Planning Your Podcast
- Gabe Castro
- May 06, 2020
- Gabe is the Programming and Production Coordinator and has been at PhillyCAM since 2015. She has a podcast of her own, The Ghouls Next Door.
Author’s Note: This blog is intended to help those wanting to start a marketable podcast. Podcasts can be a lot more work than many think and so I want people to understand the amount of time and effort you’ll be putting in. BUT I also want people to work on something they care about! If your main goal is just to try something new and have fun, that's absolutely acceptable too!
So you want to start a podcast but don’t know where to start? Here’s some helpful advice from a seasoned podcaster on how to get started and make a podcast that sticks out and makes all that hard work worth it!
WHAT IS A PODCAST?
A podcast is like an audio-based blog. They are audio programs where people discuss a whole range of amazing topics like history, self-help, technology, film review, and pop-culture.
HOW IS A PODCAST DIFFERENT FROM A RADIO PROGRAM?
Radio programs are produced live and broadcast over airwaves in a specific location. Depending on the station, there are other requirements to be met to qualify for a regular radio program. For example, WPPM is under an educational license and so all of our radio programs are geared towards educating people! We do not feature any “Top 40” music shows but we have some amazing, entertaining and incredibly educational shows about music!
Podcasts are web-based and can be listened to at any time and anywhere. Podcasts can vary in length, frequency of airing and are generally edited before being uploaded to a streaming service.
*Podcasts generally do not feature music. Radio Stations have licenses to cover the usage of music if you want to feature music on your podcast make sure you have the rights and clearances to the music. I suggest finding a local artist to create a theme song for you!
Also, some of our WPPM Radio Producers edit their programs to later be uploaded to a podcasting platform too. So if you love one of the programs be sure to contact them and see if they have content available online!
WHAT IS YOUR PODCAST ABOUT AND WHY?
There are a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself before creating a podcast:
- Why this podcast and why are you the best to make it? One of the most important things to consider when making a podcast is why you’re creating it. Podcasting can take a lot of time and energy, so you want to be sure you’re putting effort into something you really care about. It’s also important to think about why you are the one behind this podcast. Your listeners want to know why they can trust you with that information or believe that they’ll be entertained by your content.
What do you want your podcast to be about and how is it different from anything else available? Just about anyone can make a podcast, which means most topics and content are already being covered by a podcast. So it’s a bit competitive. You really want to consider how your podcast differs from anything else out there. I strongly advise against podcast ideas like, “My friends and I just want to talk about pop culture.” Unless you and your friends have something unique, like a degree pertaining to the topic or if you’re actively involved in the pop culture world, this can be a hard podcast to sell. The first thing listeners are drawn to is the topic and then to the host themselves. Unless you’re a celebrity, it is very hard to market a show based on your personality alone. So instead, think about what makes you and your program unique and market that!
What is most important, is that the subject of your podcast is something you care about! Something that you won’t mind putting in lots of effort and dedicating hours of your life to create content for.
What are your goals? One way to figure out your topic, angle, and marketable traits are to consider what your goals for the show are. Do you want to entertain? To inform? To garner interest in a certain subject? Shine a light on an underreported issue? To have fun? It's totally okay for your show to be for fun and for no other reason than for you to try something new! Once you’ve figured this out, it should make creating your brand, finding your audience and even naming your podcast much easier!
ALL IN THE NAME
Naming your podcast can be the last thing on your to-do list for the pre-production of the podcast. Your name should be short and a listener should be able to tell what the show is about from the name alone. However, don’t stress about this too much! Your brand and content should be your biggest focal point.
LENGTH AND FREQUENCY
Considering your topic and your intended audience - how long will your episodes be? There are no standard answers for how long a podcast episode should be but anywhere between 15 minutes and a 2-hour program are pretty standard. It helps to choose a length and stick with it so that your listeners know what to expect but some shows do vary.
Consider how frequently you want to create content and share it. How many episodes do you record at once? It’s perfectly okay to start with something monthly or bi-monthly and then build up to a weekly show. You should choose a day that you post your episodes, give your listeners something to look forward to and so that they know when to tune in to your new episode. It also helps with keeping yourself on track if you have a set day you know you need content for. If you are going to start monthly or bi-monthly, think of ways to interact with listeners on off-weeks to stay on their radar through social media. Ask them questions and engage them!
This helpful video from Buzzsprout covers different podcast formats -
But some questions you’ll want to ask yourself to get on track about formats would be:
- How many hosts do you want on the podcast?
- Do you feature guests or guest interviews?
- Will your show be broken up into segments?
- Will you improvise, write a well-researched script, or even create a scripted fictional show? ( I always suggest that even for improvised shows to create an outline so that you know to stay on topic and your guest/co-hosts can easily follow along. You don’t have to write every joke but if there are certain things you want to cover - write them down to remember during your show!)
BEFORE YOU RECORD
Other things you should consider before you record:
- Rough Script/Outline Like I mentioned before, even if your program is improvised it's easier to keep track of time and stay on topic if you have an outline. Even the most basic outline can make a massive difference. It could say something like, “15 minutes - discuss current event topic”. Even simple outlines can make a difference in your show overall. You’ll sound professional and it helps keep the co-host and your guests on topic and informed. It is very easy to spiral out and end up really far from your first topic!
- Recording Location Will you be recording at home? Consider where the quietest place is in your home to record. Do a test recording to hear if the room is noisy (consider air conditioners, loud neighbors and outside sounds). If you and your co-host/guests are in separate locations make sure they check for a quiet place as well.
My most important advice and what I want you to get from all this is that if it's something you love and really want to do - then DO IT! Everyone has to start somewhere so even if you don’t have the best equipment or software and if you haven’t quite figured out your format and length yet. Give it a shot anyway! You’ll only really know once you try. Your first episode will not be the best and that’s great because it means you’ll always grow and learn and improve on your already amazing foundation. Take it from me, as someone who’s first episode is no longer online! I learned from those first challenges and improved upon my show and am very proud of where it is now. But I never would’ve gotten to where I am if I hadn’t made that first episode!
RIP Episode 1: Clowns of Ghouls Next Door.
Ok, now that we have our ideas together - check out my second blog, Recording and Publishing Your Podcast to get to the technical side of creating a podcast!