6 Things You Need to Know Before Starting Your Own Podcast
Podcasting has been around for at least a decade, but the popularity of shows like Serial have recently pushed the medium into the spotlight. Nearly half of all adults listen to at least one podcast a month. And, top podcasts get millions of downloads.
Part of the beauty of podcasts is how easy it is for anyone to create one of their own. With equipment that can be found for less than $100, you can be on your way to your own well-loved and popular podcast. But, there are a few things you should consider that can significantly impact your podcasting success:
1. Spend a little money, but not too much . . .
The built-in mic on your laptop is not going to cut it. Poor sound quality is a big reason that people stop listening to a podcast and never come back.
Luckily, you don’t need a professional sound booth to get clear, high-quality sound. You can pick up the basics on Amazon for around hundred bucks:
- Headset: Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Headset (About $50)
- Microphone: Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone (About $60)
- Foam Windscreen: On Stage Foam-Type Mic Windscreen (About $2)
But don’t let your podcast stall while you wait for Amazon’s two-day shipping; the microphone/earbuds that came with your smart phone are actually pretty good and you can start practicing now.
2. You need a sustainable concept.
Podcasts need to fill a niche to get attention. But, your niche can’t be so narrow that you’ll have trouble coming up with show ideas every week. Write down about a dozen episode ideas before you commit to any one idea. And, make sure that it is one that you’ll have enthusiasm talking about week after week.
Think about it this way: the first episode of your ice-cream-sandwich podcast will probably be fun and quirky. But, will you be tired of the idea by your tenth episode? If so, either broaden your topic or pick another one with more depth.
3. Write a script, or at least an outline.
Ever listen to a rambling podcast with lots of umms and ahhs? Bet you didn’t listen for long.
Your listener is entrusting you with their valuable time. Make it worth their while by giving your podcast some structure. You don’t need to memorize a script word for word. But, you should have a list of topics, maybe a guest or two, and an idea of how long you’ll spend on each item.
4. Commit to podcasting for at least a few months.
When you’re starting a brand new podcast, be honest with yourself: are you up to the task of creating a new episode week after week?
Will you still be enthusiastic if your podcast starts with just a handful of listeners?
It takes time for a new podcast to gain traction. And, if you want to grow your listeners you’ll need to put out episodes on a regular basis. Commit to podcasting for a least two months, so that you can start to see some fruit.
5. Create some awesome podcast artwork.
At the very least, you’ll want the following before you get started with your first recording:
- a podcast name,
- a description,
- and some podcast cover art
If you already have an established blog or website, the name of the site plus the word “podcast” is a good place to start. If not, think of keywords that will tell your listener a bit about what you do.
When it comes to your art, make something that looks good in a square thumbnail and shows up well even when small in size. This will be the first people see on outlets like iTunes, and it needs to be eye-catching.
6. Your work doesn’t end when you finish the episode.
Few podcasts are magically found by audiences without outside promotion. To gain attention, you’ll want to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, possibly a blog and other outlets where people can find you.
Interact on these platforms regularly, not just when you have a new episode to promote. By becoming part of these communities, you can get people interested in what you have to say and curious enough to download and listen to your show.
Podcasting is an outlet that is accessible to anyone with a small amount of technical know-how and a bit of dedication. Get your show off to a successful start by investing the time and resources needed for a quality production.