How to build a profitable podcast.
There’s conflicting advice out there about how to use or whether you should depend on podcast structures when creating episodes. On the one hand, it’s important to keep your podcast episodes fresh by ensuring they’re not too formulaic or repetitive. But with no structure, your podcast episodes can stray from the topic you want to cover and lack consistency.
While there’s some scope to improvise or come up with some parts of each episode on the fly. It’s best practice to at least have a simple structure for each podcast episode you sit down and record.
As of 2021, there were 850,000 active podcasts, and structuring your podcast is vital if you want to stand out amongst this vast number. Dynamic and engaging content, coupled with a clear structure, is a great way to start and grow a podcast.
That being said, knowing how to structure a podcast isn’t always easy. This guide will give you some actionable tips to help you structure your podcast properly. These tips will help you produce engaging episodes your audience wants to listen to.
Here are some steps to follow:
There's no set length that your podcast episodes need to be. While there is some general thinking that shorter episodes are better, that's not always the case.
Think of podcasters like Joe Rogan. His podcast is the most popular worldwide, and the episodes regularly reach nearly 3 hours in length. His podcasts are popular because he covers a range of topics his audience is interested in.
His guests also tend to be experts in the particular field he's discussing. In contrast, The Daily, a New York Times podcast, has regular episodes that are only 30-40 minutes in length. Yet, despite the short episodes, the podcast is still one of the most popular in the world.
The commonality between these two examples is that episodes of both podcasts are engaging and supply content on topics their audiences are interested in.
If you're unsure how long your podcast episodes should be, it's not a bad idea to start with shorter episodes and lengthen them if you want to. Take time to gauge your listeners' reactions and level of engagement throughout your episodes. If analytics show that your listeners are listening to entire episodes of your podcast, then you may want to test out recording slightly longer episodes.
However, if you're putting out podcast episodes that are one hour in length and a high percentage of your listeners are dropping off after thirty minutes, then you may want to consider shortening your podcast episodes to thirty minutes. Let the data inform your decision-making.
Currently, the average podcast length is about 43 minutes, but the most popular podcasts are a little longer at 53 minutes on average.
Some other general tips for podcast length are:
If you’re setting up a new podcast or trying to switch up an existing podcast you run, you’ll need to consider the podcast format you want to use. The most popular podcast formats are:
Having a format for your podcasts also helps to create consistency for your listeners. For example, if you regularly interview guests on your podcast, listeners will soon become familiar with this format. If your content is engaging and you have interesting conversations, listeners will start to look forward to the guests you interview on your show.
If you’re trying to decide on a format, some example questions to consider are:
Of course, you can mix up the formats you use for your podcast if you wish to. For example, there may be some topics better suited to having a co-host. In comparison, others may be better explored by interviewing a guest, particularly if they’re an expert in the subject you are covering.
Just remember that different formats are going to require a different amount of work.
If you choose to interview a guest for every episode, every new episode is going to need you to perform outreach to find your next guest.
You will then also have to then follow up with that guest regarding timings, questions, compensation if any and so much more.
In comparison, a storytelling podcast episode or a solo episode is going to be far less resource extensive.
For each episode of your podcast, you should have a topic or discussion point that you want to cover.
For example, your podcast may have an overall theme, such as SEO for small businesses. In each episode, you might cover a different topic within the overall theme of SEO.
So, if you have an SEO podcast like SEO 101, it would make sense to cover topics that are pertinent to your audience. You could even dive into different industries like SEO for lawyers or managing SEO for real estate companies.
SEO 101 does this every week by diving into relevant SEO news and topics that could help their listeners.
This applies to pretty much any industry or niche your podcast might be a part of.
Covering different topics related to one another is a great way to grow a broad audience within your industry or field.
Having a topic in mind for each podcast episode you record will also help keep your podcast episodes on track. A topic and a clear structure will also prevent you from rambling about things that aren't related to what you’re meant to be discussing.
There are plenty of ways to keep yourself on track when you're recording a podcast, including:
In the image below, you can see a formula to keep in mind when you're thinking of topics for your podcast episodes. Ideally, you should enjoy the subjects you're discussing while being knowledgeable and passionate about them.
Like any engaging story, your podcast needs to hook your listeners and keep them engaged throughout the episode for them to listen to the end. One way to do this is to ensure your episodes have a defined beginning, middle, and end.
The beginning of your podcast episode is your chance to get your audience's attention and let them know what they will get from listening. A good habit to get into is to give your listeners a breakdown of exactly what they'll get from each episode right at the beginning. This doesn't have to be long; you just need to give a brief outline or overview of what you'll cover and what your listeners will learn.
The middle of your podcast is your opportunity to cover the main points you've outlined in your introduction. Your conclusion is where you can summarize what you've covered and reinforce the main takeaways from the episode.
It's also worth noting that it’s commonplace for many podcasters to include a call to action at the end of an episode. This call to action will often be the host asking listeners to leave a review on the podcast platform they are listening to the episode on or share the podcast with a friend.
This method is a simple way for podcast hosts to get their podcasts to grow while improving their podcast's social proof and rankings.
Many podcast platforms also allow you to add timestamps to your episodes. This allows your listener to skip to the part of the podcast they most want to listen to. Breaking up each episode like this is a great way to appeal to different listeners who may only be interested in specific parts of your podcast episodes or don't have time to listen to a whole episode.
Just like famous brands have slogans that their customers remember, many popular podcasts have certain elements that their audience remembers. Memorable elements that you can introduce into your podcast include:
You can start by introducing one element at a time. For example, you might want to first choose a name and a theme tune to introduce your podcast. As your podcast progresses, you can start experimenting with other ideas, such as asking your audience for topics that you should cover.
You should also make sure you extend the usage of these taglines, design elements, and custom colors to other parts of your business. So, you could include it when using other platforms to connect with your audience, such as:
The aim is that visitors should easily be able to tie your business together across platforms. This is part of an overall omnichannel approach to running your business.
As we've already mentioned, it's important to end each episode with a call to action, but alongside this, you should genuinely thank your audience for tuning in, particularly if your audience is small. The more open you can be with your audience, the stronger the connection you'll build with them, and the more likely they will act on your call to action.
Asking them to share your podcast is also one of the easiest and most effective ways to grow your audience. This is particularly true in the early days of your podcast, when money is tight and you don't have much of a marketing budget.
If you're providing great content that your audience enjoys, you should naturally start to see an uptick in listeners as more of your audience recommends your podcast and shares it with more people.
If you’re starting your podcast from scratch, it’s unlikely your show will have the popularity or traction to attract sponsorships. However, as your podcast starts to become more popular, you will have opportunities to seek out sponsors.
If you do end up having a sponsor or sponsors, you’ll have to decide whether you want to have sponsorship breaks within each episode or whether you’ll just mention the sponsor in your show notes.
Gaining a sponsor can also be an excellent way to increase your revenue, which can be particularly useful if you’re planning on growing your podcast.
Structuring your podcast is essential if you want it to grow. When planning a podcast, always think about:
If you keep these tips in mind, you should find that structuring your podcast episodes will become much easier and more manageable.