Whether you’re still toying with the idea of starting a podcast or a seasoned podcasting pro, there’s always more to learn about the medium. From episode planning to post-production, the process of bringing a podcast into the world is much more involved than you might think, so it’s never a bad idea to brush up on your knowledge and ensure you’re taking full advantage of all the tools, tips and tricks at your disposal.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide will help you cover all your bases when it comes to podcasting, and set you up for success if you’re still in the early planning stages.
Consider this your initiation into the weird and wonderful world of podcasting, and don’t forget to have fun along the way. Below you’ll find information on some of the fundamental pillars of podcasting and how you can position yourself as a pro in this ever-changing landscape:
Before we really get into it, let’s start with the lingo. To help you avoid sounding like a beginner in the recording studio, here’s some podcast terminology to add to your vocabulary:
It may sound simple, but the distinction between these two terms is often glossed over. When referring to a “podcast,” this generally means the entire show and all episodes within the overarching umbrella. However, a “podcast episode” refers to a particular edition of the show, like an episode of a TV show.
Similar to the above example, a “podcast description” refers to the description of the entire show, so the broad themes, topics and subject matter discussed in each episode. The “episode description,” however, outlines the themes and ideas discussed in one particular episode of the show.
Not to be confused with the episode description, show notes are a much more extensive and comprehensive description of an episode. Unlike an episode description, which is typically just a simple paragraph or two outlining the content of the episode, show notes may be broken out into different categories including links, references, information about the guest, and any calls-to-action for your listeners like information on where they can find your podcast on social media. While show notes aren’t a strict requirement for every podcast, it’s a great idea to include them with each episode because they help give your show a more professional feel, provide your audience with more content to consume, and increase your show’s awareness through SEO.
Listeners can tune into their favorite podcasts using almost any device and a variety of platforms. Mobile devices including iPhones and Androids are generally the easiest way to listen, but you can also listen on the computer and even in the car, provided there’s a bluetooth connection handy. As of 2021, Spotify is the most used app when it comes to online audio with Pandora as the second. Here are a few of our favorite podcast listening apps and why we love them:
A podcast subscriber is exactly what it sounds like—someone who has hit the “subscribe” button on a show, similar to how you might subscribe to a TV channel or magazine. Once you subscribe to a show, you’ll receive the latest episodes as soon as they’re released right on the app.
While Apple Podcasts uses the term “subscribers,” some listening platforms take a slightly different approach. For example, Spotify classifies podcast listeners into two categories: unique listeners and “followers,” who are users that have hit the “follow” button on a podcast to receive regular updates, similar to a subscriber.
As you might intuit, more subscribers or followers = more exposure for your podcast and therefore, a larger audience base to listen to your key messages, purchase your products or simply become part of your community. Unlike social media apps where you can easily see how many followers other users have, you won’t be able to see this number on other podcasts. However, you can use analytics tools to check out your own stats like:
Many podcasters will accompany each new episode with video footage of the conversation, which they can use to upload to video platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. There are a few different formats you can use to add video footage to your podcast plan including:
Again, video is not a requirement for podcasting, but if you have the proper equipment or even a team to help out with the recording, it can be a great way to engage listeners visually and continue building your brand. If you’re interested in adding video to your podcasting toolbox, here are some tools and platforms to get you started:
We have been asked time and time again, how long should my podcast episode be? And to give you a more unsatisfying answer… It depends! Some podcasts fit well in the 60-90 minutes time frame while others are performing exceptionally well at the 10 minute mark.
When podcasters are first starting out, it can be tough to determine how long each episode should be. Although you wouldn’t want your episodes to be so short that your listeners don’t have time to connect with your content, and you also wouldn’t want to risk losing their attention span with too long of an episode, length isn’t as important as you might think.
The great thing about podcasting is that it’s a fairly flexible medium, and there are no hard-and-fast rules in terms of format. You have the space and the freedom to experiment with multiple different formats, styles and lengths, so try recording episodes in the range of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes and then upwards of an hour. Analyze your backend information to see which episodes resonate the most with your listeners, then continue refining from there.
Although it may seem daunting at first, we promise that recording a podcast gets easier over time once you create a routine for your show and get the hang of it. Essentially, recording a podcast involves three main stages:
This stage involves everything from making sure you have the proper equipment to writing your episode script. It also involves nailing down your podcast’s goals, themes and key messaging, sourcing new guests, and research. The planning stage is a crucial element of the podcasting process, so use it to your full advantage to set yourself up for success.
Here’s a general pre-production checklist you can use to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you hit the ground running:
The actual act of recording your podcast episodes will probably take you the least amount of time of all the stages. While every stage of podcasting can be enjoyable, recording is arguably the most fun part of the process because you finally get to dive deep into your topic, connect with your guest(s) and let your sparkling personality shine. Here are some tips for the recording stage of the production journey:
When it comes to your conversation with the guest, the topic of interruption can be a little controversial. Our opinion? If your guest is beginning to go on a tangent and you can feel the conversation veering way off into a direction that you don’t want to go, it’s okay to politely find a break in their speech to steer the discussion back to where you want it to go. But with that being said, don’t be rude. No listener wants to hear you fully interrupt a guest mid-sentence and you also don’t want to offend the guest. Have a glass of water close by to clear away any frogs that seem intent on hanging out in your throat during the recording session.
If recording is the party, post-production is the after party. This is where you get to put your editing skills and creativity to good use and really polish the episode to make it shine. Here are some tips for making the most of the post-production phase:
Once you’re happy with the finished product, it’s finally time to share it with the world (deep breaths are key!). You’ve already figured out how to plan, record and edit an episode, so this part of the process will be a breeze.
Here’s what you need to do to upload your podcast episode:
Now that your episode is available to the world, you’ll want to spread the word and create some buzz around the show—that’s right, it’s time to drill down on podcast marketing. This is also a crucial stage of the process because without using tactics like social media, email marketing, blogs and advertising to get the word out, no one will know your podcast exists anyway (unless you’re some A-List celebrity) so all your hard work will be for naught.
Again, don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with new platforms, ideas and tactics, and be sure to remain consistent with your messaging so listeners know what to expect. There are several promotional platforms podcasters can use to boost their marketing plans including:
Here are some final tips and tricks to keep in mind when marketing your podcast:
Mackenzie Patterson is the Senior Producer & Content Strategist at Quill Inc, and a Toronto-based writer, and journalist. She's always exploring the latest movies, TV shows and wellness trends.