7 Tips for making great podcasts
Podcasts are growing in popularity – and fast.
Whether it be to tune-out of your commute or to tune-in to your favourite crime drama, more and more people are working podcasts into their routine. Podcast share of time spent listening to audio sources has doubled in the past four years where, in the US alone, 73 million people listen monthly, and 17 million listen weekly.
As for who is listening, research points to a young, affluent, and educated demographic. Interestingly, studies show that listeners are deeply engaged: whilst the average Twitter user spends only 5.9 seconds per video, 85% of podcast listeners stay tuned for ‘all’ or ‘most’ of an episode.
Why have podcasts gained so much traction? Well, podcasts are a unique way to share stories – and we love stories. They have the special capacity to help us understand the world whilst demanding little mental energy. Podcasts are hugely convenient and are a great way to feel productive whilst passing time.
With this growing momentum and ease of use, podcasts provide a unique opportunity to reach audiences via topics listeners enjoy.
If you’re looking to start a podcast, here’s how to get started:
1. Find your niche
Podcasts tap into a need listeners are itching to fulfil. Successful ideas start with the audience and speak to the passions of your listeners. Whether it be a food program like the Bon Appetite Foodcast or a show on the hypocrisies of modern feminism like The Guilty Feminist, effective podcasts are based on interests of the target audience.
2. Be innovative
With the ease of on-demand streaming, listeners are self-selecting and easily switch off. To stand out in the 550,000 plus shows that exist, podcasts need to be creative, innovative, and different.
To do this, hook listeners with a catchy name and fit the format to your topic. From interviews, documentaries to narrative dramas, there are numerous creative formats to mobilise. A strong example is the all-female panel show by lingerie brand Freya, When Life Gives you Melons, which shows the value of entertainment over advertisement, voted as the UK’s most successful branded podcast 2018.
3. Be personal
Podcasts are emotional amplifiers that use the power of human voice to create a sense of intimacy with listeners. For this, you need a good host to give your podcast momentum and personality.
Be authentic by using a professional presenter, as does BBC Radio 5 Live’s unscripted sports show, Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy, which connects to listeners through celebrity hosts and sports chat, whilst also covering important issues like men’s mental health.
4. Invest in quality
People want to be immersed and to escape from their present. With your listeners plugged in, you can transport them to your chosen setting.
Production quality is key to making that happen, pioneered by award-winning true crime drama Serial. General Electric’s hit science-fiction podcast The Message and their recent thriller LifeAfter are also strong examples of the value of a quality listening experience in creating immersive, award-winning shows.
5. Create your brand
Creating a podcast series should be treated like a new brand. Successful branded podcasts include Exchanges at Goldman Sachs, Land Rover’s The Discovery Adventures, KPMGs IFRS Today and Merck’s Future Talk. These companies use their expertise to speak to and inform listeners.
Creating eye-catching cover art is an essential part of making a recognisable podcast. For instance, office chat platform, Slack, creates quirky, unique artwork designed by credited artists for each episode of their podcast Work in Progress, their show exploring meaning and identity at work.
6. Position your podcast
Have a great idea? Let podcast directories know in advance to create interest and position your podcast on the platform. Popular directories include Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Acast, all having their own unique benefits.
Improving the visibility of your show is also important. Use keywords in your description and produce a transcript per episode. This can further help listeners find your show and helps those with disabilities access the content.
7. Focus on marketing
Producing the podcast is only one half of the story. The other is marketing.
As with blockbuster movies, the marketing budget often matches or exceeds the production budget. Podcasts are no different. Take podcast producer Gimlet Media’s Start Up as an example of effective marketing, having practically pioneered ‘native content’ for podcast ads with teaser videos, microsites and a suite of complimentary materials.