The great thing about the podcast medium is that different types of formats can work. If you’re a creative person, a podcast, although not visual can still allow you to express yourself and put your stamp on the production.
Although many podcasts follow the same format with one or two hosts featuring guest interviews, it doesn’t mean that if you follow a different path then you won’t succeed.
What about solo podcasting though, can you make a podcast alone and does that format give you the chance to succeed? Of course it does. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is just one hugely successful example.
However, there is more to consider and get right when presenting your show alone. In this article, we’ll share some of our top tips to help you nail it.
From planning your content to the way it’s delivered, by the end you’ll have a good idea about what lies ahead and how you too can produce a successful and fulfilling podcast that your audience will love.
Table of Contents
1. Become an expert in the topic
If you’re going to pull a solo podcast off, you need to know what you’re talking about. Without a co-host to fill in any gaps or kick ideas around with, it’s down to you to ensure that what you’re talking about is informed and is put across compellingly and authoritatively.
Before each episode, make sure that you research the topic thoroughly and that you take notes. Successful execution relies on successful planning and creating an outline of what you’re going to cover plus comprehensive notes for each point is critical.
Of course, you may not need to do as much research if you have a lot of experience in whatever it is you’re going to be talking about but creating the outline and writing down the points you want to cover will mean that the flow will be better and less time will be needed in post-production.
In any niche or industry, there will always be areas that you’re less familiar with so it’s worth brushing up on a few things before pressing record.
2. Research the questions people are asking
To make sure you cover a topic comprehensively, try to pre-empt the questions that your listeners might have about it.
Some of this will be intuition by knowing the topic and learning over time about the questions which get frequently asked. However, it’s always worth sense checking these and making sure you haven’t missed anything by using some free online tools.
The first one we can recommend is Answer the Public. This is a great tool that allows you to input a seed phrase and it then returns the questions which people are asking online about that thing.
In the example below, we used ‘Tulips’ as the seed word which might be relevant for a gardening podcast. ATP returned 80 questions about tulips which is a goldmine for helping you to plan a podcast episode all about tulips.
Another way is to simply use Google. If we search ‘tulips’, along with the regular results Google also displays the ‘People also ask’ box. Here there are four questions present but if you click into each one, more questions appear and you can end up with quite a few good questions you can use to help map out your content.
3. Find ways to engage with your audience
When you have a solo podcast, the connection really is between you and your listeners so where you can, try to involve them in the show.
Something as simple as inviting questions by email or interactions on social media can help to increase engagement.
A really good way though is to ask them to leave questions or comments by voice message. These can then be played on the show and you can respond accordingly. Doing this breaks up long periods of just your voice which will be less fatiguing for the listener. More on this later though.
4. Work on your delivery
With 100% of the focus on you and your voice, it’s key that you come across very polished.
Erms and ahhhs are your enemies so practice delivering your content seamlessly and learn to avoid those moments when an erm is likely to take place. If this is a common issue for you, start with Google – there are many articles online which share tips for dealing with it.
Another thing to brush up on is your tone. Avoid at all costs a monotone delivery as people will simply switch off (either mentally or physically).
Switch on the radio right now and listen carefully to the way the presenter(s) deliver what they’re saying. To you, it might just sound like somebody talking but that technique will have been practiced and refined over time. The trick is to overemphasize everything you say. Treat it a bit like a drama performance. It feels a bit silly when you first start and it will feel like you’re being a bit over the top but to the listener, it comes across so much better. Those professional radio presenters will have felt a bit silly when they first started but over time, it becomes much more natural.
5. Become an entertainer
Where you can, inject some personality into your show. Allow your listeners to get to know you and what makes you tick. Where appropriate, tell stories, and even jokes. People want to be entertained and they’re tuning into your podcast for that very reason.
Even if it’s a very technical or academic subject that you cover, try to bring it to life. To understand the importance of this, you only have to read the comments online about how people hated history class at school yet spend all their time on the commute listening to Hardcore History because of how engaging Dan Carlin is.
This side of podcasting might not come naturally to you, but it can be learned which is why practice and consciously focussing on it is recommended.
6. Mix up the format
Although familiarity is important as is finding a winning formula and doubling down, you don’t want to get too repetitive and predictable.
Where you can, try and invite the odd guest onto your show or have a special one-off feature now and again. You could also play clips by others (with their permission of course) to help you explain a concept or story.
Maybe even an industry news feature or a section where you talk about the products you’ve been using or a book you’ve been reading. Anything to just keep things varied which helps with engagement and stops your show from becoming stale.
7. Make it easy for people to listen
This one is so important. The fact that you’re flying solo means that you’ll need to work extra hard to keep your audience engaged so don’t let yourself down when it comes to production quality.
Poor audio is extremely fatiguing for the listener and even if your content is excellent, you’ll lose listeners if they can’t hear you properly.
Make sure that your levels are set well, the final edit is free of unwanted noise, you use a good quality microphone and you practice good microphone technique.
This is a big topic which you can find out more about by reading the podcast gear section of this site.
So that’s our 7 top tips for the solo podcaster. With the right level of dedication, careful planning, and a focus on production quality, there’s no reason why podcasting alone would ever hold you back.
There are lots of examples of solo hosts who have built up huge and loyal audiences. The one thing they have in common is how engaging they are. That will come more naturally to some than others but if you feel like you fall short in this area, put a plan together for how you’ll address it and don’t let it hold you back.
What Equipment do You Need to Start a Podcast?
You really can start a podcast on a shoestring budget if that’s what you want to do – you can even podcast without buying a microphone! However, if you do have some budget it’s always best to invest in a setup that will grow with you as a podcaster.
If you want to record straight into your computer, an audio interface and a good dynamic microphone will be enough to get you started and achieve good sound quality out of the gates.
Again, there’s lots of information about gear on this site so have a look around or go straight to our resources page to find out about the equipment we recommend.
Is it Worth it to Start a Podcast?
Success is measured in different ways and it depends on what your measure looks like.
Are you looking for a quick way to start making a living online? If that’s the case, podcasting might not be the right medium for you.
If however you’re looking to commit to podcasting for the long term and you want to build your audience by consistently adding value then over time, a podcast can be a fantastic tool to grow your network and establish yourself as an authority in your chosen niche.
Of course, you can monetize your show through onboarding advertisers and sponsors but the reality is that download numbers generally need to be significant for this to work well.