I ran into my friend Kayla at a conference, and she was excited.
“Kathleen! I have a question about podcasting. Should I ask you or Joe?”
I asked her what her question was. She said, “I want to start a podcast! That's not a question!”
No, it's not, but I love the enthusiasm. I sent her an email when I got home (after she reminded me!) with these blog posts for research:
- How The Flip Podcast Got 25,000 Downloads in 3 Months
- How to Create a Popular Podcast: 10 Actionable Steps
- The Key to Starting a Successful Podcast Lies in Your Format
When people tell me they want to start a blog, I encourage them to just get started. Sure, you can launch a blog with a big splash too, but there's something satisfying about creating a logo, installing a premium theme, then putting content out in the world.
But you can't do that on a podcast, and there are four words why: iTunes New and Noteworthy. It's a free advertising platform for your podcast but it only lasts for a minute, then drops off, seemingly without explanation.
Not every podcast makes it to New and Noteworthy, and podcasts that get there stay for eight weeks at the most from their initial listing.
Which is why you have to have your ducks in a row before you launch in iTunes.
Here are ten things to do before you launch your podcast:
1. Decide What Your Show is About
Take as much time as you need on this. What will the vibe of your show be? What about the format? Will you interview people? What kind of people? What will you talk about? What will people get out of your show? Getting clear on this step will not only help you describe your podcast to others, but it will help you continue to come up with excellent content. Remember, be unique. Offer something your listeners can't find in a dozen other locations. Take ideas from shows you like, sure, but don't copy them outright.
2. Come up with a Sustainable Schedule
Are you going to publish once a week? Twice? Three times? Make a schedule, then stick to it. People who subscribe to your podcast expect you to have new episodes when you say you're going to have them. Be mindful of that.
3. Make a Commitment to Audio Quality
That little microphone on your earbuds isn't going to cut it (no matter what you think). Invest in a good microphone. In fact, the very first company purchase for Stacking Benjamins LLC was a Blue Yeti (which, unfortunately, is not a fuzzy little stuffed animal) for me. Your listeners deserve to hear excellent quality. Ask your guests to have that same level of commitment. It will make a difference.
4. Tell Everyone Your Launch Date (And Ask for Help!)
Send emails to your friends and family, and tell them exactly when you'll launch. Send tweets, Facebook updates, one-off emails, and emails to your list. Ask everyone to download and listen on day one. That helps tell iTunes that they, too should pay attention.
5. Learn How to Edit
Editing can take a podcast from good to great. And it's not even very hard to learn! If you have a Mac, use Garage Band to start (it comes installed on your computer!). Take out the ums and ahs, and know that with practice, you'll stop saying those extra words as much. Editing is one of the first things we outsourced, and we highly recommend our editor, Isabella Bianca. Contact me if you want her information, and I'll hook you up!
6. Launch with Several Episodes (And a Few in the Hopper)
It's clear that iTunes favors podcasts that launch with two or three episodes. There's no need to launch with 20 episodes on day one, but if you launch with a few, and have a few ready to go, you're much more likely to get their attention. Make sure those first few episodes are awesome, because people are going to decide whether to listen to you or not based on the beginning.
7. Have Eye-Catching Art
Notice how I didn't say “super duper professional” art here? You don't have to look slick and corporate (in fact, that may not be in your best interest), but you do need to have something eye-catching. At a loss for ideas? Go to your section of iTunes and see what you like.
8. Have an Authentic Intro (Does Cheesy Announcer Guy Belong in Your Show?)
We listen to a lot of podcasts, and it's amazing how many of them use the same guy. Cheesy Announcer Guy (CAG, for short) gets a lot of work in the podcasting intro space (wonder what else he does with his time?), but just because he's everywhere does not mean he belongs on your show. Check out your answer to question one before trying to hire CAG. You might find that doing your own introduction works really well.
9. Figure Out Your iTunes Categories
One thing we didn't know when Stacking Benjamins was launched is that you can be in three categories. We accidentally launched with just one, and it wasn't until way later that we added two more categories. Guess which category we rank in? That's right, the one category we used when we launched.
List of iTunes Categories (choose up to three):
Fashion & Beauty
Management & Marketing
Games & Hobbies
Government & Organizations
Fitness & Nutrition
Kids & Family
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Science & Medicine
Society & Culture
Places & Travel
Sports & Recreation
College & High School
TV & Film
10. Come up With a Strong Title (For Your Show AND For Every Episode)
Make sure your keyword is in your title. Talking about babies? Put the word babies in the title! At Stacking Benjamins, we talk about money, and when we added the word money to “Stacking Benjamins: Earn, Save, and Spend Money with a Plan,” our downloads went up. We don't think that's a coincidence. Same goes for show titles. You may think the name of the person you're interviewing carries weight, but we've found that the topic is far more important than the guest. So our titles are “Interesting thing we talked about with guest name” and the formula works well for us.
Once you've done all ten of those things, you're ready to rock! Let us know how we can help.