In 2021, there are now 80 million Americans listening to podcasts weekly. There has never been a more optimal time to launch or revamp a podcast than right now, and it has never been easier to do so. Whether you’re launching or revamping, there are five things every podcast needs. Of course, there are the essentials: high-quality equipment, energetic hosts, and something (interesting) to talk about, but aside from those elements, here are five more podcast basics.
1. A niche
So you have a topic to base a podcast on, but do you have a unique one? If you want to talk about financial advice, awesome! But there are hundreds of other podcasts out there with that same topic and some that already have large followings. A podcast needs a niche, then—not something so specific that it’ll alienate the listeners, but specialized enough to bring in an audience that will come back for every new episode. Brands and businesses have unique selling propositions that make them stand out from the competition. A podcast’s niche should be like that: an original idea or concept that sets it apart from other podcasts with similar big picture topics. It’s crucial to find that perfect niche.
2. A consistent schedule
Once the niche audience has been discovered, the podcast needs to run on a regular schedule. If you release episodes twice a week sometimes and once every three months other times, there isn’t consistent content that the listeners can count on. You have to focus on building up the audience and then retaining that audience. This is not to say all podcasts need to have daily or weekly episodes, but there should be a dependable schedule. People will fit listening to their favorite podcasts into their schedule, so the creators have to ensure there is a steady stream of content available for the listeners.
While audio on its own definitely has limitations in its narrative abilities compared to visual and audio content combined, podcasts present a great opportunity to get creative. Whatever industry or topic you’re discussing, there has to be an element of storytelling. Podcasts are meant to be entertaining, after all. Storytelling doesn’t necessarily mean crafting a work of fiction for the listeners. It is as simple as the word suggests: telling a story. Telling stories that relate to the topic of the podcast is essential to engaging the audience and making them feel like they are part of the experience, like they’re just having a conversation with a friend. Storytelling also means having a logical structure to the podcast. Listeners need to be able to follow along and understand where the episode is going.
Read more about incorporating storytelling in your podcast: https://www.podcast.co/create/podcast-storytelling-101#scroll.
4. Great guests
You can have the most entertaining host in the world, but a podcast needs occasional guests. And not just any random guests, but ones that are experts on your topic and have something meaningful to contribute to the conversation. You shouldn’t completely rely on high-profile, well-known guests to keep the podcast afloat in regards to numbers of listeners or viewers—they should be additions to episodes in ways that make sense. Welcoming guests to the podcast is necessary for a change of pace for the audience. It’s important for the listeners to hear from someone other than the host in order to get different perspectives on topics and also to just hear a new voice.
5. Fun segments
Many podcasts already incorporate fun segments into each episode, but it’s something every podcast needs. Whether it’s a five-minute Q&A session where questions from the listeners are answered or a spotlight piece where a certain relevant individual or topical news story is highlighted, you should include at least one segment that elevates your podcast. And it shouldn’t just be a time-filler. Having listeners send in questions, suggest episode ideas or ask for advice with a unique hashtag, for example, drives audience engagement. The segment should have a purpose, even if it’s just to entertain. At the end of the day, podcasts need to give people a way to feel like active participants in the conversation.