Planning a podcast should be the first step you should undertake to ensure you create one that can stand out in the vast sea of podcasts. Did you know that there are over 2 million active podcasts?
Perfect for your morning commute, doing chores, or working out the gym, podcasts are an ever-growing media format. Have you been thinking about starting a podcast, but aren't sure where to begin? Let's take a look at seven tips for planning a podcast.
1. Planning a Podcast Basics: Determine Why You Are Making a Podcast and For Whom
One of the absolute first things you will want to do when you are planning a podcast is deciding for what purpose you are making one. If your podcast is simply a creative pursuit that you are doing based on personal passions, then your plan might look a lot different than if you are starting a podcast as a business or as a marketing strategy.
If you are planning on monetizing your podcast or you're using it as a marketing tactic, you'll want to create a business plan for a podcast before you get too far into the process. We like to use a method called “Value Proposition Design” in the podcast planning process. It helps understand the match between your audiences and your “product”, which is the value your podcast creates for the listener.
Once you have determined your own reasoning for creating a podcast, you'll want to take a long hard look at who your audience will be. Without a clear sense of who your target audience is, then the likelihood that you will gain a large audience is quite small.
You want to create a listener persona or avatar to write out in detail exactly who will be listening to your podcast. You'll want to understand the characters in-depth so that you can ensure that your show stays on track.
2. Decide on the Name, Format, Length, and Frequency of Your Podcast Episodes
You've figured out why you are making a podcast and who is going to listen to it. Now it's time to get into some of the specifics as you plan an episode.
Coming up with the name of a podcast is in some ways one of the most fun parts and one of the most impossible parts of starting a podcast. The name of your show is likely the first impression prospective listeners will have, so it's worth taking the time to choose the right name.
You can either go with a clever name, a simple and descriptive name, or name the podcast using your own name. Whatever the name is, be sure you are happy with it, as you will be saying it over and over again through the course of producing your podcast.
But in many cases, the name also influences how people find your show, and even the name of your podcast’s website.
IMHO: Avoid clever, and go for descriptive.
When people scroll through podcasts on listening apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, I think descriptive names rule. You literally have a fraction of a second or so to make an impression. You want to enable people to understand what your show is about. So the name and the cover art do this work — but clever names are easily overlooked by your ideal audience. We like to use keyword research tools to investigate how many people search for the name, or portions of the name. This is a good indication of how popular the name might be, and it can help your show with Google SEO and showing up in the search results.
The Format and Podcast Structure
Next, you will want to consider what type of format your podcast will be presented in. Some common good podcast formats include:
- Co-hosted shows
- Interview shows
- Roundtable shows
- Documentary shows
- Docu-drama and storytelling shows
Each of these formats has different benefits and challenges that accompany them. Some shows use different formats for different podcast episode structures or even different formats within the same episodes. Others choose one and stick with one format for every show. When starting a new podcast, and for new listeners and existing listeners, we recommend to stick to one format.
In our experience, Solo-shows are one of the easiest and perhaps lowest pressure ways to start: You can record on your own time, in a number of ways, use free form or prepared scripts.
Co-hosted Shows are much more fun, having a partner in crime definitely increases the joy factor for the host. For listeners, the interest comes from relating to the banter and relationship between you and your co-host. It makes for more engaging podcast episodes. Plus, you can ask your co-host to help with show notes or promos.
Interview Shows are the most common, but also require a fair amount of skill. To get an interesting conversational vibe, you might want to really examine your niche and come up with ways to differentiate how you approach your guests from all the other podcasts out there. Also, your guest does most of the talking on these, and should be the one who shines — so in these scenarios your own voice and POV is often harder to expose.
Roundtable Shows are also relatively difficult, in part because organizing a panel and inviting everyone to show up is almost as hard as effectively moderating. If you thought interview skills are hard, moderating a panel is too. It is easy for one of the panelists to dominate the conversation, and you as a host have to create something both interesting and fair for all panelist on the topic of each episode.
Documentary and Storytelling Shows require a lot of effort in the way audio, music, sound effects and segments move each episode of your podcast and even the whole series forward. It requires a writing and journalistic as well as audio editing and production skills, and thus are some of the most involved to produce, and to plan a podcast episode in this format requires time and effort. But they are also the most rewarding to listen to. No wonder so many audio dramas are popular.
One of the first questions that comes up when you're figuring out how to plan a podcast is how long every episodes should be. The answer is: it completely depends on your content.
You never want to fill up time with meaningless fluff, but you also don't want to edit down high-quality content.
In general, 20 to 45 minutes seems to be a pretty good average episode blank.
However, the most important factors that should determine the length of your episodes are your audience and your content.
Another big question when you are figuring out how to plan for a podcast is with what frequency should you release your episodes. Basically, it is more important to be consistent than to be super frequent.
If you can regularly put out a show once a week, then go for it. Having launched dozens of podcasts for clients, our experience has shown that if you are publishing less often than that, growth will be be steady but slow.
However, if the best you can do is one show every month, then that's better than putting shows out sporadically.
3. Recording, Editing, and Planning a Podcast Script
Now that you have your basic plan, it's time to really start making the thing. First, though, you'll want to do some research into recording equipment as well as recording and editing software. Visit our sister site at https://podcastingresourcesguide.com, and you will find plenty of resources for both.
Planning a podcast script or episode outline is one of the next essential steps. Maybe you are a natural at ad-libbing, but most of us are going to need a plan ahead of time. The level of preparation depends on your show format discussed above, but walking in cold is never a good idea.
We love to use a content planner tool like Topic to prepare for some episodes, you can see a case study and video about this here.
It helps you research your topics and guests, as well as prepares a plan and show notes outlining topics to cover, questions to ask and headings to use. And after creating your episode plan, you can convert it into SEO optimized show notes that are much more likely to feature in the Google search results.
4. Creating Your Cover Art
You'll want your cover art to be aesthetically pleasing and create an awesome first impression. The best size for podcast cover art is 1400 x 1400 pixels, under 500 kb in size, and in either PNG or JPG format.
There are a number of tactics you can use to help your cover art stand out from the crowd. These include using vibrant fonts and colors, making sure your text is readable both in small thumbnail form and in larger form, and employing a minimal design with simple shapes.
If it's possible and if it makes sense for your podcast, it can also be a good idea to include faces on your cover art.
Before uploading your design, you'll want to use a preview utility to check it. Our favorite utilities and insights for cover art are here.
You can make the cover art yourself or you can hire a graphic designer. Services like 99designs offer quite a few different design options to choose from your podcast. We like using them because you get dozens of design proposals from different artists, instead of getting dozens of variations from the same artist. It helps you hire wisely, as you don't want to end up spending a pretty penny for an unusable design.
5. Picking Your Hosting
The next thing you need is a media or podcast host. These are the services that store your podcast and let your audience subscribe, listen, and download.
The old standard for hosting is Libsyn, but that isn't your only option. Other popular choices include Captivate.fm and Whooshka, which have wonderful hosting features like dynamic audio insertion.
Looking for more hosting choices and reviews? You can visit our Podcasting Resources Guide here.
One thing we suggest: Consider using a host that supports DAI, which stands for dynamic audio insertion. This allows you to dynamically add and change in-house-promos for your business, lead magnets, host read sponsor ads and the like. It may not seem like a big deal when first launching a show, but after a while we have seen podcasters getting 30% of their listens from back catalog episodes — So wouldn’t it be great to be able to insert and change your own fresh audio promos for all who listen to your older episodes?
6. Submitting Your Show to Directories
Once you've settled on your media host, you can then start submitting it to different directories. Many media homes will have guided submission tools or auto-submit tools to help you with this process.
Looking for some guidance on which directories to submit your show to? Check out our Podcasting Resources Guide to help you choose the right directories for your podcast.
7. From Planning Your Podcast To Marketing Your Podcast
Congratulations! You finally made your first podcast episode and it's time to share it with the world. The next thing you want to focus on is how to grow your audience so that your content can reach as many people as possible every day.
Here is our complete guide on how to promote a podcast.
Additional Reading For Planning Your Podcast
- Podcast Workflow and Content Strategy
- Podcast Show Notes Workflow Tools That Save Massive Time
- Podcast Marketing Checklist
Are You Looking For More Info on How to Plan a Podcast?
Planning a podcast can be a tedious process, but one that is well worth the in the end. If you are willing to put in the effort up front, you can generate leads, build authority, and attract a loyal audience.
If you are looking for help in the process of planning a podcast, you've come to the right place. You can find more information on planning or launching a podcast here.