro-USBs. The XLR needs to plug into a sound mixer and then the mixer plugs into the computer. Alternatively, if you are planning on using a phone or tablet, there are options for you. Keep in mind that you’ll get better quality using a computer with a microphone.
- Mobility: Are you planning on recording in different locations? Many mics need stands, and if the stand they come with is in a fixed position, you lose portability. You might want a smaller mic if you’re traveling to visit guests for interviews, or you may want a full, stationary setup if you have an audio studio.
- Drivers: Some mics require use of your computer drivers. This isn’t a big deal as long as you’re recording on a device that has a decent hard drive. If you’re using a phone, tablet or web-based laptop, i.e., Chromebook, you’ll want to make sure the mic does not require driver usage.
- Quality: You often get what you pay for. And if you do decide to go a cheaper route, just know that some mics are cheap for a reason. Look through the reviews and take note if a mic picks up too much background noise, has a grainy sound, or does a bad job suppressing “pops” – which are hard sounds like the sound a “p” makes when you speak into it. Bad mics will jump your audio levels quite a bit with pop sounds.
Regardless of which mic you choose, test it out a few times before recording your first episode. Read the instruction manual and become familiar with all of the controls. You don’t need to be a professional AV person to use a microphone – but you need to understand some basics.
Achieve Good Audio Quality
You have your quiet location. Your equipment is set up. Now it’s time to sit down and record!
When it comes to audio quality, you must get it right. Even if you have guests calling in, it’s your personal audio that a listener uses to determine if the show feels professional or amateur. Your mic is one part of the equation. Next up is to make sure you’re using it properly.
Sit close to the mic and speak in a normal volume. Do some testing to find the sweet spot for your setup – whether it means setting the mic six inches from your face or two feet. If your recording software shows you the levels, aim for filling the bar about three-fourths with your normal speaking voice. You don’t want to go off the charts when your voice gets louder.
When it comes time to record, you want to keep your audio stream recording on your local device – not an online recorder or a cloud-based recorder. If you record online, like through Zoom, Skype or Otter, it will condense the file size and thus the audio quality. Instead, use something directly on your computer, like QuickTime or GarageBand (for Macs). If you need to download a program, Audacity is free and can be a great editing tool, too.
The tricky part can be if you have guests on your show. Rather than record them over the phone, try getting them on a Zoom call and record from there. You should still record your audio file locally, but use Zoom for the guest audio. Editing the two together isn’t as hard as it seems.
Editing Your Show
One of the most intimidating parts of having a podcast is editing the show. But if you have good raw audio to begin with, this step becomes much easier.
Start by choosing an editing platform. If you have a Mac, GarageBand is likely the easiest option. It’s user-friendly and has about everything you’ll need. If you’re a Windows user, look into Audacity. It’s free, but it also has a bit of a learning curve if you’re not used to editing audio.
If you have two separate recordings (one of the guest and one with your voice), it will take a bit more work to join the two audio streams. Google is your friend when learning new programs, so look for one of the many online tutorials on Audacity.
You will also need some sort of opening for your podcast. Some shows use music to kick off, some use the same voiceover recording, and some record an opening as part of each episode. Make sure the music you choose is royalty-free and you have permission to use it. (Bensound and Free Music Archive provide some good free options.)
Choosing Your Podcast Hosting Platform
There are hundreds of podcast players out there, and it would be a huge waste of time trying to get your podcast on them all without a little help. That’s where your hosting platform comes in. By using a hosting platform, you’ll post your podcast, title and description for each episode once, then the hosting platform pushes out your podcast to all the major podcast platforms, such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, etc.
You may have to set up the initial account on the major platforms, but after the setup, it is automated.
Selecting which podcast host is right for you depends on your needs. Anchor.fm is free and provides a surprising amount of features for a free program. Blubrry is one of the industry leaders and has amazing compatibility with WordPress. Buzzsprout is an affordable solution that includes a landing page for your show, though creating your own landing page on your website is the better option.
Research which solution is right for you once your show is ready to publish. Many offer free trial periods, so be sure to take advantage of that to make sure you have everything you need.
Marketing Your Podcast
You’ve gone through all the effort of getting your show off the ground. Now it’s time to take it to the masses. You aren’t going to gain subscribers by publishing and waiting. You have to market your show.
Your entire marketing strategy starts with your show notes, which is a collection of thoughts, relevant links, contact info and subscription instructions for each episode. Once you have show notes written, you can use them as a blog, as part of an email, social posts, and directly on the social platform itself.
In other words, you create one piece of content that fuels your entire marketing strategy.
Create a Show Notes Blog
Note that this section is about creating a blog for your show – not necessarily a website. If you have an existing website for your firm, you can just post new episodes as blogs or create a new section of your site for your show.
Each blog should include the embedded episode at the top, which is provided by your podcast host. Simply copy the code, and paste it into your blog (you may need to use the HTML view, depending on your website CRM).
You’ll also want to write a few paragraphs describing the episode and link out to any relevant websites or social media accounts. For example, if you reference a study or another article, be sure to include that in your show notes. You also can link to your business social media accounts and to the website or profile of your guests.
Finally, you will also want a landing page for your show, where you pitch why listeners should subscribe, link to the latest episodes, provide subscription links and lead-generating materials like guides or factsheets. Try to make the link simple so you can reference it on the podcast – something like “myfirmname.com/podcastname.” Or you can buy the URL for your show and redirect it to your landing page. You want listeners to easily find you.
Email Out Each Episode
The next step in your marketing plan should be to email your show notes and episode out to your listeners. You can do this as part of an existing newsletter, or you can create a new email altogether.
The advantage to the existing newsletter is that you will already have an email list and won’t have to start from scratch. However, if you feel as though your podcast audience is significantly different from your email audience, feel free to start a new list. Be sure to promote subscribing to the email in your show.
We use our weekly newsletter, The Trend Line, to share episodes of the Framework podcast, along with other new content we produce.
Engage on Social Media
The last place you need to promote your new show is on social media. You don’t need to create a new social media account for the show because, again, you’d be starting from scratch when you already have a following on your personal or business accounts.
Instead, find ways to engage your current audience and encourage them to subscribe to the show. Link to your show notes blog, and mix in posts on how to subscribe on the podcast platforms. We use a mix of audio clips from each episode, along with featured guest images.
Another great way to get listener feedback is through social media. Use polls, ask questions and take requests for topics. It’s much easier and more convenient to get listener feedback on social media than trying to encourage your audience to fill out a form on your website.
Keep YouTube in Your Back Pocket
A common question for podcasters is, “Should I also put my show on YouTube?” There is a huge audience on YouTube, it can help your SEO for both your show and your website, and it can be a great way to reach new listeners. However, it takes a significant commitment to create quality content on YouTube.
For new podcasters, consider starting as an audio-only show unless you plan on video recording each episode, also. YouTube is a video platform, and trying to trick the system by just tossing an audio file over photos is not going to generate much buzz.
Start by creating a great podcast. If you find success, you can add the video component to the show. If you want to do both upfront, then you should have the mindset that your show is a videocast first and a podcast second.
Joint Marketing is Key
There is one surefire way to grow your podcast: joint marketing. If you plan on having no guests on your show, that’s OK. But having guests opens you up to their following and can double or even triple your subscribers in the early stages of your podcast.
Let’s say you have an episode on estate planning and you bring on an author with 1,000 Twitter followers and an email newsletter. After the show, provide your guest with all the materials she will need to share your episode to her followers – even providing suggested email text and social posts.
Then, tag that guest in any social posts you produce. You’re looking for her to share the episode with her followers.
If you repeat this process for every new episode, you’ll see your audience grow significantly faster than if you’re going into it alone.
The No. 1 thing you can do as a new podcaster is keep going. You won’t often find success overnight. It might even be a year of building your episode library before you start seeing significant gains in downloads or email subscribers.
But if you stick with it, and you’re confident you’re providing quality, informative content, eventually you’ll see your show start to grow. If you still aren’t seeing the growth you’d like, invest more in marketing – consider digital advertising, more joint marketing, push for bigger guests or try to get on other podcasts to promote your show.
Once your show grows in popularity – even a little bit – you can start to monetize it. There will be new clients for your firm, you can use it to sell ads, promote other areas of your business, and gain new centers of influence by strategically bringing on new guests.
It’s a lot of work to get the show off the ground, but if you commit to your schedule and plan ahead, you can take advantage of this growing medium where the audience is proven to build brand loyalty and take action.