This feature was written by Freelance Journalist Sarah Roker…
Podcasting has become one of the most popular ways of sharing information. It has effectively overtaken radio as an audio outlet because it’s able to discuss a lot more topics openly. Radio would often attract passive listeners but podcasts have an intimate feel to them which is why they’ve gained a bigger following.
They can give literally anyone a voice and platform to speak up. Shows such as Serial and My Dad Wrote a Porno have racked up over 45 million downloads and it’s just from that unique selling point that you can begin to create your own podcast. So if you’ve spotted something that you’ve always wanted to discuss then why not share it through a podcast. Here are our top tips on how to start one…
Firstly you need to have an idea of what you want your podcast to be about. Decide the nature of your podcast and then give it a unique selling point. Mystery Murder podcasts are popular because they usually tackle a different case in each episode, keeping the audience continuously entertained by piecing together clues in each episode.
Stevie Martin, who is one-half of The Debrief Podcast told us, “It doesn’t have to be as niche as, like, plug sockets in Yemen, but just some mates chatting about whatever they fancy might not catch fire because you’re not providing the listener with something specific that they want to keep returning to. My dad wrote a porno is really successful because it’s simple and you come back to find out what happened next.”
There are dozens of podcasts out there, so also consider what could make yours memorable.
You should absolutely love talking about your topic as you’ll obviously have to discuss it over and over again. Benjamin, the creator of the podcast They Walk among Us said, “You often don’t realise how much work goes in to making and promoting a show and there will be a lot of late nights, and trying times, so producing something that keeps you interested is key.”
Try listening to other podcasts to get a sense of content as well as the style they use. How do they make theirs different from anyone else’s? Stevie also mentioned that having a variety of speakers also drop in on a particular topic helps as well. “Sometimes we have expert advice where we get people to record tips on voice memo and we play it.”
Astrid Carter is the deputy editor of Sheerluxe, who also co-hosts their weekly podcast, Sheerluxe Highlights. She mentioned that they use “the stories we and readers loved from that week as the foundation of the podcast, but I think when we’re really chatty and go off topic we get the best content. My advice would be to use resources you already have, topics you know about and are passionate about, and people and experts you can get to contribute.”
As you’ll probably be trying this out for the first time, it’s definitely not necessary to buy the fanciest equipment around. All you need is a Dictaphone and yourself. And after you’ve recorded your podcast you can edit it. Astrid said, “I think podcasts can be a little rough around the edges but a decent microphone is probably essential.” There may also be repetition in what you or an interviewer is saying and therefore you’ll want to cut this out to make it more engaging.
Additionally, consider the amount of time each episode should be. “Apparently the ideal time for a podcast is 22 minutes,” says Stevie. “Ours range from 22 to 45 minutes when I am feeling indulgent or am too tired to edit properly. Half an hour is a good benchmark because I think 45 minutes is too long. Leave them wanting more not wishing it was over etc!”
Ben also suggested making a pilot first, which will act as a test run “unless you are some form of podcasting savant, when you start you will make mistakes, and it’s better to make them in the privacy of your home/studio before releasing it out to the world. Get your family and friends to listen along with those that will give you some honest, constructive criticism.”
The majority of podcasts will also have some music or a jingle mixed in at the beginning, middle or end. You can try this out on Adobe Audition, although there is a monthly fee. Users can use GarageBand. There is other audio software around that you could explore, such as Audacity which is also free.
Finally before releasing your audio into the world, consider what Astrid said: “We had to initially upload the first few podcasts on to SoundCloud and then submit an application to iTunes. iTunes have to manually approve your podcast to ensure it’s legit and there’s no dodgy content on there. It didn’t take too long, less than a week I think.”
Firstly, you could start by encouraging friends and family to listen as well as comment on iTunes, rate, review and download. Secondly, just advertise solidly through social media. Tweet it and share it on Instagram and Facebook. Stevie gave us one more of her top tips for growing an audience: “Sounds silly for a podcast but if it goes up on the ‘new’ carousel on iTunes and the images are rubbish then you won’t get many new people listening! There are also super specific dimensions needed so make sure you get them right otherwise it’ll look all weird. Also, we have different images as we did a shoot, so each time we publicise an episode we have a different image to keep it FRESH and EXCITING.”
Benjamin also mentioned, “While there is certainly a handful of people out there that make their living from podcasting, the vast majority are just doing it because they love it and are doing it for free. Any profit they make will form just a portion of their income.” Which is a really good point. He also added, “We are fortunate that we have a combined hosting and advertising company that REALLY support us (Acast) but we have read a few horror stories which have led to some people nearly quitting altogether as they have felt trapped in a contract that isn’t working for them.”
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