7 tips for beginner podcasters
7 tips for beginner podcasters
If you’re trying to start your podcast - no matter if it’s for business, work or as a hobby - this article will guide you through the very first steps that you should think of when starting your first podcast.
Format and concept
First and foremost, the future podcaster should understand what will be the main big idea behind all of the episodes. It could be centered around a specific cultural niche, such as music, or maybe a career path like industry specific podcasts. Many podcasters also prefer to stay away from limiting themselves to a niche topic and build the podcasting brand around the personality of the podcast host. It could be the best approach for people who have many different fields of interest. Regardless of the niche and concept, it should be about something that the author is passionate about - and it’s totally OK if the podcast concept, format, or even the whole title changes throughout the development of the series.
Format is more of a structure, a pattern that each episode tends to follow. It could be a short intro, followed by the current news review, and then with a discussion on a more fundamental, time-less topic. Or it could be a series of dialogues with different guests during the episode. No matter what format you choose, having one always helps to avoid the ‘lack of inspiration’ when you need to start working on the next episode, having a format or a check-list of essential ‘todos’ will help you start working. You can refer to ‘formats’ in TV shows on your google searches to understand the power and efficiency of having a well-thought format, and remember that format can also be changed many times as you grow - so don’t worry about making mistakes, you can always improve from one episode to another.
Currently podcasters have too many platforms for posting, but for many authors publishing on various platforms doesn’t require much time. You may feel overwhelmed in the beginning, because each platform requires registration and podcast info in a specific format, but overall it’s a one-time on-boarding process, and repetitive publishing doesn’t take much time. Plus, many platforms support automated updates from your podcast’s RSS feed, which is the next good thing to have.
RSS feeds are simple tools to track for updates of web content. Many podcasting platforms will ask you to add a link to the RSS feed of your podcasting title. Some have it as an option, some platforms require RSS prior to registration, so you’ll find the info about specific RSS throughout the process of trying various platforms to host your podcast. Basically, RSS feed is a web feed that allows users and apps to access updates to web-sites in a standardized format that computers understand. Having a podcast feed will allow you to update and add your new episode in one place, and podcasting platforms that support RSS feed feature will automatically update your content, adding a new episode.
Naming and content plan
Unlike the format, the naming of the podcasting title shouldn’t vary too often so you have to be really careful when choosing a name for your podcast. Choose it as wisely as you would choose a name for your child, because it is your creation and the right name will help users associate the podcast with your personality. Having a podcast name aligned with your company or personal branding is important, but it also should make sense in relation to the podcast format and concept. For example, dutch musician Armin van Buuren has been hosting a podcast (and a radio show) called “A State of Trance”, because he is a musician in the genre of “Trance Music”, but not only in this genre. This podcast started as a radio show which he hosted since 2001, and then transformed into dual radio and podcasting format. “A State of Trance” was actually the platform that propelled Armin van Buuren to the heights of music Olympus, making him famous first as a host, and only then as a stand alone musical brand. This radio / podcast show has also played a substantial role in the growth of popularity of the Trance music genre as a whole, so think of a proper naming in the very beginning, because you never know how far you’re going to make it with your podcasting career.
For the content plan, it’s better to stick with the regular publishing in the pace that is realistic to you. For content-heavy podcasts, it could be once a month, for some ‘lighter’ shows it could be once or twice a week. Just make sure that it fits your schedule and you can keep the podcast up and running for a long run - it’s a marathon, not a sprint, keep in mind that most podcasts never make it to over a 1 year mark. And if you don’t want to start just to give up in 6-12 months, have a clear and realistic content plan and stick to it. Also, thinking about all the topics that you want to discuss in your podcast before starting it could help you: from favourite books and movies to personal experience and career advice - just right down all the ideas that are worth sharing with the world and add them to your podcasting schedule.
There are some podcast hosts who are talented and knowledgeable enough to keep the audio hooked performing solo, but for most people it usually requires working in a pair or inviting guests. Guests could be subject specific experts or other podcasters, but either way they should be interesting to listen to. There are many people who are super knowledgeable but very boring to listen to, just remember that you are making a show that should entertain - even if you are performing in an educational genre, still it should be interesting because your audience has (almost) only audio to follow the content of the podcast. So, you better make sure they don’t fall asleep!
Having guests with good presentation skills can not only help you entertain your listeners but also learn from their style and adopt some tricks they use to keep the audience interested. Inviting guests who have their own podcasts is twice as helpful, because you are going to share followers with each other and get more visibility. For the same reasons it is important to be open and appear as a guest on other podcasts. Networking is important.
The question of equipment, mics and editing quality are important, but not as important as previous parts that we’ve discussed so far. The reason is that if the podcasting title, theme, and a host are interesting enough, the imperfect quality of your cell phone recording from a quiet room will be acceptable, at least for the first few episodes. Once you get more experience and see that there is feedback, that you have gained some audience, it could be a good time to increase investments in your setup. But make sure that your time and money investments are proportional to the growth of your podcast and are reasonable, because just buying the most expensive microphone and sound equipment alone won’t make you the best podcaster in the field. But at a certain point it becomes a necessity, so make sure that you know how to decrease the noise both at the recording and editing phase, and some light background music doesn’t hurt.
This seems to be the toughest part for most podcasters because they are usually not marketing specialists. But you absolutely have to be active on social media, at least the most popular in your niche, and you should be thinking about community building for your fans. One episode doesn’t make a story, what’s more important is the connection between the episode and communication with your audience, and often their feedback is helpful and worth paying attention to. For social media, short highlights of your podcasts, usually in a video format, are super helpful - and you can use Podofly to create such short video highlights without any effort.
For promotion, it’s better to start with organic growth, but appearing on similar shows in the field or inviting the experts and micro influencers to your podcast could be a good starting point. Paid ads are usually used after you start earning money with your podcast. But if you can afford paying for promotion, for example it’s a business owned podcast and you have a marketing budget for that, it can definitely help you grow faster.
Monetization is one of the most crucial concerns for fast growing podcasts, because once you catch the wave, you want to capitalize on that growth and re-invest in your podcast. It is also important for those who already make some money on their podcast and want to start working on it full-time. For beginners, it’s not essential, but it’s always good to think about potential ways to monetize in the future - it can even change the concept or niche that you choose.
Typical sources of monetization are partner fees that platforms pay directly, as a share of the ad revenue that your podcast generates for them. It could also be direct sponsorship by brands who want to use your podcast as an ad platform. Another popular way is community support through platforms like Patreon or direct donations, and for most podcasters it's the combination of all of the above. It is very similar to how video bloggers make money, with only difference in having multiple platforms where you publish a podcast. World's leading companies are already working on solving the advertisement analytics and monetization problem, so one day they all will come to some kind of a consensus on how to measure and evaluate the cost for this type of ads, which will define your revenue.