I have an addiction. And that addiction is podcasts. I’m not a TV guy. I’m not a video game guy. I love a good book, but I find myself on walks and in the car where a book isn’t feasible (and believe me, I’ve tried.) And, I love music as much as the next guy, but there is a part of me that feels lazy when all I do with my time is listen to music. So, I discovered the world of podcasts, an AM dial with infinate talk radio shows, where I can find shows that I feel were tailor-made just for me. It’s a beautiful thing.
Now, as a disclaimer, I have never created a podcast. I’d love to, but the amount of time and energy it would take, I’d rather put towards higher callings in my life, such as writing. But I’ve listened to a lot of them, and, to be honest… most of them suck. So, here are my 5 Steps to Creating a Great Podcast:
1. HAVE A PERSONALITY.
Let’s face it. You’re boring. It’s nothing to be ashamed of… most people are. So unless you’re the one in a thousand with that charming, witty, winning personality, then you’ll need some help. I have yet to find a podcast where just one person talking has won me over. Because the truth is, even if you can charm the pants off of me, I won’t know it unless you have someone to interact with. It’s an important storytelling principle: our personalities come out through our interactions.
So, don’t go it alone. But… don’t find someone just like you. You don’t want to agree on everything. The reason Ebert & Roeper works is because they don’t agree. You want to see the two sides of every coin. Maybe you’re funny… find a straight guy… maybe you’re cynical, find someone who sees the cup as half-full… maybe you’re left-brained, find someone who’s right.
This also includes not just your personality, but the personality of the podcast itself. This podcast personality is created by the artwork you choose, the intro song, the format… all the little things you can do to make it stand out and make it your own.
2. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY.
All the personality in the world won’t do a thing unless you have something UNIQUE to say. What does your personality & experience bring to the subject you’re discussing? Play that up. There are a million “review” shows out there… if that’s what you want to do, what can you bring to it that’s new? Maybe you do a video game podcast from the perspective of a house-wife… Maybe you do a comics podcast where you look at the realistic possibilities of the science fiction & fantasy in the books… Maybe you do a movie podcast where you come up with a new ending of each movie… the possibilities are endless.
Before you start your podcast, really sit down and ask the question “What am I bringing to this?” If it’s nothing new, then quit and start over.
3. KEEP IT SIMPLE.
This is my biggest pet peeve. I don’t care how good your show is, if it’s 2 hours long, I’m not even going to give it a try. Because I know that it’s not going to be packed from beginning to end with unique content. It’s going to be a lot of babbling and conversational things that I could get by eavesdropping on any conversation anywhere in the world. Get in there, give us what you got, and then get out.
If it’s good, I can handle an hour. But most podcasts, I would say stick with 30 minutes or less. Especially if you are starting off. I really think people are more willing to give something a chance if they can sample it in small bites.
4. MAKE IT EASY TO NAVIGATE.
This is especially true if you have a longer podcast. Maybe I don’t want to hear the whole thing. Give us “show notes.” That is, in the notes of the show, tell us the timing points where you change the subject. 3:08 – recipe for jalapeno cheese fries, 8:42 – recommended heartburn medication, 13:29 – tips for unclogging a toilet. That kind of thing. Make it easy for the listener to find what they want to hear and skip the parts they don’t.
Another fantastic way to do this (if you really want to impress people, use both) is to create “chapter headings.” I’ve been told that this is pretty easy to do with podcast recording software, so figure it out. With chapter headings, you can skip ahead to certain points that you set ahead of time. You can also change out the picture with each chapter to make it more of an interactive experience.
5. KEEP IT CONSISTENT.
The most important rule off all – make sure you consistently release an episode at the same time every day, week, month, quarter… whenever you update. Nothing will make an avid listener fall off the map quicker than lack of updates. There is so much competition out there that listeners will lose interest very quickly if you are not meeting their needs.
So make sure you’re committed. It might seem like a good idea to do a podcast on the political views of Green Day, but are you going to have enough material to fill an episode week after week (and will you want to?)
Set a schedule and stick to it. This might mean that you record a half-dozen episodes up front so that you’re sure you have a stockpile if you get off track, or simply creating a realistic schedule of bi-weekly instead of every single day.
That’s it. Now go create. Make my world a better place.