5 Basic Tips for Creating a Successful Podcast

Read the original post on the Cision Blog.

Podcasting 101: 5 Tips to Get Your Message Heard

“Two thirds of listeners do come back to a podcast later to continue listening, according to research of radio fans; but the same survey says 21% of listeners – one in five – never come back.” – James Cridland

Over the past several years, podcasting has seen a boom in popularity. It seems like everyone from Joe Rogan to your neighbor have gotten in on the action. So how do you stand a chance at standing out among the thousands of people vying for the same audience? Well, there is good news: For every listener, there is a variety of genres and shows that they’ll listen to, so you don’t have to be The One Show they listen to, just one of the shows they listen to.

The stats around podcasting today really exemplify the range and variety of shows available for listeners to choose from:

  • There are currently over 750,000 podcasts for people to listen to [source]
  • Over 30% of the U.S. population listens to podcasts monthly [source]
  • 49% of podcast listeners listen at home, while 22% listen while driving [source]
  • Podcast listeners subscribe to an average of six shows [source]
  • The average podcast lasts about 43 minutes [source]
  • The number of listeners who listen on their smartphone has increased by 157% since 2014 to 23.9 million [source]

These stats can be overwhelming when you consider that most of the podcasts that exist aren’t famous, but that fact doesn’t make them unentertaining or not worth listening to. The reason that there are so many productions is because the demand exists. If you produce good content and remain consistent, the listeners will come.

Much of the time it may seem as though content producers are improvising and their ideas or questions are spontaneous, but I can tell you from experience that this is not the case. There is an incredible amount of research and planning that goes into each episode.

That brings us to our tips.

Woman listening with white headphones

5 Tips for Podcasting

1. Understand Why You’re Producing A Podcast

Every successful business has a mission statement. It’s a declaration of why you are doing what you do; it’s your goal or intention.

Most people will tell you that they want to do a podcast because it sounds fun. I couldn’t agree more. You should have fun producing your content. The product should fulfill a purpose and look to fill a niche or gap in the podcast landscape.

Some of you may be thinking that everything has already been done. Although I don’t completely disagree, you could always tweak an existing idea enough to make it uniquely yours.

Examples of successful and well produced – yet similar – podcasts: 

Last Podcast On The Left & My Favorite Murder

The Joe Rogan Experience & Your Mom’s House

Revisionist History & This American Life

Each of these podcasts takes a similar concept — like true crime — and puts its own spin on it, earning each one of them a loyal, enthusiastic audience. If someone really loves a certain podcast genre, they’re likely to at least try out every podcast available in that genre, then stick to their favorites over time.

Neon sign that says Do Something Great

2. Be Detail Oriented

It goes without saying that it takes a team to put any production together. However, many times with podcasts it comes down to one person and one person alone.

The end consumer only hears the end product, so it’s easy to think that you can simply slap together a show, put it on the internet, and call it a day. In reality, pre-production involves booking a guest and/or researching them or the subject matter being discussed. These deep-dives allow you to pull out facts and information to steer the conversation throughout the actual recording of the show, which I consider the easiest part of all.

Post-production probably is the most difficult as it requires an understanding of storytelling. Packaging the final production into something worth listening to, from a technical standpoint, may not be great at first but with time and consistency, it will be.

Most won’t tell you that you’re also in charge of promotional material and strategy. So take your time with it and remain willing to grow and learn from your mistakes.

Closeup of a person writing a checklist in a notebook

3. Remain Flexible

The show must go on.

Everything from “no show” guests to technical issues mid-recording can and will happen when you’re producing — and you must remain flexible. (This recommendation is coming from an experienced podcaster who has almost driven himself crazy trying to control every little aspect of the production.)

If you’ve ever been on the set of a large-scale video or audio production, you’ve probably seen a tightly wound 1st Assistant Director throw a cell phone across set because it vibrated too loudly while you were on location and nowhere near the shoot. Or maybe that was just my cell phone he threw at the craft services table. Either way, you don’t want to be either of those guys.

If the air conditioner turns on and suddenly you can hear it through your headset, play it off and make it part of the show. (Or get someone to turn off the AC for the duration of the recording and edit that part of the broadcast, if possible.)

Relax and let it ride if it isn’t too disruptive to your audience and guest.

Two people sitting on either side of a microphone with an open laptop in the background

4. Promote & Gather Data

You are responsible for your own success.

As a content producer you have no one to blame but yourself if no one consumes your content. Promotion and data gathering factor into the planning and research. You could have the best hour of content ever produced, but if you’re not pushing it out across the social platforms where your target audience spends their time, then it doesn’t matter how good it is.

I’ve seen poorly produced shows get hundreds and thousands of listens due to the level of promotion by the content’s creators.

Post it on your own site and make sure that you’re strategic about the description. Use keywords that are trending while remaining consistent with your own brand.

From there, share the link on the social platforms relevant to your target audience of listeners — think Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.

Social media icons over blurred photos of people

Also make sure that you’re tracking visits to your page. There are plenty of affordable and even free monitoring and analytics software tools out there if you’re on a limited budget.

According to business consultant Rachaelle Tiara:

“You want to be aware of your audience’s activity — notice what time of day they’re the most active (you can find this info under ‘insights’). Make a point to post at the same time each day, when you know your audience is likely to be active. Second, the algorithm favors posts that have lots of activity in the first hour after you post. So, if you get enough traffic on you in that first hour, Instagram will make your post visible on the discovery page — which means you will be seen by more people who are already interested in posts that are similar to yours. Make sure to use appropriate hashtags, as a lot of people follow specific hashtags.”

That’s why it’s important that you’re strategic about every aspect of the process. Be accessible and front load the work and you’ll see the benefits long term.

When it comes to the promotional content you produce, it’s always good to use the highest-quality materials you can get. Keep graphics simple, snappy, and on-brand. The caption you use with any graphics will take you further and boost overall visibility and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

5. Have the Right Hardware & Software

From experience, I can tell you that it can get expensive to initially set up a good production. For the most part, you’ll accumulate hardware as time goes on and start to upgrade slowly. The trick is to not get too ahead of yourself.

The price for equipment can be a good way to slow yourself down and see if this is truly something you want to do. I’d suggest starting with the basic microphone on your laptop. The sound won’t be the best, but it gets the job done.

Software also can come at a significant cost, but the good thing is that most computers have simplified audio capturing and editing software. I’ve continued using GarageBand despite upgrading everything else. It’s easy to use and I don’t need all the other extra production plugins that some other programs offer.

Regarding hardware, I started with the onboard microphone on my laptop. The sound was all over the place, but it was a start. As I continued, I invested in some condenser microphones that I bought online for about $30 each.

I’d suggest getting phantom microphones and using a small, affordable mixing board that can connect to your computer via USB. Many people choose to mix in the software itself — and that works — but I prefer to stick with the physical hardware as it allows for easy adjustments while recording.

Here’s an example audio file that I recorded with only these tools: Land of Enlightenment Podcast Episode 059 w/ US Congresswoman Debra Haaland

Keep it simple and start off slowly. This is a surefire way to make it yours and keep it going for an extended period of time.

Woman using MacBook Air to edit audio files

Final advice

If you want to create a podcast, all you need to do is try. Don’t let the pressure of making it good — or reaching anyone other than yourself — keep you from taking the time to make something interesting.

Do it consistently, focus it on something that you are truly passionate about, work diligently at making it better with every challenge, and you’ll have a product that attracts listeners and engages everyone it comes in contact with.

Want more tips about podcasts and other multimedia formats? Get Cision’s free multimedia storyelling e-book now!

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Oscar Duran works as Global President of the EMBRACE Employee Resource Group at Cision as well as an Associate Account Executive. Check out his previous posts for Beyond Bylines and connect on Instagram. When he’s not working, Oscar can be found producing content for his podcast, being an advocate for the underprivileged, or traveling.


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