As you learn how to run a business, it’s always a good idea to add variety to your content marketing strategy. Podcasting, or an episodic series of digital audio broadcasts, is another way of distributing content to your audience. People may argue the specifics of what makes a podcast a podcast, but the only thing that is not disputed is that the audience for podcasts grows each month. Meanwhile, the experts argue about whether the medium is in “the middle of a long boom or a short bubble,” but everyone agrees that podcasting is an emerging way to nurture an audience.

While the term initially referred to “pod” devices (remember those?), now all you need is an Internet-connected computer with some sort of speaker or a smartphone to quickly and easily download and listen to podcasts. The draw is that you can listen to conversations and dialogues on a wide variety of topics, involving passionate, knowledgeable, and dedicated storytellers and thinkers whenever you have the time.

In this installment of our twelve-month series focused on improving and developing your content marketing skills, we’ll investigate the ins and outs of podcasting as a marketing tool and how you can explore this emerging space for interesting content.

Investigate podcasts that focus on your industry.

You have your work cut out for you this month. If you’ve never listened to a podcast and feel like you’re bumping around in the dark, you should be able to use a simple query in a search engine to find your way to a curated list. Some smartphones offer a “Podcast” app that you can use to find suitably themed podcasts. Focus on casting a fairly wide net which helps you find a broad variety of voices and perspectives.

Listen carefully to both the popular podcasts and the ones that appeal to you.

This is the fun part. Set aside a few hours or more to listen. You may not be a person who can binge listen, so feel free to spread your time over a few days. If you find a podcast to be unbearable, feel free to move onto the next one. Your list should be so comprehensive that you can afford to be selective about which podcasts you invest your time into. Definitely listen to the leaders in your field and try to identify what contributes to their influence.     

Reach out via comments or social media.

Once you’ve limited your list to podcasts that genuinely engage you, listen to a few more episodes. Make sure you dig much deeper into the breadth of conversations explored on the podcast. Under ideal circumstances, you gain insight and value from each of the episodes in which you invest your time and are able to share those observations via social media. In many cases, you will be able to initiate a constructive conversation that deepens your impact on the exchange.

Run a test recording.

If you’ve found podcasting to a be medium that resonates with you, this is the time to test your voice. Many smartphones and tablets have a voice-recording feature. One way to test your comfort level with the podcast format is to engage in a recorded conversation with a colleague, using the voice recorder. Give yourself a sizable chunk of time in which to explore the discourse. Then listen to the recording and critique your ability to address the dialogue in a contributive way. The point is not to beat yourself up, but to critically investigate your strengths and weaknesses in participating in a podcast-like discussion.

Book an appearance.

Once you feel you have polished up your skills, contact podcast hosts and volunteer as a guest. There are an abundance of podcasts out there, so if you are just beginning in your industry, look for hosts who may not have hit their stride in terms of finding their broadest audience. Focus on gaining experience rather than feeling pressured to put a feather in your cap. Promote your participation on social media, your website, and your newsletter. A good guest engages in the process and brings a segment of the audience to the podcast.

Use high-quality equipment.

There are many recommendations on the best equipment for podcasting. In general, the microphones on low-end webcams or built into laptops are not the best means for capturing your voice. Set a reasonable budget and look on websites where you can find discounted electronics for sale. You might even be able to borrow or rent a microphone if you think your guest spot will be a one-off. When you use a high-quality mic, you ensure that your voice will be recorded in all its richness and vibrance, which translates to an audience that will enjoy your contribution. If you’ve ever been on a conference call with someone whose phone mic was defective, you know the pain of terrible acoustics. Do whatever is in your power to ensure that your input is of the highest value.

You’ll find an audience for your podcast, so focus on delivering intelligent commentary on your industry. It’s a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader and attract new followers (and potential customers).