How To Create a Podcast That Stands Out
Standing out in the podcasting world can be a BIG challenge for any newcomer, but it is possible. Even in my endeavors with my podcast network, it is difficult to build that audience and keep people coming back for more. You can do it, and I want to try to list these out and give you some thoughts on which areas to target. Keep in mind that it would be impossible to give anyone a roadmap to being famous and having millions of downloads per episode, but by taking some of these points and making a strong effort to add them into your plan you could have huge wins.
Even if you can take one point at a time and try to improve, over time you will see slow gains in your listenership. The biggest obstacle you have to overcome is yourself. Some podcasters don’t realize or even want to acknowledge that they are really bad. I can’t fix those, but I can help in fixing the ones that want to do better and build real shows.
Let’s comb through some of the important areas. Keep in mind I am not going into every single segment of concern. I would turn this into a book if I chose to address the secrets of incredible podcasts.
- Audio Quality: Many podcasters have terrible audio quality due to either low-end equipment, poor audio editing skills, or no experience recording in the studio. Removing these issues upfront will already put you in a different category and elevate your presence. This doesn’t mean you should go spend tons of money on equipment or coaching lessons. It means do your research, and make sure your finished product is listenable. If it’s not then you might be wasting your time all together.
- Building Authority: Becoming an authority in a niche is always an uphill battle, but it certainly can be done. Part of being an authority is that you are a person with information that most others don’t have. It’s also being recognized by your peers and agreed upon by the community at large. I don’t know when it happens, but when it does, you will know. To achieve this you need to be surrounded by people who read you, listen to you, and even watch you. You should be putting out content that is high-quality, consistent, and shareable. You can answer questions on Quora, write on your own website, and by guest blogging on relatable sites. You have to be out there to have people consume your thoughts. So create, create, and when you are tired of creating, create more.
- Branding: Painting a professional image using graphics is an art form, hence Graphic Design. You brand isn’t just audio if you want to stand out. Your artwork, social media banners, and even your logo is a direct reflection of how you treat your podcast. Go ahead and let it slip and your audience’s opinion could change quickly. You need to hire an artist that can weave together all your images to tell your story across all platforms. This includes profile images, cover images, logo, banners, and anything else you might use. Don’t skimp on this one, otherwise you won’t be standing out for the right reasons.
- Consistency: People want to know when to expect new episodes or shows. They subscribe to you because they know there will be more. This is where communication is the key. If you plan on releasing new audio every Thursday, then do it. You should follow through with your goals and ensure you have communicated expectations upfront on your website and descriptions of your content. If you choose to do an episode infrequently then you not be surprised about not having an audience. This is why network television has a schedule of when things will air, because they know that’s how to retain an audience.
- Presence: Having a show available in Stitcher and iTunes only sucks. Someone like me is not going to ever know you exist because I don’t use either. If you are not present in social media and other platforms then you are not reaching people. Don’t mistake this for a suggestion for you to be everywhere either. You should focus on as many cross-platform places you can truly handle, but not all. Dropping off RSS feeds and links is not being present or available to engage with. I have met podcasters that upload to Podbean and hope for the best. That’s it. They have zero presence and no one listens. If you are on Twitter, then be present for communications. If you are on Stitcher, engage with people. Do not drop off links and run.
- The Chops: I like to say, “Just because you have a microphone doesn’t mean you should use it”. Sometimes we just have to be honest with ourselves and know when it doesn’t feel right. I have had occasions where someone really wanted to podcast but just didn’t have the personality for it. They forced it, and it failed. Not everyone is meant to be a host, but that doesn’t mean you’re not important. Podcasting benefits from those that have other skills like editing, designing, marketing, promoting, and many more aspects. So if you don’t have “The Chops” for it, find another way you can make a difference.
It’s a given that I could dive into marketing, SEO, social media tactics, and much more. I choose several things I believe make a difference in the production and delivery of any podcast show. Anyone taking shortcuts or just picking up a $10 microphone is not going to go very far. Podcasters might rarely make money, but if you are serious, you have to invest into it to have a following. Some people might not like to hear this, but it’s true. My mother once told me that the best investment I could ever make is to invest in myself. That line of thinking hasn’t changed over the last 35 years as far as I can tell.
If at any time during this read you felt that none of this applies to you or your podcast show then it probably applies to you more than others. The ones that are in denial happen to be the bigger offenders. Of course, there is a possibility that it truly does not apply to you and that would ultimately mean that you are John Lee Dumas or Joe Rogan. I am flattered that you stopped by if this is the case.
If you have other areas to include in this list please feel free to post them in the comments. I think opening a dialogue is important for would-be or current podcasters. Audio content is the same as writing or video in my eyes. In the end it is content. Making sure that you are putting out the best content that you can is critical to how you are received.
Original Quora question: How can one make a podcast that stands out from the rest?