Improve Podcast School – episode 2
74% of successful podcasters have published more than 100 episodes.
While it is still possible to monetize with fewer episodes, you should plan for the long run. More episodes will translate into a better reputation, more touchpoints with your brand, more opportunities for sales and conversion, and eventually more listeners.
What is equally important, by the time you get to episode 100th, you should have a higher number of marketing and monetization channels than when you are just starting out.
But first, we need to break down the approach of recording 100 episodes into something manageable and bringing you satisfaction as it becomes your day-by-day job.
Anyone can get there. Time goes by, so you need to decide how to spend it, and I’ll try to convince you today that spending it on content creation can be a productive and satisfying process.
Here are 5 tips for managing the episode creation process
1. Brainstorm and draft a list of connected episodes.
Start with a brainstorming session, where you will create a list of episodes that will tell a story.
The exact length is difficult to assess as it strongly depends on your experience with idea generation, and experience within your field to know if the idea is something your audience is actually interested in listening to.
You can expect at least an hour or two to produce a good list of usable topics.
I find it takes me more time, as I like to explore new ideas, and sometimes I go into the rabbit hole when searching for a great topic.
If this is your first time and you are starting out, you should aim at around 20 to 30 episode ideas. Of course, to get to episode 100 you will need 3 or 4 brainstorming sessions, but for now, that is enough to get you started.
If this is your first brainstorming, remember that you sometimes need to burn through poor ideas before getting to the good ones. So don’t be afraid to reassess the idea and throw it away if you conclude that an idea won’t work well. So to get to 20 usable ideas you might need to go through 40 idea candidates.
Other times you will start producing good ideas much faster.
It takes some practice and is definitely a skill that you can develop over time.
Later you should also take feedback into account – which episodes outperformed others and which had a really good response from your audience.
A good list will also direct your whole creative process. You will be able to deliver more value when episodes have a common theme instead of just jumping from one idea to another.
Having a list is also crucial, so you don’t have to come up every time with an idea before you record.
It is also a solution to a creativity block.
You can just start recording going off of your list.
2. How to find an angle for episodes to capture attention?
A list of ideas is just a start.
And the success of your show doesn’t solely rest in the idea for your show or topics of your episodes but about the angle.
Sometimes people call it “being unique”. But I find that statement an oversimplification, as unique doesn’t mean entertaining, useful, or inspiring.
Unique gets often translated to a simple one dimension, for example, but not exclusively, let’s be controversial.
But that should also be avoided just because it gets emotions up.
Being controversial on-demand can lead also to poor reputation but also a low satisfaction from your work.
Rather, find an aspect that captures your imagination and presents information or opinions you have in an attractive and attention-capturing form.
This applies to all types of podcasts or commentary-style shows.
There are dozens of shows on marketing, business, or even movies and tv.
Do we really need another movie review show?
Not really, not unless you have something useful or inspiring to add.
It is worth remembering that you can perfect your style with each episode.
But you should have at least a vision for how your style, your angle should sound and feel.
In this particular case, it is not only about your listener.
That angle for your show also needs to be attractive to you as a creator.
For me, the best angle for content right now is to be useful – to solve people’s problems in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-replicate way. That is what motivates me.
And you will need to motivate yourself to record all those episodes.
Make it fun, educating, and entertaining for yourself and your listeners.
3. Where to find inspiration for ways to present ideas?
Now when you already have a list of ideas and an angle on your topic, you are on the path to getting to your 100th episode.
But soon, the repetitiveness might kick in. Even a good list of ideas and an interesting angle might be fatiguing.
Any work can be fatiguing. And being on a constant treadmill of creating and releasing episodes is more than some people can handle.
A solution depending on your niche might be to look for additional inspirations.
It will allow you to have a fresh and open mind.
So get constantly inspired by learning cool concepts to present your ideas.
It might be finding topic ideas based on what others have already published but putting your own flavor to it. It can be looking at entirely different niches and looking at how they present and teach their concepts.
The trick here is to master the skills of seeking inspiration and balance it. Do not excuse any work delays with the fact, that you are looking for inspiration.
A pursuit after inspiration can easily turn into a rabbit hole of procrastination.
And if you lack the discipline it can turn into gimmicky content.
You need to be aware, not to pivot too hard from your style. Or at least do it very gently.
Your listeners get attached to a style you have. So an episode too heavily inspired will look out of place, and it might lose familiarity.
I often get an idea for an episode or an article when I’m listening, watching, or reading other stuff, and I’m constantly making notes for future content to create.
This builds my backlog of episodes.
4. How to build and maintain a backlog of episode ideas?
The key here is to make that backlog manageable and actually useful.
Often you will find a great idea and an inspiration, make a note, and when you come back to it, after a few weeks, you have no idea what was actually so great about that idea.
How to solve it?
Simple. You need to make enough notes upfront so the idea will be clear even after you come back to it after some time has passed.
But also, you need to have a simple system to add that note on the fly and not spend 30 mins scripting and drafting new episodes.
There are dozens of apps you can use for it. I’ve tested many, and for me, ClickUp works currently the best.
You can find the link in the episode description.
I draft an episode title, 2-3 sentences on what to do in the episode, and importantly I include the link to the source of inspiration, whether a podcast episode, an article, a video, etc.
ClickUp has the most features in the free version, so most of you won’t need to upgrade ever. Also, it has a desktop app which boosts my productivity as I prefer it overworking in a browser.
It also has a feature where you add tasks to a calendar, which is great for your production process.
But any simple note-taking app will work fine as well if you make a routine out of using it.
Apple Notes or Reminders can also do it, but you need to use them daily to develop a habit.
This brings us to the final point. You need to develop routines on your way to 100 episodes.
5. How to establish a robust podcast production process?
You need to build a solid recording process.
Chasing a new episode every week can be difficult and draining. Constantly fighting against deadliness is a quick way to lose motivation, feel drained, and start questioning if what you are doing even makes sense.
You need a process that will support unchained creativity, smooth recording, simple editing, and uploading your episodes that won’t feel like a race against time.
Some people have a weekly cycle of pursuing an episode after episode.
This is a good way for productions heavily focused on the news cycle or teams with a dedicated staff working only on the podcast.
If you have to share your time with competing responsibilities, or don’t have to comment on the recent events in your show, or at least not in every episode, you should consider adopting a bulk recording process.
This simply means researching for extended periods, then scripting a few episodes at a time, followed by recording them in one longer session. You can, of course, edit them also as a part of bulk processing.
This workflow is much more productive and satisfying in many ways.
It removes a lot of pressure and allows you to breathe. On the other hand, it requires discipline as one delay can cause a chain reaction.
So it may actually be more appropriate for many to approach one episode at a time and find satisfaction in achieving small victories weekly.
You may also start with a traditional weekly routine and gradually as you feel more comfortable with the whole process, move to workflow based on working in batches.
And a rewarding workflow is something you need to find if you are on a path to 100 episodes.
In summary, if you are determined to work on your show to get to the 1st breakthrough milestone of 100 episodes, you need to have a good process to fuel your inspiration and productivity.
Conducting brainstorming sessions, having an interesting angle for your show, or looking for ways to present your ideas most favorably, should stand side by side with having a robust process for managing a backlog of your future episodes and having a robust podcast production process.