Podcasting is a great way to express your creativity and your perspective with the world. And it’s never been easier to get one going. This article will assist you with some ideas to get you started as well as provide some technical insight to help you create a professional podcast.
Pick a Topic and Title
What is your passion? What is your expertise? In all honesty, the theme of your podcast can be as broad or as narrow as you like. The most important consideration is to pick something that excites you enough to want to keep generating content. A podcast requires consistency to grow and maintain an audience, so if you're going to commit to a weekly podcast, for example, make sure you pick a topic that will provide enough depth for at least 52 episodes. At this stage, you make want to make a list of potential podcast episodes. Brainstorm as many podcast episodes as you can. If you can't come up with very many, perhaps your podcast subject is too narrow. If you are overwhelmed with potential episode ideas, but only want to create a monthly podcast, perhaps your topic is too broad.
Another thing to consider is not to bite off more than you chew. If you want to remake an old radio drama for the modern podcasting audience, for instance, make sure you are going to have the time, energy, and casting required to see it through to completion. Nothing will aggravate your subscribers more than quitting your drama mid-season!
Once you’ve selected your topic, you’ll want to pick a clever name for your podcast that expresses the personality you plan to bring to it. Before finalizing your name, be sure to do a quick search of podcasts that are already being made. You want to make sure your podcast name is unique. The last thing you want is for a subscriber to recommend your podcast to a friend only to have them subscribe to another podcast of the same name. The more unique your podcast name is, the easier it will be to find and the easier it will be to remember.
Pick the Format
Now that you’ve decided what you’re going to discuss on your podcast, you need to plan for how long and with whom you’re going to discuss it. If you're creating an educational or informative podcast on a specific area, are you going to interview experts in the field? Or is your podcast going to highlight your expertise and experience? If your podcast is going to be less formal, maybe you want to get a few friends together to have a discussion over drinks.
Again, this is entirely at your discretion, but try to pick a format for your podcast that will be both entertaining and have some longevity. If the subject matter and format for your podcast holds your interest, chances are that there are potential subscribers who will be interested as well.
At this stage, you’ll want to plan the length of your episodes. 15 to 60 minutes is considered the norm for most podcasts. This doesn’t have to be exact, but each episode should average out to be about the same duration. While long format podcasts (45-60 minutes) are abundant, a short 15-20 minute podcast that entertains, informs, or motivates can be just as successful. Again, consistency is key. If you know that you can make a 45-minute podcast episode every time, then do it. If a 15-minute podcast seems more doable, there's nothing wrong with starting off short and sweet. A great advantage for the short podcast format is that you can create 'bonus' long-format episodes whenever you have a podcast episode that calls for it.
One thing to consider when determining the run-time for each podcast episode: make sure you are including your bumpers and commercials in the overall time count. If you're just starting out, you may not have any advertisers sponsoring your podcast, but that is another consideration. If you are actively seeking sponsorship, you may need to limit commercial slots if your podcast is only 15-20 minutes.
You should also decide how often you will be releasing your podcast. This is important. Once you’ve decided, for example, to release your podcast every Wednesday, release it every Wednesday. Your subscribers will expect to see your podcast in their feed at the appointed time and place, be reliable.
Pick Your Script
Whether you plan on a scripted format for your podcast where you are reading prepared text, or you are going to speak freely, you need to make a plan. This will keep you on track and prevent you from rambling. As time goes on and you become more comfortable hosting your podcast, you may find yourself relying on a script or outline less and less, but at least in the beginning, give yourself something to follow. This is why broadcasted shows seem so professional. The hosts are generally reading prepared remarks off a teleprompter. This is how you bring polish to your podcast.
Pick Your Music
Music is a crucial part of most podcasts. Countless articles have been written about musical production techniques, and they are beyond the scope of this story. However, you should keep in mind that a podcast can use music in multiple ways.
Of course, some podcasts are music-focused programs, in which case you are essentially a DJ, perhaps commenting between cuts but mostly playing tunes. That can include “live in the studio” performances on your podcast by an artist or band, playing your own original recordings, and playing recordings by other artists.
Many podcasts employ background music to support the spoken word or news clips. You also can make good use of musical interludes between other content. But keep your interludes short or you’ll lose the flow of your podcast. This is where taking a few hours in post-production can come into play. In this way, you can set the levels of your dialogue and your music while you are listening to both. This will make the end result that much more polished and listenable.
Picking a theme song for your podcast is also a great way to stand out. It's a musical cue for your subscribers to recognize your style. It's also a great way to keep your podcast in their mind, especially if your podcast theme song is catchy.
Before we leave this subject, we feel it important to remind you that music by other artists is usually copyrighted. Please respect those rights and get permission when needed and pay royalties when required. If you play a recording of a traditional tune that is in the public domain, you don’t have to worry about the rights to the composition, but the artist or record label probably holds the mechanical rights to the recorded performance. There are also services that allow you to license music from lesser known artists. This will give you the opportunity to select music that is unique to your show. What could be better than that?