Five Things to Consider Before Starting a Podcast

Starting a podcast can be a great first step towards a rewarding and even profitable hobby. Careers have even been made through podcasting, as this new form of media has changed the dynamic of how we share viewpoints, information, and news forever.

Podcasts come in many different forms. Audio recordings, video productions, episodic fiction, YouTube vlogs, and all points in between, podcasting is simply a method in which media files are shared with the world. The addition of an RSS feed to the process of digital media production is a small but defining element of a podcast.

Make no mistake, no matter how inexpensive podcasting can be, you’re producing media in much the same way as major production houses have for decades. While production values may vary greatly, the idea of producing media in a way that either entertains or informs the audience is the core purpose of virtually any type of media.

There are some considerations to make, regardless of your budget or general experience that can assist in creating a better overall experience for you and your audience.

Here are five things to consider before starting a podcast.

Can You Commit to 12 Months?

It takes at least 12 months for most podcasts to build an audience. Even a daily podcast can take ages to go from being stuck in the shadows to finding its audience among the masses. Even then, not every podcast is destined to be picked up, but if it is going to happen, it will often take time.

The one exception to this rule is in the case of existing celebrity. The Adam Corolla Show was one of these cases. The host, a celebrity with a significant existing following, was able to build a large audience almost immediately. This isn’t actually the case with most podcasts, though the stories you hear about instant success can certainly make it appear that way.

Commit to 12 months of production when you produce your first episode. This will give your podcast the best chance of success, and avoid missed opportunity in the future.

Even major networks make the mistake of pulling out of a project too early. Family Guy, one of the most popular cartoons in television history, was killed off by the network due to low ratings early into its life. When fans finally discovered it during the DVD release, it was clear that pulling the series was a mistake, causing it to be revived and become the television stable it is today.

Are you Happy?

While no one should expect the first episode, or first dozen, to be perfect, you should be somewhat happy with the concept and idea of the show prior to launch. If you’re not, sudden big changes to the format can throw off what audience you have gained through the process.

Change should be gradual, even early on. If your set isn’t working, consider moderate shifts over several episodes rather than springing a new set on your audience. If production takes place over seasons rather than on a continuous basis, a new season is the best time to introduce major alterations.

Your show’s format, hardware, and other properties should fall under this general rule as well. Consistency is more important than you realize, and any change should take place only after serious consideration.

What Makes Your Show Unique?

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While this may be true, it doesn’t bode well for a show’s potential of success. After all, how many other podcasts that featured two people sitting on a couch, drinking alcohol, and discussing 10 interesting stories from around the Web achieved the same level of popularity as Diggnation?

For that matter, would you watch a show about an annoying fruit, or take lessons on English words from a sultry YouTube personality? Don’t answer that last one — you get the idea.

If you’re going to make a podcast that has root inspiration in another program, make sure you put your own twist on things. Try your hardest to bring something unique to the table, or at the very least make these inspired points less noticeable.

What Makes Your Show Memorable?

Making your show memorable is one of the most important things to keep in mind. If your podcast doesn’t leave the audience with something to think about, it probably won’t be visited again.

Find a way to work something into your podcast that achieves this point. What makes people want to comment, share, and come back for more later on? Are you leaving your audience with a call to action, or disconnecting with them the moment the body of the show is over?

Chris Pirillo, the founder of LockerGnome and a long-time content producer, ends his broadcasts with a signature sign-off that the audience can look forward to, consistently. It’s one of those things that makes his content different from everyone else’s, and it’s an easy way to help your show stand out.

Do You Have a Support System?

If you want an honest opinion about your podcast, don’t rely on friends and family to give it to you. Support should come from a somewhat objective source. Finding that source and convincing them to give you honest feedback is important.

In terms of friends and family, they can be a great support system for keeping you focused and on track. Don’t push them too hard to get the word out about what you’re doing. It’s far too easy to go from being a good friend to a nuisance that way.

Your community is also a great source of support, spreading the word about your production and contributing ideas to help it improve over time. Someone will be more receptive to links to your production if that link comes from someone not directly related to the show itself. That’s just the way it is. Find a way to reward community members for contributions, and encourage others to hop on board.

If you liked these tips, we are hosting a webinar for Gnomies about this very concept on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012. The webinar will be recorded so Gnomies can tune in any time, even months after the fact. A new webinar is taking place every Wednesday on topics that matter to business owners, professionals, and content creators. To join Gnomies and sign up for the webinar, visit and sign up.

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Ryan Matthew Pierson