Written by Creative Strategy, Podcasting

A strategic approach to producing a podcast

Podcasting is really blogging for audio content with all the same creative strategies and processes involved despite the technical learning curve.

KyleBondo.com - A strategic approach to producing a podcast

Podcasting is always something that I always wanted to do. Especially with podcasts now reaching a mainstream audience as more and more people discover shows via their smartphones. However, it took me over 3-years of blog writing before I finally decided to jump into it.

Why? Fear!

Writing is comfortable for me. Podcasting? Podcasting required a whole new set of skills. It also required a new learning curve, especially since it was a digital format that I did not know much about. That was until I dived into it and found that podcasting is not unlike blogging. In fact, all the same steps in blogging are present in podcasting too. The difference is in the details of a different medium, and the software you use to produce your show. Although those differences are not subtle, they are all technical differences, not content differences.

The process you use to think up, create, and polish your content is the SAME process you use to create a podcast. Instead of words and context, you’re using your own voice to present your content. And if you’re like me (e.g. write just like you talk), then translating some of your blog posts into podcasts is not very difficult.

Bloggers looking to get into podcasting may have some hesitation. You might be asking yourself, “Is it really the same? What about that voice thing?” I’m here to tell you not to worry. I believe that your transition into podcasting can be easy, so long as you know what is involved.

So let’s find out what IS involved! Here is a simplified strategic approach to producing your first podcast:

#1 — Decide

The first stop on your strategic approach roadmap is determining your level of interest. Sure, podcasting sounds awesome, and all the cool kids are doing it, but is it right for you? To know for sure, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What will keep you talking for longer than 7 shows?
  • Who else is doing this?

If anyone of these questions is difficult to answer, or you don’t have an answer for any of them, then maybe podcasting is not for you.

#2 — Plan

Your podcast needs to start with a clean path. This means you need to define some elements, make some decisions, and know your direction. As part of your podcast planning, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Can you sum up your show in a few words?
  • What are you going to talk about?
  • Who is this for? Who will care?
  • Who will be a part of this show? Co-hosts or solo?
  • Can you or your co-hosts make a 12-month commitment (a full season)?
  • Where do you want the show to go? Do you have themes?
  • Do you talk to guests? Do you only monolog? Maybe both?
  • Will you have music? Will you have musical segues?

These are the questions that will define what you are building, and how you will build it.

#3 — Build

With all your requirements in place, it’s time to discover how you will market your podcast. Branding is a difficult but necessary part of any podcast’s creation. It can also take up a large portion of your time. Regardless of how much you want to put into your branding efforts, you should (at a minimum) know the answers to these questions:

  • What will you call this podcast? What is its name?
  • How do you want to be positioned? What do you stand for or against?
  • Are you picking a fight? Who is your main competitor?
  • How do you want people to feel about your podcast?
  • How do you want your podcast website and artwork to look and feel?
  • What do you want people to see when they download your podcasts in iTunes?

#4 – Produce

Once your podcast starts to take form, you need to set up your production environment. This is actually the easiest part of the process since it requires the purchase of gear and software. For your first podcast, you should be considering these kinds of production questions:

  • What computer will use to produce your podcast?
  • Where will you backup your podcast draft files and podcasts in production?
  • What kind of microphone or microphones will you buy?
  • Do you have a mixer? Will you need a mixer?
  • Do you have a pop-filter for all of your microphones?
  • How will your microphones be mounted or used while recording?
  • What kind of recording software will you use?
  • Does your recording software work well with your microphones and other media?
  • Can you record with Skype or via a mobile phone?
  • Do you have a quiet space to record? Is it removed from distractions and other sounds?

Good gear is important, but it does not need to be expensive to be good. Surprisingly, expensive gear does not always translate into better gear when it comes to podcasting. This is good news if you’re on a budget. Without spending a ton of money (i.e under $200) you can find several dynamic microphones that are very effective at making your voice sound good.

Once you have your equipment ready, and your recording space set up, you need to consider how your show will go. This is the part of your production that will determine the pacing, flow, and transition of your podcast recording. The good news is that your podcast idea and format is not set in stone. If you don’t like what you’ve created after a few episodes, you can change it until you do like it. The key is to have some of it figured out beforehand by asking yourself these questions:

  • What kind of format will you have? Short, long, segments?
  • How will your content be organized?
  • Will you write a script? Or will you talk off the top of your head?
  • Will you record more than one episode at a time? Will you do batch recordings?
  • How will you review your recordings after they are completed? Or will someone else review it?
  • How will you edit your recordings? Will you edit it? Or will someone else edit it for you?
  • How will you use music? Will you use music?
  • What is an unacceptable error in your recordings? Do you include your errors?
  • How long will you give yourself before the podcast needs to be released?

Editing your podcast can take a lot of your time but thankfully there are a few services that can help you do this too. But when you’re first starting out, you may want to get familiar with how the editing process works. It will not only help you understand how your recording works and what things you can do to make your recordings better, but it also gives you insight into what good editing sounds like.

Once you finally decide that your show is ready for release, you need to think about a few pre-release thoughts:

  • How long will you give yourself before the podcast will be released?
  • Will you write your show notes? Or will someone else write your show notes for you?
  • Where will your show notes go?
  • Will show notes come out before or after you release your podcast episode?
  • What summary will you include with your podcast episode?
  • What podcast art will be included in your RSS feed?
  • Who will check the final podcast episode once it is released?

Having an understanding of what you need to do to publish your podcast will help you create a process you can use again and again.

At some point, you need to stop all your changes and release your show. It might not be great, but it is sure to be good enough for your first few episodes. Remember how good your blog was the first time you published an article? Podcasting is a skill that will improve the more you do it — just like writing. Also, if you allow others to give you feedback, you can make it better by keeping what works and focusing on what does not.

#5 — Promote

Once your first episode is ready, you need to start working on your promotional channels and where your digital assets will reside. Unfortunately, how you answer these questions may make you go back and reconsider some of your earlier answers:

  • Does your podcast’s name work well as a domain name?
  • Is your domain name easy to register? Is it available?
  • Do you have a website host for your podcast?
  • Do you have a media host for your podcast’s files and RSS feed?
  • How do you want your podcast website and artwork to look and feel?
  • What do you want people to see when they download your podcasts in iTunes?
  • Do you have a website design or theme ready?

Why does this list include both website hosting AND media hosting? It has everything to do with downloads and bandwidth. Your website hosting company CAN support both your website and your podcast episodes. But there is a limit to that support. Most website hosting companies will cap the amount of download bandwidth your website is allowed to have per day, per week, or per month.

If your podcast is unknown, this will not be an issue. However, what happens when you become popular? What if your podcast is around 50Mb per episode, and 1,000 people download your podcast in one day? How much bandwidth did they just use? The answer is a lot! Then what happens when those 1,000 people download all your other episodes too? And then all their friends do too It’s a great problem to have — it means your podcast is doing well! Unfortunately, it also means your website just crashed. This is why you have a media host.

Your media host is where your podcast files actually live. They are linked to your podcast website but do not actually reside on your podcast website. Your media host also maintains your Real Simple Syndication (RSS) file that is used to update all your podcast media readers (e.g. iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music). When you have a media host, you only need to public your podcast to that host, and your RSS feed is automatically updated.

Once your RSS feed is updated, all the podcast media readers you belong to will automatically discover your new episode and download it for everyone who has subscribed to your podcast. Now that media hosting is all cleared up, you need to start thinking about setting up your podcast media channels:

  • What is the main email address you will use to set up your accounts?
  • What is the main email address you will use to for your audience to contact you?
  • Does your podcast have its own Twitter account? Do your co-hosts have access to it?
  • Does your podcast have a Facebook Group? Do your co-hosts have access to it?
  • Do you have an iTunes account?
  • Do you have a Stitcher account?
  • Do you have a Google Play Music account?

#6 — Release

Setting up all these accounts in advance will make the release process seamless. With your podcast uploaded to your media host, and your show notes ready on your website, the next step is to press the button.

Which button? The PUBLISH button!

Release your podcast episode into the world. It will take some time if it is your first episode, but it will start to show up on all the podcast media readers that you have signed up for. When it finally appears in iTunes (the media software that shows roughly 75-percent of all podcasts), it’s time to tell people about it.

This means you need to start thinking about your channels and what you need to do to get people to find your show. Start asking yourself these questions before you launch your campaign:

  • What is the summary of this podcast episode?
  • Did I have a guest? Did I mention someone who might what to know?
  • Did I cite another website that might want to know
  • Do I have a summary for different audiences?
  • Which social media accounts need to show the podcast episode?
  • Do I want them to link to my podcast website or straight to iTunes?
  • Does this episode link to a blog post or other media?
  • Do I include this episode in my newsletter or email to my list?
  • What time of day do I want to tell everyone one about my podcast?
  • Do I want to announce the podcast episode’s release more than once?

When you know what you are going to say, then it’s time to say it! Announce your podcast and get the word out that you have a new episode on a topic worth listening to. Give your audience a reason to listen first, then make it easy for them to subscribe to your show.

#7 — Measure

The final step in your strategic approach to producing a podcast is measuring your success. This can be tough when you first start out. Downloads Per Episode (DPE) is a key indicator that you have an audience, and how active that audience is. Your media host will show you how well your podcast is doing month to month, but don’t expect to be famous in the beginning. Typically, the average DPE is around 150 per month for a good show. If you can hit a 150 DPE, you’re doing very well!

However, anything over 50 is good too. If all 50 of your listeners were in a classroom with you, that would be a crowded room! Your audience size depends a lot on how big your potential audience is. Regardless what your early download numbers are, any number means you have an audience and that there is someone out there interested in what you have to say. That is great news!

There are other metrics to consider, but you need to keep these questions in mind when it comes to measuring your podcast:

  • Are you getting reviews? Do people in your audience reach out to you?
  • Do you have an easy way for your audience to reach out to you?
  • Do you tell them how they can reach you every episode?
  • Do you enjoy doing your podcast and talking about your topic?
  • Do you take your reviews to heart?
  • Do you make changes and experiment with new ways of presenting your topics?

Final Takeaways

Here are some final takeaways to consider as well:

  • If you find that you don’t enjoy your podcast format any longer, change it.
  • If you find that you don’t enjoy your podcast topic, create a new one.
  • Plenty of podcasters will tell you that their second podcast was the one that made them love podcasting.
  • Sometimes, you have to learn how to do something before you can do it well.

Podcasting is no different. Just like any medium, practice will make you better, wiser, and savvier. Learn HOW to podcast first, THEN make your podcast great! Even a mediocre podcast is better than the best blog. The numbers don’t lie.

And now you know.

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Last modified: July 1, 2021