If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, you no doubt want to make sure that you start off on the right foot. Of course, mistakes are inevitable and serve as meaningful learning opportunities. As the old saying goes, “experience is the best teacher.”
But experiences don’t necessarily have to be firsthand in order for them to be instructive. You can save yourself a lot of time by learning from other people’s decisions. Let’s dive into 20 lessons that some experienced podcasters here at Paudium wish they had known when they were just starting out!
This section contains general advice from podcasters about getting started and running your show. These tips can serve as helpful reminders no matter what your podcast is about or how long it has been running.
Lesson 1: Start with a clear vision
How to Implement Kathy’s Advice
Know the direction you want to head in so that you can prepare for it. It’s true that podcasts evolve and take shape over time. Start with a clear idea of what you want your podcast to be, as well as the audience you want to reach.
As Kathy from the Fire and Earth Podcast mentioned, knowing your motivation and objectives will help you stay focused and make decisions that work in harmony together. Having clear goals will help you set your priorities, choose your battles, and keep going!
Remember that no decision has to stand forever. At the end of the day, it’s still your podcast. If realize that creating hour-long episodes are no longer working for you, then it’s within your right to change your show’s format. Just be sure to inform your fans about why a new decision or change is being made.
Lesson 2: Aim for “your best” not “perfection”
“So many people have this idea in their head that they need everything to be perfect.
This causes them to rethink everything over and over again. Just take that first step, get your voice and show out there. Not everything will be perfect, you will falter, you might even fail, but keep going. If you really want to podcast, you will find a way.
I was guilty of this same thing, when I first started. I sat on a movie review podcast idea for almost a year before I thought it was good enough. In that time a lot of my innovative ideas had been done by people braver than I.
That is the real failure, the failure to launch.”
“Don’t let perfection get in the way of production. The reality is your first podcast or radio show will not be perfect. In fact, it’ll probably be far from your vision of the “ideal” show, if you have one...
Listeners who like what you’re making will be forgiving. And they may even give you tips on what they’d like to hear (or have you fix)... With producing a podcast or radio show, there’s a lot to think about—along with simply bringing YOU and your personality, your voice, to the table.
So go on now, start creating those first 10+ episodes because the next 10, 20 —or 200+ like in my case—will be so much better once you get there.”
How to implement Michael’s and Cuscino’s Advice
It’s true that you shouldn’t start a podcast until you’re ready. But if you get hung up on tiny details, you might end up not starting your podcast at all! And that’s why experienced podcasters emphasize focusing on doing what your best is for now.
Think of it as being similar to learning how to drive for the very first time. When you start out, you feel as though you are constantly second-guessing your every move. All you can do is put forth your best effort and continue practicing.
Over time, you will begin to feel more comfortable and confident as you gain more experience. And you’ll notice that you spend less time worried about insignificant details. As your skills and experience increase, the ceiling (or limit) for your “best” also naturally goes up.
It is understandable that you care very much about ensuring your first few episodes are the best. But always remember that your output will continue to get better with practice. And that’s why—as Cuscino from Future/Sound Radio said—you should never let your search for perfection stop your podcast production!
Lesson 3: Everything takes longer than you think
“Doing things properly takes time. Or to be more specific: everything will take longer than you think it will. Even if you think it will take a long time, it will take longer!
One of the reasons for this is that for any podcast to be successful it has to be a collaborative effort; there will be times when you have to wait for others to do what you want them to do. This is not a bad thing. Always remember that working with others will lead to you creating something far greater than you could ever achieve alone. Just factor that extra time into your pre-launch schedule.
Think of it in terms of those Home Renovation TV shows. The most successful projects are those where people give themselves plenty of time to get all the work done before they move in. Compare that with the stress and calamity of those who move straight in and have to live in chaos as the work goes on around them.”
How to implement Dave’s advice
No one is exempted from unexpected delays or setbacks. It’s just how the world works sometimes! It helps to bear this in mind when you’re suddenly faced with the need to make changes to your plans.
It can feel like a a hassle when a potential interview guest isn’t responding to your emails as quickly as they could. Or when the transcriber you hired to create transcripts for your episodes is taking longer than usual to send you the final output. Or even when it seems that your podcast hosting platform’s tech support is taking quite some time to resolve an issue you believe should be relatively simple for them to handle.
All of these situations may cause you to feel frustrated or discouraged. However, as Dave—from Anything 4U—reminds us, it’s important for podcasters to take their time instead of rushing or half-baking things.
Keep your Deadlines
However, deadlines still need to be met and tasks still need to be completed. Otherwise, your podcast won’t be able to continue for very long.
So aim to account for delays and setbacks whenever you create your own schedule and set deadlines. A great way to ensure your podcast runs as smoothly as possible is by giving yourself and the people around you a deadline “allowance” of at least 1-3 days.
For example, if you believe that a deadline for a task is Friday, 13th November, mark your calendar with a soft deadline on Wednesday, 11th November. Then motivate your team—and yourself—to treat 11th November as the actual deadline for the task. This way, even if you end up missing the deadline by a day or two, it’s not the end of the world!
And of course, your potential podcast guests, editors, transcribers, etc. would definitely appreciate you giving them a heads-up of upcoming events/deadlines as early as possible. By doing so, you will significantly reduce the chances of delays occurring.
Lesson 4: Become a fan of other podcasts first
“Listen to as many podcasts as possible.
One of my biggest lessons is that I failed to explore what was out there in the world of podcasting. I realise now that it’s incredibly crucial to listen to other podcasts not just for inspiration, but to understand the benchmark in terms of quality and the different formats you can play with.”
How to Implement Shasidharan’s Advice
When you genuinely enjoy other podcasts, you get the chance to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Of course, no other podcast is exactly the same as yours. However, you can still get a good feel of how certain formats, ad placements, and episode lengths are perceived by the average listener.
There’s no need to restrict yourself to podcasts that are within your niche. Branch out and find shows you can enjoy in your free time. Why not go the extra mile and leave them a sincere, constructive review? Becoming a fan yourself is key to understanding how you can better accommodate and engage your own fans.
Not to mention, you yourself know the satisfaction and encouragement that come from seeing a constructive review. You can make another podcaster’s day and let them know that their efforts are not going unnoticed!
Lesson 5: Manage your resources strategically
“Only spend what you can afford. And don’t go into podcasting if you expect to make a living in the first few years.
Don’t stress! Podcasting should be enjoyable not stressful.”
How to Implement Oz’s and Talysa’s Advice
Whether you’re investing time, energy, money, or anything else, take care to not overburden yourself. Podcasting can be a rewarding experience if you pace yourself appropriately. And podcasting can only be sustainable if you manage your resources strategically.
For example, some podcasters are able to buy high-end microphones and editing software right off the bat. But those same decisions might not be practical for other podcasters. So don’t compare yourself or feel pressured to copy other successful podcasters’ investments.
Focus on your own podcast and what your circumstances allow you to do for it. There’s no need to feel pressured to constantly upgrade your equipment or software. Yes, it’s key that podcasters constantly do their best to grow and improve. But if by trying to do so you end up burning out, is that really an improvement? The best kind of growth is the sustainable kind!
Lesson 6: Play to your strengths so that you can be as natural as possible
“Talk about what you know about: Podcasting is an intimate art. Your listeners will spend hours throughout their workdays listening to you. They'll pick up on whether or not you know what you're talking about.
This [is] advice that I got from one of my listeners: It doesn't have to be great to be great. Podcasts that flow off the cuff with lots of riffing, or podcasts where you can tell the host is having fun, those are the best.
So don't get caught up if you mess up or have some kinks. Post episodes consistently and you'll get better… Have fun with it, and so will your listeners!”
“Don’t try to be the next (insert name here). Why do you want to be someone you are not? That person is already taken.”
How to Implement Dan’s and Nikky’s Advice
When you’re comfortable with the subject matter and the format of your show, you’ll feel less self-conscious. This means you’ll be better able to focus on entertaining and opening up to your audience rather than on yourself.
As Dan—from Peanut Butter Tiger—pointed out, your audience primarily tunes in for you rather than necessarily the information you can provide them with.
For example, there are countless movie review podcasts available right now. One might ask, “How are all of these podcasts able to have their own sets of listeners? Why don’t listeners just go read movie reviews online? It would probably be faster for them to do so.”
But you see, that’s a brilliant example of how each podcast host brings something to the table. Perhaps some of those movie review podcasts are upbeat and fast-paced. And they may be more centered around the host giving his/her personal opinion and cracking some jokes.
Other podcast hosts may take a more technical approach to movie reviews, preferring to meticulously delve into all of the details of a movie’s narrative and production—again, this is something that would appeal to certain audiences.
So we see that the host’s personality and unique perspective shape the podcast’s “mood” and direction. This means that the podcast isn’t simply just about “movie reviews”, it’s about “movie reviews from this host’s perspective.”
Lessons About Recording
Recording takes some getting used to, so here are some tips and tricks from podcasters to help you get started quickly and smoothly.
Lesson 7: Practice before your first recording and set realistic expectations for how it will go
“If I was to give any advice to someone who’s just starting out, I’d primarily tell them to make sure that they practice a bit before they do the recordings.
It can be extremely awkward recording a podcast for the first time, especially not being able to see who you’re addressing and their reactions to what you’re saying. Don’t be too self-aware, try to get into your groove and keep going till you feel at ease with addressing the invisible audience.
Just have fun. Do what you like and don’t overthink it. This is what I feel your average listener appreciates the most, your spontaneity, passion and humour and wit that might come as a result of such mindset.”
“Like anything in life, that first step is always the hardest. The first episode is always like ripping off the band-aid: you just have to do it.
I’m here to tell you it will not sound like a professional studio with $100,000+ worth of equipment. You will have flubs, gaffs and sounds you don’t count on. Don’t be afraid to take breaks when you need it!”
On paper, it seems like recording is simply sitting in front of a microphone and pressing a button to start. But as Vladimir—from the Soundrise Podcast—pointed out, the reality is that recording yourself for the very first time can be unexpectedly awkward.
If you have a co-host, it’s likely that some of the awkwardness will be alleviated because you have someone else to share the spotlight with. It takes some of the pressure off of your shoulders. But even if you’re recording alone, there are some practical steps you can take to make your first recording session as smooth as possible.
Some solo content creators—including YouTubers—choose to have a trusted friend or family member present during a recording session. This is because they feel less awkward speaking to another person as opposed to simply being in a room with a microphone.
But this technique doesn’t work for everyone. And some people might feel more self-conscious with another person present rather than if they were doing the recording on their own. So if you’re the only host of a non-interview-focused podcast, try to experiment with what works for you.
Practice your Recording
Another tip would be to sit in front of your microphone and/or a mirror and have a practice recording. This will give you a chance to warm up and get more comfortable with speaking into a microphone. And listening back to the rehearsal audio will help you check if your mic placement and speaking volume are alright.
Oz—from The Oddball Aussie Podcast—recommends that new podcasters familiarize themselves with the directionality of their mics and where to best place them. He also reminds new podcasters to avoid speaking too close to their microphones. Great suggestions to keep in mind for one’s first recording session!
Finally, take Nikky’s—from In Bed With Nikky—advice and take breaks when you need to. You work better when you have enough appropriate breaks. So you actually save more time when you give yourself a chance to re-energize and reset—as opposed to forcing yourself to simply plow through a recording session.
As you get more used to recording, it will drain less of your energy and you will require breaks less often.
Lesson 8: It helps to have an outline
“One of the biggest and the hardest lessons I learned as a podcaster is that you can’t just wing it. You really need to have some sort of a structure followed by the outline for each episode.
I remember when I first started recording before even the podcast was available to the public I was lost out of words because I didn’t prepare until the very last minute. I realized I had many “umms” and “ahhs” here and there.
And on top of that, after listening back to [those episodes], I realized the content was very hard to follow.”
“Templates are probably in my opinion the most important tool to utilize… Your template should be your roadmap/cliff notes for each podcast that you do and should include all relevant information.
Think of it as a light script with room to ad lib.
We utilize multiple templates based on what is happening for the day.”
How to Implement Murs’ Michael’s and Anthony’s Advice
Even if you’re an expert in the niche you have chosen for your podcast, an outline can serve as a helpful reminder of how you can keep the episode on track. Without an outline, there’s always the risk that you could forget to discuss some of the key points you originally intended to.
This is not the same as having a script. Scripts tell you word-for-word what to say and when. However, outlines can be as simple as a list of talking points you would like to cover while recording your episode. You could also add your segues in between list items to remind yourself how you plan on transitioning between topics.
Outlines are also useful for structuring conversations and interviews. When both you and your guest or co-host use the same “road-map”, you’ll both work to steer the conversation in the same direction. You will then be better able to monitor whether the conversation is making progress or if you’re running around in circles.
Depending on the format of your show, feel free to go beyond the outline as long as you have accomplished your objectives for the episode.
Lesson 9: When possible, invest in essential recording equipment
“Since beginning podcasting, we have learned so much. One of the biggest thingswe have learned about, and will continue to improve, is audio.
It is SO worth it to get decent affordable mics to start out with and research different ways to improve audio. The switch from a cheap microphone to one that is much better rated, such as a Blue Yeti (even the Nano is great), will significantly improve sound.”
“I would recommend saving up for a quality microphone. I found a great studio box, it wasn’t expensive, on Amazon.
After I got a good microphone… I’m happier with my podcast. I think any genre you’re in, content is the most important thing, but some people are “audio snobs”.
No matter how amazing your content is, if it doesn’t sound pleasing to the ears as far as echoes or background noise, there are people who will dismiss your podcast solely because of that. Yes, it is very disappointing but it’s also a difficult truth to face.You don’t even have to have the most expensive equipment. I know so many people that can help anyone out as far as choosing a microphone and other things you may want to look into. You can email me if you’d like, and I’ll show you what equipment I have and what I would recommend.”
How to Implement Talysa’s and Paige’s Advice
Thanks to technological advances, professional recording equipment is more accessible than ever. Many podcasters started out with recording on their smartphones, but all of them eventually moved on to using professional microphones. Why is this the case? Why don’t they just stick with what worked for them in the beginning?
Smartphones aren’t mainly designed with podcasters or musicians in mind. They’re designed for everyday use by average consumers. As a result, their manufacturers prioritize other features (screen size, file storage, etc.) rather than on improving the quality of the built-in microphone.
In other words, smartphones just can’t compete with professional microphones. Since professional microphones are specifically designed to pick up high quality recordings, whereas smartphones aren’t. This is similar to why we cook our food with kitchen knives—which were specifically designed for that purpose—rather than with Swiss Army knives.
But as Paige—from Reverie True Crime—highlighted, you don’t necessarily have to get the most expensive microphones on the market. There are plenty of reasonably-priced options that get the job done. Talysa mentioned some great examples of affordable microphones above.
But if you’re looking for even more choices, then check out our “Top 25 Best Podcast Microphones” article where we compiled the best microphone choices for various budgets and podcaster needs.
Lesson 10: It’s better to record clean instead of cleaning up
“It's also important that you do what you can to ensure that the audio is as clean as you can make it.
Even if you don't have more than a simple mic (I use my phone), you can still do your best to speak clearly, and record episodes away from any background noise as much as possible. I used to record in my kitchen, but the refrigerator would turn on periodically and make it harder to hear. So, I moved to my bedroom instead.”
“We started with just recording over Zoom because of COVID, and we edited [the audio] on our hosting site.
Podcasts are entertainment delivered right into your audiences earholes, so crisp sound is a must.”
How to Implement Geoffrey’s and Talysa’s Advice
The same recipe can taste very different depending on whether or not it was prepared with fresh, high quality ingredients. Similarly, your episodes’ audio quality will receive a substantial boost if you strive to make your raw recordings as clean as possible.
An additional benefit of doing so is that you won’t need to spend as much time in post-production. And when you apply effects such as compression or noise reduction to a high quality raw file, it doesn’t get as distorted.
As Geoffrey noted above, your recording location can make a world of difference. Ideally, you would be able to find a quiet spot away from doors and windows. If possible, you could also turn off your air-conditioner or fan while recording to further reduce the background noise your mic picks up.
For more information and tips on recording audio in the best ways possible, check out our “How To Optimize Your Home Recording Studio” article.
And when recording interviews remotely, use software tools like SquadCast and Zencastr, which were specifically designed to facilitate remote podcasting. As Talysa pointed out, these tools can ensure that everyone involved in the episode sounds great. And this will contribute to making your podcast sound more professional overall.
Lesson 11: Prepare well for interviews with guests
“Research your guests a bit before interviewing them. Researching your guests makes it more valuable for both parties because you will look competent and professional while your guest will appreciate the fact that you took the time to do your homework.
After recently talking with a celebrity author on my show, she thanked me for the great conversation and for being a cut above the past podcasts she guested on because the hosts didn’t make an effort to get to know the person they were interviewing before pressing record.”
“With each new guest on the podcast your questions for them should differ and relate to the things that they do or love to do.
What is it that you want your audience and fans to know about the guest that you brought on? Have they created something that you want to be the focal point of the episode or do they do something that you're interested in and you think your listeners could relate to.
Bad questions flop easily and generally kill the conversation so get creative with your questions.”
How to Implement Dom’s, Anthony’s and Doug’s Advice
Interview preparation is one way of showing that you respect both your own time and your guest’s time. It’s also good to know what your guest can bring to the table in terms of entertainment and informational value. In addition to researching your guest’s accomplishments, try looking for their past guest appearances on other podcasts.
Engage your guest and make them more excited to participate in the conversation by asking them new, creative questions. Well before the recording session, send guests an outline or a list of questions and topics you intend to focus on for the episode. Invite them to give you their feedback, especially if you unintentionally included a topic they would rather not discuss.
Be specific when explaining to them why you invited them onto your show. Rather than simply saying, “I think you’re great.” You can highlight specific accomplishments or experiences that you believe your audience would be interested in learning from.
When you do all of the above, you make your guest feel welcome and appreciated. But more importantly, you’re clearly communicating what they can expect from the recording session. This will help them feel less nervous, and they will be more likely to answer your questions naturally.
If a guest is coming onto the show to promote his/her own product or service, let them know in advance when exactly s/he will be free to “plug” or advertise it. Otherwise, they will be unsure about whether or not s/he will actually get the opportunity to promote it, and will then end up constantly steering the conversation towards advertising it.
Support your Guests
You can reassure the guest by saying something along these lines:
“Hey [Name]. Just a heads up that when I introduce you at the beginning of the episode, I’ll mention your [product/service] as well as some of your work.
As you can see in the outline, I’ll also ask you [these questions] about your [product/service] in addition to some other topics. And then at the end of the episode, as we sign off, you can let listeners know where they should go to find your [product/service].”
Treat your guests the way you would want to be treated, and they’ll gladly agree to work with you again and promote your podcast! When you communicate clearly and respectfully, you maximize your chances of success while minimizing delays and misunderstandings.
If you feel as though you’re starting to run out of guests to invite on your show, then check out our “How To Find & Reach Great Podcast Guests” article for ideas on where to look for more!
Lessons About Editing
Now that you have your raw audio files, it’s time to polish them up through the magic of editing. If you’re on the lookout for a trusted editing software, then be sure to check out our “List of the 30 Best Podcast Editing Software (in 2020)”. In the meantime, check out the insights other podcasters have shared about their experiences with editing.
Lesson 12: Think before you chop
“The first thoughts that came to mind that I wish I knew when I started was, I wish I knew to edit less. Those long pauses that you take out can ruin the flow of the conversations. Of course take out anything that doesn’t sound right (umms, coughs, etc.) or if you are talking over each other you can remove one of the speakers, but other than that. JUST LEAVE IT.
The result will be that it sounds more natural and this will save you a lot of time during the editing process which can be used in promoting your podcast.
Here is a free pro tip that saves a lot of time too. During a pandemic, most podcasters aren't in the same room, and recording over the internet can cause one speaker to be louder than another.
You want everyone to be around the same volume and there is a program that is FREE and AMAZING. It's called “Levelator 2.0”, it's easy, and saves you hours of leveling.”
How to Implement Doug’s Advice
Podcasters undertake editing in order to enhance and improve their audience’s listening experience. As Doug—from The Good, The Bad, and The Sequel—has said above, editing allows you to remove elements that could distract or disturb listeners. However, he also warns against removing too much.
Getting rid of every pause or lull in the conversation could offset the pacing. Without silence, music would just sound like noise. Similarly, without pauses, your speech or conversation would just sound like incoherent rambling. So leave in some of those small pauses and give your audience a moment or two to process what they’re hearing.
As we saw in Lesson 6, listeners find the naturalness of a podcast appealing—they’re drawn to it. Of course, there are times when we end up repeating ourselves or we may take exceptionally long pauses to consider our answers. Cutting those things out enhances the listening experience. And as we know, it’s all about the listeners!
Find your Personal Solution
Be sure to take this advice in accordance with your show’s format. Some podcasters set stricter time limits for episodes. For example, they may want each of their episodes to be within 10-15 minutes. Those podcasters can’t always afford to leave in an extra 2-3 seconds of silence here and there. So how can they manage the pacing of their episodes, especially if they have interview guests?
One way is through inserted narration. One podcaster who utilizes this technique really well is Jason Feifer from Entrepreneur’s Problem Solvers podcast. Jason seems to always aim to keep his podcast episodes between 20 and 30 minutes long, and he generally succeeds in doing so.
True, Jason can’t really control how quickly or slowly his guests answer his questions during the recording session or interview. But if his guest gives him a particularly lengthy answer, he can condense it by narrating a summary of the answer’s main points.
When you listen to an episode of Problem Solvers, you’ll notice that there are “two” Jasons. One Jason who is conducting the interview and interacting with the guest. And then another Jason who jumps in every now and again with some narration to bring structure to the episode and summarize the main points.
As a result, the episode doesn’t feel as though it is being rushed and the conversation between Jason and his guest still feels like quite a natural interaction. For this format, it doesn’t really feel like he’s “cutting” things out. On the contrary, it feels more as though he is focused on “adding” an efficient and effective narration.
Lesson 13: Structure your episodes clearly and consistently
“Have a plan for your show so it has a beginning, middle and end.
Also, don’t take anymore than 10 minutes to get into the main topic of your episode!”
“Generally you should have at least 2 taglines that you say with every show. I recommend one at the beginning and one at the end.
Every great podcast has both of these, and that level of consistency is what will draw listeners to the podcast and keep them there.”
How to Implement Oz’s and Anthony’s Advice
People crave consistency, that’s just how we work since we’re creatures of habit. And this also applies to the expectations we set for the podcasts we tune into.
When your episodes follow a consistent pattern or format, they send a subtle signal to your audience that your podcast is organized and stable—and therefore dependable. This will encourage your listeners to become more invested in the show.
Not to mention, maintaining a consistent format makes it easier for your listeners to follow the narrative you construct throughout each episode. You can divide an episode into 3 or 4 different parts while using music and advertisements to transition between them.
Here is an example of what a segmented episode would look like:
[Play Intro music (10 seconds)]
[Pre-roll ads (1 minute)]
- 1st Part: Introducing the main topic and a related problem (10 minutes)
[Mid-roll ads (30 seconds)]
[Play transition music (5 seconds)]
- 2nd Part: Discuss the solution to the problem mentioned in Part 1 (10 minutes)
[Mid-roll ads 30 seconds)]
[Play transition music (5 seconds)]
- 3rd Part: Conclusion and main takeaways for listeners (10 minutes)
[Post-roll ads (30 seconds)]
[Play outro music (10 seconds)]
Clearly, music can be incredibly useful in transitioning smoothly between segments. So check out our “30 Amazing Places to Get Royalty-Free Music for Podcasts” article to find the best suited intro music, outro music, and transitional tracks for your show.
Create your catchy Headline
One main reason taglines—as mentioned by Anthony from Dads, Beards, Nerds—are great is because they serve as a unique identifier for your podcast. For example, in the conversation-based podcast Sad Boyz, the hosts end every episode with the tagline: “We love you and we’re sorry.”
This line may not make a lot of sense outside of the show, and your initial response might be to ask why the hosts would choose a relatively strange line to conclude each episode with. However, as long-time listeners of Sad Boyz will tell you, the tagline makes perfect sense to them because it comes from events on the show.
This shared—but somewhat exclusive—understanding of the tagline’s meaning fosters a sense of community among the Sad Boyz’s listeners. The podcast has not released its own merchandise (at the time of writing this article). But we are certain that if the show released mugs or t-shirts featuring the tagline, their listeners would happily buy the merch to show their support.
Similarly, choose taglines that are short, marketable, and unique. They are an effective way to remind your listeners that even if the show continues to evolve, they are still listening to the same podcast. Running jokes, occasional references to past episodes, and a unique nickname for your fanbase are all powerful ways to foster a sense of community among your listeners.
Lesson 14: Save time with outsourcing
“Some advice I wish I would have received in the beginning of this journey would be to:outsource the post-production work (audio editing, creating promotional graphics, etc.) to save time.tell the world about your show often because once is never enough remain consistent with releasing episodes.”
How to Implement Dom’s Advice
Time is money, and that includes your time as a podcaster.
How long does it take you to edit your episodes? A professional editor would likely be able to do it faster. Outsourcing your editing and the rest of the technical aspects will afford you more time to focus on the creative aspects of podcasting.
Hiring an editor doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re giving up control over your podcast. After all, you will ultimately be the one approving the episode’s final cut.
If you prefer, rather than completely relying on your contracted editor, you can ask him/her to simply focus on enhancing the audio and creating a rough cut of the episode. And then you can put the final cut together yourself. You could ask him/her to take care of basic processes such as:
- Levelling: making sure that no one involved in the episode sounds too loud or too quiet.
- Background noise removal
- Insertion of the intro and outro music, credits, ads, etc.
- Cutting out of unnecessary sounds (sneezes, coughs, etc.) and extremely long pauses
You can find countless expert audio editors ready to be hired on freelancer platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr. Clear and open communication leads to mutual satisfaction. Remember, your editor cannot meet your expectations unless those expectations are first made clear to him/her.
Alternatively, you could also check out Alitu, the web-based tool that does your editing and audio enhancement for you!
Understand What to Do – and What to Give Away
As Dom highlighted above, editing isn’t the only process you can outsource. You can also hire a professional graphics designer to create visually-appealing merchandise, podcast artwork, and official social media channel artwork for you.
In addition to the two freelancer platforms mentioned earlier, 99Designs is another popular platform for connecting with artists with different styles and who cater to different budgets.
If, however, you decide to take it upon yourself to create the visuals for your podcast, then you might like to check out our “How To Create Stunning Visuals For Your Podcast” article to help you do just that.
To provide your listeners with additional value, you can also hire a writer to create show notes which you can then upload onto your official website. And finally, you can hire a transcriber to type up transcripts of your episodes, which significantly boost your podcast’s search engine optimization (SEO).
Lessons About Publishing
After finalizing your episode, the time has finally come to share it with the world! However, publishing a podcast can seem a little confusing at first because new podcasters will encounter several new technical terms during the process.
One example of such a term is RSS feed. In short, your RSS feed link is a unique link assigned to your podcast when you sign up with a hosting platform. You can then submit this link to various podcast players (like Paudium or Apple Podcasts) to make your podcast available on them.
Thanks to your RSS feed, you only need to upload an episode once and it will automatically be made available across all players connected to your show—as opposed to you having to manually upload the latest episode across various players. Just upload to your hosting platform, and there you go! Your podcast is successfully distributed.
Not sure what a podcast hosting service/platform is? In short, this is where your podcast is stored. As a podcaster, you pay to host services (like Anchor.FM, Buzzsprout, Blubrry, etc.) to keep all your episodes in one place and then distribute them to players where listeners can then access them. These hosting platforms also keep track of your podcast’s analytics and share this information with you.
Now that we have a clearer idea of how publishing works in the podcast industry, let’s see what lessons other podcasters have found useful to bear in mind during this facet of podcast creation.
Lesson 15: Research the different hosting platforms well before uploading your podcast onto them
“I understood that I would need to create a hosting account otherwise known as an aggregator that would house all my podcasts, distribute them to various platforms, and collect relevant data.
What I didn’t know was most of the podcast aggregators were based in the US and don’t support monetisation outside the country. It’s unfortunate for podcasters in Europe or Asia, especially if you’ve already uploaded your podcasts on an aggregator platform that you now can’t monetise.
So if you’re looking to start a podcast, I would encourage you to test out a few aggregator accounts just to see what you’re getting in return, especially in terms of monetisation and analytics.”
How to Implement Shasidharan’s Advice
No two podcast hosting services are the same. Each one has its own combination of features as well as its own subscription rates. That’s why it helps to follow Shasidharan’s advice above and do lots of research first before committing to any single hosting service.
For your convenience, our team has compiled a table of some of the most popular podcast hosting services, their features, and their prices in one table in our “How To Become A Leading Podcaster in Your Niche (Ultimate 2020 Guide)”. Check it out for more information on what the various hosting platforms have to offer!
As Shasidharan said, there are several podcast hosting services that promise podcasters the opportunity to get sponsored and start monetizing their podcasts. But such advertising programs might only be available to podcasters based in the U.S.A. depending on the platform you choose.
So if you’re ever unsure about what a hosting platform is promising you, why not reach out to them directly for clarification? You can often tell a lot about a company by the way it handles customers’—and potential customers’—inquiries.
Lesson 16: Maintain a consistent upload schedule
“Much like with anything you're passionate about, consistency is key. As a podcast you want to keep a strict schedule for all podcast episodes since podcasts that inconsistently post content tend to fail and fizzle fast.
Podcasts are a dime a dozen so if you're not gonna post on the days and times you say you will then listeners will find another podcast that does.”
How to Implement Geoffrey’s and Anthony’s Advice
As we saw in Lesson 13, consistency is key to ensuring that listeners stick around. Not to mention, a consistent release schedule also benefits you as a podcaster because it enables you to get into a “rhythm” of creating episodes.
As Geoffrey brought up above, your fans will look forward to releasing days. Following through with your release days shows your fans that you know how to keep your promises. Therefore, when you indirectly “promise” them that at the beginning of your episodes that your guest or topic for discussion will be interesting, your listeners will be more inclined to believe you and stick with you.
If you’re worried that you’re going to miss your release day because an episode is taking longer than expected to make, then create an easy filler episode! For example:
- A quick question and answer session
- A no-cuts episode
- A lighthearted “rant” episode
Stay Flexible and Transparent
When you release these easy-to-make episodes, you can buy yourself time to work on your regular content while also maintaining a consistent upload schedule. For both filler and complex episode ideas, check out our “75 Podcast Topics & Ideas You Should Try” article.
And whenever you need to take a break from releasing episodes, make sure you inform your fans ahead of time. True, as the podcaster, it’s within your right to skip a week, a month, or even a year of podcasting if you feel like it.
You don’t “have” to explain yourself or justify your decision to anyone. However, when you choose to take the time to give your fans a heads up on the latest developments, you effectively show them that you value them.
You can announce your hiatus on your podcast’s official website and social media channels. Additionally, you might choose to create a 2-5 minute short announcement to explain to your listeners:
- why you’re on hiatus
- when you plan to be back
- how much their support means to you
- (if applicable) other ways they can get in touch with you
- (if applicable) other projects of yours that they can check out in the meantime
Publish the announcement the same way you would publish an episode. The advantage of doing it this way—instead of simply over social media—is that even when new listeners discover your show during the hiatus, they will be able to listen to the announcement and get caught up to speed. Whereas on social media, your hiatus announcement would get buried under your more recent posts.
Lessons About Promotion
How can people listen to your show if they don’t know it exists? That’s why promotion is such a necessary component of podcasting. There are over 7.5 billion people on earth right now, statistically speaking there’s bound to be a percentage of people out there who would be interested in what your podcast has to offer. You just have to reach them.
For inspiration on fresh ways to promote your show, check our “15 Effective (and Easy) Ways to Promote Your Podcast” article. And keep reading below to see the insights podcasters have picked up as they worked on spreading the word about their own shows.
Lesson 17: Maintain perspective when looking at analytics
“It's not about numbers: Don't pay any attention to the number of listens or any of that. Some days I drop an episode that I am super proud of and only get 3 listens.
Other days I drop an episode in a rush and that gets 40 listens. So just plow ahead and don't get caught up in who's or how many are listening.”
“I’ve been told that Mondays or Wednesdays are good release days. However, do whatever works for you!
Downloads are a rollercoaster, and some days are better than others. It’s hard to put a lot of stock in which days are best release dates for episodes. One week, Monday will do phenomenal and the next week, you may get the most downloads on a Thursday. I feel release days should be whenever you want to release.”
How to Implement Dan’s and Paige’s Advice
For decades now, Murphy’s Law—which claims that everything that can go wrong will go wrong—has been widely discussed. But another one of our favorites, which seems to not get as much attention, is Hofstadter’s Law—which describes how people tend to underestimate how much time complex goals will require to accomplish.
And growing your podcast’s audience is an example of a complex goal. Strategically and consistently promoting your podcast will speed up the process a little bit. But for most podcasters, achieving their growth goals will take some time.
So don’t stress yourself out too much if you feel like your analytics aren’t growing as fast as you had hoped they would. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something wrong, it may simply mean that you might have accidentally underestimated how much time it would take to accomplish your goals—which is something every individual is guilty of at some point.
Beyond maintaining a consistent schedule and promoting your episodes diligently, there are still factors that you cannot control. World events or changes in your listeners’ circumstances could draw their attention elsewhere for some time. And that’s okay!
Always go back to your motivations for starting your podcast in the first place.
Was it so that you could closely examine analytics on a screen? No, probably not. So why did you start it then? To have fun? To speak your mind? Whatever it is, as long as those personal goals are being reached, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a thousand listeners or just one.
Lesson 18: Know your audience
“Who is your ideal audience? Do you want to reach single parents with stress? High-end business people who are looking to break the million-dollar ceiling? Millennials who like pets?
The more focused you can be in who you want to reach, the easier it's going to be to create your podcast and marketing around the podcast.”
How to Implement Kathy’s Advice
When trying to attract new listeners to your show, your message should be cohesive and focused. Furthermore, it should focus on attracting the right listener. It’s tempting to cast a wide net so that you can try to draw in as many people as possible.
However, how many of those people will really stick around? You’re much better off focusing your efforts on listeners you know for sure will be interested in your content because they find it to be useful and/or entertaining.
When an episode does really well, why not reach out to listeners and ask them:
- what they believe made the episode work
- what they believe could have been better about the episode
- whether the episode delivered according to its title
- whether they would be interested in seeing similar topics or content styles in the future
The audience analytics you receive from your hosting platform can be very useful, but nothing beats getting feedback directly from your listeners. Be sure to go through your podcast’s official Facebook page, subreddit, or anywhere else your fans interact online to see what they discuss.
But what if you notice that there’s a significant gap between your ideal audience and the audience that you actually ended up attracting? Start by getting to the root of how this happened. It could simply be because you neglected to advertise to the right crowd. In that case, there’s no need to make drastic changes to your podcast. You just need to better focus your promotion efforts.
In other cases, however, you might come to the realization that you built your podcast for a different audience than the one you had in mind. What do you do then? Well, there is no straightforward answer. Your next move depends on a number of factors.
Understand your Path
Ask yourself, how important is it to you that you connect with your originally intended audience? Is it so important to you that you’re willing to give up the audience you have now in order to chase down those “ideal” listeners? Or do you also enjoy catering to the audience you currently have?
Your answers to these questions will determine whether you continue creating and promoting your podcast in the same way, or if you’re due for a rebranding. Rebranding could either involve announcing that your current podcast will be moving in a different direction. Or you could rebrand yourself and start a totally new podcast.
Of course, all of this unnecessary effort can be avoided by applying Lesson 1 of this article: Start with a clear vision! Aim to know the listeners you’re targeting and build your podcast for them from the ground up. When you successfully do so, it will be significantly easier for you to package and promote your podcast to those very listeners.
Lesson 19: Connecting and collaborating with other podcasters will spread the word about your show much faster
“Be sure you have a Facebook page and a Facebook group, Twitter, Instagram, and even Tumblr has helped me! Any social platform you can find, you should be on there posting your episodes and implementing hashtags. It’s not easy to get a following everywhere, but don’t give up. That’s the major key. Keep going!
In the podcast community, especially on Twitter, we trade promos/trailers to play in our episodes to help promote other podcasts, too! Always reach out to other podcasts, especially in your genre, that would be up for a promo swap. I personally play promos that aren’t even true crime podcasts because we all love different topics!”
How to Implement Talysa’s and Paige’s Advice
Despite each podcaster facing his/her own set of challenges, they can relate to the more general challenges that come with podcasting as a medium. This leads to podcasters generally endeavoring to support each other to the best of their abilities.
Furthermore, unlike with radio, different podcasts don’t have to compete with each other for specific time slots. Listeners can listen to any show they want whenever they want. And so even podcasts within the same niche can comfortably share audiences and promote each other.
All of this means that you should feel free to reach out to as many podcasters as possible and see if they would be willing to exchange promotions. The worst they can do to you is say no, and the chances of that happening are very slim anyway.
Connect to related Podcasters
A good place to start would be podcasters who are in the same niche as yours because their audiences will more likely be interested in checking out your content. Similar to what you would do if you were reaching out to a potential podcast guest, it’s always best to research the person before reaching out to them.
Treat them the way you would want to be treated. If you admire a certain aspect of their show, sincerely express it to them! Even if their following happens to be larger than yours, don’t hold yourself back. If you make creative, good quality content and treat the people around you with the respect they deserve, then podcasters will be happy to promote you regardless of your audience size.
In addition to joining podcast networking groups, you can also respectfully engage with those podcasters’ social media posts. This involves making meaningful contributions to the discussion without explicitly promoting your own podcast unnecessarily. After all, how would you feel if the replies to your Twitter posts were simply flooded with other podcasters saying things like, “Hey guys, I have a podcast too! Come check me out!”
Of course, this applies to podcasters of other niches and genres as well. Remember, your listeners are real people with diverse sets of interests. So feel free to swap promotions with podcasters from other niches.
At the same time, it’s also important to not go overboard with the promotions. If you’re constantly shouting out other podcasts, your followers might feel as though they’re being spammed and will thus mute or unfollow you. So use your discretion when choosing who to promote and how often you will do so.
Lessons About Monetization
Podcasting is a rewarding experience in and of itself. But at the same time, podcasters need to be practical and look for ways to sustain their shows. If you’re interested in learning how you can do so, check out our “How To Monetize Your Podcast” article.
Lesson 20: Aim to make monetization a bonus, not the main focus
“After successfully hosting a podcast for 3+ years with over 300 episodes, I can say that it’s a rewarding experience. If you are looking to start a podcast of your own, go into it to make meaning instead of money.
Money can come from your podcast, depending on what type of show it is and if you have a product or service to sell. If you want to help people, expand your brand, and have fun, then feel free to start a podcast of your own.”
How to Implement Dom’s Advice
One of the main reasons podcasts are so challenging to monetize—aside from the lack of infrastructure—is the relatively low industry standard rates for sponsorship payouts. According to AdvertiseCast, podcasters can typically expect to earn:
- $18.00 per 1,000 listens for a 30-second advertisement
- $25.00 per 1,000 listens for a 60-second advertisement
As a result, it’s better to just focus on podcasting for its own sake rather than primarily viewing it as a means to an end. Sadly, some people go into podcasting thinking that it will be an easy source of money. However, that’s simply not true.
With all that being said, it’s important to note that podcasters can certainly monetize their shows. After all, sponsorships aren’t the only way to earn money. Podcasters can also:
- Create premium content
- Sell physical and/or digital products
- Offer services
- Receive donations
- Generate ad revenue through AdSense
In fact, one of Paudium’s main missions is to simplify the revenue-earning process for podcasters. See our “How To Monetize Your Podcast” article for a more detailed breakdown of each of the above points.
So yes, earning money from your podcast is indeed possible. However, it should be treated as more of a bonus rather than your main objective.
- Start with a clear vision and reasonable expectations
- Always endeavor to do better and better
- Only purchase new equipment when it’s necessary and practical
- Be consistent with how you structure and when your release episodes
- Consider outsourcing certain processes to save yourself time
- Do your research before contacting potential collaborators and guests
- Have fun!
And there you have it! Our podcasters have spilled the beans on the best practices to apply and potential mistakes to avoid. Be sure to show them your thanks by checking out each of their podcasts. And we are so grateful they took the time to participate in this campaign because this article would not have been possible without them.
And Paudium would not be where we are today if it wasn’t for our hard-working, innovative community of podcasters. If you want to join us and get the chance to participate the next time we do one of these campaigns, please visit our website to register your podcast now! And you can also let us know what you thought of these lessons: email@example.com. We love to listen!