How To Produce A Podcast In 2021 - The Ultimate Guide
Dec 10, 2020
Podcasting is hands down… the most impactful way to build a relationship with your audience…
I mean, who else talks to them softly in their ear each morning?
Someone much more intimate with them than you, I would assume!
But, the real question is how to produce a podcast that is good enough to get your listener to listen to you each day, week or month?
The first time you listened to a really engaging show may have led you to think:
“That sounds easy and fun. I should start one…”
As effortless and fun it is to listen to a podcast, this doesn't also ring true for the production of side of the equation.
Today, we are going to walk you through the “behind the scenes” process of producing an awesome podcast that will have your listener refreshing their Google Podcasts app each morning in anticipation of your new episode.
By the end, you will be able to answer how to produce a podcast… and more importantly be one step closer to being able to produce your own podcast.
Let’s get started!
Step 1 - Planning
Before you even ask yourself how to produce a podcast, you need to plan.
Hoping for podcast success without a planned roadmap is just a dream. Your podcast roadmap is the first thing you will do before recording your podcast.
Who, why, where, and when are some questions that MUST be asked as the idea of starting a podcasting strikes your mind.
Who is your podcast audience?
In our opinion, the number one reason why podcast fail is because the creators don't think enough about whom they plan to add value too. Without this step... a watered down, useless podcast is produced and the creators give up after three months as they don't up generating the audience they thought they would.
If you don’t know who you are going to address, it is almost like trying to find Planet Earth in the Milky Way galaxy...
For instance, a podcast about horror film would be valued by the people who have a passion for horror films. A podcast about B2B marketing will add value to B2B marketers looking to up their game.
What do you know about and who can you add value too?
This is the question that you MUST ask.
Be sure to look at possible podcast competitors… if there are already many podcasts in your niche this suggests that there is demand for a show like yours… but it may be hard to get subscribers.
If there are no podcasts in your chosen subject area then there may be low demand, but low competition means it should be easier to generate an audience!
What should my podcast be about?
This is closely linked to the last section...
One basic premise of content marketing is to feed potential customers with the information they need BEFORE they need to buy your product or service. If you are the person or business providing this information you move your customers towards buying AND allow them to build trust in you.
This will mean that when they come to buy... they buy from you.
Now of course, you need to be able to add value on this topic or have a network of people that can add value on this topic.
This is the sweet spot: the ability to add value with the information and the ability to monetise the information.
What should I call my podcast?
A podcast about fitness training with the name "The Sarah Clay Show" will leave you in despair, as many people will not click as they care about fitness training, not you Sarah ;)
Naming your podcast in this way is helpful when you already have a fanbase or audience through other mediums.
Instead, your podcast name will be both "descriptive and memorable".
Your target audience will reach you if your podcast name is organic and contains words related to your podcast subject. Your podcast should appear in search results for queries around your niche.
And when we say memorable, it means a person who looked for ‘fitness training podcast’ and clicked on your podcast, will only come back to listen to the same podcast if your podcast name is memorable.
So, the recipe for podcast name is: "descriptive and memorable".
When deciding how long a podcast episode should be... many top podcast producers refer to a person's average commute: 20 to 30 minutes. But in reality, your podcast episode length depends only on your audience, and your subject.
If your content is easily summarised in a short podcast of 15 minutes, that is the best episode length for you.
If your content needs over an hour of time to be presented, then it is the ideal length.
The second factor is your audience. One audience may absorb small chunks of 5 to 10 minutes whilst another audience may be happy to listen to a 2-hour-long interview.
While deciding how long your podcast episode should be... the answer really leads to another question: how long can you add value for?
That is the length of your episodes and not a second longer.
Your show format might be the personal choice of the podcast producer, or it might be based on the requirements of a target audience. A podcast format sets a standard for what your audience should expect from your show.
There are really just a few show formats:
Interview based - each episode features a guest
Monologue based - just you talking!
Short tips - small, actionable tips
Story based - telling a story within an episode or a season
You need to choose the format that best suits you as a podcast host and your audience.
This is also a good opportunity for differentiation... if all the shows in your niche are interview based, you could gain traction fast with a more actionable tips based podcast.
Step 2 - Pre-Production
After answering the basic questions of the podcasting roadmap, now it’s time to set up your podcasting playground. Equipment, environment, and guests... We cannot cover how to produce a podcast without talking about pre-production.
The sound quality of your podcast highly depends on your choice of equipment. As a start, a USB mic, a laptop, and an internet connection are good to take off. But, over time you will need to progress to more complex equipment to achieve greater quality audio.
Before you make an investment in recording equipment, it is good to take a test drive with basic equipment. Once you are confident that your content is engaging the audience and you are enjoying this experience, then you should improvise to upgrade your podcast setup with more professional equipment.
This is what you will need to start with:
A microphone for voice recording
Audio Interface- It allows you to playback your voice recordings by cancelling all the background noise
A pair of headphones
And more advanced equipment:
A pop filter to eliminate the air blast when you say words with the sound of “t”, “p”, “b”
A mixer- more of post-production equipment, but it helps you to control music and sound levels
Mic stand- secondary, but it gives you more flexibility and eases to record your podcast
While you are recording your podcast sitting at your local café, no matter how good your content is... the surrounding noise and chatter will destroy the audio experience of your listeners. Similarly, recording your podcast with a table and chair in an empty room of 330 sq. feet will do nothing except generate an unpleasant echo.
A nice balance is important when your surrounding environment is concerned. A moderately furnished room with a quiet environment will enhance your podcast’s quality. We don’t mean that you need a soundproof room, but a calm space with minimal background noises.
One important to-do in setting up the stage is scheduling your guests if your podcast format requires so. Unplanned and clueless podcasting might be more hectic as well as you might end up with a clumsy and unorganised podcast where you don’t know what you have to talk about to your guest.
In your podcast preparations, you should schedule your guests so that you have enough time to research about them, their work, or particular topics you would be discussing.
For booking your guests, you can go with communicating with them over email and get the time when they are easily available. We typically recommend booking guests in using scheduling software such as Calendly...
Step 3 - Production
The playing field for your podcast is set up...When you are recording your podcasts, you must be equipped with all the necessary ammunition. Now, it is time to get to the crux of the question of how to produce a podcast.
Here are a few things you should really take note of before you place yourself in the hot seat that is being a podcast host.
Scripting Every Episode
Scripting your whole podcast episode and sticking to it rigidly will fade the natural touch of your podcast. It may sound like a puppet show.
But, a completely unprepared podcast could also turn out to be a complete shambles.
Then... how to produce a podcast that has a good balance of natural touch and organisation?
You should make an outline of important topics or things you have planned to discuss in an episode. This tip is extremely important when you are doing a solo podcast. Because there is a lot more chance of getting lost and go off-road in this case.
However, if you have a podcast format where guests are invited, key points or questions you are going to ask your guests in a written form can help you to stay on track. But, have a flexible approach because your guest might go around to share an interesting experience. Make sure to go along with your guest instead of being too stiff and sticking to the outline.
Share Questions with Guests
You should send notes or an outline to your scheduled guest for every episode. It will help your guest to know what to expect, get prepared to answer the questions. Instead of sending scripted questions, we like to send rough discussion points...
This will help the guest prepare but not script answers... this is crucially important to cultivating awesome audio content.
And it will make the listeners say:
The final step in the recording stage is to get into the seat, turn your mic on and start recording. For recording, you will need some recording software that allows you to have better control over the sound levels, background noise, and later on editing. The most commonly used free software is audacity. You can choose premium software depending on the needs of your podcasts.
Few tips for you while you are recording the podcast include avoiding eating anything or chewing gum. You can opt for a drink rather, but make sure to take your mouth away from the mic while drinking water or juice. The sound gets amplified by the mic and it really ruins the flow of audio.
Similarly, unnecessary pauses or filler words can also sound annoying to your listeners. For a start, it is really hard to get rid of your filler words like “eh, umm, ok, alright” but you will get over it with time... this is all part of the journey of becoming a podcast host.
Step 4 - Post Production
Now, we are moving toward the final stage of producing your awesome podcast.
The podcast production stage covers editing, mixing, removing background noises, doing the necessary cutting and joining, and small tweaks to create a smooth, and “good to hear” podcast.
Editing is essential for a podcast. Many podcast hosts find it the most challenging and undesired task. Editing is usually done in a DAW (digital audio workstation), just a complex way of saying editing software!
As we already mentioned that Audacity is the most common editing since it is a free tool but you can also go for Adobe Edition or Reaper for the premium option.
Editing includes eliminating background noises, cutting the unwanted prolonged pauses or filler words. Furthermore, the pauses due to the technical problem or any other unavoidable reason are fixed in editing.
The final caution to add while editing your podcast is to not do too much editing... we still want the audio to sound natural!
Mixing and sound quality adjustment
After the basic editing, it is now time for mixing and mastering your podcast. Mixing is performed to make all the soundtracks consistent as of sound level and bass. Mixing also makes sure that the tonal characteristics of all soundtracks are consistent throughout the podcast.
Audio mixing for your podcast aims to create a natural flow of conversation without any pauses, filler words, and sound problems.
When you have guests invited over to your podcast, it is really important that the voice of every panellist is consistent with others. Without mixing, you might feel that they are not even sitting in the same room.
And There We Go...
Going through the process of producing a podcast can be a turbulent experience... but trust us, it’s worth it in the end.
We put together this guide to maximise your chances of making your way through the podcast production jungle as we know that when you make it to the other side… you will be over the moon. We set the goal of answering the question: how to produce a podcast in 2021… how did we do?
Let us know by dropping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org… we’re also happy to advise on any points from the above post if you’re feeling stuck. Also send us a link when you launch so our team can subscribe :)
To your successful podcast!
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