Pro-Tips From a Sex Podcaster
January 12, 2022 by Justin Lehmiller
In my previous post, I offered a guide on how to start a podcast. Today, I’ll be sharing some of the pro-tips I’ve learned from running the Sex and Psychology Podcast that can help you to build a better show. Here goes:
Listen to a Lot of Podcasts!
Before you launch your show, listen to other people’s podcasts to identify what keeps you hooked and what makes you tune out. My style has been influenced a lot by the other shows I’ve listened to.
For instance, I find it annoying when interviewers frequently interrupt their guests, so I strive not to do that. It’s also annoying when a guest raises a really interesting point and then the interviewer immediately shifts to another unrelated topic as if they’re following a rigid script instead of having a dialogue. Learn to have some flexibility and go where the conversation naturally leads. This is one of the things I love so much about podcasting–the conversation often goes off in directions I couldn’t have expected or planned.
Consistency is Key
The goal of any podcaster is to grow a loyal base of listeners who keep coming back for more. But if you’re not putting out regular content, your listeners will likely move on. Releasing content frequently will keep the momentum going by retaining your base and growing it steadily over time.
I release episodes weekly, which you might not have time for. So perhaps you’ll do bi-weekly or monthly releases instead. Or maybe you’ll do a couple of “seasons” per year. Find a frequency that’s right for you and your schedule and stick with it.
Be Patient and Persistent
It takes a while to build up a listener base—it could be months, or maybe even years. It can be discouraging to see only a handful of listeners in the beginning, especially when you’ve put so much effort into the show already. So go in with realistic expectations and recognize that it’s probably going to be a slow build unless you already have a big social media following you can draw on.
If your show has been around a while and isn’t growing, try to understand why and see if you can change course. Maybe you need a more compelling intro for your episodes, such as a short clip featuring the most fascinating part of the conversation. Perhaps the premise of your show isn’t clear and therefore isn’t connecting for listeners. Or maybe you need to retool your marketing and promotion. Before you call it quits, step back and look at the bigger picture.
Podcasting for a Small Audience Can Still Be Valuable and Rewarding
I find personal value in my podcast. For example, I find that I learn a lot during interviews, so I’m constantly expanding my knowledge base. I’m also always meeting new people and expanding my network. Plus, I think podcasting is fun! I enjoy the interaction and the spontaneous, exciting directions the conversations go. That’s why I started podcasting in the first place. I’m thankful that my show now has a sizable audience and is a source of income, but that’s not what I got into podcasting. I get a lot out of it (plus, it was a lifeline during the pandemic to connect with others!).
So there can be personal value in the show—but then there’s the service you’re providing for others. For instance, if you’re bringing resources to an underserved group or raising awareness of an important topic, there’s societal value in that. You can make a difference, perhaps even change someone’s life.
There can also be financial value. A small but devoted listener base in a particular niche can be a prime audience to some advertisers—but it can also be a powerful way to promote books or other services you might have.
Identifying Good Guests is Key, But You Need to Prepare Them (and Yourself!)
Be selective with your guest list. I spend a lot of time identifying my guests to ensure I’m bringing on folks who not only have something interesting to say, but are also good communicators in general. If I don’t personally know the guest, I usually listen to other podcast appearances they’ve made before extending an invitation because I want to be sure we’re going to be able to hold a conversation that other people will want to listen to.
I also give my guests a lot of information in advance of the show to ensure they’re ready to go at recording time. Some people are not as experienced as others when it comes to being on a podcast (some of my guests made their podcasting debut on my show). It’s important to give clear and detailed instructions, especially for novices (e.g., What do they need to know to optimize audio quality on their end? Are there certain topics/questions that are off-limits? Are there topics they are particularly passionate about?).
Just as you need to prepare your guests, you need to prepare yourself. Do your homework. Who is this person you’re interviewing and what makes their work interesting? The more prepared you are, the more you can help your audience really get to know your guest and hone in on the most compelling questions.
Expect the Unexpected
Consider doing a back-up recording during interviews in case your internet crashes or there’s a power outage. Shit happens. Having a backup can save you a lot of time (and anxiety!). I learned this the hard way—I was at the tail-end of an hour-long recording and everything crashed. I didn’t have a back-up, so we had to go back to the beginning. I’m determined not to have that experience again!
Lastly, have fun with it and be yourself! Your personality is a big part of what drives your show, so let it come through. Let your audience get to know you.
Got other podcasting tips? Share them in the comments section below.
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Dr. Justin LehmillerFounder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.Read full bio >