When making a podcast, people focus so much on gaining as wide an audience as possible. But in trying to appeal to as many people as possible, podcasters often lose what makes their podcast special.
Instead of trying to market to everyone, try making your podcast avatar using the questions below. It's a great way to make your listener feel special and for you to record your podcast in a way that feels true to itself.
What is a podcast avatar?
Your podcast avatar is your perfect, idealized listener. This is the person you want listening to your podcast and telling their friends about it. This is the listener you'll be directly addressing–no more “Hey listeners!”; now, think “Hey, listener!”
Making a podcast avatar is important to help your listener build a relationship with you. Assuming your listeners are your podcast avatar means you can address them directly. This helps your podcast have a more intimate feel that will make listeners feel more connected to your show.
Your podcast avatar will also help you keep true to your podcast. When you want to be everything to everyone, your vision can become diluted. Focusing on what your podcast avatar would want will help you remember what makes your show stand out instead of what makes it fit in.
Make sure your podcast avatar isn't also just yourself. Your ideal listener should be someone you'd want to hang out with, but you shouldn't be making a podcast that only you would enjoy.
What is your avatar like?
Try to make an image in your head about your perfect podcast listener. While you could focus on their ethnicity, gender, etc., I believe you should focus on what sort of energy your podcast avatar gives off. What is your perfect listener's personality?
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Is your podcast avatar introverted or extroverted? When it comes to social gatherings, are they likely to spark up conversation with strangers, or are they more likely to focus on petting the dog?
Is your podcast avatar optimistic, realistic, or maybe even cynical? When they hear about a topic, are they likely to become enthusiastic, try to think it through, or scoff?
Is your podcast avatar studious? Funny? Weird? Elegant? Think about the way your podcast avatar carries themself. Think about what their goals are in life, whether it's becoming a stand-up comedian, a college professor, or a social media mogul.
Finding out your podcast avatar's personality is the first important step in building your podcast avatar. With their personality laid out in front of you, you should be able to think about how they would feel about each episode's conversation.
If your podcast avatar is an optimist, scathing criticism of your discussion topic might not be your best bet. If your podcast avatar is curious and introverted, bombastic laughter and jokes might steer them away. Think about what would make your avatar feel like their personality is being represented.
Further Reading: Using Psychographics to Define your Ideal Listener.
What does your avatar like?
Now that you've nailed down your avatar's personality, think about their interests. You should start with what other podcasts they listen to, but try to think of what else they like, too.
When your podcast avatar goes to see a movie, which movies are they likely to choose? Are they a fan of nature documentaries, classic films, action movies, comedies, thrillers, horror? What attracts them to those genres?
If your podcast avatar loves a good thriller, you might want to make sure something about your episode feels like a mystery. If your avatar is a fan of romantic comedies, try to be tender, lighthearted, and earnest in your delivery.
What sort of music does your podcast avatar listen to? Are they a fan of highly-produced pop music? Do they prefer low-fi singer-songwriters with little production and maybe even a little bit of an unpolished edge? What's their ideal tempo for a song?
Thinking about what sorts of music your avatar likes will help steer your decisions in production. While your podcast should always sound professional, there's different ways to sound professional.
If your podcast avatar likes songs that are clean but have lots of interesting layers, maybe you want to model your production on something like Radiolab or StarTripper!!. If your podcast avatar likes less produced music with more raw unfinished touches, you might want to take cues from Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People or Kaleidotrope.
Does your podcast listener have any gaps in their media education? If your podcast listener doesn't like video games or have any nostalgia for the 90's, remember that they're likely to miss your references to those parts of pop culture.
What does your avatar do?
What sort of job does your podcast avatar have? You might be tempted to say that your podcast avatar is a luxurious billionaire who adds to their wealth by sheer fame, but think about the opposite perspective, too.
Maybe your podcast avatar has a grueling job that they hate but can't escape from–until they listen to your podcast.
If your podcast avatar does something intense for work but loves what they do, you might be able to have discussions that go deeper and get similarly intense. If your podcast avatar hates what they do, give their brain a little bit of a break by keeping things light.
Don't just think about what your podcast avatar does for work, though. Think about their hobbies, too.
Is your podcast avatar the creative nerd running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign? Does your podcast avatar love to cook? Does your podcast avatar make art? Do they play any sports? Thinking about what your podcast avatar does in their free time will help you think about what they think is fun and worth their time and energy.
Try not to appeal to these aspects of your podcast avatar in references, but instead, in how you can incorporate those feelings into your podcast. If your podcast avatar loves to go dancing, you better have some killer theme music. If your podcast avatar is into having board game nights, try incorporating something that feels gamified into your episode, like a two truths and a lie segment related to your discussion.
How does your avatar listen?
One thing so many podcasters don't think about when putting the finishing touches on their episodes is how their listener is going to actually hear their podcast.
Does your podcast avatar listen to your show in the car on their way to work, or laying down with their eyes closed and a pair of noise-canceling headphones on?
The two listening experiences couldn't be more different. Think about how your episode is going to sound when your podcast avatar listens. Try to listen to your episode the same way before uploading it.
You've thought about what your podcast avatar does, so you should have an idea of their daily schedule. How does your podcast fit into that? If your podcast listener is booked sunrise to bedtime, maybe your episodes shouldn't be much longer than half an hour. If your podcast avatar has spare time and goes on leisurely walks, they might be able to afford you an hour and change.
Does your podcast avatar listen to your podcast right when it comes out, or would they rather marathon a span of episodes in one sitting? If the latter is true, think about your upload schedule and how you can best suit people who listen to episodes back to back.
Where can you find your avatar?
You should have an idea of the types of physical places your podcast avatar would visit at this point, and you should strive for podcast episodes that would sound good in those settings. In this section, though, think about where you can engage with your podcast avatar.
If your podcast avatar is an extroverted optimist who loves architecture and makeup, they're probably going to be pretty active in Instagram. Having an Instagram presence isn't something most podcaster think of, but using hashtags your podcast avatar would follow can bring in more of that untapped audience.
If your podcast avatar is an introvert, has a weird sense of humor, and loves fandom-driven works like the Marvel movies or Harry Potter, you're probably going to find them on Tumblr. Think about what your avatar would be likely to reblog and follow, and reblog and follow things from those blogs, too.
If your podcast avatar has a deep love for a niche community that's relevant to your podcast, they might want to join a Facebook group for that interest. Join the Facebook group and see what you can learn from the community.
Go deep, not wide
When thinking about your content, try to focus on your podcast avatar instead of appealing to every listener. Your podcast's unique sound and vision is what sets you apart in the crowd, and trying to win mass appeal will more likely just make you fade into the background.
Your podcast avatar is not going to be every listener–and again, you still need to make sure you aren't being exlusionary when you make each episode. Still, having your podcast avatar will help you guide decisions to make your podcast as appealing as it can be to its specific audience.
When it comes to fan engagement, deeper appreciation is almost always better than wide appreciation. Advertisers love hearing that you have a dedicated fanbase that's going to buy their products instead of a ton of listeners who might just skip ads. Listeners will love feeling appreciated by you speaking directly to them instead of just an anonymous group.
Tell us about your podcast avatar
Who is your podcast avatar, and what can you learn from them? What are their interests, goals, and hobbies? How do you plan on incorporating those things into your podcast? Let us know in the comments below.
Once you have your podcast avatar down, the next step is figuring out how you're going to entice them to listen.
This is way easier now that you have a really concrete idea of exactly who your ideal listener is.
Need more help?
We can further lead you through the process of creating an avatar, as well as train you up on literally every other aspect of launching and running a successful show inside The Podcast Host Academy.
That's where you'll find all our courses, from voice training, to editing, and monetisation, as well as access to our regular live Q&A sessions.
It would be great to see you in there!