Develop a Unique Hook
You may think you have a strong idea for a podcast. And you might. However, it’s important to distinguish between a topic that’s of interest to you and one that will be appealing to most listeners. A primary element to consider is the hook of your podcast, which you should be able to state in one sentence. Upon hearing the hook, the audience should raise their eyebrows in curiosity. If they don’t, then it’s not strong enough. Try it out with people. Then check their eyebrows. Good ideas are tough. Great ideas are much harder. Take the time to get it right. The hook is the glue that holds all of the podcast’s content together.
Pick a Cool Title
Titles pull listeners in. They give the audience an idea of what the podcast is about, establish tone, and offer the first impression of your show to listeners. A bad title can turn people off. After all, if a podcaster can’t even come up with a decent title, why would anyone think the rest of the podcast would be any better? Listeners move on quickly, so slap’m in the ear with your title so it sticks. Make your title clear, concise, and clever. A few popular examples include Lit Af Podcast, Payday with Raray, and Think Fast Talk Smart. Each of these titles pique interest and make you want to learn more. That’s what a strong title can do.
Have a Plan
Think about the ideal long-term goal for your podcast. What is the ultimate finished product? Plan on achieving that. Otherwise, why even bother doing it? Go big. You may not be able to predict exactly what you talk about in episode 5, but you should have a basic idea in order to create some sort of flow between episodes. If your podcast is going to be stand-alone episodes under a broader topic, then at least determine the specific subject of each episode. If it’s a serial podcast, be sure to break up the story and structure it so each episode has a coherent beginning, middle, and end, while also leaving the listener wanting more. No matter what you’re going for, have a plan.
Make a Video Podcast
You may be asking yourself, “What is a video podcast?” Simply put, it’s supplementing the audio podcast with a video stream/recording. Hey, you’re already recording audio, so why not press “play” and record it as a video podcast, too? Adding a video production element to the podcast could increase audience engagement and reach. It also offers another layer to the content by allowing you to construct a unique setting for your content to be displayed. Supplementing your podcast with video production means considering what story the visual medium can also tell. You may want a certain sinister vibe for your true-crime podcast, so maybe you set up a red-colored light. Wardrobe is another consideration for a visual podcast, for both you and your guests. The decor in the room, use of digital aids, and angle of the cameras are all considerations for incorporating video production into your podcast. You can then decide if you want to live-stream your video podcast, while you also record it to post later.
If you want a high-quality production, you can hire a video production company like Tailor Made Media. At the very least, we can assist with post-production work if you decide to be your own videographer. Your video will still need editing, titles, transitions, and other production elements. These are just a few items to consider for how to start a video podcast.
Use Solid Equipment
Good equipment is a must-have for any podcast. Let’s start with the obvious – a microphone. Find a good vocal microphone, of either the dynamic or condenser species. Dynamic microphones are typically better for recording multiple people at the same time, so keep that in mind. Condenser microphones might offer some warmer tones and may be best if you’re flying solo. Before selecting a microphone, read reviews and compare pricing. Many microphones are budget-friendly, but don’t skimp too much because the microphone is the vehicle by which your voice travels to the audience. You may also want to invest in a pop-filter (a small circular screen between the microphone and your mouth) to take the edge off of certain vocal sounds. Remember not to eat the mic and don’t keep it on the other side of the room, either.
After you select a good microphone, you may want to invest in a shock mount. This allows the microphone to “float” and be moved without causing any extraneous noise in the environment. Next, if you don’t use a USB microphone, you’ll need some type of audio interface and mixer to connect to your computer and control levels. Finding the right levels of bass/treble can help create a better listening experience for your audience.
Headphones are another important piece of equipment. You want your headphones to be both comfortable and functional. Same goes for a chair. Find a comfy chair that allows whatever movement you need, without noise. Always test out your setup before launching your podcast. Listen to what you record intently and make adjustments as needed.
You may want to get a professional involved to mix and master your podcast before you publish. Studios have high end speakers and people with trained ears to help your podcast stand out from all the others. Tailor Made Media’s sister company, TribeSound Records, would be a good place to start!
Tell a Good Story
Story is everything, so learn story terms and structure. In the most basic sense, stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. This is a bare minimum requirement, but there are other considerations as well. Who’s the protagonist of the episode? Even if you’re telling a story about a train engineer, understand that he or she is your protagonist. The hero. And every hero needs a villain or at least an obstacle to overcome. Play up these details to create intrigue and suspense.
If your podcast is less narrative and more informational, try creating an arc with the information itself. By revealing certain bits of information and withholding other bits, you can play with audience expectations throughout your podcast and slowly deliver facts in a deliberate fashion that keeps people guessing. Ultimately, a good story takes an audience on an emotional journey so your podcast should strive for that effect.
Unique Guests and Experts
Depending on the type of podcast you’re doing, it may be beneficial to invite some interesting people to discuss an episode’s subject. If your podcast is about comedy, it would make sense to invite an array of comedians on your show. If it’s about something related to science, then you should invite scientists who specialize in a specific field related to your podcast episode.
Having a variety of guests can help provide a diversity of voices, viewpoints, personalities, and expertise. Otherwise, if it’s just your voice every episode, your audience may get a little tired of it. That’s why we often see duos who host a podcast together. Two people can have an interesting conversation and additional guests can add to that debate in a fun and informative way. Consider who you can invite on. If you lack connections, find the next best thing; find people you know, at least to start. Once you’ve decided who to have on, be prepared. Know their prior work, experience, and have a specific reason for having them on. If they’ve written a book, read it so you can speak on it. Be genuinely curious about their ideas and allow them time to tell their own story.
Use Cool Theme Music
Whether you’re making a strictly audio podcast or a video podcast, you will want to produce some solid theme music. Just as video production can help express the vibe of your podcast, so too can theme music. If you’re not musically inclined, you may need to find a producer or artist to record it for you. This is an investment worth making.
Theme music helps establish tone, get listeners pumped up, and adds another layer of consistency between episodes. Many podcasts opt for instrumental music, but that’s up to you and what you’re going for. You can also find royalty-free downloads online if you don’t want to produce your own. You’ll want the music to play over your introduction and last around thirty seconds. You can play it again at breaks and during the outro. Cool theme music is a must-have.
Creating a podcast, especially if you decide on a video podcast, is a lot of work. If you don’t already have an attentive audience, building one will take time. Don’t worry about the numbers when you start, just focus on creating solid content. Stick to a schedule and keep going. All great endeavors take trial and error and a lot of practice. Embrace the small improvements as you use all of the tools at your disposal. Once you build a faithful audience, they will likely go back and view your previous content anyway.
Creating an engaging podcast is a huge undertaking. It requires a lot of planning and dedication. Make sure you develop a strong hook for your idea that can be stated in one sentence. Take time to give it a cool title. Have a long-term, big picture plan that gives direction to your episodes. Consider creating a video podcast, which will open visual doors to add to your audio content. Invest in good equipment like microphones, headphones, a mixer, etc. Remember to tell a story with each episode to engage your audience. Invite guests and experts to interview if it makes sense for the subject matter. Use theme music to help establish tone and add another dimension to the audio. And finally, be persistent. Creating a podcast (especially a video podcast) should be viewed as a long-term journey. Hopefully, you will find these tips useful as you begin your quest for thousands of audience members. Now, who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Take a look at Meet You There, a podcast developed by the team at KACS (Kennett Area Community Service). We are a proud sponsor of their program and the KACS podcast is a great example of how to create an engaging audio podcast.