So You Want to Start a Podcast? Pt. 1

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  • August 1, 2017
  • Joey Held

Ten years ago, only 13 percent of people in the United States had ever listened to a podcast. Since then, listeners have more than tripled as people discover the medium. Podcasts are unique in the sense that they’re a passive platform. Most of us like to listen while driving, doing dishes, or going for a run. All activities where it would be hard to digest information via a blog post or video. That’s part of the reason podcasts are popular across just about every demographic, with nearly as many 18-34-year-olds (28 percent) listening as people 55 and older (32 percent).

An increase in listeners means an increase in opportunity. Now’s a fantastic time to get started on your very own podcast. But in order to rise above the chatter, you’ll need a well-thought out strategy from content to promotion.

In this multi-part series, we’ll dive into everything you need to get started, including creating content, choosing the right equipment, and how to improve the marketability of your podcast.   

Choose a Focus

You may consider yourself a jack-of-all-trades, but not having a focus will just confuse your listeners. Pick one or two topics that you’ll primarily cover. Not only will your audience have a clear understanding of what you offer, it’ll make your content that much better. It’s a lot simpler to write when you can really explore a couple topics instead of having to spread yourself thin worrying about a dozen or more.

Determine your Audience

Who are you trying to target? Before diving into content, think about your ideal listener. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what you’d get out of this podcast if you were tuning in for the first time. What would make you return to listen to more episodes?

A great way to figure that out is to develop audience personas for your listeners. Maybe your top listener is Patricia, a 38-year-old mother of three who listens to podcasts in the car on the way to the grocery store or while watching her kids play soccer. Or perhaps Keith – a 23-year-old who drinks four cups of locally brewed coffee a day, is a devout Apple follower, and uses podcasts to bring fresh ideas to his boss – is more up your alley. These audience personas are both fun to develop and incredibly useful for building out your listeners. When you have a better idea of who you’re targeting, it makes creating content that much easier.

Develop your Content

This step requires a ton of ongoing effort, but boy, does it show in the end result. Does your episode have a guest? Do your research beforehand to ensure you’re putting them in a position to succeed. They should feel comfortable speaking to the theme of the episode. You can ensure that by asking open-ended questions that are more emotive, like “how does this make you feel?” and “what does this mean for X?” Develop questions and talking points to share before the recording date. Your guest – and listeners – will appreciate it.

Even if there’s no guest, research the episode’s topic. Having a loose script helps minimize any lulls in the episode and keeps things flowing. However, don’t write everything out. An audience can quickly tell when hosts have gone from candid conversation to stilted reading off a piece of paper. Our reading speed usually doesn’t line up with our talking speed, either. It’s jarring to suddenly switch the pace of speaking. There’s nothing wrong with a line or two to keep you on track. But when that line becomes an essay, your content will suffer. 

Stick to a Schedule

At first, your audience will be small. That’s totally fine – we all have to start somewhere. It takes time to grow. We’ll cover the best ways to market yourself in an upcoming post, but one of the best tactics is to create a consistent schedule. Our podcast here at INK is released every other Thursday, so listeners know when to expect it. Whether your cadence is daily, weekly, bi-monthly, or once a month, the important part is that people are aware that on a given date or at a certain time, you’re releasing a new episode. Consistency gives your listeners something to look forward to and helps them know when to tune in.

Take these steps seriously and you’ll be well on your way to a killer, can’t miss podcast. Keep your eyes locked onto the blog to check out our next post in this series, which will go into the different types of equipment you can use to record and share your podcast with the world.

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