Minimal Viable Podcast

I listen to a lot of podcasts. In fact, my Stitcher app reports that I have over 1,000 hours of listening time since I started using the service. That doesn’t count when I had used iTunes, listened directly on a website or the hours of YouTube channels I consume.

I love podcasts. I love listening and learning. I also love the craft and production a show host bakes into her audio. Shows like Alex Bloomberg’s Startup, only 12 episodes in, is set to disrupt this decade old market. By delivering great story telling, mixed with quality production and editing, the listening experience is elevated to a whole new level.

Is this the world of podcasting to come? Do we all need to be this prepared and refined before we hit publish?

Starting your first podcast

If you’re not familiar with MVP as it relates to the startup world, you can read this. Minimal viable anything, is the act of creating something (product, etc) fast with some basic research that validates the market need along with the intent to launch and iterate.

Launch, test, feedback, iterate — something like that.

Can you launch a podcast the same way? Sure you can. In the rest of this article, I’ll outline the necessary steps to launching a Minimal Viable Podcast.

Define the topic. Set the audience.

As an MVP, you probably want to avoid a broad topic like entrepreneurship. Before you mention, WordPress entrepreneurship as a topic, that’s still too broad. You want to go levels deep — but still have a topic you can carry a 5 to 15 minute conversation with. Spend some time researching a potential audience or set of customers. What are they talking about and what are some pain points they constantly bring up?

Here’s an example:

Marketing > Internet Marketing > E-mail Marketing > E-mail Marketing Apps > MailChimp > Using MailChimp

That’s 6 levels deep, but a big target to go after. So what could we talk about?

  • How to use MailChimp
  • E-mail marketing best practices with MailChimp
  • Mobile and e-mail
  • Connecting apps to MailChimp
  • Success stories with MailChimp

You see where I’m going with the different topic ideas, which should spill over to defining an audience. This is useful for your own client base, growing a new client base, and finding the do it yourselfers that are looking for solid advice.

Time per episode?

Shoot for 5 – 15 minutes.

Podcasting is a lot of hard work, especially once you get into editing 30+ minutes of conversation — never mind if you add video into the mix. For now, stick with audio and keep that conversation short. Focus on publishing and promoting your content, not deep dive conversations with lots of audio bumpers.

If you’re still using my MailChimp example, you could have an episode talking about their new dashboard or recap your best performing campaigns. Whatever it is, short, sweet, and to the point.

Hardware? Software?

You can read more about what I use in How to start a podcast. For our MVP, keep your investment basic. A decent mic or a room that has very little echo should do the trick — for now.

What? No iTunes?!

Nope, not for our MVP.

Loading up to iTunes requires more than what the rules of the MVP allow us. You’ll need artwork, channel description, file hosting, and so on. There’s no time for that!

My first go-to service would be Soundcloud. It’s super-easy to use, it’s mobile friendly, and you can eventually upgrade to the Pro version which will get you podcasting capabilities. You can use the embedded sound player on your website and people can subscribe via the app. You’re covering a lot of bases for very little overhead.

Another alternative would be using your own WordPress website. With the new media interface for audio/video, you’d be set to publish without even having to sign up to another service.

The most important part: The next 30 days

Let’s go over our checklist:

  • Tight topic
  • Little to no editing & production cost
  • 5 to 15 minute episodes
  • Use an easy publishing/hosting service
  • Spend time promoting
  • Iterate

Give yourself a goal to hit.

In 30 days, can you drive enough interest and traffic to make this a real thing? If you’re up to it, start a journal about your process, use it to look back on what worked and what didn’t. At this stage of your MVP you want to spend more time promoting it and testing it’s legs before you commit all the way. Gathering feedback from your audience as soon as you can, is a must— even if the only listener is your mom.

In the end, you don’t have to be afraid of competing with the Bloomberg’s of the world. Starting small and staying committed is half the battle in this space.

Are you starting a podcast this year?

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