Look, we really love podcasts. It's a big part of what we do and we do make them for companies. Thing is to make a good one, and stand out in a sea of over a million currently listed podcasts out in the world, it takes a fair bit of focus, commitment and fundamentally understanding the channel.
We talk to so many people who think podcasting would be a great thing to get into, and it is. However, when someone or a company approaches us we try to ask them these questions. What follows is the cold light of day to help you decide whether you really need that podcast you are toying with starting.
Do You have an interesting story to tell?
We're big on storytelling here at Adrift, so our first question is always what's the story? Without a good story content fails, it doesn't matter whether it's a podcast, a tweet or that pre-roll ad your CMO thought was the best idea because an agency talked him into it.
The big sticking point here is that the story has to be told by you. "We don't want it to feel like an ad." and "We don't want this to be dominated by insert company name here." are some of the most common requests we get. Thing is people listen to podcasts because of the approach of the people behind it. You like Wondery shows because you like their approach to true crime and you like Tim Ferriss because of his approach to asking questions.
The perfect guest is not going to make your show a hit, it's your approach to telling a story that your audience will stick around for that will. Step one, find your story and own it.
Can you afford a long game?
Podcasts don't really go viral. They can be popular but they never quite reach the fever pitch that a Youtube video can. That's due to podcasts being a very slow medium. When we measure podcasts, we don't measure them on day one, we measure them over a month to six weeks. This is because people don't listen to shows all at the same time, they have to find a spot in there day to listen (check out our post on Attraction Viewing for more on this).
Due to how slow things are, and how important it is to stay front of mind you need to be prepared to stay in the game as long as you can. We tend to recommend that you produce no less than eight episodes for an initial run. For your average podcast your chances are better the longer you can hold your nerve, you need as many chances at traction as possible. We saw this recently in the launch of our show Pathfinder, every week was an opportunity to exponentially grow our audience, but it took months not days to build that momentum.
How much commitment can you put into this?
Making a good podcast isn't just sitting down, airpods in having a bit of a chat. Even what may feel like a simple conversation on a successful show has much more going on behind the scenes. From writing to good audio equipment, from editing to getting the music just right, from getting your guests feeling comfortable and making sure your host isn't having an 'off' day. There are so many variables that affect how your episode is going to come out.
While a good production company can take much of this off your shoulders, you'll still need to work with them to bring your knowledge to the table. It is your show after all. Your commitment will be as important as theirs. You'll have to create time, space and be ready to answer questions. The standard rounds of approvals aren't going to fly here, so you'll need to find a new fluid way of working to work with your production team.
Can you forget everything you know about campaign marketing?
Things are not quite as simple as they seem in podcasting. Direct linking to content? Out the window, everyone uses different podcasting apps. Relying on paid media? Podcasts gain more listeners through word of mouth than any other medium.
It's going to sound cliche but finding the value that you offer to your audience is going to be the key to your marketing. Tag-lines and relentless bombarding with messaging don't work here. Your audience will be experiencing your show in times they would usually reserve for other entertainment, so you'll need to play by entertainment's rules. How do you make sure your show is as exciting as anything else in someones feed? I'll give you a bit of advice, having four people take you through a report they just wrote probably isn't going to be it. Try thinking about the stories you would tell over drinks at a bar or at a dinner party. That's how your show spreads.
Who is going to be in front of the microphone?
If you're trying to educate your audience on your value or approach is an external party really going to be the right choice for the person you put in front of the mic? We've got a bit of a secret, podcasts hosts don't have to be perfect. We've found the best people to work with as a host are the people that understand the subject matter better than anyone. It allows them to ask proper follow up questions as an interviewer, give notes on scripts and help promote the best bits in ways other people can't.
Podcasts still are a product of people starting from humble beginnings. You're going to be in this for the long haul. Hosts can be trained, so maybe take a look who on your team might be able to step up to the plate.
If you've come this far, congratulations. Maybe you do have what it takes to start a podcast. If you want you can talk to us about it, we'd love to hear your story.
This post was written by Ollie Judge you can follow him on Twitter.