Launching your first podcast episode can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before. Luckily, there are certain steps you can take to make the process easier and more productive, including coming up with an outline of what you want to talk about in your first episode. Use this podcast episode planning checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything important as you set up your first show and begin to grow your audience.
Decide what you want to talk about
With your podcast, you need to make sure that you’re giving people the information they can use. When deciding what type of topics you want to discuss, it’s important that you take into account what your audience wants and needs. This means making sure that there are real problems you can solve for them.
Make sure your podcast has value—your potential listeners have to be able to get something out of it. Don’t just do a podcast because you think it will make money or attract clients; create one because you have valuable information you need to share with others (this is a very common mistake). To decide on your topic areas, write down all of the things that would make ideal podcast episodes—then look at which ones will be most interesting/helpful for others as well as yourself!
Who is your audience?
You need to know who you are talking to in order to talk with them effectively. Answer these questions before writing your first episode: Who is my audience? How many of them are there? Where do they hang out online? What other content related to my podcast appeals most directly and specifically to them?
Once you have a sense of who they are, try to stay as close as possible to them; not only will it help you build relationships but it will also give your listeners a reason to come back for more.
Develop an intro and outro script
Start by writing out a brief script for both your intro and outro, just so you have a sense of what you’re going to say in each segment. Keep your intros short and sweet—one or two sentences max.
If you want to work in a short call-to-action (like hey, please subscribe!), feel free. For best results, focus on how much listeners will benefit from listening (and definitely don’t forget about mentioning that your episode is sponsored by Company X).
Save calls-to-action for later episodes; if listeners hear one too many times, they might start tuning it out entirely.
Decide when, where, and what equipment you need
Before you can create your first podcast episode, you’ll need to determine when and where you want to record your audio. Some podcasters work around their day jobs; others schedule episodes on weekends or after work. You’ll also need a computer with recording and editing software, like GarageBand or Audacity. And if you plan on recording multiple people in one place, which is how most podcasts are done these days, you’ll need a decent microphone.
If you plan on doing interviews remotely—via Skype, for example—you’ll also need a nice headset with clear sound and noise cancellation. (This $20 set from Amazon should do just fine.) Then again, it doesn’t hurt to try out different mics until you find one that fits your budget.
Record with the right microphone
Microphones are an important part of any recording setup. If you’re just starting out in podcasting, a good rule of thumb is to record with a condenser microphone, which will give you some professional-quality sound. Condenser microphones can be quite expensive, however, so if you’re on a budget or aren’t sure how often your podcasting career will pan out for you, you might want to consider other options. Below are some different kinds of microphones that all offer their own unique range of benefits and drawbacks, so choose whichever seems most appropriate for your situation!
Consider adding music or sound effects
Audio is powerful. It gets your listeners’ attention, gives your message credibility, and, more importantly, establishes trust. If you’re new to podcasting or need a refresher on how to do it well, consider adding music or sound effects into your podcast episodes.
For example, if you host a business advice show for women entrepreneurs, think about incorporating soft jazz tunes; these won’t distract your audience but will enhance their listening experience.
To get started, go online and search for royalty-free music; there are plenty of resources available that offer free sound clips in exchange for crediting them in your work.
Or consider adding a voiceover intro or outro to each episode; when you’re speaking directly into your microphone with a clear voice, it helps establish credibility while also driving listeners toward your website and social media channels. This can be an effective way to start or end every episode—or both!