You have a blog. You’re all over social. Your email game is strong. What’s next for your brand?
If you’re considering podcasting, you’re not alone. An estimated 73 million Americans listen to podcasts every month. And if you’re looking for a podcast, there are more than 500,000 choices on Apple Podcasts.
“Podcasts are an intimate way of communicating one to many,” says Megan Dougherty, a marketer who has built a business around helping people produce, launch and promote podcasts. “But as the podcasting world gets more crowded, the bar is raising for the level of production people expect.”
Keep reading for Megan’s tips on how to know if podcasting is right for you and how to create a really good podcast that your audience will love.
Decide if Podcasting Is Right for You
Sure, podcasts are everywhere, and it’s starting to feel like everyone has a podcast. But they’re not for everyone, Megan says. A podcast might be the right format for you if:
- You can stick with a project. Consistency is everything in podcasting. Hosting a weekly podcast can be a grind, so if you have a hard time sticking with new projects through ups and downs, podcasting might not be worth the plunge.
- You don’t need to see immediate results. “Podcasting is a long game,” Megan says. “You're not going to get a whole lot of downloads right away, unless you have a huge existing audience that has been asking you for a podcast. You might be podcasting for six months before you start to really see traction and growth. You need to be able to put in the time.”
- You’re passionate about your topic area. “You need to be able to talk about your topic for an hour without running out of things to say,” Megan says. “The ideal podcast host should constantly find new areas of interest to explore within their topic. You need to be curious. The audience will be able to tell if you're not really passionate about what you're talking about. They want to hear your delight and wonder that you get to be sharing this with people.”
- You’re not trying to get famous or boost your own ego. People connect the most with podcast hosts who are heavy on the humility, she says.
Ask Why You Want a Podcast
Megan says that many podcasters fail because they don’t know what they want from their podcasts. So, before you start, get clear about your goals. Do you want to:
- Grow name recognition?
- Extend your thought leadership?
- Sell things?
- Teach things?
Once you know your goal, you can make smart decisions about the stories you tell and the format you use to structure your content. For example, “if you want to be a thought leader, but all you’re doing is interviewing other experts, you’re not getting your own viewpoint out there. You’re just a platform for other people’s ideas.” There’s nothing wrong with interviewing smart people — interviews are great for when you want to explore many different angles and viewpoints — but it’s important to think about how the format supports your goals.
Double Down on Core Podcasting Skills
If you decide to commit to a podcast, study the art of storytelling. The best podcasts tell interesting stories that people connect to emotionally. So, how do you pull stories out of people?
First, overprepare for every conversation, Megan says. “The best interviewing advice I’ve heard is from Barbara Walters. She prepares 50 to 60 questions for an interview where she’s going to ask maybe 5 or 10. If she hears a trigger or a cue, she’s prepared to follow it and extract the story.”
“Risk being rude,” Megan says. “Instead of moving on to the next question, if you hear something interesting, dig in. Follow up. You have to reach in and poke them for it. Push for more stories.”
Finally, set an editorial standard and stick to it. “Be willing to not run a bad interview. If a show stinks, be willing to re-record it. The most important thing is your relationship with your audience. Podcast people are loyal, but if the quality of even a favorite podcast starts to dip, your audience will abandon you without thinking twice.”
Obsess Over Promotion
Megan says most podcasters don’t spend nearly enough time or energy on promotion. “For every minute you spend writing the script and producing an episode, you should spend at least one minute promoting it.”
“Here’s one strategy I really like: Before you record, think of three people who will be interested in the episode. They could be people you know, people you admire — anyone, as long as they’re real humans. Then, once you’ve recorded the episode, send them the link with a note about why you thought of them,” she says.
She thinks about promoting to two different audiences: people who already listen to podcasts, and people who you have to convince to try podcasts for the first time.
One way to reach podcast fans? Be a guest on other podcasts. Make friends with people who run podcasts in your space, and generously share your ideas and audience with them.
To convert podcast skeptics, start by sharing a sneak peek of your content in a format they’re already comfortable with, like a blog post or a video, then asking them to listen to the podcast episode to get the rest. “Incentivize them with a really compelling reason to try out the format. Tell them what you’re going to share in your podcast that won’t be available elsewhere,” she says.
If your audience doesn’t know how to listen to podcasts, embed a player right on your website, so that people can click “Play” and listen without committing to a new app.
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