How To Plan for a Podcast
Planning a podcast can be as simple as half an hour to a weekend or anywhere from months to a year, depending on your topic, concept and production value.
There is no one way to do it. Regardless, it’s time well spent to set yourself up for success.
Why Are You Creating a Podcast?
There are as many reasons for creating a podcast as there are podcasts. The first step is looking at why you should start a podcast.
Perhaps you want to share your knowledge or perspective; you may want to raise the public profile of your business; or you and your friends may want to create a weekly discussion about a topic of interest.
- Why a podcast?
- Why did you settle on centering your content using audio?
- Why is this podcast important to you
What are your goals?
Take time to write down your goals, including why your podcast is important to you and what kind of results will let you know that your podcast is successful. Come back to them as often as you need.
These goals will serve to guide you as you grow and evolve your content.
If you want to create a podcast just for fun, you might be tempted to skip this introspection. But being clear about your motivations can help you keep going when
things are difficult.
Coming back to your goals and your why will help you reconnect with the energy and inspiration that got you into podcasting in the first place
Here are some often used podcast success metrics for Level 1 (Make it Quick):
- Shares, likes and comments on social media
- Audience feedback (sending in ideas or questions, filling out surveys)
- Number of episode downloads
For Level 2 Podcasts (Polished and Professional) and Level 3 Podcasts (Go Big or Go Home) It’s all the more important to be clear about what success will look like in order to justify the time and resources you’ll be investing on the podcast.
Here are some often used podcast success metrics:
LEVEL 2 AND LEVEL 3
- Opt-in to sign-up for a newsletter
- Sponsorship requests or sponsorship revenue
- Merchandise sales
- Direct sales of services or products you or your company offers
- Higher visibility through speaking or other industry opportunities
- Brand awareness metrics
You will also want to think about when to evaluate podcast metrics. When you’re just starting out, you need time to get established, even as much as 12 months. But from early on, you should be able to see trending lines for your key performance measures — enough to let you know you’re on the right track.
Test and iterate to determine what’s driving your successes.
How To Title a Podcast
Naming your podcast is so exciting and actually takes a bit of thinking through. We know you have some ideas already, but you’ll want to make sure you can use them. Visit Podcast Titles: Best Practices for tips to help you choose an effective show title.
In summary, do your homework and make sure your great name idea is not taken and you are not infringing on someone else’s copyright.
Who is your audience?
Consider who you’re talking to in your podcast. What’s important to them? What kind of content do you plan to provide them? What will they get from listening?
Do they want a podcast like the one that you’re creating? Does it matter to you (and your goals?)
Thinking about what your audience is interested in and matching that to what’s interesting to you allows you to create meaningful content that people look forward to and want to share with others.
What format will your podcast follow?
The types of podcast formats that are available are many. As with most of podcasting, there is not one way to do it.
Choose a format that inspires you and you feel comfortable with.
- Some examples of a podcast format include:
- Interview: questions and answers with one or more guests who have special knowledge, fame, or experience
- Panel: discussion among a group
Journalism: reporting on news in an area or field or covering a specific story
- Storytelling podcast: with one or more short pieces in a single episode or with a longer story told over several episodes
- Narrative nonfiction: audio documentary, typically spread over multiple episodes
- Narrative fiction: a fictional story told by one person or a cast of characters
- Solo commentary: single person monologue or ad-lib
- Co-host show: two or more steady hosts discussing, reporting and analyzing the subject matter of the show
You can often combine formats, either within a single show or across episodes. It can be helpful to focus on a single format at the start, to develop a tone and style that works for you.
Don’t ever feel like you have to commit to the format you start off with, podcasting is a marathon and sometimes, pivoting can be one of the best strategies you can implement!
The Best Podcast Episode Length
The best podcast episodes match content and audience with appropriate length. When you choose a podcast episode length, try to stick with it. Predictability is key. Listeners appreciate knowing that the time and length of your podcast is a constant they can count on.
The length of your podcast is up to you. If you are going to do interviews with guests or panel discussions, you may choose an hour so things are not rushed. If you are doing solo commentary or witty banter on a topic, 30 minutes might work. A How-To show? 45 minutes. And, if you’re discussing the series A Song of Ice and Fire or Wheel of Time, go ahead and have an episode that properly covers it appropriately.
The number one thing to remember is to do your best to keep your episodes about the same length but never to let the length díctate the content.
If your episodes are usually 60 min and your last one ended up being 45, don’t try to come up with 15 min of more content.
Same thing for longer episodes. If you ended up with unbelievable content for an episode that is 75 minutes long, don’t decide to cut 15 minutes for the sake of uniformity.
Typically, longer episodes take longer to prep, record, and edit. Be realistic about how much time you’ll be able to devote to producing your show.
Rule of thumb: Estimate how long you think it will take you to create an episode and triple that time — that’s how long creating an episode really takes.
The general “wisdom” is that the ideal length for a podcast episode is 22 minutes, with the idea that that is a perfect length to fit within a daily commute or workout at the gym. But research by Libsyn’s own Rob Walch shows that the average length of popular podcasts is often much longer.
Among the top 200 podcasts on Apple Podcasts:
Average length is 67 minutes
Median length is 55 minutes
40% of top podcasts are 40 minutes or longer
Among the podcasts hosted on Libsyn:
84% of shows with over 100,000 downloads are 51 minutes or longer
(Source data reference here)
Whatever you choose, keep it consistent. If you are going to have a special longer show in the future, let listeners know and promote it. If you are skipping a week, let them know that, too. Keep your listeners informed and expectant.
Episode Theme (or building your episode content)
You have a topic/purpose/goal for your podcast, so naturally, each episode addresses a part of that topic. Say your podcast is:
Why Is My Dog Doing That? With Dog Psychologist Spike Barkalot
Podcast themes might be:
Episode 1: Dog Behavior/How Dogs Think
Episode 2: Rescue Dogs with Past Trauma
Episode 3: Chewing: What Purpose Does It Serve
Episode 4: The Escapee Dog
You get it. That said, your theme allows you to narrow in on a subtopic of interest to your listeners and makes it easy for them to search for content that is beneficial to them. It also allows you to stay focused and on task.
Before you commit to the idea of your show, brainstorm at least 10 episode topics. If you find yourself struggling, it might give you an idea of whether or not you’ll be able to sustain your podcast.
You might also create a show that is more like those streaming services limited series, which means that getting 10 episodes is all that you’re going to produce, in which case, you’ll be just fine.
As mentioned before, since your format might not fit into the example we used above, create a framework or at least a template for each of your episodes. That will help you make sure that you gage the time and energy that you’ll have to invest into the content of each episode.
A Great Podcast Description
What is a podcast description?
This is the description that your potential audience will be presented with when they bump into your podcast in a podcast app, on your website, or even a shortened version on social media profiles.
Here are 3 tips for the best podcast description
Two Sentence Focus. Make sure that the first two sentences of your description immediately communicate what your show is about and who it would most benefit. In most podcast listening apps, especially if someone is browsing on a smartphone with a small screen, only the first sentence shows up for a description above the fold, meaning that if they want to find out more, they have to tap for more. Often people make a decision based on those first two sentences.
Stating the Obvious. Don’t start your description with “This is a podcast…..” or “hosted by…..” Generally people are searching for content within a podcast listening app or audio listening app that already has clearly defined podcast categories, therefore they know that it’s a podcast. Said apps also clearly delineate who the “author” of the podcast is. Starting your description by repeating information that a person can easily find takes up priceless real estate in any podcast app.
What is Streamlining? Once you start your podcast, you might discover that the show you thought you were creating is not the show that you created. Streamlining or updating your description for greater clarity and to make sure you are conveying exactly what listeners can expect from your show is a best practice. Most podcasters keep going and forget to update the description to align with the current content. This could lead to not reaching the right audience.
A podcast website serves as the nexus for all of the content you’re creating: audio and a lot more. It will increase the ability of your show to be discovered by making it easier for Google or other search engines to index your podcast.
It can also be a powerful reference for your content and serves an an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your audience.
If you don’t have an existing website or you don’t have too much knowledge about how to build a website, Libsyn has a sleek, streamlined, simple website that comes with every podcast hosting account. You can even have your own domain name! To get started, besure to read our article about how to build a podcast website here.
If you’re looking to expand beyond your podcast and need more robust support, consider website hosting and using a template that is designed especially for podcasting, like this free month offer from pair Networks.
Planning = Most Successful Podcasts
Having a plan is the best way to start. If you find that one part of your podcast plan isn’t working, adjust it, fine tune it and allow yourself the time to evolve as you podcast. You might settle into a flow fairly quickly or it could take you months to feel like you got it.
Podcasting takes time and commitment above anything else. Remember, if you start to feel defeated or overwhelmed, go back to those initial goals and initiatives you wrote up. They’ll help to keep you podcasting!