How to start a podcast
Jul 29, 2019
“The medium of podcasting and the personal nature of it, the relationship you build with your listeners and the relationship they have with you—they could be just sitting there, chuckling and listening… there’s nothing like that.” - Marc Maron
There's been a quote floating around Instagram that says, "Podcasts are like lower back tattoos. They're quickly becoming culturally ubiquitous." Or in other words, it seems like everyone and their Grandma has a podcast nowadays.
And for good reason. Podcasting is an incredible medium to deliver your message, your perspective and share the thoughts and musings of incredible guests. Starting a podcast from scratch can feel downright daunting, with audio recording, graphic design, booking guests and a host of other creative responsibilities to get it off the ground and into people's ears.
As we've created our new podcast "This Might Get Uncomfortable", we've learned a lot of valuable strategies and tips that may inspire you to bring your voice and your heart into the podcasting world.
1. Find your unique perspective and voice
As an artist, host and creator, it's really easy to emulate the people you admire or the people that you've already seen succeed with podcasting. But it's really important to get clear about your unique message, perspective and voice. Nobody has the history, the experience, the passion or the same answer to your "why". So the first step is to start writing down what you want to say and why it's important to be said. That will give rise to a list of potential titles for the podcast.
2. Decide on your broadcast format
Do you want to have a solo podcast? Or perhaps a hosting duo? Are you planning on having guests to interview? What's the length of the podcast? These are all important questions to ask yourself as you're crafting the vision.
3. Make your dream guest list
If you do decide to have a podcast format with guest interviews, it's important to write down a dream list of the guests you want. Don't hold yourself back here. Let your heart lead the way and your imagination run wild. Start writing down anyone that comes to your mind and put them on the list. When we started, we began with a "Dream 100" list of 100 influential people we want to invite to our podcast. So dream big and let loose.
4. Invest in good (not super expensive) equipment
You don't need to break the bank with podcasting equipment. We have two USB-powered microphones ($200 total), a MacBook Pro with Garageband ($2,000), pop filters ($50) and - this is optional if you want to shoot video - a Sony A6400 digital camera ($1,300). So, all in, we've invested $3,550 for the podcast equipment, of which the laptop, camera and audio equipment serve multiple purposes for our business.
5. Make compelling media assets
Quality is important, for not only the audio recordings but also your media assets related to the podcast. Having compelling cover art, banner graphics and a solid intro and outro for the podcast are elements that support the entire vision. Making sure that the look, feel, colors and design are all in alignment with the spirit and ethos of the podcast is something to be mindful of.
We worked with the team over at Podetize, who created all of us this for us! It's been wonderful to have a group of podcast professionals guide us through this process and assist us with these assets. It's worth considering working with them or a similar service.
6. Stockpile a trove of episodes
When you launch your podcast, it's going to take a lot of the pressure off to have a stockpile of pre-recorded episodes ready for release. When we started, we had 22 pre-recorded episodes ready to go. That means we could release multiple episodes per week while building the buzz and momentum and leaving ourselves room to record new episodes without the pressure of doing them in real time. This strategy is a buzz-builder and pressure-reducer.
7. Be strategic with partnerships
Having guests on your podcast is awesome for creating a variety of perspectives and valuable new information for your listeners. Beyond that, though, it's important to be strategic about who you invite on as a guest. For instance, if someone has 1,000,000 Instagram followers, but they're not willing to mention the appearance on the podcast, you may want to reevaluate the strategy of partnering with them. It has to be positioned as a "win-win" for both parties, so make sure you're clear about the value you're bringing with the podcast - and - what your vision is for having that value returned in terms of promotion.
8. Position the podcast to support people's problems
People will listen for a variety of reasons unbeknownst to you. However, you can get clear about what people may want to hear by building a mailing list, website and social media platform to have conversations about what's going on in their lives. Their insights, struggles, challenges, joys and problems offer you a treasure trove of insights from which to farm content for the podcast. Talk to people. Learn who they are. What lights them up and what keeps them up at night. They'll tell you what they want.
9. Pay attention to promo cycles for guests
If and when you start booking guests for your podcast, pay attention to the promotion cycles for their new books, courses, TV shows, products or launches. Guests are much more apt to say "yes" to being on your podcast when they have something to promote or sell. Timing is a huge part of booking the people you want.
10. Play the long game
Much like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or any large social media platform, there's a lot of people, a lot of content and a lot of noise. It's going to take some time for your podcast to get listeners, to get traction and to get noticed. If you're launching a podcast to make a million dollars in the first month, it's a good idea to examine a more sustainable motive. If you're doing it for the love, for the passion and the joyful experimentation of it, then that provides the fuel that will help you play the long game and stick with it. Also, remember to take some risks with your programming!
“Because we thought no one was listening, we weren’t afraid to take stupid risks or make absurd choices. Turns out it resonated with people. You won’t figure out what your podcast is until you get it underway, even as much as you plan and plan. So go for it.” - Matt Gourley
Another amazing benefit of having a podcast is your ability to be omnipresent in people's daily lives. Video is amazing because of the immersive experience it engenders, but it's limited in its ability to be enjoyed in multiple life situations. For example, if you're driving to work and have an hour commute each way, a podcast is a much safer and more user-friendly content platform than a YouTube video. Similarly, household chores and working out at the gym beget themselves to an auditory experience rather than a visual one.
In other words, a podcast allows you to reach even more people in more life situations because of the flexibility of the platform. People can listen to audio in most places, so you're able to be in more households and reach more listeners. Moreover, it's been shown that people are more open to immersing themselves in long-form content like a podcast, rather than bite-size posts on social media. It's a great opportunity for you to stretch out, dig deeper into your ideas and give your followers a chance to see more of who you really are. So, in a way, it's an opportunity to build more trust, intimacy and familiarity with your audience. And in a very crowded, busy, noisy media landscape, trust is the ultimate currency.
“People are really listening and want to consume all of the content that is there and available. There’s a level of dedication that comes from podcast listeners that you don’t otherwise find. And now the numbers prove it. Podcasts aren’t a bubble, they’re a boom—and that boom is only getting louder.” - Miranda Katz
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