A strategic approach to producing a podcast

Podcasting is not a new way to produce content.

However, it is starting to reach a growing mainstream audience as more and more average users discover shows via their smart phones.

I recently produced my first podcast called Merchants of Dirt.

This is a podcast based on my Reckoneer.com blog, that is dedicated to making the art and science of off-road racing simple and repeatable.

The Merchants of Dirt Podcast was something that I always wanted to do, but it took writing a blog for over 3-years before I decided to do it.

Writing is comfortable for me.

Editing? Not so much.

And now podcasting? Podcasting required a whole new set of skills.

It also required a new learning curve, especially since it was a digital format that I did not know much about.

That was until I dived into it and found that podcasting is not unlike blogging.

All the same steps are there.

The difference is only in the details of the different medium, and the software you use to produce your show.

Yes, those differences are not subtle, but they are all technical differences, not content differences.

The process you use to think up, create, and polish your content are all the same.

But instead of words and context, you’re using your own voice to present your content.

And if you’re like me (and write like you talk), then translating some of your blog posts into podcasts is not very difficult.

However, if you’re a blogger looking to get into podcasting, you may have some hesitation.

I’m here to tell you not to worry.

I believe that your transition into podcasting can be easy, so long as you know what is involved.

So let’s find out what IS involved!

Here is a simplified strategic approach to producing your first podcast:

#1 — Decide
The first stop on your strategic approach roadmap is determining your level of interest.

Sure, podcasting sounds awesome, and all the cool kids are doing it, but is it right for you?

To know for sure, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What will keep you talking for longer than 7 shows?
  • Who else is doing this?

If any one of these questions is difficult to answer, or you don’t have an answer for any of them, then maybe podcasting is not for you.

#2 — Plan
Your podcast needs to start with a clean path.

This means you need to define some elements, make some decisions, and know your direction.

As part of your podcast planning, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Can you sum up your show in a few words?
  • What are you going to talk about?
  • Who is this for? Who will care?
  • Who will be a part of this show? Co-hosts or solo?
  • Can you or your co-hosts make a 12-month commitment (a full season)?
  • Where do you want the show to go? Do you have themes?
  • Do you talk to guests? Do you only monolog? Maybe both?
  • Will you have music? Will you have musical segues?

These are the questions that will define what you are building, and how you will build it.

#3 — Build
With all your requirements in place, it’s time to discover how you will market your podcast.

Branding is a difficult but necessary part of any podcast’s creation.

It can also take up a large portion of your time.

Regardless of how much you want to put into your branding efforts, you should (at a minimum) know the answers to these questions:

  • What will you call this podcast? What is its name?
  • How do you want to be positioned? What do you stand for or against?
  • Are you picking a fight? Who is your main competitor?
  • How do you want people to feel about your podcast?
  • How do you want your podcast website and artwork to look and feel?
  • What do you want people to see when they download your podcasts in iTunes?

#4 – Produce
Once your podcast starts to take form, you need to set up your production environment.

This is actually the easiest part of the process since it requires the purchase of gear and software.

For your first podcast, you should be considering these kinds of production questions:

  • What computer will use to produce your podcast?
  • Where will you backup your podcast draft files and podcasts in production?
  • What kind of microphone or microphones will you buy?
  • Do you have a mixer? Will you need a mixer?
  • Do you have pop filter for all of your microphones?
  • How will your microphones be mounted or used while recording?
  • What kind of recording software will you use?
  • Does your recording software work well with your microphones and other media?
  • Can you record with Skype or via a mobile phone?
  • Do you have a quiet space to record? Is it removed from distractions and other sounds?

Good gear is important, but it does not need to be expensive to be good.

In podcasting, expensive does not always mean better.

If you’re on a budget, there are a few dynamic microphones that are very effective at recording your voice for a podcast.

Once you have your equipment ready, and your recording space set up, you need to consider how your show will go.

This is the part of your production that will determine the pacing, flow, and transition of your podcast recording.

But it is not set in stone. If you don’t like it after a few episodes, you can always change it.

The key is to have some of it figured out beforehand by asking yourself these questions:

  • What kind of format will you have? Short, long, segments?
  • How will your content be organized?
  • Will you write a script? Will you talk off the top of your head?
  • Will you record more than one episode at a time? Will you do batch recordings?
  • How will you review your recordings after they are completed? Will someone else review it?
  • How will you edit your recordings? Will you edit it? Will someone else edit it?
  • How will you use music? Will you use music?
  • What is an unacceptable error in your recordings? Do you include your errors?
  • How long will you give yourself before the podcast needs to be released?

Editing your podcast can take a lot of your time.

There are services that can help you do this too.

But when you’re first starting out, you want to get familiar with editing your own shows.

It will help you understand how your recording works, and what things you can do to make your recordings better.

Once you finally decide that your show is ready for release, you need to think about a few pre-release thoughts:

  • How long will you give yourself before the podcast will be released?
  • Will you write your show notes? Will someone else write your show notes for you?
  • Where will your show notes go?
  • Will show notes come out before or after you release your podcast episode?
  • What summary will you include with your podcast episode?
  • What podcast art will be included in your RSS feed?
  • Who will check the final podcast episode once it is released?

Having an understanding of what you need to do to publish your podcast will help you create a process you can use again and again.

But at some point, you need to call it quits and release your show.

It might not be great, but it is sure to be good enough for your first few episodes.

Also, if you allow others to give you feedback, you can make it better by keeping what works and focusing on what does not.

#5 — Promote
Once your first episode is ready, you need to start working on your promotional channels and where your digital assets will reside.

Unfortunately, how you answer these questions may make you go back and reconsider some of your earlier answers:

  • Does your podcast’s name work well as a domain name?
  • Is your domain name easy to register? Is is available?
  • Do you have a website host for your podcast?
  • Do you have a media host for your podcast’s files and RSS feed?
  • How do you want your podcast website and artwork to look and feel?
  • What do you want people to see when they download your podcasts in iTunes?
  • Do you have a website design or theme ready?

Why does this list include a website host AND a media host?

It has everything to do with downloads and bandwidth.

Your website hosting company CAN support both your website and your podcast episodes.

But there is a limit to that support.

Most website hosting companies will cap the amount of download bandwidth your website is allowed to have per day, per week, or per month.

If your podcast is unknown, this will not be an issue.

But what happens when you become popular?

What if your podcast is around 50Mb per episode, and 1,000 people download your podcast in one day?

How much bandwidth did they just use?

The answer is a lot!

Then what happens when those 1,000 people download all your other episodes too?

And then all their friends do too!

It’s a great problem to have — it means your podcast is doing well!

However, it also means your website just crashed.

This is why you have a media host.

Your media host is where your podcast files actually live. They are linked to your podcast website but do not actually reside on your podcast website.

Your media host also maintains your Real Simple Syndication (RSS) file that is used to update all your podcast media readers (e.g. iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music).

When you have a media host, you only need to public your podcast to that host, and your RSS feed is automatically updated.

Once your RSS feed is updated, all the podcast media readers you belong to will automatically discover your new episode and download it for everyone who has subscribed to your podcast.

Now that media hosting is all cleared up, you need to start thinking about setting up your podcast media channels:

  • What is the main email address you will use to set up your accounts?
  • What is the main email address you will use to for your audience to contact you?
  • Does your podcast have its own Twitter account? Do your co-hosts have access to it?
  • Does your podcast have a Facebook Group? Do your co-hosts have access to it?
  • Do you have an iTunes account?
  • Do you have a Stitcher account?
  • Do you have a Google Play Music account?

#6 — Release
Setting up all these accounts in advance will make the release process seamless.

With your podcast uploaded to your media host, and your show notes ready on your website, the next step is to press the button.

What button? The PUBLISH button!

Release your podcast episode into the world.

It will take some time if it is your first episode, but it will start to show up on all the podcast media readers that you have signed up for.

When it finally appears in iTunes (the media software that shows roughly 75-percent of all podcasts), it’s time to tell people about it.

This means you need to start thinking about your channels and what you need to do to get people to find your show.

Start asking yourself these questions before you launch your campaign:

  • What is the summary of this podcast episode?
  • Did I have a guest? Did I meantion someone who might what to know?
  • Did I cite another website that might want to know
  • Do I have a summary for different audiences?
  • Which social media accounts need to show the podcast episode?
  • Do I want them to link to my podcast website or straight to iTunes?
  • Does this episode link to a blog post or other media?
  • Do I include this espisode in my newsletter or email to my list?
  • What time of day do I want to tell everyone one about my podcast?
  • Do I want to announce the podcast episode’s release more than once?

When you know what you are going to say, then it’s time to say it!

Announce your podcast and get the word out that you have a new episode on a topic worth listening to.

First, give your audience a reason to listen, then make it easy for them to find you and subscribe.

#7 — Measure
The final step in your strategic approach to producing a podcast is measuring your success.

This can be tough when you first start out.

Downloads Per Episode (DPE) is a key indicator that you have an audience, and how active that audience is.

Your media host will show you how well your podcast is doing month to month, but don’t expect to be famous in the beginning.

Typically, the average DPE is around 200 per month for a good show.

If you can hit a 200 DPE, you’re doing very well!

However, anything over 50 is good too.

It means you have an audience, and that there is someone out there interested in what you have to say.

There are other metrics to consider, but you need to keep these questions in mind when it comes to measuring your podcast:

  • Are you getting reviews? Do people in your audience reach out to you?
  • Do you have an easy way for your audience to reach out to you?
  • Do you tell them how they can reach you every episode?
  • Do you enjoy doing your podcast and talking about your topic?
  • Do you take your reviews to heart?
  • Do you make changes and experiment with new ways of presenting your topics?

If you find that you don’t enjoy your podcast format any longer, change it.

If you find that you don’t enjoy your podcast topic, create a new one.

Plenty of podcasters will tell you that their second podcast was the one that made them love podcasting.

Sometimes, you have to learn how to do something before you can do it well.

Podcasting is no different.

Resources
Here are a few podcasting resources that are excellent when it comes to learning how to podcast:

Learn HOW first, then make it great!

But if you get stuck, Trenchbucket is here to help you through the Creative Strategy of building your first podcast!

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Posted by Kyle Bondo

@Trenchbucket -- Creative strategy dragon, off-road racing podcaster, WordPress & PHP developer, outdoor race promoter, and US Navy Veteran. Current products: Reckoneer, Merchants of Dirt Podcast, and Wolf Bouncer All-Mountain Series.

Buckets of Strategy
We think about six
impossible things
before breakfast.
Do not miss the
next six!
Let's Strategize
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Buckets of Strategy
We think about six impossible things
before breakfast.
Do not miss the next six!
Let's Strategize
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.