When planning content development for your podcast you can follow these easy 4 steps:
- Choose your podcast main topic – the main theme to revolve around
- Work on consistency in publishing and quality
- Plan for value – plan for value and story arcs
- Execute with details
Step 1: choose your podcast main topic
For long term successful podcast you have to choose Idea best suiting you
- You don’t have to be an established expert in the area you are recording a podcast but you need to be willing to invest your time.
- It would benefit you significantly if you had the knowledge and prior experience regarding the topic you are recording a podcast. Your work would be that much easier. But this is not a showstopper. Regardless it is good to establish to your audience what perspective you are representing in your podcast.
- The topic you are choosing has to be interesting and compelling for you so you will have strength and passion to learn, explore and finally become an expert in this field.
- If you are still struggling with choosing a topic you can read our article: 40 Podcasting Shows Ideas Available for the Taking Now!
Basic rules for brainstorming a new idea
Most importantly build a process you can easily follow, consisting of 4 key elements:
- Use pen and paper to write down ideas
- Plan for an undisturbed creative session
- Record all your ideas for further revisits, find a system which works best for you
- Select an idea and build upon it for supreme content creation
If you want to find out more and refine your brainstorming process read our article: 8 practical tips for brainstorming podcast ideas
Step 2: work on consistency in publishing and quality
Establish a routine – 5 tips for regular podcasting
- Decide how often you are going to publish – when starting to keep a realistic routine. Consider your existing commitments, how much time, in reality, will you be able to commit to podcasting. Start with once a week or twice a week routine. Not often. You can always reconsider in the future. The increasing frequency of your podcast will send a better message then decreasing it.
- Commit to a schedule that is executable – you will require time for script, rewrites, recordings, editing, publishing.
- Announce your schedule (commit to your audience) – let the audience have a clear expectation. Let them wait in anticipation instead of randomly stumbling upon your new episode.
- Focus on consistent and great quality – don’t compromise on either. Work to deliver at a promised frequency and at promised quality. It’s better to deliver consistently good at 1-2 weeks regular intervals than post once a month brilliant content. Also, don’t rush into publishing daily and end up with mediocre quality.
- Be predictable to your users, especially in the early days declare what you are delivering. This will establish trust towards you as a creator and to your podcast and will prove that you are reliable.
Additional 5 tips for recording season
All of the 5 tips above for regular podcasters apply here as well but you will need to do more
- With seasons you can tell a larger, longer story in episodes – draft this story in advance. Begin in end in mind. Know how you are going to start and finish it. Use your episodes in the middle as a path for you to getting towards the end.
- Commit to a number of episodes in season. Those boundaries will help to start and also to finish. You will have to streamline the story you want to tell. Unused ideas can be transferred to another episode or season. This will also help you focus on the goal – compelling season finish. For example with 10 episodes for the whole season in mind, you will respect your creative time more and focus on making quality decisions what to keep and what to delete.
- Have a rough draft of the structure of the episodes in the same fashion you have drafted your season. With the season having a beginning, middle and the end, have also all 3 stages drafted for each episode.
- Plan what each episode will deliver versus what you want for the whole season to deliver – the message can be reinforcing or episodes can be components of the larger part.
- You can have multiple threads finding a conclusion during seasons finale. When preparing for final episodes review what actually you have managed to tell so far. Close the most important themes and arcs. You need to deliver a satisfying closure to what you have promised at the beginning of your season. You can obviously plan for next season and remain some of the arcs open but open them in your last episodes. Close the key arcs you have opened at the start of a season.
How many episodes should podcasting season last?
It will depend on how long a story you want to tell. You have to carefully balance between long enough to keep your audience engaged and motivated to listen and short enough not to get them bored and considering switching off.
Start probably with a shorter form with 5-6 episodes. Analyze performance after publishing and contemplate what went well and what would require improvement. Finally, implement your lessons learned to your next season.
Should you release multiple episodes at once or in intervals?
In the beginning, you will want to release episodes in planned timely intervals. This will provide you enough time to script, record, edit and publish episodes. You might not have the capacity to record multiple episodes at once and then deploy.
A one-time full season release is something you might want to experiment with. Due to an abundance of online content and fact that you are competing for your audience’s attention not only with currently broadcasting shows but basically against everything that is available online you might want to deliver as much content to your users as possible. On the other hand algorithms currently, still, reward creators who publish regularly so you should take that also under consideration.
Read this additional guide prepared by us, if you are interested in content planning for a podcast season.
Step 3: plan for value
Introduce value of your podcast at the start
When starting and not having an established show yet tell your audience explicitly what your show is about and what an episode is going to be about. Make it quick but unmistakable.
“Hi, this is Chris from Improve Podcast, where we develop successful podcasts, in this episode we are going to talk about content planning, share best practices and our experience”.-Improve Podcast
This will help to create a bond and establish you as a reputable source in your particular topic also will set an expectation for your listener.
Planning a story arc for your podcast
Develop a hit list of topics you will want to cover in the long term. Even if you are not working on the season but podcasting regularly. Having a long term structure in mind will help you focus on building and delivering value.
Make sure they all sum up to some story. What will your listener get from tuning in to all the episodes? What he will get in return from investing his time in listening to you. What is his return on investment?
5 tips for maintaining creativity and quality
- Commit to working schedule – decide when you are working on a podcast, sit down and work. This is the only guarantee that you will get content produced. At the end of the day, it will come down to if you are able to outwork your competition and deliver consistently at good quality.
- Organize regular long brainstorming sessions generating topics hit lists – this is not for long content creation but for researching a broad spectrum of topics and ideas you want to cover. With just a few hours monthly you can generate a list of topics to cover for a few months.
- Revisit certain topics after time has passed and discussed – what has changed since what have you learned. Use it only when you can deliver value and not as a trick to publish old content.
- Attach your schedule to the calendar – can you create seasonal episodes, is it relevant to consider holiday topics,
- Niche targeting – is your podcasting niche related to any industry events people are interested in? Having a well-defined audience helps you with content creation as you are addressing the needs of a well-understood target group.
If you want to help with communicating the value of your podcast to your audience if can consider establishing and reinforcing your brand. We have a great and detailed guide concerning this topic, a 10 step strategy for building a podcast brand and getting more listeners.
Step 4: execute with details
How to start an episode?
Start with a problem or question within the context of your show and the value proposition you committed to delivering to your users. Discuss a bit origin of the problem you are trying to address, whether it is a question from the audience, something you find interesting or simply some new development in the area you are podcasting about.
How long should an episode last?
Experiment with your content to establish length most desired by your fans.
There is some statistical analysis showing that shows with episodes lasting between 20 and 30 minutes do perform better than average. There are also shows longer and shorter which perform better so don’t focus too much on optimizing length but rather on quality.
Having said that, a 1-hour mark is considered a long podcast and you might want to keep your show below this threshold.
Try to finish your podcast episodes by leaving your audience with a desire for more.
If you are podcasting regularly best methods you can use are:
- Announce an upcoming guest.
- The promise of something of substantial value that is going to be provided in the next episode.
- Experiment with recording a longer episode and cut it into parts 1 and 2.
- If the next show is inspired by feedback or questions from your audience emphasize this fact.
Experiment with cliffhangers
They will work best in podcasting season (structure your episodes like book chapters or tv series) but experiment with those options also for regular podcasting. You can finish your episode with some amazing cliffhangers:
- Mystery / unanswered question – either introduce a new question at the end of an episode or use a question introduced earlier in an episode and make sure your listener notices it is still unanswered
- Loss – physical or emotional, but in the end, it has to create a sense that it can’t be dealt with
- Almost accomplishing something – like trying to reach an object through metal bars. Is it or isn’t it within reach?
- Hope – something desired or positive will transpire soon
- Immediate danger – an approaching fire, an enemy within range, an avalanche starts
- Looming threat – an event happened that everyone knows will have negative consequences (war was declared, a dangerous journey will have to be made)
- Decision countdown – a decision has to be made immediately or a specified deadline has to be met (a ransom delivered, a fire will reach the residential area in 5 hours)
- Unexpected accident/news – a physical like a car crash, a verbal slip of the tongue, a secret gets revealed, a message with information arrives, a new character gets revealed.
Measure, analyze and implement improvements
Finally simply record, edit, publish and monitor your podcast’s performance
- Test out new ideas, experiment often
- Gather feedback
- Track metrics
Only with methodical approach and execution, your podcast content planning can bring you success.
However, measuring listeners’ behaviors and getting feedback is much easier if you have a website dedicated to your podcast. There are also other benefits you will be missing out if you won’t have a website. If you want to explore those benefits and want to find out how a website for a podcast should look like we have prepared a detailed guide. Read it here: Podcast Website Marketing Guide.