WHAT EXACTLY IS A PODCAST?
An audio file is referred to as a “podcast.” The term “podcast” can refer to either audio or video files, but the term is most commonly used to describe audio files only. Similar to a radio or TV show, the recordings can be listened to on demand via an app like iTunes or Stitcher, a regular computer, or both. Podcasts are typically updated on a regular basis but listeners can still access all the previous episodes at any time. Finally, the vast majority of podcasts are free to download and stream.
Almost any topic you can think of is covered in podcasts, from fantasy football to gardening to aviation to Bible studies to fitness. Sleep, language learning, and marriage repair are just some of the topics covered by podcasts. There are podcasts devoted to vinyl records and coins, and there are podcasts devoted to both. There is not huge money involved in producing a podcast, it isn’t too difficult and you don’t need special equipment to get started. Once you have finished your podcast, it is possible to distribute it on many different platforms for very little money. So again, anyone can start a podcast about any topic they want.
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PART 1: CONTENT
Before getting into the, how to create a podcast, consider your show’s subject matter.
Listen to a lot of other podcasts if you want to start a podcast of your own. You’ll learn a lot about what’s possible by listening to a wide range of different topics, formats, lengths, and styles of shows. The more you listen, the closer you’ll get to finding the perfect setup for your own show. It is necessary for you to make decisions regarding the following items:
NARROWING YOUR FOCUS
The first step is to narrow your focus to a specific area of study. For example, a podcast about “life in general” won’t attract enough listeners unless you happen to be famous, in which people will tune in to hear what you have to say. Ideally, it should not be too broad. It’s also possible that if you narrow your focus too much, you may only appeal to a small audience or run out of material before you know it.
An illustration would be: It’s possible that you’re a huge fan of sewing and want to put on a television show about it. There is no room for a podcast about sewing needles, but there is plenty of room for a podcast about sewing in general. Even so, you might want to focus on just one type of sewing, such as quilting, or only include projects that can be completed in a weekend, if you’re targeting teenagers.
Despite the fact that my podcast covers a wide range of topics related to teaching, I must be careful about not spending too much time on any one topic, as my audience consists of people from all types of life. For example, if I talked about math teaching for three episodes, I might lose the interest of my non-math teachers. There are several educational podcasts that focus on a single subject area, such as teaching a foreign language, rather than broadening their scope to include all aspects of education. They may not have as many topics to choose from, but they can focus in on a narrower niche without worrying that they will alienate a significant portion of their audience.
Make a list of possible episode titles if you’re having trouble narrowing down your topic. If it’s easy for you to come up with 20 different ideas, all of which have some connection to one another, then you’ve found a good topic. If you have a lot of ideas, but they’re scattered and disjointed, you may have a problem with the scope of your project.
NAMING YOUR PODCAST
You’ll also have to come up with a show title at some point. It will be much easier to make a decision on this one if you just look through the titles of dozens of other podcasts first. Some will catch your attention right away, while others will be a complete flop. Look for a recurring theme in the names you find most appealing. While brainstorming possible names that follow the same pattern, keep in mind your own topic and eventually something will feel right.
It’s a good idea to run your short list by a few other people at this point: Even if your favourite name makes perfect sense to you, you might want to look for something else if a few of your friends don’t get it.
Listeners have come to expect a certain format from most podcasts, which is why many of them subscribe in the first place. For example, on a “teenagers who sew” podcast, the first three minutes of each episode might be dedicated to the host offering a “sewing tip of the week,” followed by a ten-minute interview with one of the listeners who enjoys sewing. On the other hand, some podcasts tend to be more free-form, with the hosts simply jumping in to talk about whatever comes to mind.
Additionally, think about whether you want to do a solo show with just you as the host, an interview show with a rotating cast of characters each week, or some other type of panel show with a rotating cast of hosts discussing a different topic each week. If you’re anything like me, you’ll jump from one to the next because some subjects are better suited to one format over another.
If you can establish and stick to a regular format, your podcast will take on a more professional tone, increasing your credibility and giving your listeners a sense of security. There is no limit to creativity if that is not what you are aiming for. It’s okay if your idea is completely out of left field; there are plenty of people who will appreciate it.
Consistency is probably more important: releasing episodes that are about the same length is a good idea if you want to grow a loyal audience of listeners. Some of my episodes clock in at over an hour, while others clock in at under ten minutes, but the majority of my episodes clock in at between 25 and 40 minutes. So even though I have never really asked my audience if this is an issue they care about, it is something I know as a podcast listener myself, and it is jarring when things deviate dramatically from the norm.
The frequency with which new episodes will be published will depend on both the length of the show and its length. The frequency with which podcasts release new content varies widely. Some podcasts release new content daily, while others release new episodes weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. Whatever schedule you choose, as long as you can stick to it, doesn’t matter. In order to keep your audience engaged, it is essential that you provide new content on a regular basis. But if you’re not worried about building a fan base, you can make episodes whenever the mood strikes.