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Podcast Tips: 8 Strategies to Build a Successful Show

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The question “How do I make a successful podcast?” differs from the question “How do I make a podcast?” in many ways. There’s a difference between a show that merely exists, and one that thrives. With that in mind, let’s run through some handy podcast tips that’ll help lead you to the latter.

After all, it’s never been easier to actually launch a podcast. You don’t need to spend a lot at all, and there are countless tools out there that can make the tech side of things easy for you.

Once you’ve recorded a piece of audio and uploaded it to your media host, you can find your very first episode proudly sitting in places like Apple Podcasts and Spotify before the day is out.

solving the podcasting puzzle

This simplicity and low barrier to entry is a good thing overall because it enables almost anyone to get their message out there, regardless of their background or experience.

But many podcasters give up after just a handful of episodes, which is a by-product of how easy it is to launch. If something is created without much thought or genuine purpose, it’s also easy to quit.

So as we’ve already put together a popular step-by-step guide on how to start a podcast, we thought we could maybe now take a deeper dive into how you can make a successful podcast.

listening in the park

Podcast Tips for Success & Sustainability

What steps can you take to ensure your podcast achieves what you want it to?

How do you give it the best possible chance of getting through those tough early days and sticking around for the long haul?

1 – Define a Successful Podcast

First thing’s first: success means many different things to many different people.

For some, it’s about the big download numbers. Others dream of earning a full-time living from their shows. Many business podcasters see success as getting regular sales enquiries because of their content. And for others, it’s simply a case of having a creative outlet and a platform to tell their stories.

So, in order to work towards your own version of a successful podcast, you need to first ask yourself, “What does success look like to me?”

podcaster on the slopes

2 – Have a “Why”

When you run a podcast, things don’t always go to plan.

Life can get in the way, hardware and software can break, files can vanish, and there’s really no shortage of things that’ll test your patience in the long run.

When things go wrong, you really need to have a solid core reason for wanting to podcast. One that’s big enough that it’ll never be overshadowed by any of the above.

That ties in to how you define success. But with the question “Why am I doing this?”, it’s more about the journey than the destination, as cliched as that might sound.

Our free Podcast Planner tool will help you a lot, here. It just takes a few minutes to fill out, and will set you up with your own personalised program!

3 – Know That Successful Podcasting Takes Time

One podcast tip that many aspiring podcasters don’t like to hear is that it can take years to build an audience.

And in order to make a successful podcast, you need to be prepared to turn up consistently and regularly over the next few years.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t have short-term goals, though. It’s a good idea to break down your main ambitions into smaller achievable ones, too. This can help give you a sense of progression.

But hopefully, you just enjoy the process of running a podcast. If you do, then you’ll stand the best chance of sticking at it and growing an audience.

If you don’t enjoy it, then certainly nobody is going to enjoy listening to you. And it won’t be long before you start missing episodes, before giving up altogether.

If you’ve recently launched your podcast and it’s already making you miserable, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Check out ‘Why it might be time to quit your podcast’ for more help.

a podcaster records at her computer

4 – Stick to Schedules, But Make It Sustainable

A big part of enjoying the process of podcasting, is that it isn’t an all-out battle to get new episodes done and out.

Setting unrealistic expectations about the time you can dedicate to your show each week is easy in the planning stages. It’s also easy to create an episode template in your head that’s going to take a lot of work to produce on a regular basis.

Building a workflow of sustainability is the key to making sure working on your podcast isn’t something you dread. For more help on this front, take a look at this article which includes plenty of podcast tips on how much time it takes to run a show.

There are many tools out there that can improve your workflow and save you time. Our own ‘Podcast Maker’ app Alitu is one of them. Check it out if you’re looking for a way to simplify your editing and production process.

5 – Don’t Get Stuck On “The Launch”

I’ve already said quite a bit on the long-term nature of making a successful podcast. Unfortunately, however, it’s the concept of a big explosive “Launch” that many aspiring podcasters choose to focus on instead.

Another uncomfortable truth about your podcast before and during its launch, is that – unless you’re famous before your podcast goes live – nobody really cares about it.

It shouldn’t be treated like a film premier or launch of the new iPhone. It’s more the case of laying the foundations for building something that’s going to get bigger and better with every passing month that you work on it.

In those early days, there’s every chance you’re finding your feet with things like presentation skills, recording, and editing. If this is the case, you should embrace that hardly anyone is listening. Start small, learn the ropes, and let your audience grow naturally along with your podcast.

There’s not a lot about a podcast that can’t be changed over time. So don’t get paralysed by the thought that certain things aren’t perfect before publishing that first episode.

podcast tips: Know What Your Target Audience Wants

6 – Know What Your Target Audience Wants

Long term, you’ll want to check in regularly with your audience and seek feedback from them. This is the difference between a podcast surviving and thriving.

In the very early podcast episodes, though, you won’t have an established audience at all. These early listeners haven’t fully bought into your show yet, and with each episode, they’re weighing up whether or not to stick with you.

So, one podcast tip that works is this: in the early days, be decisive and tell the listeners exactly what the show is about, how it works, and what they’ll get from listening.

If you come out the gate asking for feedback and direction, it can make you and the show seem poorly planned and lacking in purpose.

If you’ve done your research in the planning stages, you know what your target audience want. So design a show that’s going to serve them.

Nail down an agenda in the early days. Those who buy into it will appreciate your decisiveness and stick around. They’ll become your core audience, and further down the line, you can begin to consult them on shaping the future of the show.

podcast tips - don't rely on audience participation

7 – Don’t Rely On Audience Participation

A common mistake many new podcasters make is to build their shows around an audience that doesn’t yet exist.

If your episodes are about answering podcast listeners’ questions or doing live shows, I recommend going back to the planning stages.

It falls on you and you alone to create your podcast content in the early days. Anything else is only going to lead to disillusionment and disappointment.

8 – Your Microphone Isn’t (That) Important

Okay, so obviously, a microphone is essential because it would be impossible to record conversations without it. BUT, here are a couple of truths about mics.

  1. Almost any podcast mic you find for sale these days will be good enough.
  2. It’s actually your recording environment and mic technique that have the biggest impact on audio quality.

Some podcasters spend way too much time obsessing over things like microphones to spend any meaningful time on the more important tasks. So, unless podcast equipment itself is your hobby, consider the hardware a means to an end, rather than centre-stage in your podcasting world.

Looking for More Podcast Tips?

Hopefully you’ve taken a lot from these podcast tips, all aimed at helping you create a sustainable and successful podcast. Our entire site is jam-packed with podcasting tips, techniques, and tactics, though, and it’d be impossible to cover them all in one blog post. Here are some follow-up resources to bookmark for future visits.

And, if you’re looking for more tailored help, then check out Podcraft Academy. That’s where you’ll find all our courses, from planning and launching, to editing, presentation skills, promotion, and monetisation. We also run weekly live Q&A sessions in there, so you’ll never get stuck on anything ever again.

Finally, our free Podcast Planner tool will help you a lot, here. It just takes a few minutes to fill out, and will get you set up with your own personalised program!

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