The secret weapon for podcasters you’re probably overlooking

Podcasting is all about “doing”, right?

You switch the mic on, start recording, and you talk. It’s right here, right now stuff.

It definitely isn’t about reams of endless paperwork and forms. It’s not about policies or guidelines.

But there’s one thing you’re probably overlooking which would make your show better: the power of podcast planning.

It’s not the most exciting word in the world. I used to be on the management ‘planning’ team for a radio group and attended weekly ‘planning’ meetings. They were about as much fun as they sound. I’d get so frustrated because I got into the industry to make great radio, not to sit around talking about the pros and cons of changing toilet roll supplier.

That’s an extreme example (it really did happen) but the premise is kind of the same. Those planning meetings were essential for the smooth running of the stations, even if some of the agenda was uninspiring.

So how does this link to your podcast?

Processes are brilliant for podcasters; streamlining how everything works. Lots of template emails for guests, shared folders with your editor, saved snippets for your show notes…

Sometimes though, that can stray into becoming a bit of a production line. Are you so caught up in the day to day that you’re missing the bigger picture?

This is where a planning session for your podcast comes into its own. I have a monthly ‘pod planning’ day for my shows which has become super valuable.

It gives me a chance to take a bit of a step back and really see the next few weeks more clearly. What subjects do I want to cover? What big industry events or national ‘something or other’ days are coming up that I want to tap into? When do I have a break booked meaning I need to make sure I get ahead? Which four or five potential guests do I want to start warming up now so I can invite them onto the show a bit further down the line?

If it sounds a bit familiar to you, it could be that you’re already doing this for your social media. It’s become the norm to have a social media calendar and plan your content weeks in advance. It needs to become the norm for podcasting too.

I’m fortunate. This is what I do for a living, so taking a day out to plan my podcasts is something I can work into my monthly schedule. I’m not suggesting it’s practical for you to do the same, and if you have a boss it’s difficult to justify that time. But a shorter, well oiled session will do the job nicely.

You can have a fairly fixed agenda for each one. I’d always start with a short look backwards – what have you done in the last month, what’s worked, what weren’t you as happy with, what can you learn from it?

Then pull together ideas for episodes and guests for a month of content. Go through your own diary, your social media plans, your industry calendars and any online tools – if you Google ‘national day of’ or something similar, loads come up, but here’s a couple to get you started:

It would be too tight a timescale to just plan literally the month ahead, as you’ll need time to fix things up, so you want to be working a good two or three months in advance as a minimum.

Start a list of ideal guests. Who’s really caught your eye on Linkedin recently? Who’s changed jobs and would have an interesting story to tell or take on things? Add them to a working list and make initial contact before the next session.

I like to have a bit of a ‘bigger picture’ think as well. Am I happy with everything to do with the podcast? Is the show description still right? Does the artwork need updating? Does the website need any work? Is the overall direction still on course, or would I like to shift slightly over the next six months? Are there any subjects I’d like to cover in a series of ‘special’ episodes? If so plan them in and track progress over your next two or three planning sessions.

What works for you will probably look a bit different but whatever stage of podcasting you’re at, I promise you will benefit from harnessing (*turns up EQ and echo on voice*) the power of planning.

If you’ve been podcasting for a while and feel like you have hit a bit of brick wall and need some help with a bit of resetting and making plans to get back on track, we can help. Sound Media offers a range of growth and development services which can be tailored to your situation and – importantly – budget. Get in touch to have a discovery chat about how how we can help you push your podcast to the next level.