June 20, 2018 | ° F

Launching A Podcast


Launching A Podcast

I could use some direction. Earlier this week, my sociology professor asked for some volunteers to help her put together some podcast episodes, which seemed like it would be a fun learning experience before graduation. I convinced my friend in class to volunteer with me, and we had our first meeting with the professor on Wednesday. 

The concept is fairly simple. She has a number of colleagues at different universities around the world whom she wants to interview as a series of podcast episodes. The theme is supposedly the rise of populism and its wider implications for social justice and equity. The catch is that she basically wants us to be in charge of production. I’m definitely excited about the topic, but as my friend and I also explained to our professor, neither of us has any experience with podcasting. 

She said that shouldn’t be a problem for two industrious college seniors. Despite her confidence, we know that we’re in over our heads. We have a week to do some research and let her know how to proceed. 

It sounds like you’ve been awarded a big opportunity. Launching a podcast successfully is no easy feat but it’s most definitely possible for those willing to commit. That’s probably the most important piece of advice for anyone seriously considering the idea of starting a podcast. Outsiders quite frequently and falsely assume that podcasts are a couple people offhandedly recording a conversation. While that might certainly be the case for some podcasts, it’s almost never the case for successful ones. 

You should only begin after you confirm that everyone involved is ready to devote the necessary time and effort. Experts at Mashable published seven tips for launching a successful podcast, which contains some essential suggestions for aspiring podcasters. The first item on the list is choosing a topic that you’re passionate about. Not only do you have that already going for you, but your topic is also highly relevant and widely applicable. Your professor likely knows that already. 

Several of the tips require decision-making power that you don’t or won’t have throughout the project. The two that most definitely concern you are planning the content and the recording, editing, and broadcasting of the podcast itself. Authors at Shopify wrote a similarly insightful guide describing how to launch a podcast on a rather limited budget. You won’t need to spend inordinate amounts of money on audio equipment and editing software at the beginning. Just know that, unfortunately, a long-term and professional grade podcast will have to exceed the $100 budget that the Shopify article plans around. 

Successful content planning is the result of more than openly recorded dialog about a predetermined topic. You need talking points, real-world examples, expert testimony, countervailing viewpoints, credible data, etc. More importantly, these things have to be orchestrated around a compelling and cohesive narrative that captivates your audience and keeps them coming back for more. The best way to accomplish this is by tapping into recognizable authorities. Entrepreneur explicitly encourages that you secure interesting interviews to help accomplish this task. 

In a best-case scenario, you could generate a tremendous following that justifies upgrading your production capabilities. For instance, hosting a reliable video conference with top researchers at a prestigious university isn’t something you want to worry about. There’s no doubt your professor would also prefer to avoid anxiety originating from unpredictable hardware. While Google Hangouts and/or Skype will suffice during the early days, success will force you to transition to more specialized products and services. 

“You just need one person to listen, get your message, and pass it on to someone else. And you’ve doubled your audience.” -- Robert Gerrish


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