Podcasts are reaching a serious tipping point as an active communication channel to engage target audiences. Podcast popularity is growing steadily. In the past five years, listenership has more than doubled, from 41 million in 2014 to 86 million in 2019. That climb is expected to reach as high as 132 million by 2022!.
Despite this growing popularity, the marketplace of podcasts is still somewhat sparse, especially compared to other channels. For example, there are 25 million business profiles on Instagram and over a billion private users. That’s a ton of competition for content creators. Podcasts, on the other hand, had roughly 525 million listeners last year, but one source estimates that the number is now closer to 700 million.
This is a big leap, which demonstrates that the podcast industry is really at that boiling point. If you want to get in before it indeed tips, now is the time to start a podcast. This is especially true given how loyal audiences of podcasts are. If you can establish a strong listener base in your unique industry now, before podcasts really explode, then those listeners will carry with you, even as your competitors begin entering the world of podcasting.
This guide is intended to give you 10 tips on how to start a successful podcast that extends the reach and engagement of your business.
Study the competition to test the podcasting waters
Before you begin planning out your podcast show, your first step needs to be testing the waters and studying the competition. What other podcast shows already exist in your industry and how do you expect to compete with them? You don’t want to enter the space with a show that simply already exists. Your study of competing podcasts will really help you in later stages, as we’ll see shortly.
You may also want to listen to favorite podcasts outside of your industry. The best podcasts have reached that point because they’ve developed a recipe for success. They’ve likely tested a lot of different ideas over the years and come to a complete understanding of the podcasting world and the most successful tactics. These top podcasts may give you some good content ideas for your own show.
Pick a unique topic and title to attract new listeners
Now that you have an understanding of pre-existing podcasts in your industry, you can begin thinking about a topic or title for your show that is unique and distinguishes you from the competition.
This is a crucial point in creating your podcast. You really need to have a title that draws new listeners in, and then be able to follow it up with great content within each episode on industry-relevant topics that are interesting to listeners.
Ideally, your title-topic combination will be something that you can really stand behind and talk comfortably about for the entire length of every podcast episode.
Schedule the timing of your podcast and episodes
Scheduling is another important aspect of a successful podcast. You can’t just pick a time and date that is convenient for you; it needs to be suitable for listeners. There are a few things to consider with the schedule of your podcast:
- Competition: You don’t want to schedule your podcast on a date or time slot that is already claimed by a leading competitor. Instead, find a day and time with no competition. The listeners that want more content on your topic will flock to your show to fill their daily podcast listening.
- Daily routines of listeners: Podcast listeners carve out time in their day to listen to this content, whether during their commute, before bed, at the gym, etc. You want your podcast to be available during these times. Also, consider the time-zone of your audience base and how you can accommodate that.
- Frequency: How often will you air episodes? Every week? Twice a week? Once a month? You need to consider this ahead of time so your audience can get used to the schedule of your show. You don’t want to over-schedule. Otherwise, it will be tedious to keep finding new topics to discuss, or even finding the time to record the show itself.
Brand your podcast and find your voice!
Your title will lend a hand to the branding of your podcast, but you also have to think of other aspects, like a logo, description, keywords and other elements. These will all contribute towards your podcast brand. If this podcast is part of your business’ content efforts, then you need to ensure that your podcast’s brand is aligned with the overall vibe of your business.
The voice of your podcast is also an immensely important component. This is not only the actual voice of your podcast (the person, or people, speaking) but also the tone and brand voice. Is it going to be intellectually professional, instructional, quirky or something else? This voice needs to keep listeners engaged and wanting to keep listening through each episode.
If it is too rigid, it may be off-putting to audiences.
Break up the structure of your podcast for better flow
How will each episode of your podcast be structured? Will you have individual segments to break up the show? If so, what will these segments be about? This is really where the fun of podcasting begins; it’s the point where you start to think creatively about your show and how it will all come together.
Some common content ideas for podcasts:
- Q&A with listeners
- Current events
- Guest speakers or hosts
- Quote/social media post of the day
- How-to, step-by-step guides that listeners can participate along with
As you develop your podcast further, don’t be afraid to try new things and even get rid of segments that aren’t as successful.
Engage audiences with interactive segments
Podcasts are very engaging as is, but that doesn’t mean you can’t raise it to the next level. A lot of the shared content segments for podcasts work so effectively because they offer interactive elements that listeners can participate in. This is a critical element for podcasts. You don’t want to talk to your audience, but with them.
The beauty of podcasts is that this interactive element is practically hardwired into the content type, especially compared to other formats. Most content creators have to almost beg for audience interactions, like social media likes or comments. With podcasts, these conversations and feedback come much more naturally.
In short, don’t ignore this impactful, bonus benefit of podcasting!
Find ways to grow your audience
You can’t expect your audience to grow naturally. You need to find ways to get the word out about your podcast and bring new listeners in. Most readily, this means announcing the release of each episode on your websites, social media accounts, and other channels. But, there are other tactics you can implement that can have substantial impacts on your audience’s growth and development.
Part of this harkens back to making your podcast’s interactive. Getting audiences to participate will help foster loyalty for longer. They may even be encouraged to share your podcast with friends, family, and others.
Having guest hosts, especially influencers or people from other podcasts, will help you bring their followers to your podcast and creates an opportunity where you can convert those followers into fans of your show.
You should always be cultivating your audience and trying to stimulate its growth.
Go visual! YouTube is an avenue for podcasts too!
A lot of successful podcasts don’t exist exclusively on the Apple Store, they find other avenues to attract audiences. Going visual and filming your podcasts to post to YouTube and other video platforms is a potent tip. Not only does this present an entirely new channel to find new audiences, but it also allows your existing audiences to see your podcast.
This adds another level of interactivity, and it allows audiences to personally connect with the host and get the “behind-the-scenes” look. The visual side of podcasting can also help develop your brand, identity, and vibe of your podcast by creating a set or visual background for viewers to enjoy.
Scale costs alongside your audience
As you begin brainstorming ideas for your podcast, you’re undoubtedly going to start thinking about the costs. You’re going to need equipment and software to start recording, broadcasting and editing your podcast. This can turn some people off, especially looking at how much a high-end podcasting setup can cost.
The critical thing to remember is that you don’t have to start running straight out of the gate. Yes, investing in top-quality equipment and software will elevate your show, but it isn’t a necessity.
The truth is that you don’t know how your podcast is going to grow. You may not even like podcasting. Thus, it is best to, rather than running out of the gate, scale your costs alongside the success and growth of your audience.
Start small and grow your podcast. Your long-time listeners will appreciate going on that journey with you!
Find the balance between entertaining and informing
Running a successful podcast means blending together information and entertainment. Podcast listeners come to learn new things and be entertained while they are learning. This is a challenge for some podcasts that lean too far to one side of the spectrum.
If you’re too informative, then the content will be dry and rigid. People may learn, but they won’t have a good time doing it. On the other side, focusing too much on entertaining audiences, instead of informing them, will detract from the information you’re trying to impart on listeners. Your podcast won’t interest people that genuinely want to walk away with something they can use or share with others.
Finding this balance takes time and a little bit of planning, especially when it comes to developing segments for your show. You want to mix informative parts with enjoyable ones.
Remember to have fun!
Your attitude towards your podcast and its audience is going to be reflected in your tone of voice. While developing a podcast is a useful channel for marketing, or even making a living, you have to enjoy doing it truly.
So, don’t forget to have fun along the way!