We have put together this guide for people who want to build an audience using their voice. In it you will find all the information you need to prepare, create, and distribute your audio product, whether it’s a podcast, live stream, or combination of both.
Why start a podcast or live stream?
Figuring out the goal of your audio product is important because it influences everything from the format you choose to the type of content and how you distribute it.
For instance, some professional services firms want to talk about their industry insight in a way that gives them credibility with their clients. That translates into a very high quality bar and a very small required audience.
On the other hand, a young aspiring influencer might want to start building a large audience as quickly as possible even though they don’t want to be on camera. That means they should choose a format and content that will have as broad an appeal as possible.
So – what is your goal? Do you just want to talk about your passions with a really engaged audience? Do you want to build a large following? Are you doing this for business, or for pleasure?
Answer those questions first and you’ll be in great shape. By the way – figuring ou your goal doesn’t have to take long, in fact you probably already know why you are doing it.
Should I do a Live Stream or a Podcast?
you start off, the first thing you should decide is whether you want to go down the podcasting path or whether you would like to live stream.
Each option has pros and cons.
If you do a pure recorded podcast, in which people download your podcast, then you can edit your recording, add sound effects, and increase the quality. By the same token, everyone else who does a podcast also has to do this type of producing and editing, so the quality bar is higher. From the standpoint of making money, you can expect to make about $25 or so for 1000 downloads of your podcast.
If you decide to audio live stream you generally don’t edit or make any changes in post production. But the production bar is much lower, and people tend to be far more forgiving (and engaged!) when the person speaking is live. In live streaming there is usually a tipping or subscription model. Our data shows that live streamers who are able to have 60 or so concurrent listeners are able to make about $25 in an hour.
A nice hybrid option is to record your live stream sessions and then upload them as a podcast. That gives you the benefit of both live interactions with your listeners as well as the benefits of asynchronous listening.
What topic should I choose for my podcast or live stream?
The most important ingredient to succeeding in building an audience of any kind is consistency. Whether it’s in writing, creating videos, or in creating audio content, showing up and delivering is the most important thing to building an audience.
Because of the importance of consistency, choosing a topic that will sustain your interest over time is the key to success or failure! If you can’t keep doing it, you won’t build an audience, it’s that simple.
In that sense, it is almost ironic that before you think of your audience, you have to think about yourself first when it comes to choosing. That doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert in the topic, or even that your topic won’t evolve over time, it just means that you should start with something that will keep you engaged before you keep your audience engaged.
How to choose a title for a podcast or live stream?
Your title strategy (and it is a strategy) is based on your goal. If you have a small audience that you will market to directly then your title can be distinctive and memorable even if it’s not related to your topic. It can even include your company
How long should a podcast episode be?
This question varies a little bit depending on whether you are doing a live session or a recorded podcast. Live sessions tend to build momentum, meaning that as users arrive on the platform and see a lot of listeners on a particular stream, they will join. So, longer is better while livestreaming.
If you are doing a recorded podcast, however, most episodes are 20-40 minutes long. That seems to be the sweet spot for listeners who tend to slot their listening time into natural breaks in their schedule, such as drive time, or right when they get home, or while studying.
When should I release podcast episodes?
Your release/stream schedule depends on three factors: how long your episodes are, how narrow your category is, and how much preparation your format requires. Let’s take a look at each of those in turn:
Episode length: some of the most popular podcast episodes are only a few minutes of “snackable” content. If you are podcasting, this allows you to produce many episodes in a single recording session, and a daily cadence is possible. On the other hand, if you need to create a 40 minute session there is much more preparation required and you may want to produce on a weekly basis.
This math changes a little bit if you live stream. Because live streaming is realtime, there is a limit to how much preparation and production you can do. It is therefore easier to do longer sessions. Also, live streaming is interactive and tends to be driven by questions and comments from your audience – this naturally leads to longer stream times. On Spoon we find that people often live stream for two hours or more because the audience dictates the content.
Category breadth: if your topic is highly specific it is less likely that you will be able to engage your audience for long episodes and high frequency. In that case you should plan on more widely spaced episodes and/or shorter ones. If it is a broad topic, though, or one that is driven by current events, then you can plan on higher frequency of streaming or podcasting.
Preparation required: this factor is likely to be the most important of all, and it is the one most people tend to forget about when planning their content schedule. It isn’t so much whether your hour long podcast takes two hours to record (which is conservative, by the way), it is that podcasts require a lot of preparation ahead of time (scheduling guests, scripting) and after recording (post production, editing). Think about how much production quality you envision, and factor that into how long your episodes should be.
Again – live streaming is a slightly different animal. The pre-work is similar in that you still have to schedule guests and plan out what you want to talk about, however there is no post production or editing, which helps a lot with making longer episodes.
What is the best equipment for podcasting?
Again, it matters whether you are going live or creating something prerecorded. If live, it is more important to have your recording equipment be portable so you can talk wherever you are. Apps like Spoon Radio use the microphone on your phone to deliver perfectly adequate sound quality for a live stream.
If you are recording a podcast, however, listeners have come to expect a slightly higher level of sound quality and production value. In that instance, we recommend, at minimum, that you have a quiet room with moderate soundproofing and a microphone whose adapter (USB B, C or Lightning Cable) fits your laptop or computer, whichever you plan to use to do your recording.
What music should I use for my podcast?
First and foremost – don’t use copyrighted music! The wild west days of using any music you want are over, and there are enough automated programs running out there that you will be called out for copyright violations.
As far as music to which you do have the rights, either because it is available under a Creative Commons license or you otherwise have permission to use it, you should choose music that fits your tone.
By that we mean that if you have a comedy show you should play upbeat music, whereas if you have a self help show about depression you should probably have music that is a bit more serious.
What software should I use to record a podcast?
There is a lot of software out there for recording an audio session. Probably the most basic decision you can make is whether you will be recording via your mobile phone or via an app. We have summarized some of the top software packages for each option below
- Spoon (obviously!)
- Garage Band
- Apple Logic Pro
- Adobe Audition
- Hindenburg Journalist
Like anything else, building an audience for your voice takes work and dedication. However, the most important advice is just to get started. We think audio live streaming with Spoon is a great option for getting started because you just click and go, but even if you choose another format just get going! And keep it up! Catch you on-air!
PS – you can download Spoon at the app download buttons below, or check out our web version here.