Welcome to the world of podcasting! To say podcasts are having a moment would be a gross understatement. Research available from https://www.statista.com suggests in 2020 there were over 15 million podcast listeners in the UK. This number is expected to rise to close to 20 million podcast listeners by 2020 meaning during the last decade, podcasts have become one of the most popular audio entertainment platforms in the UK. Demographically, podcasts appeal most to younger audiences with close to 40% of listeners aged 26-35 listening on a weekly basis. Unsurprising therefore that smartphones are by far the most popular listening device usually whilst travelling.
The most popular podcast genres in the UK are sports, comedy and music. Other popular genres include news, lifestyle, culture, self-help, business and current affairs.
A podcast is usually an episodic series of free spoken-word digital audio shows available from the internet that a listener can download to a personal device to listen to at a time of their choosing. Think about it like this; all of your favourite blogs, radio shows, stories, topics and interests delivered episodically for you to listen to on-demand. Podcasts are consumed on the way to work, cooking dinner, walking the dog, the school run making podcasts incredibly versatile and easy to consume.
Okay, so you’ve decided you’d like to start a podcast but where to begin? Well, we’ve put together what we feel are the most important steps you need to follow to start your podcasting journey!
Before you do anything else, decide upon your podcast theme. Simply what is your story? What is your niche or expertise? What are you going to talk about? It’s unlikely that your show is going to be totally original but never let that put you off. There is room for everyone and listeners are highly likely to consume more than one podcast in the subjects that interest them.
Listen to podcasts that you believe are similar to yours. Think about what you like and dislike about them not as a competitor but as a listener:
• How good is/are the show host(s)?
• How do you rate the content produced?
• How engaged is the podcast with its audience?
• How often are episodes released?
• Is the production high quality?
• Has the podcast left you wanting to subscribe?
Plenty of podcasts develop over time and the original theme may well change so don’t get too hung up if you need to develop your theme later.
There is no right or wrong answer here but you do need to be clear on what the purpose of your podcast is or simply why are you starting a podcast? These could be:
• I’m starting a podcast as a hobby
• I think podcasting is fun and I want to try it
• I’m starting a podcast to promote my interests
• I’m starting a podcast to become a celebrity
• I’m starting a podcast to promote my business
• I’m starting a podcast to influence buyers and potential buyers
• Being clear on the purpose of your podcast is really important. The purpose of your podcast will influence:
• The content you produce and how often you’re going to produce it
• What, if any guests you’ll have
• The number of episodes you’ll produce
• The quality of your production
• What resources (time and money) you’re willing to spend
This isn’t to say that purpose of your podcast can’t change. There are plenty of examples where a hobby podcast has really caught the imagination of its listeners and become a successful commercial enterprise but that’s rare so if making a quick buck is your purpose, you’re highly likely to be disappointed unless you’re a celebrity already. Podcasts take time to build an audience and you’ll need to be patient!
Okay, so you’ve decided upon your theme and your purpose and now it’s time to consider the most important factor of all, who is your tribe and what do they want to hear? We’ve spoken to plenty of disillusioned company podcasters who have hung up their recording equipment citing poor listener numbers and engagement. We often discover the following:
Who wants to listen to a half-hour monologue or advert on how good your product or service is? You’ve got to offer so much more than that. Think about what your tribe would like to know and if you can, ask them! Add some value to their day. After all, if you’re asking them to listen to you, tell them something interesting! If you can be bothered to plan and record a quality production, why should the audience be bothered to listen?
You don’t have to be a Jimmy Kimmel or Fallon but you do need to have a personality and a voice! If you’re interviewing guests then get some interview training. If you’re producing a solo or monologue you are going to need to be comfortable ad-libbing for an extended period of time and if you’re sharing presenting duties with a co-host you’ll need chemistry. Presenting is an art. Do not assume it’s easy.
We mentioned earlier that planning is essential but don’t over plan! If interviewing a guest by all means have an idea of where you’d like the direction of the show to go but be prepared to and ideally encourage a wide discussion. Let it flow. Over scripted shows are stilted, awkward and very dull.
Podcasts are generally an audio-only production, therefore the audio has to work so much harder. If you’re assaulting your listener’s eardrums for the next 30+ minutes by recording through the mic on a laptop what do you expect?
Listeners consume podcasts on the go and not everyone has hours to spare for you to get to the point. Aim for around 30 – 40 minutes maximum per episode. Anything longer, chop them in half and publish the second part later.
There are more than a couple of podcast directories. Yes, Apple and Spotify are key but there are plenty of others so make sure you’re listed with all of them.
Integration with your other social media platforms is key. Don’t be shy and make sure all of your followers are aware of your show. Use podcast transcripts as blog posts on your website or use them for news release purposes. Share audiograms (short audio files converted into video files) on social media, add the podcast link on your emails, add transcripts to newsletters etc.
When choosing a podcast name try to pick something that is memorable and not too similar to another show and will help your show get ranked. Apple podcasts uses title, author and description fields for search so best to make your title specific as this will affect whether your podcast shows up in searches.
Alongside your podcast name is your podcast cover artwork – all part of your podcast packaging. This is the first impression you’ll give potential listeners as they browse their favourite listening app. Also, it might be the image used when you share your podcast on social media, so choose carefully and make sure it represents the theme and style of you and your show.
A really nice touch to professionalise your podcast is to choose intro and outro music. There are plenty of sites offering royalty-free music so choose something that fits nicely with the style and content of your show.
Never record through the mic on your computer as the quality is awful. Instead, buy yourself a USB mic such as from http://www.rode.com/microphones/nt-usb as these will offer a rich almost broadcast quality sound. Don’t spoil your episodes with a poor quality recording.
If your podcast relies upon guest interviews then you need to find guests and agree on your topics well in advance of the recording date. Finding guests can take time and in your early days expect to receive a few knockbacks. We recommend this process:
• Decide your episode them or topic
• Who are seen as the experts or authorities in this area?
• Has the potential guest appeared on other podcast shows? If they have, they may well be more inclined to agree as they’re familiar with the format
• Consider guests from other countries
• Send them an email / LinkedIn request giving a brief overview of what you’re asking for. Be clear in what you want. If you have episodes that you think they’ll enjoy, include a link in your communication
• Ideally agree on a time for a Zoom call in advance of your recording to discuss themes
• Ask for a biography and a headshot (promotional purposes) and make your do plenty of research and listen to other podcasts they’ve appeared on
• Agree on a date send them a recording link explaining the technology you’re using
• Avoid sending questions in advance as it sounds over scripted and does not allow the conversation to develop organically. A true expert will be able to deal with any questions you have
• After the recording thank the guest and agree on how and when the podcast be released
• If asking for their support in promoting the podcast, make sure you agree on this in advance
There are plenty of different formats for podcasts, here are some examples:
Finding guests to talk about a particular subject or theme is extremely popular. Furthermore, if the guest has a tribe they can really help you build listener numbers by promoting the podcast. However, you will need to be comfortable as an interviewer and you will need of course to find guests to appear on your show.
If you prefer not to interview, a solo podcast is a great way to share your voice and opinion with listeners. However, you will have to carry the conversation all by yourself and be very comfortable ad-libbing.
Another very popular format is a conversational podcast where you and your co-host discuss a subject or topic. These tend to be free-flowing and relaxed conversations and can also include a guest. To make this format work, you’ll need to have great chemistry with your co-host.
This is a fantastic format for exploring in-depth a particular topic or theme. This format can include multiple pre-recorded interviews as well as segments of solo narration. This format is complex and will require a strong narrative and expert editing skills to make the episode able to standalone.
Daily, weekly, twice-weekly, monthly you decide. However, you need to decide this in advance. If you inconsistently record you’ll find it is very hard to build a loyal tribe of listeners. As a minimum, we believe you should release at least two episodes a month to gain a following. We also recommend recording by ‘season’. Your season could include 10 – 12 episodes giving you an opportunity to pause for a couple of weeks whilst you plan the next season. Compilation episodes are a great way of providing listeners with short excerpts and driving them to listen to full episodes they may have missed. You’re just rehashing previous content but it sounds fresh to many listeners.
Before you launch, we recommend having at least episodes in the can. This takes the pressure off of finding new guests and allows you to relax and enjoy the podcasting experience!
A podcast transcript is a document that lays out word-for-word what was said during the podcast. It was thought that transcripts aided search engine optimisation but this isn’t really the case. They are however a very useful tool to create blog posts, newsletters and other marketing materials. We use https://www.descript.com.
Podcast Show Notes are a brief description of the podcast episode used by podcasts hosts and listening apps Great show notes include the title of the podcast, the episode number, the details of any guests and a brief summary of the episode. You can include memorable quotes, links to products and services and social media links. Show notes work best when written succinctly.
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