Advancing into audio: lessons from a seasoned podcaster
So you want to start a podcast, huh? Rambling into a mic and recording seems easy enough. How hard could it be to hold a conversation for 40 minutes?
Well, though it’s a simple concept, there’s a lot more to podcasting than you think. I’ll be honest, it takes a lot of planning, a solid strategy and a bunch of technical decisions to produce even one great podcast episode. But the fruits of your labour will be worth it.
Me and my co-host, Ivy, started our podcast, Black Broke and Brilliant in May 2020 and saw it grow from a handful of listeners in the UK (thanks, Mum) to over 14K plays across 80 countries. We didn’t have a sponsor or a fancy studio to record in – in fact we still record remotely from our bedrooms using a home set-up. Which shows that no matter what your budget is, a great concept and quality content can still lead you to success.
That’s not to say creating a successful podcast is a walk in the park. I’ve had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. Lucky for you, I’ve detailed nine of those lessons in this blog post, so you can learn them the slightly easier way.
Here are my top tips for starting a successful podcast:
Just start it
No really! I cannot tell you how much time we spent talking about a podcast, discussing when we would start a podcast and toying with the idea of actually having a podcast. Life gets in the way and it’s very easy for your idea to remain exactly that – an idea. Last year provided all the downtime to finally start our podcast and even after meticulously planning, things can go wrong. But you learn by doing, so get the ball rolling and just go for it. There’s no time like the present.
Branding is a b*tch
As a marketer, you may already have a brand, vision and message. But if, like me, you’re establishing a brand from scratch, consider the message you want to send, particularly when thinking about the name and the design—do they reflect you and your business? It took a lot of toing and froing with our illustrator before we had a logo that best reflects who we are and what we wanted our podcast to be.
Authenticity is key
Don’t try to be something you’re not. Speak from experience, play to either the knowledge you have, or the knowledge your guests provide. There’s nothing worse than listening to someone drone on about a topic they clearly know nothing about. For example – I don’t claim to be a marketing genius, but ask me about the struggles of being a Black millennial living in London and I’ve got you covered.
Plan Plan Plan!
The only thing worse than not knowing what you’re talking about is talking aimlessly with no structure, no clearly defined topic, or not talking at all. Awkward silences are not your friend, so let’s avoid them. You don’t need to plan out episodes word for word, but it’s good to focus on a topic or overarching theme. It also stops you from going off on wild tangents. Trust me I’ve been there. Do your research and have your notes at hand while you record. It’s great because no one can see you.
Choosing a target market
So you’ve decided to start your podcast. You’ve figured out your genre and what you want to talk about. The next big step is deciding who your target audience is—as marketers, this is where you’ll flourish. Consider the age range of your audience, the demographic, their profession and where they might come across your podcast.
Consider what the aim of your podcast is and who it will benefit most. Another reason branding is so vital is because sometimes, your audience chooses you. Whether you were targeting a group or not, you will find unexpected but very loyal factions begin to form. It is important to acknowledge your market segments and adapt accordingly.
How to make the numbers work for you
Once you have a captivated audience, embrace them. Listeners love when you engage with them whether you’re asking them to suggest ideas about what they want to hear next, or getting feedback through online reviews.
Keep your ear to the ground and be attentive to your community.
Know your audience
Insights are your friends – they provide useful statistics on your audience, the countries they listen from, how long they’re listening for and how many times they’ve played an episode. Use them to your advantage to help you gear episodes towards the area your listens are coming from.
For example: your episode on machine learning proved popular and had way more listens compared to episodes released around the same time, perhaps do a follow up episode or find other topics around AI to discuss.
Using insights, I learned that episodes about current affairs and popular culture are more popular than episodes that are not time-sensitive. Think of me as a radio station breaking news.
Revelling in your 30 seconds of fame
Think of a trailer as your positioning statement. A true embodiment of your business and what you aim to discuss in your podcast. No matter what the episode topic is, your core message should be the same.
When a new blockbuster comes out in the cinema, if the trailer is no good do you even want to watch the film? Use your trailer to peak interest and reel potential listeners in.
Be Brave. Embrace each step of the podcasting journey, whether you’re struggling to get the mic to work or receiving podcasting accolades from online magazines. Enjoy the process that will lead to your growth. You’ll learn so much along the way, and it’s always great to look back and see how far you’ve come.
Oh, and while you’re here, check out Black, Broke and Brilliant on Instagram and listen to our latest episode where we discuss work life, freelancing and quitting that job.