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Being serious and professional about your podcast will help you get sponsors (and make money!), grow your audience, and strengthen your authority—even if you're a hobbyist podcaster! Learn how to podcast like you mean it!
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I think the biggest thing that separates any professional from the amateur is planning. This is illustrated in every area of life and business—if you don't have a plan, you usually won't succeed.
There are three levels of planning that should go into your podcast.
- Plan the kind of show you want it to be. Where do you want podcasting to take you? What do you want to cover in your podcast? How do you want it to be known?
- Plan each episode. I recommend that you don't script your episodes, but have an outline of what you want to cover and know your transitions.
- Plan to meet your goals. Make an actionable plan for whatever dreams you have. For example, if you want a sponsor, plan whom you will approach, what you'll say, what your rates will be, and how you'll prepare your podcast for sponsorship.
2. Be consistent
Consistency is key in building an audience and becoming successful. Think of a concert pianist. They don't just perform once, but they practice and perform regularly.
If you struggle with finding time to podcast, write it into your schedule and don't change it. The “when I get time” approach will rarely succeed because you'll rarely get the time. You have to make the time!
3. Make contracts
A contract doesn't have to be full of legal jargon. It can be an agreement written in plain English that answers questions or issues that may arise.
Here are some questions you should answer with different contracts.
- What do you expect of your cohosts?
- How do you handle personal information from your audience?
- What promises do you make or not make?
- How will money and expenses be handled?
- Who owns what and what are they allowed to do with it?
- What will you do when something bad happens (disagreement, termination, emergencies, bad performance, etc.)?
- What will you give a sponsor and expect in return?
If you need multiple instances of each (such as different contracts for different sponsors), I recommend making a template so that all you have to change is the first paragraph.
For example, here's the Overview and Definitions section of my current Noodle.mx Network Advertising Contract (the bold items are what I would change).
December 1, 2014
Noodle.mx Network (“the Network”) and Daniel J. Lewis (“the Host”) agree to include promotion for Podcasters' Society (“the Sponsor”) on The Audacity to Podcast (“the Show”) and TheAudacitytoPodcast.com (“the Website”) for 4 episodes in January, 2014 (“the Sponsored Episodes”) at $5,000,000 per episode for a total of $20,000,000 (“the Rate”).
This works as both a summary and defines the new proper nouns that would be used throughout the contract. After this, all I have to change is those bold sections and I have a new contract!
I'm not a lawyer, so I do recommend that you have a lawyer look over or even write your contracts for you.
4. Treat your podcast like a job or business
Whether you're employed by someone else or yourself—or even looking for work—you probably approach your job seriously. If you didn't, you wouldn't get paid!
Bring that same level of commitment and focus to your podcast if you want it to succeed.
Consider common expectations for employees.
- Be on time.
- Have the skills to do your job well.
- Know how to use the tools.
- Work nicely with others.
- Meet deadlines.
- Serve others.
- Improve your craft.
5. Invest in your show
Amateurs try to do everything as cheaply as possible (or even free); professionals recognize expenses as investments to help them succeed.
This may initially be the most difficult way to improve your podcast because money may not seem available. I'm still far from “rolling in the cash,” but when I've spent money, I've seen great returns!
Investing could mean better web hosting, a nicer website design, premium apps or plugins to do things faster or better, upgrading your equipment to improve your quality, or hiring professionals and attending conferences to gain more knowledge.
Speaking of gaining more knowledge, here are several things you could attend to network or learn more.
- New Media Expo (use promo code “DANIEL20” to save 20%)
- Online webinars
- Podcasting A-to-Z (use promo code “NOODLE” to save!)
Podcast Master ClassPodcasters' Society
- Local meetups
6. Speak with authority
Any kind of broadcasting is all about communication. Not only should you communicate clearly, but you should do so with authority if you want respect.
Even when you're uncertain, speak confidently of what you do know. You can still be confident with phrases like, “I think,” or “from my experience.”
I've seen many podcasters come and go in competitive spaces. Those who stay and succeed speak clearly and with authority. Those who haven't stayed have all lacked the authority.
But do be careful with authority because overdoing it will sound like conceit (listen to some of my early episodes and I think you'll hear that in my communication).
7. Delegate what you don't do best
No one is truly successful by themselves. Study the most successful people in any field and you'll find great inspiration. These people usually have dreams and a plan to reach them, but they also know how to not do the things they're not good at doing.
Look at what you dread in podcasting and delegate that to a volunteer, virtual assistant, or employee. They may love it!
Delegating can be hard because you are releasing control over something. If you want to be serious about what you do, it often requires that you release control on one thing so you can have a better “grip” on something else.
Think how much better your podcast could be if you spent an extra hour in planning or promotion instead of postproduction (editing).
8. Change your vocabulary
I'll be controversial here. Think hard about what the terms you use mean to other people. Are you really just a blogger, or are you a writer? Do you talk about movies with your friend, or are you a film critic? Are you a podcaster in your basement, or are you an Internet broadcaster?
This is more than just fancy titles (like “Smile Specialist”), but should shift your thinking into more seriousness. “Blogger” is short for “web log” and got its start with people keeping online journals. This is still the impression from major business who see blog posts separate from articles.
When you tell someone about what you do, never assume they know the terminology or need things completely dumbed down. Give them an accurate but professional description. For example:
I host a weekly audio show about how others can get into Internet broadcasting for their business or personal goals.
You probably noticed that I didn't use any form of the word “podcast” in that description. That's because “podcasting” is a technical description of just one kind of media distribution.
Where this really distinguishes you is if you host video on YouTube, which is not a podcast, but it is a video show on the Internet. Are you a “YouTuber,” “video podcaster,” “Internet TV show host,” or something else? (Hint, it would be none of these to be accurate and serious.)
9. Never stop improving
Have you ever achieved perfection? No? Neither have I!
Taking something seriously will involve ongoing work. Husbands, how does your marriage go when you think, “I got her; now I can stop wooing her”? Concert pianists don't stop with one piece, but they continue perfecting it and adding more pieces to their repertoire. Chefs don't learn to cook just one great meal. Artists don't stop with just one great painting.
Whatever your field, look for ways to improve your content, presentation, and production.
That's why I created
Podcast Master Class Podcasters' Society. It's only for the podcaster who wants to take things seriously and isn't willing to stop with the basics.
- See me speak at New Media Expo and use promo code “DANIEL20” to save 20%
- Promote your podcast to tens of thousands by joining our crowdfund campaign for the TechPodcasts CES coverage.
Need personalized podcasting help?
I no longer offer one-on-one consulting outside of Podcasters' Society, but request a consultant here and I'll connect you with someone I trust to help you launch or improve your podcast.
Ask your questions or share your feedback
- Comment on the shownotes
- Leave a voicemail at (903) 231-2221
- Email feedback@TheAudacitytoPodcast.com (audio files welcome)
Connect with me
- Subscribe to The Audacity to Podcast on Apple Podcasts or on Android.
- Join the Facebook Page and watch live podcasting Q&A on Mondays at 2pm (ET)
- Subscribe on YouTube for video reviews, Q&A, and more
- Follow @theDanielJLewis
This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.