Tips From the Trenches: 9 Lessons We Learned Making Our Podcast

There’s a misconception around podcasts that seems to always come up: it must be really easy, right? Since it’s just a few people having a conversation?

But if you’ve ever been involved with the making of a podcast, you know that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s so much work that goes into developing a good podcast, from finding the right guests to establishing a structure that works for you to figuring out a solid distribution plan.

This past year, Cari and I gained a new level of respect for podcasting as we worked on the first season of our very own podcast, Marketing Gets Real. Now that our first season is over (and shameless plug, you should listen to it!), we want to share what we learned during the process and our tips for those of you who are considering starting a podcast.

These are the nine lessons we learned:

  1. The content needs to be authentic and personal – no one wants to hear about your product.

Podcasts are very different from other forms of B2B content. To succeed, they need to feature real conversations on real topics, rather than jumping right to marketing to people. Instead, the focus for podcasts should always be on personal stories and experiences, which requires a much more B2C approach. Keep in mind that a podcast is not an ebook or even a webinar: people are much more likely to listen to it on their own time than during work and they want to feel it’s worth it.

2. Find an experienced audio editor and live by their recommendations.

Nothing kills a podcast like bad audio quality. No one wants to hear your sneezes, umms, and sips. Or worse, not be able to understand you. On top of doing the editing, an experienced audio professional can advise you on what equipment to invest in, how to get good quality recordings from guests, and what podcast platform to use. For example, we use Riverside, which is also used by big podcasts like Freakonomics. It records each person’s audio separately, so you never have to worry that one person’s quality will affect another. And we’d never have known about it if not for our excellent editor.

3. Save yourself: don’t record more than one episode a week! 

Every conversation needs its own time and space. If you’re recording three episodes in a week, it not only becomes difficult to schedule, but the content just isn’t as fresh or original. You can fall into patterns and repeat ideas from previous conversations – missing out on what’s new and different about this guest and this episode. You want time to prep and be excited about each conversation, and you just can’t do that if you have too many in a row. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

4. Schedule recordings during a time when you have energy. 

Happy hour is a perfect time to record a podcast, right? That’s what we thought! But Cari and I spend all day working with clients and our team on dozens of projects. By the time we make it to the late afternoon, we’re tired! Over time, we learned we need to record right at the beginning of the day, when we still have a full tank and can fully engage with our guests. Pay attention to what time of day you have the most energy and schedule recordings in that window. You’ll see a noticeable difference in your ability to have fun and facilitate a great conversation. 

5. If you’re doing a season, confirm all guests before you start recording.

 Take it from us: there’s no worse feeling than having to scramble to find the right person at the right time to join you on your podcast. But if you handle guest selection and confirmation in the planning phase, you don’t have to stress about it. Plus, you can be more strategic about finding diverse perspectives and shaping the overall story of your season. There are always emergencies and exceptions, but if you can help it, don’t press record until your guest lineup is final. 

6. Guests need structure, but rigidity kills a conversation. Stay flexible. 

There’s a delicate balance in podcast conversations. If you don’t give guests some structure and a good idea of your topic beforehand, they can flounder and end up totally off topic. But if you’re too stuck on an idea of what you want the conversation to be and don’t leave space for spontaneous additions, you’ll miss out on great content and potentially interrupt the flow of conversation. Besides, if the additions don’t end up being perfectly relevant, they can always be edited out later.  

7. Don’t stumble at the finish line – make listening and social sharing easy. 

You get a great guest. You record an amazing conversation. And then no one listens to it. Isn’t that everyone’s worst fear? It was certainly ours! One of the things we did to make sure that never happened was prepare our strongest supporters, our guests, and our UDG team. For guests especially, make sure to send them social links to share as soon as the episode goes live. You can even write the social copy for them, so they have an easy option if they don’t have time to write their own. 

8. Take a risk and test out new advertising channels! 

LinkedIn advertising is king in the B2B world, but it’s not your only option. We found that Instagram and Facebook gave us more bang for our buck and had surprisingly good targeting. But it has to be under the right circumstances. You need a regular presence on those platforms and time for them to grow, so people who land on your page recognize you as a real business that can be trusted. I’m not telling you to abandon LinkedIn at all, just that it might be time to consider adding other options to your strategy.  

9. Be prepared for the mess that is podcast reporting. 

Podcasts have been popular in the B2C space for nearly ten years at this point, which means they’ve definitely had time to figure out how to best track clicks, subscriptions, and listens. Yet I’m sorry to report that effective reporting remains elusive.  Thanks to the number of popular podcast platforms (nearly 20!!) and the different ways they all choose to share data with creators, there’s no easy way to track your success. And if you’re wondering about tracking leads through platforms like Marketo or HubSpot, it’s so far not possible. But don’t lose hope! It’s very manual, but there are ways to tell when you’re making an impact and even easier if you have an experienced team supporting you. 

Podcasts have arrived on the B2B scene in a big way. Webinars and virtual events aren’t going anywhere, but people are burned out on them – and podcasts that people can listen to on their own schedule are a great alternative. I have to say, Cari and I love hosting ours and our team loves helping our clients out with theirs, too. It’s a great connection point and conversation starter. 

If you’re thinking about starting your own podcast, we’d love to help you put these tips and others into action. After all, the heavy lift is much lighter with a few extra sets of hands. Let’s talk podcasts.