What makes a podcast great? Part two
13 April 2022 at 1:26 pm
Mike Davis from Humans of Purpose writes that a success mindset, planning and listening to feedback is vital for a successful podcast.
In our last article, we covered some key fundamentals to making a great podcast, including a persistence mindset, and key steps to producing something of great audience value. This week, we consider listening to your audience, integrated marketing, and defining the minimum time and resourcing requirements needed for success.
Listening to your audience
As the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes said, “We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less”. In podcasting, you will naturally be leading most of the dialogue, which places more onus on you to find out who your audience is, and what they say about your content.
How? There are easy, quantitative ways to check. Look for trends in downloads, podcast rankings, audience demographics, and location. But how can you get rich, qualitative feedback? There are numerous options. One approach is to wait and see who contacts you. If they do, ask direct and transparent questions:
- What do you like most about the podcast?
- What do you like least about the podcast?
- What is one change that would improve it?
- What do you hope to achieve by listening to it?
- How could the podcast better achieve this outcome?
If no one reaches out, why not construct an email or social post asking if they listen to your podcast? Could they take 10 minutes for a quick phone chat about their podcast experience to date and how to improve the offering? You could use the questions above as the basis of a survey.
After 20 to 50 episodes, you may want to launch a regular annual listener survey, to provide a reward for listeners to complete a longer-form survey. At Humans of Purpose, we do this annually. The resulting insights help us to improve the survey, and ensure we’re listening to our audience and making the right adjustments.
Once your first few episodes are released, it’s time to double down, and establish the right marketing and communications channels. These can diversify audience touchpoints with your show, enabling you to reach a wider audience. Consider which channels you’ll use to direct traffic to your podcast: this may be a combination of varied podcast distribution to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and more. You may also choose to have a website, a regular email list, and a range of social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn.
You’ll find that your podcast listener demographic strongly correlates with your most successful social media platforms. Interestingly, Humans of Purpose doesn’t do well on Twitter or Facebook, but does do very well on Instagram and LinkedIn. Generally, it’s rare for podcasts to have a big LinkedIn impact, but Humans of Purpose has a strong focus on life and career journey – we have found a considerable following.
It’s been the strongest platform for me to leverage my own profile and networks, to bring people into the Humans of Purpose orbit. Integrated marketing means identifying the marketing and communications mix that works best for you, to attract the right audience, using a range of approaches. This will provide the best chance for exposure, growth and market penetration.
Podcasts are free to consume, but not to create. Costs vary, based on a range of factors. Are you doing it in person, or remotely? Do you have a usable room or pre-existing equipment? Do you have certain skills required to ensure the podcast’s development and release? Consider timeframes to produce and release an episode end-to-end. When I started, it could take me a few days, but after 230 episodes, I have weekly production down to two to three hours per week. Of course, this is just pure production time – it doesn’t include admin, correspondence, guest contact, quality improvement and managing various other channels.
For beginners, I’d recommend an initial budget of at least $5,000 for the right equipment, software, hosting, email, website, concept design, artwork, and branding. I’d also estimate an initial spend of about $150 per month, to cover hosting (website and email), email distribution service, audio-processing, transcripts, and website updates. It may be prudent to add $200 to $300 per month for social media promotion.
If you are podcasting independently, consider collaborative partnerships to help ensure success such as marketing and comms, partnerships, PR etc. Organisational support can make things cheaper and easier, and internal resources may support you to deliver your podcast promise.
Then there’s video: it opens up several new pathways such as YouTube, Instagram Reels and TikTok. However, this essentially doubles the costs above. Video production is far more expensive given higher labour, equipment, and processing costs, quality control and admin. Video is the future, but unless you have considerable budget, leave it for now.
As Canadian ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take”. Don’t let anything I’ve said about difficulty or challenge prevent you taking a legitimate shot: it leads to personal and professional growth.
As a final motivator, here is what I’ve gained through podcasting:
- I’ve created an artistic body of work that will last for a long time, and be remembered by many.
- I’ve helped tell the story of 230+ truly inspiring people whose messages have helped many listeners.
- I’ve met and built relationships with a number of these inspiring people, who drive me to be better, and think bigger everyday.
- I’ve helped 230+ for-purpose leaders and their organisations amplify and spread the message of their impact.
- I’ve found an incredible hobby that I find deeply fulfilling that enables me to reach people I want to meet.
Good luck! Don’t let yourself off the hook until you’ve thoroughly tested your concept. If it stacks up, commit to production and delivery of 50 episodes, then reflect on continuing.
I often quote the Chinese philosopher Laozi: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
So, take that step today and get moving on your podcast journey.