39:1 How to start a podcast – Planning
Over the next few episodes, I will be breaking down how to plan, launch and grow a podcast in your industry niche. Each episode will come with a workbook to help take you through each step and by the end of the series you should be ready to go live with your first show. This series assumes you have already gone through the necessary journey of unpacking your why and defining your target audience. It also assumes you have some goals to achieve with your new podcast.
Lee Matthew Jackson
Don’t start a show without knowing your why, who and objectives. Episode 200 may be a good starting point if you struggle in that area. Check out the other podcasts in this series here.
Today we focus on planning:
- Naming your show
- Show format
- Show schedule
Over the next few episodes we will also look at:
Note: Workbook is being finished off by the designers and will be available within a couple of days! I’m without a member of staff so be kind 😉
Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer Podcast, this is your host, Lee. And on today’s show, we are starting a brand new series, unpacking how to launch your own podcast. Yes, I’ve been podcasting now for a ridiculously long time, I have the grey hair and the bald head to prove it. And I would like to spend the next few episodes unpacking what I have learned and create something of immense value to you, the community, that you can use to broadcast your thoughts and build your brand in your niche. Before we carry on, I would love to thank Cloudways, our wonderful sponsor. They sponsor this podcast and a lot of what I do. They are a managed cloud hosting provider that we trust with all of our significantly complex, large scale or super important projects. You can find out more about them over on trailblazer.fm/cloudways.
So, what can you expect from this series? We’re going to be taking a look first at some of the basics, like planning. So that could be naming your show, your show format, your show schedule. Then we’re going to take a look at the hardware, software, editing, getting your podcast loaded onto some sort of host and submitting your podcast. And then finally, we’re going to take a look at launching, promoting and monetizing your podcast. This is going to be over several episodes. And in this episode, we’re just going to be looking at naming your show, the show format and your show schedule. So I would recommend you grab a notebook and pen and let’s get cracking. Now, I’m going to assume that you already have gone through the necessary journey of unpacking your why and your target audience. And I’m assuming you have some goals that you wish to achieve with your podcast.
So this guide aims to be a practical walk through sharing my experience of planning, launching, and growing this podcast. So, naming your show. And the TLDR is quite simply, pick a name, don’t get hung up on it as you can change it. That’s exactly what I did. Now, it doesn’t have to be rocket science and you don’t have to get it right first time. And why do I say that? Because my first podcast name did not reflect what I was doing, and I eventually changed it without any major issue, about 100 episodes in. Now, when considering a name for the show, there are a few things to consider. First of all, the industry topic you want to focus on. Are you growing a personal brand, is your company brand recognisable? Let’s take a look first at the industry topic that you’re focused on. Now, to help people discover your new podcast, your title should reflect the subject matter.
If you are teaching something specific that has a tangible benefit, then you should be sharing that also. So for example, if you are launching a real estate podcast, helping realtors sell more homes, you may want to consider a name such as, Sell More Homes. The Sell More Homes Podcast, or Realtors Lead Generation Podcast, and so on. Now, I love the phrase from Ronseal, “Does what it says on the tin.” So your name should reflect what your show does on the tin. Perhaps instead, you are looking to grow a personal brand. So you’ll want to consider having your name and image as part of the show name, and artwork. So for example, Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast. I believe now that has since changed to a brand name. But back in the day, he would lead with Pat Flynn. Here, he’d combined his subject matter as well as his name and imagery.
And as his podcast grew, his name became more recognisable than the show. His podcast, his artwork are a great example of combining subject matter, as well as elevating the personal brand and adding that extra credibility. There’s a few other ones, for example, Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield or the Youpreneur Podcast with Chris Ducker. Now, all of these are great examples of building a podcast around a particular subject matter and audience, whilst building up a recognisable personal brand. So, taking inspiration from those who’ve led the way, consider using your name and image as part of your show and branding. So for example, Generating More Leads with John Smith, wonderful podcast title. Now, perhaps you’re looking instead to grow the business brand. And this is something that I’ve been focusing on, specifically with Agency Trailblazer. Agency Trailblazer is, in its own right, a brand. And I mentioned earlier, Chris Ducker, with his Youpreneur Podcast.
Now, he’s in a unique position where he has both a very recognisable name and image. But one of his brands, the Youpreneur, is also recognisable in its own right. Many people have interacted first with the Youpreneur brand before meeting the talent behind the name. So if you have a brand that you want to grow, or that is already recognisable in your industry, then you may want to consider including your brand name in the show name. Even if your brand isn’t recognisable, but you want to build brand recognition early on, then it may be worth doing this. A great example of this is Entrepreneurs on Fire. John Lee Dumas launched his podcast several years ago and the EO Fire brand went from zero to hero. He’s now built up a brand that’s both recognisable in its own right and he’s built up his own personal brand and he sells books and training and he commands a huge audience.
Basically, don’t procrastinate, go with something. As I mentioned earlier, don’t overthink the name initially. Choose something and launch. I spent far too long worrying about the name, and that actually became a blocker to the launch of this podcast. I held back for absolutely weeks using the name and the brand as an excuse to not go any further. Now, when I eventually decided on a name, I was instantly way more productive and I launched the show in weeks. As my show and subject did evolve over, say 100 episodes, it became really apparent that the podcast name didn’t really reflect what my show had become and it was time to change the name. And even Chris Ducker did this with his show. This was called the New Business Podcast, and then in episode 119, he made the change to elevate the brand of his business as well as himself.
So he brought the word Youpreneur in, just like we did with Agency Trailblazer shifting from the WP Innovator Podcast. Now that you’ve picked a name, let’s take a look at the show format. And TLDR, don’t get hung up on any one format, feel free to experiment and then choose the format or formats that best suit your workflow and engage your audience. It’s always great to keep mixing it up. Now, there are many different types of show formats that you can choose from, including what I’m doing at the moment quite often, which is the solo format. You can also have the interview that could be a structured interview or an informal relaxed interview. There’s also the panel. And yes, there are way more other formats, but these are essentially the formats that I have experience with. And do be sure to check out and do some of your own research.
Now, the show format you pick need not be set in stone. Therefore, feel free to experiment as you go along. Now, let’s break down these show types. First of all, solo show. You are essentially the star, you share value with your audience on particular subject matters, and this helps to build your personal brand, your credibility, and establishes you as the expert and the thought leader. Now, the pros would be, you can edit the audio as you go and that saves a ridiculous amount of time. It of course builds up your credibility and it can also be repurposed into blog posts and other content really easily. However, the cons are that it can actually take a lot of time to write and prepare, and it’s also harder to promote a new podcast when you’re trying to grow an audience. Let’s take a look at interviews as a result of that.
I started with interviews, because you interview guests in your industry/niche, and it’s a very effective way of growing your podcast audience in the early days as most of those guests will be really happy to share their episode with their followers. The pros, that’s the exposure, the followers, the access to your guests network, less preparation time would be needed. You usually always learn something awesome that you can use in the future from your guests. And it’s a great networking opportunity with the guests themselves. Some of the cons, however, with an interview would be that, well let’s face it, sometimes the guest can be pretty dull or they may have really poor audio setups. And finally, there is a lot more editing needed, especially if your guest speak slowly or there’s a lot of um and ahs or you need to fix a few errors where you weren’t sure what to say at any one given time.
Now, there are a couple of interview types that you can consider to help you with your show. The first one is structured, and this may consist of a range of questions that you ask every guest. That’s the exact same questions, and you’ll obviously get different answers from each guest. John Lee Dumas, on Entrepreneur on Fire, adopted the same questions for hundreds of episodes to give valuable insight into how different entrepreneurs work. The benefit here is you and the guests know the format, as do though listeners. I guess the downsides includes the episode being samey and people getting question fatigue. You could, however, structure your questions per guest, depending on the subject matter. This of course though takes some time to prepare and it can be a hindrance to perhaps some more open style of conversation. So, be sure to experiment with some more informal approaches also.
Now, the informal interview is more of a relaxed conversation. I like to imagine this as a coffee shop chat. In this, you go on a journey with the listener and you learn about your guests, their experiences, and you pull from them the lessons that they learned along the way. Now, this is certainly our most popular style of interview and it does take a little bit of practise, especially leading the guest through their journey and pulling out from them those lessons that they learned. I so often use the vehicle of a time machine to help us step through their journey. And as they share something, I might ask them to expand a little further or share what they learned from that particular experience. The final format I have experience with is panel discussions. This is where you have a few experts together and you share a particular subject or you discuss what week’s news is out.
A couple of great examples would be the WPwatercooler and WP Builds, who does weekly news. Pros would be a wide range of interesting opinions, exposure to multiple panel member audiences, et cetera. And also, easy to repurpose content, especially visually if you’re using Zoom or another webinar tool. However, some of the cons would be, the audio can be more difficult to edit, some of the panel members may have poor quality audio, some of the panel members may argue. But actually that can also be a good thing, depending on how good the argument is, I guess. And too many panel members can lead to some very long episodes with a lot of repeated views. So remember, the formats you can choose from, I recommend that you do mix it up and keep experimenting solo, a structured or informal interview and a panel. The final section of this episode is the show schedule.
Let’s do the TLDR. There is no exact science to how often or what day your show should be made live. However, what is important is that it’s clear when your show does go live and you stick with it. Let’s look at regularity, consistency, and the day and time. Regularity, you likely want to grow an audience for your podcast. And we found a marked increase in audience growth when we post regularly. By this I mean weekly. This ensures that we keep the momentum going. Now, you’re more likely to keep listeners interested and coming back for more if they have as little time as possible to forget about you. Our podcast is published every Wednesday without fail, and we’ve grown a large global audience with many long-time listeners. For our audience, monthly would be too long a time span, and we’d become a distant memory as they discover other podcasts that capture their attention.
Now, if you feel once a week is too much of a commitment, then change it up. Perhaps you could go bi-weekly or monthly. Whatever you decide, make it clear to your audience what to expect, and then don’t let them down. Now, consistency. There is nothing more frustrating than rushing home to catch up with the latest episode of America’s Got Talent, only to discover that the football has been given that space and you have to wait another week. And perhaps that’s just me, but that really triggers me. So joking aside, once you have set the expectation of when your episodes are published, then you do need to ensure that you don’t let your audience down. Reward their loyalty and support by delivering what you promised on the day that you promised it. Come hell or high water, we try to ensure that there is an episode scheduled to go live each Wednesday.
And this means our regular subscribers know what to expect and when. It shows consistency, reliability, and it builds the trust of the audience. I will caveat that with, life does happen. You know, if you’ve listened to previous episodes, that we’ve gone through a few personal tragedies and struggles in our family life, and that has affected the eventual go live date of a podcast. It means we may have had to push it to the afternoon, or we may have had to release it the following day. But we’re still releasing it as regularly as we can, on the day that we say we’re going to release it. Finally, the day and the time. And choosing the day doesn’t need to be rocket science. Being a podcast, people are going to discover your content either via their podcasting app or via social media. So when they subscribe, they’re not necessarily going to be jumping on the specific time that you release your episode to listen to the show.
They’re likely going to see a new show is available during the course of that week, and then listen at their convenience. Now, we’ve experimented with Mondays, with Wednesdays, with Thursdays, even then, we’ve found very little difference in the downloads. There is, however, one exception to this rule. If your podcast includes commentary on current events, maybe those panels, et cetera, then you’re likely going to need to get your content out really quickly. So for example, The David Pakman Show that comments on current live events. Let’s recap what we’ve learned. We’ve gone through naming your show, that could be based on the industry or topic you’re focused on, it could be based on your personal brand or on your business brand. We then looked at the show format and encouraged you to mix it up a bit with solo shows, with interviews, both structured and informal, and panel discussions. And then finally, we’ve looked at the show schedule, sharing with you that in our experience, it doesn’t seem to make too much difference, but do focus on regularity, on consistency and showing up on the day and the time you say you’re going to show up.
Now, if you have any questions, please head on over to trailblazer.fm and come to episode number 310 and ask me questions in the comments. If you have a podcast that you would like to promote, again, come over to the comments, share a link, and let’s check out your show. If you use this series to launch your own podcast episode, again, come to those comments on trailblazer.fm, episode number 310. We want to see what you have put together. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen. There will be a workbook coming out within a couple of days of this show, airing that you can access for free, that will give you all of this information formatted in a nice, clean, and easy to read format with all of those relevant links.
So be sure to check back a few days later, so you can get your hands on that beautiful freebie. I just need to make sure I get someone to make it look pretty. All right, folks, you are awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen. We’ll see you either in the comments or we will see you in next week’s episode.