Podcasting production is nothing new. The name has simply changed. The world knew podcasts as audio blogs way back in the 1980s. In 2004, broadband Internet access came onto the scene and digital audio playback devices like the iPod helped podcasting gain traction.
Fast forward to today, around 78.9 million people in the US alone listen to podcasts. As the year progresses, we can see how the presence of podcasting as a type of content production norm is becoming stable. According to Listen Notes, there are about 500k shows on Apple Podcasts, and there are around 66 million podcast episodes altogether online.
All of this begs the question, how do all these hosts get their podcasting production done?
Podcasters have their different reasons behind starting their podcasts, but they do have at least one thing in common. They all want to produce content that people love. The idea of diving into the world of podcasting excites every newcomer. The fear of the unknown, however, seems to swamp them. This is especially true concerning podcasting production.
Beginners should not view podcast production as a tricky jigsaw puzzle. In this post, we will assist you in putting the podcasting pieces together. By the end of this guide, you will get the bigger picture of how podcasting production works.
The W-H Questions of Podcasting Production for Beginners
What’s Your Podcast for?
Podcasters have their respective reasons why they start their own business. Knowing your purpose for podcasting provides you with a clearer vision of where to head to. Most importantly, it will give you a push drive into the process of producing your podcast.
Here are the ways how to know what your podcast is for:
Know the listener pain point you want to address
Podcasting means content production. You will find different content of different topics posted on the Internet, but they have one similarity — they all pose solutions to a problem. Therefore, before starting your podcast, it is essential to define what questions you want to answer through your content.
In this part, try to answer this question: What specific dilemma does my audience want me to offer help to solve? Bear in mind that valuable and purposeful content can help your listeners’ lives better.
In other words, it should educate people about specific topics. For instance, you can educate them on the following:
- Home design and organization
- Creating brand loyalty
- Recruiting new workers
- Making a name for yourself as a thought leader.
- Generating leads and creating or dealing with demand
Choose a category to play in
You must know the exact pain point you want to address. This is because it is important to also know which category you should belong to. There are a lot of categories, such as business, thriller, and comedy. The category you will belong to will serve as an umbrella or content pillar. This guides you to keep the rest of your episodes connected and relevant to each other.
Indeed, you have the power to choose your podcast content pillar. However, it would be best to make sure that you also have expertise in the area. This shows authority, authenticity, and credibility with every episode you release. Avoid sounding unreliable for discussing a topic outside your realm of knowledge.
Observe SMART goals
When you decide to start a podcast, you should define specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals. This will help you narrow your focus. Setting SMART goals can help make your path clearer. This goal setting phase happens after defining all the needed information to start your podcast.
You can start setting SMART goals by creating your own strategic plan. This strategic plan should contain a content calendar. This provides you with details on when and what to produce for each episode. Aside from keeping your production organized, it will also help you stay on track with your publishing schedules.
In setting deadlines for you and your team, you need to be realistic. With the given amount of time to prepare, can you deliver? Avoid setting due dates that are hard to hit because it will just degrade the quality of your show.
Do not always run after quantity. Instead, you need to know your pace and aim for a high-quality podcast output. Again, remember that your goals should be SMART. It will give you a chance to produce the best podcast over the long term.
Who is Your Podcast for?
Now you have a clear purpose for what content you want to anchor your podcast to. It’s time to go deeper by defining the ‘who’ aspect of your podcast. Your audience is the lifeline of all your podcasting production efforts. You should gear your efforts to attract them to hit the play button again and again.
Know the demographics
The age, sex, gender, ethnicity, income, employment, and education of people belong under the umbrella of demographics. To further understand whom your podcast is for, it is better to consider their demographics.
Start by recalling the solution you want to offer. After that, probe a little deeper and know which set of demographics your solution is perfect for. For example, you may want to provide entertainment that leans more towards discussing memes, funny videos, or TikTok. Visualize and imagine which members of the population can relate to these types of topics. You may come to the conclusion that you can best serve:
- ages 13-25
- males and females
- secondary and tertiary education levels
- all income levels
Therefore, you need to find people who have all these qualitative traits. These people will serve as your target audience. You should do rigorous research to understand them better. It will be easier to produce new content that they will love if you know exactly what your audience is looking for.
Connect with your audience
Now that you already have an idea of how to know your audience, you need to gear your efforts towards creating a bond with them. The easiest type of platform on which to connect with your listeners is social media.
Start creating social media accounts for your podcast. Again, this type of platform should serve as a touch point for your target audience. Thus, it is best if you not only introduce your podcast to them, but are willing to go deeper about it. Through this, they will better appreciate and understand the value of each of your newly produced episodes.
As they evolve, keep yourself up-to-date
People change every three to six months. This includes their hobbies, wants, and focus. In podcasting, you need to have that automatic notification if your audiences are starting to shift into different angles of interest.
Why should you keep yourself updated on their whereabouts? To make your new content relevant, of course! As we mentioned, some people do not stay the same as they were months ago. So, you need to know if your listeners have changed, and how. If they have, offer them evergreen yet relevant content in the meantime. Then you can shift gears yourself as you learn more about them.
To do this, you can join some communities such as Reddit that involve people who have the same qualities as your listeners. You can also create the community yourself. Try making Facebook groups to gather all your listeners and prospective listeners. This makes it easier for you to initiate discussions with them. This will help you know their thoughts and feedback.
Do research about listeners
Good research can also help you gather educated and valuable references and statistics. It can make your decision-making process with regard to listener-focus solutions even better. Remember that aside from keeping in touch with your audience and knowing them by heart, numbers and data never lie. You just have to make sure that you are extracting all your information from only credible sources.
How to Name Your Podcast
Choosing the perfect podcast name can be pretty challenging. You might even be left sleepless at night, trying to pick the words to bring you victory. Choosing a name is like planning for the best battle strategy before going to war.
The title is one of the most essential components of any podcast. At first glance, it must immediately reflect the main idea and the future topics of your show. In short, it’s a sneak peek at what you have in store.
Picking the perfect title is a matter of trial and error. You list as many ideas as possible while trying to cross out the ones that don’t resonate or feel right.
Do you feel like you’re trapped in an endless pit of podcast names but can’t choose? Worry no more; we’ll help you get through this vital stage in podcasting production. And yes, the name is a big part of production!
Here are a few points and guidelines to keep you on track when choosing the best name for your podcast.
Review the gist of the show
Sit down for a moment, calm your nerves, breathe slowly, and try to envision your podcast’s future episodes. What topics will they tackle? Do you want your show to revolve around a single subject, or will you open it up to other ideas? Allow the gist of your podcast to influence your choice for a podcast name.
A great podcast title can attract people’s attention, but you must be cautious. Would you like it descriptive and creative or concrete and direct to the point? Either way, it should show where your podcast is going. It must also explain the show’s tone, format, and topic.
Remember that a single misstep in picking the title can throw all of your hard work out the window. You don’t want to pick too hastily and end up causing confusion or creating misconceptions about your show. There’s a danger that the audience will misunderstand if you choose an abstract term. It could make people ignore your program right away, too. This is especially true if the name you choose has nothing to do with your topic or specialty. It doesn’t matter how witty it is. It needs to communicate a clear meaning first and foremost.
Leave room for growth
Podcasts serve as a springboard for lively discussions and a platform for ideas. This means that it gives podcasters a chance to have room for improvement and growth over time. Change may apply to your topic, style, and episode format.
Consider a title that suits your initial concept but still leaves the possibility for expansion open. An overly limited title may too strictly define your material. This limits the topics you will be able to discuss in the future.
Ensure it’s searchable
As you brainstorm your podcast name, put yourself in the shoes of someone who is just encountering your show for the first time. Ask yourself questions like, is the podcast name easy to spell and pronounce? Would it be easy to find on a Google search?
Most podcast directories (including the popular ones like iTunes/Apple Podcasts and Spotify) will not search through your show notes, subtitles, or other metadata. Instead, they’ll only focus on looking at your podcast title, provider, and episode names. When typing a term or keyword in a podcast directory, ranked podcasts show up immediately. If your name is in direct competition with top ranking podcasts, your show will have greater difficulty showing up on results pages.
Hosts often use plain and descriptive podcast names. Following this, however, does not guarantee that you’ll end up appearing at the top of any search results. This is why you need to use brief, concise keywords, and SEO-friendly terminology. Furthermore, to prevent your podcast from sounding too generic and improve its SEO, avoid incorporating the term “the” and any special characters (! &, @, $, etc.).
Keep it short and catchy
Titles should define the tone, content, and personality of your show. This is not the time to be vague or deceptive. Keep your focus on the topic and avoid names that may confuse your target audience. You don’t want to leave searchers with questions about what the show is about. You want to make your argument plain so the right listeners will click “play”.
Shorter is better when it comes to podcast names. Anchor shows are typically 3-4 words long and 15-20 characters long. They’re easier to recall and pronounce aloud.
If your podcast name is only a few words long, it will be easier to place on your cover art, too. Moreover, having fewer characters assures that your full title will show legibly on podcast platforms, image previews, and search engine results pages.
The name of your podcast should captivate listeners and make them want to push play. A great podcast title combines clear language with a hint of mystery. By limiting yourself to only a few words, you can create a title that is both descriptive and concise.
Some podcasts name themselves after common phrases, puns, or wordplay. When a potential listener is scanning through hundreds of other shows, these can help you make a statement and stand out among the rest. For the sake of podcasting production ease, just make sure that the pun or wordplay you choose is clearly understood.
Ask for others’ opinions
It’s a good idea to do some research before committing to a name. Reduce your list of potential titles to a few of the best options. Once you’ve decided on this shortlist, it’s time to start asking your network for input. Crowdsourcing opinions can provide helpful feedback and allow you to hear how the name is spoken in typical situations.
Inquire of friends, relatives, or coworkers, too, about their initial reactions and impressions. Because you already know what you’re attempting to say, you may overlook obvious flaws. You’ll get critical feedback on your title’s weaknesses or successes by evaluating other people’s candid comments.
What Makes a Good Episode Title?
You may devote all of your time and effort to providing the most excellent content possible for your show. However, you must put some effort into the name that will represent all that information. If you don’t, you’ll severely limit the total reach of the episode. You will also limit your potential impact on the audience. Remember that podcast episode titles hold the same weight as the content when it comes to the show’s success.
If you want to catch the audience’s attention while scrolling through tons of available content, you should spend more time crafting your title. So, how do you come up with exciting titles for your episodes? Here are a few things to think about before pushing the publish button.
Begin with the episodes’ content
A single wrong choice for an episode title is harmful to the show. It holds great potential to ruin your podcast’s overall exposure. So, it is essential to have a defined strategy behind your material. This will help prevent your episode title from being a setback rather than an advantage.
Avoid including the name of your show
Never ever pack all the keywords into the title of an episode. This includes your show’s name. It is redundant and may cause you more harm than good. You can, however, include the most relevant keywords to help with search engine optimization.
Ask for title suggestions
Leverage your family and friends. Let them listen to your podcast episode before publishing it and gather their opinions. Were they able to point out the main idea of the episode quickly? If so, this information will help you start creating your title.
Additional tips for a better episode title:
- Identify the main idea of the episode.
- Put some thought into your title.
- Keep the title short, engaging, and easy to remember.
With Whom Will You Partner?
In podcasting, you need to leverage people. It is not a negative thing to do. This is just one of the key strategies of podcasters who thrive in the industry. Below are the three main partnerships you might involve yourself with during the course of your podcasting career.
A co-host is a person who will help you moderate each episode. Co-hosting can help you stay on track and provide you with an additional source of ideas and talent. Having another person to be with every episode provides different perspectives and views on a subject.
As a result, conversations will usually tend to be more engaging and interesting. Also, there might come bad days, yet you can motivate each other to make things lighter. Imagine having two sets of skills at the table in just one show. It will give your podcast a brighter future!
Your podcast can still operate with or without guests, such as the narrative or storytelling formats. However, the good thing about having guests to join you every episode is that the listenership is immense.
Imagine you already have your own listeners plus the listeners of your guest. It will totally boost your audience with every episode. However, you should make sure that your guests have the needed authority and credibility around the topic.
Promotions are the additional lifeline of podcasting. Most podcasters feature brands and products every episode. This is where they gather some funds to provide a budget for each episode’s production. If you come to think of it, it is a mutually beneficial relationship between the brand and their podcast.
Why Should You Not Focus on the Audio Only?
The audio is not the only element you need to focus on in podcasting production. There are other pieces that complete the puzzle, such as the show notes, summaries, artwork, and a publishing calendar. To have a better understanding of these components and why you need them, let us discuss them one by one:
A podcast episode’s show notes is a section that will give you a glimpse of what the episode is all about, in text format. This includes the name of the episode, the host, and the guest. It should also provide the links and resources that listeners need to connect with the guest or grab an offer made during the episode.
Show notes content should provide readers with the highlights of that specific episode. Most of the time, show notes contain timestamps. Timestamps are beneficial for listeners who have one specific question in mind. It will direct them to the specific part of the episode that contains the answers they need.
Show notes also increase your visibility online. Search engines like Google fail to read and rank audio files such as mp3 files. Their algorithm only understands words. So, imagine an interested person searching for your podcast on the Internet. You have no text version of your episode. This means that other podcasters with text versions will rank higher than you. This will make it difficult for anyone to find your episode on the search results pages.
Here are other benefits of attaching show notes with each episode:
- Listeners can learn more from the show notes.
- Show notes persuade casual listeners to listen more intently.
- You have an opportunity to cross-promote your past content to get more people to listen to your show.
- Using centralized calls-to-action within the text, you can gain more subscribers.
- You can employ additional SEO techniques to gain greater visibility and attract more new listeners.
Summaries are different from show notes. Usually, they come in one paragraph that tells you snippets and the gist of the episode. It is often present on distribution platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
You should attach your summaries alongside each episode to provide your listeners with bite-sized information on what to expect from the episode. Aside from summarizing the whole episode, a summary should also mention a call-to-action (CTA) in the last sentence on how to get in touch with the guest or host, or a CTA to tune in.
In most cases, podcasters combine summaries with show notes, especially when they intend to publish them on their website. It makes show notes even more comprehensive for the listeners.
Some people tend to base a podcast’s quality on the photo or design cover attached to it. This is because visuals are more attractive than words. In fact, most people are drawn to colors first. If a visual can capture their attention, they then go to the words written.
Podcasters upload podcast artwork to podcasting platforms or hosting sites along with their audio files. The purpose of this art is to give each episode and the whole podcast a visual representation.
Remember that podcast artwork makes an important contribution to listeners’ decision-making process. People rely on it to decide whether they will hit the play button. Hence, you need to commission high-quality cover art to boost your listenership significantly.
Aside from the benefits already mentioned, here is why you should have a captivating podcast cover design:
- Cover art is a major requirement for submitting your podcast to top directories like Apple Podcast and Spotify.
- A great design can help give you a competitive advantage since the podcasting industry grows more constricted each day.
- Your art can spark curiosity and interest among listeners.
Tips for the best podcast art design:
- Don’t overcrowd your design with too many elements.
- Always double-check the details of your work.
- Make sure your design makes sense on both small and larger scales.
- Limit yourself to two fonts.
- Use fonts that are simple and easy to read.
- Use your cover art to tell your story.
- Don’t use a lot of words.
- Use photographs or designs that aren’t widely available.
- Make your artwork and other components of your branding consistent.
- You are free to use your podcast’s logo.
- Insist on high-resolution photos and designs.
- Make use of contrasting hues.
- Create a design that can be adapted for a variety of media.
- Use language and visuals that are not offensive.
- It’s not a bad idea to use your face.
- Do not use images or words protected by copyright.
Free platforms to create your podcast artwork:
- Adobe Spark
- Tailor Brands
Which Recording Equipment Do You Need?
“What equipment do I need to record a podcast?” is another question that comes to mind when putting together a remote recording studio. The microphone is, of course, at the top of that list.
There is one hard and fast rule in podcasting: never use your device’s built-in microphone. You already know what will happen to the quality of your audio if you do this.
Try using either a dynamic or a condenser microphone. The best microphones for filtering out a lot of background noise are dynamic microphones. For soundproof studios, condenser microphones are ideal. However, this sort of microphone is good at picking up sounds, including noises, especially those that are close by. To avoid producing crazy audio, simply stay away from open or noisy environments when using a condenser microphone.
Additionally, USB microphones are preferable for ease of installation. They’re not as good as studio-grade microphones, but they’re better than using your device’s built-in microphone or the ones in your headset.
Podcast Microphone Recommendations:
- Entry Level – Samson Q2U
- High Quality – Blue Yeti
- Professional – Rode NT1-A
Voices are not the only element that microphones can capture. They can also record air bursts as you say different things. This may irritate your listeners. To handle this problem, try installing a pop filter to avoid recording these plosives.
How to set up a pop filter:
The pole on most pop filters tightens around the mic stand. Loosen the bolt until it fits around the microphone stand. As you adjust it to the proper place, keep it loose. Once you’ve got the bolt in place, do not over-tighten it.
Your pop filter should be three finger-widths away from your microphone. Also when speaking, keep your mouth three finger-widths away from the filter, too. This is done to allow the sound to disperse before it reaches the microphone.
Podcast Pop-filter Recommendations:
- Blue The Pop Universal
- Musician’s Gear Double Pop Filter 6 Inch
- DragonPad Studio Microphone Mic Wind Screen
- Avantone PS-1 PRO-SHIELD Studio
- Stedman Proscreen XL
- Samson G-Track
Podcasters do, in fact, need a laptop. It is a necessary component of production. A laptop provides more versatility and convenience to users besides portability. It helps you to increase and improve your audio recording’s quality.
You may add background music, take out superfluous parts of your recording, make transitions, and create an engaging opening and outro with the help of many applications and tools that work alongside a laptop.
When it comes to purchasing a laptop, though, there are several factors to consider:
- Random Access Memory (RAM)
- Central Processing Unit (CPU)
- DAW Requirements
- Screen Size
- Operating System
- Internal Storage
- Plugin Requirements
- Battery Life
- Price and Warranty
Headphones are another helpful piece of podcast recording equipment. You can control the vocals and presenting style with headphones. You can clearly hear yourself and your guest, giving you the opportunity to change your speaking voice and ensure higher audio quality.
If you don’t have a soundproof studio or a good microphone, recording without headphones can degrade the quality of your audio. Headphones also eliminate echoes and feedback. You or your audio editor will save a lot of time because you won’t have to edit away the unwanted sounds.
Podcast Headphone Recommendations:
- Sennheiser 280 PRO
- Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones
- Sennheiser HD-25
- Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones.
- Shure SRH940
How Long Should A Podcast Episode Be?
Do not pressure yourself to choose one podcast length parameter right away. It is definitely fine to set one episode’s length separately from the next at first. You just have to make sure that each episode you upload is jam-packed with valuable information for your audience.
Also, you should give yourself some grace even after choosing your standard length. Never hesitate to cut a conversation short if there’s nothing left to say. You should not drag it out just to fit your set length. As you gain experience, you will get better at estimating how long you need to cover a certain topic. If you miss the mark, do not be tempted to do too much expounding just to fill the time.
The same is true for going longer than expected. Keep the exchange of ideas flowing. More is better, most especially if you have a credible guest with you. You can always think about cutting the interview into two episodes later on.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to the length of your podcast episodes. Try out various popular lengths, read over your episode data, get comments from your listeners, and make changes as you go!
Here are various common podcast lengths along with the show format they are best to use:
- 15 to 30 minutes – short stories, daily news, and trending topics
- 30 to 60 minutes – storytelling, interviews, investigations
- Over 60 minutes – roundtables, live show element, deeper topics, and multiple-hosted shows
We may deduce from the most popular podcast lengths that the show’s format and content pillar determines the ideal length for your podcast.
How Often Should I Release New Episodes?
You can freely decide when and how frequently you want to publish successive episodes. Yet, there are certain things to consider, such as the listeners’ demand and the consistency of your release dates.
Frequently, when you publish an episode too many days from the last one, listeners tend to lose interest in your podcast. Others willingly wait, but most are not likely to have the patience to do so. Here are some guide points on how often you should release episodes.
Pick a convenient and helpful time to bring out each new episode. Make sure that you can maintain this regular schedule to make it easier for you and your faithful listeners to follow. The frequency of your upload can be:
- Two, three, or four times a week
- Every Weekday
- Every two weeks
- Every two months
Any podcaster would agree that the most tricky part of podcasting production is audio editing. This process needs a lot of expertise to get better results. Audio editing involves the process of sound design, mixing, editing, and mastering each episode.
You should perceive audio editing as the cleaning, filtering, and purification of the audio recording. It is to provide your listeners with high-quality audio. Nothing beats a podcast with valuable content combined with crystal clear audio.
Here are the basics of podcast audio editing:
Setting up your recording space
Setting up your recording space is very important. You need to be careful in picking your spot. Your recording output will tell how much audio editing work you are going to do. To produce a clean and noise-free audio recording, here are some tips you can follow:
- Avoid recording in an empty room as it will cause echoes on your audio
- It is better to record in a space with soft furniture, carpeting, drapes, or clothing to prevent sounds from bouncing off of hard surfaces.
- If you are recording in your house, brief every family member to keep quiet during your recording hours.
You will need a DAW
To start your audio editing, the first step is to install a Digital Audio Workstation on your computer. A DAW is a piece of music production software that allows you to record, edit, mix, and master audio.
Make sure that the DAW you are eyeing fits the specs of your device. There are audio editing software programs that only function on Windows operating systems, and there are some for MAC and iOS only.
Most used DAWs:
Here are the most basic steps for editing:
Clean your audio record
Stutters, repetition, crutch words (such as ‘like,’ ‘kinda,’ uhms and uhs), dead air or long pauses, noise, plosive pops, and background sounds should all be removed. When these hosts and guests repeat these words, they become irritating to listeners.
It’s difficult to edit these things out. Do not overdo this step because it will cause unnatural and noticeable audio cuts.
Begin the sound design process
In this step, you can add a captivating intro and outro to your podcast. The opener should grab the curiosity of listeners and be engaging enough to keep them on until the end of the episode.
In the meantime, the outro should include features that encourage viewers to watch the next episode. Aside from the opening and outro, you can employ background music and sound effects to lead the audience’s emotions.
Mix and Master
This is the phase where you put all the audio elements together to make a single storyline. The sounds should have a sense of harmony, coherence, and clarity. Mixing and mastering can help you make the audio sound as if you and your guest are in the same room even if you are recording in different locations.
During this process, you must carefully arrange your songs and audio snippets. Divide them into separate tracks to avoid confusion. Host, visitor, atmosphere and room tone, and music.
Equalization is important to improve the tone of your podcast and evaluate whether it requires compression. Following that, double-check all the cuts and transitions from one audio clip to the next.
They should have fades in the heads and tails to avoid jarring changes. After that, strike a balance between the ambient noise and the music. Both should not be too loud because that will drown out the voices. Finally, listen to the mix again to check if there are any flaws.
Podcasting production is indeed a challenging process. However, we hope that this article gave you a glimpse of what a beginner in podcasting should essentially know. Lastly, to recap all the information above, here are some essential points you should remember:
- Consistency is key when releasing your podcast episodes
- Your podcast length is up to you, but try to decide on a uniform length as you grow.
- You need a quality microphone, headphones, pop filter, DAW, and laptop to start.
- Don’t forget the other important elements like artwork, summaries, and transcripts.
- A short and catchy podcast name and episode titles are essential.
- Do not forget to always cater to your audience.
After reading this, you may still find podcast production too difficult. If so, we want you to know that it’s perfectly fine to ask for expert help. Podcasting production companies like Podkick offer new podcasters customized start to finish services. You do not have to tread the unknown waters of podcasting. Tap into experts who can assist you throughout your journey.
Mary Achurra is a freelance content marketer. She helps business owners and entrepreneurs attract and retain customers by creating quality, engaging content.