How to Start A Successful Podcast in 2020
Updated: May 24
The world of podcasting has exploded over the last few years, with over 100,000 new shows in the last 12 months! It is estimated that there are now over 850,000 shows and 30 million episodes in 2020. This is because some podcasters are growing a massive following and it is easier than ever to get started. Podcasting showcases you as an authority amongst your listeners while creating a deeper relationship with your audience. It is a fantastic marketing tool to increase your brand awareness while creating a ton of valuable content.
I launched Target Market Insights in August 2017 and have released almost 200 episodes. Through almost two years of podcasting, I’ve utilized various tools, strategies and resources to optimize the show. The show has helped me build an audience and connect with guests and listeners. And with so many interested in podcasting, I wanted to share some of the steps to create and sustain a successful podcast.
Steps to Starting a “Successful” Podcast
1. Set Your Goal: Understanding why you want to launch a podcast is the first critical step. Are you looking to create another income stream? Are you looking to build your brand? Find new clients? Once you are clear on what you hope to accomplish you can determine the structure, resources and budget necessary to produce a podcast consistently. 2. Pick a Topic: Your topic should be one that you are passionate about and can easily discuss. More importantly, it should help deliver on your goal. Do some research on the topic and the other podcasts delivering similar content. Make a list of the top ten podcasts in the space and use it as a benchmark.
Find a way to stand out AND add value. I didn’t want to just launch another podcast on real estate investing. I wanted to blend marketing and real estate. And starting out I wanted to share the local market research and insights others were using to find the best areas to invest. I have been able to expand the show to highlight marketing and branding tips but starting out specific gave us a unique angle to connect with others. If you want your show to stand out, find a specific topic that gets you excited, keeps you committed and provides value to others.
3. Pick a Clear, Memorable Name: Make it short, interesting, direct, and memorable. Listeners should know what the show is about from the title and sub-headline alone. Make sure you clearly communicate this but add personality that matches the tone of the show. If it’s a straight information-based show, clear titles are good. If it’s fun and light-hearted that should come across in the title too. Write out 20 options for show titles and get it down to the top 3-5. Start polling people, especially those who would be interested in the topic. Ask them what they would expect the show to be about and if they would be intrigued enough to listen based on the title alone. If you can work in a strong keyword in your title, it will help you rank higher for searches.
4. Choose Your Format: Will you be interviewing experts in the field of your choosing? Or, will you be the expert and go solo? Will your show be educational, or fun? How long will your show be? How often will you publish new episodes? Will your show be audio or video or both? When considering your format, you should have your target audience in mind. What type of content does your audience need and want? And, how much time do they have to listen?
5. Get the Hardware: Your equipment can be simple or complex depending on your audio engineering skills. I won’t bore you with all that I’ve learned about mixers and double-enders, but if you plan to record with guests, I will give you a few options.
A great mic is critical in delivering a crisp, clear product. I use the AudioTechnica AR-2100 and love it. I purchased more expensive mics and have been disappointed with the quality. I bought special headphones when I started, but now I just use my regular headphones. You can get pop filters as well to help reduce pops and background noise.
6. Get the Software: If interviewing others you will need an interface that records multiple parties. Skype and Zoom are the most popular, but I would not recommend Skype. I find the audio quality to be poor and it’s a hassle for any guest who does not have a Skype account. Zoom is easy to use and the preferred option by most podcasters and works well for recording video. Other options are Cast, Zencastr, Ringr and Cleanfeed. One feature that I look for is the ability to record separate audio files as it can provide better audio quality and easier editing.
A newer option that I've come across in 2020 is SquadCast. The platform offers audio and video capabilities, while most other platforms only offer audio. In addition, SquadCast allows you to record separate audio files so you can use one platform for your audio and video needs. In addition, you may need audio editing tools like Audacity or Adobe Premiere if you plan to self-edit. Just like a blog, podcasts need a server where the files will live. You can host on platforms like WordPress, but it can hinder the speed of your download. Instead, use a dedicated podcast host like Libsyn, which sends an RSS feed to connect you to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Sticher, and more. When seeking a host, look into the data and analytics that will be provided as well.
I use Cast and Zoom to record and Libsyn to host. However, if I were starting over, I would consider SquadCast. I outsource the edit to an editor that I found on Upwork. Previously, I have used editors from Fiverr and WeEditPodcasts.com 7. Design Your Podcast: First impressions are everything! Invest in professional artwork for your podcast using a service like Fiverr or Upwork. In addition, a professional intro and outro will put that final touch on your podcast. The edit of the show is important if you want to produce a professional product. There are many services, like MakeMyIntro, that you can use that are not that expensive, but worth the money.
Develop an overview that details the flow of the show, the questions you will ask or segments you will feature. Create a tracking document to monitor topics already covered and planned for the future. If you use guests, setup a scheduling calendar for guests to book time slots with Calendly or ScheduleOnce. 8. Pre-Launch: Once you’ve recorded a few episodes, it’s time to launch, but you'll want to get some initial buzz going first. You’ll want to have at least 3-5 episodes ready and focus on getting subscribers out of the gate. Tell everyone you know, but hone in on the audience who you created the show for first. Figure out what Facebook groups they belong to and find other clusters of fans and make sure they know about the show.
9. Publish: After so much preparation, it's finally time to share your show across the world. If you are using Libsyn or another host platform, you will need to setup podcast and contact information to allow distribution. This will send your podcast to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Play and other podcast listening platforms. Once this is set up, you will add your show title, audio file, show notes, episode number and episode graphics (if applicable). You may need to make adjustments to optimize for Apple Podcasts as they ask for a brief synopsis of each episode and do not let you include the episode number in the title. Once everything is set, you can publish immediately or schedule the release for a time in the future.
10. Promote, Promote, Promote: Promoting a podcast is different than promoting a book or anything else for that matter. Here are three tips that won't let you down: focus on the value listeners will receive, utilize video and audio for promotions, and become a podcast guest. Remember that list of 10 podcasters? That’s an excellent place to start.
Getting Reviews and Subscribers: Getting reviews on Apple Podcasts is not an easy task, so start with asking your friends and family and any business associates within your industry to leave you a review. Push to get as many as you can within the first few weeks to optimize reach. You can also incorporate a giveaway or promotion to drive up reviews, but the biggest thing you can do is to simply ask people to subscribe and review.
If you would like to learn more tips and tricks on launching a successful podcast or other marketing strategies be sure to join our newsletter and subscribe to Target Market Insights on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.