As a podcast creator, there's bound to be certain moments you wish you could go back in time to fix. Think of the effort, energy, and peace of mind you would have salvaged with a little extra foresight.
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These do-over moments could be holding you back from creating, planning and editing, or sticking to your ideal production schedule.
If you’re new to podcasting, thinking about podcasting, or at a stand-still with podcasting, you might be in one of those moments right now. But what if you could foresee some of the most common challenges and nuggets of wisdom to guide you on your podcasting journey? Well, consider us your personal time machine, because now you can.
We asked our Spotify for Podcasters community on Twitter, “What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since you started podcasting?” They responded by sharing how they found their rhythm, their audience, and their confidence. The tips and tricks these experienced creators have picked up along the way (plus some of our own) might be the advice you’ve been searching for.
One topic that kept popping up among the creators who responded was consistency.
This tweet begs the question, how can you stay consistent? Planning out several months of content in advance is the ideal first step. Start by listing upcoming episode topics, then for each one, add key points you plan to cover, and potential guests you hope to have. Also include any other outreach you might need to help you research the topic or plan the episode, like talking to an expert.
Then, set a realistic publishing schedule, whether that’s once a week, every other week, or more or less frequently than that. If you realize you need to adjust your publishing frequency, keep your listeners informed, so they know when they can expect new episodes from you.
There are two pro-tips to keep in your back pocket for maintaining a consistent publishing schedule. First, supplement your longer episodes with five, 10, or 20-minute minisodes. Another nifty option is to rebroadcast episodes from your back catalog if you need to buy some time in between releasing new episodes.
There are a lot of gems in this tweet from Terri Lomax, co-host of the “Cultivating H.E.R. Space: Uplifting Conversations for the Black Woman” podcast. She makes great points about logistics, productivity, and combating those conflicting voices in your head—all of which return to this idea of consistency.
Not every episode, or even the entire first iteration of your podcast, will be Hall of Fame–worthy. It’s about growing as a creator, providing content that delights your listener, and building something that makes you proud. Your show will take shape, evolve, and improve over time. Releasing episodes even if they may not be perfect, plus planning and recording episodes in advance, instead of one at a time, will help maintain consistency.
Podcasting can be a tricky business
Spoiler alert: Podcasting isn’t always easy, but a lot of things that are worth doing can be a challenge. A common puzzle for podcasters is getting more listeners, like Darren DeRoos points out.
Luckily, there are concrete steps you can take to grow your podcast audience, including:
- Create social accounts for your podcast and post consistently on those channels using hashtags specific to your show
- Complement content about guests and notable episode moments with timestamp sharing
- Cross-promote with other podcasts
- Host guests on your show and be a guest on other shows
- Create a podcast trailer
- Ask your audience to rate your show
And if you think you’re the only one having trouble coming up with show or episode topics, you’re not. Ask yourself specific questions to help brainstorm podcast topics, including:
- What do you want to learn more about?
- What stories do you or your potential guests have?
- What's a topic you feel like you could talk about for hours? Weeks? Months?
Your guests can be friends, family, colleagues, other podcasters, business owners, artists, industry experts, or anyone relevant to your show. Each one, like you, has their own unique story.
So, if you’re feeling daunted, just know that with tools, time, and experience, you’ll be on your way to achieving your goals.
Invite your audience along for the ride
Welcome your listeners into your world by sharing about yourself on your show and engaging with them during and outside of episodes, like Omar Moore tweets.
There are many ways to engage with your audience. You can ask them questions and get their opinions with Spotify for Podcasters' Q&A and polls, speak directly to your audience in episodes, start an email newsletter, and engage with them on your podcast’s social accounts. If you offer a podcast subscription, you will have access to subscribers’ emails whom you can email with custom content and updates.
Think of your audience as peers, part of your community, and even collaborators. Connect with them on a level that makes them feel they are a part of your journey.
The hard work happens behind the mic
Set yourself up for success by dedicating time to the pre- and post-recording process. Put in the work before episodes to ensure you can speak with confidence—even if that’s from a place of curiosity and learning. Maximize your editing sessions by editing multiple episodes at once so you can get ahead of the game.
This tweet from CM2 brings up an important point about how important it is to budget enough time for research and editing. Once you have a sense of how long pre- and post-production takes you, you can determine how frequently you should publish episodes.
Try to edit—and even record—multiple episodes in batches to manage your time and stay on schedule. As Digital Poetry Festival advises, this will free up more time to promote episodes before, during, and after their release.
This tweet from Mrs. Shaunelius offers ways to get your head in the game if you’re unsure how to prepare for recording. If your podcast focuses on a complex genre or concept, research your topic and your guest thoroughly to provide the most value. Doing so will earn trust from your guests and listeners, not to mention build your own confidence. Have an outline or even a full script ready to reference if you need support to guide the episode.
Make content for yourself first
Make and release content you feel good about and that you can take pride in. If it doesn’t meet the standards you’ve set for yourself and your show, consider reworking it and releasing a better version. As Terri Lomax pointed out, that doesn’t mean it has to be perfect—but it should be something you would personally want to listen to, even if it wasn’t your show.
Not every episode may be a home run, but if you feel it compromises the quality of your show or what it represents, consider stopping and starting over, like @alicethereader7 tweets. That may mean you need to rethink your approach and shift directions.
Even though you may not be able to use every recording, they can still serve as a learning experience about what to improve—whether that’s sound quality, your delivery, script, or topic. It might be helpful to keep the recordings you don’t use, in case there might be an idea in there you can use later or as an example of what didn’t work.
This tweet from Traveler’s Guide to the Backrooms is an important reminder to anyone thinking about starting a podcast. Commit to your show and trust the process. What might feel tedious in the moment is really an investment in the quality and growth of your show, and that will translate to your audience.
Create with confidence
Podcasting is a creative art form, and as with many creative endeavors, it can trigger doubts and uncertainty. This is a challenge, not a dead-end.
Releasing your podcast into the world can be scary, especially if creating and sharing your work is new for you. A lack of confidence can be a creativity killer—but believing in yourself enough to take the first leap is well worth it.
You can dodge those creative blocks by sourcing inspiration from other podcasts you enjoy, using your audience as a resource, and keeping a journal to record and map out ideas.
Find supportive collaborators
If your podcast is a group effort or if you have one or more co-hosts, make sure you choose them wisely, as Pierre Blair recommends.
Work with people who are as enthusiastic and thoughtful about the podcast as you are. This will help support an even distribution of time and effort and keep the momentum going. “Every Little Thing” producer Phoebe Flanigan shares that she uses her team as a sounding board for ideas and to help her craft the narrative of episodes. It’s a bonus if you surround yourself with people “who are so much smarter” than you as Phoebe puts it, so you can learn from them.
And finally: The most important lesson of all
The podcasters who responded to us on Twitter had a wide range of valuable advice, but there was one tip that was repeated more than any other. Drumroll, please...
You might be thinking “obviously,” or “duh,” but these simple steps are important—and one can assume, hard—lessons for several creators on the thread. Don’t forget to hit the “record” and “on” buttons, or else risk losing your hard work!
Use all of these important lessons to move forward on your podcasting journey. And before you know it, you’ll be the one imparting wisdom on the next group of aspiring podcast creators.