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5 Things We Wish We Knew When We Started Our Own Podcast

We started from scratch. Here’s what we learned along the way.

by Christine Kohler, Marketing and Media Manager at MING Labs

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Getting Started

It’s been over a year since we started our own podcast “Lost In Transformation”. To get to where we are today, we went a long way: The idea was there but we had no experience nor equipment.

We learned quite quickly that it’s not just something you start over night.

There’s actually a lot of work going on in the background: From setting the goal and defining your target audience, to the message you want to get across, the equipment to buy (spoiler alert: There are tons of opinions out there on what to get. It started quite scrappy but over time we opted for a Zoom H6 recorder, USB mics, headphones and mic stands) and even the right background music. Once you have all that, here are a few tips on what we learned along the way (but wished we’d known sooner).

1. Focus On The Learning

Once we had our own little podcast space set up in the office, we invited our first guests and started recording. Of course, starring as a podcast guest comes with an opportunity for personal branding but pay attention to what your listeners might want to get out of the episodes. Do they want to get to know the guest (someone they might have never heard of before) or do they want to learn something new, perhaps how they could improve their current situation?

We figured that while it is interesting to get to know the guest a bit, this shouldn’t take up too much time of the episode. Rather shift your focus to takeaways and learnings for your audience. This goes not only for the content but also for the title of the episode: Make it straight to the point.

What can people learn when they tune in? What’s a phrase out of the interview that catches people’s attention? Focus on what information the episode provides for the listeners.

So restructuring looked like this: We cut our episodes down to 20–30 minutes, focusing only on one story combined with a few learnings.

2. Tell A Story

Our sessions covered a lot of different aspects: We interviewed our guests about their background, how they got to where they are today, the challenges they face at work, and what tips they can give from their own experience. This gave us a lot of good content — but we ended up recording episodes longer than an hour. It still is great content but in the end, our audience is rather looking for bite-size takeaways and short informative stories. They are always on the run and don’t have much time, yet still want to stay up to date on the latest happenings. This we found out by checking what content and formats interest our target audience.

What you want is one specific story, one focus throughout the whole episode.

That’s why we implemented storytelling according to the hero’s journey format. That’s right: You have to tell your message in a compelling and engaging story. For the same reason that you binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix, you want your audience to listen to your episodes.

As “Lost In Transformation” focuses on innovation stories from digital leaders, this could be the journey of building their own venture, launching an innovation program within the company, etc. Our interview questions included us introducing the guest shortly and cutting straight to the chase: What did the situation at your workplace look like before you came in? What was the catalyst for change? What have you learned along the way? Let your guest talk freely about their journey but have follow-up questions at hand to guide them in the right direction.

Listen to our latest episodes on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts or Buzzsprout

3. Split The Efforts: Reach Out To Specialists

Editing podcast episodes can take up a lot of time. You as the host and owner of your podcast should focus your efforts on planning, organizing and executing the recording, as well as getting the right story angle and promoting the content in the best way.

What we do is forward the information and audio files to our trusted podcast editor. It’s important to communicate the message clearly so the editor knows exactly how to cut the story the right way. He has a lot of experience and know-how in how to make the best out of the audio quality and can fully focus on this.

Don’t see it as a weakness to outsource certain tasks. Rather look at it as a way of bringing experts on board to make the most out of your podcast. You can do the same for the designs of your podcast logo and posters. If you don’t have any in-house designers, just reach out to specialists in the respective fields and communicate your goals well.

4. Gather Qualitative Feedback

Ask your listeners what they think of your content. These are the people you want to reach out to and also the ones most likely to share and recommend it to their peers. So listening to them makes a big difference.

While your hosting platforms only give you quantitative feedback on your performance (how many listeners per episode, where they come from, which device they listen on, etc.) you might want to know more.

We reached out directly to people on our social platforms from whom we knew they were either advocates or simply followed our episodes in general, as well as to our newsletter subscribers that receive monthly updates on our episodes. We came up with a short questionnaire to gather input such as rating our content, how they learned about our podcast, what they think about the length of an episode, the relevance of our questions, and included open questions on what they would like to hear more of and general feedback on what to improve.

This gives you a chance to receive valuable feedback and perhaps some healthy criticism. If you know other podcasters in your network, don’t be shy to also ask them for further tips and learnings.

5. Embrace Challenges

Of course, nothing beats in-person meetings for recordings. Feeling the personal connection during an interview and experiencing the whole setup and energy does make a difference in the flow of the conversation. But to be able to record more content on the fly, you have to be flexible and adapt to remote sessions. Now more than ever, as COVID-19 has made us all work from different places.

This might look like a challenge at first, but there will be lots of opportunities where people are available either on different locations or on busy travel schedules.

You’ll be able to catch a lot more content with remote recording equipment on hand when opportunities arise. The recent work-from-home situation made us look into suitable remote recording platforms and we opted for SquadCast to professionally record audio files of up to four participants at once.

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

But as with all remote sessions: It takes a lot more preparation. And again: You have to be flexible. This means setting up test calls beforehand to ensure the preferred platform works on all devices, as well as making sure you have alternative options should any technical issues come up. We learned this the hard way by skipping a test call and finding ourselves troubleshooting during the actual recording time. Being well prepared goes a long way.

If you find yourself at the beginning of your podcast journey or about to take the first step, we hope these tips give you some guidance and encourage you to go ahead. As mentioned before: This is a learning journey. No one expects the first episode to be perfect and you’ll see that you’ll pick up a lot of things as you go. And most importantly: Have fun!

Key Takeaways

  1. Focus on the learning
  2. Tell a story
  3. Split the efforts: reach out to specialists
  4. Gather qualitative feedback
  5. Embrace challenges

Christine Kohler is Marketing and Media Manager at MING Labs.

MING Labs is a leading digital business builder located in Berlin, Munich, New York City, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Singapore. We guide clients in designing their businesses for the future, ensuring they are leaders in the field of innovation.

Liked this story, and curious to know more? Start a conversation with us on Twitter, check our latest updates on LinkedIn, or drop us a note at hello@minglabs.com.

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MING Labs

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We are a leading digital business builder located in Munich, Berlin, Singapore, Shanghai, and Suzhou. For more information visit us at www.minglabs.com