First things first, this is not a technical how-to create and produce a podcast guide. This is the step you take before that. Yes. I’m saying think about your podcast ahead of time and develop a strategy. AKA this is a training on how to plan a podcast.
How to plan a podcast: from personal experience
I’ve lived these nine steps while creating and launching podcasts so I’m not pulling these out of thin air. Planning a podcast is exhilarating, exciting, and exhausting. At so many points on this journey I said “this is the hardest part, once we’re past this we’re good.” I’m glad I knew the steps or I may have lost heart through the process. I share them with you today so you will also be empowered the next time you wonder if you should start a podcast. You’ll know what the steps are and how to plan a podcast. You’ll also know how much work you have ahead of you so you’re mentally prepared for the roller coaster you’re about to get on. Podcasting is an amazing, amazing media and, when done right, a game changer.
First I’ll overview the steps, then break them down a bit.
How to plan a podcast in nine steps
- Brainstorm a concept and decide what your show is about
- Determine your “why”
- Set goals for your podcast
- Figure out who you’re serving
- Plot your content strategy
- Develop your show and assets
- Write, record, and produce your first three episodes
- Develop your marketing strategy
- Pre-launch baby!
And once your podcast is planned, in the process of being developed, and you’re running pre-launch…now you can finish setting everything up and launch your podcast.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to step one.
How to plan a podcast step one: Brainstorm a concept and decide what your show is about
If you’re thinking about doing a podcast there’s a good chance you’ve thought about this to some extent. So, write it down. What’s the big idea? What’s your show about? I encourage you to get to a core topic, one you stick to throughout your show. A strong topic will make things easier down the road, plus it will be easy for listeners to understand what your show’s about without too much thought. You want your show to stick in listener’s minds and be something they can become fanatic about—sharing on social media, recommending to friends, and becoming raving fans. So come up with a good one, alright?
How to plan a podcast step two: Determine your “why”
Attracting listeners who become raving fans starts with your reason for podcasting. Think about it for a sec, why should anyone listen to your podcast? Why should people choose yours over all the other podcasts out there? Why? It’s so easy to jump past the planning and straight into podcast production but I encourage you to slow down and do the hard work first. Plan a podcast, plan a great podcast.
How to plan a podcast step three: Set goals for your podcast
(Can you believe she’s talking about goal setting AGAIN!?)
But it’s step three, so by this point you already know what you want to do and why—so shouldn’t setting goals be easy? Podcasts are powerful for building an audience and increasing your platform and can even help you reach your business goals. So, what is your goal for this podcast? And if it’s to make money…you’re going to need a plan to do that. Putting up a podcast doesn’t equal cash money. Not that in itself at any rate. So wipe the dollar signs out of your eyes and set some realistic goals. Making money can be one of your goals, but you’re going to need a revenue plan. Think it through, set S.M.A.R.T. goals, and then move on to step four.
How to plan a podcast step four: Figure out who you’re serving
You should kind of sort of know this already. Who do you hope listens to your podcast? Who do you want to become raving fans? I know, you want everyone to love it…but please break it down a little. Who do you want listening and what transformation do you want them to experience as a result of listening to your podcast? How will you help listeners reach their goals? Because, like everything, they need to understand what’s in it for them before they’ll decide to stick around. If you map this desired transformation out, it will also guide you RIGHT into step five. So give it a shot, kay?
How to plan a podcast step five: Plot your content strategy
Now this is fun stuff. If you figured out the transformation you want listeners to experience and brainstormed a step-by-step guide for them to get there…you can break those steps down into individual episodes! Right!? Yes!!! OK maybe I’m nerding out but you want a strategy because this will keep you laser focused on providing the RIGHT content to the RIGHT people for the RIGHT reasons. Strategy is just RIGHT OK!? Here you figure out your core content, your sub topics (sidenote, this is similar/the same as creating a content strategy for your blog), your show format, and individual show objectives (goals within goals—you know the big goal of the entire podcast but what do you want listeners to do in each one? Leave a review, go to your website, download an email opt-in, share on social media, follow you on Instagram, etc. And please pick one per episode). If you’re stuck for ideas you can do keyword research (see what’s popular and develop episode ideas from there). Try and come up with at least 10 solid episode topics before moving on.
How to plan a podcast step six: Develop your show and assets
By this point you should be getting pretty excited about your show. And step six is where all your dreaming turns into your core content and branding. And yes, this will be hard work and may involve blood, sweat, and tears (if you’re anything like me). You don’t have to script your episodes word-for-word (unless you work best like that/want to)—outlines and notes are fine—but you do need to work out your show sequence and figure out who you want on your show if you’re taking guests/doing interviews. At this point you should also be working on things like finalizing your show name, designing your logo, figuring out website design, deciding on your branding, grabbing all your social media handles, and purchasing your URL. I know many people will do this first and other guides may even advise doing this second/third. Why I’m saying wait till step six is because by this point you KNOW you’re sticking with it. You have a firm grasp on where you’re going and how you’re getting there. And if you’re hiring someone to help with any of your asset development, showing him/her your target audience, listener transformation, and content strategy will help him/her come up a great concept reflecting you to a T.
How to plan a podcast step seven: Write, record, and produce your first three episodes
OK, I won’t sugar coat it. This is going to be a lot of work. But you are READY for this! Draft your episodes, record them, and get them ready. You’re not publishing anything yet, but you’re working out the bugs. You need to figure out what you’re saying, practice saying it, and get all the technological pieces in order. Going through this will also highlight how much help you need recording, editing, producing, etc. (If you need technical help check out Pat Flynn’s How to Start a Podcast tutorial or Kirsten Oliphant’s Should You Start a Podcast course. If you need an audio editor or show producer, my rates are here.) This process should show you how close you are to launching your podcast. You may need more time than you thought at the outset, but that’s OK. You’re in it for the long haul, so it’s worth doing right.
How to plan a podcast step eight: Develop your marketing strategy
You have your content plan, your branding, website, and social channels are taking shape, and you have a general idea of when you can launch. Now it’s time to think about marketing. You’re going to need a pre-launch, a launch, and an ongoing strategy. Three strategies. I know it’s a lot of work (ugh, Robyn, why is EVERYTHING so much work!?) but you will be so super glad you made the plan ahead of time when you’re in the thick of it. I have a few general tips on how to rock your marketing, which are a good place to start if you’re new to marketing strategy. If you want an intense, 90-day pre-launch strategy that will blow your mind, check out this podcast episode from Amy Porterfield. Whatever you decide, I recommend getting the plan on paper and calendaring as much as possible. This is where you figure out the details of your pre-launch, launch, and ongoing marketing, when your podcast episodes will publish and how often, what you’re posting on social media and how often, and how you’re going to promote your podcast to the world.
How to plan a podcast step nine: Pre-launch baby!
When you have your launch date settled and all your marketing ducks in a row, you can graduate to pre-launch. This is going to be intense, but this step is critical to a successful launch so you don’t want to skip it. In step eight you created the plan and in step nine you WORK the plan. That’s right, you’re creating content, you’re connecting with your target audience, and you’re ramping up to your launch. In pre-launch you’re putting yourself and your podcast out into the world in a way that people notice. You do this by creating amazing and shareable content, promoting your amazing and shareable content to your existing audience, with your social networks, with online communities, with relevant influencers, and wherever else your target audience hangs out.
I know we’ve been through a lot getting to this point. But it’s not over yet. Once your pre-launch gets in gear you are racing towards your launch day—now that’s exciting stuff. Good thing you know what you’re doing, where you’re going, and who you’re talking to. I can’t WAIT to hear how it goes. Have a great launch!