I have been podcasting for six months with my panel show The Comedy Arcade. The format throws three interesting people together for conversations dictated by a bingo ball of topics.
It's been a steep learning curve in terms of booking, editing and the sheer amount of marketing you need to do to cut through the noise and get your podcast into the right ears, but having a day job in marketing meant I knew a few tricks to get it further a little bit quicker. The sense of satisfaction from the smallest wins is unbelievable, particularly at the moment.
The Comedy Arcade started as a live stream show, and that meant I was able to 'take' an adapted version of it to Leicester Comedy Festival, where it was shortlisted for 'Best podcast', a huge milestone. I have been lucky to host some of my favourite comics as guests, with Sikisa and Mark Watson joining regular panellists Thom Tuck and Esyllt Sears for Leicester.
There are a lot of elements of podcasting that you can't plan at all for - some of it is being in the right place at the right time, some of it is pure luck - but here I have put together a few things I have learned along the way, for anyone who is thinking of starting their own podcast...
Start with a format
It helps the guests prepare, keeps you on track while recording, and ensures the listeners know what to expect each week.
That said, don't be afraid to tweak the format if an episode is flowing well, or throw out the things that haven't worked. Listeners are forgiving to changes while you're finding your feet.
Control what you can, be pragmatic about what you can't
You can leave things on the cutting room floor if you can't make it work, and - if possible - build in some margin to allow for that.
Just because someone else has done it, doesn't mean you can't
A USP can, and should, be you.
For every podcaster happy to jump in, there are a lot of people wavering on the sideline worrying they're adding to the noise. Remember there is no such thing as a unique concept, particularly with 885,262 podcasts being launched last year - the one thing none of those podcasts have is you.
Your perspective, your tone and your personality is a unique twist on even the oldest tricks in the book.
Share your own experiences
If you're interviewing, don't be afraid to share your own experiences as part of it - while it might feel like you're stealing the mic, it's building a relationship with your listeners.
Pitch your show to guests
In terms of booking guests, take the time to pitch your show and make it specific to how it fits them. If you can afford to, it's worth offering a fee for a guest's time. There are so many comedy podcasts out there, and it might be the thing that nudges someone to prioritise yours.
Learn the art of patience
Overnight successes are rare. Podcasting for most people is a slow burn, so try not to get too obsessed with the numbers and celebrate the milestones as you get to them.
Comparison is the thief of joy, so try not to compare yourself to others - if it's going up, it's going the right way.
If you're having guests on, big names may well attract more listeners, but it's rarely as many as you hope as there are only so many hours in the day.
I find it helps me to Google venues the size of my listenership, to remind myself how happy I would be to perform to that audience live every week.
Be their guest
It's not just good for your profile and your SEO footprint to guest on other pods, you can pick up a lot from the way established podcasts approach things - from a tech as well as a style point of view.
If there is a show you think you would be a good fit for then don't be afraid to ask, and when you are a guest, hype your appearances if you can. It shows you're out there, and it really helps the reach of the show when guests share, making booking future guests easier.
Get ready to work
The actual recording is the easiest bit. Editing and marketing is where all the hard work is done, and it takes up a lot of time. Have a good look at what podcasts like yours are doing to see if there are things you can replicate.
Don't worry too much about getting every detail perfect but, if possible, don't compromise on the editing. Bloated, uncut podcasts, and poor sound quality can lose you listeners before you have even got going. Don't give people any reason to switch off if you can help it.
No matter how prepared you are, things will always surprise you and a lot of the learning is done along the way.
The Comedy Arcade is available from wherever you get your podcasts. Listen now