Updated: Jan 27
2020 will be remembered for many things, some good, a lot bad, but for many, it was the year they started a podcast. This year brought shortages in USB mics and boards as tens of thousands of Americans started a podcast during their time at home. Most are hobbies and will be gone in 2021, but for a lot of radio professionals, the hope is that podcasting can give their careers a second life. If you started a podcast and have hit roadblocks here are my tips for jump-starting your show in 2021.
Analyze your listen-through rates: This is the most important metric for me as I analyze a show and how it’s doing. If your listen-through rates are consistently under 70% then there is something that is not working. Usually, it means the content is too long, or there is an element later in the show that people just aren’t connecting with. If some episodes have higher rates, then see what you did there and if it’s something you can adjust in other episodes.
How are you promoting? Every successful show must have a thoughtful and well-executed promotional plan. This usually involves some form of paid promotion. To get a show to the numbers that advertisers will actually want is hard, and a show that does not have a promotional plan has very little chance to succeed. Start with really nailing down your audience, who they are, where they are, and what they like. Then find ways to reach them, this may include spending some money on targeted social media campaigns. I have seen great success with this approach.
Can you do it more than once a week? Traditionally podcasts are published weekly, but as more people come to rely on podcasts for their daily entertainment, daily and semi-daily podcasts are becoming more popular. The best part of doing a show multiple times a week is that your numbers can grow much faster. If you have the will and the content to do your show more often, do it.
Sharpen your first 60-second game. The first 60 seconds can make or break a podcast and it’s one element of shows I often hear filled with personal chatter that turns off a new listener. Everything you do should be to benefit of the new listener. In the first 60 seconds you should: Say name of show and mission statement or tagline (one sentence that says what the show is), say who you are, and tease the content coming up. Save the personal stuff for later in the show when you have already established yourself to the new listener.
Are you still having fun? One of my early PD’s told me he could hear me smile on the air and so did the listeners. I tell my talent to “Smyze,” smile when they talk. If you are not having fun doing your show, then it is time to step away and re-think what you are doing. This business is too rough to waste time on a project that does not bring you joy and therefore your listener’s joy.
If 2020 was the year of launching podcasts, 2021 will be the year that the real players are separated from the novices. If you want to be a real player, treat your show like a business. Set goals for listenership, quality, and overall growth.
This article was originally published for radioink.com. Check it out here.