“We should start a podcast,” my friend Gregarious Narain told me. It was 2021 and we were looking for opportunities to create content—he as a startup founder and me as a two-time journalist searching for an outlet to interview exceptional personalities. That day’s planning ultimately led to us launching “The Created Economy” podcast.
As we tackled this exciting project, our two-man team faced several challenges in producing the show. We actively worked on establishing the branding and marketing, identifying the podcast’s premise and guests, and managing various post-production tasks after recording each episode. Despite using apps and technology to ease production, the venture overwhelmed us as we juggled full-time jobs.
For more than 50 episodes, we engaged in conversations with some of the influential builders, creators, and investors in the Creator Economy. We experimented with spin-offs and tried to grow a community. Building on my editorial background, we launched “Created Briefs,” a news-oriented show analyzing the industry’s news for the week. Moreover, we launched a dedicated weekly show that focused on Web3’s role in the Creator Economy.
Here are 10 lessons on how to launch your first show from my experience as a podcaster:
1. Have Patience
This is one of the hardest things to accept because everyone wants instant gratification. Adjust your expectations if you’re used to seeing high traffic for blog posts or exceptional email newsletter open rates.
Success doesn’t happen overnight, so play the long game when podcasting. This is particularly true if you lack the backing of a big brand or publisher or if you don’t have a massive personal brand. I have felt disappointed at times when our show didn’t achieve significant viewership or downloads. However, it serves as a reminder that I shouldn’t have a myopic point of view.
Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight. Give yourself time to process the data you get back before making production changes or experimenting further.
2. Know Your Podcast Audience
As with any marketing campaign, identify who your target listeners are. The “Created Economy” is aimed at entrepreneurs in the creator space, creators and influencers, investors and businesses. Make sure your intended audience is large enough or else you’ll not only have a difficult time growing your show but finding content to discuss.
Even still, your show’s content is also dependent on your show’s format. Is it an ongoing episodic podcast? Or will it be a limited series?
Additionally, consider its output. Will the show be audio-only? Video? Or a hybrid? Most podcasters will likely choose the last option because it can be repurposed for multiple content marketing purposes. However, it depends on your comfort level.
In the same vein, will your podcast be broadcast live or recorded and published later? Try to stick with a routine, but maintain flexibility—you might have occasion to do a special episode live while the others are recorded.
Finally, consider your distribution channels. Where will people discover and listen to your conversations? I’ll cover this a bit more in detail later on.
3. Branding is Important
What do you call your podcast? The show’s name is critical for discovery. Make sure that not only can listeners easily type the name, but it conveys what it’s all about.
If you have not built up a personal brand, or if your company isn’t well-known, you may want to avoid putting your name out front. What’s more, for businesses creating a podcast, I suggest not branding it around a particular individual unless it’s someone in the C-suite.
Survey the podcast landscape to understand what competitors are calling their shows. If you prefer, import a list containing titles of similar shows into ChatGPT or another AI tool to identify commonalities.
Finally, after choosing a brand, make sure the domain is available — preferably a .com, in my opinion.
4. Outline Your Podcast Production Process
Producing a show involves much more work than you might expect unless you’re backed by significant resources or have the budget to hire an external podcast partner like Pod People. With “The Created Economy,” both Narain and I had full-time jobs so tasks such as scheduling guests, transcribing each episode, promoting the show, and curating topics to discuss became overwhelming at times.
Here are some of the things you might need to think about as part of your production process:
- Curating show guests, composing interview questions, and managing show logistics, and recording
- Episode transcription (grammatical check and editing of work done by AI)
- Uploading the video file to YouTube and distributing the audio recording on your preferred podcast hosting network (Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, etc.)
- Post-production editing and graphical work
- Generating audiograms or Story content for Instagram, YouTube and TikTok
- Crafting blog articles and social media posts to promote each episode
Budget your time accordingly. Like most creators, you won’t be doing podcasting full-time and even though technology helps with the workload, it’s important to manage how much work you’re doing for the show.
Additionally, note that newly published episodes may not be instantly downloadable on all platforms, taking hours or even an extra day to appear.
5. Plan Your Conversation
If you’re like me, you often prefer unstructured discussions. But, it’s helpful with podcasts to have planned interactions with your co-hosts and guests. Avoid having a fully scripted conversation and outline the agenda for all parties.
Research your guest(s) to not only prepare a suitable bio you can read on-air but also draft questions pertinent to why they are on your show. Ensure those inquiries are what listeners want to know and try to avoid similar questions asked elsewhere (e.g. other podcasts, in past interviews, etc.).
For branded podcasts, avoid softball questions to our executives. It’s understandable if you avoid controversial topics, but for your show to have impact and meaning relating to its mission, these leaders should have their proverbial feet put to the fire a little bit.
I tend to avoid wanting to share specific questions with guests ahead of time. Instead, I’ll share the topics. Perhaps something I learned as a journalist, but this can make the conversation more authentic.
Understandably this may be difficult for company podcasts. In that case, draft a selection of questions but choose only a handful to ask during the show. And make sure you put the questions in your own words — don’t read it as though you have a script.
Granted, there are two parts where a script is helpful: For your introduction and close-out. Modify the former to account for guest introductions. Ensure the latter gives a summary of what listeners heard, plus provide a call-to-action: Follow you on social media, check out your blog, subscribe to the podcast, petition to be a guest, etc.
6. Identify Key Podcast Metrics to Track
Measuring a podcast’s success is different from website and email metrics. Instead of page views, unique visits and bounce rates, here are some of the important ones to monitor:
- Podcast consumption rate: How many people have listened to your show
- Audience retention rate: How many listeners return to hear future episodes
- Play counts: How many times a listener has played an episode
- Listeners’ location
- Bounce rate: What percentage of people abandoned a particular episode or podcast after listening
To optimize distribution, syndicate your podcast across various platforms. It’s not something you want to do manually. Spotify for Podcasters, Buzzsprout, Libsyn, Simplecast and PodBean are services that seamlessly push your show to Apple Podcast, YouTube Podcast, Amazon, Spotify and other apps.
Whichever hosting platform you choose, ensure your show is made available on Apple Podcasts — the most popular of all podcasting apps, Spotify, and YouTube Podcasts.
However, it’s best if you don’t track metrics across each platform. Instead, I’d recommend making your chosen podcast hosting provider analytics the source of truth. Doing so gives you a representative view across the aggregate.
7. Have the Right Equipment
You don’t need to break the bank to do a podcast. Having fancy hardware won’t attract listeners and fans. It’s the show’s mission and conversation. But, there are small steps you can take to ensure the first season’s quality sets a high bar.
I have a Rodecaster microphone, but you can find more affordable options. Apple Airpods or even wired headphone mics can be used in a pinch. Test your microphone quality before recording to ensure you’re giving the right sound level.
Wear headphones to avoid feedback and echoes in recordings. Some prefer over-the-ear ones, but you’ll be fine with earbuds (my preference) or even wireless ones.
I recommend you require all guests to wear headphones during interviews to maximize quality, while also reducing the chance of feedback and ambient noise disrupting the recording.
A must if you’re producing a video podcast. Do not rely on office lighting or ceiling lights at home to provide you with the best quality. But, you shouldn’t run out to buy fancy studio lights right away. Instead, there are Ring lights and portable lights you can purchase that will provide similar results.
However, some words of caution: Eyeglass wearers should be careful about Ring lights as a circle will be reflected off the lenses. Additionally, you may need more than one light to ensure you’re properly exposed to the camera.
More webcams today are of higher quality, so should be suitable for recording video in the short term. But I would recommend investing in either using a dSLR/mirrorless camera or buying a Logitech or Oppl device to prove you care about how your podcast looks.
Elevate your webcam so it appears you’re looking directly at it, not that you’re facing downwards. If you do the latter, it comes across that viewers are looking up at you (and up your nose) and that looks bad.
This is important. Do not try a podcast recording using your phone or if there’s spotty connectivity. These issues will create headaches for the show that not only make it difficult for listeners to follow (e.g., poor video quality, syncing issues between audio and video, etc.) but could impact post-production efforts (e.g., transcription, social media promotion, etc.).
I love seeing how creators decorated home studios for their broadcasts, investing in soundproofing foam, recording lights, high-quality cameras, and furnishings. However, you don’t need all of that to punch out a podcast.
Select a noise-free room for your show. If it’s audio-only, use a closet to muffle sound like a recording booth. However, if there’s a video component, adjust your environment to avoid it looking like you’re broadcasting from your bed.
Pick a location where you won’t hear lawnmowers, people stomping on the floor, car horns, or excessive outside noise creeping into your recording.
Avoid unnecessarily typing on your computer while recording. Disable all notifications on your computer — shut down Facebook, Slack, text messages, Spotify, and any app that makes a noise. Be sure to remind your guests.
8. Stay Committed
While actively marketing your podcast, you may not see significant changes in day-to-day metrics for a while, as podcasting is a long-term endeavor. Despite investing efforts in sharing episodes on social media and promoting your show to everyone you know, it can be disheartening to wait for visible signs of traction.
What’s more, maintaining the motivation to do the show can be difficult. You may have trouble booking guests or they cancel at the last minute — it’s happened to me, or the workload gets too overwhelming. Make adjustments to your process so podcasting becomes fun again.
“Created Economy” broadcasted a new episode live every Wednesday in the beginning. With such frequent shows, identifying new topics was tough. It was the wrong thing to do. Instead, we should have lined up a specific number of episodes and then went on hiatus for a while to regroup.
This probably is the best course of action for companies doing branded podcasts, especially if they have limited availability of executives-turned-hosts.
That’s not to say you cannot do weekly episodic shows — you can. But don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your process so podcasting doesn’t feel like a burden.
Also, don’t feel bad if someone you want as a guest declines. They have their reasons, regardless of what they publicly tell you. Instead, focus on your show and make it even better. Try your ask again in the future and you might be surprised that they agree.
9. Spend Time on Marketing
Congratulations on launching your podcast! However, your work has only just started. After publishing the first episode, comes the promotion. Contrary to what you might believe from Field of Dreams, you’re going to need to do more than build to get people to pay attention.
Double-check your show page on Apple, YouTube, Spotify, and your hosting provider to verify all important fields have been filled out.
- Did you add a compelling description?
- Does your show have cover art?
- Is there a URL for listeners to learn more?
- Are the show titles short and interesting enough?
I recommend obtaining a transcript for each show using services like Descript, Otter, Rev, or TranscribeMe. Use the text to compose a blog post summarizing the episode. Instead of copying the transcript verbatim, craft an original post and incorporate quotes from the transcript into it. Make it easy for people to listen to the episode by embedding an audio or video player directly into the article. The published piece can help promote your podcast via SEO.
Beyond that, consider generating short social media clips to share. Many podcasters use audio and videograms to offer a teaser of what their shows are about. Again, there are third-party tools you can use to produce these, such as Descript, Zealous, Buzzsprout, and Adobe Premiere.
These “grams” can be uploaded as Shorts for Instagram, YouTube, Snap and TikTok. You can also insert music and text to make it stand out more.
10. You Don’t Have to Be Perfect at the Start
You might feel overwhelmed by the time you reach this part of my post. But don’t worry because it’s all about trial and error. Doing everything listed here will not guarantee you a successful podcast. Think of it as a checklist to let you focus more on your show’s strategic objectives.
Identify the factors contributing to your program’s success. Even if your cover art, podcast description, or social media promotion lacks an award-winning touch, remember that podcasting is adaptable, allowing for on-the-fly updates. Learn from mistakes and observe your competitors to enhance your show’s promotion.
It was trial-and-error for me when starting “Created Economy.” Though my co-host had done a podcast before, I had on-the-job training. But there are tons of helpful online resources (hopefully like this) to guide you on your way to producing an amazing show.
All you need to do is take the first step and hit that record button.