As part of building a podcast over the last two years, I have been fortunate enough not only to meet interesting and innovative entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals from many walks of life, but I have also learned how to develop a podcast. One thing I have specifically noticed is that there is a key difference between making a podcast and making a successful one. While many solutions out there today promote the DIY podcast mentality, which significantly reduces the barrier to entry in regard to podcasting, there is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to actually making a podcast grow and have a large reach.
It takes time and dedication to research potential guests, set up interviews, frame topics and episodes, and promote the content. Sure, the tools out there are helpful when it comes to actually recording the podcast or editing it, but that does not mean that that is enough to grow a successful podcast. You need to have a fire that burns that makes you want to make the content, consistently and push it to the right audience. So here are some tips from my last few years of podcasting.
Find Your Why
Someone told me the other day, “Jordan, there are a bunch of podcasts out there today, what makes yours another one I should listen to?” Now, as you could imagine, that might otherwise have put me on the backpedal, but it actually made me think that this person was onto something.
With so much media out there and so many different options of who and what to listen to, you have to find what makes you unique. You can call it differentiation, you can call it niche, but whatever it is you have to find the sauce that makes your podcast worth listening to. For me, I always say (and write in my podcast description) that my goal is to make high-tech accessible. I do not care so much about the founder’s journey or their specific company, I aim to make tech understandable: the why’s, processes, trends, etc. I want to make it clear for the average listener so they can understand new innovations in tech and perhaps where they might want to make a push in the industry, and I actively promote this. What’s your why?
Publish Yourself Unapologetically
In podcasting, a show host makes content. But if no one sees the content, did the host really make the content?
Pardon the joke, but truly, if no one sees your content, did it really make an impact? And that is why I always say that to make a podcast successful, you have to promote it. Pushing it on dedicated social pages, your own personal accounts, and having guests or other partners share your posts is incredibly important. Not only does this create a sort of network buzz but it actively gets your podcast into the sphere of potential new listeners.
Sure, you may not get many likes at first, and it may take time to crack the algorithm on what content works, heck it could take a year or two before you are even noticed, but time, patience, and optimization are the ways to go for that. At the end of the day, if you are a podcaster and not promoting your podcast then just stop right now, because this gig is not for you.
Brand Your Podcast
Branding is more than just having a cool thumbnail and some graphic or video templates. Of course, they are important and help with visually branding yourself, but that is not everything, especially in the world of audio that is podcasting. In this case, branding is about creating a recognizable entity that people can appreciate and support. That type of branding starts from the name of the podcast all the way to the guests you bring on, the episode structure, audience engagement, questions you ask, and the posts you promote. Likewise, finding external entities to help brand yourself, (thanks Geektime!) is also very important.
For example, I always host my episodes in a studio. Not only does it give the guest a more formal feeling to the interview than, say, a zoom call, but when uploading visuals from the recording session, it can go a long way in helping brand myself as High Tech on the Low (with the studio background). Likewise, I always begin episodes with a welcome, and the episode number, and immediately segue into asking how the guest is doing before directly introducing them, then I move onto a shoutout to our sponsor, and then finally the episode. I also finish each episode with tips and advice from the specific person for others out there like themselves. And to be very honest, I am constantly innovating and trying to experiment with new ideas for my podcast, but within the brand space I have created for myself.
So, the long and short of it is that to be a successful podcaster, you have to do more than just record episodes and get the right tools. You have to find your unique flavour, promote yourself endlessly, and have that all fall under a special label - the podcast brand. Good luck!