Podcasting Best Practices – How to Gain Your Own Following
If you’re going to use podcasting as a marketing tool, then you should treat it like one. And like any good tool, you need to learn the skills involved in using it.
Additionally, you’ll have to be a good marketer. You’ll have to know what it is you bring to the table, and what niche might best connect you with a strong listenership.
You’ll also face a lot of choices. Short-form podcasts, where it’s just you talking? Longer, in-depth podcasts where you dissect entire topics with a guest? Both? One, or the other?
Podcasting Best Practices – Top 15 Tips
- Tip #1: Invest in High-Quality Audio
- Tip #2: Start Before You Optimize
- Tip #3: Distribute Your Podcast as Widely as Possible
- Tip #4: Practice Some Good Radio Habits
- Tip #5: Niche Down Your Target Audience
- Tip #6: Avoid Lengthy Intros and Preambles
- Tip #7: Stick to a Consistent Publishing Schedule
- Tip #8: Put Some Podcasts “In the Bank”
- Tip #9: Continually Refine Your Podcasts
- Tip #10: Put Time Into Booking Podcast Guests
- Tip #11: Build up a Backlog of Good Podcast Episodes
- Tip #12: Model Your Favorite Interviewer
- Tip #13: Make Your Content in Big Batches
- Tip #14: Determine Your Key Metric of Focus
- Tip #15: Come Up with a Memorable Title
You just need to know a few of the podcasting best practices to help get you started. Here are our top 15 tips.
Tip #1: Invest in High-Quality Audio
We could talk about metrics. We could talk about monetization. We could talk about SEO, or learning how to create show notes automatically.
But honestly? None of this matters if your audio stinks.
That’s why your first step should be to invest in high-quality audio hardware. In most cases, it’s as simple as plug-and-record. But here’s what you’ll need if you want to get started quickly:
- Microphone: Before you buy, make sure you know whether it’s USB (compatible with most devices) or XLR (will require additional hardware). A high-quality USB mike is your best bet if you want to avoid procrastination thanks to hardware issues.
- Podcasting Software: Do some research here. Will you be hosting live podcasts? Then Buzzsprout or Transistor.fm will help facilitate you. Want to start monetizing your podcast right away? Anchor.fm or RSS.com might be your best bet.
Tip #2: Start Before You Optimize
The best way to learn is by doing. Yes, you can always add intro and outro audio segments. You can always improve your editing. You can add transcriptions so people can read the show notes. But if you wait until you have this entire system set up before you start recording…then you’re going to miss out.
A good example of this is George Gammon. George Gammon’s Whiteboard Videos on economic and high finance principles are high production quality. But they didn’t start out that way. Gammon said he refined his skills by doing. Sometimes, he might even post his content from a hotel room that didn’t have everything he needed.
But it’s only in the doing that you start to learn. Joe Rogan’s first podcast, for example, looks nothing like the slick production it is now. So before we get into any more specific tips, remember: doing is the best way to learn.
Tip #3: Distribute Your Podcast as Widely as Possible
Starting a new podcast on iTunes? On Android? Don’t make it an either/or. Your podcast content should be available to as many podcast listeners as possible. And better yet, you should use a platform that makes podcast publishing and distribution automatic.
Some platforms, like Rumble Studio, even offer both post-production capabilities and podcast distribution. In short: there is no excuse for not launching a podcast if that’s what you want to do. Solutions like these completely eliminate the guesswork of production and distribution.
A platform like Transistor is another option here. They can help you publish directly to iTunes, Spotify, and all the top podcasting platforms so you can focus on podcast production and less on podcast distribution.
But these tips only help if you set out to distribute your podcast as widely as possible from the very start.
Tip #4: Practice Some Good Radio Habits
Podcasting is essentially radio: the skill of talking. So approach it like you would a radio host. Concentrate on building these basic skills that will make it easier to listen to your podcast:
- Eliminating “ums” and “ahs.” Speak clearly. Listen to yourself on recordings and try to spot the vocal ticks that might make it hard to listen to you. Before you record your next podcast, practice articulating your thoughts without these tics.
- Don’t interrupt guests. If you have a podcast guest, resist the urge to speak over them. Remember that the point you want to make is always going to get lost when two people are speaking at the same time. For the listener, that’s all they hear.
- Have a specific “take.” Even if your speaking is clear and on-point, it will be boring if you have nothing to say. One of the marks of a quality podcast is that it has a specific take—something for listeners to either disagree with or something that makes them nod their heads. Once upon a time, people said they listened to Howard Stern not because they agreed with him, but because they wanted to hear what was coming out of his mouth next.
Tip #5: Niche Down Your Target Audience
Want to hear something funny? The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the most popular podcasts on the planet, has a niche of one.
That’s right: one. Rogan has said consistently that the main point of his podcasts is to talk to people he’s interested in talking to. That has included astromoners, hunters, MMA fighters, celebrities, physicists, journalists, and more—so the interests are wide-ranging. But Rogan always tries to keep it an intimate conversation where they simply talk about interesting things.
Your instinct is going to be to do the opposite. To attract a new audience and new listeners by expanding your focus.
But rather than try to appeal to the masses, think of yourself as talking to your clone. What would your clone find interesting? From the first episode, try to dig into what you find interesting—because you’re likely going to find that there are people out there who also find that interesting.
Tip #6: Avoid Lengthy Intros and Preambles
Ever hear of the Wadsworth Principle? It’s the idea that with Internet content, you can skip about 30% of the beginning, and you won’t lose out.
Your goal should be to defy the Wadsworth Principle. Stop providing unnecessary context and long, lengthy intros that have little to do with why your listener is listening in the first place.
If a reader can skip 1/3rd of your audio files before you get to the point already, then every podcast episode is going to be a bore.
Sure, if you have a guest on and they’re talking about a specific topic, you might provide some context off the bat. But if you dive into their life’s history, much of which has little to do with why your listener has tuned in, you may lose your audience.
Skip straight to the point. One of Joe Rogan’s best habits is that if he’s curious about a speaker’s background, he might ask them about it in the middle of the podcast. But he often skips right to the point before then, which attracts your attention.
Tip #7: Stick to a Consistent Publishing Schedule
Let’s be honest: you might not engage an audience right away.
In fact, a successful podcast can spend months or even years as mere background noise, even if the content is interesting. You never know when a podcast is going to resonate with an audience. Heck, you might not even know if audiences are aware of the great stuff you’re putting out.
But if you stick to a consistent publishing schedule, every new listener will be able to tune in and see that your podcast is still active. And that makes them want to subscribe.
Slowly, but surely, you can increase your listenership on all sorts of platforms—Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.—because you continue to put out content. Listeners can rely on you. They might listen to 20 of your podcasts before they once recommend it to your friend. But if you stop publishing at Podcast 19, you’ll never give them the chance.
Tip #8: Put Some Podcasts “In the Bank”
If you read the tip above, we know you might be thinking: “gosh, that sounds rough. Won’t I ever get a vacation?”
But you can stick to a consistent publishing schedule if you record some podcasts and put them “in the bank.” Create a small bank of unpublished podcasts. You can use these to publish on your consistent schedule even if life events pop up: vacations, illnesses, pregnancies, etc.
Yes, it’s a bit of upfront work. But if you’re really invested in making your podcast work, it’s a great habit to keep one or two episodes stowed away so your audience doesn’t forget about you during a lull
Tip #9: Continually Refine Your Podcasts
Get ruthless about your podcast’s quality. Every improvement you make is an investment in quality content. As you go through, continue to ask yourself…
- Do you need new editing software? Is there a way to make editing easier?
- Do you need to add a co-host?
- Should you consider a call to action at the end of your podcasts?
- Now that you have some money coming in from ads, should you invest in new podcast equipment?
- Are your podcast microphones holding up?
- Is it time to look for sponsorships?
- Can you start incorporating podcasts with video, like Zoom calls?
Continually study the success of your podcasts and use that information to refine what you do in the future. Over time, you’ll get a better sense of what works for your audience. It’s these 1% small improvements that stack up to dramatic changes in quality over time.
Tip #10: Put Time Into Booking Podcast Guests
Sometimes, people will listen to a podcast just because they follow the guest—not because they follow you. These new listeners might not even know your podcast topic. They didn’t find you in online podcast directories. Instead, they found you because they liked your guest, and that guest posted the link on Twitter.
Not sure where to start? Use a service like Podcast Guests to connect with people your audience might find interesting.
The beauty of having great guests is that you can leverage your guest’s audience to grow your own audience.
Tip #11: Build up a Backlog of Good Podcast Episodes Before You start Leveraging Tip 10
Let’s say you land a high-profile guest on your blog. That guest retweets the podcast to their audience. You’re inundated with new listens—and potential new listeners.
But here’s the thing: they are only potential new listeners at this point.
Think about it from the listener’s perspective. They follow the guest, not you. They might be intrigued enough to click on your podcast and check it out.
But if they see you only have one or two mediocre episodes before that guest appeared, they might say “oh, I don’t need to subscribe.”
On the other hand, if they see a backlog of solid content, they might subscribe. Which was the entire goal in the first place.
Tip #12: Model Your Favorite Interviewer
When you start a podcast, you’re going to be inundated with possibilities. Long form? Short form? Guests? Solo? Co-hosts? It’s all too confusing.
To narrow your focus, simply think about what your favorite podcaster does. Ask yourself why you like that approach. Then nail down the fundamentals of that approach which you can start modeling.
For example, if you love that your favorite podcaster has all sorts of eclectic, interesting guests, make that your priority.
If your favorite podcaster is a solo speaker, ask what makes their monologues so intriguing, and make that your priority.
Over time, you’ll pick up on the principles that are key to their success. And the beauty of this approach is you never have to steal a thing.
Tip #13: Make Your Content in Big Batches
Ideally, your podcast will become such a hit that you can live off of your advertising money alone.
But that’s not how it always goes at first. You’re going to have other things to worry about. A nine-to-five. A business. A family. Whatever it is, you’ll find it hard to make time for consistent podcasting.
If, however, you devote a big chunk of time to recording podcasts in batches, you’ll find it much more manageable.
This might sound counterintuitive at first. After all, shouldn’t a consistent schedule require a consistent amount of effort, every day?
No. Zoom out. You might have a consistent weekly or bi-weekly schedule, where you record two or three podcasts at a time, then dole them out throughout the week.
Tip #14: Determine Your Key Metric of Focus
Eventually, the goal of this podcast will probably be to make money—though if it’s not, more power to you. However, if you do have a goal like promoting your business or building the podcast up into its own business, you need to think about which metrics should be your focus.
- Downloads are a good sign that you have a healthy, active subscriber base who are sharing your link.
- Subscribers are an even healthier sign for your podcast, because it means people have committed to listening to you over and over again.
- Average listens are a great way to track the overall success of your channel—but be wary of large viral hits upsetting the overall number.
Tip #15: Come Up with a Memorable Title
There are two ways to create memorable titles:
- Alliteration. For example, “Famous Foodies” rolls off the tongue. “Famous Celebrities Eating Food” does not.
- Concepts. “This Podcast Burns Fat” is an example of a memorable title because the message is simple, while the concept of a podcast burning fat is unique.
Take sime time to brainstorm titles for your own. Once you have a list of ten possibilities, show it to your close friends—and see what they recommend as the most memorable.
Make a Great Podcast Happen
Look at the great podcasters and you’ll notice there isn’t a shortcut. They often made it happen through consistent, intelligent, creative work. To make sure your podcast is a hit, don’t make three episodes and determine podcasting isn’t for you. Give it an honest shot to find its audience—and you may just be pleased at the results. But if you’re expecting overnight success, give it a little longer. You never know when a podcast will find its footing.
Further reading 📚
The Best Podcast Hosting Platforms in 2023
Anchor Review (Feb 2023): Is This The Right Podcasting Platform for You?
Buzzsprout vs Anchor (Feb 2023): The Battle of The Podcast Hosting Services