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Starting a Podcast: 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Published My First Episode

Thinking about starting a podcast?

Good decision.

Audio, done right, can build an intimate relationship with your audience.

The kind of relationship which transforms the casual fan into a disciple.

But there is much more to success as a podcaster than hitting record.

Every day, Amazon delivers another Blue Snowball to a budding thought-leader eager to share their expertise… and steal your listeners.

Not to mention iTunes can be a fickle lover.

Oh, there is definitely a technology learning curve.

Nothing you can’t overcome, if you figured out WordPress, you can figure out podcasting.

Here’s what you need:

That’s it.

You’re all in for less than $150 bucks.

This is exactly what I did.

And there is no doubt, creating The Ryan Hanley Show is the best decision I’ve ever made in building my brand.

More than anything I’ve ever written, when people approach me at speaking events it’s because of the podcast.

We have a relationship, even if I’ve never met the person before. It’s amazing.

Podcasting opens a window into the soul of a creator.

This is why I love podcasting.

You can’t fake good podcast content.

Sure you can edit a podcast. Lot’s of people pay to have “Umms and Ahhhs” taken out of their show.

I don’t.

But there is nothing wrong with producing clean audio.

Clean audio can’t hide a lack of depth.

That’s why podcasts build such a ravenous following. Listeners can smell the stink of inauthenticity a mile away.

When starting a podcast, you don’t have to be perfect, but you must be authentic.

I come from the school of thought where you publish first… edit, refine and focus second.

But hit publish. Definitely hit publish. Starting a podcast is exhilarating.

After more than 300 podcast episodes I’m just finally starting to get a handle on how to do it well.

If you’re starting a podcast today, don’t make the same mistakes I did at the beginning.

My suggestions below will not work for everyone. But I can promise you this, the Content Warfare Podcast is battle-tested.

So they just might work.

SEE ALSO: Boring Questions, Boring Podcast: How the Best Interviewers Stand Out

1) Buy a Pop Filter

Audio quality matters.

There is no quicker way to lost listeners than poor audio.

Duh. It’s a podcast.

My first microphone I bought for $15 at RadioShack. I’m being serious. It was the cheapest microphone on the rack.

I could have used a telegraph machine and audio quality would have been better.

My early podcast growth numbers struggled as you would assume.

My cheapness was a mistake.

However, it didn’t take me long to realize podcasting was going to be a long-term content marketing tactic for my brand.

I had to step my game up. No one takes a podcast with poor audio quality seriously.

So I cracked the wallet and purchased three pieces of equipment:

  1. Audio Technica AT2020 Microphone – High-quality audio for less than $100.
  2. Microphone pop filter – Keep your Ps from popping and audio sounding smooth.
  3. Table top suspension arm – Keep microphone proper distance from your mouth.

Put some time, effort and a little bit of loot into your audio quality. Your podcast audience will forgive almost any mistake, except for bad audio.

2) Hook your audience early

Podcast listeners are no different than website visitors.

You need to hook your audience early or they will not stick around for the body of your content.

What I try to do is pull out one engaging thought from the podcast.

If I have a guest on the episode it will always be from the guest. That way the audience gets a feel for the conversation their about to listen to.

James Altucher, of The James Altucher Show, doesn’t even use an intro. He opens his show in the conversation. No waiting, no guessing.

The worst thing you can do is make your audience wait for the content. This can take the form of long intro monologues (mistake I’ve made) or unnecessarily long intro music (mistake I’ve made).

3) Use Vanity URLs

During the course of your podcast you’re going to reference things:

  • Twitter handle
  • Article you discussed
  • Tool you recommend
  • iTunes review page

Most people are doing something else when they listen to a podcast. This makes calls-to-action a challenging task for podcasters.

Use Vanity URLs to simplify the process.

There many ways to do this. Here are the two I recommend:

  • Use Bit.ly
  • Create 301 redirects in your own site. A nice little tool for this on WordPress is Pretty Link Lite (free).

This is also useful when you to add call-to-action (CTA) during your podcast.

4) Ask for iTunes reviews

The largest and most engaged podcast audience exists on iTunes.

If you’re looking to grow your podcast audience, where you rank in the iTunes podcast directory matters.

This may not always be the case (and I’m sure their exceptions).

But ignore iTunes at your own peril.

Apple has never released their ranking criteria. However, iTunes reviews are widely considered a primary factor in ranking.

Like a true rookie, in the beginning episodes of the Content Warfare Podcast I did not ask for iTunes reviews. I just assumed that if I produced a good product, people would go to iTunes and leave me a review.

This is not the way it works. This isn’t how life works.

You must explain to your audience how important reviews are. Give them a clear call-to-action.

I ask listeners that if they found value in the episode, to visit iTunes and please leave me a review.

If looking for more ways to increase podcast reviews, visit this article that I wrote for Anna Hoffman on Traffic Generation Café.

5) Prepare, prepare, prepare

Don’t “wing it.”

I don’t care how charismatic you are or how well you know the material.

If you “wing it” your audience will know.

Far too many podcasters believe the lie that “off-the-cuff” is what their audience wants.

This doesn’t mean your show has to be stuffy or feel overproduced. There is a difference between improv (a practiced art of creation in the moment) and “winging it” (the practiced art of hoping people believe your bullshit).

The difference is practice and preparation.

This may seem like a no-brainer for some of you.

Here’s the simplest solution: create an outline for each episode.

Even if you don’t write the outline down, walking through the episode in your head will improve quality.

If you’re doing an interview show, make sure you have a few topics laid out. There is no need to script each question.

This will give your show a natural flow, while providing the flexibility for tangents and follow-up questions.

A lack of preparation is an easy way to lose podcast listeners.Click to tweet

6) SEO for iTunes

ITunes is a search engine.

Just like you can optimize your written content for Google search, you can optimize your podcast for iTunes search.

There are four places that you can add keywords to your podcast which inform the iTunes search engine.

Podcast Title: start with the title of your podcast, add a colon and then list keyword terms for your podcast.

Publisher Name: do the same thing with your publisher name. Start with your name, add a colon and then list of 2-3 keywords.

Podcast Description: add as much text as you need to describe your show. The podcast description box will serve both iTunes and human SEO. Make sure that you are using similar keywords as you did in the podcast title and your publisher name.

Podcast Episode Title and Description: title your podcast episode with primary keyword. Dive a little deeper, while adding secondary keywords in your podcast description. This will help specific episodes show in iTunes search

7) Tag Each Episode

“Tagging” each podcast episode appends vital information to the mp3 audio file.

These are called ID3 tags.

MP3 ID3 tags are used to store track ‘title’, track ‘number’, ‘artist’, ‘album’ etc. and even the track artwork.

This is a small, but important detail in the publishing process.

Tagging your podcast using ID3 Editor ensures that your podcast cover art is passed along to mobile podcast players.

Don’t mistake podcasting as an audio only format. The ID3 tags allow you to pass along the visual and text content that support your podcast.

Dismiss this detail at the peril of your podcast.

Helpful Resources for Starting a Podcast

Start a Podcast, Like a Boss

You’re going to make mistakes.

Things are going to go wrong.

It doesn’t matter how prepared you are to start your podcast.

When they do, take a deep breathe and carry on.

Start your podcast like a boss.

Learn from my mistakes and blast past your competition.

Make podcasting a permanent part of your content marketing and I promise it will change your life.

Podcasting has certainly changed mine.

Thank you,

I am Ryan Hanley.

P.S. don’t forget to check out my podcast, The Ryan Hanley Show.

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