Here are 11 time-smart podcasting tips and tricks for noobs and veterans alike.
What Is a Podcast?
A podcast is a collection or series of digital audio files that are made available for downloading or listening via the internet. Each individual audio recording is known as a podcast episode. Podcasts are typically hosted by an individual or co-hosts who lead a conversation, share stories, or report the news. The creator of a podcast is known as a podcaster. Podcasts are hosted on streaming applications such as Spotify, Stitcher, iTunes, Google Podcasts, or Apple Podcasts (the podcast app that comes with iOS).
The history of podcasting began with the creation of the iPod. In fact, the word “podcast” is a portmanteau—a combination of the word “iPod” and “broadcast.”
Here’s an article on how to launch a podcast before you start applying these podcasting tips and tricks. Check out these ways to save time, make time, and understand the time you need for your podcast.
First 5 Podcast Tips
1. Fools rush in, but you are no fool.
So don’t rush. Start out by giving yourself ample time, knowing you face a steep learning curve. You can always accelerate once you’re more familiar with the production process.
2. Baby steps.
That is, start with a smaller plan so you can learn from any mistakes and glitches before going all-in with big plans.
For example, if you’re a decluttering expert, create a three-part series on office organizing; this will give you a sense of how long things take and how many shows can realistically be in your “season.”
That way, too, if a listener stumbles across Part 3, “Filing for the Flummoxed,” and enjoys it, they might seek out Parts 1 and 2: “Dominate Your Desk” and “Abolish Your Inbox.”
Now you’re building an audience—an incentive to keep podcasting if there ever was one. Just make sure your audience knows that they’re listening to a limited series, so they know that there are other episodes to explore and give them away to let you know if they want more. Also, know this: Your first effort at podcasting might be a steaming pile of unpublishability. Hey, it happens. But take heart. The teachable moments will not be forgotten. You’ll do better the next time and the next.
3. Expose your dream schedule to the harsh light of cold, merciless reality.
Track when you plan for a task to be done and also when a task is actually done. That way, during your production postmortems (see No. 4), you can pinpoint problems when something goes off course.
Here are some possible remedies:
- “Steal” time from other processes.
- Lengthen your publication schedule.
- Take tutorials or seek out other instructions to improve your skills.
- Pay or swap services with a fellow podcaster or engage an audio pro to perform that component for you.
- Rethink your podcast format.
4. No laurel resting! Do postmortems.
Review your podcast schedule after an episode publishes. Where did things go off-track? What could you do more efficiently? Evaluate your podcast’s quality, and, of course, be sure to note what went right and pat yourself on the back!
5. Include your squad.
(Do the kids still say that? Squad? Yikes.) If you’re working with a cohost or a panel, include them in the planning, scheduling, and postmortem processes to get and keep everyone on the same page. It helps when everyone participates to hammer out schedules, assign tasks, and address stumbling blocks.
Podcast Tips 6 - 11
6. Move forward by planning drawkcab.
In its “Project Blueprint” guide, our NPR Training team suggests working backward from a designated launch date to develop your schedule, with weekly goals broken down.
7. Stockpile episodes so you can swim in them later like a trademarked cartoon Scottish billionaire waterfowl.
Once you get rolling with podcasting, you’ll be working on multiple episodes at once, in different stages of completion, to maintain your publication schedule. (Side benefit: You can promote future episodes because you’ll know what they are!) That’s why you should have several finished episodes banked and ready to publish before you launch your podcast. While those episodes are publishing, you’ll be working on the next several, which you’ll then bank and launch, and so on, in a staggered fashion (“stagger”—such an apt word for this).
8. Do long-range planning. No, longer.
Longer. At [Pop Culture Happy Hour], for example, we look ahead and add major movie releases/series premieres to our calendar (not too far ahead, though, as these dates often change—maybe a month or two ahead). We have at least two weeks of shows planned at any given time.
10. Throw some softballs.
Keep a stash of some easier-to-do episodes in development. So if an episode—or life—throws you a curveball (a guest cancels, you have a tech catastrophe, or your kid gets his 84th ear infection of the school year), you can accelerate one of the easier ones in the queue to keep to your publishing schedule. Here are a few examples:
- If you generally do interviews in the field, do some shows with in-studio guests.
- Are your discussion subjects topical or time-sensitive (such as current events), reach into history with roundups by decade or theme.
- Does your show comments on current events or fast-changing pop culture, bank some “evergreen” episodes—those that can stand alone, without a specific news peg—so you can run them, or even rerun them, should the need arise?
11. Make time for mixing thoroughly.
All production takes time. But mixing—editing and sequencing audio tracks so they sound like they magically happened all smooth and natural—takes hours to finish a few minutes’ worths. So, especially at first, pad your schedule with extra time to get mixing right.
This post was written by Bryce MacCarthy.