In 2016, we started hearing about podcasts skyrocketing and becoming the next big thing, and skyrocket they did! Podcasts are all the rage at the moment. In fact, they are so caught on that there are currently more than half a million podcasts on Apple alone.
People love listening to and telling stories; after all, our mind is tuned to learn and understand the world through narratives. Podcasts are exactly that – innovative stories able to give even the most technical subjects a little color.
We bet you also have a story to tell! If you were toying with the idea to start your own podcast – there’s no better time than now. This detailed how-to guide will tell you all that you need to know before, quite literally, getting your voice out there. 😉
Stage One: Give It a Thought or Two
“Throwing-spaghetti-at-the-wall-and-seeing-what-sticks” approach isn’t going to do the trick here – before you dive in the actual process of creating a podcast, there are a couple of questions you have to ask yourself.
What is the purpose of your podcast?
First, you need to figure which story you want to share, how passionate you are about that subject matter, and exactly what you are hoping to accomplish with it.
The chances are that you already know what you want to talk about and feel strongly about it. However, if you’re still uncertain, it’s best to note down your passions and experiences, see whether there are any overlaps, brainstorm topic ideas, and choose the one you’re the most excited about. Because, as always, love for what you do will keep you going.
The goal of your podcast will differ based on whether you are a business owner or a hobbyist. As a business owner, you probably want to create a podcast to boost your brand’s awareness and authority, create content that is valuable and engaging, and form a genuine connection with your audience.
On the other hand, if you’re doing it purely because you’re passionate about a subject, your main objective will be to connect with people who share similar ideas and interests.
Once you know what you want to say and what reaction you hope to get, everything else is more likely to fall into place.
What will its name be?
If you thought that naming your podcast is something you’ll just patch together, think again – the name you choose can ultimately make or break your podcast.
Coming up with a clever name is great, but it can only get you so far – people have to be able to find you when they search for something related to your topic. The ideal one would be both catchy and searchable, or at least have a description incorporated into the title so your audience knows what to expect.
If we take a look at what Kristin and Laurence did (check out their success stories if you haven’t already!), we’ll see that they used their catchy, personal brand name, together with the descriptions of each individual episode as the title of their podcasts. Way to go, girls!
What is your target audience?
As with everything else you do, keep your target audience in mind.
For your podcast to be successful, other people have to love your ideas at least half as much as you do. That’s why you should give your best to define your audience beforehand – who would find your podcast interesting (be as specific as you can: age, gender, location, profession, ethnicity, etc.), what unique value and experience is your audience going to get, where are they and what are they doing while listening, and what will their reaction be after listening to your podcast.
Be specific and don’t hesitate to narrow it down if it means your podcast will speak to your audience better.
Stage Two: Planning Ahead
After deciding on the essentials, there is still some serious planning to do before the actual “filming” takes place. I get you are itching to start, but you know what they say – patience makes perfect!
There are several common types of formats you can pick for your podcast:
a) The solo podcast (monologue)
Pros: You’re your own boss and you run the entire show. You’re in charge of everything that needs to be done and, as such, are likely to be considered an authority on the subject. This aids in building your personal brand and forming a genuine and deep connection with your audience. Moreover, if the podcast grows in popularity, you’ll get to reap the profits.
Cons: The solo podcast may be a bit frightening concept for a beginner since you’re the only one actively involved in the show and there’s nowhere to turn to if you need help. At times, you may also get the feeling that you are talking to yourself and there’s no one out there listening.
b) The co-hosted podcast
Pros: If you want to avoid that “forever alone” feeling, having someone you can chat with is a great idea. A co-host who’s a perfect match will be more than support when the “mic fright” rears its ugly head – you two can have interesting debates and discussions that will capture listeners’ attention.
Cons: A possible inconvenience is the need to plan the recording time in advance, so it works for both you and your co-host. More importantly, you won’t be the only owner of the podcast – everything (including the profits) has to be split into equal parts. Even worse, they can simply back out sometime in the future, leaving you stranded.
c) The interview podcast
Pros: Doing an interview gives you an amazing opportunity to meet and talk to people you’ve always admired, as well as to give your audience a variety in terms of content. Also, people you invite are likely to have their own audience, meaning your podcast has a great chance to gain new listeners.
Cons: Interviewing is a skill you learn by practising, thus it is best to start small and then work your way up until you reach A-listers, which takes some time and effort. Also, you have to set aside a considerable amount of time to find and schedule potential guests, and you have to rely on them to show up; otherwise you won’t be able to record the episode.
d) The panel show (roundtable)
Pros: Since the concept behind the roundtable is to always have a different group of guests who rotate each week, you have a wonderful opportunity to give your audience new viewpoints each episode, while at the same time taking some of the pressure off you.
Cons: You are likely to face difficulties when it comes to booking, scheduling, and finding people willing and able to participate, as well as moderating the whole conversation.
Number & length of episodes
Once you decide on the format of your podcast, it’s important to establish the exact number of episodes you’d like each season to have, as well as the length of each episode. According to podcast listeners, a short episode lasts somewhere around 15 minutes, while the long one is anywhere over an hour.
Which type is more popular? Well, if we take a look at some of the data gathered, we see that both longer and shorter episodes are in demand. There are some who claim that the ideal episode is anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes long.
So, what should you do?
There’s no such thing as a simple formula to be applied. Instead, keep in mind that the episode length ultimately depends on the content itself – don’t discard great content just because it is longer than 45 minutes. On the other hand, don’t add fluff just because you think the episode is too short.
Make every minute matter.
Stage Three: Lights, Camera, Action
When everything else has been settled, it’s time to get down to business and start recording your first episode!
It goes without saying that you’ll need equipment to start recording. Luckily for you, there’s no need for it the be expensive, at least not in the beginning.
You’ll need just a few basic things to get you started – a computer, a microphone (if you have a laptop – you’re in luck, as most of them come with built-in mics) and internet access. However, basic equipment means that you shouldn’t expect your podcast to have an impressive sound quality – for that you’ll have to invest a bit more and get yourself some proper audio equipment.
Apart from this, you’re going to need a recording and editing software to tape the podcast and make changes before hitting the “publish” button. What’s great is that you can find some easy-to-use programmes online which won’t cost a dime, or at least won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but will prove very handy for a beginner.
To script or not to script
Let’s face it – for everything to run smoothly, you will need to prep your content in advance, so having a script is a definite “yes”.
However, when people hear the word “script”, they tend to picture a comprehensive essay containing every single word the host plans to include in the episode. That can happen too, but usually for shows and podcasts which are professionally produced and edited.
This is not something we recommend here, for two reasons. Firstly, can you imagine writing out a detailed script for each episode, each week? Of course not! It would eat up an enormous chunk of your time and you probably would not be able to keep it up in the long run. Second, unless you practice it beforehand, you’ll end up sounding as if you are reading, which will produce a flat and monotone voice that puts off even the biggest fans.
On the other hand, podcasters who don’t have any script in front of them tend to ramble a lot, which can come off as equally annoying and may cost you your audience.
To avoid this, it’s best to make a script covering your episode flow and major talking points, such as questions you’ll be asking, topics you’d like to discuss, ideas you want to share, CTA, and a wrap-up. Moreover, if you plan on recording several seasons, it’s best to do a complete season outline, and then sketch out each individual episode.
Having an episode outline and a script to follow will ensure you stay on point and on track with your podcast while saving you days of excessive work.
Final Stage: Spread the Word
It’s time to share your podcast (and all the hard work that went into it) with others and spread the word.
Publish your podcast
To publish your podcast for the world to hear it, you will need something called a media host, also known as a podcast hosting account. A podcast host serves as a storage for your audio files and enables your audience to subscribe to, listen, and download your podcast.
Once you find a media hosting service which fits your needs perfectly, start working on getting listed on Spotify, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts. Since these platforms enable people to actually find your podcast when searching for it, getting listed here is the most important step in getting your work under the spotlight.
Give it a boost
We all know how powerful social media is when it comes to generating buzz, making something viral, and creating a deeper relationship with your audience. Once your podcast goes live, do the following:
- Create a social media blitz – Once you launch your podcast, make sure you share interesting, engaging, and valuable posts across different social networks – for instance, pick a quote or a key lesson from the episode, post it online, and engage in the conversation that’s likely to follow.
- Organize a giveaway or a contest – First, ensure that the product you are giving away as a prize is relevant and of interest to your target audience. Next, as a participation requirement, ask your audience to subscribe to your podcast and leave a review. Of course, pay attention to all legal issues connected to contests or giveaways.
- Craft a meaningful promo post – Don’t just share that your podcast is up. Instead, create something that’s attention-grabbing, creative, and, most importantly – valuable. Ensure you have a CTA at the end of each post to engage your followers and get them on board.
- Make sure to as for feedback – Once your podcast is up and running for some time now, your fans are going to start leaving comments on your posts and sending tweets and emails wanting to give you their feedback. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to engage with your audience and ask them politely to leave a rating or a review on your podcast. You’d be surprised at how many positive answers you can get. And learn so much about getting better!
We all have a story to tell and we all want to be heard. Considering their popularity, podcasts seem to be the perfect medium for making that happen!
They are second to none when it comes to their versatility – they act as an outlet where you can share your ideas, passions, experiences, and knowledge, connect with people who share similar interests or those who will help you expand your horizons, boost your personal brand, build a genuine connection with your audience, and so much more.
But be warned – the competition is fierce. If you want to get a shot at it, use our guide as a lodestar, go through each step carefully, and ensure you have everything planned in advance.
Most importantly, remember to express yourself and take pride in being different.