Right now, it seems like businesses right and left are starting podcasts, many as a way to help counteract slower-than-normal sales. As of July 2020, there are more than a million podcasts and more than 29 million episodes available for listening, according to Podcast Hosting. That’s a lot of airtime with audiences that are, in general, relatively affluent and well-educated. Maybe you’ve decided it’s time you get a piece of that pie. As you’re searching for just the right microphone, though, there are 10 “commandments” that will help you set up your podcast for success.
1. Thou shall not do it for the money
At least not directly. According to Castos, not only do most podcasts not make any money, but most of them also actually end up costing money because of expenses like hosting and equipment. Success, for podcasts, is rarely measured in dollars and cents.
2. Thou shall be a consumer
You wouldn’t open up a pizza shop if you don’t ever crave a slice. Likewise, you need to understand and enjoy your medium before you begin broadcasting. Cultivate a crop of your favorite podcasts and think about why you enjoy them so much. There’s plenty of lousy material out there, and you can learn a lot by identifying the mistakes you don’t want to make.
3. Thou shall reflect well on your brand
So if you’re not going to make money podcasting, why do you even bother? It’s because you’re building your brand, and that means that every minute you’re speaking to your audience, you’re creating impressions of your company, your ethos and your products. Even if you’re not specifically promoting yourself as a business person, you are positioning yourself as a subject matter expert. Think carefully about the image you want to convey.
4. Thou shall be useful
According to Digital News Report, 46 percent of podcast listeners want information on topics of personal interest, and 39 percent want to learn something new. Understanding what your audience wants is vital, and delivering it is how you win loyal listeners.
5. Thou shall not be a salesperson
Although one of the purposes of your podcast is building your brand (and sales, by extension,) be careful not to turn your show into a commercial. If people wanted an advertisement, they’d turn on an infomercial. You know your listeners tune in for personal edification. Don’t alienate them by trying to peddle your wares.
6. Thou shall get personal
Now I’m not encouraging you to spill all your secrets on the air, but I do encourage you to let your listeners get to know you. Your goal should be to grow an audience of loyal listeners, and one of the ways to do that is to build and nurture a connection between you and your listeners. Whether you’re podcasting about fly fishing, investment advice or child rearing, sharing a bit of your authentic self can personalize your podcast in ways that keep listeners coming back.
7. Thou shall create a consistent format
Although your listeners are seeking new and interesting information, it’s our nature to also crave structure. Creating a format that each episode follows helps your listeners feel anchored. They know what to expect. Your structure doesn’t have to be elaborate; it could be as simple as recapping takeaways from the previous episode, introducing your guest or topic for the current episode and sharing feedback from listeners. The important thing is that your audience knows what’s coming.
8. Thou shall release episodes regularly
If you just randomly release your podcast episodes when the spirit moves you, you’re going to have a hard time building up a consistent audience. Whether you do a brief daily podcast on current events or longer, more in-depth pieces once a week or once a month, let your listeners know when they can expect new broadcasts from you.
9. Thou shall be professional
You might be discussing frivolous or personal topics, but that doesn’t mean your podcast can be sloppy. Getting good equipment and editing your podcast effectively will distinguish it from all the lousy material out there. From hiring a freelancer to compose your intro music to investing in a high quality microphone, take the steps to put together a clean, professional effort.
10. Thou shall be sociable
In addition to building your brand, one of the great opportunities podcasting brings is the ability to network. Inviting experts, members of your industry and even the occasional erudite listener to be a guest on your podcast keeps your audience entertained and engaged. As a bonus, you’ll be inspired by a variety of perspectives and glean ideas for upcoming episodes.
Podcasting gives you enormous opportunities to reach listeners where they are, when they’re receptive. You’re a companion on a commute, company when they’re cleaning the house and a workout buddy at the gym. Following the podcasting commandments will help you build your brand and cultivate a loyal following.