Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s and came into our lives around the same time as smartphones and smart speakers. In fact, 73% of people who listen to podcasts do so on these devices. 62% of the population listened to podcasts in 2022, and that number is expected to grow, as more celebrities and businesses become aware of their potential for brand awareness and the industry diversifies further.
But what is it that makes a good podcast great? How can you stand out among a sea of easily produced podcasts, increase your listenership and consider your podcast a success?
Read on to find out.
Know what people are looking for
Podcasts are replacing talk radio in a big way, but that doesn’t mean that you can simply replicate the traditional radio chat show and expect the same results.
Podcast listeners tend to be loyal. If they have listened to the first few episodes, they will most likely continue to do so, but getting them to tune in in the first place can be the biggest challenge in podcast creation.
Research is an important part of planning your podcast, it is not enough to simply know your subject and press record. You need to see what your audience wants as well as what your objectives may be. Look at what your target audience is into and what they listen to, but also what other podcasts that deal with your topic do, such as what format they take, how they engage their listeners and how frequently they put episodes out.
Engagement plays a big part in the success of a podcast, you don’t want to ever believe that you are creating content to go out into a vacuum. As well as creating content that asks for engagement, such as posing questions for your audience or asking them to send something in, it is important to see your podcast as an evolving concept: a well-planned podcast is usually a good podcast, but don’t get so stuck to your plan that you don’t bend with what the audience feedback is telling you. If you try asking for questions for your guests but never get any sent in, then maybe drop that segment.
Passion is important
It’s vital to remember that people come to podcasts differently than live media, they actively search it out and choose it time and again, so if they don’t enjoy it they won’t return.
Whether you are passionate about your podcast topic or not, will come across and the audience will pick up on it. Some of the most popular podcasts, whether they are recorded in someone’s garage or a million-pound studio, are usually the ones where the host is an avid authority on their chosen subject. Passion is infectious and must not be underestimated.
Podcasts allow us to explore topics for longer periods of time than an allocated slot on the radio or television shows, whose aim is to appeal to as many people as possible, so change topics relatively quickly and frequently. That doesn’t mean you can waffle on for hours about your favourite topic, without any gimmicks or editing. You need a format that will create drama or intrigue enough to get people tuning into the next episode, while also making the information you are getting across into easily digestible segments.
Think of the spin
There are many different formats in the podcast industry (insert link to blog post when live) so there’s a wide scope for creativity in making your subject matter interesting. There are multiple ways to do this. The easiest way to create a friendly and interesting atmosphere is to get in guest speakers to talk with your host about the subject. They could be an expert in your particular field or you could go the other way and get people with no preconceived ideas about the subject. This tactic can work particularly well if your subject is quite heavy, as the layman can stand in for the audience.
If your topic is something that is already heavily discussed, think about how you can bring something new or innovative to the table. One of the most popular current podcast formats is that of actors in successful shows rewatching these shows and talking through the experience. Not only does this provide a huge amount of content, sometimes with multiple seasons worth, but it also allows fans of the original show unprecedented access behind the scenes.
Consistency is key
Once you have formulated your podcast’s style and structure – stick to it.
There’s nothing worse than tuning in to something you previously enjoyed, only to find that it has changed beyond recognition. If the format is rather taxing and requires a lot of effort, either consider changing it to something more manageable or put it out there that it is a limited-run series from the start so that the audience will know what to expect.
Remember as well that as people are having to purposefully seek out your podcast, promoting it on other platforms is vital to its success. Plan a thorough advertising campaign for your podcast, even if that just includes regularly posting about it on your social media accounts, or including guests on the podcast that will do so too.
People love great hosts
As we hinted at above, passion is something that goes a long way in creating a fun vibe to get involved with, and a stellar host (or hosts) is one of the easiest ways to achieve this. Ideally, it will be someone who already lives and breathes the topic of your podcast, but sometimes an expert is not always the best choice. Think of your average university lecturer – the ones who you remember for the right reasons are usually the ones that get you fired up for the subject, not necessarily the one with decades of experience. Finding a balance between expertise and passion is key to creating a compelling, informative show.
As a caveat to that: remember that scripts can be crafted beforehand and awkward pauses or gaps in talking can be edited out.
Quality will always win
As well as your subject matter, you will also need something that differentiates you from the competition, and sometimes this will simply come down to high production value. While fuzzy recordings may seem DIY and cool at first, by the 7th episode, problems in audibility could be the thing that makes your listeners switch off, or switch to another podcast.
When it comes to levelling up your podcast, whether you are planning on your first episode or want to grow a pre-existing one, it helps to know which way it is that you could benefit from professional help. Do you need help coming up with ideas, and implementing changes on the advice of industry experts? Could your podcast do with an upgrade in the technical department or do you need to address your promoting of it to grow your listenership? Sometimes getting an outsider to audit your current podcast can help you see how it could be improved and grow.
Making an entry level podcast requires little expertise and with technology ever-evolving, most people can simply hit record on their phone and create one. Making a successful and engaging podcast with a dedicated listenership is a different thing entirely and requires careful planning. Broadcast Revolution offers a complete service for creating your podcast, from planning all the way through to promoting the final product.
We work with top brands across multiple industries to help them achieve their goals in the broadcasting world, with podcast production being just one aspect of this. Make use of our decades of experience and start crafting a great (not just good) podcast today.