Podcasting: What do I need to know?
Insights into how to make a successful podcast, how to develop and optimise your podcast to reach wider audiences
What is a podcast?
A podcast is a digital audio file, which can be downloaded from the internet and listened to on various digital devices.
They are usually a series of episodes which are personal in tone which can be highly produced, like slick expensive box sets, or as cheaper, conversational programmes.
This guide is an introduction to anyone who wants to know what's involved in making a podcast and developing an audience for it. It's particularly of relevance for anyone who is producing podcasts for the BBC.
How do I make a podcast?
Hear from industry experts as they share insights into what you should consider when making a podcast.
What are the editorial issues?
Editorial standards like accuracy, impartiality, harm and offence and privacy need to be applied with the same rigour to podcasts as any other content made by or for the BBC.
The challenge of creating a podcast is to find the right balance between pushing the boundaries of creativity whilst maintaining editorial integrity.
Podcasts allow you to be:
• Honest and open-hearted: allow the listener to be part of your journey by giving them behind-the-scenes access
• Generous: create a secure environment for great conversations with talent who trust each other
• Less scripted: you can always push the boundaries knowing if you went too far it can be edited later on
How do I develop an audience?
What makes a podcast a hit?
Be spontaneous, conversational and less scripted
Be intimate and engage the listener on a one-to-one basis
Community of creators
Create a sense of community by cross promoting other podcasts
Good storytelling. Pique curiosity by having the freedom to say what you want
How do I promote my podcast?
If you’re considering producing a podcast there are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Podcasts are listened to from the beginning, as opposed to someone dipping in part way as they might for a radio programme. This allows you to tell more complex stories
- With people listening to podcasts on headphones the edits you make to the audio can be more complex
- You can build huge audience loyalty. If people are engaged they tend to stick with a podcast and stay subscribed to it
The title and description should be enticing to pull in new listeners. The first sentence matters the most. To achieve this you need to:
- Identify the keywords that will enable people to find your content
- Add the keywords or phrases to the title and description to help search engines pick them up Example of titles / descriptions:
BBC World Service Tech Tent podcast “Your weekly status update on the technology business with Rory Cellan-Jones” From the Serial and This American Life: S-Town podcast “S-Town is a new podcast from Serial and This American Life, hosted by Brian Reed, about a man named John who despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it.“
Here are a few tips to consider when selecting an image for your podcast:
- Make sure you have a grabby visual
- Differentiate and individualise the podcast image rather than by network branding
- Think about how the image is integrated as part of your greater digital brand
- Make sure the image stands out as most third-party websites have white backgrounds
- Think about the size, prominence and colour of BBC branding
- Think about rights as the image will be displayed on third-party websites
- Consider the cost involved when commissioning graphics
To ensure your podcast sounds like a podcast you must:
- Speak directly to listeners
- Be vulnerable, informal and humble
- Add a sting to your podcast for attribution
- Don't assume people know your presenter or programme, add introductions to welcome new listeners
- Thank people. Ask for reviews and recommendations in your outro
- Trail your podcasts on other podcasts and trail back. Repetition is OK as podcast listeners are used to it
- Use music to signpost how the listener should be feeling
- Listen to the BBC's podcast highlights in this playlistListen to the BBC's podcast highlights in this playlist
- For BBC staff: Pod it - watch our podcasting session For BBC staff: Pod it - watch our podcasting session
- Listen to our podcast on freelancing in radio and podcastingListen to our podcast on freelancing in radio and podcasting
- Hear Dave and Cathy podcast their walk home from the moviesHear Dave and Cathy podcast their walk home from the movies
- The BBC Academy PodcastThe BBC Academy Podcast