Why you should plan your podcast before you pick up a microphone.

Planning is my favourite P word.

Pie comes a close second.

And if you want a successful podcast it’s well worth taking the time before you start recording to actually plan your podcast. And I mean really plan it.

These are the 9 questions you should answer before you dive in. There are no right or wrong answers and it’s not a quiz. These questions are designed to give you some clarity and focus.

Why are you starting a podcast?

Yes, we’re going straight in with the biggie. Why?

What is the one reason you want to start a podcast. Is it for you to promote your business or your brand? Is it because you want to meet new people and learn about what they do so you’ll use your podcast to do that?

Is it because you want to build up your content for repurposing?

Once you have decided why you are doing your podcast you’ll want to decide what you want to achieve with it and how you will measure success. It’s not always about big numbers.

What is your podcast about?

You need to know what your podcast is about. Pretty obvious right? And I don’t want you to get too bogged down in this. I don’t want you to start planning each episode. I really want you to think about your podcast in general terms.

For example for me I would say “Turn Up The Volume On Your Voice is a podcast about podcasting. It has news, advice and tips from podcasters and experts as well as providing an outlet for Charlotte Foster to talk about her business Charlotte Foster Podcasts.

The format of your podcast

It’s good to know what your podcast is going to sound like before you hand over all your money to buy loads of kit or software that you end up not needing.

Different formats need different set ups.

If it’s just you on your own then you don’t need to dash out and buy dozens of microphones or a podcast mixing desk, you can do it all if you want to on a USB microphone, your computer and Audacity (free editing software).

If you want guests or a co-host or two you will need to factor in the additional microphones and space to record in a Covid safe way. You’ll also want to factor in the extra admin involved in booking a guest. And the potential post production issues where there are two voices.

If you want to do a documentary or a long form storytelling type podcast you will need to think about the way you record and edit. Field recording (i.e. outside of the studio/office/back bedroom) means you’ll need different microphones.

You might also want to consider investing in Descript - this is an app that transcribes your audio and allows you to edit it in the same way you edit a text document. It’s great for cutting out chunks of your audio that are not needed. Perfect for those documentary style podcasts.

How long will your podcast episodes be?

You should know me well enough to know I always say the only answer to this question is “as long as they are interesting”.

But, keeping that in mind, it is sensible to have a rough idea of how long you want the episodes to be, roughly.

I personally aim for around 20 minutes (ISH) for Turn Up The Volume Of Your Voice because it’s generally just me, on my own, chatting away.

Twenty minutes is not a hard and fast time and there is always room for more if it’s interesting and I’ll also keep it short if it’s not interesting!

Generally though I know how much I need to prep for each episode because I know how long it’s going to last.

By keeping the podcast relatively short I also make my life easier when it comes to how long it takes me in post production and the editing. The rule of thumb for experienced editors to edit audio is at least 2 to 3 hours per hour of raw audio.

How Often Will You Publish Your Podcast? Ongoing or a series?

Deciding this will be key to planning your podcast. If you decide to go down the series (or seasons for our American friends) route then you need a further decision about how many episodes you want to include. For my client packages I offer 10. It’s a satisfying number, but there are (as always in podcasting) no hard or fast rules.

An ongoing podcast means a big long term commitment from you because you are showing up week after week. It can feel scary because you will need to come up with content for each episode for weeks, months and possibly even years.

I’ll go into further detail about how to plan your podcast series next week, but for now it is important you know from the start if you want to do a series or if you want to be ongoing.

Who do you want to listen to your podcast and why should they choose you?

I know you want to say everybody, but you can’t. Saying that, you don’t have to get it down to just one ideal listener.

The first part of this question is to really help you understand who you are talking to so you can frame everything you do with that reference. Knowing who you want to listen means you know what problems they are having and therefore what problems you will solve.

The second part of this question is a bit trickier. But you need to understand what it is that makes you special, makes you stand out from others and ultimately what attracts people to you.

For me it’s being a woman in the fairly male world of podcast production, my radio background and my inability to take myself seriously.

Is there anybody doing a similar podcast to you?

Yes go and have a listen to the others out there in your field. This is not about copying but making sure you find your voice and know what others are doing.

It’s important you understand what you like and don’t like when you listen to these podcasts. What is it about a certain style or format you like? Why don’t you like a style of questioning? It’s all about finding the right style for you.

Outside of your genre what are your favourite podcasts?

Being able to identify styles, methods and formats you really enjoy listening to across all podcasts is a great way to help you build your podcast personality.

There is nothing stopping you from using a technique typical in say a news documentary style in your coaching podcast.

In fact it may well be the thing that means you stand out from the crowd!

How long to spend planning your podcast?

There is no right amount of time, but don’t go into over plan mode. I know people who have been talking about and planning their podcasts for months, possibly years. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of perfection.

Your first podcasts will not be your best. And that is ok. Much like when you pass your driving test - you’re never going to the best driver on the road because it’s all new still.

If you want to go on the waitlist to be the first to get the details about my podcast planning toolkit just head over here - I’ll send you my pre podcast planning sheet as a thank you!

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