Podcasting 101: Four Key Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Podcast

November 07, 2022 Shaun Rosa

When video started to become a standard practice, I found that clients, or everyday creatives, requested epic long-form video content.  Although the desire to create an exciting and meaningful video is appreciated, the truth is, anything more than a minute or two is too long.

Even though short, bite-sized, and digestible video content is the standard, some clients and creatives insist on telling the superhero-like epic in 12–15 minute videos. In some instances, we can’t persuade them against creating a long video, but for some, the idea of podcasting is just as exciting. 

Podcasts are an excellent resource for our clients to tell stories that have a greater scope. Here are some things to consider when launching a podcast.

  • What’s the story and what’s the goal?
    • All content has a story, and identifying the story you want to share with your audience is vital to podcast development. Along with the story, consider the desired goal for the podcast.  Is the intent to be informative, educational, or simply entertaining? 
  • Who’s your audience?
    • Knowing your audience is an essential part of launching a podcast. You want to know who you’re speaking to and how they want to receive or process the type of information you are sharing. 
  • How should you format your content/story?
    • Format may be the last item on the list, but it is an essential part of planning your podcast. In many ways, developing this information is like creating a road map for the story and distribution. Is your podcast a narrative or interview? Will you have one or two hosts? Is this podcast a panel discussion? Knowing these answers allows you to plan accordingly. Some clients cast internally for a host, while others may cast someone with media training. And if you’re moving forward with an interview-style podcast, you can begin identifying essential voices you want to feature in each episode to help tell your story.
  • How long do you want your episodes to be?
    • Once you settle on your format, it’s time to start thinking about episode length and whether this is a limited series with an end date, a podcast with defined seasons, or an ongoing series with no definitive ending. What’s great about podcasts is that you don’t have to adhere to any old broadcasting standards of a 21- or 42-minute run time per episode. You can create an episode that is as short as two minutes or something longer than Martin Scorsese’s last film (if you’re curious, “The Irishman”: 209 minutes).
  • How do you know your podcast will be heard? What’s the success metric?
    • So, you bought some recording equipment, navigated everyone’s busy schedules, and recorded your first of episode. You’re done, right? Not quite. One of the most overlooked phases of podcasting is distribution; so, how do you get your episode  to reach your audience? The answer is finding a hosting platform for your podcast. The challenge lies in choosing the best one for your needs; there are many different hosting platforms, all with different capabilities and costs.
    • The first thing I look for in a hosting platform is the ability to distribute a podcast to the top three podcast apps: Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Spotify. The second thing I look for in a good distribution platform is built-in metrics. Some platforms will break down the basics like overall plays, episode plays, and audience geography, while others might break down the statistics even further, with information about the apps or devices listeners use to tune in and at what time of day. Of course, having access to deeper metrics typically comes at a cost. If you want to go with a simpler option, you can opt for Anchor by Spotify, or if you don’t mind signing up and paying to get more distribution statistics, you can sign up for Buzzsprout. Choosing the right host isn’t easy and can get overwhelming quickly, but don’t let that deter you from getting started. Make a spreadsheet with all your options and features, make the choice that feels comfortable, and remember that nothing is permanent.  

While I learned that “videos don’t need to be long to tell a good story”, I also learned that I adore hearing people speak passionately about causes they believe in and listening to them tell personal stories about triumphs and overcoming challenges. As media consumption rapidly changes, shorter can be better, but sometimes a good story needs a little more time to develop, a few more beats to breathe, or a moment for audiences to have their minds blown by something they just learned. A podcast is a great platform for that to happen.

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