- Have a professional voiceover for the introduction to your show.
- Hire a graphic artist to create your icons and cover art.
In 2007, Apple was reporting 125,000 podcasts available on iTunes. Although a recent number is difficult to find, it is safe to assume that number has doubled. Last year, iTunes reported 225 million iTunes users had credit cards on file, not including the full number of people who just have an account but do not purchase music files.
At 250,000 available podcasts in a network of at least 225 million users, that means there are 900 users to every 1 podcast. Compared to the flooded user bases of search engines and social networks, you have very strong odds leaning in your favor if you are a podcaster. Of course many of those users are downloading songs and music, but millions are downloading free podcasts or even better, subscribing.
When a user subscribes to a podcast, iTunes automatically downloads an episode to that user’s computer when they open iTunes. They can also take the podcasts on their iPod or iTunes-compatible MP3 player. Generally, other lawyers subscribe to podcasts, but your potential clients are listening. Having other lawyers subscribe to your podcasts can lead to case referrals, so you certainly don’t want to discourage your colleagues in the legal community from listening.
You may wonder who listens to a lawyer’s podcasts. Many people find podcasts through searches on Google, not just in iTunes. Every podcast has a search-engine-friendly page hosted on apple.com that is indexed by Google. If your firm is podcasting, you should tell everybody about it. Put it on your email footers, link to it on your website, Tweet about it, and plug every episode on Facebook. Someone who is in a divorce, bankruptcy, or involved in an injury case may not be a subscriber, but they may find an interesting topic covered on a podcast episode that relates to their individual problem.
Practice areas like business law and estate planning often yield loyal subscribers from potential or existing clients as those areas of practice often have clients that regularly want to stay informed and updated. Having a podcast opens the door to new exposure, gives you credibility, and can convert website visitors into new cases.
Now you know why you need a podcast. Let’s talk about how to make one.
You can download Audacity for free. It is an open source audio recorder and editor that is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It is pretty easy to use. Just open it, talk into a microphone, and export the file as an MP3. You now have a podcast episode. It is worth the investment of a higher-end USB microphone to minimize background noise and provide a clearer sound. You can get one for under $150.
If you don’t want to get acquainted with new software or purchase a microphone, you can phone it in. Freeconferencecall.com gives you the option of recording conference calls. Also, built into their free service is the ability to send those recorded conference calls to an iTunes feed. They even give you the iTunes compatible RSS feed to submit to Apple’s podcast editorial department. (You can find the link under podcasts when you open iTunes on your desktop.)
The Freeconferencecall.com solution is a great way to get third-party involvement with your podcasts. Bring in experts, experienced colleagues, or anybody that can add value to your show. It is the easiest way to get started, but before you pick up the phone, take your law firm’s brand into consideration.
Apple’s editorial department is pretty lenient when it comes to podcast censorship. However, it is worth the investment to have a professional voiceover for the introduction to your show. This is a one-time cost for music and a voice talent introduction that will give your future podcasts a studio feel and sound quality that projects credibility. If you search for voice talents and podcast productions in your favorite search engine, you will get a variety of options.
You also may want to consider hiring a graphic artist to create your icons and cover art. When searching in iTunes, a user will see a page filled with icons and podcast titles. A catchy title and professional graphic will help draw attention to your podcast and yield more listeners.
Graphics and quality introductions are modest one time investments that will enhance the overall quality of your show.
Always have a script or outline. Fewer things will turn off a listener faster than an “um choir.” What may be exceptional filler in direct conversation, “ums,” “Let’s see,” and “Bear with me” are not what your listeners are signing up for. What may be a brief silence in a general conversation translates to an awkward “Is my iPod still working?” moment for the podcast listener.
Write a script using words and tones that are similar to the way you speak. If your script is drafted around your speaking style, your audience will not know you are reading. Of course, many attorneys are very disciplined public speakers. For those of you with polished oratory skills, a basic outline will probably be sufficient. However you make it happen, just make sure you keep the show moving forward.
Building on the theme of moving forward, be sure to keep your podcasts brief. Under 15 minutes is ideal, and 5–10 minutes is best. Longer shows are great for news programs, comedians, and talk shows. But listeners to legal podcasts generally want a topic covered well and quickly.
The perfect time is something you will need to research within your practice area. As mentioned above, each practice area has a different audience. If you can frequently get guests and cover relevant news topics, you can host a longer show. But it is better to find something you can do on a regular basis and keep a consistent format.
Podcasts can give you credibility, expand your reach, and help bring in new cases to your firm. Keep your podcasts brief, add some professional touches, and maintain a consistent format. Overall, it is a minimal time investment that can pay off.