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3 Things to Do Before You Start Recording Your First Podcast

BridTV podcast

Content creation can undoubtedly be a lucrative business. That’s why so many people are considering getting into it, but many are probably unsure what type of content to create. If you are one of them, blog posting has probably crossed your mind. But considering that there were over 500 million blogs in 2019 alone, this idea does not sound reassuring. 

Yes, the blogging market is indeed oversaturated, so saying that it would be challenging to get your content to a large enough audience would be an understatement. But there are other options out there… And what we mean by that is podcasts, of course.

Namely, podcasts have been gaining a lot of traction over recent years. According to Edison Research, the number of podcast listeners doubled in the last decade. Nowadays, there are over 144 million estimated active podcast listeners. These are some quite substantial numbers, right?

But what about the competition? Well, that too is significantly lower than, for example, with blogging. As of 2020, it is estimated that there are about 900,000 podcasts but over 600 million blogs! Talk about an insane difference.

As you can see, podcasting is an excellent choice for an aspiring content creator. “But what does it take to start a podcast?” you may ask. Well, that’s what we’re here for; we’ve decided to write this guide to help all of you aspiring podcasters out there. Here are three things you must do before you start recording:

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

1. Choose a Topic or Theme

First and foremost, you must come up with a topic for your show; how else is your audience going to know what you’re going to talk about? That’s right — they won’t. 

But how do you approach this process? Well, you can begin by asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • Why do you want to start a podcast?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Why should they listen to you?

After answering these, you can start brainstorming ideas. Jot as many of them down as you can think of and then eliminate any that clash with your answers. Congratulations! You have now made your preliminary topic selection. 

But what now?

Now you take into consideration the following tips and eliminate all the topics that don’t fit the bill:

Focus on a Single Niche 

One could say this rule is universal for all content creators, but it’s still worth mentioning. Most people who follow a single creator do so because they’re interested in the topic they cover, so being inconsistent in that manner can spell disaster for your growth potential.

Don’t Be Too Broad or Too Narrow 

Even when sticking to a specific niche, your topic can still be too broad. For example, instead of choosing to stick to sports themes in general, you’d likely be better off focusing on one or two different sports. Similarly, being way too specific can lead to your running out of topics to talk about, so keep that in mind as well.

Plan for the Future 

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of planning. If you only have an idea for your next ten episodes or so, you’re quite likely to run out of things to cover sooner rather than later. So always make sure you plan at least a couple of dozen episodes; if nothing else, you’ll know that you’ll have plenty of topics to talk about.

Be Passionate About It 

This point is a common pitfall of many content creators in general, not just podcasters. If you don’t have a strong personal connection to what your show is about, your delivery will be off, your audience won’t be entertained, and your work will quickly become a chore, so you’ll grow to hate it. Podcasting is not worth it if it will make you miserable, so make sure your topic choice reflects your passions!

Do Competition Research 

If you are just another of thousands of political podcasts, for example, you’re unlikely to gather a large enough audience. That means you ought to research what topics have less coverage and consider taking those up. Aside from that, you should look into what your competition is doing and come up with ways to do it better.

Well done! Everything that remains on your little brainstorming sheet should now be a suitable choice to build your podcast around!

2. Give Your Podcast a Compelling Name

If you’ve ever heard the Latin proverb nomen est omen, you’re probably aware of the significance of names. And names have only become more vital in today’s world, primarily due to search engines. After all, if you’ve just started your podcasting journey, you’ll most likely be growing your audience by relying on people finding your show in searches. And that is where coming up with a compelling name for your podcast comes into play.

Essentially, there are three different types of names you can settle for:

A Witty Name

By giving your show an appealing or funny name, you’ll make it more memorable, which is likely to improve your retention rates. However, such names often aren’t the most SEO-friendly, so it might be harder for your audience to find you organically.

A Descriptive Name

This type of name is loved by search engines, mostly because it reflects users’ search intent. These names might not be catchy, but they’re sure to lead some users to your show. That will prove especially effective if you include some keywords in it! However, don’t overstuff your title with them because that can have the opposite effect.

Your Own Name

Naming your podcast after yourself is something you can, but shouldn’t do. Namely, unless you already have a substantial audience as a brand or a public figure, it’s unlikely anyone will find your show. However, you can combine this method with the previous one — that will optimize your podcast for search engines while still having your name to it.

What Else to Consider?

Aside from your podcast’s title, what you should also consider doing is making your name broader than your topic. Do you remember when we talked about choosing a theme for your show? Although it’s better to keep your topic pretty narrow, giving your podcast a title broader than your focus topic gives you more options. Namely, if you ever run out of good ideas, you can always branch out due to the leeway a broader topic gives you.

And last but not least, remember to write a catchy but optimized description! That is particularly important if you’re doing video podcasts on YouTube or some other video sharing platform. After all, having a detailed video description helps your search engine ranking.

3. Pick the Best Format

This part might require even more consideration than when deciding on your topic since there are so many choices out there. Namely, you have to determine your episode format or style when doing this, as well as how frequently you’re going to submit your podcasts and how long they are going to be. Let’s start at the beginning and first take a look at your choices regarding episode formats.

Choosing a Suitable Episode Format

There are many different podcast formats to choose from. However, there isn’t a single universally best format out there. So you should undoubtedly pick according to your delivery style, whether you are comfortable with it, and the overall goals of your show. 

There are three most common types of formats, and each comes with its own sets of benefits and flaws.

One-Man (Solo) Show

This format is pretty straightforward — it’s just you and your microphone. That means you won’t have to rely on anyone else to shoot your episode, so you have the benefit of convenience. Also, these types of shows are the best opportunity for you to build a connection with your audience and demonstrate authority. However, sitting alone in your room and talking into a mic can get a little awkward, especially if you’re a beginner. But at the same time, the fact you can script the entire episode can be a relief for most newbies. Nonetheless, you’re bound to get used to it all quickly, so you should have no issues whatsoever.

Pros:

  • convenient (you aren’t reliant on other people to record)
  • full control over the broadcast
  • all earnings go to you alone

Cons:

  • most frightening format for beginners
  • can be challenging for newbies to adopt the mindset they’re talking to someone (their audience) if they have no one present in the room

Dynamic Duo (Co-Hosted) Show

The best way to practice if you’re new to podcasting is to have someone to guide you through an episode. So why not ask a friend or colleague to help out and hold a co-hosted show? That way, you’ll have someone to talk to, so you won’t have any potential issues with addressing your audience properly. Also, you won’t feel as lonely as if you were doing it all by yourself. And it’s no secret that most people enjoy these types of episodes, especially if the participants have excellent chemistry between them.

Pros:

  • a fantastic way to deal with pre-recording pressure
  • having someone to talk back to you makes your show more engaging

Cons:

  • your recording time is dependent on your co-hosts as well
  • the question of podcast ownership and division of earnings might come up
  • you can lose out on a lot if your partner decides to quit the show later down the road

One-On-One (Interview) Show

These types of episodes are a perfect opportunity to get to talk to some of your idols (if you can manage to get them on the show, that is). But even if you just decide to interview an industry professional, this format leaves a lot of room for maneuvering. On top of that, it also offers your audience a completely different view on the matter at hand. And you never know — at the end of the day, you might even become friends with your interviewee! Isn’t that a fantastic way to build your business connections?

Pros: 

  • you get an opportunity to talk to some of the people you admire the most
  • an excellent way to increase your viewership since your interviewee is likely to bring their audience to your show as well
  • your audience gets an opportunity to hear an entirely different perspective on a given topic

Cons:

  • interviewing someone is not as easy as it may sound — it’s a skill that has to be learned and honed
  • you’ll need to put in a lot of effort to schedule interviews
  • if something unexpected comes up and your interviewee cancels, you need to have a backup plan in place

Other, Less Common Formats

Aside from the three most popular formats we’ve mentioned, there are also many others to choose from. So if any of the following examples sound appealing to you, why not give them a shot?

  • News recaps — focuses on the news industry
  • Scripted fiction — these are reminiscent of radio dramas
  • Non-scripted fiction — these are usually scripted and focus on a particular theme for a full season
  • Documentary — the host leads the audience through a number of interviews, talks, or events to paint an objective picture of a person, place, or an event
  • Docu-Drama — a crossover between a drama and a documentary (educational but in an entertaining and engaging manner)
  • Educational — scripted shows whose primary purpose is teaching their audience
  • Roundtable — consist of a regular host and some guest who discuss a particular topic

After you’ve picked your desired episode format, it’s time to determine how long you want your episodes to be

Determining an Appropriate Episode Length

This question is probably the most common one out there, but there is no universal answer to it. However, most professionals agree with one thing — there is no optimal podcast length.

But how do you know what to aim for then?

It’s quite simple — make your episodes as long as necessary to meet your audiences’ needs. That means you must make sure not to go off-topic. In the same manner, don’t cut out valuable content if you pass your intended episode length! After all, there are podcasts out there as short as a few minutes, and then there are some that are hours long.

However, just because you can make your episodes longer doesn’t mean you should add filler content or ramble on endlessly to do it. If that happens, edit those parts out!

All in all, don’t worry yourself over your episode length. Just focus on providing your listeners with the best content possible.

Deciding How Often to Publish

Just like with the previous point, there is no correct answer to this question. However, there are some factors you should consider.

Is podcasting your full-time job or merely a side-gig? If it’s the former, you should treat it as such and aim to publish episodes as often as possible. And if it’s the latter, it doesn’t matter how frequently you do it. All that does matter in both cases is that you are consistent with your uploading schedule.

In any case, according to some professionals, making an episode at least once a week could be considered the sweet spot for part-time podcasters (if they can manage it, that is). Again, you don’t have to do it that often if you can’t handle it. After all, fewer releases of higher quality will always perform better than more but weaker episodes. However, by uploading at least once a week, you get to connect to your listeners and create a personal habit, which can prove invaluable if you’re looking to make podcasting your full-time job eventually.

What’s the Next Step?

There are indeed a lot more things to do, such as picking the right podcasting equipment, recording and editing, post-production, submitting your podcast, and more. However, we’re going to address these technical aspects of podcasting in our next article!

Until then, good luck with your planning!

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