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How To Make A Successful Podcast

podcasts, how to, guide

All you need is a mic, a pair of headphones, a laptop and an idea. Podcasts are easy to make, enjoyable to listen to, great for long-form content, and even better for self-promotion…this list could go on. But, the issue has never been how to make a podcast, but more how to make it a successful one.

Luckily we’re here to help you get started on the road towards the podcasting elite.

Know what you want to talk about!

podcast, show
Image Credit: YouTube

Before you can even consider creating your own podcast, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to talk about. I know that sounds like a stupid thing to say, because it should be a given, but many people fail with their podcast endeavours simply because they run out of things to say. 

So, pick a subject that you love, not just kind of like, but really love, because in reality you’ll need to be an expert on what you’re talking about. Of course, there are exceptions to this. Joe Rogan on his podcast tends to just chat with his guests on subjects that he’s not particularly an expert on, but that he finds fascinating, and in all fairness, they really are. But he’s a well-know media personality, and has access to these high-calibre guests, you and I on the other hand, may not. But, on his MMA podcast, more his field of expertise, he converses with current and ex-MMA fighters, trainers and more. The point is, he knows what he’s talking about, it may only speak to a niche market, but he manages to completely engage that market. Be the MMA Joe Rogan.

The majority of top podcasts on Spotify and Acast all have specific subjects ranging from Crime, News, Football and other things. 

What do I need? 

If it weren’t already obvious, the voice recorder app on your phone is not going to suffice. You’ll need a few things, notably a microphone, headphones, and obviously a laptop to edit your files and recordings, etc. I’ve compiled a list of potential microphones and headphones to use (all in budget of course): 

Microphones: 

microphone, podcast, recording
podcast, microphone
podcast microphone

Headphones: 

podcast, headphones, equipment
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headphones, studio

You’ll not only need hardware, but also some software to edit your audio clips. Here are some of the best to use.

Duration 

Looking at the top podcasts on Spotify, the average duration of a podcast is between 30 and 45 minutes. And you really won’t want to go longer than that, especially when you’re starting out. You want to keep the people interested and not bored. In fact, 20% of adults said that they would be less likely to listen to an episode if it lasted longer than an hour. 

The issue with this is that when you’re talking about something you’re passionate about, you’re more likely to go off on a tangent. It’s happened that someone has asked me a question about a subject that I love, only for me to have subsequently metaphorically waterboarded this guy with details and facts on the subject. Poor guy, he didn’t deserve that.

Podcast style 

What kind of gig are you going for? Like all creative content, there are different ways to present it, so you have to decide which one is the best for you, and the type of content that you’re releasing. 

The interview

podcast, interview style

This type of style is where you have guests come onto your podcast to talk all things subject-related. This can be good if the guest is either well-known or super interesting. The more interesting your content is, the more engaged your audience is likely to be. 

Not only will you have your own knowledge and experiences to talk about, but you have other perspectives and other stories to share. The difficulty is actually finding those guests. As I said before, assuming you aren’t Joe Rogan or Joe Budden, attracting high-profile guests can be difficult, but not impossible. 

I would recommend going for people who are lower-profile and then slowly building up. It’s word-of-mouth promotion, because people hear about guests on your podcast, and the word spreads. Don’t give up, be persistent. 

The Solo

This is probably the classic format. You don’t have to worry about anyone else, you edit your own work, talk about what you want, and build your own brand up, slowly but surely. 

In saying that, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to do solo work. Most successful podcasts have multiple people talking and working together; it makes it more interesting for you and for the audience. 

Personally, the only time I’d listen to a solo podcast is if it’s an idol of mine speaking, or Morgan Freeman. That is all. 

The Conversation

Joe budden podcast with Rory & mal, podcasting, group, conversation
Image Credit: Podbay

This is THE fan-favourite. People love this style of podcast simply because it’s inclusive. When a group of people talk about a subject that you love, you feel like you’re pitching into the conversation. You laugh along, you disagree or you agree, you feel a range of emotions that gives you the impression that you’re just having a chat with friends who are all interested in the same thing as you. 

I personally listen to a lot of Bleacher Report’s Football Ranks podcast, and I regularly find myself laughing to the point of stomach pain, or saying things like “Oh, come on, did you even watch the weekend’s game?”. It’s just a fun style of curating content, and there’s nothing more that people want, than feeling a part of a group or involved in something, which is why it’s so popular. 

Non-fiction and Fiction 

Non-fiction can be very difficult when starting out, because you’ll need a big team behind you to back you up in terms of information and production, and all that kind of stuff. You can try it, but it will be difficult. Popular shows like Serial or Criminal are extremely interesting, but the research behind it is IMMENSE. 

Fiction on the other hand, is much lighter. If you enjoy writing, or telling stories, this could be good for you. Podcasts allow you to be more creative than in books, because you can add music and production to your stories without any visual. This, like non-fiction, is still not easy to do, but it’s definitely something to do, because there are so many creative avenues to explore. 

Whichever style you choose, make sure it’s the best one for your situation and subject.

Promoting yourself 

In the beginning, social media will be your best friend. By posting soundbites, images, quotes, links, etc, you’re exposing people to your content. 

social media, promotion

Tweet about your first episode going live, post a soundbite on your Instagram, and share the link on Facebook. Encourage your followers to tune in and share your content, because the wider it reaches, the more people know about it, and that’s how you grow. 

This is why having guests on a start-up podcast can be good. For example, after an episode is live, encourage your guest to also share on their social media; double exposure. 

Another thing that works is giveaways. People love the chance to win free things, so setup a competition that’s something along the lines of “Like, follow, and retweet for a chance to win…” and then whatever you want. But this, in any case, would help with exposure to your content.

How can my podcast make money? 

Once a podcast gains significant popularity, companies could approach you to advertise them in your podcast. The same goes for sponsorships. Sponsored content is paid content, so if a company sponsors you, then that would become a source of income. How large a source? That depends, it’s all relative at the end of the day.

In 2017, it was predicted that around $220 million would be spent on podcast advertising, which seems like a lot, but when you look at the bigger picture, it’s really just a ripple in the ocean. 

Eventually, if your podcast becomes genuinely huge, then the big companies can reach out to you for contracts. A good example is with The Joe Budden Podcast with Rory & Mal, which originally started as a YouTube series, but then moved to Spotify once they got offered a contract to create content for their platform. This is the ultimate goal at the end of the day, to reach this level of influence.

To get a better idea on how podcasts make money, check out this video below:

Which are the best platforms to distribute my content? 

What I could do is give you a list of podcast hosting websites like Buzzsprout or Transistor or Simplecast, which you can check out here, but I’d rather give you my opinion. 

If I were to release a podcast, I’d start off with these 2 platforms:

1. Youtube 

Youtube, platforms

I’ve chosen Youtube as one of the platforms because it’s genuinely a platform that is very easy to work and access. And although it’s not made for platforms, per se, it does the job very nicely. 

I also recommend Youtube because it’s a very known media platform, and in many ways represents the epitome of content creation in the world. The audience figures on Youtube are impressive, so it could be worth a shot to upload podcasts on there. 

2. Soundcloud 

streaming, audio
Image Credit: Soundcloud

Soundcloud is maybe more suited for podcasters, since Youtube is more video-oriented rather than audio-oriented. It’s easy to upload, like Youtube and it has a big audience, many people use this platform for music and other things; it’s a platform that is popping. 

3. PodBean 

podcast hosting
Image Credit: PodBean

Although this can be considered as part of the typical list of podcast hosting sites, it is very good. Simple to use, unlimited, and helps you with distribution and promotion, it might be worth trying out if you’re interested in a more professional setup and look to your content.

Final word 

Considering all of these tips and pieces of advice can definitely set you on your way to making a successful podcast, but keep in mind that content creation is about experimentation. What works for that person, might no work for you, and vice versa. Paragraph

Try different softwares, different styles of podcasts, different hosting sites and just see what works best for you; there’s no set formula. 

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Written by Emeric Brard

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