Build a Podcast Team Before You Publish
I started my podcast CockTales: Dirty Discussions well over a year ago and it took 8 months to even make it to the first episode. The hold up? My team. In this series we will explore everything I’ve learned thus far about the podcast business. Once you decide, or at least have an idea, on the direction and subject matter you want for your podcast you have to figure out who is going to help you make it happen.
Every show doesn’t need multiple hosts. Decide if you want to have a podcast that is entertaining or informational. No matter what format, a podcast should be able to fit into one of these categories (sometimes it’s both and we’ll explore that in a later episode, for now just choose which it is more of). My show, CockTales: Dirty Discussions is entertaining. While we discuss sex and dating, it’s in the comedy category because many of the shows in the sexuality category are more informational. These shows are hosted by doctors, therapists, and industry experts for the most part. My co-host and I are neither.
Informational shows work well with one host who speaks to the listeners, and these shows will have guests. Some hosts have a guest for every episode while others mix it up. If your main goal is to inform your listeners, don’t be afraid to go it alone. Having guests act as co-hosts is perfectly fine. Some people will even have rotating co-hosts. With this, you have one main host, and other co-hosts who will be there often, but you may switch them out with other familiar voices. Be careful with this situation though. Having a co-host who isn’t committed can cause problems farther down the line for your podcast.
For example, when CockTales started I had three co-hosts. Shayla, Montenay and Frank. That was a lot to begin with. I recommend max out at three hosts. With four people scheduling became difficult and everyone didn’t have the same level of motivation as I did. We weren’t generating any revenue in the beginning but that’s what people need to prepare for.
We thought about rotating the guys out who were the main issue, but it really lead to unneccessary headaches. The show lineup changed and we swapped the two guys out for my current co-host Medinah Monroe. With Medinah in the mix it shined a light on other shortcomings for the team, and Shayla left the show and now there are two of us, and I will not be holding auditions for a third. A lot of lineup changes right? I got several Beyoncé/Destiny’s Child jokes thrown my way, and even some relationships were at odds over the whole ordeal, so be careful when choosing your co-hosts. These are the people whose faces/voices represent your show, your brand. Having to introduce replacements will slow your progress down.
When choosing your co-hosts, if any, there are a few things to consider.
- Voice Quality – Do they actually sound good on the mic? Would you listen to an hour-long podcast with Steve Urkel?
- Opinionated Stand firm in your opinion.
- Multiple Personalities Your show needs “characters” to form a well-rounded conversation on your topic. Think about how you want to address your audience and choose personalities that way.
- Dedicated- Have people who are truly dedicated and understand the mission of your show as well as the fact that there likely won’t be much, if any, money or recognition in the beginning. It will take some time.
- Creativity- You don’t want to have to spend a ton of time directing everyone. You need creative people who will be able to come up with new ways to deliver on their own.
- Popularity- This isn’t required, but if you find people who already have some popularity whether it be online or through other avenues, you have someone who people are already paying attention to. That’s extra promotion. Many shows start off promoting online through social media. If you have a show with 3 people who each have 2k followers, you won’t reach as many as a show with 2 people where one has over 5ok followers. Digital fame does count.
One of the biggest issues we had aside from the line up in the beginning was the sound quality and production of the show. Originally, we had a woman named Carmen working with us in the producer role. We wanted to have a producer who wasn’t actually on the show to be able to listen and help direct the conversation and show. We also were not in a studio. The sound being produced sounded like we were far away from the mic. We weren’t, but that’s what it sounded like. We also didn’t have a great format, it was more of a freestyle than I wanted. Eventually she had other things going on in her life so we stepped away from the partnership to keep the show going.
My advice to you would be to have producers who are great audio engineers as well as people who actually listen to podcasts. Online radio and podcasts get grouped together often, but it’s not necessarily the same. A video interview won’t be the same as a radio or podcast interview. Everyone needs to understand the platform. If you like their work ethic but they don’t understand podcasts, have them research top shows and work with you on the format that will be best.
Some people have been successful recording at home. If you have children and a dishwasher that will run in the background, invest in studio rental. If that’s not an option be conscious of the background noise and use multiple mics. Some may argue with me but every person needs their own mic. Sharing one mic when multiple people are speaking scrambles sound. People are only listening to you so cut out as many distractions as possible.
Have a clear format that every episode will follow. Whether you hop right into what your subject is and end the show with theme music, or if you have multiple elements and bits (like CockTales) you need to stick to the format. Your listeners will hear the show and grow accustomed to your format.
Social Media and Promotion
Who will be responsible for promoting your show? We do it ourselves. I do 95% of the production work/editing, and Medinah does about 90% of the social media marketing. Most days she posts throughout the day. I decided we should have some brand standard colors and a schedule. So outside of the memes I created templates for our daily posts that we both post just depending on who gets to it first. If we had consistent volunteers we would definitely share this responsibility with them. We’ve used social media ads as well. The ones that have turned into direct listens mainly came from Twitter. Twitter is a platform that isn’t very visual so these users are often interested in audio podcasts.
These are the key elements to your team. As your show grows you’ll have various companies and networks approaching you to help you generate revenue. I’ll discuss that aspect of the team later down the line. I get so many questions about podcasting and thought it would be a great series to write about here. If you ever have questions and want a personal consultation on your podcast or other digital project, feel free to book a consultation with me via email firstname.lastname@example.org
In this series we will cover:
- Your Team
- Podcast Platform
- Podcast Format (Run of Show)
- Finding Guests
- Understanding Stats
- Generating Revenue
- Reviewing Feedback
- Branching Out
- Generating MORE Revenue
Leave a comment and let me know what you think of the tips for starting your own podcast. And remember to listen to CockTales:Dirty Discussions. New episodes are up every Thursday!