What to know before starting a podcast

Politicians do it, footballers do it, even the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Flea does it… And if you were attracted to the title of this article, it’s highly likely that you have considered making a podcast too!

And why not? The podcast has been one of the biggest break out channels of communication in recent times. In its list of 2023 podcast statistics, the data analyst, Demand Sage, claims that there are over 5 million podcasts globally with Apple and Spotify leading the way as the most popular platforms for ‘getting it out there.’

They have reach too. The same analysts estimate that global listenership at close to 465 million (with over 19 million in the UK alone). So far, so good! How to reach out to millions, relatively cheaply and cash in on the zeitgeist…

However, other estimates place the number of ‘active’ podcasts ie those that keep producing, at around 450,000. Translation – anyone can give it ago, but it takes a bit more than a whim and a bit of kit investment to endure in the podcast game. So, if that hasn’t deterred you, what do you need to know before starting a podcast?

  1. What are you going to talk about? Yes it sounds obvious, but I will liken this to everyone who has ever started writing a book and given up somewhere between chapters 1 and 3. It’s easy to start with a great idea that will sustain one chapter (or podcast episode), but to keep the process ging requires strategy, dedication and organisation.
  2. How are you going to plan it? Organisation means planning meticulously. The kind of person who says they are just going to turn on the mic and freestyle (or, even worse, ‘riff’ off their ideas) for the duration, is the  same kind of person who approaches a speech without notes and practice. About 1 – 2% can pull it off. The rest just look unprepared and unprofessional. I would recommend drafting a list of at least 6 – 8 well sketched out ideas for individual podcast episodes before you go anywhere near a microphone..
  3. How are you going to theme it? It makes sense to talk about what you know, but have you got enough supplies in the locker to sustain a series of podcasts? Do you have a range of topics and themes which can evolve and develop? Are there people out there already successfully ‘riffing’ on your chosen subject? Spend time assessing if these have already been covered and the standard of the competition. If the bar is already high, either find a different angle or abandon that idea.
  4. What voice are you going to use? If you haven’t got experience in the game of radio chat or consistently getting your voice out there to a regular audience, then you will need to work on your voice. The first consideration is that it should be natural and authentic. Don’t try to overly emulate the style of somebody else. Try instead to capture and bottle the ‘essence’ of you.
    How do you normally use your voice? Record yourself having a conversation to find your natural state. No, it probably won’t sound pretty but just accept that most people hate the sound of their own voices and get over it. It’s your voice ,and if you are thinking about doing a podcast, you’ve got to find a way to work with it. Nevertheless there are ways to improve your delivery, and if you don’t have a naturally beautiful voice, fortunately practice can bring you some gravitas.
  5. How are you going to record it? Yes, you can type ‘podcast microphone’ into Amazon and a day later you will have the microphone. But how do you use it to best effect? How do you create the right environment for your newly gravitas laden tones to smoothly resonate or – put another way – get rid of those niggling sounds in the background? The answer is in research and a lot of trial and error, so make sure you iron out all those wrinkles before you press record for real.

It’s easy to think that doing a podcast isn’t as hard as doing a video, and that all a podcast is, is talking about something that you ‘know a bit about’. Of course it is achievable, but it needs some proper thought, a lot of research and planning and a strategy for keeping the content coming. So, before you buy the ultimate podcast mic from Amazon, start sketching that podcast plan and training that voice!…