5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Starting a Podcast

By Rachel Corbett of podschool.com.au.  

Podcasting is a great way to get your message out into the world but it’s also hard work.  For every show that’s listened to by millions of people, there are hundreds with an audience consisting of the host and his or her mum.

So before you buy the latest gear, don the headphones, and start sprinting towards your dreams of podcasting glory, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions…

Who am I doing this for?

Before recording your first episode you should always sit down with a piece of paper and flesh out your ideal listener.

If you’re someone who wants to hit people over the head with their vision board every time they mention The Secret, this might seem a little unappealing.  But this process is less about asking the Universe to deliver this person to you and more about thinking strategically about your content.  If you know who your ideal listener is, you’ll be better able to tailor your show to their needs.

If you know you want to make a show for busy mums you might decide to make your episodes 15 minutes instead of 45 to fit in with their schedule.  This might also impact the style of delivery because you’ll obviously want to keep the f-bombs to a minimum if you know your show will be listened to with kids in the car.

These might seem like small details but the more you understand your audience, the more likely you are to make a connection with them.  Even though you might never meet them, you’re building a relationship and if your audience feels you understand them and their circumstance they’ll be more likely to go from casual listeners to raving fans.

Do I know my niche?

Trying to create a podcast that appeals to everyone usually ends up appealing to no one.

There are a bajillion podcasts out there and unless you’re an established brand that people search for because they know, like and trust you already, the only way to stand out from the crowd is if you’re doing something different. You might be concerned that narrowing your focus will make it harder to come up with ideas but anyone who’s worked creatively will know, the most crippling thing anyone can say is ‘do whatever you want.’

Creativity needs parameters to get the juices flowing, so if you know exactly what your topic area is, what specific problems you’re solving and why you’re doing it, coming up with content will be much easier. You want people to know exactly what your show stands for and what they can expect every time they tune in.

Do I have time to do it?

Podcasting is a huge commitment and the only way to gain traction is if you’re uploading content consistently.

The most common interval is weekly, although the more episodes you have, the more opportunities there will be to spread your message and increase your chances of being found.  Consistency is the key here so before you launch it’s important to look ahead at your calendar and think ‘can I realistically upload an episode every week for the next year?’

If you can’t then it’s time to cool your podcasting jets.  If you promise listeners there will be a new episode every Monday morning, it has to be there.  You’re building trust with your audience and you want them to make an appointment every week, but if you only show up half the time they’ll stop showing up all together.

Batching the planning and recording of your episodes is one way to combat the stress of trying to record a podcast every week.  Those 7 days come around quickly but if you’re ahead of yourself you can deal with unforeseen circumstances like guests cancelling or kids getting sick.

If your content is based on current events this will be difficult, but if you can plan and record your shows in advance, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress.

Do I expect to make money?

There are a lot of people out there making money from podcasting BUT that hasn’t happened overnight.  Either they’ve established a significant following prior to starting their podcast or they’ve gradually grown an audience by consistently uploading content that appeals to their ideal listener.

Having the goal of generating revenue is fine but you have to have an audience first and you have no idea how long that will take to build.  It’s best to start from a place where you’re dying to put your content out into the world regardless of whether you’re getting paid for it and see where it goes from there.

Why do I really want to podcast?

If the answer is anything other than ‘I’ve got amazing content that will educate/inspire/entertain and I desperately want to get it into people’s ear holes’ then think twice.

Podcasting is a big commitment with absolutely no guarantee of success.  The people who have been successful are those who consistently create valuable and engaging content that appeals directly to their ideal listener.  If you’re passionate about each episode you’ll be happy to keep doing it but if you’re waiting for the cheques to start flooding in, you might be disappointed.

Rachel Corbett is a radio, podcast and TV presenter who teaches people how to create their own professional sounding podcast at podschool.com.au.  

Download her podcasting guide: ‘5 things you need to start your own podcast’ or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.


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