4 Steps to Start a Successful Podcast

Podcasting is growing in popularity, but it's harder than you think to pull off.

learn more about Brenton Hayden

By Brenton Hayden

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Thinking of starting a podcast?

I'm here to say that it's not a bad idea.

Podcasting is quickly growing in popularity, with 17 percent of Americans 12-and-over listening to at least one broadcast per month. While it's still in its infancy, podcasting is increasing -- and fast. Many consider it to be one of the best vehicle's for content marketing today.

Related: 6 Podcasts That Will Make You Richer in 2016

Podcasting offers a number of benefits for entrepreneurs and business owners alike. For one thing, it's a great medium for connecting with your listeners and building relationships. For another, podcasting, while it's growing, is still relatively niche. This means that if you want to start a show, you'll be up against less competition than you would with say, a blog. Additionally, podcasts are a great media option for today: they cater to our need for on-demand content and preference for on-the-go consumption of news and information. We can listen to one while driving, walking or working -- not so with blogs or video.

While podcasting can be a great marketing tool and an excellent way to establish yourself as an expert in your niche, it's also important to make sure you're ready for everything that it entails. It's easy to get started, but making your show a smash hit is another story. Before you launch, it's worth taking the time to delve into podcasting a bit more, to understand the pros and cons associated with it and to learn what you can do to increase your chances of success.

If you're interested in podcasting, here are a few important things that you should ask yourself before you make the plunge.

1. Is podcasting right for me?

First of all, you'll want to make sure podcasting's the right option for you. While this can be a great way to get your message in front of a receptive audience, it's important to realize that in order to be successful, your broadcast will require a great deal of work. You'll need to master the art of storytelling and be able to create a show that engages an audience. You'll also need to come up with new, thought-provoking content each week -- or month, depending on how often you broadcast. Before launching a show, make sure you can create content will engage your target audience and keep them coming back for more.

Related: Top 25 Business Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

2. Do I have the time?

A lot of people go into podcasting without realizing the amount of time that's involved working behind the scenes. That's probably why you see so many podcasts that start out strong but then fade out after the first few episodes. Podcasting involves more than just sitting down and chatting for the duration of the show -- it also involves spending time planning, coming up with ideas, creating detailed show notes, finding people to interview, recording, editing and promoting the episodes. Make sure you have time to commit to the process before you start.

3. What format should I use?

Next, keep in mind that you don't have to use the standard two-person format that most podcasts use. While there's nothing wrong with this type of broadcast -- and many shows have used this with great results, you don't have to stick with this style. Your broadcast may be better served by having a different format.

The well-known crime podcast Serial, for example, avoids this setup and instead uses reporting, interviewing and editing. Consider a solo broadcast, where it's just you and your perspective, an interview show or having multiple hosts for a more conversational type broadcast. Determine which one will work for you, and -- more importantly, which one is best for getting your message across to your audience.

4. What unique angle can I take?

Finally, it's important to find your unique angle, or "bent" as it's called. You'll want to choose a topic that you know and something that your target audience is interested in. More than that though, you'll want to think about a new and catchy approach that you can take -- something that will make the show unique. Study other podcasts to see what's working for them, and note things that you like -- and don't.

Try to think of a way that you can bring your own experiences, expertise and personality to the table, and make the show distinctly yours. Take for example, The Tech Guy Podcast. There are plenty of tech podcasts out there, but host Leo Laporte makes this show different. He's great at distilling a story down to its basics and discusses its applicable and often humorous implications. It makes for a great listening -- and it works.

Related: Start a Podcast That Attracts Thousands of Listeners in Just 5 Simple Steps

While podcasting is a great tool for getting your message out, as you can see, there are a few things that you should ask yourself before you dive into in. Answering these questions first will allow you to lay the groundwork up front, helping to pave the way for your podcast's success.

Brenton Hayden

Founder of Renters Warehouse

Brenton Hayden is the founder and chairman of the board of Renters Warehouse. A Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Business graduate, Hayden leads a team of over 140 employees and franchises in 21 states with a portfolio of managed properties valued at just under $1 billion.

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