6 Keys to a Killer Podcast

August 15, 2012 — 2 Comments

I really hesitate calling this post “[insert number here] keys to [anything I’m somehow decent at]“, because we’ve only released a few episodes of our podcast.

We absolutely don’t know it all, but we have learned a few things this past year that we’ve found incredibly invaluable.  And we want to craft a business culture that freely gives away valuable information.  So without further ado:

1.  Know your audience

A lot of people decide that they want to make a podcast (or other creative work) without thinking of who they want their audience to be.  I’ll admit that we made this mistake at first, too.  You record interviews with your friends and those in your circle, and therefore, you attract an audience consisting of people who like the same things that you do.  Repeat after me.

“That isn’t a bad thing.”

Just be sure to decide in advance if that’s who you really want to attract as an audience.  We decided halfway through the year that we actually wanted our audience to be people who wanted to learn from leaders in creativity, technology, and business…..whoever that may be.

…..And that forced us to ask some different questions like:

  • “Do we want any guests?”
  • “Who would our audience be interested in hearing for interviews?”
  • “What sort of topics would people in this demographic be interested in hearing about?”
  • “Roughly how long would our audience want each episode to be?”

2. Don’t be afraid to ask

When it comes to asking for involvement, people are strange creatures.  Sometimes, to avoid rejection, we beat around the bush.  We hope others will magically make themselves available.  A dude may have found out that pulling a girl’s ponytail in elementary school was a roundabout way to get her to notice that he liked her.  He finds out later that the whole process goes a lot faster if he would just ask her out.

The same is true for interviews.  Will Steve Jobs ever be on our podcast?  Probably not.  But you can bet that it wasn’t because we didn’t email him.  There are wonderful people out there who are more than willing to give you 15 minutes of their time  (Guy Kawasaki, and Bryan Simon are a few examples of that for us).  You’ll probably get a lot of “no’s”.  But the “yes’s” you do get will make it all worth it.  Which leads us to:

3.  Go for quality

This concept speaks to the guests you ask to be on your podcast, the amount of time you spend preparing, and the length of each episode.  If you can’t come up with engaging content for your episodes, don’t push the publish button.  Avoid the temptation to over-publish, just because you want people to hear you talking again.  Each “bad interview” or “talking head” wastes your audience’s time and dilutes the podcast’s worth.  We avoid “winging it” in our interviews, because we want to show our audience and guests that our questions and content were well-thought out.  Meaningless content is evil.

4.  Bow out gracefully

A lot of people are as just as sorry as you are that they can’t spend time with you.  Thank them for answering and move on.  If you’re ever on the “Rejector” side of things, adding value along with your “No” is a sure way to win a fan for life, even without doing the favor in the first place.  When we asked for an interview with Dan Cathy of Chick-Fila via email, they sent us back a snail-mail letter that in essence said, “He can’t do the interview.  But,  how about a free sandwich just for asking us?”

How can you ever get mad at that?

5.  Cut the crap

Unless you’re doing a live interview, go through the extra effort to use a program like soundtrack, audacity, or audition.  Cut out deadspace, “ummms”, and useless content.  It’ll up the interview quality (#3!) and show your audience that you’re respecting their time.  It also shows your interviewer that you can be trusted, putting a spotlight on their content without letting communication style or flubs get in the way.

6.  Start now

Everything won’t be perfect before you start.  You won’t see what’s around the next turn until you leave the driveway.  We’ve only been doing this for a year, and we still have so much to learn.  But I love how much we’ve learned so far.

What tips do you have?  Any advice on starting your own podcast?

Andrew Mason

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Andrew is a husband, learner, ProGuide.io founder, dubstep aficionado, eater of carnetas burritos, and marathon runner. I love building communities that learn together!
  • Number 5 is the best advice ever for those wanting to podcast. The #1 way of me turning off a podcast is lack of audio quality, and the #2 is lack of content, or maybe over an hour of content split up between dead space, random talk, or space fillers.

    • andrewjmason

      Totally. It’s an investment of our time to cut all that junk out, but it’ll show we care about their time. (#6 was “Being Sean Connery, btw.)