12 podcast tips to take your show to the next level

podcast tips

Whether you’re hitting the record button for the first time or have a library of episodes under your belt, there’s always room for improvement. The best podcasters know this and regularly search for tips to improve the quality of their show. 

If that’s you, you’re in the right place. This guide shares 12 of the best podcast tips that will help you create a world-class show that people actually want to tune in to.

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Podcast tips to sound like a pro

1. Define and research your audience

Starting a new podcast without a clear idea of your target audience is like shouting into a void. You’re hoping there’s someone out there listening—but you don’t know who they are or what they’re interested in, so your show ends up being an amalgamation of topics you find interesting with no clue whether others do too. 

While basing your podcast topics on an interest you have is a good starting point, the most successful shows know what type of people share the same interest. That includes their target audience’s:

  • Age
  • Location 
  • Gender
  • Pain points
  • Life goals 

Take the How I Built This podcast, for example. Host Guy Raz knows the show’s target audience are entrepreneurs, so the podcast’s entire branding—from the podcast name to the guests invited on—reflect this. 

How I Built This with Guy Raz profile page on Apple Podcasts

2. Invest in good quality podcast equipment

Podcasting has exploded in popularity because it’s relatively easy to do. All you need is an internet connection, recording software (which you can get for free), and your computer’s built-in microphone to produce a show. But the influx of new shows means podcast listeners are getting more picky about those they tune in to. 

The standard for video and audio quality has never been higher. To stand any chance at building an audience, you’ll need to invest in podcast equipment that not only helps you produce high-quality content, but makes the post-production easier (i.e., it won’t make you spend hours removing background noise). 

Set up your own podcast studio with the following equipment: 

🛒 Start shopping: The big list of podcasting resources: From the experts (2023)

3. Create a narrative for each episode

A great podcast episode has a beginning, middle, and end. These are the basic building blocks of a narrative—a structure that makes your podcast easy to understand. Before you start recording a new episode, spend some time outlining the narrative with a podcast script

Some of the most popular podcasts use the following narrative structure:

  • Hook
  • Rising action
  • Explanation (backstory)
  • Climax
  • Falling action
  • Resolution

This applies even to non-narrative podcasts. There’s no reason your interview show needs to follow the same timeline of the interview recording: if you re-order the questions and answers to follow the structure above, you’ll create a much more compelling conversation.

4. Practice good recording techniques

Some creators fall into the trap of creating messy audio with the intention of cleaning it up throughout the editing process. This adds unnecessary tasks to your podcast production workflow. 

By starting with crisp and clean audio, you can edit and publish in half the time. The following podcast recording techniques can help you record high-quality audio from the jump:

  • Find a quiet recording space. Whether your children are playing in the next room or you’re interrupted by a passing emergency vehicle, distractions deter the listener from focusing on your show. They can also mess with the flow of your recording and force you to spend time correcting mistakes. Prevent this by finding a quiet recording space where you won’t be disturbed. 
  • Warm up beforehand. Before you jump into recording, spend a few minutes warming up your vocal cords, especially if you’ve spent a few hours writing your script in silence. Do some vocal exercises to loosen up before hitting “record.” 
  • Wear headphones. This might sound like an unnecessary podcast tip, but wearing headphones while recording is essential. If you’re recording a remote interview, it will stop your guest’s voice from bleeding back into the microphone—an echo that’s difficult to edit out. If it’s just you on mic, headphones let you hear any spots you made unnecessary breath sounds or produced plosives, so you can stop and re-record your line again. Plus, if you’re wearing headphones to edit your podcast, you’ll be able to pick up on unwanted background noise that would otherwise be written off as sounds from outside. 
  • Mute yourself when others speak. If you’re recording a podcast remotely with guests, it can be tempting to jump in with an enthusiastic “yes” or “mm-hmm.” These adlibs can interfere with the listening experience and they’re annoying to edit out. Solve the problem by muting your microphone when guests or co-hosts are speaking. 

5. Edit and polish your podcast episodes

Great podcasts aren’t recorded, they’re produced. The podcast editing process will refine your episode and turn it from good to great. 

Start with audio editing software like Audacity, GarageBand, or Descript. For context: I use Descript to edit the Peak Freelance members-only podcast because it has a bunch of AI tools that streamline the process and improve sound quality, such as:

  • Studio Sound to remove unwanted background noise
  • Automated transcription with more than 95% accuracy 
  • Filler word removal for words like “um” and “you know” 
  • AI Voices to fix audio mistakes with a clone of my natural voice 

6. Record an intro and outro

Unlike TV series, people don’t always listen to new podcasts from the first episode. New listeners might join you midway through your podcasting journey. Get them up to speed with a short podcast introduction that hooks them in, reinforces the name of your show, and gives them a brief insight into the host(s) they’re listening to. 

The end of your podcast is also valuable real estate that you should optimize. Summarize the key points you’ve made and give readers a call to action, such as:

  • Leaving their feedback
  • Following you on social media
  • Subscribing to the show on the podcast player they’re using to listen

Help listeners distinguish between your intros, outros, and main podcast content with background music. Find free royalty-free tracks that you can use via platforms like Descript, Sound Bible, and Free Music Archive. 

Podcast host David Kermaani credits this as helping the The Blockchain Experience podcast go from unranked to the top 1% in its category: “We added a relatively high energy intro song which sets the tone of the podcast.” Another improvement he’s made? “A lot more focus on sound quality (evening out sound between guests, reducing ambient noise, etc.). That's where Descript has helped.”

7. Choose a reliable podcast hosting platform

A podcast hosting platform is the virtual home for your show. It’s the place where the audio file, episode title, and show notes are hosted and distributed across different podcast listening platforms. 

Popular podcast hosting platforms include:

  • Captivate
  • Buzzsprout
  • Acast 
  • Transistor 
  • Podbean 

Once you’ve chosen one, upload your first episode (or even better, a podcast trailer) to the hosting service. Add the name and cover art for your show, then grab the RSS feed link. You can automatically distribute new podcast episodes to directories like Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts (formerly known as iTunes) once you get this link. 

8. Write compelling titles and show notes

Titles and show notes give a glimpse into each episode and convince listeners to tune in. They also help with your podcast’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. If a search engine or podcast algorithm knows what you’re talking about, it’s more likely to display your episode in your target audience’s search results.

Here’s how to optimize each element: 

  • Podcast title. In less than 60 characters, detail what your episode is about and why someone should listen. Some popular hosts use curiosity gaps. Modern Wisdom, for example, has this episode title: “The Secret Tools to Hack Your Brain.”
  • Show notes. Use an AI tool for podcast show notes and add the phrases someone might search to find your show. With Descript’s Podcast Show Notes tool, for example, you can summarize your podcast script and write a short blurb that convinces people to listen.

9. Invite podcast guests on your show

Even if you do a solo show, it’s good to mix things up by inviting other people to join for a special episode. Podcast guests have the potential to add new, interesting perspectives to your show—and bring their own audiences along to potentially become fans of your show.

Good podcast guests could be:

  • Social media influencers with thousands of followers
  • Experts in their field (e.g. a forensic psychologist if you’re hosting a true crime podcast)
  • A podcast listener who wants to share their own experience 

Once you’ve found a podcast guest, find a date and time for an interview that works for you both. David Nebinski, host of Portfolio Career Podcast recommends to “include a video in an outreach email when asking someone to be a guest on your show. This helps the podcast host stand out among other podcasters and other emails.”

Instead of relying on Zoom, use a reliable remote recording tool like SquadCast by Descript to record 4K video, high-quality audio, and back-up your recording in the cloud to preserve the file even if you lose internet connection.

A split screen image showing resolution of Zoom call versus SquadCast in 4K
“My #1 podcast tip is to be an active host. You need to pay attention to your guest from the second they sign on to the recording. You set the stage and you set the energy. If you need to type, let them know why you're typing. If you need to check your phone, let them know why. You need to be fully present in order to let your guest feel safe, and for the conversation and their story to unfold in a powerful way.” —Olivia Dreizen Howel, co-host of A Fresh Story Podcast

Get the most mileage out of your interview by asking podcast guests to share the episode with their own network. 

For example, Dave Parrell interviewed Sam Parr on the How I Write podcast. Sam ended up promoting the episode to his 250K+ Twitter followers—a captive audience who already know, like, and trust Sam, and therefore, would likely be interested in listening to Dave’s podcast. 

10. Promote your podcast using video snippets

Turning your audio-only podcast into a video podcast is a great way to diversify your content and reach people who prefer to watch their content, rather than just listen. Unlike audio-only shows, you can also upload video podcasts to YouTube—the second-largest search engine in the world with over two billion users

The best part: you can use snippets of your video podcast to promote it on social media. Video content is proven to perform best on platforms like LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram, so by creating video clips of podcast segments, you could tease your show and give social media followers a glimpse into each episode. 

🎙Pro tip: Descript’s AI tools make social media promotion a breeze. Repurpose video snippets for social using its sleek templates, then use the Social Post Writer to compose your copy. Descript lets you use artificial intelligence to get your show out there—without spending hours creating a new stream of content. 

Image of Descript’s Social Post Writer tool

A podcast transcript also helps maximize the value you get from your episode. Take it from Laura Kluz, who produces the ProductLed Podcast which has an average of 12,000+ monthly downloads: “One of my best tips is to repurpose all of the content for other channels and package the podcast together with it. That brings in a ton more episode downloads. 

“For example, we repurposed a podcast into this blog post and added the audio to the very top of the article,” Laura says. “This increased downloads significantly and boosted this episode to become our #1 episode of all time, surpassing the second-best by 82%.”

11. Monitor analytics and listener feedback

The most successful podcasts have an audience that loves the show. One key component in building that affinity is taking in listener feedback. 

Use your podcast analytics to dig deeper into your audience and their listening habits. Answer questions like:

  • How do people find your show? 
  • What percentage of people see vs. listen to your podcast?
  • What podcast format has the highest listener retention? 
  • Which types of guests have the most downloads?
  • What day of the week do people tend to listen?

Ashley Barnsley, for example, uses his podcast to promote online fitness coaching services. He says: “Tracking my podcast analytics helps me make sure what I’m creating is what my target audience wants.” 

Podcast listening platforms like Spotify make this easy. It has polls and Q&A prompts within the media player, so you can get immediate feedback from listeners on every episode without remembering to ask. 

It’s also a good idea to periodically run a listener survey that asks people how they’d describe the show, what their favorite episodes are, what they’d like you to change, and deeper demographic questions you don’t get with podcast analytics.

12. Monetize your podcast

It can be expensive to run a podcast. From hosting fees to the time you spend refining each episode, cover your expenses and become a full-time creator by monetizing your podcast

Some of the most popular ways for podcasters to make money include:

  • Podcast ads. Find brands with target audiences who overlap your podcast listeners, or join a podcast network like Buzzsprout that takes care of ads for you. If you get a decent number of listeners per episode, you could charge $18 per 1,000 listens for a 30-second ad or $25 for a 60-second slot. 
  • Affiliate links. Earn money by recommending products that your target audience would find useful. You’ll earn between 10% and 30% in commission when podcast listeners buy through your affiliate links.
  • Products and services. Coaching, online courses, and digital products are popular among creators for a reason. You can have ultimate control over any products and services you create—including the price. You also get to keep any profit you make. 

Podcasting tips FAQs

How do I make my podcast good?

  1. Define and research your audience
  2. Plan podcast content with a script
  3. Create a narrative for each episode
  4. Invite guests with new perspectives
  5. Invest in high-quality equipment
  6. Edit and polish your recordings
  7. Publish a video version 
  8. Optimize the transcript for SEO 

How long should a podcast be?

There is no best practice for podcast length. Some creators produce daily shows that are five minutes long; others drop monthly episodes that go on for three hours. View your audience retention rate to see when people tend to drop off and go from there. 

How do I get 1,000 listeners for my podcast?

  1. Syndicate your show to podcast directories 
  2. Post the video version on YouTube
  3. Create video clips from each episode 
  4. Use AI tools to write social media posts
  5. Market your podcast with promo swaps

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