Podcasts are huge right now, and everyone is trying to jump on the bandwagon. But only a few hosts create the shows they always dreamed of. So, what does it take to succeed? How can you become one of the 0.5% that make a success out of their endeavors?
I spoke with podcast expert Lisa Laporte to get some answers. She had some incredibly valuable insights and tips, including:
- Be an Expert: Starting a podcast is great if you’re doing it for the right reasons. You should start a podcast because you’re an expert and have something to offer, not because you want to make a lot of money and think it will be easy.
- Plan Out 10 Episodes: Don’t try to wing it from the first episode. Plot your episodes and ensure you have the content you need to create engaging podcast episodes.
- Practice: Spend time chatting with friends or speaking to yourself on Zoom. Get used to being in front of a camera and microphone.
- Get Some Good Equipment: All your equipment should be wired, where possible. You must also invest in a good mic. Don’t worry about video equipment early on. Just make sure your audio is on point.
- Work Hard: Although running a podcast seems easy, it’s not. It takes a lot of preparation, and even when you do all of the work to create the show, you still have to promote it and make sure people listen. It takes a lot of work, so be prepared.
At the end of my discussion with Lisa Laporte, I asked for her $100,000 insight, one that topped everything that had gone before. She was more than happy to give it to me, and you can find this info at the end of the video and the bottom of the accompanying guide.
How To Create A Successful Podcast With Lisa Laporte And Sabir Semerkant
The first episode of This Week With Sabir was published in June 2020. Two years is a long time in the podcast world, and in that time, I’ve hosted dozens of episodes, met with countless guests, and provided millions of dollars in valuable insights.
I could tell you about my journey—how I got from A to Z and what I learned on the way. I could provide some tips and guidance to help you do the same. But I have someone even better to do the talking for me.
Lisa Laporte is the wife and business partner of Leo Laporte, best known as the founder of TWiT. They are the king and queen of podcasts, so there is no one better to teach you how to create a successful podcast.
Expert Advice For Growing And Starting Your Podcast
Firstly, let’s get the basics out of the way: What is a podcast?
In simple terms, a podcast is a content in audio or video form that you can download and consume at your leisure. It’s like an on-demand radio show, and it’s usually hosted by experts in their field who use the platform to give advice, just like This Week With Sabir!
Launching your podcast is easy, as services like Apple, YouTube, and countless others mean you can get set up in a few minutes.
But creating a good podcast that people enjoy is far from easy, and that’s where the following tips come in.
Is A Podcast Right For You?
Thousands of podcasts are being launched weekly, and only a fraction of them make it to episode 10.
Everyone thinks they can do it; everyone wants to be the next superstar. But only a tiny percentage have the dedication, skill, and resources to make it work.
If you’re starting a podcast, think about what you have to offer and what you have to say. Focus on what you know, who you know, and who you can talk to.
Are you starting a podcast because you want to be rich and like to talk, or are you doing it because you’re an expert in your field?
You shouldn’t launch a podcast just because your mother says you’re hilarious or you think you have some interesting thoughts. We’re all the protagonists of our stories, so we’re guilty of over-inflating our value.
You must have something to offer, something that people want to hear about.
You also need to have enough valuable guests to make it work.
Guests won’t be queuing outside your door to appear on your show. They won’t be sending you desperate emails in the hope you’ll accept their time and wisdom.
That will happen eventually, but you first have to prove your worth. The podcast is more about you than your guests in those early stages.
Once you have what it takes to make a podcast work, plot out the first ten episodes.
A podcast is not something that you can create on a whim and then blag your way through. You need to prepare those initial episodes as they are the ones that will make or break your show.
They’re like the first few pages of a book or the first episode of a series—if they’re terrible, people won’t continue.
Entertain And Inform, Don’t Sell
Launching a podcast to promote your business is okay, but it’s not just a free advertising platform. If you’re not providing valuable content, people won’t listen.
Think about the shows that you watch and the reasons you watch them.
Would you be happy to watch a show if it was all ads?
You’re creating a show that provides value and entertainment, a show that has worth. It’s not an infomercial.
We’re living in an age of 5-second skippable ads, streaming services where even the slightest preview annoys people, and sponsored placements that are nearly always skipped. If you fill your podcast with nothing but the skippable parts, you’re going to annoy a lot of listeners, and they won’t return for your next episode.
You can still advertise your product or service, but it should be brief and left until the end. Alternatively, skip the ads entirely and wait until you build a following before trying to sell anything.
I discussed a similar concept when discussing building and growing a personal brand. Access to a vast audience is a unique marketing tool, but the marketing has to come later.
Consistency is vital with both quality and output.
Whether you decide to release your show every week, every two weeks, or every month, you must stick to that schedule and ensure the quality is consistently strong throughout.
Weekly is best, and every two weeks is also acceptable. Lisa Laporte doesn’t recommend posting a show every month as it’s hard to keep the interest of your audience.
Once you have the schedule down, make sure you stick to it.
Attentions are fleeting these days. If you build an audience from weekly podcasts and disappear for three months, that audience won’t be there when you return. They will have taken their time and attention elsewhere, and you’ll be little more than a distant memory.
That doesn’t mean you can’t take a break, but if you do, keep it brief and announce it in advance.
You can also prerecord and provide your audience with a show when you’re away.
And remember, if you‘re planning weekly shows for the foreseeable future, you must ensure you have enough content for 52+ shows. Don’t just assume that the content will come. Don’t try to wing it. Plan it, and if you lack the content, reduce the frequency, and spend more time in the planning stage.
Bring Your Passion And Work Hard
Creating a successful podcast is not a walk in the park. Podcast hosts make it look easy, but there’s much more to creating a podcast than sitting down for an hour and chatting.
Take my show as an example.
Every week, I sit down with an expert and talk shop. I enjoy it, and as it’s just an hour of my time, I don’t have much to lose.
First, I need to find the guest, which requires outreach and conversations. Most of the time, they come to me; sometimes, I go to them. And because I’m dealing with busy entrepreneurs, there’s nearly always a schedule conflict that needs to be fixed.
Once everything has been arranged, I create Excel files to plot the episode and ensure that all the right questions are asked, and all the best topics are covered.
After each episode, I write this blog, create a dozen social media posts, and chop everything into short video clips and snippets. This might sound like an unnecessary step, but I’m not Joe Rogan. I can’t rely on major platforms to promote my shows, so I must do the work.
You’ll need to do the same. A great podcast would be recognized and earn an automatic following in an ideal world. In reality, that’s not the case, and you need to put the word out.
And there’s more.
It’s also important to know what you’re doing and to be comfortable interviewing guests. If you’re an introvert (like myself), that will be a struggle.
Your first step, therefore, is to practice your chat. Talk in front of a mirror, speak with friends, or open Zoom, and let’s rip.
You will be anxious and awkward, and that’s fine. But it’s best not to let your listeners see you when you’re at your worst—iron out those wrinkles by chatting with friends or creating imaginary interviews in front of the mirror.
Pre-Record Some Shows
It’s always a good idea to pre-record a few shows. You never know when you’ll fall ill or just have a day when you can’t be bothered.
Maybe you’re overworked and tired. Maybe you’re hungover. Perhaps you just want to spend the day watching TV. Whatever the reason, you’ll be thankful for those shows when you have them.
They can be standard shows, best-offs—whatever you want! If you have those shows in your locker, you can give yourself a break when needed.
Get The Best Equipment You Can Afford
Buy the best equipment, but don’t go overboard if you can’t afford it. The most important thing is that you have a good mic and connection because if people can’t hear you or think you’re too muffled, they will stop listening.
They don’t care so much about video quality, but the audio is vital and should be your focus.
If you’re operating on a budget, skip the video, stick with the audio, and get the best that you can buy for your money. Video will drastically increase your overheads, and it’s not as important as audio.
Laporte recommends sticking with hard-wired connections for reliability and quality.
From my experience, I’d also recommend having a backup option, just in case the first one goes down. Think about how many Zoom calls you’ve had that have dropped or suffered issues. If you’re chatting with a friend, you can apologize, disconnect, and call them later. If you’re hosting a podcast, you risk losing your audience and simply can’t afford to have disconnections or other technical issues.
To avoid unforeseen issues, ask the guest to arrive early so you can check the equipment, ask some preliminary questions, and ensure they are adequately prepared for the episode ahead.
Think of it like conducting a sound check before you go on stage to perform in front of a big audience.
Appear On Other Podcasts
Appearing on other podcasts is essential for growing a successful podcast.
I have done it. Lisa Laporte has done it (otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this blog). It works. It’ll improve your brand, increase your exposure, and get more eyes on your podcast.
Just as significantly, it will also boost your confidence and experience.
If you struggle in front of the camera/mic and lack the confidence needed for your podcast, use your knowledge and skills to appear as a guest on as many podcasts as possible. Keep making those bookings until you have a few hours under your belt and feel more confident chatting with an interviewer.
Listen To Your Audience
Commenters have a reputation for being harsh. This is the internet, after all. But most of the comments you receive will be supportive and helpful, and that’s true for the negative ones, too.
If someone swears at you and offers little actual insight, you can ignore them. But if someone tells you they hated the show because of XYZ, you should listen to them.
It’s easy to dismiss these comments as little more than trolling. It’s hard to take criticism, and many people react to such comments by getting defensive and claiming that “the haters” are out to get them.
But that’s rarely the case; you need to heed their words.
If there are audio complaints, check the quality of your microphone and connections. If people are complaining that the podcasts are too long, shorten them. If the guests are good enough, look for better ones.
Your listeners will give you real-time feedback on every aspect of your show. Listening to them and rectifying the issues they highlight will ensure the show is better for everyone.
For example, I once knew an author who reacted incredibly negatively to every bad review. They would respond to these reviews and accuse the reviewer of being a troll or a competitor out to get them.
“Everyone else says the book is great,” they would argue, “so you must be lying.”
They referred to the “everyone else” as their friends and family, who were too kind to say anything bad. And so, this author ignored the issues, refused to fix the mistakes, and when they eventually invested a 5-figure sum in promoting their book, it resulted in a torrent of bad reviews and terrible sales.
Another author friend of mine received similar complaints, including a series of negative comments from someone out to get him. But my friend wasn’t deterred. Rather than getting angry or defensive, he paid attention to the comments and fixed the issues.
The worst of those commenters would highlight every single typo in his book and then write a bad review about it, admonishing my friend for the mistake. Rather than getting upset, my friend simply fixed the mistakes and re-uploaded the book, telling me, “It was free editing, so who am I to complain?”
The first author became disheartened and never wrote or published again. The second now has a very successful career.
Remember when you act aggressively and not proactively to those comments.
The $100,000 Question
Lisa Laporte provided some fantastic insights during our hour-long discussion. At the end, I asked for her best advice, an insight that every listener and reader should take away with them.
She responded that you need to “be an expert.”
Don’t go into podcasting because you want to make money. Go into it because you have something valuable to offer and can give listeners what they want.
Know your audience and your topic, build your podcasts and be consistent. Those are Lisa Laporte’s words of wisdom, and as she knows better than most how to make a successful podcast, you’d be well advised to heed them!
About Lisa Laporte
Lisa Laporte has worked as a Corporate Controller, CFO, Consultant, CEO, and Founder in a range of organizations, with a focus on startups, for over thirty years. Lisa has developed skills in growing companies, building successful and diverse teams, and establishing solid and profitable partnerships through company growth and income production during her career. Lisa has always approached her professional roles with an eagerness to learn and a drive to become the most successful leader she can be.
Lisa’s desire to succeed drove her to improve her abilities and seek new opportunities to broaden her professional experience.
Laporte started her consulting firm in her 30s after deciding she wanted to be an entrepreneur. During this time, Lisa relied on referrals from her wide network, which she had built over the years, and hired her first employee within a year. Lisa soon worked with over 30 companies, handling various C-level jobs. Lisa eventually decided that she wanted to pursue a different professional path, which led her to TWiT.tv.
She started Artisanal Agency after working her way up to the CEO position of TWiT.tv. Both companies focus on new media; the first is a technology-based internet broadcasting company, and the second sells advertising to other networks and direct clients.