How to Produce a Podcast

How to Produce a Podcast

I have recorded nearly 1,000 podcast episodes. My team has created and produced more than a dozen separate shows for corporate clients and ourselves.

Here’s what I say whenever someone asks me if they should start a podcast:

Yes, if you think small enough.

Habitual and heavy podcast listeners regularly tune in to about 5 different shows per week. And while it’s true that the overall podcast listening audience is growing, it’s not doing so with great velocity.

There is NO shortage of podcasts now. Millions are being produced, and with about 25% of the population listening to podcasts, that’s a lot of competition to be one of those five shows per week.

And while it’s possible that yours will create a few brand-new podcast fans who’ve never dipped into the medium previously, that’s going to be a small portion of your audience. Thus, the listeners for YOUR podcast are almost assuredly already listening to OTHER podcasts.

So the real question you should be asking isn’t, “should you start a podcast?” but rather, “whose podcast audience are you going to steal?”

The ONLY WAY you can succeed with a new podcast now is if your show is the favorite show on the planet for a select group of people. And to be their favorite, you need to be hyper-relevant and hyper-specific. Become indispensable to a small group, and then find a way to make that group larger. If you can do that, then YES, you should start a podcast in 2021.

If you have made it this far, then you’ve decided to start a podcast, congrats! Now what?

12 Steps to Produce a Killer Podcast

1. Schedule Time Windows

We almost always record two shows back-to-back. It took me a while to figure this out, but it’s easier to schedule one, larger chunk of time than a few, smaller chunks. Plus, when you’re “in the flow” the shows are just better. I very much recommend setting aside 2-3 hours every couple of weeks, and knocking out as many podcasts as you can.

2. Book Your Guests

Our show hosts (Me for Social Pros with Anna Hrach and Adam Brown as co-hosts) vet and select our own guests. We do it the old-fashioned way, via email. I know there are lots of tools out there that help you pick and time and auto-schedule, but I hate the impersonal nature of that technology. You’re asking someone to come on your show, can’t you at least exchange a couple of emails to pick a time?

Once guests are arranged, our producer sends a Squadcast invite to guests and hosts. We record our shows via Squadcast, which we prefer to Zoom and Skype.

3. Explain the Show

When we send the Squadcast request, we also send to the guests our guest guidelines for the podcast, so they have a better feel for what’s going to happen while recording.

Here’s our guest guidelines page for Social Pros.

At this stage, we also gets the mailing address for the guest. Why? Because….

4. Send Guests a Gift Before the Show

We want guests on our podcasts to be treated like somebody special (because they are!), and we want the audio quality of the shows to be as good as it can be.

We now send all guests a USB headset and a thank you note, via Amazon.

Here’s the headset we send to guests.

Does that expense add up? Sure it does. But, we’re always trying to raise the bar and differentiate. It’s worth it (to me).

5. Send Pre-Show Questionnaire

Our hosts research all guests before the show, but we recently created pre-show interview questionnaires so that we can pull more knowledge and insights from guests before the podcast begins. This is inspired by the “pre interview” that is done on talk shows.

Here’s the pre-show questionnaire for Social Pros.

We built it in 5 minutes using Formstack, a fantastic form and landing page creation tool (with testing). Formstack is also a sponsor of the Social Pros podcast (and this blog), and you can get a 14-day free trial right here.

When the guest completes the form, the answers are automatically sent to our hosts and our producers at Content 10X. Side note: they’re awesome, you need to get to know them.

6. Record the Show 

As mentioned, we use Squadcast to record Social Pros. It’s just easier for us, and we find the audio to be slightly more stable than Skype. However, we do not use a mixing board or any advanced audio techniques, and it is my understanding that Skype may be superior in that configuration.

After each episode finishes, our primary host converts the recording using the built-in tool inside Squadcast, and uploads it to Dropbox. We send a notification email to our producer, and provide her with a proposed title for the episode.

During the show, we have host-read commercials for our sponsors. Our producer logs new advertiser copy on a Google doc, and that file remains on our second monitor during the episode taping. We do not read the commercials word-for-word, but try to make them as organic to the show as possible.

Each podcast episode contains three or four sponsor acknowledgements. Social Pros sponsors include Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Formstack, Shortstack, and Cision.

We only work with sponsors I believe in personally, which is why all of our current partners are either platforms we use at Convince & Convert and/or consulting clients.

7. Edit the Show

Once the episode is recorded, the work’s far from over. To tie it all together, editing the audio together is the next step.

Some podcasters like to do extensive editing throughout the episode. But with the Social Pros Podcast, we don’t do a big edit because we prefer a more authentic vibe.

From then on, we hand over the reins to our friends at Content 10x. Their team levels the audio of the guest and the host, inserts our show openings and closes, and fits all the audio tracks together into the final edited version. Then it’s ready to send out into the world.

We then add the episode to our hosting platform. We use Libsyn for Social Pros, which lets us automatically add the show to all major podcast apps including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher etc.

Here’s a finished Social Pros podcast, featuring Adam Buchanan from Cabela’s.

8. Create Blog Post

We don’t leave the podcast out in the wild. We also give it back-up with a blog post that gets published on the podcast page of the Convince & Convert website.

When the guys over at Content 10x are done editing the podcast into its final version, they also write a blog post by selecting some of the best moments from the episode.

These blog posts summarize the episode, give you some highlights, quotes, and feature an embedded podcast player for you to listen to the episode. They’re a fantastic podcast sidekick!

We used to produce full-length blog posts to summarize each episode but found they got to be too long. Now we just focus on the highlights.

Find all our blog posts for Social Pros here.

9. Create Video Highlights

What we focus on next is creating video highlights or audiograms from the podcast episode.

The Content 10x team help us once again with their content repurposing expertise. They take the best video segments (if the podcast recording included video), or audio snippets (if it was an audio only recording), and they create either a video teaser or an audiogram, which we pop on our social media channels to give potential listeners a taster.

That way, people can hear a short segment or nugget of wisdom from our guests on their social feed. If they like what they hear, they can jump onto the website or their favorite podcast app to listen to the rest.

Here’s an example of an audiogram Content 10x created that we use on social media.

When selecting the best bits from a podcast, the Content 10x team hunts for any of our guest’s mic-drop moments, interesting quotes, or snippets that summarize the topic really well.

They capture a few different angles from the episode, so the content is varied and not repetitive. As the teasers end up on social, they need to be short and sweet to grab attention and make you want to listen to the rest of the episode. We also pair those teasers with some social copy that gives the snippets more context and a strong call-to-action.

10. Send a Thank You Note, Badge & Gift

The day the show goes live, our producer emails guests to let them know, and encourages them to share the episode. We also send guests a digital “badge” that they can use on their personal website or blog.

We used to also FedEx our guests the finished, giant poster of the episode’s visual notes. It was a nice touch, I think. Maybe that idea will inspire you.

 11. Promote the Episode

Now, for one of the most important steps – putting your content out into the world.

With our own podcasts, we promote each episode across our social media channels, the social channels of our hosts, and in our weekly newsletter.

We do this by sharing all of the repurposed episode content from our Content 10x friends, alongside some social copy written especially for that episode. This way, people get excited about the show and know what to expect when they tune in.

With all these little steps after creating a podcast, it means that we really maximize the reach of each individual episode.

We also have an ongoing retargeting campaign using Google display ads. So, if you’ve ever visited a Social Pros blog post, you’ll sometimes see ads for new episodes on websites all around. Our team updates the creative each week to feature the new guest.

Here’s an example of a graphic for social media.

12. Atomize the Content

For our final step, we do something called content atomization.

It’s always fantastic to focus on creating consistent content for a podcast, blog posts, social media posts, and so on. But we also try to stretch our existing content even further with our monthly recaps/greatest hits posts. This is what we call content atomization.

With these monthly recaps, we pick a subject, let’s say the human side of social, and then recap some of our podcasts during that month. We feature summaries of the episodes, quotes from our guests, and some neat graphics for each of our episodes.

This is a great way to make your podcast go further without too much extra work. Recaps like these capture people who might have missed the episode when it first went live.

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