How To Produce a Podcast

“I have too much time and too much money, so let’s make a podcast,” said no marketing person ever.

Podcasting has become huge, but it’s a daunting format for many marketers. Much like writing a book, it’s difficult, time-consuming, and ultimately won’t reach nearly as many people as you would like.

Despite all that, I’ve received more questions lately about what it takes to create and produce a podcast. (I think the interest is an act of rebellion against generative AI and written content.) It also seems senior management in many brands is interested in the format — and marketing teams are being asked, “What should we do?”

I’ve been a podcaster for about 10 years. I’ve launched (and retired) as many shows as I have fingers. I’ve been a part of This Old Marketing since 2013, but much has changed since then.

I put together a 2024 version of the tools and processes, along with the time it takes us to do the weekly podcast. I hope you find it helpful as you begin or actively look to build your business case for producing a podcast of your own.

Ideate the podcast

What will your podcast be about? I won’t spend a ton of time on this because the topic could be an article in and of itself. Some wonderful thought leaders, including Jay Acunzo and Tom Webster, talk about this topic, and I encourage you to look at their content and learn from them.

But you should understand this: You are developing a show; you are not the show. In other words, if you say the podcast is “our CEO interviewing some of our best partners and thought leaders about the challenges in our industry,” you do not have a show.

A great podcast is a show whether you are in it or not. It might be better because you’re in it. And it might create more loyalty because of your chemistry with a co-host. But it should be a great premise whether you or your CEO is in it.

Your show should also be different from others out there. Put on your Hollywood producer hat and really get to your podcast’s premise—its point of view. I’ve written about how to develop a POV for your company. But, from the very beginning, think of it as a show.

Jay Acunzo has a podcast called Unthinkable. The premise of the show (stated on the show’s page) is:

“An inside look at the unconventional choices of quality-obsessed creators — and the memorable things they made as a result. It’s a show about trusting your intuition and your craft more than best practices and blueprints.”

See how that podcast works? Sometimes, Unthinkable is an interview show; sometimes, it’s not. But it ALWAYS delivers against this mission. And it’s not about Jay.    

OK, let’s get to the brass tacks of creating and managing a podcast.

Structure the show

I’m using my podcast This Old Marketing as the case study, but the practices apply to any show you want to create and manage in 2024.

As you read this, you should consider that my co-host Joe Pulizzi and I have produced more than 420 weekly episodes. Aside from an 18-month sabbatical, we’ve produced the show for more than a decade. I mention that because but what we do today is vastly different than what we did for the first years. I’ll note why as I go through this.  

Each episode involves three parts:

  1. Pre-production — writing and prepping the show
  2. Production — recording, editing, and mixing the final product
  3. Post-production — creating and publishing the podcast packages

A couple of caveats about this behind-the-scenes look. I estimate the time based on mastering the learning curve (or a particularly inspired week). See them as realistic timeframes after you work out the kinks in your process. Also, I share links to the equipment we use, but they are not affiliate links for us or constitute endorsements by CMI. However, StreamYard is a sponsor of the show. Overall, these are the tools that have worked well (or not) for This Old Marketing.

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Let’s begin.

Pre-production

To be clear, Joe and I put a lot of thought into the show’s architecture before we did anything else. I can’t recommend this highly enough. We also never considered ourselves finished. We constantly reviewed, revisited, and tweaked the structure. But before you start the creation process, really understanding the show’s flow, including segment lengths, is critical.

This Old Marketing’s flow includes 11 segments:

  • Cold open — something funny or a provocative joke to kick us off (30 to 45 seconds)
  • Theme song opening — our standard theme song (30 seconds)
  • Episode introduction — welcome the audience to the episode and thank our sponsor (30 seconds)
  • Intro chit chat – Joe and I say hi to each other and talk about hot news items, ending with my introducing the agenda of this week’s show. (8 to 10 minutes)
  • Main news story — coverage of the main news story (20 minutes)
  • Advertising — mid-show ads (up to 90 seconds, depending on sponsors)
  • Rest of the news — one or two other news stories (10 minutes)
  • Hits and misses — one hit or miss from the world of marketing (10 minutes)
  • Rants and raves — a rant or rave from each of us about something in marketing (10 minutes)
  • Wrap — what’s up for the coming week (two to three minutes)
  • End music — music with voice-over asking for subscriptions, reviews, etc. (30 seconds)   

We strive for a 60-minute show. That time is definitely “ish.” We almost always miss that mark but rarely exceed it by more than six or seven minutes.

This Old Marketing is a news show and is structured as such. The meat of the show (50 of the 60 minutes) covers the news and the topics we think are relevant and entertaining to marketers. The podcast is designed as a “hot-take” show — our editorializing current events.

When I was doing an interview show, I structured it into three segments with the interviewee (the meat of the show). A structured show flow keeps you tight and on time and gives your loyal audience predictability. They know what they’re going to hear, even if it varies in format.

We record This Old Marketing on Thursdays for a Friday release. My pre-production script (assigned to each segment) is due to Joe and our production team on Wednesday afternoon. So, I usually start it on Monday (if I’m lucky) or Tuesday afternoon.

The script outlines the four anchors in each episode — the main news story, the secondary news stories, hits and misses, and rants and raves. I also script every introduction, which includes a new joke.

If I’m perfectly candid, writing the script can take 20 to 30 minutes if I’m inspired and the news is obvious. During slow news weeks, it can take a few hours. Some weeks, the news gods in marketing just don’t come through.

I write the script for the episode using the Evernote app. Yes, I script the introduction, the transitions, and everything except our takes on the news. I sometimes script my rant or rave. I have every episode in an archive so it’s easy to search for things we’ve talked about and frequently call back to on our show.

I send the script and any new sponsor to record to Joe.  

This pre-production work usually takes a couple of hours each week.

Production

This part has changed the second most over the last 10 years. In the early days, Joe and I would talk on the telephone or through Skype and record the show on the computer. Then, we would combine audio files in post-production. Even though this added to post-production time, it worked well because the early days of podcasting recording tools, such as Riverside,  StreamYard, or Squadcast, were notoriously fickle. Because of our busy schedules, we didn’t have time to do it again if a recording failed.

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Thankfully, these tools are much more dependable. We now use StreamYard as our recording platform. The 2024 twist is that we added video. In fact, we now consider This Old Marketing a video show is also available as a podcast. This move will change the show structure in the long run (see above about always working on the product). We’ve already gone to a more visual and tighter segmented show.

We’ve really focused on publishing on YouTube because of trends for podcast discovery on the platform. The demand for both audio and video has skyrocketed, which is why we also publish a “live” show Friday morning on LinkedIn.

Thus, the equipment list — cameras, lighting, and microphones — has been updated in the 10 years. I’m happy to send you a full equipment list if you like. We both use Sony DSLR cameras for video. I use an Electro-Voice RE20 microphone, and Joe uses a Shure MV7. We both have Elgato key lights for our lighting. I cannot recommend enough getting your sound, lighting and environment right. It’s not as easy as throwing up a mic and clicking record . Test. Rehearse. Get it right. And to the extent possible, record every episode in the same place and time.

We do not record when we’re on the road. We may record two episodes at one time to avoid having to record in hotels.

It takes about 90 minutes to record each episode. On Thursday mornings, we chit-chat for a few minutes to catch up, go through the show script, and do a walk-through of the show. That process takes about 25 minutes. Then, we hit record and don’t stop unless a technical issue arises (there have been more than a few) or if we really, really flub it up (there have thankfully only been a few).

When we’re done, the show is practically finished. Since StreamYard allows us to lay the music and advertising in real time, it’s ready to go.   

Podcasts featuring guests face the biggest challenge in recording because everything I just mentioned about equipment and quality is at risk. Most guests aren’t tech-savvy enough to make it work. A few years ago, I did an interview show using Zoom to record guest interviews, and the sound quality was always hit-and-miss.

This Old Marketing’s total production time is about two hours a week, depending on any necessary editing or tweaks. If you have guests on your show, estimate the production time to be two-and-a-half to three hours.

Post-production and publishing

First, let me share some post-production tips for a guest-based show. When I produced an interview podcast, editing the interview was the most laborious part. It could take me three hours to edit a one-hour interview into a 30-minute episode. Here are a few interview tricks that I learned along the way:

  • Structure, structure, structure: Have a VERY tightly structured set of segments for your questions, even if you sometimes vary from them. Don’t “wing it.” It is much easier to make a very structured interview sound conversational than it is to turn a conversation into a structured interview. A structure allows you to combine, edit, or re-record your side of the question.
  • Guest, guest, guest: They should do 90% of the talking. Make your role simple to allow for potential editing. If you can, don’t ask sequential questions. Don’t say, “My first question for you is ….” or “My last question for you is …” The answer to that last question could be the most awesome thing to start with. If you don’t give voice to the question number, you can edit it so the first thing is the last thing they said.
  • Cold opens: A great trick to open the podcast is a 30-second pithy or provocative soundbite from your guest. But tell them that you’d like to do that before the interview — and record that part separately. Or if the best soundbite comes out during the interview, take a few more minutes at the end to ask them to say it again but direct them to say it in a shorter way.
  • No self-introductions: Give a short introduction of the guest and get to the interview. Don’t say, “Why don’t you introduce yourself to our audience?” Nine out of 10 times, they will take too long to get to the point.
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OK, back to the post-production process for any podcast format. This part has changed the most in 2024.  

Post-production for This Old Marketing used to simply require outputting the file and uploading it to our podcast distribution service (Libsyn). All that has changed is making a video podcast, which is also an audio podcast.

Once the show is recorded, we then schedule it to go live on LinkedIn through StreamYard. That doesn’t take long.

However, then the real work begins. We have a ، post-production team that cuts the podcast into smaller chunks. They edit, add, and work to create six- to eight-minute segments for YouTube. They create even shorter versions for YouTube Shorts, Reels, and TikTok optimized for vertical (mobile) viewing.  

This is a time-consuming process. We’ve only been doing it since the beginning of the year, but it’s already paying off in terms of attracting more eyeballs, more subscribers, and growing our audience.

For the audio episodes, we upload the MP3 file from StreamYard to the Libsyn podcast syndication platform so it can appear on Apple, Spotify, etc.

We create a thumbnail for each episode, usually using generative AI. Then, the new episode of This Old Marketing is finished.

Post-production is the most laborious part of the process. It takes 10 to 15 hours a week of multiple people’s time. That’s why you must think of your podcast as a product. You make the product available and develop the trailers, the teasers, and the alternate versions for multiple digital channels.

Podcasting: It’s a commitment

After 420 episodes of This Old Marketing, I can tell you that the hardest part, by far, is being consistent. Producing a weekly show is, well, weekly. Once you get into a flow, it becomes a muscle memory, but it’s still a workout. When you’re trying to balance the rest of your life and work, it can be challenging some weeks.

Just know that there are more than 2 million podcasts on Apple Podcasts — 40% have less than three episodes and 24% have only one. Think about that. A quarter of all podcasts out there have only one episode.

Content does not ، podcasts. A lack of commitment and production care kills podcasts.  

My advice is to commit to doing at least 12 episodes (weekly or monthly). If your show isn’t time-sensitive, I recommend recording at least six of those before episode one debuts.

Remember, recording and producing the podcast is the first step. Like any product you make, the promotion will make your show find its audience.

I hope this behind-the-scenes look can help you develop a show with a realistic understanding of what it takes to do it well.

All tools mentioned in this article were suggested by the author. If you’d like to suggest a tool, share the article on social media with a comment.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

منبع: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/articles/process-publish-podcast-tools/

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