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How to improve your podcast and find an audience

Microphone

Podcasts are the medium of the moment, with everyone from the NFL to local libraries recording shows about topics as broad as dental hacks and the history of gnomes over the last few years. The wealth of audio content available to download immediately is a boon for listeners, but it makes it harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. Here are four ways you can improve your podcast and rise to the top of the Apple Podcasts (or Pocket Casts) charts.

1. Invest in better equipment

Many podcasters start out simply recording their shows on their iPhone or via a basic microphone hooked up to their laptop. Such a setup is perfectly acceptable as an MVP, but once you have established that there is a market for your show, then you should start to think about upgrading your recording hardware.

Renting a small studio space could be well worth the money depending on your budget, but even if you don’t want to go that far, upgrading to a semi-professional microphone from brands such as Shure or Rode at £100-£250 is money well spent. Match these microphones with a budget audio interface from Behringer or Focusright and the improvements will be significant with clearer voices and less distortion and background noise.

2. Improve you audio editing skills and production values

Whether you have rented studio space or invested in some semi-professional hardware, the best way to make your podcast recordings shine is by learning a few basic audio production techniques. On the most basic level this means getting to grips with an audio editor like Audacity (free) and a few VST effects, as well as getting your head around ideas like EQ and noise reduction.

3. Hire voice talent

Not everyone has a voice for radio. Listeners are generally happy with regional accents as they bring “honesty” to a person’s voice, but sometimes regional accents can be hard to understand or maybe you just mumble a bit. If your listeners have complained about not being able to understand what you;re saying, maybe it’s time to think about bringing in professional voice actors to read the scripts?

Some podcast shows are made on a shoestring budget, and that’s fine. But sometimes professionalism is key, such as with business podcasts where people expect a certain quality of production values, and here choosing the right voice over talent could significantly help to give your podcast an edge over your competitors.

4. Add transcripts for SEO

Getting your new show noticed can be a difficult task, especially if you don’t have a link to any of the established podcast networks. Making sure your show is recorded well and scripted as tightly as possible is a large part of the issue, but getting found by those first few listeners still takes a lot of work and part of that is search engine optimisation.

If you are launching a podcast, it is now expected to have a basic website (Squarespace or WordPress are fine) and a podcast RSS feed so that the likes of Apple Podcasts and Pocket Casts can keep subscribers updated with your new shows, so it is only a small step to start offering transcripts of your shows.

Google and Bing/Yahoo mostly index written content, so to give your podcasts the greatest chance of being found it is a great idea to get the audio of your shows transcribed onto your website blog posts. Transcribing used to be a notoriously laborious task, and so few podcasts made the effort, but thanks to the latest update to Google’s Recorder app that is baked into Android 10, all that transcription can be done automatically so there is no excuse for not making the effort.

If you have a great idea for a show, hopefully these tips will help you find your audience.

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