Planning your podcast and finding your unique voice

Creating a podcast in 2018 is very different than even a year ago, because the popularity of podcasts is going through the roof. There are more than 300,000+ active podcasts and new ones are coming up every single day. Podcasting is becoming a form of expression, just like the early days of blogging. The good thing is because of the growing popularity, your audience is going to be big. The tricky thing is actually building an audience.

In 2018, to build a good audience, you need to find your niche and then, you need to find your unique voice.Finding your niche

Finding your niche

The best thing about podcasts is that it has given people a platform to explore niche subjects they always had an interest in. From stamp collection to understanding grief, there are podcasts that focus on unique niches and if the content is good, they always find their audience. So, don’t be discouraged by the sea of podcasts out there - if you find your niche, chances are, you will find your audience.

To find your niche, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are the stories you want to tell? And Why?

Good stories emerge from unique perspective, interesting observations or mastery of a particular topic. If you are thinking about podcasting, ofcourse you have some or all of the above. Think deeply them deeply to understand the “Why?” of stories you want to tell:

  • What interests you in the subject?

  • What is unique perspective you bring to the subject?

  • Are there nuances missed by others miss that you can talk about?

  • Why would people find it interesting?

2. Who will listen to these stories i.e who is the audience?

Marketing people always think in terms of user personas - fictional people who will use the product. They describe these people in great detail - who they are, what they do and what their interests are.

E.g If you are starting a podcast about parenting, of course, people who are already parents would be interested, but so would be soon-to-be parents. However, they would be interested in slightly different things and need slightly different content.

So, creating a listener persona is important. To do that:

• Who the listener is? Age, gender, occupation, etc. You can even assign them a name.

• Where will they listen to the podcast? At home, in commute etc.

• What are their interests?

• What benefit would they get from the podcast? Learning, entertainment, Tips & Tricks etc.

Once you have an idea of the niche, comes the second important part: Telling good stories.

Finding your voice

Since time immemorial, stories have helped us create a sense of attachment and wonder. In fact, stories create neurological changes in our brain. These changes tend to release oxytocin, which is a hormone that stimulates trust, motivation, and empathy. Podcasting is a perfect, perfect channel for stories and your storytelling will become your voice.

So, how do we leverage this in a podcast? A good story has:

Structure - Always keep the structure of your story in line. Add a relevant context in the beginning, start the story part after that and finally share the outcome of the story. Give them a logical flow of the story so that they remain engaged from start to the end.

• Emotion - Understand that people respond to emotions; if you can connect with them on that level, you can also tap into their sub-conscience. So, think about “What will my listener feel?” after listening to my story. Authenticity and connecting emotionally will go a long way.

The element of Surprise - Every story/event that you narrate should have that element of surprise that keeps the audience hooked. Share with them some of the most surprising moments so that their interest remains intact.

Once you have thought about your niche, your listener and your voice, it is time to plan the podcast!

Planning your podcast

1. Defining the Objective:

You must know what the objective of your podcast is and what purpose does it serve. Chalk out your agenda before coming up with the format of the podcast.

2. Format:

Based on your objectives and stories, you want to tell, you can choose the format. Each type of format has its own pros and cons, so it is always better to start in with a format that you are most comfortable in - personally and financially.

Some popular formats:

• Solo/ Monologue - you are the only speaker

• Interview Show - you bring guests to your show

• Co-hosted show - works well if the co-hosts have an amazing chemistry

• Audio-documentary - a deep research piece with music, short interview etc

• Round-Table - a panel of guests discuss and debate

3. Deciding the Name:

Naming your podcast is a creative choice and there are no golden rules - you can choose a unique name, Keep it Simple like “The Parenting Show” or even name it after yourself. You might want to think of a name that is optimized for search and can come up easily in the podcast search results of iTunes.

4. Length of the episode:

The length of your podcast really depends on your listener persona and the stories you want to tell. If the podcast is for entertainment, people might listen to it on their commute. For most Americans, a commute is around 20-25 minutes and that becomes the optimal length of the show.

But, always give the story enough time it needs. Prioritize the story over artificial constraints like the length of the episode. If a particular story needs 40 minutes, give it that time. Podcasting is a great long-form medium. If you look at the Top 200 podcasts, most of them are above 40 minutes, so don’t stress too much about the length.

5. The frequency of episodes:

This again goes to your stories and listener persona. You want your podcast to be a habit, so prioritize for consistency. One episode a month consistently for 6 months is better than, 4 episodes in a month and no episodes for the next 3. Plan also for a fixed day to publish the episode, so that the users can look forward to hearing from you.

Needless to say, equally important is the quality of the content. It is better to have one quality episode over 3 mediocre ones.

Always remember: First record and produce 4-5 episodes and then publish them consistently to get into the entire rhythm

6. Episode Titles:

Episode Titles are like the headlines of text articles. A catchy episode title can attract users and make it easy to find the episode in iTunes search. Brainstorm at least 5-6 titles before you finalize one.

7. Finding topics and sub-topics:

For each episode, have a broad topic and then, systematically divide the topic into a few sub-topics. A good number to ensure that your audience is engaged in three subtopics, however, there can be more based on their relevance.

Let’s say the episode title is “ How to deliver impactful speeches in public”. Suitable subtopics would be – knowing your audience, understanding body language, and overcoming common phobias linked with public speaking.

Elaborating subtopics can be tricky as you may get too passionate about something or digress from the point, diluting the story. So, it is always better to jot things down. For our example, the subtopics could be elaborated in the following way:

• Knowing your audience :- understanding what the audience wants, making the session interactive, setting the tone of the speech based on the type of audience

• Understanding body language :- maintaining the correct posture, the do’s and don’ts about hand gestures, how to feel and look confident

• Common phobias :- overcoming anxiety related to public speaking, breathing and visualization exercises, personality development

8. Measuring content

This may sound weird but it is essential to measure your content and analyze the weight of it. The primary goal is to make sure that the audience is hitched, and is not getting too much or too less of a topic per episode.

Is the topic simple for the audience to understand? For complex topics, it is always recommended that you break the podcast into parts. This helps the audience to learn something from the first part, put it into action in their daily lives, and then come back to learn about the second part. This makes the entire exercise much more fruitful for the audience, and also of course, for you.

Anup Gosavi

Anup Gosavi

Co-founder, Spext

Co-founder, Spext