More and more South Africans are getting into podcasts – whether it’s on the creative, production or the listening side of things. And we’re eagerly waiting for South Africa to head in the same direction as the United States – where there’s been exponential growth in the medium, and in revenue, in the past few years.
Data by South Africa-based podcasting and streaming platform iono.fm indicates we’re on the right track. The CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) for South African podcast downloads and plays on iono.fm over the last five years was well over 30% – with approximately three-million unique users playing or downloading podcasts in South Africa in 2018 via this platform.
And let’s face it, these days anyone with a smart phone can make a decent quality recording that could be edited into a podcast. But a voice note does not a podcast make. With that in mind, here are six podcasting dos and don’ts for content producers, radio presenters or corporates.
Six podcasting dos and don’ts:
- Do take time to prep your material. Plan your topic for a series and for a single episode. You don’t have to write everything out; in fact that usually produces a terribly ‘staged’ piece to listen to, but some well thought-out and salient points will help guide your topic flow and give you a better result. Remember, there are literally hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there. What will make yours unique?
- Don’t rush yourself to fit everything into a predefined duration. Unless you’re specifically doing something linked to time, such as a motivational minute or a three-minute news wrap – you can be a little flexible on duration. You can always edit material down post recording. While there’s no magical length, the content needs to speak for itself. If you get your message across in a succinct five mins, over 25, that’s fine. But don’t pad for the sake of it. Nobody has time to listen to waffle.
- Do make sure that your recording levels are set correctly. Whether you’re recording your content in a studio, or using a smart phone microphone, there’s not much you can do if there’s voice distortion because your recording levels are too high. Even if the content is dynamite, you really can’t expect your audience to listen through a poor-quality interview. If you’re a novice ‘broadcaster’, mitigate against this by doing a short test recording, then playing it back to gauge levels, and then jumping into the proper recording. And there’s always free software like Audacity to boost levels that are too low, but otherwise undistorted.
- Don’t think that if you build it, they will automatically come. One of the hardest things to do in podcasting is attract an audience. Viral success only happens once in a blue moon. For the most part, it takes a lot of plugging away of the podcast episode/channel on whichever platform you have at your disposal (social media, or otherwise) to get it out there. And being consistent about the frequency of your podcast episodes is also important. Stick to a schedule and make sure there’s new content when you said there’d be.
- Do find an authentic voice. Being authentic makes you more relatable which in turn makes you more credible to listeners.
- Don’t be disheartened if you discover that your podcast episodes aren’t downloaded tens of thousands of times. While we hear reports of incredible download numbers from the big guns in the business, especially those in the USA where the medium is far more mainstream, those are generally the exception. Most podcasters achieve modest download numbers – and that’s okay. Find your niche and work at building loyalty and credibility among your followers.
Diane Macpherson is the head of on-demand content at Kagiso Media, overseeing podcasting for East Coast Radio and Jacaranda FM, and heading up ECR’s video unit East Coast TV. She’s been in this exciting new space for the last few years. Before that, she was ECR’s managing news editor for over a decade.
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