How to Build the Skills Needed to Create a Podcast

It was April 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, and a majority of people were in lockdown. I was bored out of my mind, completely restless and itching to do something. I specifically wanted to do something new and different that would challenge me.

So I went completely out of my comfort zone and made a podcast with my roommate.

Enter “The Idiots of the Square Table” podcast!

I didn’t know a single thing about making a podcast. “What are we going to talk about? Who’s our audience? Wait, what equipment do I need?” I giddily asked about a thousand different questions.

As I went through the process of creating my podcast and learning everything needed for this undertaking, I concluded that it’s quite similar to building a business.

Recognize What Your Product is and Who Your Audience is

When first starting the podcast, I had to ask myself, “What will we be talking about?” In actuality, the question I was asking was, “What is my product?”

You first need to understand what you’re selling, and in my case, I concluded the podcast would be a pop culture discussion that leans toward film and television entertainment.

When you start up any business endeavor, you have to identify your audience or consumer base. We realized the audience for our podcast would be people who enjoy pop culture and film.

Understanding the Tools at Your Disposal and Utilizing Them

When I started creating my podcast, I had to purchase the equipment and software and then learn how to use them. First I had to find the right mic and windscreen, audio editing software, and audio profile software to make my mic sound more like a professional studio mic. 

My greatest tools in this endeavor were Google and Youtube. 

Too many people don’t use these resources because they are too proud and are deadset on figuring everything out themselves. Using those sites definitely helped me to save time in discovering what equipment and software I needed, on top of teaching me the basics of how to use everything.

If you want to figure out how to do audio editing and mixing, having a Youtube video walk you through the basics is an amazing gift! Otherwise, you’re stuck trying to figure everything out with a confusing layout and making mistakes in your work along the way. 

This leads me to another wonderful resource at hand, your coworkers. It takes a lot of work to create a podcast, and there was no way I was going to be able to do it completely on my own. Realizing when you need to either delegate tasks or ask for help and advice is a strength, not a weakness. Being able to realize when you’re out of your depth and ask your coworkers and peers for advice is an excellent tool. No one is Superman, and no one can do everything on their own. 

For me, that was realizing I didn’t have enough time to completely do the video editing on my own. The podcast is on Youtube and has a video for each episode, so I had to ask my co-host to do the video editing in addition to teaching me along the way. 

Always seek advice in order to better yourself and your work.

What’s Your Platform?

I had to extensively research what platforms were best to publish my podcast on. At first glance, you would think, “Just put it up on Spotify or iTunes!” but there’s far more to it than that. You have to research what platforms have the most engagement, the best times to publish, if it’s free to use, if they have a number of episodes requirement, or if there’s a required minimum or maximum episode length. There’s far more research that goes into picking a platform than you might think. 

And for my podcast, I chose to put it up on Youtube ultimately because we enjoyed having a video aspect to the podcast, and found we didn’t find too many limitations on the platform. And the Youtube search algorithm is far more sophisticated than other search algorithms due to them being owned by Google, so we are able to take advantage of the keywords used for the search algorithm to reach a bigger audience.

Research is a key part of a podcast. It can save you time and even money.

Build an Audience

Research is also part of building your audience and creating marketing strategies. You have to do research into the analytics of the podcast to understand who is viewing it, and if it lines up with who you projected your audience to be. Then you figure out how to make sure more people learn about and listen to your podcast. This is where social media comes into play. Being able to promote your podcast through your social media and buying ads marketed to certain people is key to the growth of your audience, which leads to the growth of your podcast.

Personally, I used Mailchimp to create an email newsletter to send to the subscribers of the podcast. This creates viewer retention and makes the audience feel like they are being engaged.

My newsletter is centered around the content that we have talked about in the past episode, in addition to topics we are going to talk about in upcoming episodes. And another thing that I personally like to do in order to have the audience be engaged, is have them ask us questions that we will answer on the podcast. All they have to do is submit the questions in the link in the newsletter. This helps with audience retention and growth.

Being able to know who your audience is, and then learning how to build it up is key to a successful podcast.

Planning an Episode

Once you’ve figured out how you’re gonna record, edit, and what platform the podcast will go on, you have to actually record the episode! And what I always do is create an outline in Google Docs, so I and my co-host can view it simultaneously. We try to have at least three topics to cover over the course of an hour, with notes on the topics and links to websites with the news on the topic listed in bullet points under each topic. And in between topics one and two, we have some of the audience questions to answer. 

But don’t write down every line you’re planning on saying, the audience wants to hear your genuine thoughts as opposed to your premeditated responses. In my experience going over an hour in time, the audience numbers drop off massively. People don’t want to spend their entire day listening to you! So try to break each topic into time segments and have a stopwatch ready so you know when to transition to the next point in your outline.

Don’t be afraid to experiment when you’re recording your podcast though. I and my co-host started to get bored with using outlines and talking purely about entertainment. We wanted to do something with more comedy and improvisation, and that’s perfectly fine. Changing up the formula of the podcast every so often helps keep things refreshing for you and the audience!

These are all skills needed to create a podcast. The understanding of your product, audience, your tools, outlining, and how to research; these skills go a long way in helping you thrive in all your endeavors.

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