Since the spike in awareness brought about by the success of Serialpodcasts have been steadily growing. Between 2015 and 2016, podcast listening grew 23 percent

You may be wondering if the time is right for you to start your own audio show, as podcasters have begun sharing the benefits that a podcast can bring: expanded business, new client prospects, and more. 

But before you do, take some time to study the greats and put these lessons into practice.

1. Ask the tough questions

One common downfall of podcasts is a lack of differentiated content. The same authors, celebrities, and experts go on the same types of shows and get asked the same sorts of questions, leading to feelings of déjà vu for listeners.

John Lee Dumas, host of the daily Entrepreneur on Fire podcast, goes out of his way to press interviewees to dig deeper. He'll tell a guest when they haven't given enough detail, or have shied away from an uncomfortable subject with a "soft" answer. He'll ask for exact numbers and press for more detail, and the information presented is more valuable as a result.

2. Create downloadable assets for each podcast

Most podcasts are started because of a desire to teach and be of service to listeners. But because of how easy it is to download and listen to them while doing another activity, many in your audience won't be able to take action the moment they listen.

Take inspiration from Nick Loper of the Side Hustle Show, who creates a show notes resource page for each episode with key takeaways and any links mentioned. Whether you host these show notes on your blog, send them as an email follow-up, or offer them as a downloadable document, creating a resource page for each episode allows your audience to get the maximum value from each guest.

3. Ask for, and reward, reviewers

Ratings and reviews are the currency of podcasts, showcasing the quality of your show to potential listeners and helping it climb the ranks in various categories on iTunes. While passionate listeners who glean valuable information from your show may feel motivated to submit a positive ranking and review in any case, many podcast hosts make it a point to explicitly ask their listeners to do so.

Some, like Omar Zenhom of the $100 MBA Show, offer randomized rewards for those who do through giveaways or on-air shout outs, driving up their rankings and increasing the number of positive reviews for their programs.

4. Build a complementary email list

As your show grows, so does your audience. And while many subscribers will tune in week after week (or day after day) to engage with new shows you post, that's a rather passive way of reaching your audience. It's a good idea to start, early on, building a second means of contacting them regularly to share links to new episodes, send additional show information, solicit reviews, and market new and complementary products like books and courses.

By adding pop-ups and calls to action on your website and show notes pages, and inviting subscribers to join your email list for more valuable information at the close of your show, you can grow an ownable list that allows you to contact your subscribers whenever you have new information to share. Grant Baldwin of The Speaker Lab even provides information on building your list as part of the resources he shares with his subscribers.

5. Make investments that improve quality

One of the reasons podcasts have grown so quickly in recent months is because they are fairly easy to start up with very little investment. With the audio recording feature on an iPhone and a copy of free audio-editing software like Audacity, you can start a show for next to nothing.

But the truly great podcasters know that a little investment goes a long way toward improving the quality of the show. So they'll pay for custom intro music and voice over, like Pat Flynn of The Smart Passive Income podcast, or have professional show notes pages designed, and many of them share their recommendations for the right microphones, headphones, software, and other accessories that will have the most immediate positive impact on your show. 

6. Be consistent with frequency

 Whether you ultimately decide to do your show daily, biweekly, or somewhere in between, it's important to maintain a consistent frequency and format so you can keep listeners engaged and ensure they know what to expect.

Develop frameworks that maintain quality and manage expectations for your listeners, both for your regular content and any extras. Dumas of EOFire uses a similar slate of questions for the content he posts each day so readers know what value they'll get, Art of Charm has shorter Fan Mail Friday episodes each week, and Omar Zenhom does special Q&A Weekends episodes, for example.

By following the lead of successful podcast hosts, you can build a high-quality and consistent show that will keep listeners coming back.