Two decades — that’s how long podcasts have been around. But in the last five years, the industry has skyrocketed and become one of the most popular ways to consume information out there, making it a $1 billion industry this year.
Nearly 78 million people in the US listen to a podcast at least once a week — a number that has more than doubled since 2016.
Source: Business Insider
Recognizing podcasts as an in-demand medium, in May 2020 CareContent became the producer of Modern Healthcare’s Next Up, a podcast that aims to inspire the next generation of women executives and innovators in healthcare.
This isn’t our first time producing a podcast. However, it’s my first time hosting, and it’s been a success. Though Next Up is still new, our average downloads are on par with healthcare podcasts that are older, more established, and have more promotional dollars behind them.
Next Up is clearly resonating with its audience. But this isn’t because of luck or fate or even money — it’s because of a solid content strategy and plenty of hard work.
If you’re looking to jump onto the podcast train, here are ten questions to ask yourself before you get started.
1. Who is the audience of your podcast?
Audience drives everything in the digital experience — including podcasting.
In general, a niche audience will be easier to reach.
The majority of new podcast listeners are women, and the median age of listeners is 34.
Once you identify a target audience, figure out what topics they care about. Just like content strategy, creation, and marketing, this podcast is about them — not you. Build your editorial calendar around your listeners.
On Next Up, our audience is aspiring healthcare leaders, with a particular spotlight on women. It’s our job to keep a pulse on what’s new and relevant in healthcare, what our listeners want to hear, and what will actually benefit them in their careers.
2. What are the goals of your podcast?
Starting a podcast without a goal is like driving to a new spot with no GPS.
What are you trying to do with your podcast? Maybe you want to raise awareness about your brand, drive listeners to attend an event, or encourage them to subscribe to a newsletter.
Figure out that overarching call to action (CTA) and use that to drive everything you do, including individual CTAs for each episode.
3. What is the tone of your podcast?
Tone matters. Your tone should remain consistent throughout the life of your podcast.
Decide whether you’re going to be formal and authoritative, causal and comedic, or somewhere in between.
If possible, adopt a tone that stands out from the typical voice of your audience. For instance, if your audience is used to formal, stuffy content, try using a more relaxed and colloquial tone (as long as it’s not offensive to your topic).
4. Who is going to do what?
At CareContent, we’ve learned a lot about the importance of a team effort in producing a podcast. It’s like a factory handoff, moving from one team member to the next. If one handoff isn’t successful, or one team member doesn’t understand their role, the whole thing can fall apart.
Determine beforehand who is going to do what, and make sure everyone understands their responsibilities. That way, you can rely on your team for efficiency and success.
5. What is the length of your podcast?
This decision is huge — but often undervalued. The length of your podcast will have a ton of implications, like how long interviews will be and how much time it will take to transcribe them. Not to mention, the length of your podcast will determine who will press play.
Decide the length of your podcast on the front-end to avoid problems down the line.
In March 2017, the average length of podcasts played in the US was between 15 and 30 minutes.
Keep in mind — there’s no perfect length of a podcast. Some podcasts are 5 minutes, while others are 90. If you have a solid 20 minutes of good content, then 20 minutes it is. Don’t stretch out a podcast or cut it down to meet some imaginary standard.
6. What is the format of your podcast?
Though the podcast is a pretty straightforward concept, it’s extremely versatile. There are a ton of ways you can use this medium, and you need to decide what format you want before getting started.
Examples of different podcast formats include:
- Interviewer and guest
- Solo podcast, where one expert shares their thoughts
- A conversation among co-hosts
- A panel or roundtable discussion
- A compilation of audio snippets from guests who are not present
- Answering listeners’ questions
You can also opt for a combination of formats. However, playing around with the format too often might be off-putting to listeners, not to mention require more time and equipment.
7. How often do you want to produce your podcast?
The frequency of your podcast needs to be decided at the outset. If you go out the door producing too frequently — and then can’t maintain that — it’ll look tacky.
Determine what cadence you can realistically maintain to gather enough data. Pro tip: Don’t go with a daily podcast, unless you have a ton of resources available at your disposal.
If once a week is a bit of a crunch, go with twice a month or every 10 days. Down the road, if you have enough justification to increase the frequency, do it.
8. What do you want your audience to get from your podcast?
Considering your audience’s takeaways is key to determining everything from guests to questions to CTAs to sponsorship.
What do you want your audience to walk away with once they’ve listened to your podcast? Maybe it’s how to do something, inspiration, or knowledge they need for their career development.
Whatever the takeaway is, make sure it’s beneficial to your audience, so it’s worth their time to listen in.
9. Who is the competition for your podcast?
Currently, there are an estimated 1.9 million podcasts — and 47 million individual episodes. Needless to say, you’ll have some competition.
Before you begin, check out the landscape, and research who is talking to your audience about a similar topic. Look at what’s getting high levels of interaction and what’s working. Find topics you can provide a different perspective on.
You’ll always have competition, which is why you need to set your podcast up for success. Assessing that competition is key in the process.
10. How will you promote your podcast?
“If you build it, they will come” does not apply in the podcast world. Just because you put your podcast on some podcatchers and your website, you aren’t guaranteed listeners.
A robust promotional plan for each episode is a must for it to be worth producing a podcast.