TL:DR:

Put your audience first, have fun, learn from your mistakes, steal ideas from your favourite shows, be consistent and execute (recording and editing) as well as you can.

The slightly longer answer:

Podcasting isn’t an exact science and those who tell you otherwise (usually self-confessed “ podcast gurus”) are either lying or want to impress you.

So what’s the best way to turn your idea into a podcast?

Start by asking yourself 3 basic questions and work from there:

What message do you want to project?
– Make sure you have something to say.

Who is your audience?
– Make sure you talk to them.

How do you want them to feel by listening to it?
– Make sure there is a reason to listen.

Each one of these questions could be super-long blog posts in themselves – as I say, podcasting is extremely nuanced, almost annoyingly so – but if you want your idea to flourish, answering these simple questions is a must.

The fact is that almost anyone in the world with the means can project their voice; their story; their opinions out into the world. That’s not the hard bit.

The hard bit is getting people, not only to listen to you and your new, shiny show, but to get them to care. When it comes to your idea, frame everything through this filter because if you don’t, there’s a real risk that you and your idea will come across as self-indulgent and despite what you might think, no-one really enjoys listening to that kind of thing.

People have unlimited listening options

Podcasts typify modern media consumption in that anyone can listen to anything they want at any time (and from almost anywhere). Make something that your intended audience can connect and relate to because you’re not just competing with the millions of podcasts out there, you’re also competing with every other entertainment platform on the planet. They will only listen because they want to not because of how important you think you are (or your message is).

Once you have gone some way in addressing these initial questions, you can then move onto thinking about the format of your show. If you’re an avid podcast listener (and if you’re not, please go and listen to more podcasts!) then ask yourself why it is that you like your favourite shows. Is it the way the presenter speaks to you? Or the way they tell certain stories? Or even the length of the show?

Sketch out ideas based on these answers and try them out. It could be they translate well but it’s fine if they don’t. As long as you keep delivering a message to an audience that cares, formats – and the way you present it – will change and evolve over time. Never be afraid to try new things and work with the audience to improve your show.

It is absolutely fine – no, necessary! – that if you’re a beginner (or a relative newbie) to audio, to concede the point that your podcast won’t sound like something from the BBC. You have to be realistic. Manage expectations. You will get there eventually. Remember, people who make podcasts for a living have been doing so for years.

Keep on keeping on

Ensure that your passion drives you when making a podcast because there will be failures and there will be expectations not met (just like this graph shows). Podcasting may be free(ish) but it’s a long, hard slog at times. Keep at it and keep going. Looking back, you’ll be proud of your progress and how much you’ve learnt along the way.

It is no coincidence that the most listened to podcasts in the world are those that have been running for years and years (Marc Maron, 2011, Joe Rogan, 2009, My Dad Wrote A Porno, 2015). With very (very) rare exceptions, global podcast popularity does not happen overnight. It takes hard-work and consistency to build up an audience and gain listeners trust.

Finally, good luck. You’ll need it.

* I am also part of a group based in Bristol called Go!Podcast. The central ethos of which is to educate those who are interested in podcasting. This article is only for those who have some ambition to succeed in podcasting and want some titbits. Hope it helps!*