You Don’t Have to Be a Pro Host Day 1…
Podcasting is a journey.
Building your first podcast from scratch is often a journey into the unknown.
One of my LinkedIn connections in web marketing recently shared a great post about his podcasting experience. He discussed some of the classic apprehensions when firing up a podcast, like filling guest slots and defining metrics for success. He hit on a lot of common concerns that plague new content creators. Yet he overcame those reservations and has pumped out over 130 episodes of his show.
He also shared some valuable insights that he picked up along the way, such as the importance of social media tie-ins and video playback (that’s right, video is key to spreading awareness about your show!).
His background was not unlike my own.
I wasn’t an A/V ninja when I got my show, Recruiting Hell, off the ground in 2020. You don’t have to be an expert to plunge into podcasting! You only need an idea you’re willing to nurture and a drive to learn. And I’d like to help by tossing out a few pointers of my own that I’ve picked up.
Gabbing with Guests
Tackling your opening interviews might be a little nerve-wracking, but following a few podcast commandments can ease the pain.
This hint may sound obvious, but vet their audio and video setup after you’ve landed your first guests. They may be recording in a home office, but you don’t want them to sound like they’re in a dumpster.
This is not a recording studio.
As a host, you don’t need to be an expert on your show’s topic. However, you should be willing to work on your skills as a podcast ‘journalist’ so you can squeeze relevant information out of your guest. Also, try to avoid recapping current events when possible. If they’re not pertinent to your episode, don’t give your audience a ‘dollar store newscast’. Trust me - if that’s what your listeners want, they will tune into NPR.
Like anything else, you’ll get better as an interviewer by doing it. Another great resource is available immediately after you step off the air - your recording! Just as winning football coaches do with game tape, review your work and pick out strengths to build on - or weaknesses to improve.
And don’t forget that your audience will want to hear from you as well!
The Value of Video
Audio-only plugs of your podcast will not get any traction on social media. When sharing your podcast with the world, video is vital. And that means transcribing your shows.
Transcripts are a pain in the ass, but many of your consumers will want to read your show’s content. Some may even prefer it, especially if it pops up in their LinkedIn feed.
Record and caption video of your show whenever possible.
You may not use it, but have it handy anyway!
Trust Your Producer
Sometimes, especially early in your podcasting venture, your production team knows what’s best for the cutting room floor.
For example, it’s common for conversations with guests to go on tangents. Sometimes a dialogue about personal finance wanders into the final score from Monday Night Football. That’s fine - we’re human.
Don’t be afraid to let your producer account for brevity and consistency. A tight, hard-hitting 22-minute episode will run circles around one that rambles for over an hour.
A lot of new showrunners get caught up in metrics. I talked a bit in an earlier post about the typical drop-off in listeners after the pilot episode of a show. This decline is normal; don’t let it define the accomplishment of launching your podcast. You’ve already crossed the biggest hurdle by getting your first show on the air!
However, to take advantage of peak times for potential listeners, I suggest publishing your episodes just after midnight Eastern Time (US). Remember that a good chunk of your show’s playbacks will occur between 5 and 10 AM, so you’ll want to have your new episode ready to go by early morning.
There’s also another reason for this - different podcast platforms have different rates of updating your content. Apple is particularly slow at this, and so releasing at midnight will give your new episode plenty of time to grind through Apple’s systems and be ready for folks to listen to on their morning commute.
In the end, audience size shouldn’t determine your podcast’s worth. Fifty fanatical listeners in the right niche are more potent than 5000 random people who listen once and never stop by again.
Ambition and a determination to educate yourself are the proper ingredients for success. As long as you commit to forging excellent ideas into inspiring content, your listeners will stay for the ride.