What Makes a Good Podcast? Here’s What Listeners Want

There’s no point in making a boring podcast. If your content quality isn’t good enough to bring the masses in, you might as well use that studio mic as a paperweight.

But you don’t want to be a boring podcaster—you want to wow listeners with the incredible insight you bring to your niche each time.

So in this article, you’ll learn the key elements of a great podcast. It’s podcasting 101, and you’re sitting pretty in the front row—let’s get started.

1. Planned-Out Episodes

Your podcast’s episodes shouldn’t feel like a free-flowing discussion between friends.

If podcasts were paintings, well-structured episodes would be Mona Lisa, while free-flowing discussion episodes would be more like a finger painting your three-year-old niece made.

Don’t get me wrong, I know you love your three-year-old niece, but her finger painting isn’t going to blow anyone away.

Well-structured episodes have a clear beginning, middle, and end. They’re easy to follow and usually have some arc or narrative.

And most importantly, each episode feels complete—like you’ve learned something or taken away something valuable by the time it’s over.

2. Insightful, Passionate Hosts

Passionate hosts are the lifeblood of a great podcast—they make the show what it is.

Passionate hosts are usually experts in their field and use their platform to share their knowledge with the world. They’re also generally great communicators who can keep listeners engaged for the entire episode.

And finally, passionate hosts are usually pretty entertaining, making a much more enjoyable listen than someone rambling aimlessly or monotonously.

3. Actionable Tips and Advice

Your podcast should be more than just entertainment—it should also be informative. After all, if listeners can’t take away something valuable from your show, what’s the point?

The best podcasts offer helpful, actionable tips and advice that listeners can use in their everyday lives.

So whether it’s tips on being more productive or starting your own business, your podcast needs to add relevant value to real people.

4. Interviews With Interesting Guests

If your show is mostly just you talking, it’s going to get pretty dull pretty fast. That’s why the best podcasts usually feature interviews with interesting guests.

Interviews add variety to your show and give listeners a chance to hear from people they might not otherwise hear from.

And if you can get big-name guests on your show, even better—it’ll make your podcast gain a ton of press.

5. High-Quality Audio and Production

This one should be a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Your podcast’s audio quality should be top-notch—anything less than that is amateur hour. Invest in a good microphone and record in a quiet, echo-free environment.

And while we’re on the topic of production, make sure your episodes are edited well. No one wants to listen to a podcast that sounds like it was recorded in a wind tunnel.

6. A Focus on One Specific Niche

The best podcasts are usually focused on one specific niche.

They’re not trying to be everything to everyone and aren’t afraid to alienate listeners who disagree with their stances or aren’t interested in their topical matter.

Instead, they’re focused on a specific group of listeners, and laser-focused on giving them what they want. This focus allows them to go deeper and provide more value than a general interest show ever could.

7. Detailed Show Notes and Transcripts

Your listeners are probably pretty busy people. So they don’t have time to sit down and listen to your show from start to finish every time you release a new episode.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to consume your content—you just have to give them other ways to do it.

Detailed show notes and transcripts with each episode are how.

They lead people quickly scan the show notes to see if the episode is relevant to them, and if it is, they can read or skim the transcript to get the main points.

They might even give it a listen!

8. A Consistent Release Schedule

My favorite podcasts release on a consistent schedule—usually once a week. This lets listeners know when to expect new episodes and makes it easy to follow.

Plus, a consistent release schedule is easier to promote and get press for. If you’re all over the place with your release schedule, it’s going to be hard to get people to pay attention.

9. High-Quality Artwork

Your podcast’s artwork is like a book’s cover—it’s the first thing people see and needs to be good.

Your artwork should be high-quality, on-brand, and eye-catching. It should also be sized correctly for your show’s various platforms (more on that in a second).

And thanks to deep learning AI, you don’t need to pay thousands for good art now. Instead, tools like DALLE-2 can deliver incredible artistic scenes on demand and for cheap.

10. A Professional Website

Your podcast should have a professional website where listeners can learn more about the show, listen to episodes, read transcripts, check out show notes, and more.

Your website is also great for promoting your show, selling products, and running ads.

And thanks to platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix, you can easily create a professional website without any prior experience or design knowledge.

11. A Strong Social Media Presence

A strong social media presence is critical for any business in the 21st century, and podcasts are no exception.

Your podcast should have active social media accounts on the major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), and you should regularly post engaging content that promotes your show.

Social media is also great for connecting with listeners, building relationships, and getting feedback.

12. A Comprehensive Marketing Strategy

No matter how good your podcast is, it’s not going to be successful if no one knows it exists. That’s why you need a comprehensive marketing strategy to promote your show.

Your marketing strategy should include everything from PR and influencer outreach to paid ads and content marketing. And it should be tailored specifically to your show and your target audience.

13. A Focus on Listener Engagement

Engaging podcasts focus on listener engagement.

They’re not afraid to take risks or experiment with their format and always look for new ways to keep listeners coming back for more.

And while listener engagement can take many different forms, there are a few key things all the best podcasts have in common:

  • Regular opportunities for listeners to interact with the show (e.g., through social media, email, etc.)
  • A focus on building long-term relationships with listeners
  • An understanding of what listeners want and what they care about

14. A Commitment to Quality

The best podcasts are committed to quality—both in terms of the content they produce and the way they produce it.

They’re not afraid to invest in high-quality audio equipment, professional editing, and top-notch artwork. And they’re always looking for ways to improve their show and make it the best it can be.

15. A Willingness to Experiment

Good podcasts are always experimenting—trying new things, testing new formats, and pushing the envelope. They’re not afraid to take risks, and they’re always looking for new ways to stand out from the crowd.

This willingness to experiment allows them to continue growing and evolving as their show evolves, and it’s one of the key things that separate the best podcasts from the rest.

16. A Focus on the Future

Keep your podcast focused on the future. Be always looking for new ways to improve your show, reach new listeners, and make a bigger impact.

Focusing on the future lets you stay ahead of the curve and stay relevant as the podcasting landscape continues to change and evolve.

17. A Dedication to Continued Learning

The best podcasts are always learning—taking courses, attending workshops, and reading books. They understand that there’s always more to learn, and they’re always looking for ways to improve their show.

This dedication to continued learning allows them to produce better content, reach new listeners, and make a bigger impact.

18. Engaging Storytelling

Great podcasters are great storytellers.

They understand how to capture listeners’ attention and hold it for the duration of the show. They know how to build suspense, create cliffhangers, and deliver satisfying payoffs.

And while storytelling might not seem like an essential skill for podcasts, it’s actually one of the things that set them apart from other types of content.

19. Good Podcast SEO

Just like with any other type of content, people need to be able to find your podcast if they’re going to listen to it. Search engines are how people find things, and SEO focuses on optimizing content.

Podcast SEO is technical, but it’s not impossible. The hours you spend learning how to do it will yield unbelievable returns.

Compelling Podcasts Are an Investment

Podcasting—like most things—isn’t as simple as it seems. It’s not just about propping up a mic and getting a few buddies together to talk—at least if you actually want viewers.

It’s about making a dedicated, intentional effort to provide the most value possible. And with that—and a few cool guests along the way—success is inevitable.

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