Having been doing a couple of different podcasts for the past three years, which includes being the host, editing everything, setting up and marketing, being a guest on someone else’s podcast, and listening to a ton of them, I’ve come to have a particular expectation of what is in a podcast.
I’ll be very transparent in that I do not do this for a living, these are just tips I have identified myself that are now glaringly obvious.
If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear your tips down in the comments.
1. Edit Everything
One of the more interesting things about podcasts is that the good ones are very well produced, but you should not notice they are produced. Unedited podcasts just feel SO awkward. Try it out, go find a podcast that is unedited, even better, if they record it over the Internet. Then you get lag, people talking over each other, others apologizing for doing something silly, and then long awkward pauses. It actually makes me cringe just thinking about this.
Editing is a must for all of the above, but also to give your podcast more flare and entertainment. This includes all of the short pauses. In the biz, that’s called “tightening it up.” This makes for a faster paced, more engaging episode to listen to.
2. Define if Your Podcast Is Informative and/or Entertaining
I actually ask this question for each podcast that I am a guest on and many of my hosts do not have an immediate answer, formulating their strategy to me after I ask. But in my mind, I find this to be critical to the content you create. It helps define guest interviews, the pace of your conversation and editing, and even the type of listeners you want to attract. Having this one answer before you begin to record actually makes a lot of the process so much easier. (Also, once you define it, stick to it and don’t try to become something you aren’t. That’s how you lose listeners.)
3. Don’t Talk Over Each Other
If you edit, talking over each other makes the editing process 10x longer. If you don’t edit, it makes your episodes so un-listenable. You have to remember that recording a podcast is not like a casual conversation. So whether you have decided in the previous point to be entertaining or informative, you need to follow that structure. Let each person have a part of their conversation and wait til they are done.
4. Assume An Hour of Work for Every 10 Minutes of Content
It’s almost like the cost rules: an undergraduate should assume one hour of homework for one hour of class, graduates can expect three hours for every one hour of class, and so on. This work includes show notes, finding interviews, recording, editing and marketing. Too many times I have seen and heard of people that listen to an hour long podcast and have the internal dialogue “that seems easy, I’ll do it too” only to create a poor quality podcast or give up after a few episodes. Right now, the statistic floating around the internet (I have no source, so it’s just a rumor right now) is that 80% of podcasts don’t get past 8 episodes.
5. Sound Quality Is Important
This means so much to a podcast, but I don’t know if people think all the way through it. It includes background noise, not using the built-in microphone on your computer, disabling your Skype notifications, making sure your internet is working at optimal speeds for quality recording, and ensuring your gain levels on your audio files are consistent between each audio clip. Any one of these can be a distraction and too many of these can create a terrible experience.