Podcast Best Practices: Tips to Optimize Your Podcast

Follow the podcast best practices outlined here to enter the growing podcast market and offer top-notch episodes for your audience.

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Podcast Best Practices

Podcasts seem to be taking over—more people than ever are tuning into their favorite podcasts. According to Nielson, the total U.S. podcast audience is growing at a compound average growth rate of 20 percent. A number of companies and organizations have decided to utilize this growing platform, however, many aren’t producing high-quality podcasts.

That’s why we have created a list of podcast best practices—we want you to be able to enter this growing market and offer top-notch podcast episodes for your audience. Before we dive in, let’s look at why your company should consider starting a podcast in the first place.

Why Should You Start a Podcast?

Podcasting is a unique way to provide your ideal buyer with valuable, in-depth information and grow a deeper relationship with them, which is why we highly recommend following podcast best practices to ensure the quality of your podcast. There are many reasons to start a podcast—let’s take a closer look at three top benefits that podcasting can offer your business.

Benefit #1 – Podcasts Establish Authority

Having the ability to consistently share advice, information, and insight on a specific topic establishes you as an authority in your industry. Similar to blogging or writing a book, podcasting helps develop your reputation as an expert. The more authority you earn within your industry, the more opportunities you will have to grow your business.

Benefit #2 – Podcasts Help Build Relationships

As mentioned above, podcasting helps you develop a deeper relationship with your ideal buyers. Unlike blog posts, podcasts are normally unscripted and give your personality a chance to shine. Unfiltered authenticity develops trust, which is why podcasting is one of the fastest ways to connect with your ideal buyers and foster brand loyalty. However, it’s important to remember that low-quality podcasts can drive your listeners away. Knowing and following podcast best practices is a great way to ensure the quality of your podcast, leading to more opportunities for relationship growth.

Benefit #3 – Podcasts Provide Continued Value to Your Ideal Buyer

Podcasts allow your ideal buyers to stay connected to your brand. Consistently providing valuable content to your audience will create regular touchpoints with your business. By inviting experts in your field on your podcast and asking for listener feedback regularly, your listeners will see the continued value you provide. Publishing a podcast weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly can help develop trust and brand loyalty, giving you more opportunities to promote your business.

Any way you put it, podcasting adds great value to your business.

Podcast Best Practices: Take Your Podcast From Mediocre to Great

Whether you have been podcasting for years or you’re just getting started, implementing our podcast best practices can take your podcast from just okay to out of this world!

Identify Your Ideal Listener Persona and Theme

The very first place to start in your podcast strategy is with your listener persona and theme. Without completing this step, your podcast will lack a purpose and drive. Before you tackle the finer details of your podcast (like its name, format, and length), you need to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Why do I want to start a podcast?
  2. What topics should I cover?

The answers to these two questions will help you develop a listener persona and choose a theme. When discovering your ideal listener, it’s important to research as much as you can about them. Learn their pain points and how you can help fix them, what they do for fun, where they look for information, their age, and their interest. While you are doing your research, create a detailed ideal listener persona. Give them a name, job, hobbies, and feelings to begin to connect with them. Once you have researched all you can about your ideal listener, you can follow podcast best practices and move on to choosing a podcast theme.

Your ideal listener should inform your theme—it should be something they will find great value in. Use the information you gathered about your ideal listener and pick a topic that you are excited to discuss regularly, keeping in mind the level of consistency required to maintain a podcast. If you’ve done your research on your ideal listener well, the topic they want to hear more on will align with the content you genuinely want to provide.

With your ideal listener and theme in mind, you can dive into setting your podcasting goals.

Set Podcasting Goals

Without goals, your podcast will have no direction and can lead to a confusing purpose to your listener. When identifying your objectives, it’s important to make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals. Here are several common podcasting goals:

  • Generate leads
  • Establish authority
  • Build brand awareness
  • Gain subscribers

Establish Your Podcast’s Mission

Your goals should also support your podcast mission. Your mission establishes why you began your podcast in the first place and the direction you would like to take your podcast.

To create your podcast mission, consider where you would like your podcast to be in the future. Write down what needs to happen for you to get there. Next, brainstorm a list of values that mean the most to you and your business.

Once you’ve created your list, narrow it down to your three core values. Use these core values to envision how you can reach your goals and then turn them into actionable statements. This is your mission statement.

Remembering the reason you started your podcast in the first place will help you achieve your goals. Here are several missions and examples of podcasts that fit each one.

  • Teaching listenersThe Dave Ramsey Show focuses on teaching listeners about how to get out of debt and save for their futures.
  • Entertaining listeners – Conan entertains his listeners by interviewing fellow comedians on Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.
  • Helping listeners through something difficultNo Feeling Is Final walks listeners through mental health as host Honor Eastly tackles the complicated topic of suicidal thoughts and discusses her own struggles with anxiety, depression, and fear.
  • Informing listenersThroughline reminds listeners of what can happen if we do not learn from history by revisiting stories from the past.

Once you have established your S.M.A.R.T. goals and determined what your podcast’s mission is, it’s time to move on in podcast best practices and pick the name of your podcast.

Choose Your Podcast Name

Choosing your podcast name might feel intimidating. But if done right, it can be one of the best parts of creating your podcast. Brainstorm a list of possible podcast names that are based on your podcast’s theme and mission. Not sure where to start? Consider these approaches to creating unique podcast names:

  • Be Creative or Clever – Do a play on words or use an obscure term from your podcast theme. Example: Pod Save the People
  • Get Descriptive – Make the name exactly what the podcast is going to be about. These may seem boring but they are easily identifiable to your audience because they state exactly what they are from the get-go. Example: My Favorite Murder
  • Use Your Name – Use your company’s name to keep things simple. This works well if you are well-known or your company name is fairly straightforward to begin with. However, it’s probably smart to be more descriptive if your audience doesn’t know who you are or what you might talk about on your podcast. Example: Ted Talks Daily

Once you have your list of possible podcast names, you need to research if any of them are already being used. Narrow down your top two or three options and begin testing how people respond to your name. Tell your friends “I’m starting a podcast and the name is _____. What do you think it’s about?” This will give you an idea if your name is effective or not and gauge what your audience’s general reaction might be.

You’ve chosen your ideal listener, theme, mission, and name. Now you can start getting into the nuts and bolts of creating your podcast. Keep reading to discover the podcast best practices for the specifics of your podcast.

Podcast Best Practices: Understanding the Specifics

Having a podcast theme and name is great, but you need to take the time to sit down and iron out the specifics as well. By simply deciding on the format, length, and posting schedule of your podcast, you are increasing its probability of success. Let’s take a look at each one of these details.

Podcast Format

Podcasts have many formats—including single hosts, co-hosts, scripted stories, educational, news recaps, and even in-depth interviews. Podcast best practices say your theme is an important part of choosing your format. If your podcast theme involves talking to experts in your industry, then an interview format makes the most sense. If you want to keep your podcast more lighthearted, having a consistent co-host can add some great banter during your show.

Podcast Length

When deciding length, remember there is no optimal length for a podcast episode. Some podcasts are 30 minutes long while others last for two hours. The length of your podcast should be as long or short as it needs to be—and no longer.

You should become comfortable with editing so you can cut out rambling, boring, or unnecessary parts of your podcast. Think hard about which parts of the episode truly provide your listeners value and achieve your goals and mission, and edit out the rest. It doesn’t matter whether your podcast is 15 minutes or an hour and 15 minutes—if you follow podcast best practices, you can be confident in the quality of your show regardless of its length.

Podcast Posting Schedule

Having a consistent publishing schedule will help you build relationships with your audience. Your listeners will know when they can expect new content and engage with you more and more over time. Whether you decide to publish daily, weekly, or monthly, it’s important to stick with your schedule. If you have the bandwidth, publishing weekly will help you create a habitual cadence. This may feel intimidating, but creating a production and publishing routine that fits your schedule will make this goal achievable. Knowing that your listeners are expecting an episode can also help eliminate procrastination and keep you on schedule.

Once you have decided on the format, length, and schedule for your podcast, you can look into the equipment you will need.

Podcast Best Practices: Purchasing Equipment and Software

The process of starting a podcast is easy, and usually, very little overhead or experience is required. Many podcasts were created with an iPhone and a pair of headphones. Sound quality isn’t the be-all and end-all of podcasting, but investing in equipment can help you stand out among your competition.

Choosing audio equipment and software can be intimidating, especially if you do not have a background in audio. There are four basic pieces of equipment you will need: a microphone, a recorder, headphones, and editing software.

Microphone

You don’t need a professional microphone to record your podcast, but using a good-quality mic will provide great audio that elevates the quality of your podcast.

Before deciding which microphone you should buy, research which one will work best for your podcast needs. Here are several high-quality mics you can choose from:

Recording

Recording your podcast can be done in several different ways. Some people prefer using a portable recorder like the Zoom H6 or a smartphone while others record directly into the editing software on their computer.

Whatever you choose, it’s important to make sure you are getting the best-quality audio possible. Position your microphone right below your chin to ensure clear, enhanced sound. While you want to be close to the mic, being too close may result in poor audio quality. Test your mic position by recording a few minutes of audio and listening to it. Repeat until you find the best position.

Headphones

Headphones are essential for creating podcasts. They help you hear your and your guest’s voice when recording and are extremely beneficial while editing. Whether you decide to use cheaper headphones or high-quality headphones, it is a podcast best practice to record and edit your podcast while wearing headphones.

Wearing headphones while recording can help you adjust your mic position and the sound levels for better audio as you hear the microphone feedback in real time, which will help save time while editing. Wearing headphones while editing will help you catch small distracting noises that you may not hear over a speaker, so you can enhance the listening experience for those who wear headphones when tuning into your podcast. Removing these noises in editing will improve the overall audio of your podcast.

Editing Software

The final piece of equipment you will need is editing software. There are many different recording and editing software programs to choose from, but we have identified two of the best for editing podcasts.

Audacity

Audacity is a free audio editing software with an open source audio editor. This type of audio editing allows you to make changes to the original code, which results in higher quality audio. Their editing platform is customizable, allowing you to make improvements to the editing layout according to your editing preferences.

Adobe Audition

Adobe Audition is a premium audio editing tool that includes multitrack, waveform, and spectral display. This comprehensive tool allows you to create, mix, edit, and restore audio content, which will ensure you have the highest quality sound.

Now that you have all of the equipment you need, you can begin working on your intro and outro.

Podcast Best Practices: Creating an Intro and Outro

The intro of any podcast sets the stage. Your intro will either grab your listener’s attention or lose it. Your outro should always wrap up the podcast and leave a call to action. Keep reading to discover the podcast best practices for creating an intro and outro.

The Intro

When creating your podcast intro, it’s important to include your name, the name of your podcast, who you are creating the podcast for, and what the overall theme of the podcast is. For each episode, you will want to present a problem and solution in your intro and how you will be discussing it throughout your podcast.

For example, say you are a realtor and your target listeners are homebuyers who are trying to learn everything they can before they purchase their first home. Their biggest problem is understanding the overall home buying process.

So, you can go into the process of home buying during your podcast and answer the questions your listeners might be asking. In an episode about different mortgage options, you can present the problem in the form of a question: “Are you looking to buy a home, but aren’t sure which mortgage will be best for you?” From there, you can give them the solution: “In this episode, we are breaking down your different mortgage options and walking you through how to decide which is the best fit for you.”

The podcast best practice is to have a pre-recorded intro for each episode that doesn’t change, followed by an episode-specific intro that sets the stage for each episode. For example, your intro may sound something like this:

“Welcome back to Realtor Insights, the podcast where we help potential homebuyers understand the market and their options for purchasing a home. I’m your host, Jane Doe.

Are you looking to buy a home, but aren’t sure which mortgage will be best for you? In this episode, we’re breaking down your different mortgage options and walking you through how to decide which is the best fit for you.”

With this strategy, you are setting your podcast up for success and immediately informing the listener how listening to your podcast will add value to their lives.

The Outro

When creating an outro, you should thank your listeners for tuning in, point them to your show notes, offer a teaser for the next episode, and include a clear call to action—such as subscribing, going to your website, or leaving a review.

So, using the example above, your outro may sound something like this: “Thanks for listening! Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher, and don’t forget to tune in next week as we discuss the importance of home inspections.”

While your intro and outro will change for each episode, it’s important to plan how you want them to sound to ensure consistency when creating future episodes.

Now that all of the specifics have been worked out, you can begin planning each podcast episode.

Podcast Best Practices: Planning and Preparing Your Episodes

Planning and preparing your podcast episodes will help you stay on schedule. Creating a podcast calendar, researching keywords, creating outlines, and preparing for interviews before beginning production are podcast best practices that will help your podcast run smoothly.

Creating a Podcast Calendar

When planning your podcast, the first step is brainstorming a list of topics and possible podcast guests that fit your overall theme. From there, you will want to flesh out full podcast topics for each episode. This should include the topic and the guest (if you are planning on having a guest). From there, you can dive into keyword research.

Keyword Research and SEO Optimization

With your list of topics for each episode, you can research related keywords and select a focus keyword for each episode. You can begin by googling your topic and looking for relevant phrases or words that are used in the search queries.

Once you have a list of possible keywords, you can conduct further keyword research. Use SEO tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to find the perfect keyword for each episode. Finding a relevant focus keyword will help your podcast rank and make it easier for your listeners to find you.

Don’t forget about SEO. It’s important to make sure that your podcast name, provider name, episode titles, and podcast notes are optimized with SEO-friendly terms and keywords. Taking this step will help you rank in podcast searches.

Creating Outlines

Once you have your focus keyword for each podcast episode, it is best practice to create an outline for the podcast. The outline doesn’t have to get into every nitty-gritty detail that you want to discuss in the episode, but it should lay the framework for the discussion. Here is an example of a good template to follow:

  • Intro
  • Segue
  • Segment #1
  • Segment #2
  • Segment #3
  • Closing Remarks
  • Outro

The number of segments you choose is completely up to you, but if you decide to have more than one, it’s important to remember that the first segment should be the most interesting to capture your listener’s attention. Once you have the topic of discussion for each segment, you can begin breaking down the segments into specific areas of interest. Creating an outline will ensure that your episode will flow seamlessly.

Preparing for Interviews

If you plan to have a guest on your show, it’s important to research who might be a good guest and ask them if they would be interested in coming on your podcast. Once you have a guest lined up, it’s time to prepare for the interview. When creating your outline and deciding on each segment within the episode, research questions your listeners may want to ask you or your guest about the topic you are covering. Next, look further into your guest’s passions and past experience for inspiration. You can even reach out to your guest to see if there’s anything they would like to discuss or share with your audience.

Long-Distance Interviews

If you plan on having long-distance interviews, Zoom is a great option because it is simple to use and sends both an audio and video file after your meeting. When recording one-on-one meetings, Zoom is a free tool, which makes it a great option if you are on a budget.

Congratulations on making it this far in creating your podcast! Now we can discuss the details of recording your podcast.

Podcast Best Practices: Recording an Episode

The moment you have prepared for is finally here! It’s time to start recording each podcast episode. But before you do, keep these important podcast best practices in mind.

  • Be sure to speak enthusiastically and clearly. Mumbling will make it hard to understand what you are trying to communicate and no one likes to listen to a monotonous voice. Be sure to add enthusiasm whenever possible.
  • Breathe and speak from your diaphragm. The diaphragm is the key to your voice, which is why it is essential when it comes to talking.
  • Work on expanding your vocabulary. I’m not saying you need to become a thesaurus, but try not to use the same words over and over again. Find ways to make your vocabulary more colorful yet comprehensible to your target audience.
  • Practice proper pronunciation. If you aren’t sure how to pronounce a word, look it up.
  • Engage your guest and be careful not to overpower them. After all, you invited them on for a reason!
  • Avoid crosstalk as much as possible. When too much crosstalk occurs, your audience will have a hard time hearing what is being said. This can lower the quality of your podcast.
  • Don’t undermine your own expertise. Remember, you want your listener to gain confidence and trust that you know what you’re talking about. When talking to podcast guests, you should establish yourself as an authority having a conversation with someone else who is also an authority on the subject.

Now that you have finished recording, you can follow the final steps before publishing.

Podcast Best Practices: Post-Production

You have spent time setting goals, picking themes, creating topics, buying equipment, and recording, and now you’re only a few steps away from publishing your podcast!

Editing

Once you have finished recording the podcast, you can begin editing. Editing may feel like the most daunting part of the process, but with practice, it will become easier over time. When you are editing, remember to keep it simple. Remove any unnecessary noises or rambling and edit the intro and outro into the episode. Editing doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should not be overlooked. Taking the time to edit your audio makes your podcast that much better.

Writing Podcast Notes

Podcast notes are important because they make the podcast multifaceted. Your podcast notes should summarize what the episode is about and offer additional information and resources to your listeners.

Creating podcast notes is a podcast best practice for growing your audience and keeping your listeners engaged. Listeners often read the podcast notes because they don’t have time to listen to the podcast. For this reason, they should briefly summarize and convey the main points of the episode.

Promoting

How will your audience know about your podcast if you don’t tell them about it? After all of the work you have put into creating your podcast, don’t forget to promote it! Take time to write social media posts and emails promoting your podcast episodes. Encourage friends, employees, and coworkers to share your podcast as well. Taking the time to promote your podcast will result in more listeners and a further reach.

Now You’re Ready to Create a Podcast!

While creating a podcast can be simple, using these podcast best practices will ensure your podcast performs well and provides incredible value. Taking the time to create a high-quality podcast will increase the likelihood of your ideal listener finding you, and will, hopefully, result in more customers.

Diversifying the content in your marketing funnel will keep your listeners engaged and help you build a long-lasting relationship with them. To fully optimize your podcast notes, consider implementing a comprehensive blog strategy to drive traffic to the rest of your website.

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