Podcasting has been around since 2004, but in the last five years, productions like This American Life and Serial — both with around 19,000,000 weekly listeners — have made the content hybrid a national obsession. Today, every major print publication produces at least one podcast, and celebrities like Lena Dunham and Joe Rogan have taken the art of the interview to a new level.
Celebrities aside, podcasting represents the democratization of broadcasting. The vast majority of podcasters are non-professionals who’ve learned on the air while chatting about everything from personal finance to dentistry hacks and the history of gnomes. The compelling content seems to have one thing in common —great stories told by passionate storytellers. It almost doesn’t matter what the subject is, if the podcaster can’t get enough, then neither can we.
As a professional communicator, you’ve likely at least considered that you might be good at chatting about your passion in earshot of a mic. But if you haven’t taken that musing to the next level and actually done anything about it, then read on. Starting a professionally produced podcast is easier than you think.
Here’s what you need to start:
- A subject you’re passionate about exploring with a co-host.
- A commitment to consistency.
- The right equipment (doesn’t need to be expensive) and basic knowledge to use it.
A subject you’re passionate about exploring in-depth
As a podcast consumer, you may not know exactly what makes a great podcast, but you know one when you hear it.
And what you hear in great podcasts is the sort of passion about a subject that’s contagious. Without passion, you won’t keep your listeners interested, sustain the episodic nature of the undertaking or hang in there long enough to amass loyal followers.
And while you may be relieved at first that no one’s listening, once you get going, you’ll want people to hear what you have to say, tune in and subscribe. Passion will get you where you want to go.
A commitment to consistency
The format is episodic with podcasts airing either daily or once a week. When you first start recording, your schedule may be more sporadic as you work through the technology and find your voice. But remember, you’ll improve faster with more practice. And that means more production.
Being consistent is the best way not only to improve but to get listeners into a habit of tuning in. Once you begin producing on a regular schedule, setting up an editorial calendar and recording more than one podcast in a session helps if you work full-time and have only evenings and weekends for research and production.
Although length can vary, according to the broadcast media company, Stitcher, the ideal length is between 18 and 22 minutes. So how do you get your 22 minutes in the can?
For recording onto your computer, you’ll need headphones and a decent mic — something like the Samsung Q2U is a reasonably priced choice. You can download recording/editing software called Audacity for free. And if you have a Mac, Garageband is already installed and will work just fine to start.
If you really love podcasting, Udemy has a Podcasting Masterclass that includes 67 lectures for only $23. But don’t wait to finish a class to start recording. You’ll get more out of any instruction if you already have a few episodes in the can.
Our national obsession with podcasts proves we’re still just basic beings happy to collect around an electronic campfire, forever craving a good story. Tell yours in a podcast. It’s a low bar for entry, and I guarantee there are listeners out there who want to hear what you have to say.
So what are you waiting for? Sit down in front of that mic, swallow your fears and start talking.
Maggie Harryman is a freelance copywriter who specializes in long-form writing, including case studies, white papers, website content and ebooks for the real estate, finance, technology, medical device and wine industries. She lives in Sonoma County and works throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.