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5 tips to get a podcast off the ground

condenser microphone on a table

“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 — especially as part of a multimedia approach — and it seems like everyone from Joe Rogan to the neighbor down the street has gotten in on the action. So how do PR pros stand a chance at standing out among the thousands of people vying for the same audience?

Here’s the good news: Listeners tune in to a variety of genres and shows. The podcast doesn’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 out 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 from 9.5 million [source]

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

It may seem as though content producers are improvising and their ideas or questions are spontaneous, but in fact, there is an incredible amount of research and planning that goes into each episode. This is where the talent portion comes in, as the technical aspect of producing content is something that can be easily taught.

Here are five tips that can help:

1. The “why” behind a podcast

Every successful business has a mission statement. It’s a declaration of management’s goal or intention.

Many people will want to do a podcast because it sounds fun, which is great. It should be fun to produce a podcast. But it should also aim to fulfill a purpose, to fill a niche or a gap in the podcast landscape.

Tweak an existing idea enough to make it unique.

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 their own spin on it, earning each one of them a loyal, enthusiastic audience. If someone really loves a certain genre of podcast, they’re most likely going to at least try out every podcast available in that genre, then stick to their favorites over time.

What makes a favorite? Let’s dive into the other tips to see.

headphones on a purple background


2. Be detail-oriented

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

The end consumer only ever sees the end product, so it can be easy to think that a show is simply slapped together and posted it on the internet. In reality, pre-production involves booking a guest and/or doing research on the guest or the subject matter being discussed.

These deep-dives allow the podcast host to pull out facts and information to steer the conversation throughout the actual recording of the show. The post-production is probably the most difficult as it requires an understanding of storytelling that comes into play during the process of editing. 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.


3. Remain flexible

The show must go on.

Everything from “no show” guests to technical issues mid-recording can and does happen when producing a podcast — so flexibility is key.

If the air conditioner turns on and suddenly its sound can be heard on the headset, a good response is to play off it 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 so disruptive to the audio that the audience will be unable to hear the host and any guests.


4. Promote and gather data

The podcast host/producer is responsible for the success of the show.

Meaning, promotional material and strategy is just as critical as the show’s content. The podcast can feature the best hour of content ever produced, but if it isn’t pushed out across the social platforms where the target audience spends its time, then it doesn’t matter how good it is.

There are poorly produced shows with hundreds and thousands of listens due to the level of promotion by the content’s creators.

Show creators/producers should post it on their own site, making sure they are strategic about the description, such as using keywords that are trending while remaining consistent with the brand.

From there share the link on the social platforms relevant to the target audience of listeners, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat and/or LinkedIn. Track visits to the page. There are plenty of affordable — and even free — monitoring and analytics software out there if budget is limited.

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 to be strategic about every aspect of the process. Be accessible and front load the work and to see the benefits long term.

When it comes to the promotional content, use the highest-quality materials available. Keep graphics simple, snappy and on-brand. A caption with graphics will boost overall visibility and search engine optimization (SEO).


5. Hardware and software

It can become expensive to get a good production set up initially. Plan on accumulating hardware as time goes on and upgrade slowly.

Many neophyte podcasters begin with the basic microphone on the laptop. The sound won’t be the best, but it gets the job done.

Software can also come at a significant cost, but the good thing is that most computers have simplified audio capturing and editing software.

As the podcast grows a base of listeners, upgrade to better microphones and software for a better product.

One popular option is getting phantom microphones and using a small, affordable mixing board that can connect to the computer via USB. Another option is to mix in the software itself.

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.

mix board, headphones, mic, and other podcast equipment

Final advice

To create a successful podcast, be consistent about posting, focus it on something that you’re passionate about and work diligently at making it better with every challenge. You’ll have a product that attracts listenership and engages everyone it comes in contact with.

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


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