How can you make your podcast successful? Mexican-German Sabrina Scholkowski shares key pieces of advice

Sabrina Scholkowski is half-Mexican, half-German, and a full-time podcast coach, and speaker living in Paris. Her journey as a podcast coach started when more and more people started asking her for advice on how to do a podcast. As having her own successful podcast gave more credibility to what she advises, she decided to make a living out of it. In one The UnNoticed Podcast episode, she shared key pieces of advice on how you can make your podcast successful.

 

Image from https://sabrinasc.com.

Be Confident and Passionate

Although podcasting has been around for over 10 years now, it was only two or three years ago that it became mainstream.

One of the things that hinder aspiring podcasters to start their own is a lack of confidence. Sabrina shares that people think of themselves as a nobody: Why would people listen to me? I don’t have this fantastic business idea. I am not an influencer.

The statistics may also sound intimidating. There are about 1.5 million podcasts out there. But compared to blogs (there are around 500 million blogs online, yet people still continue to launch their own), it is a relatively small figure. Furthermore, of the 1.5 million podcasts, only half are active. Many stop producing content after about five or 10 episodes. In reality, you don’t have that much competition.

Sabrina points out that it’s because people don’t start podcasts for the right reasons.

The most successful podcast hosts are those that have a passion for them to keep their podcasts going.

When someone consults with Sabrina, she always asks about her clients’ passion — the topics that they can talk about for 20 minutes without getting bored. From the list of possible topics, she helps select the best one.

Topic selection is important because people can tell if you’re passionate about what you’re talking about. For instance, if you’re a marketing person but you’re passionate about sports, launching a podcast about your main job — which is marketing — might make you less driven to produce content. As you put less effort, it will reflect on your content and people can tell.

What Sabrina advises you to do is to actually merge marketing and sports on your podcast. You can talk about sports marketing or interview people that work in the sports industry. This will allow you to get ahead in business while being able to discuss what you’re passionate about.

Image from Unsplash

Don’t just start a podcast about a topic that you’re good at. For Sabrina, it’s one reason why many companies fail to sustain a podcast. They typically talk about corporate-related things (like how they run their business). If companies would feature their own people and let them talk about their products or humanise their CEO, that podcast will be more successful.

Choose a Production Schedule that Works for You

Podcasting has a wide range of production schedules. There are successful podcasts that run for five minutes daily. There are those that run for around three hours. Whether it will be a monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly podcast, Sabrina says that it boils down to choosing a schedule that is manageable for you — something that you can sustain.

When Sabrina was only starting last year, she aired one episode per week. She would only do twice-per-week podcasts during special events such as Social Media Week or Mental Health Week. When she did the twice-per-week schedule, it opened the opportunity for her to have more guests wanting to be on her show. This prompted her to consistently do two or three episodes per week.

If you are to do your podcast more frequently, you have to consider several factors, including bandwidth, the energy to release more episodes, the capacity to hire a team member, or outsource production or guest-booking. You also have to consider your goals and the speed at which you want to grow at. Again, it’s all about having that deeper why.

Find Your Level of Comfort

Unlike Instagram or other social media platforms, listenership statistics in podcasts are not publicly available. Sabrina mentions an article that she read and it talked about how some people fake their figures. While it’s certainly unethical, the point is that podcasting metrics are not really regulated and not yet well-established.

To a degree, it’s advantageous for people because it lessens the pressure.

Image from Unsplash

There are podcast hosts who don’t like talking to themselves and get a co-host. There are those who are comfortable talking about themselves and do solo episodes about their lives. There are also people who only do interviews. In the case of The UnNoticed Podcast, interviews are being done to feature guests who can use our five-stage methodology to grow their brand.

Then there are those who do a mix, including Sabrina. Recently, she found herself receiving requests from listeners to talk more about herself. She realized that the audience can have that desire to hear more about you as much as they want to hear about your guests.

The format really depends on the level of comfort that you have and the number of things that you want to talk about.

Get Feedback from Listeners

When getting feedback from her listeners, Sabrina heavily relies on Instagram and other platforms.

On Instagram, she has one account for her business and another for her podcast. She uses her podcast Instagram account to constantly do stories and live interviews. Every Thursday, she goes live and encourages people to give their comments and forward any questions. She also assures her audience that they’re free to message her on Instagram because she always responds.

Another way she gets feedback is through her friends and acquaintances, who send her text messages sharing their thoughts on her podcast episodes.

The key is letting your audience know that you’re open to having communication and getting feedback.

Set Aside Enough Time for Production Work

The basic rule in podcasting is to allocate editing time that’s twice the duration of your podcast episode. For instance, if you have a 20-minute episode, you’d need 40 minutes up to an hour to edit that episode.

Screengrab from Sabrina’s Pretty Sure Podcast on Spotify

Additionally, you’d need to allocate another hour thinking, researching, and planning your topics. Then, you’d set aside 30 to 40 minutes per week to promote on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other platform of your choice. Another hour will be for booking guests and checking if their schedule fits yours.

All in all, the bare minimum for a 20-minute once-a-week episode is about four to five hours. That’s 40 minutes to an hour per day per week.

Promote, Be Proactive, and Monetise

A lot of people have this misconception that the only way to make money through podcasting is by getting sponsorships, advertising, and getting picked up by a network. While these three are great options, they’re actually the hardest to accomplish.

For a network to pick you up, you must have a certain number of downloads. They have to see something in you and that’s subjective. Sometimes, it’s also all about having contacts. For sponsorships, there’s this notion that you need 10,000 downloads to attract sponsors.

If you’re counting on that, Sabrina advises you to go back to the drawing board and think of another idea. The truth is that you just need to have your things together. Create a media kit that talks about your audience and shows some results that you’ve had (e.g., you’ve entered the charts). Then, contact brands whose products you’d love to feature and review on your podcast. You can start doing this for free and once it gets traction, you can start charging. The amount is up to you but the common beginner’s rate is $150 per episode.

Another way to monetise is to promote within your platform. According to Sabrina, this method is not talked about enough but is actually effective.

For example, if you’re a podcast host that talks about marketing. In one episode, you can talk about the value of marketing and then include information about how your audience can hire you or avail of your marketing course. You can put links in the description and redirect your audience to those links so they will know how to find you or purchase your offering.

There’s also this so-called PR currency. Though you may not get money directly, you can be offered PR opportunities such as speaking on a summit or an online event or teaching a masterclass. PR currency can also create a ripple effect: An audience member from your previous speaking engagement can recommend you to a friend or acquaintance who would then hire your service.

By promoting within your platform, you can earn money by offering a product or service, and get PR currency, which is similar to word of mouth.

Choose Tools and Equipment that Suit Your Goals and Capabilities

There are free platforms for podcast creation such as Anchor, which was recently bought by Spotify (with this acquisition, you can guarantee it’s a quality platform). Though it doesn’t offer many metrics, it’s still user-friendly and free.

Image from Unsplash

For headphones, Sabrina says that beginners can start with what their mobile phones they already have. Whether you’re using a high-end microphone or not, you’d still need to edit anyway. It’s your skills as an editor that matter. You can produce a high-quality podcast with basic headphones.

For editing, she mentions Udacity, which is a free audio editing tool. She personally uses Adobe Audition because she’s already familiar with the Adobe System due to her background as a magazine editor.

You can start a podcast with $0. Once your podcast grows, you can spend around $300 — set aside $100 for a microphone and spend the rest for your hosting platform. From there, you can go as high as you want. You can go big and invest in equipment and tools that you think will give you your target Return on Investment (ROI). Again, it all depends on your goals.

If you’re thinking about podcasting, make it your own and have fun with it. And if you want to get guidance from Sabrina, visit her newly revamped website, https://sabrinasc.com.

 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast The UnNoticed, you can listen here.

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