Podcasts are exploding in popularity, with over 3 million podcasts available as of January 2023. It's no surprise that so many people are looking to start their own podcast. If you are one of them, there are a few things you should know before you hit the record button.
We've helped publish more than 600 podcast episodes with 7.5+ million downloads over the years, and many of those shows were brand new to the industry. This blog post covers the top five things we wish we knew as first-time podcasters, from finding your voice to technical logistics to setting expectations.
The first thing you need to consider is the niche or topic(s) you want to cover on your podcast—and how you can uniquely contribute your voice to that. The more specific and targeted your topics are, the easier it will be to attract and retain listeners. You know what you're passionate about. You know what you would talk about at a party, with a friend, or if no one were listening. Now find a way to invite people into that. Define your niche, understand the audience, and create content that you and your audience care about — or that you want them to care about!
Workshop your topics and podcast. Not every episode is going to be a hit. Not every interview is going to go how you hoped. But if you come in with a plan for what you want out of the podcast and are willing to receive constructive feedback, then you're going to get better. The more you lean into your passion and learn from each episode, the better you will get. And pay attention to your reviews! Even bad reviews help you learn what your audience is looking for.
To create a high-quality podcast, you need quality equipment. Investing in the right equipment is key to producing quality content. You don't need to break the bank to get started, but you need to invest in the right equipment and software for your needs.
Most podcasts start with a basic setup that includes a USB microphone, headphones, and free recording software. However, as your podcast grows, so should your level of excellence. Invest in higher-quality equipment to improve the sound quality of your recordings and consider outsourcing your editing and mixing to professionals. A great sounding podcast, coupled with great content, can really help you rise above the noise 😉.
To publish consistently good content, you need to create a content plan and schedule. This will help you stay on track and consistently produce new episodes. You need to consider the length and frequency of your episodes, the structure of your episodes and the topics you want to cover. Will each episode have a call to action? Is that call clear? If it's narrative style, does the episode have a story arch (intro/climax/resolution)? What's your plan for bringing your audience along? Creating a content calendar and plan can help you stay organized and ensure you're covering a range of topics.
For example: if your podcast is about the intersection of technology, create a content plan that focuses on a specific area of technology and society. This will allow you to stay on track and ensure you're producing episodes that cater to your audience's needs and interests. Additionally, create a content calendar to ensure you're covering a range of topics that still hit the specific area of focus for that podcast or season.
To grow your podcast, you need to promote and market it to build your audience. The best way to do this is to share your podcast on social media and create a website or landing page for your show. You don't have to have social accounts for your podcast. Sometimes using your existing platform and network is the best place to start. But create good social media content specific to your podcast. Learn about each platform. Know what media performs the best and how your content needs to be formatted to look as good as possible. And then have a landing page or website where people can learn more about your podcast, or even better, support it financially. And consider advertising or collaborating with other podcasts in your niche. Also, don't forget to ask for reviews and feedback from your listeners! Reviews are huge for the discovery metrics of most podcast distribution platforms.
Building a successful podcast takes time and patience. You need to be consistent in producing new episodes and engaging with your audience. The more regularly and consistently you put out content, the faster your audience will grow. Make it easy for your listeners to know when the next episode will come out. Whether it's daily, weekly, b-weekly, or monthly, set a schedule and stick to it. It may take some time to build a loyal following, so be patient and keep producing quality content.
Know your limits. Producing a consistent, high-quality, engaging podcast is a lot of work. It can feel like a lot sometimes, both mentally and technically. If your podcast is growing in recognition and your audience is wanting more (or you want to give more), consider outsourcing some of the work so that you can keep focusing on creating your best content. Going back to point 1, you know what you're passionate about and what you want to tell others about. Don't let the strain of producing a podcast steal the joy of sharing yourself with the world!