Want your podcast audience numbers to be higher than Snoop Dogg?
You’ve come to the right place. Outlined is a complete list of podcasting do’s and don’ts to give your show the best possible chance of success. With competition for listeners heating up, bad sound alone is enough to kill a podcast stone dead. So it’s important to get these fundamentals right.
DO: Find a Niche
If you try and please everyone with your podcast, you’ll end up pleasing no one.
You need to start with the end in mind and build a podcast designed to deliver a specific result to a specific group of people. Whether that’s helping students to improve their cooking skills, or entertaining fans of your favorite sports team. Find the thing you are most passionate about, and speak about that.
Tip: Check out the stats on the most crowded podcast categories. You’ll have a better chance of success in a less saturated category.
DON’T: Tell Insider Jokes
“Remember the time Steve did that thing and then Baz said that other thing and then hahaha, I can’t even!”
Your podcast isn’t the place for insider jokes. Listeners won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. And even if they did, they probably wouldn’t be that interested. Keep in mind new listeners know very little about you or your show. Don’t assume any prior knowledge.
DO: Keep it Less Than 30 Minutes
Research shows podcasts are getting shorter. Most successful longer podcasts out there today have been around for a long time. They’ve had to work hard for years to earn a regular place in their listeners' lives. Just because Joe Rogan can do it doesn’t mean you can too.
If you’re just getting started, it’s best to remain humble and not demand huge chunks of your listeners’ time right out of the gate. That way, they’ll be more likely to give you a try. If your listeners do want longer episodes, they’ll let you know in their feedback.
DON’T: Try to Sell
The fastest way to kill a podcast is to turn it into an advertisement.
Nobody wants to hear a 10-episode series about how fantastic your product or service is. They don’t care. Listeners want to be informed and they want to be entertained. So focus on that. It’s fine to drop the occasional plug. But make sure the timing is right and the ad fits your brand and audience.
DO: Set a Consistent Release Schedule
If you’re serious about podcasting, a consistent release schedule is essential.
Fans like to know when they can expect new content. So don’t keep them guessing. If you do, you’ll lose a lot of listeners along the way. Decide on a release schedule and stick to it. Are you going to publish weekly? Bi-monthly? Monthly?
The frequency doesn’t really matter, you just need to make sure you can sustain it. Be clear about your publishing schedule, whether it’s every Wednesday, or the 15th of every month.
DO: Buy a Microphone
Most people will be listening to your show through headphones. So if your sound quality is offensive to the ear, people will switch off and won’t come back. Your laptop's internal microphone isn’t good enough.
You don’t need to break the bank on a professional set up. But as a minimum, you should invest in a decent USB mic, which can plug straight into your laptop or desktop. Here are some of our top recommendations:
- Devine M-Mic USB BK Condenser Microphone (£67)
- Blue Yeti Nano Professional Condenser USB Microphone (£99)
- Rode NT-USB Microphone (£110)
A bit of small talk here and there is fine. But make sure you get into the “meat” of your episodes quickly. Remember, new listeners have no loyalty or obligation to your show so if you don’t deliver on what your podcast title promises, they’ll go elsewhere.
DO: Edit Properly
Editing can be labour intensive. But getting it right makes a big difference to the final product. Nearly all of the podcasts produced by big networks like NPR and BBC go through an extensive editing process. That’s what gives them their crisp, clean, and polished feel.
Fortunately, you don’t need big network money to do a good job on post-production. You just need to be willing to invest time into it. So what content needs to be edited?
You’ll probably want to remove:
- Extended silence
- Coughs and sneezes
- Fluff that doesn’t add to the show
- Any awkward segments of interviews
- “umm’s “ and “ahh’s” (not all of them, just the worst offenders)
- Obvious expletives (only if you’d like to keep your show clean!)
And you might want to add:
- Pre-recorded podcast intros and outros
- Intro and outro music / jingles
How to guide: Learn how to edit a podcast using Audacity
DO: Distribute Everywhere
To maximise the reach of your podcast, you need to get it distributed across all the major directories like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocketcasts and more.
You’ll need to know all your podcast info, make accounts with each different directory, and then submit your RSS feed and other relevant information. It’s often a bit of a waiting game before your podcast gets reviewed and approved.
Tip: If you haven’t got time for this or you just don’t know where to start with RSS feeds, Podcast.co can handle distribution for you. All it takes from you is a single click.
DON’T: Ignore Your Audience
Once your podcast gets going, listeners will start to contact you. People will comment on your feed. People will share the love on socials and ask you questions in DMs. Don't ignore them. When you engage your audience directly, you make them personally involved in your show. And that builds loyalty like nothing else.
How to guide: Using Social Media for Podcasts
DO: Repurpose Your Content
What does repurposing mean? Put simply, it means taking your podcast and reworking it into a different format so it can reach a broad audience and accommodate a wide variety of learning styles.
When you repurpose your podcast episodes you breathe new life into your content and put it into the hands of people who otherwise would have never found you. For example from a single episode you could create a blog post, multiple image quotes for social media, audiograms and a teaser video.
How to guide: 7 easy ways to repurpose your content
DON’T: Be Overly Rigid
If you’re hosting a solo show, don’t read from a script like a robot. Inject some personality into your on-air presence. Have fun with it.
If you are interviewing guests, don’t stick rigidly to a question list. It’s fine to have some questions lined up to get the conversation going. But if all you do is read off those questions it prevents you from getting into areas of real depth with your guests. And that’s what listeners want. Ideally it should sound like a relaxed conversation. Not a scripted interview.
DO: Create Show Notes
Would you put on your shoes without tying your laces? Well, that’s essentially what you’re doing if you publish your podcast without show notes. You’re leaving the job incomplete.
On the most basic level, podcast show notes provide a written overview of each of your episodes. And they’re important. Especially if you’re hoping to drive traffic to your website off the back of your podcast. They bring new visitors to your site through two main funnels: organic SEO and direct traffic from your podcast.
How to guide: Create great podcast show notes, quickly
DO: Measure Success
If you’re investing lots of time, energy, and money into running a show you’ll obviously want it to pay off in some way. So you need to decide how you’re going to measure success.
Keep an eye on the downloads and engagement your podcast gets:
If you’re running a branded podcast, you might want to also review how your podcast is performing financially:
DON’T: Obsess Over Download Numbers
You might record a fantastic episode, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t land and you don’t see any big spike in downloads. It happens. The important thing is to avoid obsessing over it.
Think about why you’re podcasting in the first place. Are metrics all you care about? Or are you trying to create the best content you can with guests that fascinate you?
Yes, it’s good to keep tabs on download numbers. But building an audience takes time. Usually years. So stay focused on releasing quality episodes and don’t set your hopes on quick wins.