Let’s get right to it. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to launching a podcast is going out too soon.
There are a lot of platforms and technologies out there that can make it so easy to create and launch that first episode that you could easily skip all of the most important steps that go into launching a successful podcast.
You need to spend the proper amount of time and do the research to know what you are trying to achieve, who you will target, what your underlying theme will be from episode to episode, how you will hold listeners from start to finish with a consistent format and structure and have the right gear and platforms to ensure the kind of quality your listeners will expect. And that’s just the beginning.
Once you have a good idea of what your podcast will be about and how your ‘workflows’ will work, you still have to prepare your audience for the launch of the podcast so that your target market knows it’s coming and can begin to anticipate it. Pre-promotion is key.
And of course, you want to make sure you have a quality hosting platform, and that once launched, your podcast will be available on all of the major podcast channels, from Apple and Google Podcasts, to Spotify and Amazon.
Limiting Your Podcast to Just One Channel
There are a number of podcasts, particularly brand and business podcasts, that think it’s enough to simply host the show on one channel, like Apple or Spotify. They assume that their employees, or their customers or their business partners will see that as sufficient. Big mistake.
Even if your target audience is a membership organization with a defined population, everyone may like to listen to podcasts on the channel of their choosing. Five people in the same office may use five different podcast channels. Make sure your podcast is available on as many as possible.
Poor Production Values and Audio Quality
This touches on a number of areas, from the kind of microphone you choose, to how you use it, and to the platforms, gear, recording environment and software you use. Not to mention your proficiency at using any and all of it.
Let’s start with your microphone. Do not get a condenser mic. (If you’ve had your eye on that Blue Yeti, please think again.) Buy a dynamic mic. A dynamic mic will filter out room echo and background noises. A condenser mic will make it sound like you’re doing your podcast from a bathroom. Along those same lines, don’t think you can get away with sharing a mic. One mic per speaker, no matter what. Otherwise someone will sound muffled or distant throughout the episode, and you can’t fix that in post-production.
If you’re on a budget, a good Shure SM58 is a great mic and it’s very affordable. Keep in mind, this is an XLR professional mic, so you will need the right interfaces. (See the photo above for my field set-up, which features two SM58 mics with a Zoom H6 recorder.)
If you’re looking to plug directly into your computer using a USB port, Audio-Technica makes some good ones that are affordable. If you are prepared to make a significant investment, good higher-end mics that are quite popular include the Shure SM7 and the Electro-Voice RE20.
Of course, your mic is only as good as what it’s connected to. A good amplifier, interface or external recorder are all important considerations. Some like to record directly onto their computers, which may require an interface. You plug your XLR mic into the interface, and then you connect the interface to the computer.
Another option is to record directly to an external recorder. The Zoom H6 is a solid, portable external recorder, so you can use it at home or on the road. A step up from that, and somewhat less portable is the Rodecaster Pro or the Zoom Podtrak.
If you expect to be doing a lot of interviews remotely, a standard option is Zoom Conference Calls (not the same as the Zoom recording devices), which gives you average audio quality. Other options that provider higher audio quality include Zencastr, Riverside or SquadCast. I’ve tried some of these and would be happy to talk offline about my experiences. Since the purpose of this blog post is not to review products, I’ll keep it at that for now.
When you record, treat the room you’re in like a studio. Shut windows, close doors, put the pets outside, and above all, soundproof your space as best as possible. Hard surfaces produce echo as the sound bounces from one wall to the other, no matter how softly you think you’re speaking. More on this in a future post.
Not Making a Long-term Commitment Up Front
When I started my podcast, I made my mind up I was going to do a new episode every week for 100 episodes before reassessing it, and what changes I may need to make. This might have been the best thing I could have done.
It forced me to establish discipline, drive and efficiency in the process. It compelled me to work to get better with each new episode. And because I knew I wasn’t going to make any big changes in those first 100 episodes, it forced me to focus on the little things over time. I wasn’t going to change the name, change the format or the schedule for releasing episodes. Those things were cast in stone for at least 100 episodes, which for me was just about two years.
When you do this, the process teaches you, and you learn more than you ever would have thought over time. By the time you’ve done 30 episodes you’re starting to hit your stride vocally and as an interviewer. Your guests will feel more comfortable as a result, and your interviews will go better.
By the time you hit 50 episodes, you start to get a sense of what really resonates with your audience and what isn’t working. Without making major changes, you can tweak as you go. So that by the time you hit that 100th episode, you have a very good idea of what changes you may need to make or where your time and efforts must be focused.
If you’re thinking of starting a podcast, get in touch. As I’ve said on other blog posts, I love talking about podcasting.
∼ ∼ ∼
Note: All mentions of products here are organic. I received no compensation or incentives to promote any products in this post.
Tim O’Brien started his career as a TV and radio producer. Since then, he’s become a nationally recognized communications advisor who’s worked with clients of all sizes. He has conducted media training for CEOs and a range of spokespersons for decades. Since 2018, he’s produced well over 200 weekly episodes of his award-winning Shaping Opinion Podcast. And he has helped podcasters take their podcasts to the Next Level.