The podcast medium has a low barrier to entry — anyone can start a podcast. The barrier to success is higher, even if you only define success to mean publishing more than three episodes. The reality is, there are a lot of podcasts that never make it past that threshold, or that flounder around for a year before the creators give up because nobody’s listening.
Some of those shows are based on a flawed idea — a topic nobody cares about, a point-of-view we’ve all heard before, a group of hosts who think they’re funny but aren’t. But there are also shows that are based on a perfectly good idea, and fail anyway.
Knowing how to turn an idea for a podcast into an actual, repeatable, compelling show is critical for any podcast creator.
There are some basic steps everyone should take. Write out as many episode ideas as you can — if you can come up with at least 10, your idea probably has legs. Show that list to a few people you trust to be honest with you, and ask if they’d listen.
There’s also an argument to be made for just getting started creating, and figuring it out as you go. But that will mean a lot of trial and error, a lot of time and effort, and a fair amount of money. Generally, we’d recommend doing a little more thought and work before you start recording.
To help you do it, we talked to Gina Delvac, who co-created the independent show Call Your Girlfriend in the summer of 2014. CYG went on to run for more than seven years, charting as high as #28 on Apple Podcasts and racking up tens of millions of downloads. Gina has also worked as the head of in-house podcasting at Spotify and done independent consulting for some of the biggest names in the biz. She helped us put together a list of tips that will help you stand out from the start.