Should you make a podcast?

The technical questions shouldn’t come first

It’s true there are a lot of podcasts out there, somewhere over 2 million (although they’re not all active).

So - you want to add to that.

That could be a good idea. It’s true there are a lot of podcasts, but there are also a lot of hungry listeners.

Around a quarter of us listened to a podcast last week. And in the US, more people listened to podcasts than have a Netflix account.

And the number of listeners is growing.

In fact podcast audiences have grown by 50% since 2020.

So, you have a story, you have some information worth sharing. Should you be sharing it with this growing audience?

This is the biggest question I get in my consultancy — should I make a podcast?

Here are the first things you need to ask yourself to start to work out if you should make a podcast.

1/ Why do you want to start a podcast?

Be honest with yourself here. No-one else needs to know the answer.

Do you want to earn some money? Do you want people to hear your story? Do you want to build your business? Or are you hoping a podcast will bring you a community?

Maybe you want to develop a new skill or a hobby.

It’s important you know why you really want to make a podcast, and then work out if that is a realistic goal.

I was working with a law firm recently, and they wanted to promote their brand but really they only expected to bring in two more clients from a podcast. So their goal was very realistic.

If they find only 100 listeners, and their content is valuable, they will build their brand with those people and those people will spread the word to any friends looking for a lawyer.

Two new clients is reasonable. As long as what they make fits their brand and is good.

If you want to become famous from a podcast, that is harder to do. You’ll need to know that what you have to share is of value to a lot of people.

And that those people will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, about you.

Because friends are the second biggest referrers of new podcasts — the top is your podcast app.

So, take a moment now and think about why you want to make your podcast, and assess if that is a reasonable goal.

Let’s say the answer is yes, or maybe. What’s next?

Know your audience

Who will listen?

Knowing your audience is incredibly important. One of the most important things in fact.

(Not the most important, we’ll get to that next.)

Almost everyone I work with says: “Well I think everyone can get something out of this.”

That may well be true, but trying to make something for everyone will make it interesting to no-one.

The beauty of podcasts is that we can get right into a niche audience, and we can bring them content they can’t find anywhere else.

But we have to know who they are first.

And if you find them, you don’t have to exclude everyone else. You may have a secondary and even a tertiary audience who you will welcome along for the ride.

But know your key, your primary audience.

Can you picture them, talk to them and find them?

If you can. Let’s keep going.

If you can’t, then step back and be hard on yourself.

Look at other media, and find your audience. Read the books they’re reading, watch the shows they’re watching.

Get to know who you are talking to.

3/ (This is most important) Know what they want from you.

People click on a podcast to make some sort of change in themselves.

Change in their mood, in their knowledge. To feel less alone, to understand the world around them. To escape into a story, to be challenged.

Why are your audience coming to you? What change are you going to make in their day?

If you’re making a comedy, are you just shifting their mood? Or are you also giving them pause for thought?

You need to know what they want from you, so you know if you can honestly deliver it.

If you can, then carry on.

The technical questions come after you know who and why

4/ Technical stuff

Now you get into the stuff you wanted to ask about at the beginning.

You know your audience, your story, the audience’s desire. What format suits all of that?

What style will your podcast take?

Will it be you and someone else talking about something interesting, like Stuff you Should Know

Or is it you interviewing someone different each week, like Michelle Obama’s podcast

Is it a simple production, or is it something more designed, and complicated, like The Long Haul

Now you can start to work out your technical stuff.

If it’s you and a friend, you’ll just need two mics, a recorder and a quiet room. (preferably with curtains and carpet and no echoes)

And then you’ll need an editing program, and you’ll need to work out how to use it.

You can pull all that together for a simple podcast with a bit of practice and research.

The biggest tip I would offer?

Wear headphones, listen to the quality of your voice and the voices of the people you’re speaking to.

Podcasts are intimate and we listen up close. Don’t expect your audience to listen to something crummy.

You know the feeling when you’re on the phone with someone and it’s windy or they’re in the car and you can barely hear them?

It’s annoying. Don’t do that to your audience.

If your story will be something more convoluted, with sounds and music and editing, and you haven’t made something like that before. You will need professional help. That costs money.

How will you pay for the production?

How many people will want to listen to your story? Will they be appealing to advertisers or a corporate sponsor?

Then if you can get the cash, you need to find someone who can help you to get the technical side sorted.

If you want to do it, you can. But know why, how and who you need to help you.

Good luck.

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Liz has worked in audio and radio production for over 20 years, she was awarded Best Documentary Podcast at the 2019 Australian Podcast Awards for Still Jill.

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Liz Keen

Liz Keen

Liz has worked in audio and radio production for over 20 years, she was awarded Best Documentary Podcast at the 2019 Australian Podcast Awards for Still Jill.

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