Podcasting 101: How to Start and Succeed in the Audio Sphere

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On its rise to become a $131.45 billion industry by 2032, podcasting has surged in popularity, giving us stories and shows from every conceivable corner of the world on an array of topics. With new podcasts emerging at a frantic pace, it's clear that podcasters need more than just a microphone and some audio editing software to cut through the noise.

In the first episode of "Uploading…," veteran podcaster and General Manager of Audio and Video Production at Workweek, Ben Bradbury, offers a masterclass on differentiation and success in podcasting. This article draws upon Ben's expertise and uncovers hard-to-come-by lessons for new and seasoned podcasters alike.

launching a podcast

How to Launch Your New Podcast in 3 Steps

Anyone with a message can launch a podcast, but not everyone can make it resonate with an audience. With the cacophony of voices on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and similar platforms, standing out requires forethought and a tactical approach. Ben suggests starting with these three simple steps.

Step 1: Know Your Current and Prospective Listeners

Undeniably, the first step to launching a podcast that makes an impact is deeply understanding your audience. According to Ben, you need to understand where your audience spends their time online and then meet them right there.

For instance, if your podcast caters to HR professionals, recognize that LinkedIn might be a more pertinent channel than Instagram for sharing content extracts.

Knowing your listener demographics, psychographics, geographics, and behavioral patterns at the granular level can also inform the content of your podcast and how and where to promote it.

So, dig into the data, find out what issues keep your audience up at night, and then align your new episodes to offer not just random information but solutions and insights that directly address your listeners' pain points.

Ben's own success with his podcast “Subject Matter” is partly due to his grasp of his audience's needs, allowing him to create content that genuinely resonates.

Step 2: Understand Your Strengths as a Podcaster

Identifying and capitalizing on your strengths is paramount in the podcasting landscape. You need to assess your podcasting skills and how they can translate into a good podcast that captures and sustains attention.

Are you an engaging interviewer? A thorough researcher? Or maybe a talented storyteller? Be honest about your self-assessment in these areas and align your podcast format accordingly.

If your strength is eliciting compelling guest stories, a conversational format could be your forte. On the other hand, if you have a gift for research, a solo podcast where you share your insights on specific topics may better suit you.

As an example, Ben mentions Daniel Murray of the podcast "Marketing Millennials," who excels at creating a platform where marketing experts feel comfortable sharing their knowledge generously. Daniel's strength isn’t just in what he knows about marketing itself, but also in how he facilitates and curates conversations to unveil wisdom from others within the field.

Ben contrasts this with Nik Sharma and Moiz Ali’s approach in their podcast "Limited Supply,” focusing on proprietary knowledge and research. Nick provides behind-the-scenes tactics from Sharma Brands, while Moiz draws from his experiences as an investor to offer detailed analysis and stories. Their podcast's value lies in their direct expertise and ability to dissect and convey complex, in-depth topics to their listeners.

As a content creator, you should learn and use your own podcasting superpowers. When you play to your strengths, you also present yourself more authentically and nurture a more honest connection with your listeners.

Step 3: Create a Positioning Strategy for Your New Podcast

Positioning is an essential part of your podcast marketing strategy that centers around your hook, which is your podcast topic plus your angle. For Ben and his team, strategic positioning meant anonymizing HR horror stories to give their podcast a unique twist. 

Your positioning strategy should set the stage for your content's uniqueness. Beyond a catchy podcast name, this could mean exploring untapped niches or examining well-trod materials in a novel way. It's about defining your unique selling proposition or USP and ensuring that every podcast episode reinforces it.

Look at segmenting your podcast to include unique and intentional parts, like a lightning round or a signature sign-off, that give your listeners something special and familiar to return to. Invite guests that align with your ethos, choose topics that strengthen your podcast's positioning, and ensure everything from your podcast cover art to your show notes reinforces your hook and brand narrative.

co-hosted podcast

Key Considerations for Choosing Your Podcast Format

Before recording your podcast and pumping out episodes, establishing a well-defined format for your podcast is crucial. Should you go it alone or take on a co-host? Will your podcast hosting style lean toward interviews or narratives? Will you meticulously script each episode or fly with an unscripted approach? And, importantly, how often and how long should your episodes be? Here, we unpack these core considerations.

Solo vs. Co-Hosted Podcast

The dynamic between a solo podcaster and the audience differs significantly from that of co-hosted shows.

Solo-hosted podcasts thrive on a singular voice and perspective and allow for a deep, one-on-one connection with the listeners. If you are a thought leader or a subject matter expert and can drive the conversation on your own, this might be the format for you.

Co-hosting demands a certain chemistry and an understanding of roles. Ben suggests one way to think about the roles in a co-hosted podcast: you have a “play-by-play announcer” and a “color commentator.” 

The play-by-play host is typically the guide, leading the listener through the podcast with structured narration and topic introductions. They are responsible for setting the pace and keeping the flow of the podcast on track.

On the other hand, the color commentator provides depth and injects personality, anecdotes, and humor into the conversation. This role involves fleshing out the stories and themes discussed by the play-by-play host, thereby enriching the listener's experience.

Your decision to go solo or have a co-host should be made with care and continuously evaluated to ensure alignment with your show's tone, format, and appeal to the audience.

Scripted vs. Unscripted Podcast

To script or not to script? That is indeed the question many podcast hosts face when planning their content. Unscripted conversations give hosts and guests more creative freedom, whereas intentionality wins in scripted dialogue.

Heavily scripted content may ignite a higher initial investment but reaps polished, deep-dive discussions that linger in the ears of the audience long after the sound fades. Podcasters who excel at writing and want to craft a tight narrative might gravitate toward scripting their podcasts.

On the flip side, unscripted conversations bring spontaneity at their core, giving listeners the feeling they're privy to an intimate chat between two friends rather than passively sitting on the sidelines of a staged performance. Unstructured dialogue often feels genuine because it imitates real life. Without a podcast script, people stumble over words, laughter interrupts sentences unexpectedly, and stories meander into unexpected tangents.

Ultimately, your decision should depend largely on context—who is involved in producing, what’s being discussed, who is listening? The debate on whether to use a podcast script stands at a crossroads between control versus spontaneity, precision against authenticity, and premeditation versus improvisation.

Frequency and Length of Episodes

Consistency is your podcast's heartbeat; frequency and length are its pulse and rhythm. Ben underscores the symbiotic relationship between consistent episode release schedules and building a loyal listener base. 

It's not simply about growing the number of your episodes but about setting an expectation and delivering on it faithfully. Whether it's a brief daily bulletin or a weekly deep dive, choose a cadence that aligns with the content's depth and your audience's listening habits.

Furthermore, an optimal episode length improves the content's digestibility while respecting listeners' time. A brief 15-minute episode might be perfect for commutes or morning routines, while longer episodes of an hour or more are well-suited to in-depth topics and discussions. 

Aim for a length that packs value yet remains focused; remember, attention spans are shrinking. While editing your podcast, trim any unnecessary information to maintain engagement at all times and prevent listener fatigue.

producing a podcast

10 Expert Tips for Producing a Successful Podcast

From planning content and choosing equipment to promoting your shows, discover ways to excel in the audio sphere and resonate with listeners through these proven strategies from Ben Bradbury.

1. Feed your momentum with new episodes

A podcast, like any narrative, thrives on momentum. Ben reflects on episode release frequency and its relationship to growing an audience. 

However, note that it's not merely about pushing out content. It's about sustaining the thread that ties your podcast episodes together. Repurposing your podcast content judiciously can maintain the interest and excitement that drives your podcast forward, like the currents carry a ship. Keep your feed alive with snippets, highlights, or even reruns to create a perpetual presence in your listeners' lives.

2. Hire generalists and specialists for support

On structuring podcast production teams, Ben advocates a blend of generalists and specialists. He suggests appointing a generalist project manager to oversee logistics and protect the creatives' time, allowing them to focus on content generation. This project manager coordinates specialist contributors like audio engineers and graphic designers who handle the technical and creative aspects of the podcast. 

This strategic allocation allows for efficient workflow management and the production of high-quality content, optimizing both team function and output quality.

3. Invest in the right podcast equipment

The timbre of your podcast is inextricably linked to the quality of your equipment. Quality audio resonates with professionalism and can significantly enhance the audience's engagement. To ensure that the substance of your content is matched by its presentation, invest in a quality podcast setup.

Essential hardware includes a podcast microphone and headsets for optimal audio. For podcast recording and editing, invest in premium podcast software such as GarageBand, Audacity, Squadcast, or Adobe Audition. Don't overlook free podcast software options that offer surprisingly sophisticated features, too. Choose an audio editing software that best complements your needs.

4. Experiment with different podcast formats

According to Ben, success in podcasting doesn't come from rigidly adhering to one specific format but through finding what works best for both you and your listener.

Try different styles, such as interviews, storytelling, educational, or a mix of everything. Vary your podcast intro or outro, episode length, or music. Monitor your listeners’ responses and engagement each time you try something new. Sometimes it's the unexpected formats that become more effective and appreciated by listeners.

5. Focus on podcast episode quality

A crucial factor in the success of a podcast, as Ben suggests, is maintaining high-quality episodes. Podcast editing ensures that your content is clear, coherent, and consumable. 

If it's within your budget, consider hiring professionals to design your podcast cover art or perform audio editing. Otherwise, take time to learn these skills. There's nothing worse for listeners than poor audio quality or confusing transitions.

Each episode should provide clear value and be engaging for your listeners. Remember: people return not because you produce frequently but because they admire what you're producing.

6. Cross-promote your podcast with ads

The podcast universe is vaster than one can navigate alone. Ben sheds light on the tactic of cross-promotion through advertising—connecting with podcasts that share a thematic or emotional kinship with your own. This alliance not only introduces your show to new audiences but does so with the tacit endorsement of podcast hosts they already trust. Shared values create a stronger resonance, fostering a reciprocal relationship that amplifies both shows.

7. Be a guest on other podcasts

Your voice can be a passport to new territories and audiences when you become a guest on other podcasts. Ben highlights using tools like to connect with fellow podcasters for potential collaborations. 

Appearing as a guest aids in reaching wider audiences and boosting your podcast's popularity. It’s also an excellent strategy for promoting your podcast for free. Besides sharing expertise or opinions on the host show, you also get inspiration from how others run their podcasts. This dual-benefit strategy facilitates learning while growing your audience base.

8. Aim for 5% MoM podcast organic growth

Ben imparts the rule of thumb for healthy, organic growth in the podcast world: aim for at least 5% month-over-month. This benchmark offers a realistic goalpost for new podcasts striving to expand their reach. Tracking this incremental progress keeps your sights on the long-term trajectory, ensuring that each new episode contributes to a grander scale of audience expansion.

9. Repurpose your podcast content with Castmagic

The voice you unleash into the ether has more life to live across other formats and platforms. Use Castmagic to turn your audio or video podcast into blog posts, newsletters, or social media snippets.

By repurposing your video and audio files, you not only realize the full value of your hard work but also earn additional SEO points and extend your digital footprint. Keep in mind that different platforms require tailoring content to fit user preferences; what works on Instagram may fall flat in an email newsletter. With Castmagic as part of your podcasting arsenal, transforming podcasts into other engaging formats becomes effortless and seamless. 

10. Start your podcast with the end in mind

Podcasting demands a vision of the finale from the initial overture. Ben advises podcasters to start with the end in mind, tailoring efforts to produce podcast episodes that meet their aspirations. 

Whether it’s monetizing through sponsorships, building trust with an audience, or educating on fintech nuances, every decision should telescope toward your ultimate goal. This foresighted approach keeps you steady amidst overloads of audio files to keep in sync or video podcast elements to assemble. 

A well-defined end goal can simplify choices about podcast marketing strategies, content, and approaches that could otherwise be overwhelming. In essence, clarity about the final picture is key to producing a successful podcast.

Turn Your Podcast Content Into Business with Uploading

So you've launched your podcast, don't let the gold dust of your content just settle without making any profits out of it. "Uploading…," a podcast made for and by content creators, can help you turn your podcast content into more than just a casual endeavor. 

Every week, we interview content experts like Ben Bradbury, who pass on their tried-and-tested methods for monetizing your content effectively. 

The pro tips we've shared in this article are just a scratch on the surface. There's much more detailed learning available in the form of comprehensive interviews with experts that “Uploading…” provides.

Listen to more episodes of “Uploading…” to turn your passion into content, your content into business, and your business into a huge success.