Authentic Yet Polished: How to Hit the Podcasting Sweet Spot
Podcasting has moved past the runway stage and hit the air(waves) with a vengeance. By 2030, the global podcasting industry will nearly graze the $100 billion mark. However, what makes podcasting so inviting is its low barrier to entry. Just about anyone can create and deploy a podcast. However, while it isn’t expensive to sound polished and professional, it requires ingenuity and commitment to stand out.
The issue is that the podcasting space is very cluttered. To rise to the top of Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, and other platforms, you need more than just a catchy title or awesome equipment. You need to put the finishing touches on your podcast so it shines. It’s kind of akin to two chocolate cakes on a buffet. Even if the cakes taste the same, the one with the more impressive presentation is going to get more attention. After all, it’s hitting the “sweet spot” figuratively AND literally.
How can you make your podcast as appealing to listeners’ ears as a Food Network-inspired dessert is to eyes and taste buds? Applying the following tips to your podcasting game can be a great start.
1. Do everything possible to simplify the editing process.
A lot of podcasting episode magic happens in the editing stage. The more effective and efficient your editing, the more flawless your podcast will sound and flow. This makes it essential for you to plug any gaps that could make editing harder than it needs to be. (Future You will be grateful.)
One way to streamline your editing is to focus on how you’re recording each session. As SquadCast’s Zachariah Moreno points out, progressive uploads can be your best friend. A progressive upload records and saves all your audio in small, real-time increments. Since everything is stored and uploaded in the cloud as it happens, it can be retrieved right away. You lose nothing and gain the advantage of having your raw files within a few minutes of signing off.
Once your files are in hand, you can start to edit out unwanted elements. Another good tip is to set up a method to identify moments that you want to remove during editing. For example, some podcasters will play a loud click or whistle when they know they’ve made a mistake. Because the loud noise will show a sudden peak on editing software, it highlights the place to edit. And that means your editing job just moved into the “effortless” column.
2. Stick with a format that works for your podcast.
The most successful podcasts follow a formula — but it’s not the same formula for all. Instead, podcasters pick a format that works for their topic area, audience, and intent. By sticking with the same podcast rhythm for each episode, the overall podcast has more cohesion. Rather than feeling amateurish, it feels professionally arranged.
Even if you listen to a lot of podcasts, you might not know all the formats that are out there. Three of the top ones are solo podcasts, guest-driven podcasts, and co-hosted podcasts. Solo podcasts are very intimate and involve one person talking the whole time. They’re ideal if you’re a thought leader or expert sharing vast insights on a certain subject. Guest-driven podcasts are arranged to allow one or more guests to express their views. Typically, they’re back-and-forth Q&As, although they could be set up as panel discussions or debates.
Co-hosted podcasts allow two podcasters to share the spotlight. It’s a smart move to pick a co-host who isn’t just going to echo your thoughts. Think banter over banality. And select someone you like working with, in case your podcast quickly grows a loyal fan base.
3. Release your episodes on a consistent basis.
Nothing can sour eager listeners more than having to wait too long to hear your next podcast. A big error that many newer podcasters stumble into is not setting up an episode recording and release schedule. Many simply assume that their podcast episodes will just kind of find their way into the webiverse. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. As the saying goes, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Constructing a realistic schedule doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require some energy. As suggested by Anchor.fm, start by mapping out a full-fledged podcasting editorial calendar. Pick dates to record your podcasts, edit your podcasts, and release each episode. If you’re just starting out, you may want to hedge your bets and aim for conservative targets. It’s always better to have some wiggle room folded into your calendar. That way, you won’t be scrambling at the last minute to meet deadlines.
A solid tip to ensure that you stay on track is to consider “bundling” your podcast episode recordings. In other words, record several episodes back to back over the course of one day. Don’t strive for too much, but get a lot of audio at once. Having a few episodes ready for edits will give you breathing room and be a nice jumpstart to get rolling. Just be sure to keep the momentum so you keep deploying episodes at regular intervals.
Right now, the podcasting field is wide open and enthusiasts are in discovery mode. To make the most of this opportunity, you don’t have to break the bank. All you need to do is put some ingenuity and “sweat equity” into building a podcast with a polished foundation.