5 Things You Need Before Starting a Podcast
When our writer, Georgette, started her podcast, she wanted to learn how it works while introducing topics of personal interest to her friends. Whenever someone asks her about her current interests, she would give them the short version and direct them to an episode if they want to learn more in their own time. Here’s what she learned about starting a podcast.
Podcasts picked up in popularity in 2020, perhaps because it was something new to explore while everyone was shut in their houses for months and gardening would only result in unnecessary deaths.
Perhaps there was a greater need to hear a friendly voice or to reach out and make sure you (and your business) still have a voice in a time where physical presence was being actively discouraged everywhere.
It is tempting to jump on the bandwagon. Here are 5 things you need to know before you climb onboard for your brand.
One: A Reason
This should be obvious right? But your reason should be more than “because everyone is doing it” or “because our rival business just launched one”. A podcast is time-consuming to produce, but a good enough reason will make it worth the effort and will give you something to talk about.
- Important information or thought leadership to share
- Giving your business a voice
- People have claimed that you are an entertaining speaker
- You are an engaging speaker
Two: A Plan
There are many different types of podcasts out there, delivering different types of information in different ways. How do you choose the right style for you and your brand/business?
Questions to ask yourself:
- Who will host the podcast? Assuming that you’ll be the host, do you enjoy banter? Get a co-host where you can discuss your thoughts on your chosen subject.
- Want to potentially tap into someone else’s audience? Consider an interview format where you speak to experts about the latest development in their field. Their existing audience would likely tune in and discover the other cool content that you’ve made.
- Is a solo scripted delivery more your style? You are in control. Make sure your content comes out in an order that makes sense. Balance the anecdotes with the information.
- How often do you plan on releasing new episodes – weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?
- What makes you different? Has your topic been done to death? What do you hope to contribute? Who is your audience? Your aim is to share knowledge and expertise rather than a hard sell of your product or service. When people love your content, they will want to see how else they can support you.
- How long should each episode be? Will a series of 10-minute episodes give you more mileage than a single two-hour episode? Podcast episodes typically run from 10 to 20 minutes, although certain genres could run for much longer.
- Are you biting off more than you can chew? Is it taking forever to get that first episode out? Scale down and focus on the most important thing: content. You can always build when you are seeing ROI.
Three: A Team (of One)
In most cases of homegrown podcasts, the producer, presenter and sound editor are the one and the same: you.
Brainstorming ideas, deciding on the content, writing the script/talking points, booking the guests, hosting or presenting the show, and even editing it … it’s all on you.
The advantage is that you get to learn how everything works from the bottom up. You make all the decisions. Unless, of course, you have a team to share the work with. When the production gets bigger, you might want to keep the job you like best and get someone else to handle the rest.
Two episodes into my own podcast and I realised I liked the behind-the-scenes legwork more than I liked being on the show, so I joined the team of another show so I could focus more on production while other people did the talking.
Getting your first show out can be as easy as downloading the right podcasting app and making use of the headset that came with your mobile phone. But if you are ready to take your game to the next level, you do not have to build a dedicated recording studio with all the bells and whistles.
Many podcasters simply invest in a decent microphone and record from a quiet place in their home or office. A friend of mine wakes up early in the morning so she could record on her basic setup before the rest of her household is up and about.
Sound editing will become another essential part of the process. There is free sound editing software out there for detailed work, but some podcasting apps come with everything you need built-in at a basic level so you get started immediately.
I kid you not: podcasting work takes a lot of time, especially when planning everything from scratch. This is not to scare you off, but to remind you that you will spend a lot of time talking to people, looking for an hour or two that works for everyone appearing on the episode, researching your subject matter, preparing the talking points, and dealing with the technical aspects.
If you are adding intro/outro music, pulling out excerpts for trailers/bumpers, and selectively deleting your “um” and “ah”, expect to spend more time on details during the post-production stage. There is also the quality check, the final listen to make sure it sounds the way you intended.
Do you have time for this in your average workday? Are you willing to work on this offhours?
…have fun! Podcasting work is not for everyone, especially if you do not use a form of public speaking as your manner of self-expression. I prefer writing myself, but audio does bring something to the table when people do not have time to sit down and read my four-thousand-word essay.
Once you get a foot into the podcasting world, there is still much potential left to explore.
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