As podcasting continues to surge in popularity, many businesses, brands, and individuals are beginning to wonder if now is the time to get into podcasting. The short answer? Maybe. It’s a little more complicated than just grabbing a mic and hitting record. While podcasting may be growing with more than 75% of the U.S. population stating that they’re familiar with the concept, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for all businesses and brands. We’re going to break down what makes a successful podcast and how to get from a single concept to an episodic series.
Breaking it Down
A podcast is an episodic audio series that allows listeners to stream and download content through a variety of platforms. When podcasting first broke onto the scene there was a lot of speculation regarding the future of radio, critics went both ways, some predicting the death of radio and others doubting the power of podcasting in general. Here we are in 2020 and podcasting has without question made a splash and continues to climb in popularity. With streaming numbers on the rise – up 23% from 2016-2017, more people are dipping their toes in the water when it comes to both listening and recording content. There is no exact formula for success and no single way to format your podcast, there are even different styles of podcasts; from narrative storytelling to interview-based, and even hybrids, you have to find what works for you and your audience.
Picking Your Topic
Finding the right topic is key and is essentially the first step in the process. Take a step back and ponder the following questions:
- Do you know enough about the topic to lead the conversation?
- Is this topic sustainable over a significant period of time?
- Is there an appetite for this subject matter?
Once you find a topic that fulfills these requirements, outlining your show’s segments comes next. There is no perfect equation or set of instructions when it comes to segments, and your segments don’t necessarily have to repeat each week, especially if your podcast is more story-based and less topical.
Build Your Outline
The benefit of podcasting is that most are more casual and off the cuff, that being said there are genres of podcasts that function mostly off of a script. While you should always have some sort of general plan in place, this long-form conversation allows for episodes to be more fluid. Your outline should be more of a notes sheet then a script so that hosts know where they are and what needs to be covered. Scripting should only come into place when it offers value and provides clarity, things like transitions, and sponsors may benefit from a script.
There are a variety of hosting options for your podcast you’ll have to determine which one works best for you and offers the analytics and insights you’re looking for. Simplecast, PodBean, and Buzzsprout are all popular hosting options.
Once hosting is established and an outline is written, it’s finally time to sit down and record. Make sure you’re in a room that will best capture your audio without background noises and distractions. Unless you’re a news-centric podcast, then consider “batch recording” for efficiency purposes and recording far enough in advance to ensure that there is time for editing and any other hiccups that may (or, will) occur. Doing so also gives your podcast producer the time to put together thorough show notes; these notes should include keywords and outline the topics covered. Quality show notes will improve SEO and help streaming platforms better place your podcast. During this time, you should also start promoting the podcast.
Promote, Post, Promote Some More
Getting the word out about the premiere of your podcast is extremely important, draft a press release, and distribute it to relevant media outlets. Use social media to tease episode one and tee your followers up for the release date. Audio snippets, photos from recording, and any other relevant content will help build excitement around the release of the first episode. Promoting your podcast doesn’t stop following episode one. With every episode drop, there should be promotional pushes on all platforms at your disposal, you should make it a habit to consistently incorporate it into your social media calendar. Beyond that, if you utilize any email marketing tools, be sure to link new episodes with every e-blast.
Once you’ve begun publishing podcast episodes, use your hosting platform, to track growth and see what performs and connects with listeners. Your episode title is going to heavily impact whether or not someone clicks to listen. It’s the first thing they see, and you want it to grab their immediate attention! Regardless of your hosting platform you should also have access to a set of analytics, things like demographic information, popular times to listen, etc. all of these tools will help you better tailor your podcast to your audience. If you notice that more people stream early in the morning that may play into what time you release episodes each week.
One of my final tips? Go listen to as many podcasts as you can. Take inventory of what you love and what you don’t. May I recommend my personal favorite: The Cabin Podcast – the official podcast of Discover Wisconsin.
For more digital inspiration: 3 tips to build a better social media strategy
About The Author
Ellen Fallon, Marketing & Account Supervisor at Discover Mediaworks is a 2019 University of Wisconsin – La Crosse Graduate. Her initial role as a Marketing Coordinator quickly evolved to one that is greatly hands on with both client and internal brand projects. From copywriting, to project management, and PR and social media she knows that adaptability is the name of the game when it comes to marketing.