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From idea to a Successful Podcast

written by Stefaan Lesage on 09/04/2009

So, you have a great idea or topic, and you would love to start a podcast about it. Before you actually do so, it is a good idea to sit back and think about a few things in advance. The process from idea to a successful podcast evolves through 4 big phases, and this series of articles will take a closer look at each of those phases.

Introduction.

If you expect to learn everything from this small article, you might be disappointed. From our personal Podcasting experience we have learned quite a lot of things, and it would be too much to fit into a single article. That is why we decided to make a small article giving you a brief overview of the process you might be going through. This will be the first article in a series in which we will take a closer look at some steps or phases you will be going through as you start do develop your idea into a true podcast.

Everything starts with an idea.

A good idea is always a good start, but a simple idea might be able to evolve into a successful podcast as well. The important thing is that you start writing down a few things related to your new baby podcast. Writing it down will make you think about the idea and allow you to make it better as you go. During each phase you will be updating your idea, changing little bits, removing or even adding new things to it. The important thing is that the idea needs to evolve, and it evolves a lot faster when you write it down. Once you have the basic idea, you are ready to start shaping your podcast. The process you will be going through from idea to a successful podcast is is process which can be divided into 5 phases.

What does the whole process look like ?

When starting with a podcast, there are a few steps you will be going through before you have a good or successful podcast. The most important steps are :

  • Planning the Podcast
  • Producing the Podcast
  • Publishing the Podcast
  • Promoting the Podcast

Each of these steps requires attention in order for your podcast to achieve it's goal. Whether the goal is bringing news, fulfilling the needs of a community, make publicity for your products, teach something to your audience, ... you will have to plan, produce, publish and promote your podcast carefully. As mentioned earlier, we will be providing more articles in the future in which will take a closer look at each of these phases, for now we will just give you a brief overview.

Planning the podcast

The planning phase is a very important one, since this is where you will be making some initial decisions. At first your goal is to answer a few simple questions :

  • What topic(s) will we cover in the Podcast ?
  • Who will represent our Podcast ?
  • Who will be the target audience for the Podcast ?
  • What type of Podcast will we bring and which format(s) will we use ?
  • How will we structure our Podcast ?
  • What is our goal with the Podcast ?
  • How long and how often will we publish a new episode ?
  • ...

Those are all very important questions which need to be answered ! Depending on those answers you might need to buy some equipment, hire someone to do some voice overs, choose where you will be hosting your podcast and a lot of other things.

The Planning phase gives you time to start thinking about your podcast. It will also allow you to determine the budget and the tools, equipment or services you might need. It is impossible to set a time frame on how long this phase will take, but from our experience the longer it takes the better you will be prepared and the less surprises you will get once you really start producing the podcast.

Producing the Podcast

At some point you will take your podcast from the planning phase to the production phase. By now you should have a good roadmap which you can use to guide you through the next stages. In the meantime you will also have a good team of people which can handle all technical aspects : topic research, recording, setting up a website, uploading files, creating an RSS feed for your podcast, ...

Depending on some choices you made in the Planning phase, you will have to make some production decisions as well. In the planning phase you might have chosen for a roundtable discussion with some guests, and that will require you to prepare a room for the podcast with some microphones and a recording setup. It will also have an impact on the recording hardware, the editing process, the software you will be using, and the final file you will be uploading as part of your podcast.

Once your podcast is recorded (one or more episodes), it is time to move to the next step which is Publishing your podcast.

Publishing the Podcast

When planning your podcast you should have decided where you want to host your media files and what software you will be using to set up the Podcast Website. The Publishing process doesn't only cover uploading your Media files to the internet, there is actually a lot more to it.

It is a good idea to have a page where you will be posting Show Notes for each episode. When listening or watching a podcast it might be difficult to remember the URL of the product or service you talked about. Show Notes offer your audience a little transcript of the episode and includes all links which were mentioned. They are also a great resource for Search Engines which will happily index your podcast using the keywords found in the notes.

One of the things you might be looking for with your podcast is interaction with your audience. The community aspect plays an important role in a Podcast. It allows the users to give feedback, suggest new topics and give comments! You should consider a commenting system or a blog which your audience can use to communicate with you.

Once the RSS feed for your podcast has been updated, you posted the Show Notes on your website, and you uploaded the Media files, you Podcast has been published, and you are ready to promote it.

Promoting your Podcast

Many podcasters think that the whole process ends with publishing your podcast. This isn't the case ! In order to attract listeners or viewers, you will have to promote your podcast and make sure people start to talk about your podcast and can easily find it. If you already had a website, now is a good time to add your podcast to the Front Page !

To get the word out, you should add your Podcast to some Podcast Directories. There are a lot to choose from, but one of the most important ones is the iTunes Podcast Directories. Make sure you have a descent logo for your podcast and submit your podcast to iTunes, and maybe some other Podcast Directories. Use a link to your podcast website when posting comments in Forums where you expect your target audience to be, build a community around your podcast, use social networks to promote your podcast ...

Measuring & Monetizing your podcast

Hold your horses, don't expect to get insanely rich with podcasting ! It is possible though to monetize a podcast though ! In order to make some money with your podcast you will have to set up some ways to measure how well your podcast is doing. Some services allow you to track downloads and give you statistics by episode, by source or even by country. That is actually information you might use to Monetize your podcast.

Depending on the topic of your podcast, you might be able to find sponsors for your podcast, and allow them to add some publicity on the podcast website, or even in the show itself. If the topic is good enough, your audience might be willing to pay for higher quality or more detailed podcast episodes. If your content is interesting for some audience, you might be able to make some money out of it.

More than a year ago, I started podcasting for a very specific niche, which is the Flemish or Dutch Macintosh community. Every month I produce a Video Tutorial showing some product to the audience and teaching them how to use it. The Macintosh community is a small niche community, and the Flemish or Dutch speaking Mac community is ... well ... a niche within a niche. This doesn't actually need to be a bad thing, and could be used to your advantage. Software developers in the US or Canada might find it hard to penetrate in that niche market, but our podcast has the power to help achieve that goal. We bring their product closer to an audience they might not be reaching, and we even explain how the product works in a language they might not have thought about !

In our case this actually lead to a few Leads as well. Marketcircle contacted us when we made the Dutch Billings 3 tutorials and asked if we could translate their application in Dutch. We didn't have all that much experience with translating applications, but we gave it a try ! The translation isn't complete yet, and there are still a few typo's and errors in the Dutch version, but the Dutch Mac community can now start to use Billings in their native language.

As you can see, it doesn't matter if your podcast is aimed at a niche, there are always opportunities to Monetize your podcast. In our case, we didn't get rich (yet), but it did allow us to buy some better recording equipment :-)

Final Note

Well, once you have taken your podcast through the Planning, Production, Publishing and Promotion phase, you probably have a good podcast out somewhere on the internet. Now you will have to build a community around your podcast which might allow your audience to grow even further, and might even open up the path to monetizing your Podcast.

I certainly hope this article tickled your interest and that your are looking forward to the next articles. Meanwhile feel free to post a comment on this article and share your ideas or opinions with me.

Comments

  • 1

    Hi Stefaan,
    Another great article from you here. I like the ideas of the 4 P’s of podcasting, and it’s a neat way of remembering the steps.

    I’m looking forward to the next installments where you drill down into each of the topics. It looks like a great series in the making.

    Great stuff!
    James

    written by James Williams on 10/04/2009
  • 2

    Hi James,

    Thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you like the article. 

    I think we both have a similar view on podcasting, and your Podcasters Emporium podcast is a great resource for podcasters.


    Regards,


    Stefaan

    written by Stefaan Lesage on 10/04/2009
  • 3

    Hi,

    I just reworded some parts of this article, since “The 4 P’s of Podcasting” appears to be a Registered Trademar of the people at PodWorx.

    Thanks to the people who contacted me and pointed this out.

    Regards,


    Stefaan

    written by Stefaan Lesage on 14/04/2009
  • 4

    hi,

    cool article.

    thanks a lot for sharing the information.

    written by Digidesign rental on 28/05/2009
  • 5

    Thanks,

    Have a look around on the website, there are more Podcasting related articles to be read, and you can expect more to come.

    Regards,


    Stefaan

    written by Stefaan Lesage on 28/05/2009
  • 6

    Hi, cool post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for writing.

    written by KrisBelucci on 02/06/2009
  • 7

    I’m glad that after surfing the web for uch a long time I have found out this information. I’m really lucky.

    written by CrisBetewsky on 06/07/2009
  • 8

    Nice blog! Very interesting themes. I will allways read it. Also e-mailed on rss

    written by rusinox on 31/08/2009
  • 9

    Hi Stefaan,

    I have been working in education for a number of years and lecture in media and digital creative applications. I am a massive supporter of new media and utilise it wherever possible to support my teaching.

    I have only just begun to read through the content here and immediately was drawn to the fantastic article on podcasting. I have dabbled with the concept myself and find the experiences of others very interesting. Your content is well structured, informative and friendly, something I must complement you on.

    I look forward to reading additional content and will recommend the site to my colleagues and friends.

    Keep up the excellent work.

    written by Paul on 29/12/2009
  • 10

    Hi Paul,

    Glad you find the information here interesting.  Personally I’m not really active in the educational sector, although I would love to.  I do have a huge interest in using new media for educational purposes though.

    I hope you can learn something from the articles on this website, and if you have anything to add to them, feel free to post a comment.

    Regards,

    Stefaan

    written by Stefaan Lesage on 29/12/2009
  • 11

    Great article.  It provided me with what I believe to be an excellent overview and key tips to making my “baby podcast” all that I imagine it will be.  I am looking forward to following your suggested steps carefully.

    written by Vicki on 30/01/2010
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