Once a client is happy with their website, they almost immediately start thinking about other potential platforms. They want to know if they should host a meetup on Meetup.com. Or they have always thought about starting a podcast. Plus, they’ve heard that videos on YouTube are really good for SEO. If you’re a small business owner who’s looking to expand your reach, should you start a podcast, host a meetup, or have a YouTube channel? Let’s find out!

What Are Your Business Goals?

Yes, this has been and will always be my first question for a small business owner (or non-profit) considering a new platform. How will creating content on the platform help you achieve one or more of your business goals? I have no doubt that it can, but, first, you need to know what you’re hoping to accomplish.

Track Track Track

Having a podcast, hosting a Meetup, or creating video content can all help position you as an expert in your field, connect you with potential clients/donors, and increase your reach in new markets. Write down some specific metrics that you want to track in the first three months. Then, set a calendar reminder to review those metrics.

A few metrics you could track are:

  • visits to the website
  • increase in referrals
  • increase in sales/donations
  • social media shares/followers
  • increase in e-newsletter subscriptions
  • invitations to speak

Should I Start a Podcast?

Podcasts are hot these days, especially in the United States. It seems like everyone from actors to school teachers has a podcast. Podcasts allow for short-form or long-form content, stories, interviews, news, how-tos, question-and-answer, comedy, drama, fiction, non-fiction, live audience, and so much more. Think about the variety of shows that exist on cable tv and translate that into audio form.

The Pros of Podcasting

Can be recorded and edited on your own schedule. You set your recording and editing schedules. The power is yours, muahahahahaha!

Can be recorded anywhere you can take a microphone. Microphones are much less intrusive than video and lighting equipment. You can record in a studio, coffee shop, busy street, airplane, or Mars!

Relatively low-cost. Compared to video equipment, you can start podcasting with a USB microphone connected to your computer. Of course, if you want to do street interviews, you’ll need more portable equipment, but I’ll be covering that in another post.

Still emerging technology. Podcasts are still relatively new. Spotify didn’t list podcasts until October 2018. The first podcast startups are just now getting acquired, companies are still trying to figure out how to monetize them, and there’s still a huge world market to tap.

Subscriber can listen anywhere. It requires low bandwidth to stream. Podcast apps allow downloading for offline listening. Most podcasts even have websites for computer-based listening. Plus, since you don’t have to watch anything, you can listen to podcasts while doing activities like running or driving.

The Cons of Podcasting

Editing can take a lot of time. At the very least, you’ll need an intro and outro for every episode. Some podcasts edit a little; some edit a lot. Designers Drink took me around eight hours to edit each episode.

Nice equipment can be pricey. Like most things, there are cheap microphones and recording equipment and there are expensive ones. The nerdier you get, the more expensive things get.

Not popular in a lot of places. According to this chart from Statista, podcasts are most popular in South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Australia, and the US. Like I said, it’s an emerging platform.

Should I Host a Meetup?

Meeting in person can be magical. Meetup.com was created to build local communities around similar interests. When I’ve moved to a new city, I always check Meetup.com to see what’s happening. I’ve been to hiking meetups, movie meetups, cooking meetups, WordPress meetups, podcast meetups, networking meetups and so much more.

The Pros of Meetups

Improves public speaking skills. If you need public-speaking practice, start a meetup.

Great way to be known locally. In-person meetings are often the best ways to build trust and interest.

Gathers people together in person. The energy of a group is infectious. Plus, you can gather immediate feedback from a live group.

Can use multiple mediums. Doing something in-person allows for an immersive experience. Potentially, you can have participants use all six senses.

Requires no equipment or editing. You don’t necessarily need anything for a meetup other than space and people and an idea.

The Cons of Meetups

Requires you to be in-person. Yes, people must leave the comfort of their homes and travel to the meetup location. For some people, this is a high barrier of entry. Perhaps you could provide a live stream.

Not the most comfortable for introverts. Some people get really anxious in new groups. Think of easy ways to take the fear out of meeting someone new.

Finding a free space might be difficult. Depending on your city, free space is hard to find.

It’s very location-specific. You host a meetup for people in your city which means it isn’t going to have a regional or national or worldwide reach.

Should I Have a YouTube Channel?

YouTube has an amazing array of content because it’s open to everyone and free to upload. If you have the time to produce the content, I think almost any industry or non-profit could benefit from having a YouTube channel.

The Pros of YouTube

Can be filmed and edited on your own schedule. Much like a podcast, you get to make your own schedule.

Allows for comments. The comments section allows for interaction with the viewer. Make sure to monitor the comments, because there might be questions!

Transcriptions help SEO. YouTube is good for SEO. It’s not secret that Google owns YouTube. All videos are automatically transcribed which makes them accessible to a wider audience, including search engines. You are also able to upload your own transcriptions.

Video is so popular. Video is everywhere now. Research shows that we remember things more when we watch them. Video can be fun, and it’s super shareable. Most importantly, relevant video results often appear at the top of search results.

Has a worldwide reach. YouTube is (almost) everywhere. The reach for the platform is much higher than podcasts or meetups.

The Cons of YouTube

Editing takes an even longer time. Sound + video adds complexity when recording and editing. Wistia has a great blog all about how to make video work for your business, no matter what your budget is.

Nice equipment is even pricier. You may start shooting videos with your smartphone, but you’ll eventually graduate to a more expensive camera, separate microphone, and lighting kit.

Someone has to be in front of the camera. Not only do you need to take care of the legal waivers, but the person/people actually have to want to be filmed.

Viewer must have adequate bandwidth. Video requires the most streaming bandwidth and commitment from the viewer. They need to be staring at a screen and listening to the audio, and that just can’t happen in every environment.

A Note about All Three

Whether you start a podcast, a meetup, or a YouTube channel, all three platforms share a few challenges:

  1. All have costs. Regardless of whether you choose podcasting, Meetup.com, or YouTube, they all have associated costs.
  2. You must be consistent. Most users want to be able to plan for and count on content. A lack of consistency leads to a lack of engagement.
  3. Content creation is hard. Creating interesting content on a regular basis is hard. It’s work. It must be thought-through and planned for. Sometimes, you will be creatively blocked. You have to push through and do it anyway.
  4. Patience is key. All three platforms are full of other people and businesses vying for a user’s attention. It’s hard to stand out. But with patience and persistence and something good to say, you will find an audience.
  5. Publicity is also key. You have to publicize your channels. Talk about it on social media; talk about it in person; talk about it in your e-newsletter.

It’s always exciting to try out a new platform and method of content creation. Even though Designers Drink has been dormant for a while, I learned so much by doing it. When I started it, I didn’t have clear goals behind it or metrics to track. I just wanted to try it. Perhaps, in the future, I’ll start it again with a better foundation and plan.

So which platforms are you using for content creation?

What have you found to be successful?

What are you interested in trying in the future?

What’s holding you back?

I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below or on Twitter.