It’s all very well and good deciding to start a podcast. But let’s face it, there are millions of them out there. And whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means that new shows need a little bit of extra help in order to stand out from the crowd.
So to steer you in the right direction, we’ve pulled together the following list of 32 podcast tips. All guaranteed to help boost your show’s growth and drive success.
No messing around. Let’s get straight into it…
1. Have an Original Podcast Topic
To give your podcast the best start in life, it needs to be different from the rest. And it needs to offer listeners something that other shows don’t. Having a unique premise will help you stand out in the sea of noise. Good podcasts are built around one idea or concept, and they stick to it. They don’t try to please everyone.
Make sure it’s a topic you’re genuinely interested in, too. So, what are you passionate about? What could you talk about for hours? What area are you knowledgeable and well-versed on? Your listeners will be able to tell if what you’re talking about is of no interest to you, and this could absolutely have a negative impact on the overall performance of your show.
2. Know Your Audience
When brainstorming different concepts for your show, make sure you know exactly who your target audience is. Do your research and gather your data. Podcasts that speak directly to their desired listenership are the ones most likely to drive engagement and success. We’d recommend doing as much research as you can to get into the mindset of the desired listener. Good points to think about are:
- What are they doing in their spare time?
- Do they have any hobbies or interests?
- Why do they listen to podcasts?
- Why are they interested in your show’s topic?
- What value are they looking for from a podcast?
Think about what type of format is best suited to your audience as well. Do you think they’d prefer an interview podcast? A solo one? A journalistic exposé? Or something else entirely? Once you’ve got a strong understanding of the above points, you’ll find it much easier to move forwards.
3. Research the Competition
As mentioned above, there are already a lot of podcasts out there. Researching your competitors will make it much easier to map out what listeners want to hear, and what’s already been covered. Who are the top players in your show’s field? And which ones do you take inspiration from? You don’t want to simply replicate another show’s style or concept. So, where will you fit in? And what angle or perspective can you offer that others can’t? Once you’ve outlined what's currently performing well in your niche, you’ll be able to define why your podcast vision is relevant, necessary, and unique.
4. Plan Out & Carefully Structure Your Episodes
You know what they say about failing to prepare. Putting a rough episode plan together can make all the difference between a good podcast, and one full of awkward blunders. And that's why it's one of our top podcast tips. Maintaining a solid, consistent structure throughout your episodes is key to keeping audiences engaged. Making a bullet point list of talking points will do the job. So if your mind goes blank periodically, you can quickly refer to it to get back on track.
5. Engage With Listeners on Social Media
Taking the time to actually engage with your listeners is key. Almost all successful hosts maintain an active social media presence. Whether you prefer Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn, engaging with listeners helps to build a sense of community around your show, and keeps them coming back for more. You might want to ask your audience for feedback, reply to comments, give daily updates, or just post behind-the-scenes content.
6. Learn How to Be a Good Storyteller
Good podcasts thrive off good stories. It’s as simple as that. And by good stories, we mean ones that are genuinely interesting to listen to because of the way they're told. Good storytelling will retain listener attention, and increase the chances of listeners coming back for more. So it's a high-priority skill to begin developing.
Fun, entertaining content will always resonate more with listeners than something that’s stiff and bland. And content that makes people laugh, or sparks debate, is far more likely to be shared on social media. So when recording, always try to think of ways you could inject life and humour into topics that otherwise may be perceived as dry or "boring".
7. Make Sure You’re Giving Listeners Value
Whether your podcast’s aim is to educate, inform, or entertain, shows that typically give listeners value are the best ones. What do you want people to take away from your show? And what are they actually coming to you in search of? The better you can satisfy their needs, the more likely you are to win them over.
As the host, you should try to be as entertaining yet informative as you can. Both characteristics work hand in hand. If all you ever do is inform and completely neglect your duty to entertain, you’ll have a hard time reaching and retaining listeners.
Providing listeners with actionable advice in an engaging way keeps them coming back. Good podcasts signpost fans towards free tools, real-world examples, and other sources of insightful information. We’d strongly recommend adding any relevant links into the show notes for each of your episodes (more of that later).
8. Invest in the Right Equipment
To make sure every word of your conversation is recorded well, you’ll want to invest in good equipment. You don’t need to go for the most expensive or tech-heavy bits of kit to get great playback though, especially if you’re just starting out and trying to get to grips with everything. Getting into all the ins and outs of tech is beyond the scope of this article, but for more equipment podcast tips, check out our guides below.
9. Create a Podcast Media Kit
Podcast media kits are very helpful when it comes to booking guests and securing sponsorships. If you haven’t made one for your show, and you’re struggling to get guests to say "yes" to your pitches, it's a strategy worth trying. Not only does a podcast media kit give the reader context, but it also communicates everything they need to know about your show. We’re talking download numbers, social outreach figures, advertising details, and more.
10. Find Sponsors That Compliment Your Show
This won’t apply to everyone. But if your podcast has a big enough audience to attract sponsors, make sure you carefully think about who you work with. It’s important to have an idea of which sponsors are the right fit for your podcast. Don’t just go with any brand for money’s sake. You’ll have worked hard to build rapport with your listeners, so serving them irrelevant and unrelatable ads will only put that at jeopardy. Which products and services would they genuinely be interested in hearing about?
11. Cross-Promote Content With Other Podcasters
One of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to grow your podcast audience is to develop a cross-promotion strategy. This involves forming partnerships with other podcasters to advertise each other's shows. You let their audience know about your podcast, and they let your audience know about theirs. It creates a win-win situation for both of you (as long as you aren't direct competitors, obviously).
There are two main approaches typically used for cross-promotion: ad-swaps and content collaborations. An ad-swap is when you place a short advertisement for your podcast on another podcast. And vice versa. A content collaboration is typically where you interview another podcaster on your show, and they interview you on theirs. You can quickly find opportunities for ad-swaps and content collabs on MatchMaker, too.
12. Choose the Right Guests
If you interview experts on your show, be very selective about who you have on. In today’s podcasting market, interview-based shows live or die on the quality of their guests. The guests you choose to feature in your episodes are implicitly reflective of the quality of your show. Aim for guests who are experts in their field, and are the right fit for your audience. In other words, who would your audience genuinely be interested in hearing from? And what value will they get from it?
Of course, the bigger the guest is, the harder they are to book. But you should maintain strict standards here. Only interview guests that truly reflect the quality and integrity of your podcast. You’ll have to spend more time pitching and you’ll probably receive quite a few rejections. But booking great quests is a numbers game. A 5-10% success rate is to be expected, especially if you’re just starting out with your podcast.
13. Consider Using a Podcast Guest Release Form
A podcast guest release form keeps you (the creator) in charge of your content. And once it’s been signed by whoever is appearing on your show, it acts as written consent that you can use their image, brand, and words on the mediums you choose to. Not having a signed release form puts you at risk of guests demanding you remove content further down the line. Not to mention it leaves you vulnerable to specific editing demands, claims of exploitation, copyright infringements, and other legal action. It’s rare. But it does happen.
14. Get To Know Guests Before Interviewing Them
Nobody wants to listen to an interview in which the person asking the questions knows nothing about their guest. It’s boring and definitely something you can easily avoid. A good podcast tip is to make sure you take a dive into the life of your guest and get to know them, as well as the things they care about. What have they worked on that’s led them up to this point? Doing your homework makes for a more interesting conversation, and the best bit is that your guest will appreciate it too.
15. Have Your Interview Questions Prepared & Ready to Go
When you’ve got your guest sorted and you’ve done some online digging into their background and career, preparing a list of questions or talking points is always a good idea. Having them planned out will not only help you avoid any awkward pauses, but they’ll keep the conversation on track too. Going on tangents here and there is fine, but good interviewers usually have a clear sense of direction going into a recording.
Before you start jotting your questions down, try to find out what they’ve been asked before. Chances are that if they’re usually asked the same question over and over, you’ll get a generic, rehearsed answer. So, by asking something different, you’ll almost definitely get a reply that’s a bit more unique. Here are a few quick places to check to arm yourself with material:
- What does the “About” section on their website convey about them?
- What are they sharing / podcasting about on social media?
- What interesting points have they made in other interviews?
- Try to read between the lines and look for fresh angles to frame your questions.
16. Promote Your Guest on Social Media
Keeping your social followings up-to-date with what’s going on is key for promoting guests, episodes, and your podcast in general. And by doing it regularly, you’ll gradually start to build a community amongst your listeners. For example, if you’re getting ready to record an interview with someone, you can let your followers know. It helps build excitement. Plus, engaging with your audience shows them you’re a real person. You don’t just want them to tune in when you’ve released a new episode, you want to build a deeper relationship and connection with them that lasts years.
Lastly, politely ask your guest if they’d be willing to share the episode with their followers. Most will be happy to, since they’re probably promoting something as well. But if they’re not interested, don’t be pushy. They have no contractual obligation to share your podcast. If you’re lucky enough to make it onto their feeds, take it as a bonus win that’ll help extend your reach.
17. Practise Your Hosting Skills
All good podcasts need a good host. We could spend quite a lot of time outlining the characteristics of a good podcast host, but to quickly sum it up, we’ve listed some key traits below:
- Be knowledgeable on and passionate of the podcast’s subject matter
- Dedicated to finding the right guests
- Driven to research each guest
- Have the ability to make guests (and listeners) feel comfortable
- Encouraging of respectful debates
- Be able to stay authentic, and true to self
If you (the host) can embody the majority of the character traits listed above, you’re well on your way to becoming a great podcast host. Sit down with our founder, James Mulvany, as he talks you through how to master your presenting skills:
18. Find the Perfect Recording Location
Recording your episodes in a coffee shop or a bar might sound like a good idea in theory, but it’s probably one you’ll regret. Be it background chatter, noise from the street or just too small of a space, the distractions are plentiful. Instead, try to find a peaceful spot where you’re unlikely to be interrupted or pick up pesky background noises. Recording in a smaller room with a carpeted floor can help dampen echos. Try to avoid recording in big rooms with high ceilings to minimise reverb.
We'd also recommend (think of it as one of our bonus podcast tips) setting up your own home podcasting studio. Doing so is a good investment of time, and money. Once you’ve made the initial investment in equipment and sound treatment options, you’ll be able to get great-quality recordings from home, whenever you need them.
19. Carry Out Last Minute Checks Before You Hit Record
On the day of the recording, you want to avoid getting thrown off by minor technical hiccups. So here’s a list of little checks that can make a big difference:
- Get a glass of water (and one for your guest, if applicable)
- Turn your notifications off - phone and laptop
- Double check your equipment is working (test recording is a good idea)
- Put your episode plan in eye-line to quickly refer to when needed
- Make sure you know how to pronounce your guest’s name
- Take a deep breath and relax
20. Make Concise Call-To-Actions
This is a key factor of having a good podcast, and inevitably, can play a big part in your show’s growth. Is there something specific you’d like listeners to do? It might be following you on social media, signing up to your newsletter, or joining your community. Whatever it is, you want to state it explicitly in your episodes (usually in the intros and outros). Don’t go overboard though. Cramming your podcast full of CTAs will make it sound like one long sales-pitch.
21. Invest in Your Production Quality
An awful lot of podcasts are very poorly produced, and give off a distinctly amateur vibe. The good news is this makes it easier for you to stand out and actually produce a good podcast. If you invest in the right equipment and spend the time required to produce high-quality, professional-sounding episodes, you’ll instantly be ahead of much of the competition.
The best way to produce a good podcast is to invest time into planning, editing, and post-production. Especially when it comes to your audio quality. Bad audio is always magnified when the listener puts on a pair of earphones. For example, we wouldn’t recommend using Apple AirPods to record your show. They have notoriously bad bleeding, and will never be able to deliver studio-quality results. Don’t skim over this. Poor-sounding episodes can cause immediate listener drop-off. Always aim to use a professional microphone where possible.
22. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment With Sound Design
Podcast sound effects are great for injecting some personality and character into your audio. They’re also just a good way of levelling up your production quality. And the more professional your show sounds, the better. Don’t worry too much about this if you’re a new podcaster, because getting to grips with everything and finding your general rhythm is much more important in the early stages.
But once you are a bit more confident with the editing process, having a play around with your sound design is definitely something to think about. Think jingles, smooth transitions, and fancy effects.
23. Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Podcast Description
Turning a potential listener into an actual listener can be tricky. Podcast descriptions are key for getting new potential listeners to momentarily pause in their pursuit for a new show to tune into. You want them to stop at yours, so you need to grab their attention.
A podcast description describes your show, what it’s about, and who it’s for. It gives people a flavour of what to expect. Think of your description as an elevator pitch for your podcast. Short, punchy, and enticing. If you can grab the reader’s attention, they’re more likely to listen. The more interesting you can make your show sound, the better.
24. Make Sure Your Podcast Artwork Meets Requirements
This is one of the easiest podcast tips we can give you. Every piece of podcast artwork has to meet certain requirements. Not meeting them simply means your creation won’t be accepted by the various directories, resulting in your show not being listed. Thankfully, every podcast directory has the same specs (pretty much). And if you follow Apple Podcasts’ requirements, you should be good to go. We’ve summed them up below:
- It must be a square, or a 1:1 ratio
- It must be between 1400 x 1400 and 3000 3000 pixels
- It must be 72 dots per inch resolution
- It must be in the RGB colour space
- It must be either a JPEG or PNG file (albeit JPEG is preferred)
25. Be Consistent With Your Publishing Schedule
If you’re serious about podcasting, a consistent release schedule is essential. Fans like to know when they can expect new content. So don’t keep them guessing. If you do, you’ll lose a lot of listeners along the way. Decide on a release schedule and stick to it. Are you going to publish weekly? Bi-monthly? Monthly?
The frequency doesn’t really matter, you just need to make sure you can sustain it. Be clear about your publishing schedule, whether it’s every Wednesday, or the 15th of every month.
If you can’t commit to publishing new content all year round, you might want to consider releasing your show in seasons. It lifts the constant pressure to release new episodes every week. And it also gives you time to reflect and plan upcoming content. However, it inevitably slows down the rate at which you can grow your audience. So it’s a tradeoff to weigh up.
26. Transcribe Your Podcast Episodes
A podcast transcription is a word-by-word account of everything that happens during each episode. They typically make content more discoverable, accessible, and convenient. More discoverable because they drive traffic to your website, more accessible because they give your audience more options, and more convenient because they make your content easily repurposable. Taking the time to transcribe your audio can have a big impact of the performance of your show, so it absolutely makes our list of podcast tips.
27. Write Up Show Notes for Each Episode
By publishing episodes without podcast show notes, you’re missing an opportunity to increase your website traffic and reach new potential listeners. Well-written show notes create an incentive for your existing listeners to visit your site. And they also help strengthen the overall SEO presence of your podcast. In short, they act as a central information hub for your episodes - providing relevant contextual detail, timestamps, links to helpful resources, and more. Show notes also give you the opportunity to cross-promote older episodes, make them more shareable, and encourage people to hit ‘subscribe’.
28. Practise Effective Podcast SEO
A podcast with a good SEO presence will perform much better than one without. And by that, we mean having an attractive and informative website that you can drive traffic to. It’s here that you can create a resource hub for all your episode show notes, transcriptions, social links, and anything else you deem relevant. If people can discover your previous episodes when searching relevant terms on Google, it gives them a much longer shelf-life and can significantly boost audience growth over time.
An in-depth explanation of podcast SEO is beyond the scope of this article. But if you’d like to learn more about it, check out the article below:
29. Create a Podcast Newsletter
If you listen to a lot of podcasts, you've probably heard a few of your favourite hosts plug their newsletter. They keep listeners engaged. If they like your show and want to stay connected, they'll head to your website and sign up via email. You'll then send them regular updates, behind-the-scenes content, extra insight, details of upcoming guests, episode reminders, promotional messages, and more. Establishing this exclusive connection with audiences is valuable, as it creates a sense of community and strengthens your host-to-listener relationship.
30. Always Repurpose Your Content
Repurposing episodes into other formats is crucial for driving engagement. Sharing a link to your new episode on social media will only get you so far. It requires a bit more effort to earn new listeners. Plus, it’s always good to flesh out your content strategy and get maximum mileage out of every episode you release. To give you an idea, you might want to convert your episodes into some of the formats below:
- Social media images and posts
- Long-form blog posts
- Audiograms and video teasers
- Downloadable PDFs
If you can repurpose your audio content to start conversations on social media, you’ll fuel engagement on each platform. And it could actually account for a post a day. It doesn’t take that much extra time or brain effort to do, because you’ve already done the hard work making the episode.
31. Ask Listeners to Leave You a Review
This podcast tip's a quick one. If you can get listeners to leave your podcast a review, you’ll build credibility a lot quicker. And the more credible your show appears, the more likely it’ll be that your target listeners will engage. The likelihood of potential listeners actively seeking out reviews before clicking ‘play’ is highly likely. Good reviews will also help you rank on the podcast charts, so the more reviews you have, the more visible you’ll be.
32. Directly Seek Word-Of-Mouth Referrals
As a podcast host, you should never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth recommendations. What we mean by this, is to simply ask your audience to tell a friend, colleague or family member about your show. Again, don’t pressure your listeners. If you over-do it with multiple pleas per episode, you’ll just annoy them.
Instead, a quick nudge at the end of each episode will suffice. The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish offers a good example of this. Here’s how he typically closes the last few seconds of each episode:
“Can you do me a small favour? Go online right now and share this episode with one friend, who you think will love it.”
Ready to Start Implementing Our Podcast Tips?
So that concludes our list of actionable podcast tips. What did you think?
Incorporating some of them into your overall podcasting strategy is a sure-fire way of setting your show up for success. Hopefully you found each one insightful, inspiring, and above all, helpful. And now that you have a much clearer understanding of what you can be doing to optimise your input (and output), we'll see you on top of the charts in no time.