Is there a podcast show formula to model after for your unique podcast — a standard method, or best practices, perhaps? I notice everyone seems to do it differently as I listen to more and more podcasts to observe.
Not adopting sameness is a good thing, and yet, to show up and get noticed may take a bit more know-how.
So, in this post, uncovering how to create a unique podcast show formula that suits you while still fitting in with some tried and true podcasting techniques is the goal. Let’s face it; some styling and standards are more apt to bring you success. And, at the very least, you want to cover all the basics at the start for creating your best podcasting voice-print.
As you’re ticking off the list for framing your podcast strategy, you are likely feeling good about your show idea, honing in on the name, tagline or hook, direction, key topics, and content plans. But yikes! Don’t forget the nuts and bolts (like how I started) so you can accelerate your viability for success.
And because I started with flying by the seat of my pants in podcasting, this post lays out a podcast show formula to map out the steps you need to take to save yourself some podcasting hassles. Sound good?
Steps to a Unique Podcast Show Formula
I don’t want to bog you down, but there are essential details to plan and have in place for your podcast. The main reason these details matter so much has to do with adhering to the terms and conditions for the various podcast platforms for people to find your podcast.
Especially if you want to get noticed on the biggies like Apple Podcasts, Android for Google, Spotify, and others, these first steps help you follow the rules to optimize your podcast’s existence.
#1- Evaluate Your Show Title. Determine the plausibility of using a keyword in the title, confirm whether the domain name for an accompanying website, if applicable, is available and grab it. Also, test the name for ease of understanding, spelling, and make it a .com URL too. Is it easy to read as a thumbnail? Does your show’s title give insight into what your podcast is about? Does it make sense to people? (You know, sometimes I know what I mean, but make sure others easily understand you too!)
#2- Does Your Tagline Work? Make sure your podcast tagline, or hook, does the job of clarifying your message and enticing listeners. Meaningful and direct are what you’re looking for here. Be careful not to use meaningless rhetoric like “bringing you excellence” and other generic wording. Add power to your name by being specific rather than deflating any meaning. Once again, relevance is the objective.
#3- A Star is Born. Think about your host, the “talent” for your show, and how you will showcase them. Have a bio ready to highlight the “star” of your podcast, including a punchy description and business title. Remember, personality and podcasting are peas in a pod, so let it shine. Or, go ahead and put a spotlight on it with an entertaining podcast host!
Podcast Show Formula Next Steps
#4- Show Branding by Thumbnail Design. The challenge is to make a big impact in a small space. Your podcast’s thumbnail design needs to be recognizable and hopefully, memorable. Creating an understandable brand look within the constraints of a thumbnail presence is tricky. But, it’s also important to your show’s image and to gain visibility in the podcast marketplace. Simplicity and clarity rule for this task, but best practice advice varies. Still, design, like artwork in general, is subjective. Be sure to check the specs for your hosting and other platforms as well.
Three Design Versions for the MIX/SIZZLE & SHAKE YOUR BUSINESS PODCAST Thumbnail:
I’m still not set on my final selection… what’re your thoughts?
#5- Find a Format Key for Your Successful Show Formula. We’re back in murky waters because the formats I’m hearing on podcasts are another mish-mash of styles and shapes. I’m not convinced you need an absolute set show format from episode to episode. But for some show topics and talent, this is a suitable method. It creates an expectation for certain segments, for example, regularly touching on a set of topics or adding to areas of discussion. Using regular segments on a repetitive basis sets up an ongoing content flow and builds interest in a podcast. At the very least, decide on an Editorial Content Schedule to strategize the content you will present, and how, for your podcast.
Stepping Up and Standing Out
#6- Set up a Suitable Starting Structure. Regardless of whether you use a repetitive show format, by category or interview series, for examples, or not, you may do yourself a favor to consider adopting a set structure. This set structure is especially beneficial when you’re starting out because it lends consistency to your podcast. Plus, by creating an action stack of key steps based on this structure, you can easily craft new shows using a speedier and more accurate production process.
Often a show starts with an intro of some sort, a short blurb, or musical kickoff, or even an original introductory production for each show. For some, these are brand-essential. For others, they have sponsorship agreements to honor. And still, for others, it’s all about fun!
(HINT: You’ll soon be hearing my idea of a fun intro with a little more production play than usual on the MSSYBiz Podcast with Lisa Sicard in an upcoming Sizzling Summer Social Series!!)
For now, I take a clue from a few top podcasters and jump right into a topic, getting right down to business on my show. I try to make each moment in every show as meaningful as possible to respect a listener’s time. I’m not one who enjoys show hosts who do a lot of meandering around instead of sharing valuable information and insights. At least for business-centered podcasts, like mine.
I do add a thirty-second sound spot to the end of my shows as a branding/sales message, but the main reason I do it is that the anchor (now Spotify) app, adds a mandatory commercial to the end of every podcast. So, I get mine in first! Good thinking, right?
Set Your Podcast Stage
I’ll keep you posted on how this structure situation evolves as I hit my 100th episode, and switch platforms by going with Libsyn for podcast hosting. (Look for an upcoming post showing you every step of that process!)
But, for the purposes of picking a suitable structure for your podcast, here’s a review of some of the most popular choices for consideration. Don’t forget, the big picture is for the content, your business, and your audience to align with what you do in your podcast and how you do it!
If you’re drilling down on the above steps, you are likely starting to get a feel for how your show idea is taking shape. You’re focusing on your show name, core theme, creating your artwork and developing a tagline or hook. And, of course, starting a kick-butt podcast also requires audience-centric focus for relevant and inspiring content ideas. Hopefully, brainstorming and banking show content ideas are already happening as well.
There are a lot of other details to look into, think about, and set up before starting a podcast, even the basics for the equipment you are going to use. All of this may factor in when you are determining the style, voice, format, and structure of your broadcast.
For example, are the topics you plan to cover current (time-sensitive) in nature, or will you produce evergreen content so it remains viable over time? This variable alone may change the longevity (or shelflife) for your shows, production frequency needs, relevancy and expected reach.
Another factor to think about upfront is whether your show topic will be serial in nature or if each episode is a complete, standalone piece of content. Maybe you’ll want to do both? So far, most of the MIX/SIZZLE & SHAKE YOUR BUSINESS Podcast content pieces are individual.
Your Podcast Stage in Tiers
Again, you may decide to mix serial content (meant to be listened to in order) with individual show episodes.
I do have pieces now where a topic unravels over a series of shows. But so far, I also make an effort so each is workable as an individual piece of content as well. The same will be true for the Sizzlin Summer Social Series coming up with Lisa Sicard co-hosting for a few topics! (Be sure to tune in for Lisa and sizzling social media topics galore!!)
Beyond time-sensitive vs. evergreen and serial vs. single content pieces, other factors play a part in determining your podcast’s final content structure. Solidifying the content structure also dictates how long your podcast will run because every element is another variable.
Are you going to use an intro, an outro? How long will those sections take in an episode?
Make final show structure and format decisions with respect to the audience experience you want to create. An audience-first perspective matters for listeners.
If you have a co-host, your show will probably go longer. The same thing for interview formats. People interacting takes longer than a narrator-centered show. If you do a narration series, though, you have more control over running time by scripting and planning cutoff points effectively. Be sure to use bucket brigades, (a copywriting technique setting up curiosity, or cliffhangers) if possible to bring listeners back. Or leave listeners with a question, so they are primed to want more.
When people want to listen again, you are growing an audience. Yay!
Now, it gets even more important to schedule for consistency. (I’m still talking myself into a new set publishing schedule, faithfully every Tuesday.)
And Then Ta Da
As you refine what you think you can produce well and consistently, narrow your options. You can always make adjustments as you go. Staying topic-based is important. But, will you talk about valuable topics alone, with a co-host, or in an interview format? Each of these requires different workflows, skills, and planning so weigh time requirements for production in your format decisions.
Stories are a popular content type and can be an ongoing series or singular shows on a topic. Think about a framework you can reuse episode to episode, perhaps. Streamline. This might sound funny, but build expectations because audiences like consistency; but, create the unexpected because audiences love surprises!
This might sound funny, but build expectations because audiences love consistency; but, create the unexpected because audiences love surprises!Sue-Ann, MSSYBiz.com
If you’ve been reading along on this site, I previously mentioned a technique for using interview sound clips to create an enticing show intro to customize for each topic or guest. Not only does this offer a fresh intro for each show, but it also tickles interest to click through to listen based on the hot tidbit pulled from the podcast.
In the case of the Marketing Companion with Mark Schaefer and Brooke Sellas, each show opens with a unique and original mini-production. In this recent episode, the opening mimics the moon landing in honor of 50 years since the infamous US space mission sending men to walk on the moon. For each show, you get something new and fun!
Podcast Structure And Format Variety
In both cases just noted, the common mindset is audience-focus. In one case for functionality, and the other for delight. Either way, in determining how you design your show, the audience is what matters no matter how you format or structure things.
When JLD (John Lee Dumas) sends his EOF (Entrepreneur on Fire) Podcast emails out to subscribers, he distills the episode’s biggest takeaways down to a list of 3 “value bombs.” In doing this, he not only delivers key points from the show and value in the email itself, but he invites you to engage further by checking out the show as well.
Often your content and core topics are a contributing factor for finding the best show format. Say for example Social Media Marketing is the topic for your podcast. Maybe you want to talk about two main subjects for your show, the marketing part of social, and tools for social. Doing two segments for each podcast may be one way to cover your topics consistently and format your show. Another way is to rotate from the marketing aspects of social one week to tools for social the next, for example. Or, you can add a third segment to your show by adding a guest to talk about something SMM to round out and create a set format.
Keep in mind your show’s format, topics, and styling all impact show length and frequency. The sky’s the limit for how creative your content and format gets. However, the more complicated each production is, the more time and resources it takes. It’s perfectly okay to start with just the basics. You can build, evolve, and improve as you go.
Engaging and Entertaining
My starting podcast equipment was my cell phone, my voice, and ideas. The format, as is my usual choice, was, and still is, a mixed approach. Initial production was also minimal, using only simple scripts or outlines. You don’t have to get sticky complicated to do a good job podcasting. But, you may want to go for being engaging and entertaining as a rule, or a goal.
You’re really only as limited as your imagination or as your skills allow. But, experiment with some of the many options from this post until you find the right feel. Don’t be afraid to play with new or different methods to find your own unique blend.
Settling on a winning podcast show formula may take a little time to get just right. But the important thing is to get out there and sizzle your business with the addition of audio media via your podcast.
Reach new audiences or old audiences in a new way. And give your business a voice.
What’s your take? Comment below.
- About the Author
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Sue-Ann Bubacz is a digital content strategist and writer/editor who works with best-selling authors, media personalities, and prominent artists to enhance their communication, elevate their influence, and transform their creative vision into tangible business results.