The State of Podcasting Today: Should You Start One?

Erin Dubots / March 29, 2019

With almost a quarter of the U.S. listening to podcasts on a monthly basis, the podcast market is growing tremendously, having gained 12 million listeners in just one year. As a low-budget way to connect your brand to listeners, it’s not surprising that podcasts are rapidly growing in popularity. With more than 660,000 podcasts available on streaming services like iTunes and Spotify, and more than 2,000 added every week, how do you know if creating a podcast is right for your brand?

Have a great idea for a podcast and want to make it a reality? Make sure to consider these tips before jumping in:

1. Get the right equipment

Yes, there are free ways to record your voice, but that doesn’t mean they are suitable for podcasting. No matter how fantastic your content is, people won’t want to listen to static and background noise. Free recording equipment will do in a pinch, but if you want to produce a high-quality, engaging podcast, it is often better to spare some change. Invest in recording equipment if you are able to – you can find a quality, cheap microphone for less than $100 to start.

Once you record the episode, you’ll have to edit, so plan to invest in editing software (like Audacity or Adobe Audition) as well. At The Fearey Group, we use a Samson MTR101 Condenser microphone. Our podcast room is equipped to ensure our podcasts are of the highest quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On top of the equipment, you’ll also need a place to record. The great thing about podcasts is you don’t need a whole studio. Just make sure wherever you are is free from external noise such as busy streets or loud neighbors.

2. Prepare your content

You may have a great idea now, but what about after three episodes? If you want to start a podcast, it’s a good idea to plan out the first 10 episodes. If you find yourself struggling to create original content for each episode, you may need to rethink your idea. On the other hand, if you map out a series of episodes ahead of time, your podcast will be set up for success and almost ready to hit record!

The next step is to create a plan of talking points for the recording session. A full script will sound too formal and lose the authenticity of a podcast, but without preparing talking points ahead of time, the episode will lose direction and turn into a ramble.

Similar to any prepared speech, practice what you are going to say. Especially if you plan to have a co-host or guest on the show, you may only have limited time to capture the recording. If you have the time, record and listen to yourself. Determine which phrases work well, and which do not sound as great. Those latter words or phrases are ones you will want to avoid. Practice pronunciations, names and intonation to ensure everything goes smoothly when it comes time to record. Even though many podcasts sound spontaneous, if you want your podcast to stand out, you’ll need to develop a unique talking voice and be seamless in your execution.

3. Think about your audience

While it’s important to be a fan of your own content, your podcast ultimately will not gain popularity if your listeners do not also enjoy your content. Think about your ideal audience, even create a persona for them. Consider their age, interests, when and where they’ll be tuning in: Each of these characteristics are key when developing and promoting your podcast episodes.

Most podcasts start out with a fan base of an immediate circle. While moral support from family and friends is a start, they are not your target audience. If you are making a podcast on public relations industry trends, having Grandma listen will surely affirm you, but it won’t necessarily help your podcast take off. Market to the audience you want and create content that suits their needs. A podcast for PR beginners versus PR executives will have very different language and should address different needs. Just like in PR, knowing your audience and creating clear content and messaging that speaks to your audience’s interests is the best way to develop your podcast.

4. Be ready to commit

Be warned: A good podcast is a long-term commitment. Let’s say you have a weekly podcast with 30-minute episodes. By the end of your first year, that’s over 25 hours of podcasting, not to mention the same number of hours – if not more – of preparation, recording, editing and promotion. A 30-minute episode is on the conservative side, as the average length of podcasts is 45 minutes. If you’re starting to get an idea of how much time you’ll be putting into your podcast, just imagine how the guys at 12-Hour Day feel, where each episode is 12 hours long.

Many podcasts fail to make it over the seven-episode hump, resulting in what’s known as a podfade. As Steve Goldstein, CEO of Amplifi Media noted, “Starting a podcast is easy. . . Keeping a podcast going is another thing.”

Definition of podfade on Urban Dictionary

Don’t let podfading and an oversaturated market deter you. There are numerous award-winning podcasts that have created full-time positions as broadcasters. If you give your podcast the effort it deserves, there is nothing stopping it from finding success.

Now that you know how to start your own podcast, you may be wondering what your competition is. Here are a few of my favorite podcasts:

Best podcasts:

1. Today Explained, Vox

Today Explained is an explainer podcast hosted by Sean Rameswaram every Monday-Friday. The informal tone makes learning about current events fun and creative – the perfect commuter podcast. Episodes are about 30-minutes long and dive into subjects we might not expect, but are grateful for, like the Parkland student protests, the December-January government shutdown, and the steel industry. If you’re looking for a casual yet informative run-down of important, political situations, check out Today Explained.

2. Inside PR, FIR Podcast Network

Inside PR is a weekly podcast exploring the state of public relations and social media, hosted by PR veterans Gini Dietrich, Joseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman. Each episode delves into topical and provocative issues. During each episode, they take time to discuss comments from listeners to ensure the continuing relevance of the show, making this a go-to for any PR professional looking to stay up-to-date on industry news.

3.  Radiolab, WNYC Studios

Radiolab is a two-time Peabody Award-winning investigative podcast hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. The show takes one big idea per episode and explains it though sounds and stories, responding to skeptic listeners with facts. If you’re interested in government and justice, Radiolab Presents: More Perfect looks at defining cases throughout U.S. history that made the Supreme Court so supreme. My favorite episode, More Perfect: Sex Appeal, looks at a young Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her case on sex discrimination against… men.

4. Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Armchair Expert

This podcast is informative in an entirely different way. Comedian Dax Shepard invites celebrity guests to talk about the messiness of being human. Occasionally, guests may discuss current events, but the episodes tend to focus on their struggles and shortcomings and what made them the people they are today. The episodes are vulnerable and honest, allowing listeners to relate to celebrities like Dr. Phil and author Brené Brown in a more intimate, humanizing way.

If you’re thinking of starting your own podcast, give a listen to some of the above to find out what works for them, and what you may be able to adopt into your episodes. Don’t let podfading scare you – podcasting should be fun!

For any tips or insights, feel free to reach out to any of us here at The Fearey Group. We’d love to see your vision and give advice on how to make it happen.