Podcasts don’t just magically appear on the internet. A lot of work goes into producing them before and after they’re recorded. Learn what that entails.
The world of podcasting has grown beyond belief over the last few years. These days, you can find a podcast covering just about any topic. But behind the world’s top audio shows is an entire team of people who bring it to life. One of the most important roles? The podcast producer.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the ins and outs of how to produce a podcast, you’re in the right place. We’ll give you a rundown on what a podcast producer does, why they’re so important in the creation, production, and marketing of shows, and how you can start to find podcast production jobs of your own.
You may think that producing a podcast is quick and easy. Grab a few microphones, sit down and press record, and send it out into the world!
But if you look at any professional podcast producer job description, it’ll quickly become apparent that there’s much more to the role. In fact, the role of a podcast producer is one of the most important on the creative team. It’s their job to oversee every aspect of bringing the podcast to life, from beginning to end.
The very first part of the process is to make a plan. As the producer, you’ll work with the “on-air” talent (otherwise known as the people who are actually speaking on the show) to come up with topic ideas, identify potential podcast guests, shape each episode’s contents, and secure advertisers.
Everything should be mapped out before you ever record, so that your scripts stay consistent with your goals for the podcast and your audience knows what to expect when they tune in on upload day.
Once a show has reached a certain level of recognition, it often brings on podcast sponsors and offers a select number of podcast advertisements in each episode. This is a great way for podcasts to make money and help cover production costs like hosting, recording software, new equipment, and paying the team.
As a producer, you’ll play a key part in pitching potential podcast sponsors and filtering through requests that come in from brands who are interested in advertising with you. Remember, though, not all podcast advertisements are created equal, and part of the job is thinking about the types of companies that will resonate with your audience.
If you’re working on an interview-style podcast, one of the most important parts to nail down is who to invite onto the show. If you’re working on a brand new podcast or seeking to secure high-profile guests, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The best way to approach someone is to have a compelling argument: What’s in it for them, and what will they gain from being on your podcast?
Have a clear vision of the podcast’s target audience in mind, and use this in your pitch email to potential guests. Especially if you’re contacting someone who has authority in your industry or topic area, they’re likely being pitched to appear on hundreds of podcasts at any given time. Think about what you can do to make your show stand out from everyone else.
Once you have guests lined up, you’ll want to work them into the production schedule (more on that in a moment). Find a day and time that works for everyone to record, and send pre-interview questions and information to your guest at least a week or two in advance so that they can prepare.
How to Make a Podcast: Plan, Record, and Launch with Success
It’s the job of the producer to make sure that everything is running smoothly, and the best way to do so is by sticking to a production schedule. A good schedule will outline all of the different elements of the production process, from pre-production meetings and planning to post-production editing and publication for upcoming podcast episodes. Deadlines and due dates will be clearly outlined, along with who is responsible for each part of the production process.
In many cases, a production schedule is planned out months before the pre-production steps and recording of each episode. This could be on a per-season basis for a show. Or, if a show runs continuously throughout the year, it’s not uncommon to plan three to six months ahead of time.
To put it simply, the production schedule is the go-to resource for knowing what’s happening and when, and the podcast producer oversees everything that’s on it. They’re responsible for making updates, communicating them to the rest of the team, and addressing issues or concerns.
On recording day, the podcast producer will set up the equipment and run tests to ensure that everything is working correctly. This is especially important when there are guests appearing on the podcast, so a producer will likely ask a few test questions once a guest is in the studio or on a call to make sure that their audio is being recorded properly.
Once the recording begins, this is usually the easiest part of the process for the producer! If all of the necessary prep work has been done correctly, you can sit back until it’s time to wrap and move onto the edit. That said, there may be a few moments that will obviously need to be edited out or fixed, so listening carefully and taking notes can help speed up your work later on.
What gets left on the cutting room floor and what stays in the final episode can make or break a podcast. You should have a well-honed editing process to help you work quickly and efficiently, from importing the audio into your editing software all the way through to adding intros and outros before the final review.
One of the most important parts of the edit is mixing and mastering, where you’ll adjust volume levels and clarity of the audio. This is especially crucial when you’re working on different audio tracks from multiple hosts or guests, as you want the overall sound to come through as if they were all in the same room together. The audio should be crisp and clear, with any errors removed and the compression balanced to keep the volume consistent throughout the whole episode.
Once the recording is ready to go, it’s up to the podcast producer to push the episode out into the world. There are plenty of finishing touches to tackle once everything is edited, from writing the show notes to uploading the episode to the podcast hosting site. From there, you’ll also be responsible for promoting the show and letting your audience know that a new episode is live.
Podcast producers work closely with graphic designers to create cover art for each episode, along with social media graphics that can be used by the podcast team and guests.
Finally, the producer will keep an eye on the analytics for each episode and make a note of any important data points. These are crucial when approaching sponsors or advertisers as they’ll want to see proof of just how successful your podcast is. From there, it’s back to the start of the process for the next episode.
These days, there are plenty of producer jobs that you can find online, but the best place to start is working on either your own podcast or helping someone you know so that you can gain some real-world experience.
Once you have more audio production samples under your belt, you can look for freelance clients (approaching your favorite shows and asking if they’re hiring is a great place to start) or apply for positions with agencies.
You’ll find that the average podcast producer salary is around $47,000, but can be higher for experienced audio technicians. Freelance podcast producers can usually earn between $40 and $50 per hour in their first few years of work.
A podcast is a creative and rewarding project, but like any other undertaking, it requires some skills, practice, and dedication to make it a success.
The best place to get started? Working on your own podcast or producing someone else’s. You’ll gain plenty of skills that will help you on your way to becoming an experienced podcast producer—whether you want to do it as a passion project, side hustle, or a full-time career.
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