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School of Podcasting


Jul 13, 2020

I've been asked this questions in a few interviews. As there are no rules and you can do anything you want in a podcast, are there are any Podcasting Best Practices? Well as we all see podcasting through many different lenses I thought I would share my opinion on the best practices.

Have a Topic You Are Passionate About, as in REALLY Passionate about. 

Next week you will hear Jamie from Horses in the morning talk about her L O V E of horses. In the past I have said you need the passion that a sixteen year old boy has for getting his driver's license.

WHY: Because when you first start out, it will be awkward, and you will still be getting comfortable behind the mic. You will have next to no audience and it is soul crushing to put that much work into something and have next to nobody listen to it. When you have that passion, you will talk about it even if nobody is listening. 

Know Your Target Audience

I know, "But Dave you just said I don't have an audience." I know, but who is the person that should love this content. Also, I don't mean "34-48 year old Women. That is identify who they are. I mean KNOW THEM. Go hang out with them, and find out what makes them tick. 

WHY: One of the biggest fears is sounding stupid. How do you avoid this? By knowing what your audience needs (we cover this in the planning your content course, as well as "Content is King" course). 

Know WHY You're Podcasting

Every podcaster says "It takes more time than I thought" when you start a podcast (for the record it takes more time than you thought for many things if you think about it). Starting a podcast is easy. Start is GOOD podcast can tricky. You've identified who your audience is, and what your topic is, but the why can help shape the content. If you're trying to keep your brand in front of your potential customer you might do three five minute podcasts a week. If you want to be seen as an expert, maybe you do a weekly 20-minute show where you answer a question. If you're trying to grow your network, maybe you do interviews with other people in your field. 

WHY: When you start to achieve your goal, it puts gas in your tank. If you are NOT achieving your goal you know you need to adjust the content or turn up the marketing. 

Get The Best Equipment You Can Afford

I typically say you can sound pretty good for the price of an Xbox (about $300). By the time you get a microphone and some sort of interface, etc. You're looking between $70-$300 depending on how many co-hosts you have, etc. 

WHY: Look at the top 200 shows in Apple and see how many were recorded using their phone (although you can make "OK" recording with your phone when used correctly). 

Have A General Idea Of How a Podcast Works

I've been driving since I was 16. While I don't know enough about my car to work on it. I do know enough to do some basic troubleshooting. 

WHY: By understanding the mechanics of a podcast you can avoid a lot of unnecessary panic when your episode doesn't appear in an app a few minutes after you press publish. 

It's YOUR Show

Aisha Tyler said at Podcast Movement one of the biggest reason she loved her podcast was because it was HERS. Don't interview people if you're not sure they are a good fit. If you don't want to talk about a topic, don't. If you do want to talk about a topic - do. It's your show. 

Make Yourself Available Everywhere

I talked about this in the episode about growing your downloads,

WHY: A boss walks into the board room and says, "I just heard this (insert name) podcast on the way in it was great. Everyone pulls out their phone but some people subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, etc. 

Don't Pick a Release Date Until Your In All the Apps

I had this happen to me. My new show Grow Your Community was in Apple, but NOT in Overcast (even though Overcast pulls from Apple). In the same way that bands in the 80's wouldn't pick a date for their CD release party until they had the CD in their hand, don't pick your "Launch" date until your show is available to SUBSCRIBE. 

Be Appropriate

but also you might consider if you're going to swear or not in your show. When you do you get pulled from India and other countries. I actually listened to the "Losing 100 Pounds" podcast and the host dropped an F-bomb in the first 15 seconds. This was followed by a flurry of other no safe for kids type of language. About 20 minutes she finally mentioned that she curses like a sailor and if you don't like that you should tune out. I'm no prude, but she sounded like a 13-year-old out behind the barn seeing how many swear words she could work into a sentence. 

Again, it's HER show she can do whatever she wants. There were MANY 1 star reviews that just said the swearing was over the top. 

Edit Your Podcast

There are editors for newspapers, magazines, books, TV, movies, but you are the person on the planet that everything that comes out of your mouth is perfect. Really? Radio people can not believe people who choose to "keep it real" and just publish as-is. You have the opportunity to make yourself (your guest) sound better. If nothing else, edit one or two episodes, and if you hate it, pay someone to edit it for you. By editing a few episodes you will be willing to pay someone as it is time-consuming and you will appreciate the job they do.

Get Honest Feedback

I get it. It's your art. You worked hard on it. You might be afraid to get some feedback. Some really are looking for agreement on everything they've done when they ask for feedback. They don't want to change (cause as we mentioned, when you first start it takes time). However, feedback can steer your podcast in the right direction so you can help achieve your goal. Last week I talked about how I got feedback on my music and most people didn't like it. It didn't crush me. I listened to their reasons, saw their point, and changed my music. 

I listened to a podcast today where a school had launched a podcast, got some feedback, and then changed the name, changed the intro, changed the artwork and got amazing results. 

Be Consistent

Pick a schedule and stick with it. Also, be consistent in quality. If you go to a McDonald's in one town and have a hamburger, fly across the country and have another one they taste the same. Sure it's unhealthy, but the taste is consistent. 

Don't Use Unlicensed Music

No, you can't play Taylor Swift. Nope. But what about?? No. No. No. No. What about 10 seconds? No. they are cracking down on this HARD right now. 

You Only Need ONE Episode To Launch

Your first recording will not be as good as your second. Consequently don't release everything you record. Some people think you record 10 episodes and release them at once so people can really connect with you.

WHY: Rob Walch VP at Libsyn.com (the oldest, largest media host) said at a conference in Australia (online) that people lack any feedback. If someone gets feedback on episode three but has seven more episodes recorded and set to publish, the listener has to wait for eight episodes to hear any changes based on their feedback. 

Focus On Your Audience  and Don't Compare Yourself To Others

We talked about knowing your audience, now that you know what they want your show is about THEM, and your WHY. Don't get distracted by what other people are doing, how much money they are making, focus on your audience. If you find yourself thinking about a similar show and it upsets you, drop it and focus on your audience.

Get Your Attitude in Check

Podcasting is a LONG game. It is a marathon not a sprint (years not months). Also remember, you don't have to make money with your podcast.

Be Open To New Experiences

We mentioned being open to feedback, but also open to partnering with other podcasts, trying new segments, trying new marketing strategies. If your show isn't giving you what you want, then try something new.

Have A Website and Control Your Show

You control our website. If the latest social network gets canceled, people will know to find you on our website. Never let a media host (Anchor) submit your show "for you" to directories so that you maintain control of your show. 

Google Wants Good Content

Google wants to deliver great search results to its customers so give it something people will find valuable. Have a good description with enough words (at least 300) to attack Google. While you want to pay attention to keywords, you also want to be appropriate. Use headings to breaking up long posts. 

It's All About Subscribers

We mentioned "being everywhere" but that doesn't help if you make it hard (find me in Apple) to subscribe to your show. Have buttons on your site to share your show and subscribe. 

Promote Your Show

Use social media and any other tools that will help you get your podcast in front of your target audience. 

WHY: There are over one million podcasts in Apple podcasts. If you think Apple will make you famous, then you should be famous from being in the phone book. 

Pay Attention to Your Media Host

In general, the media hosts I recommend have some sort of podcast to keep you informed of updates to their technology and news to what is going on in the podcasting space. 

If You're Looking to Monetize - Start an Email List

While social media may be all the buzz, when it comes to getting people to click on something, hands down Sendfox email is better. I use.  Also, if you're looking to monetize, selling your own product is the best way, but most podcasters who are looking to monetize have multiple streams of income. 

Final Thoughts

If you can't seem to pull the trigger, you are probably overthinking it. 

When in doubt, ask your audience. 

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Mentioned in This Episode

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