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Turning Your Idea Into a Marketable Podcast

Creativity coach Judith Kampfner provides top tips on the creative life.

Key points

  • According to one Nielsen report, podcasting output will double by 2023.
  • If you have an idea for a podcast, first start recording and experiment. It may take as many as six shows to decide on your vision.
  • Study the market and formulate a compelling pitch to production companies for more exposure.
Eric Maisel
Creativity Coaches on Creativity
Source: Eric Maisel

Creatives in every creative discipline find themselves not only needing to create well but also needing to promote their wares in the many vast, diverse, and diffuse creative marketplaces.

For one creative, an academic, that promoting may look like grant proposals. For another creative, an artist and art teacher, that promoting may come in the form of webinars and videos. Nowadays, one of the most popular promotional tactics is the podcast series. In today’s post, creativity coach Judith Kampfner explores this theme.

Judith explained:

Creating your podcast

Podcasting is on a meteoric rise. According to a current Nielsen report, podcasting output will double by 2023, advertising revenue is now 1.33 billion, and there are 30 million active episodes in the podcast ecosphere.

So, maybe you have an idea for a podcast show or series. Perhaps it’s a distillation of your work, perhaps you have an audio archive from your family, or you are going to keep an audio diary. Or you’ve decided you want to record conversations. I think it’s often stronger if you pick people of different age groups and backgrounds, and certainly, you must have voices that the listener can distinguish between. There are many podcasts between friends where you can’t tell them apart.

It helps if you have an idea but sometimes you can just start recording and experiment. There’s so much free editing software, and of course, you would need a decent mic, but those are inexpensive nowadays. Don’t be scared to edit your conversation, throw (copyright-free) music and sound effects you’ve recorded onto different tracks, and play with it! If your idea is a chat, talk, or interview show, it makes sense to try ideas out on tape. It’s wise to have at least six shows made before you have one that you feel showcases your vision.

Pitching your podcast

If you want to make a narrative long-form true crime or investigative series, then it’s better not to offer a prospective production company any audio unless it’s of the standard that you want listeners to hear in the final version. Instead, have a very strong query letter explaining why you’re passionate about making 8 to 10 episodes exploring your story, a brief synopsis, and why you think you have a unique selling point.

In all cases, study the market. Do searches of audio programs (radio as well as audio and audiobooks too). Check out the companies making the shows you like and pitch to them. Say that you want to make a documentary about Buddhist monks and violence; a quick search reveals a documentary called Buddhism and Politics. That’s where to start pitching because that company shares your outlook.

Your pitch should be arresting and dynamic. You have to, in BBC parlance, "big it up." Be ambitious, have authority, and, yes, that dreadful word authenticity is relevant here. Oh, and practice your tagline on anyone who will listen. It’s got to be "grabby."

So, a positive result of the query letter is, “Yes, please, send the outline.” Have a short paragraph ready outlining each episode. The pull of a celebrity does give you a leg up. Explain your ideal audience demographic, your plans for promotion, and your social media following as well as that of any member of the cast or crew who has a significant social media presence.

You’ll offer an audio teaser. This might be a montage with or without an introduction, but you’ll demonstrate the host or main expert’s voice.

If a production company is interested, you’ll probably have to go through months of revisions of the basic idea, outline, perhaps title, and perhaps talent. You need to be flexible. They’ll want you to commit to probably a minimum of six months of output.

Think of when you want the podcast to launch. It’s great to have a "hook." Is there a historical anniversary? Might it fit Father’s Day? Or is your host about to star in a TV series? Marketing folk also like the "It’s X Meets Y" trope. For instance, if you’re investigating corruption in the contemporary Spanish monarchy, you might say Rome meets Game of Thrones meets The Crown!

Enjoy! Podcasting is relevant, popular, and growing. Catch the wave!

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