Look at that, you have arrived in the nick of time. This is the last element of your podcast’s pre-production. When you have done this final segment, you will have built the first pillar to a strong, successful podcast. Congratulations!
You’ve got all your base elements, and like the star of any opera, let’s end them on a high note. Much like determining your format, publishing schedules and episode length walk hand in hand with all the other elements to create a solid cohesive podcast. You’ll need to determine a posting schedule and episode length before moving forward. Your audience will come to rely on these elements, and remember, your listeners are a strong factor in making or breaking your efforts.
When you follow The Four Pillars of Podcasting, you will finish with a podcast that has strength and staying power. In the end, that’s what we are building towards.
Scheduling, ugh, we hate it. You schedule the dentist. You schedule the doctors. You run a schedule at work. The kids all have schedules. It’s daunting. Yet, imagine where you’d be if they didn’t exist. You’d never know when little Jimmy had soccer or the dog had to go in for his rabies shot, and imagine the time you’d spend waiting for the doctor. Ugh! As much as we find them annoying, schedules are important, and your podcast schedule is no different.
Much like we all hate waiting endlessly for the dentist to walk into the examination room, your listeners don’t want to be left wondering when the next exciting episode of your podcast will be posted. If you aren’t consistent, then your audience will fall off in no time flat. So set a schedule for posting, and keep it. Do whatever you must to maintain it. Buy a calendar and a fat red marker to write on it. Set your cell phone alarm and turn it up loud. Tell your mother-in-law not to visit on a certain day each week, (she’ll be sure to show up). Any way you can, adhere to that set schedule.
Now here’s the rub, you need to decide how often to post with that schedule. Will it be weekly, twice a week, or once a month? It will depend on your content, how much material you have for each episode, your format, and your time to record, edit and post. Allow yourself to get comfortable with the full process of putting a successful podcast out there to the masses.
With that in mind, perhaps start out slow with once every month, or even twice a month. Choose a date and let your audience know that you will, without fail, be posting on those dates. Now, if you find you have more content than this schedule can fit, by all means you can adjust your schedule. Be sure to respect your audience, and let your listeners know that you will be posting more often. Never forget to give them the day each post will be available at the end of previous podcasts.
The keyword here folks, is consistency. Say it with me, consistency. There is nothing that will deflate an excited new listener than a jumble of inconsistently scheduled episodes. They want to know that when they get in their cars on, say a Tuesday morning, that you are going to be there waiting for them to download your pride and joy podcast, while they roll down the windows, turn up the volume, and expose potential new audience members to your words. They will return each week to hear you, because you are what? Consistent, very good answer.
This moves us on to part B of this step. How many of you have found yourselves dozing off while watching a video, listening to a talk show, or attending a lecture? (My hand is raised.) According to a survey by LG Electronics USA, over 61% of people are falling asleep while watching TV. They also state that an average of 67.5% of people, with the television on, are multi-tasking and only listening. Imagine if that percentage, because they know you are posting every week on the same day, were listening to your podcast instead.
We all have fallen asleep while trying to pay attention, and there are several reasons why this happens. Excluding the fact that you stayed up too late partying with your old college mates, there are some main reasons people nod off or tune out to speakers, shows, and videos. The top two are: boredom with the topic, or taking too long to get your message across. This can be the case with your podcast, and something you definitely want to avoid.
Ask yourself, “how much material do you want to put out during an episode?” The answer is going to vary, depending on your format and your niche. Instructional video will be a different length than interview shows. Roundtables may be lengthy, depending on the topic and how many people are participating. The easiest format to determine length of time, would be scripted. You have already established a base time by having the script prepared. Know your format and then plan your episode length accordingly.
What you will want to avoid is a podcast that has no true consistent length per episode, or one that drones on about unrelated topics simply to fill the time selected. Knowing your material is key. Now, this isn’t to say that one episode might be 30 minutes and the next 40 or 25. You’re aiming for consistency, but not as firm as your scheduling. Your audience should know if they can listen to a full episode in the time it takes to get to work, or if they will have to pause and pick it back up later. No one wants to start an episode that was 30 minutes last week and is now an epic show that spans the course of days to listen to. The Zzzzz’s will be guaranteed.
Your goal should be to keep your audience engaged, for as long as your good material lasts. If you have an abundance of material for one topic, and your show length is typically 30 minutes, here’s a tip: find a good stopping point and do a “to be continued” episode. If your content is engaging, you’ve just guaranteed listeners for your next episode.
Wow, we made it. Feel that? That is one heck of a pillar you’ve created. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. We have moved through the steps from determining your ‘why’ all the way to choosing a name, and now establishing your episode length and publishing schedule. I knew you could do this.
With the pre-production pillar standing tall it’s time to move forward. There are four pillars to podcasting, and we still have three more to build. Now that you understand what your podcast is about, and the direction you want to take it in, we can take the steps forward that will help you decide on the equipment and processes to get all that good material down and saved so your audience can really hear the messages you have to offer.
I feel like we need a toolbelt or maybe a hard hat…