Is a podcast right for you? 5 questions to explore before beginning
With the shift towards working from home, and subsequently less hours spent in transit, many of us have a bit more time on our hands. Some people have learned the art of sourdough bread. Some people have taken up jigsaw puzzles. Others have started their own podcasts. For readers who are less familiar with the term, a “podcast” is an episodic series of spoken word digital audio files that a user can download to a personal device for easy listening. Essentially, it’s talk radio you can listen to whenever you want.
Podcasting can be a wonderful way to share your message (such as the importance of in-person meetings!) or to explore a subject (such as the best new event technology!) on deeper level. But the best podcasts do not happen by chance. With the market saturated with content, the key to a successful podcast is having both an intention and a game plan.
With that in mind, here are five questions to ponder before beginning a new podcast.
What is your topic?
Successful podcasts often have a theme, they focus on a specific topic. What do you want to talk about? A broad topic (such as “events”) might reach more people, but also risks being too generic. A narrow topic (such as “vegan event planning for wheelchair users”) might not attract the number of audience members necessary to sustain your motivation. The challenge is to find a topic with a concrete identity without being too niche.
A sub-question to consider is, “Is someone else already talking about this topic?” If the answer is yes, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t create a podcast. But you might want to think about how you will differentiate.
Do you have an audience? If not, how will you build an audience?
Knowing who your listeners are—and what they are looking for—is immensely helpful. Many folks in the events industry already have a large following on social platforms such as Twitter or Instagram. Launching a podcast might be a natural extension of the content you create and serve to build an even stronger connection with your audience.
You don’t necessarily need an audience to start. But building an audience might be tough work. What is your plan to build an audience? Remember that “hoping that people come across your podcast” is not plan. Think about what promotion will look like. Will you use social media? Do you have a budget for promotion? Who do you know that will help spread the word?
How will you record and edit?
Sound quality is important in a podcast. If audience members hear too much graininess or if your voice sounds muffled, they might not stick around to hear the entire episode. Quality audio recordings start with quality equipment. Some upfront costs on decent microphones (and even sound-proofing a room) will pay off in the long run.
The other thing to consider is the type of software you’ll use to edit. Even if they are formatted as unabridged interviews, most podcasts have some level of postproduction. This might mean editing out any audio peaks or adding an introduction. Either way, it means finding and familiarizing yourself with a new software platform.
What does your content plan look like?
It’s tempting to record an episode and feel proud. Then want to immediately publish the episode and announce to the world, “I have a podcast!” But the more strategic approach might be to record several episodes or even a complete season (however you might define that) before launching. The reality is that podcast episodes are not delivered by friendly flying storks. If you want to increase your chances of success, which can simply be defined as “people listening to your podcast,” you might want to map out your episodes.
What is your visual language?
When pondering podcasting, we often think about sound recording and sound quality. Naturally, these are important. But most audience members will “see” your podcast before listening to it—they’ll see a logo, a title, and maybe a description. Because we live in an image-saturated world, sophisticated visuals will be important to nab people’s attentions without being too ostentatious (unless that’s your brand vibe). Think about how your podcast sounds. But also think about how it looks.