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Step-by-Step Guide: How to Start a Successful Podcast

My podcast #Disruptors turns 7 years old this month. So I wanted to give back to those who are starting out. 

Here’s a podcast fast start checklist I wish someone had given me 7 years ago to simplify and scale your podcast to the next level. 

15 Tips To Start & Scale A Successful Podcast (Part 1)

1. Choose your podcast niche

Keep it as broad as possible yet still being specific or niched. Choosing a niche for your podcast is an important step in creating a successful show.

  • Consider your interests and expertise: Your niche should be something that you are passionate about and know a lot about. This will make it easier for you to create content and engage with your audience.
  • Identify a gap in the market: Is there a particular angle or perspective that isn’t being covered in existing podcasts? If so, that could be a good niche for your podcast.
  • Think about your target audience: If you can find a niche that appeals to your target audience, you will have a better chance of building a dedicated listener base.
  • Keep it focused: A more specific niche will make it easier for you to build an audience and create content.
  • Be true to yourself: Your podcast should reflect your personal brand and the things that you believe in.

It’s important to remember that you can always adjust or evolve your niche over time but having a clear sense of what you want to talk about before you start will help you stay on track and create content that resonates with people.

2. Design the thumbnail image & brand 

Bear in mind it will be viewed small on a phone so keep it clean, clear and bold.

Designing a thumbnail image and creating a brand for your podcast are important steps in making your show stand out in a crowded field.

  • Use a consistent style: This will help establish your podcast as a recognisable and credible source of information.
  • Keep it simple: A simple thumbnail image and brand can be more easily recognised and remembered by your audience.
  • Use high-quality images: The quality of your thumbnail image and brand are key, since it will be the first thing that people will see when they are looking for your podcast. So, use high-resolution images that look good on all devices.
  • Use colours that represent your brand: The colours you choose should be consistent with the theme of your podcast, and should make your podcast easily recognisable.
  • Make it easy to read: The title should be prominently displayed in the thumbnail image, and should be easy to read and understand, even when it is reduced in size.
  • Use a logo: A logo is an important aspect of your brand, it makes it easier for your audience to recognise you in social media and other platforms.
  • Be consistent across platforms: Make sure that the thumbnail image, branding and logo is consistent across all platforms. This will help ensure that your podcast is easily recognisable, no matter where people find it.
  • Consider hiring a professional designer: If you’re not confident in your design skills, consider hiring a professional designer to create a thumbnail image and logo for your podcast. This will help ensure that your podcast looks polished and professional.

Remember that the goal of your brand and image is to stand out and attract potential listeners. 

3. Memorable concept & title 

What is your podcast about and what 1-3 word title will you choose? Will it be interviews, solo content, one or multiple hosts, or a hybrid? 

  • Consider your niche: Your concept and title should be closely related to your niche. 
  • Be specific: A specific concept and title will make it easier for your audience to understand what your podcast is about and for you to create a specific audience.
  • Be creative: While it’s important to be specific, it’s also important to be creative. A creative concept and title will help your podcast stand out and attract listeners.
  • Keep it simple and easy to remember: A simple concept and title can be more memorable and effective than a complex one.
  • Test it out: It’s a good idea to share your concept and title with a few people to get feedback on them before you launch. This will help you ensure that your concept and title are clear and compelling.
  • Be consistent with your brand: The title of your podcast should be consistent with your brand and image, should be easily recognisable and should match the overall theme of your podcast.
  • Check availability: Before finalising the title, it’s important to check the availability of the podcast title on all major podcast platforms and on social media platforms, to ensure that the title is not already in use.

Your concept should be closely related to your niche and should be something that you can create a lot of content.

4. Buy the domain name

If you can get the web domain to match your podcast title or concept, then buy it NOW.

  • Branding: Having your own domain name will help you establish your podcast as a professional and credible source of information. It will also make it easier for you to create a consistent brand and image.
  • Search engine optimisation: A domain name can help improve your podcast’s visibility in Google, which can help you attract more listeners. A domain name that is relevant to your podcast’s topic and niche can help boost your rankings in search results.
  • Must be easy to remember: Your domain name is a direct link to your podcast. It’s something that is easy to remember, and can be shared easily via word-of-mouth, social media, and other channels, making it easier for listeners to find your podcast.
  • Customisable email: Having your own domain name can also provide you with a custom email address that you can use to correspond with your audience, sponsors and other people you work with.
  • Professionalism: Having a custom domain name makes your podcast look more professional, more credible and more trustworthy.
  • Control: Having a domain name gives you full control of your online presence, and enables you to create a personalised and user-friendly landing page or website for your podcast.

Many domain name registrars offer easy and affordable services for buying and managing domain names, you can choose one that suits your needs.

5. Write a summary about your podcast & “show notes” 

Keep it punchy and as unique as possible with SEO/keyword search words and phrases.

  • It allows listeners to quickly understand the main points discussed in the episode and decide whether they want to listen to it.
  • Show notes can provide additional information and resources related to the episode, such as links to articles or studies mentioned in the podcast, which can enhance the listener’s understanding and engagement with the content.
  • Summaries and show notes make it easier for people to share and promote your podcast on social media, by providing them with a succinct and informative description of the episode.
  • It can also help for SEO purposes, as it provides more context for search engines to understand the content of the episode and provide the show up in search results.
  • It can also be helpful for people who missed out on an episode or want to re-listen to a certain section, show notes help them to navigate easily.

6. Host your podcast on a hosting platform 

Platforms such as OmnyStudio, Buzzsprout, Podbean. etc. These then push out to iTunes, Spotify, etc.

  • Reliability and uptime: Podcast hosting platforms are specifically designed to handle large amounts of audio data and ensure that your episodes are available to listeners at all times.
  • Distribution and syndication: Most hosting platforms will automatically distribute your episodes to popular platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts, and make your podcast available to a wide audience.
  • Analytics and reporting: Many podcast hosting platforms provide detailed analytics on listener engagement, such as the number of downloads, which can help you understand your audience and improve your content.
  • Scalability: As your audience grows, hosting platforms can scale to handle the increased traffic and bandwidth requirements.
  • Ease of use: Podcast hosting platforms typically provide simple tools for uploading, managing, and publishing your episodes, as well as for creating an RSS feed for your podcast, which is required for submission to most podcast directories.
  • Cost-effective: Hosting a podcast on your own website can be costly and might require additional setup and maintenance costs. Podcast hosting platforms often provide cost-effective plans and take care of the technical aspects, so you can focus on creating great content.

7. Brainstorm or crowdsource 10 titles/episodes 

Record them in advance and publish 6 of them on launch day. Always keep 4-5 in the bank so you don’t miss a week/episode.

  • It helps you to generate a variety of ideas for your podcast content, which can help you to better understand the direction you want to take with your show, and identify topics that are of interest to your target audience.
  • It can help you to better organise your podcast and plan ahead by having a list of episode ideas that can be scheduled and recorded in advance.
  • It can help you to establish consistency in your podcast by having a list of episodes that follow a similar theme or format, which can make it easier for listeners to follow and engage with your content.
  • Crowdsourcing episode ideas and titles can give you insight into what topics and issues are on the minds of your listeners and audience, helping you to create content that is more relevant and resonates with them.
  • Having a list of episode ideas and titles will make it easier to promote your podcast and generate buzz. It provides a great way to let your potential audience know what to expect and what to look forward to.

8. Start your pre-launch as early as possible 

Put content on all social media building up to the launch of your podcast to generate discussion, buzz and commitment up front.

  • It allows you to build anticipation and create buzz for your podcast before it launches.
  • You can test your audio quality and recording equipment, iron out any technical issues, and get a feel for the production process before the launch date.
  • Produce several episodes of your podcast before launch, so that you can have a backlog of episodes ready to release regularly after launch. 
  • This gives you more time to market and promote your podcast, by reaching out to potential guests, creating a website, and reaching out to media outlets and potential listeners before the launch date.
  • Gather feedback and make any necessary adjustments to your podcast before it officially launches. You may want to test your content, format, and length with a test group of audience.
  • You can build a community of listeners even before the launch, this will help increase visibility, engagement and also help you to build a sustainable audience for your podcast.

I have 7 more steps for you to give your podcast the best chance of success, don’t miss out on that blog coming soon. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions head over to my YouTube channel to watch my podcast Disruptors and feel free to leave a comment. 

9. Give notice of launch day & an incentive to subscribe 

The ’New & Noteworthy’ section dramatically increases your chart rankings. You want maximum subscribers and downloads on day one and in the first few weeks.

  • Build anticipation and excitement for your podcast. Set a deadline to work towards, which can help you to stay on track with the production and promotion of your podcast.
  • Providing an incentive for listeners to subscribe to your podcast can help to increase the number of subscribers and boost the visibility of your podcast. It also encourages listeners to tune in to your first episodes and follow the show.
  • Incentives such as early access to episodes, exclusive content, or discounts on products or services related to your podcast, can be a powerful way to encourage listeners to subscribe, as they’ll be getting something of value in return.
  • Giving notice of your launch day will allow you to build a sense of community and create a sense of excitement among your potential listeners. This will make it more likely that they will share your podcast with others and help to build a larger audience.
  • Launching your podcast with a significant number of subscribers will increase the visibility of the podcast, and make it more likely to be featured on podcast platforms, which will help you to reach a wider audience.

10. Start by publishing one episode a week

Build up more episodes once you have a loyal subscriber base and more time and desire to grow.

  • This allows you to consistently produce high-quality content, as you will have more time to research, write, and edit your episodes, as well as to secure guests, plan and promote the show.
  • It can help to build a regular listening habit for your audience. When listeners know when to expect new episodes, they are more likely to tune in and engage with your content.
  • One episode per week is a manageable and sustainable schedule for most podcasters, especially if you are just starting out, it gives you time to learn about your audience and improve the quality of your content.
  • It allows you to plan ahead, so that you can have a backlog of episodes ready to release regularly after launch. This will help to keep your listeners engaged and reduce the pressure to produce new episodes every week.
  • A weekly schedule allows you to react to the latest events in a timely manner, without feeling the pressure of daily production.
  • One episode per week is a common schedule for most podcasts, it helps to make it easy for listeners to keep up with your episodes and also makes it easy for them to fit your podcast into their regular listening routine.

11. Consider recording a video version of your podcast for content repurposing

YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook are all ‘Podcast’ platforms too. You want to have video versions of your podcast on these platforms as content repurposing creates omni-presence and virality.

  • This can help to increase your audience and reach new listeners.
  • A video version of your podcast can add visual elements to your podcast, such as on-screen graphics, animations, and guest appearances, which can make it more engaging and interactive for your audience.
  • It allows you to create a more personal connection with your audience by showing them behind-the-scenes footage or additional content that may not have been included in the audio version.
  • Video versions can be a great way to monetise your podcast by adding affiliate links, sponsorships, or by including video ads during the video.
  • Video podcasts are more versatile than audio podcasts, they can be edited, repurposed and promoted in a variety of ways that audio podcasts can’t be.
  • Recording a video version of your podcast can also help to increase the visibility of your podcast on search engines, as video content is more likely to appear higher in search results than audio-only content.

12. Post your new episodes on all channels, every week

Consistency over time grows your show organically, make sure you never miss an episode. You need to post everywhere, but don’t share links as social platforms will limit reach.

  • Consistency is key to building an audience for your podcast, by posting episodes on all channels every week, you are providing your listeners with a regular and predictable schedule, which can help to increase engagement and subscriptions.
  • By posting your episodes on different platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts, you can reach a wider audience of listeners who prefer to use different platforms.
  • It allows you to track and analyse your audience’s behaviour and engagement, which can help you to improve your content and marketing strategy.
  • It ensures that your episodes are accessible to your audience, regardless of the platform they prefer to use.
  • You can also take advantage of different distribution and promotion options offered by different platforms.
  • It will help your podcast to stay on top of the minds of the listeners, and increase the chances of them coming back for more. It helps to make the show more discoverable, which can help to grow your audience over time.

13. Do giveaways & competitions on anniversary episodes 

E.g. 50th or 100th episode. 1 year or 2 year anniversary etc.

  • It gives listeners reasons to share, review, and increase subscribers and engagement.
  • It can help to increase engagement and build excitement for your podcast by giving listeners the opportunity to win prizes.
  • Giveaways and competitions can be a great way to build a sense of community around your podcast, by encouraging listeners to interact with the show and with each other.
  • It gives you the opportunity to acknowledge and thank your listeners for their support, by providing them with special gifts or prizes.
  • It can also help to attract new listeners to your podcast, as people are often more likely to tune in if there’s a chance to win a prize.
  • Giving away prizes can also serve as an incentive to keep listeners engaged and actively participating in the community, in between episodes,
  • It can also be a great way to promote the podcast through social media, word-of-mouth, and other platforms, which can increase visibility and attract new listeners to your podcast. 

14. Persist to get good guests 

Great guests grow your show virally. You have to be persistent to book them. If they are hard to get, that means they are good to get. Celebrities, famous people, those with big followings and unique stories will draw in a big audience. Make sure the guests are big in their niche, and will share the episode on their platforms too.

  • Having high-profile guests on your podcast can help to attract a larger audience and increase visibility for your show.
  • Good guests can provide valuable and unique insights, perspectives, and expertise on your podcast, which can help to enhance the content and make it more interesting and engaging for your listeners.
  • Having a diverse range of guests from different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise can help to bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to your podcast, and keep your content fresh and varied.
  • Having good guests can also help to establish your podcast as a reputable and credible source of information, and can also help to build your personal brand.
  • When guests promote their appearance on your podcast, it can help to grow your audience and increase the visibility of your show.
  • Persisting to get good guests is also a way to keep pushing yourself and your podcast to new heights. It may take time and effort to secure certain guests, but the value they bring to the show is worth it.

15. Keep testing

Titles. Thumbnails. Guests. Intros. Content. Analytics. Keep experimenting for continued and never ending improvement.

  • It can help you to understand your audience better and to identify which elements of your podcast are resonating with them, and which are not.
  • Testing can help you to improve the quality of your podcast, by allowing you to experiment with different formats, lengths, and styles, and to identify what works best for your listeners.
  • Testing can also help you to discover new opportunities for growth and expansion, by allowing you to try new things and to explore different platforms and distribution channels.
  • You can evaluate the effectiveness of your promotion and marketing efforts. It can help you to determine the best ways to reach your target audience, and the most effective ways to promote your podcast.
  • Test your podcast with a test group before publishing, can help you to identify any potential issues, and make adjustments before your audience hears it.
  • Regular testing and experimentation allows you to stay up to date with new technology, trends and audience behaviour, it can keep your podcast relevant, interesting and engaging.

These 15 tips are what will take your podcast from a handful of listeners to helping it go viral. Be consistent, follow the expert advice and see the results pouring in. 

If you are an entrepreneur, influencer or change maker you need to subscribe to my podcast Disruptors to get the best expert advice, simply click here now.


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