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Five questions you should ask yourself before starting a podcast

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To podcast or not to podcast?

Podcasting is a great way to get your message out into the world but it’s also hard work.  For every show that’s listened to by millions of people, there are thousands that have an audience consisting of the host and their mum.

So, should you start a podcast or is it better to stick to being a fan?

Before you buy the latest gear, don the headphones and start sprinting towards your dreams of podcasting glory, you should ask yourself these questions…

Who am I doing this for?

Before you start your podcast you should always sit down with a piece of paper and flesh out your ideal listener.

This exercise will help you work out whether you have an audience in mind or whether you actually just want to do the show because you want to be on a podcast.

If your motivation is the latter it’s going to be pretty hard to find listeners and even harder to hang onto them.

To have a really successful podcast you have to be making content people want.  And part of that is having a clear idea of who your show is for so you can tailor it directly to them.

For example, if you know you want to make a show for busy mums trying to juggle work and family, you might decide to make your episodes 10 minutes instead of 45. This might also impact how you present your podcast because you’ll want to keep the f-bombs to a minimum if you know your show will be listened to with kids in the car.

These might seem like small details but the more you understand your audience, the more likely you are to connect with them.  And that connection is what helps you grow an audience.

Fleshing out your ideal listener also helps you work out whether you’re doing this because you know there’s an audience for your content, or because you just want to say “I’m on a podcast.”

Being able to say those words is exciting until you realise being on a podcast is a bucket load of work.  And if no one’s listening you’ll probably jump ship pretty quickly.

Working out who you’re doing your show for can help you save the hassle of working this out the hard way.  It’ll also help you make better content decisions when planning your show.

Why you should design an ideal listener for your podcast

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Do I know my niche?

Trying to create a podcast that appeals to everyone usually ends up appealing to no one.

There are a bajillion podcasts out there and unless you’re an established brand people are already searching for, the only way to stand out from the crowd is if you’re doing something different.

You might be concerned narrowing your focus will make it harder to come up with ideas but anyone who’s worked creatively will know, the most crippling thing anyone can say is ‘do whatever you want.’

Creativity needs parameters to get the juices flowing, so if you know exactly what your topic area is, what specific problem you’re solving and why you’re doing it, coming up with content will be much easier.

It also makes it easier to sell your concept to new listeners.  If you can explain the idea in one sentence that’s going to be much more compelling than saying “It’s a show where I talk about stuff I find interesting.”

That’s great if people already find you interesting but if this is the first encounter they have with your show it’ll sound like your podcast is more about you than it is about the audience.

Does your podcast have to be niche?

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Do I have time to do it?

Podcasting is a huge commitment and the only way to gain traction is if you’re uploading content consistently.

The most common interval is weekly, although the more episodes you have, the more opportunities there will be for people to download your show.

Consistency is the key so before you launch it’s important to look ahead at your calendar and think ‘can I realistically upload an episode every week for the next year?’

If you can’t it might not be the right time to get started.

If you promise your listeners there’ll be a new episode every Monday morning, it has to be there if you want them to keep showing up.  You’re building trust with your audience so if you ask them to make an appointment with you every week you have to return the favour.

One way to combat the stress of recording an episode every week is to batch record so you can get ahead of yourself.

If your content is based on current events this will be difficult, but if you can plan and record your shows in advance, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress.

Why you should batch record your podcast

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Do I expect to make money?

There are a lot of people out there making money from podcasting BUT that hasn’t happened overnight.

Either they’ve established a significant following prior to starting their podcast or they’ve gradually grown an audience by consistently uploading content that appeals to their ideal listener.

Having the goal of generating revenue is feasible but you have to have a loyal audience first and you have no idea how long that will take.

It’s best to start from a place where you’re dying to put your content out into the world regardless of whether you’re getting paid for it and see where it goes from there.

That way any money you do make will be a bonus rather than something you’re counting on.

How to make money from your podcast

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Why do I really want to podcast?

If it’s because you’ve got content you think could really help people, whether that’s by informing, entertaining or inspiring them, there’s a good chance your show will be a success.

If it’s because you think podcasting is something you have to do because everyone else is then don’t go buying that mic just yet.

At the time of writing, there are over 800,000 podcasts and the vast majority of these are no longer in production.

Sometimes that’s because they were only supposed to last for a season but the majority of the time it’s because the makers of these shows realised it’s not as simple as sitting in front of a microphone and watching the fans flood in.

To be successful you have to create quality content (which requires real effort), consistently (which takes a lot of time) and share it far and wide so people actually listen (which is harder than you might think).

All of this means you have to be podcasting for the right reasons or your show will fade out like so many others.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

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