Not all podcasts are created equal. Many people start podcasts to give their business a boost, but a bad show is pointless--and there are a lot of bad podcasts. I know this from my experience hosting a podcast, Outperform, and being a guest on 50 others.
To get some tips on how to produce a really professional podcast, I checked in with Jordan Harbinger, who has hosted a top 50 iTunes podcast for over 12 years and receives more than 4.5 million downloads per month. The Jordan Harbinger Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world.
Here are five great ways to up your game if you want to start a podcast in 2019:
1. Use a two-channel recording platform.
If you're serious about this, you need to use a high-quality recording platform like Ringr or Zencaster, rather than Skype. You want separate audio tracks for each guest, which makes editing easier and ensures that problems with one person's recording don't impact other parts of the show.
Have a backup system ready in case the primary platform crashes. Communicate your backup plan in advance to everyone involved. This will prevent last-minute panicking.
2. Do your own guest research.
If you have guests on your show, they should be of interest to your unique audience, so be selective. The best podcast hosts do their homework and knowledgeably guide the conversation.
Don't send your guest a huge list of generic questions to answer in writing, or ask them what they want to talk about. That's passing the buck. Instead, develop specific questions based on what you know about them, and send a few out in advance so your guest can prepare. Being on your show should be easy--like dealing with a concierge at a five-star hotel, not like showing up at a BYOB party.
Harbinger says his team spends at least 10 hours researching each guest before every episode reading online profiles and book reviews. Tim Ferriss, whose podcast has been heard by hundreds of millions of people, is similarly known for great questions and background research. If these guys can make the time, so can you.
3. Market the podcast yourself.
While you should make it easy for your guests to promote the episode by sending them social links, don't count on them to promote your podcast, and definitely don't harass them about it. They are coming on your show because they believe you have an audience of your own. If you push too hard, they will get the sense that you need their audience, in which case, what value are you bringing?
A great way to get people to share more easily is to create some fun graphics using quotes from the podcast for social media. Be sure to tag them so your guests see them and share them.
4. Overdo the details, and never be late.
Your guest's time comes at a premium. Don't waste it. Set a firm time and date for the interview, and follow up with a calendar invite with links to the recording platform. I can't tell you how many times I've had to email a host at the last minute for this info.
It's also a good idea to reconfirm all the details a few days beforehand, and suggest that each guest talk from a quiet room using a headset or dedicated microphone. This shows you care about quality.
Whatever you do, don't be late. People who are serious about their podcasts are on the line 15 minutes before the start time testing everything. They don't rush from their latest client meeting.
5. Never invite guests who don't interest you.
According to Harbinger, one of the biggest mistakes new hosts make is inviting guests just because they think those people will attract an audience. This practice, called "standing on the shoulders of giants," doesn't work. Unless you really hit gold (you get Tom Cruise on your show because he's your cousin), nobody wants to listen to the 100th interview of a media darling that offers nothing new.
Few people subscribe because a show has one guest or another. They subscribe for the content. So, stop chasing influencers thinking their fame will rub off on you. Instead, pick quality guests who match your show's theme. Maybe you'll discover an up-and-comer and end up with an early interview of an industry star. That podcast, like wine, will get better with age.
You only get one chance to make a great first impression. If people tune in and don't like what they hear, you'll likely never get that audience back.