By Kati Neville
Before launching our podcast, The Saver's Kitchen, my co-host and I had to consider our target audience, goal, theme, format, and length before we even began looking into the technical aspects of production.
My advice for first time podcasters is to focus on the structure of your podcast before getting technical. To start:
Identify your target audience. As a professional writer, you already know the importance of audience identification. For podcasting, it's just as important but don't be fooled into thinking that it's only people with iPods who listen to podcasts. In fact, 75% of the podcast audience is "streaming." That means that the majority of podcast listeners are listening from computers without a portable media device. If you only base your research on the people you see using iPods, your analysis could be skewed.
Clarify your goals. What are you trying to achieve with your show? To educate or entertain your audience? My goal for my show is to educate my listeners. Sometimes that means I educate prospective readers about my latest cookbook, Fix, Freeze, Feast. Other times, I share tips that current readers might find useful. Set your goal and make sure you stick to it.
Internalize your theme. Heed Holland Cooke's advice: "Your stuff has got to be espresso; ramble at your own risk." Serious podcasters don't abuse their forum: this isn't open mic night and it isn't a personal journal. Select your topic, stay focused, deliver value, and be succinct. The theme of my show is: "Money and time-saving tips for the freezer, the kitchen, and beyond." It is my compass. I evaluate, incubate, and deliver every show with it in mind.
Select a show format. Consider how your information will be presented to the audience. Innumerable ways exist to organize and deliver ideas. You could go solo, preparing and discussing a topic alone. A colleague might interview you, the expert. Or maybe you're the interviewer. By studying other podcasts, you'll find additional examples. Select one or more formats that are comfortable and authentic for you.
Tailor the show length. Successful podcasters tailor the length of each episode so it's convenient for listeners. Let's say your show is about caring for pets with dietary restrictions. No doubt a portion of your audience will be dog-owners, who will listen to your show while walking the dog. Your show should be as long as the walk. You get the idea here. How long does it take for the soccer mom to fold laundry? How long is that amateur rock climber's lunch break? Pick a show length that fits your audience and theme.
Podcasting is fun and exciting, to be sure. But don't forget to slow down and work the details, like show goals, format, and length. Investing time determining show structure is your first step to success.
Kati Neville is coauthor of the best selling cookbook, Fix, Freeze, Feast. She is a contributing editor for The Saver's Kitchen podcast and regularly blogs on The Forklift. Kati teaches cooking classes in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. When not online or teaching, Kati enjoys writing and tasting new recipes in her kitchen.