Listening to podcasts has become the norm – whether you’re exercising, cleaning or commuting – it’s the way to collect information quickly. Companies, non-profit organizations and individuals are using podcasts to market products, raise awareness and educate an audience. It can be done easily and cheaply. Even CharlotteFive has been in the podcast game for years now.
Anyone with a smartphone can make a recording and upload it for the world to hear. But will anyone listen to it and continue to follow? Experts in podcasting agree there are components to making a good podcast.
Here are a few tips:
Have a plan. Set realistic goals, know the purpose of the podcast and understand your potential audience. Goals may range from client development to sharing information, and that specific goal will shape the direction of the plan.
“Most people think, ‘Oh, it’s sitting down and talking,’” DC Lucchesi, owner of Well-Run Media + Marketing said. “It’s not that damn easy. If it’s you rambling, no one cares.”
Lucchesi produces podcasts, including Brandbuilders for The Dunstan Group.
Having a production and technical plan is key to a successful podcast. He recommended researching guests, planning out the questions to ask and knowing how to operate the equipment beforehand.
Be consistent. Once you start a podcast and build an audience, the expectation for more content is there. As the host, you’ve got to keep at it. Most podcasts end after one episode.
Andy Goh is the digital communication specialist at The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. He also teaches a podcasting class for Skillpop and produces podcasts, such as Final Round Radio.
“Commit yourself to doing the podcast on a regular basis,” he said. “You have to just do it. No matter how bad you think it is or weird or silly. If you don’t do it, it’s going to die.”
Always be learning and improving. Robert Ingalls, host and producer of Future Self Podcast, brings in guests willing to share their story about personal development.
Ingalls’ first episodes were a mess, he said. He hasn’t corrected the mistakes in those podcasts because they serve as a reminder of how persistence has made him a better host and interviewer.
“If you’re not embarrassed about how your show sounded 20 episodes ago, you’re not improving fast enough,” Ingalls said.
Be specific with your niche. Find a unique topic that will engage a target audience – be intentional and narrow with your focus.
“The way that podcasting, and really all of media in 2018, works is that it’s all very segmented,” Goh said. “There’s a million podcasts out there and another thousand starting every day. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s an audience out there for every single one of them.”
Those loyal listeners will be hooked to your content and may engage with your sponsors and spend money on products.
Worry about length. Podcast lengths vary from a few minutes to more than an hour. It depends on your goals, content and frequency. Cutting good content or adding filler to meet a specific time goal can kill a podcast.
“One of the top questions I always get is, ‘How long should this podcast be?’” Goh said. “There is no right answer to that.”
Waste your guest and listener’s time. Ingalls recently hosted North Carolina State Senator Jeff Jackson on his podcast. He spent four to six hours preparing for the show.
“I listened to almost every podcast he’s (Jeff Jackson) been on because I want to know who I’m talking to,” he said. “That varies by guest. Some guests don’t have a big footprint like that. All I can do is gather their social media, see some things they’ve said.”
Creating a plan and being prepared will lead to quality content; it shows you are serious about your role and have respect for the audience and guest.
Assume it’s too expensive or complicated. A podcast can be recorded on a simple voice memo app on an iPhone and downloaded to your computer for editing on free software, such as Audacity or Garage Band. Once an MP3 file is produced, upload to Libsyn, Podbean or Blubrry for a monthly hosting fee, ranging from $5 to $20.
For better sound quality, studios are available at Advent Coworking for $20 per hour and Hygge for $15 per hour, which includes mics, headphones and a sound board. A home studio with mic, two to three channel mixer and headphones could be outfitted for $150 to $200.
Check out these classes to learn how to develop a podcast:
Advent Podcast University: “From Idea to iTunes”
933 Louise Ave.
$349 for a four-week program
Instructor: Robert Ingalls
Class highlights: Find out what equipment is essential to a podcast, how to build an audience, choose guests and work within a budget.
Look for upcoming classes here.
Skillpop: Podcasting Essentials
Hygge Coworking West
2128 Remount Rd.
$30 for a two-hour workshop
Instructor: Andy Goh
Class highlights: Learn how to develop and plan content, publish across platforms and use equipment.
Signup for newsletter and upcoming class announcement here.
UNC Charlotte’s ed2go: “Blogging and Podcasting for Beginners”
$95 for a six-week program
Class highlights: Class will cover blogging, as well as building a professional-sounding podcast with simple tools.
Photos: Vanessa Infanzon, Andy Goh