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How to start a successful podcast

How to start a successful podcast

There’s a lot of technical information out there about how to start a podcast.

You can find many recommendations about the best mics and editing software (For the record, you can buy a pretty good condenser mic on Amazon for around $100-150 and create a pretty well-insulated space in which to record with some foam for under $50).

But what is the best way to start a podcast with style? How do you create a podcast that’s unique, popular, and also reflects your brand voice? 

This article will give you some ideas about the content you’ll need to make your podcast fresh and engaging. 

How to start a successful podcast

  1. What you need to start a podcast
  2. How to name your podcast
  3. Getting the right tone for your podcast
  4. Qualities of a successful podcast
  5. How to record a podcast remotely
  6. How to promote your podcast
  7. The most important thing

What you need to start a podcast

The most important thing to start with is an idea or a hook.

Your approach could center on a particular voice or viewpoint to your topic, whether it’s mental health, sports, business, or something else. What specific, unique insight can only you provide? 

According to Travis Tyler, the co host of the PandaDoc podcast, The Customer Engagement Lab, the core values of Panda Doc are:

  • Learning
  • Impact
  • Fun
  • Empathy

So, when deciding to make the PandaDoc podcast The Customer Engagement Lab, Tyler knew it was important to embody those four elements.

This meant that PandaDoc had a new, unique business idea that would be a “fun pillar of their new content strategy” — a comedy B2B podcast in Tyler’s breezy, casual voice.

Tyler and co host of The Customer Engagement Lab, Patrick Downs, Sales Enablement Manager at PandaDoc, got their feet wet by sharing hosting duties on a group podcast for Sweet Fish Media, producers of The B2B Growth Show.

It was Sweet Fish’s idea to pair Tyler with Downs, who has a significant following on LinkedIn.

This soft launch, which lasted about a year, allowed Tyler and Downs to learn all the ins and outs before diving in and launching their own show.

 Tyler’s number one tip?

Everything from outlining the episode, inviting a guest, interview scheduling, and interviewing that guest, taking that footage and then converting it into decent audio, activating the podcast by creating micro-videos and descriptions and blog posts for SEO purposes, and really kind of seeing all the behind the scenes — because there’s a lot that goes into it.

This also allowed them to create connections within the B2B Growth Show community, both hosts and listeners.

How to name your podcast

Naming your podcast is arguably the most crucial step when starting your journey.

Your podcast’s name is the first interaction potential listeners have with your podcast, so it should draw people in and let them know how you stand out from the many others out there.

Tyler recommends going to Sweet Fish Media and looking at their blogs and videos on how to name your podcast, so you can find your ideal audience. 

Your podcast name should be memorable.

Sometimes this means having a shorter name or using a play on words, but as long as your listeners leave your podcast knowing what name to look up next time they want to listen, you are in a good position.

A good thing to keep in mind when naming your podcast is “searchability.” If your podcast name has common phrases or words in it, it might be hard for new listeners to discover your content when searching online. 

Getting the right tone for your podcast

You’re certainly hoping to generate sales, and the best way to do that is by having your tone feel friendly, casual and warm.

Your aim is to make listeners feel like they’re among friends. As Patrick says outright on an episode of The Customer Engagement Lab devoted to outreach, they are “offering community.” 

On The Customer Engagement Lab, Travis and Patrick talk about the importance of breaking the rules to make sales.

This is a good rule for podcasting, too. Even if your podcast is unique to a specific industry, don’t feel like it has to be very technical. 

Make your podcast feel casual, and keep the jargon to a minimum

Make it a bit irreverent. As with successful ad campaigns, you’re trying to catch the attention of your listeners.

It will be a matter of balance, and it goes without saying that using humor is not an excuse to be hurtful. You have to consult your own core values while being mindful of your audience’s feelings. 

In Travis’s words,

“I’m pushing the boundaries and the limits of where people are comfortable, without losing my job! I’ve been given the freedom, I’ve been told to swing for the fences, and I swung. It’s happened a couple times where it’s like, let’s take that out. Let’s turn that back. And that’s, I think, totally normal, especially as you’re first starting out in the show for everybody to kind of figure out what the tone is, where’s the line, and crossing it the only way you’re gonna know where it is if you cross it a little bit.”

– Travis Tyler

Travis sees those moments as a learning opportunity, as he tries to get the tone of the show right, pushing boundaries while making sure that he is not compromising the point of a B2B podcast.

If you have two hosts who enjoy one another’s company, they can banter and bring up different points of view.

Tyler points out that he generally plays the voice of reason on The Customer Engagement Lab, while Patrick is the more out-there comedic one. The two hosts may disagree, but their disagreements illuminate the issues they are discussing. 

Most importantly, their disagreements are fun and lighthearted. This leaves an impression that the brand is thoughtful, fun and helps increase your business. 

Qualities of a successful podcast

1. Humor

Humor is very important to making podcasts entertaining and memorable. It can also be a great “in” for topics that could otherwise be dry.

What if you’re not particularly funny? This is where sharing the stage with a co host is so important.

It can be challenging for someone to be funny on their own, but if two hosts (and guests) have an entertaining interplay, the fun and humor that come with it will attract listeners to your podcast. 

Chemistry and banter can be equally as, if not more, important than coming up with an amazing one-liner, for example. 

“Stay true to your core values,” Tyler advises. “If you’re more inclined to technical, serious, informative content, then go that route.”

– Travis Tyler

But if, like Tyler, you mostly listen to comedy podcasts, follow your inspiration and values in that direction.

Choosing fun, interesting guests will, of course, make your job that much easier in terms of getting light, memorable interactions and giving the show a humorous quality.

As Tyler says, “make sure to find guests that match your vibe.” Funny, true anecdotes are also generally more engaging than one-liners. 

You also have to know your audience. Tyler and Patrick’s humor is very much geared toward people in sales, and they cover topics like “why LinkedIn is such a cringe-fest.”

This is obviously going to resonate mostly with people who spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. You can gear your humor to whoever your audience is.

2. Curiosity 

Genuine curiosity from hosts will yield thoughtful answers from guests.

Tyler stresses the importance of asking questions that will lead to interesting responses.

“There’s usually one question I ask every guest,” he says, “which is, what have you recently bought in your personal life that you were either sold or marketed to, or had an amazing or terrible customer experience?” 

– Travis Tyler

Remember, though, to stay flexible enough in your questioning and listening to see where an interview might lead.

Tyler recommends taking about an hour and a half to prepare. More than that and “you aren’t flexible enough to go off script,” but less than that can lead to a disorganized episode.

3. Openness 

Be open and candid with your co host and your listeners.

It makes for a much more engaging show when your listeners feel like they are learning something honest about you. In Tyler’s words, “take risks and beg for forgiveness later.”

In podcasting, you can always edit things out that don’t work, so you might as well take the big swing in your conversation or interview and see where it leads. 

Tyler was also open to feedback on what was and wasn’t working, which led him to break the show up and incorporate other clips, like from YouTube and TikTok, so it wasn’t just him and Patrick talking to each other the whole time.

4. Substance

Your listeners should come away with the idea that they learned something substantial.

For example, in an interview with PandaDoc CEO Mikita Mikado, Tyler learned the importance of uniqueness when writing a cold email to a potential customer.

In Mikita’s case, a video of “a guy with a heavy Australian accent using a panda puppet” indeed got his attention, even if he did not ultimately use the guy’s product.

And the most important entrepreneurial lesson he’s learned? That “his job is going to change, year by year and quarter by quarter, and if [he] is going to be capable of doing this job, [he has] to be open to change, as well.”

5. Difference

Tyler’s idea of a comedy B2B podcast came about because he “just wanted to bring something different to the table.” What’s the thing that you can bring to your podcast to make it stand out? “Look out into the market and see what’s there,” Tyler says, “and be inspired.”

How to record a podcast remotely

Video-calling software like Zoom “gets the job done,” as Tyler says. Zoom allows you to record your interviews with guests, and the audio quality is quite good.

You can still use free Zoom and do not need to upgrade so long as you keep your interviews under 40 minutes. 

AI transcription software, like Otter.ai, can help you see the entire interview written out and allow you to more clearly see where to cut and where the best pieces of conversation are.

You can edit on free software like GarageBand or Audacity on any laptop. 

Sound design programs like ProTools are a bit more advanced but can allow you to give your podcast a bit more polish.

How to promote your podcast

Promoting a podcast can be more work than it initially seems. In fact, sometimes, promotion can take more time than actual podcast production.

Give it some thought. As mentioned, Tyler learned by seeing what SweetFish does with their B2B videos. 

For you, it could mean making micro-videos, writing blog posts to promote your podcast, or working out strategic alliances with other podcasts, for example, having their hosts on as your guests.

The most important thing

Just start!

It’s a delicate balance, Tyler notes, in that everyone will advise you not to get hung up on the technology but then, like him, you might get feedback that “the quality isn’t that good,” so do some looking on YouTube for technical hints, but don’t get paralyzed, either.

Focus on the style you’re bringing to your show. You’ll learn new skills and techniques as you continue to produce content.

And don’t forget to check out Travis and Patrick in action on The Customer Engagement Lab!

Bethany Fagan

Bethany Fagan Senior Manager, Content Marketing at PandaDoc

Bethany is the Senior Manager, Content Marketing at PandaDoc. She has over 10 years in the sales and marketing industry and loves crafting new stories and discovering new content distribution channels. Outside of the office, she spends her time reading, working out at Orangetheory or trying a new Brooklyn brewery with her husband and two French Bulldogs, Tater Tot and Pork Chop.

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