Podcasts are not underground anymore! More than 110 million Americans have listened to at least one podcast. That says a lot, doesn’t it?
Ever since podcasts became mainstream, a lot of people started using them to send their thoughts and ideas into the world. It seems easy to start, as you only need a mic and a recording device, but it gets a bit more complicated later on.
We’ll try to give you the basic information about hosting a podcast and some useful tips to prepare you for the podcasting journey. We’ve also included common mistakes and things to avoid, so you don’t crash into the first wall on your way.
Starting a Podcast in 2020 – Things to Know
Before you press that record button, you need to consider a couple of things. When you arm yourself with knowledge, you’ll be more ready to face challenges ahead.
Content: Define Your Niche
The first thing people are going to ask is: What’s your podcast about? A precise answer to this question will help you create a successful podcast. Think of your podcast name, desired topics, and the goals you want to achieve.
Visualize a clear idea about the topics you’re going to open and conversations you’ll start. The more details you think of, the more prepared you’ll be. Think about your area of expertise or the topics you’re interested in before you create the podcast. Then, find out what your focus should be, so you can find a target audience that would be interested in those things too.
The Show’s Format
The next thing you should consider is the podcast’s format. What’s it going to look like? Your podcast could be a one-man show (solocast) or series of interviews. You can also co-host it with a friend or a colleague. Keep in mind that when you’re working with other people, you all need to be on the same page for a show to be successful.
Think about the length of your podcast too. Do you want short 5-10 minutes podcasts, or do you want in-depth discussions which are an hour long? The “ideal” length is around 20 minutes. That’s the attention span of an average listener. It’s also the time it takes someone to finish a light task like traveling to work, finishing a morning jog, etc.
Recording and Editing
Although you can record a podcast with your smartphone, the sound quality won’t be great. If you want a quality show, invest in a good microphone which will provide a sharp and clear sound. Fortunately, you don’t need a large budget to find quality gear. A solid headphone/microphone set could be less than $50.
It’s also important to edit your recordings with the right tools and software. Even minimal editing such as removing background noise and adding a music intro can be enough. Naturally, once your podcast takes off, you’ll be able to afford even better equipment and editing software.
Purchase A Podcast Hosting Service
When you finish recording, you need to find a host that will store your audio, so you can share it with your audience. Lots of different hosting sites are available. The one we use the most is Libsyn. Make sure to check them all out to find the perfect choice for you.
A lot of host sites are free while others offer a free trial before you sign up for a monthly subscription. Some sites also provide additional features like gathering analytic data about your show. You can use that information to make improvements and attract new listeners.
How To Measure Podcast Success?
Your podcast is out there but how do you know it’s doing well? Some indicators can tell you where your podcast stands on the success scale, so let’s go through them successively.
Number of Listeners
This is an important metric to track, often the first thing that comes to mind when talking about the success of one show. High numbers are going to attract more sponsors and bring more revenue.
However, you shouldn’t chase numbers. Dedicated people are more valuable than passive listeners. If you’re able to reach your target audience and engage them in your content, you’ll become much more successful.
Overall, numbers can be misleading. The number of total downloads doesn’t have to mean anything. A listener might download the podcast and never listen to it. It can also happen that several people listen to one downloaded episode. That’s why you should view numbers just as pieces of the bigger success puzzle.
Some people indeed base their success on the revenue their sponsorship generates. However, you should consider ad revenue just as a small bonus and not your primary focus. Nobody likes to be bombarded with ads. If you don’t want to lose potential listeners, keep advertisements to the minimum.
Comments and 5-star reviews are much better indicators of your show’s success. When someone likes your show enough to leave a positive review, you’re doing something right. Bonus Tip – share those great reviews on social media to prompt them to listen to the podcast too!
People usually subscribe to get the content they’re really interested in. A high number of subscribers indicates an audience that’s eagerly waiting for new episodes.
If your podcast is getting more popular, your network will become larger. You’ll meet new people and professionals interested in the topics of your podcast. As your audience grows, people will contact you for advice, business suggestions, etc.
The perfect way to engage with your audience directly is on social media. These platforms are also a great indicator of how well your podcast is doing.
Using Advertising To Get More Listeners
Promotion is crucial for a successful podcast. Traditional advertising isn’t very useful when it comes to podcasts, so you need to be more creative.
Ask Your Listeners for Help
There’s nothing wrong with self-promotion, especially if you’re only started podcasting. Ask your audience to share and review your podcast in each episode. One authentic call-to-action per episode won’t make you needy or pushy. Just be honest and explain how much you appreciate your listener’s support.
Friends and Social Media
Every recommendation and review matters. Don’t hesitate to ask your friends for a shoutout on social media or in-person promotion.
Social media channels are essential for reaching new customers. Nurture your social media platforms by creating interesting content and encouraging conversation. Potential customers might stumble upon one of your intriguing posts and then discover your podcast.
Make sure to customize each post to suit the specific platforms. You can’t share the same post on Instagram and Twitter. They operate in completely different ways. Twitter uses short and strong sentences while Instagram posts need photos to be effective.
Find other podcasts that have similar target audiences and contact their creators. Offer them a shoutout in your episode if they mentioned your show too. You can also join different groups and communities of other podcasters. They’re usually very supportive and they’ll offer you useful advice.
Common Podcasting Mistakes To Avoid
It’s easy to fall into traps if you’re just getting into the podcasting business. With cautiousness, you could avoid the most common podcast hosting pitfalls and increase your chances of success.
Using Low-Quality Gear
You might have good content but poor audio won’t attract anyone. Bad audio equipment provides low-quality sound, which isn’t enjoyable to the audience. Also not levelling your sound can deter a lot of potential listeners.
Choosing the Wrong Podcast Hosting Service
Audio files can be large, so you have to find a host that provides enough storage room. You also need to submit your podcast to different directories, not just the most popular ones. If you cast a wider net, you’ll catch more fish.
Also, avoid using YouTube as a hosting service. This platform is not suitable for podcasts, so it should only be used as a promotional tool.
Having a Generic Name
The name of your podcast is the first thing listeners see. It needs to be engaging enough, so people choose to check the show. A generic name most likely won’t attract anyone.
Using an Amateur Podcast Image
Just like the name of your show, the image is very important. In podcasting directories, people only see the name and the image next to it. You need a professional image that’s visually appealing, so more people would tune in. Bonus Tip – don’t use too much text. The cover image is relatively small and it’ll be hard to read. You want to capture their attention after all!
If you gathered an audience around a particular topic, you can’t suddenly talk about something different. Similarly, if your listeners are used to a new episode every week, you should keep up with that pace. Deliver what you promised or you’ll lose listeners very quickly.
You need to always have content prepared and ready to go. Before you release your first podcast, keep a few more on hand. That way, you can publish something if you didn’t have enough time to make a new one for that week/month.
Podcast hosting ain’t easy, but it can be very fun if you have a vision. With proper planning, you can avoid mistakes a lot of beginners make. A good design, promotional strategy, and enthusiasm will see you on the path for success.