More people listen to podcasts in 2019 than ever before. There are over a half million podcasts available on Apple Music and the number is growing every day. And the competition for listeners is spurring podcasters to pump-up their production value.
What is going on behind the scenes in podcast production? The most avid podcast listeners are middle to high-income earners with graduate degrees. So, how are podcasters tipping the scales?
Learn everything you need to know about podcast production standards for 2019. Find out how to make a professional quality podcast with the right equipment, tools, and skills. This article is a behind the scenes guide to podcast production in 2019.
Podcast Production: Behind the Scenes of Making a Podcast
People listen to podcasts more than they listen to the radio or read blogs. The benefit of podcasting is to provide in-depth information or commentary on a specific subject. Unlike blog articles, people can listen to podcasts while they drive, at work, and doing tasks around the house.
Podcasts come in many forms. Some podcasts explore music, movies, and the entertainment industry. Others delve into politics and international news, while others still — like The Podcast of No Return, offer sketch comedy and stories.
Podcasting is on the rise, and it is the right time to start your own. In a few years, there will likely be many times the number of podcasts on the air than currently. Set yourself up with good production quality to ensure the longevity of your podcast.
Podcasting requires some basic equipment, like a microphone and computer. Plenty of podcasters air their show using little more, and as a result, the bulk of podcasts have subpar production quality. If you want to put out a podcast that can reach a wide audience it requires planning, equipment, and know-how.
Follow this step-by-step guide to podcast production to find out what goes on behind the scenes:
Podcast Planning: Audience, Subject, and Name
The three big questions to start you on your journey are: Who is your podcast for; what is it about; and what is the name of your podcast?
The first two questions are connected. Who the podcast is for, and what the podcast is about, go hand-in-hand. The subject of your podcast comes with a natural target listener, but the spin you put on the subject can change that.
If your podcast is about the national policy, it might attract educated professionals. But, if your spin on the subject focusses on conspiracy theories it will attract a very different (and likely unhinged) listenership.
So, pin down the specific niche your podcast is looking to fill. Podcasts are like blogs, in that the best podcasters are highly skilled and educated regarding the subject matter of the podcast. So, pick a subject over which your experience commands authority.
Once you are confident in the subject of your podcast, think about the audience you want to listen. Podcasting is like all online publications, in that success depends on growing your listener base, and that requires marketing.
Why Audience Targeting Matters
If you target your podcast to seniors the marketing is different than if you target millennials. Knowing your target audiences search tendencies and trending issues helps you formulate an effective content strategy. If you want to provide valuable content to your listeners, you have to know what they find valuable. You get to decide where the value of your podcast comes from.
When planning the subject of your podcasts, brainstorm several ideas. Write down the subject idea on the top of a piece of paper. Underneath, make a list as many episode ideas you can think of.
The best podcast subject is probably the one for which you can come up with the most episode ideas. Give yourself 5 minutes to come up with 10 to 15 episode ideas for each subject. If you find yourself creating subcategories on episode ideas, then you have found a winner.
Finally, the name of your podcast is an important piece of the pie. A good podcast with a good name is a winning combination. A good podcast with a bad name is a tragedy. And a bad podcast with a bad name is…well, you never know.
You can opt to go with a witty, descriptive, or flat name. A witty name is great for story podcasts, whereas a descriptive name works well for news shows. A flat name is simply your own name.
A witty name, like “Into the Abyss” doesn’t tell the listener what the show is about, but it is intriguing. A descriptive name, like “The Weekly International Policy Update” is dry, but it is specific and clear. A flat name, like “The John Doe Show” is not intriguing or specific (unless perhaps your show is all about demystifying unidentified corpses), but it is easy to remember.
Unless your subject is something that you can speak at length about, your show will dry up pretty quick. Each episode should be between 20 to 45 minutes. We here at The Podcast of No Return are finding that the shorter the show the better, as more and more shows clamor for the public’s attention. People are more likely to give something a try if it’s only going to take a few minutes to do so. Long-form podcasts can exceed three hours in length, but only if the subject warrants it.
Whether your podcast episodes are ten minutes or two hours long, they must be published with regularity. More important, than how many you release, is how regularly episodes are released. The best podcast production includes a publication calendar to ensure that episodes are as regular as clockwork.
The length of time it takes you to produce an episode also depends on your episode format. Podcasts often stick to a format for every episode. Short episodes usually stick to a single format, whereas long-form podcasts often integrate several formats.
The solo host format is the most popular and easy for startup podcasters. A solo host is on their own with the audience. The entire show is one long monologue.
A co-host show can be more engaging to listeners and improves the quality of discussion on the show. Good chemistry makes a show fun for listeners. Problems arise, however, when co-hosts don’t see eye-to-eye.
The other most popular podcasting format is the interview show. In an interview podcast, the host interviews an expert, or several experts on a specific subject. This format can couple with the solo host format.
Podcasting is conducive to interviews due to the non-visual nature of the medium. You can conduct an interview over the phone or on Skype or with other dedicated services with the same audio quality as if it were in person.
Recording Equipment for Podcasting
Investing in the quality of your podcast has long-term potential benefits. You can enter podcast competitions or end up making money from advertisement space.
If you want to make a high-quality podcast you need more than a microphone and computer. Professional podcast production requires a good microphone, mixer, sound studio, and sound editing software. Sound quality is critical to producing a quality podcast, and we here at TPONR have certainly experienced bumps on the learning curve on that front.
Audacity editing software is free and functional, but it is difficult to use. Professional sound mixers opt for a software program with higher function and a cleaner interface. Adobe Audition is a fully functional sound editing program that many podcasters use. We here use the industry standard Pro Tools, which we find affords the greatest array of sound-shaping capabilities. But that may not be in everyone’s budget.
When it comes to a microphone, the Blue USB microphones are, both, affordable and high-quality. Avoid cheap microphones that produce a hollow, thin sound. If you can afford a USB interface such as those made by Focusrite, along with some decent condenser or cardioid mics, then you’re in good shape.
Once you have the right concept, planning, and equipment, it is time to make yourself a space to record. If you record your podcast in the middle of a big room the sound quality will be worse than if you do it in a closet. If you plan to record regularly, you might want to dedicate a whole room as a studio. This cannot be emphasized enough. There are all kinds of solutions to making your space recording-friendly, and we suggest you explore your options before recording.
Put up acoustic sound foam on the walls and ceiling. You can even make your own voiceover booth with PVC pipe and sound blankets (sound blankets are a better choice than acoustic foam, if feasible). If the floors are hardwood or tile put down a carpet. The best podcast production quality is recorded in a room with sound dampening elements.
If you like going behind the scenes of podcast production, share it with friends on social media. And check out the blog for new entertaining podcast episodes. Thanks for reading!