Podcast Workflow & Content Strategy Secrets
Last Updated on February 16, 2023
In this season we have occasionally touched up our own podcast workflow. For those of you who follow us, you realize that we often talk about "podcasting as a content strategy". So as we approach the end of season 1 of our Podcast Growth Show, I thought it was time to zoom out for a big picture episode.
Basically, this episode is our blueprint to go from podcast content strategy to execution.
Podcast Workflow Overview
- From Podcasting Strategy to Execution Blueprint
- Seasons Strategy
- Podcast Episode SEO Research
- Episode Topic Identification
- Episode Recording Preparation
- Our Podcast Workflow Process for Video + Audio Recording
- Multi Channel Show Notes Syndication
- 1/2 Year Evergreen Social Boost Campaign
Here is how to listen to this episode on the web:
From Podcasting Strategy to Execution Blueprint
So I'd like to reveal our overall podcast workflow, all the way from strategy to execution. And in this episode I'll reveal all our little secret tips, tricks, tools and gear we use to save massive amount of time along the way.
For both new and existing podcasts, it is good to start with the end in mind, to have clarity about your audience, as well as confidence that the value proposition for your listeners, as well as the reason why you are doing a podcast is clear.
A lot of people just want to get started and hit the record button already. But unless you already have a dozen or so episodes under your belt, you will discover that there is a lot of planning involved. Especially if podcasting as content strategy is something even remotely on your horizon. I talk to new podcasters all the time, and some get lost in the planning stage. Let's discover how having a planning framework helps us retain clarity.
I'd like to go into how we approach podcast production ourselves. This is only one of many possible ways, and in no way am I suggesting you should adopt our methods. There is a lot involved, and it can sound scary. We tolerate an amount of complexity because it produces results for us. And complexity doesn't mean things can't be automated, simplified or even outsourced. Both complexity and simplicity can co-exist. For us, it's the results that count.
This entire season has been about how to promote a podcast. So we may already have covered some of the methods we use to promote each episode. I'll keep that segment short.
We like the concept of seasons, as it provides some amount of flexibility when thinking about the overall goals for your podcast as business content strategy.
Advantage of Seasons
Do we have a solo show or an interview based show? Do we have a co-host? Does our podcast have a theme? Would we like to try a different episode structure? Are we afraid your audience is getting bored with our content? What if we want to change up? Or are we suffering from "podfading" and just plain tired and need a break?
All of these can be addressed by organizing our podcast into separate seasons:
- They allow us to take a sabbatical from your own show if we need a break
- They enable us to develop focused themes for each season
- We can switch the format of the show, including who is hosting, guesting or if it's a solo show
- And all of that with no surprises for our listeners, as we announce the end of the current or start of the next seasons
- Each season is a good excuse for a podcast re-launch and much needed promotional activities
Value Proposition Design
I know a lot of podcasters who just barrel on producing episode after episode without ever pausing, re-thinking, changing direction or taking stock. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as the audience is with us on this.
Other podcasters plan each season carefully, and conceptualize exactly what they want to cover, who their guests will be, and most importantly what experience they want to create for their audience. Either way:
Periodically revisiting the value proposition of our podcast is an excellent habit.
But just how we do that? We have developed a process for developing a podcast's branding and value proposition. This Value Proposition Design (VPD) process is driven by over a hundred trigger questions designed to achieve clarity about our audience. To be more specific, clarity about what our listening audience is experiencing, what problems we help them solve or wrestle with, and what goals and transformation we help them achieve.
Not only that, there are also over 100 trigger questions to get us to think about how well our podcast topics match up to our audience desires, needs, tasks and expectations.
We have online forms for these trigger questions, and the answers we produce during this process are worth their weight in gold: They become a rich source of podcast themes, episode topics, SEO keywords, episode titles.
Think of your podcast as a product – with a market fit
This clarity is what you can when going through the VPD process.
Focus on Overall Goals
It is also important to keep focused on our podcast goals, and to periodically revisit these.
Perhaps we started out just wanting to have fun and get our message out to the world, but now we are finding ourselves wanting to build a list, or speak on stages, or to use your podcast as a vehicle to help promote a book. These are significant shifts in goals, and require significant adjustments to the way we utilize and market our podcast.
Strategy Planning Session 3 Month
Of course none of this has to do with the week to week podcast workflow of producing episodes in the middle of a season.
I'm just pointing all of this out as an important baseline activity that we try to do every 3 months or so. And to point out 3 things:
- If you are about to launch a podcast, take the time to go through the VPD process to achieve clarity and a product market fit for your show
- If you already started to podcast without any of this in mind, it's not too late to start and revisit once in a while
- If you have a podcast based on seasons, revisit your goals and value proposition for each seasons
Podcast Episode SEO Research
Why do we do SEO research for something audio based?
SEO = Developing A Business Asset With Positive ROI
Our own podcast website gets 65% of subscribers from SEO search. 50% of my new clients come from search. Our podcast is less than 2 months old at the time of this recording, and has yielded 4 new clients and many more prospects. Not from iTunes discoverability, not referrals. So our entire podcast workflow is based on solid SEO research.
You may think that this is all overkill. And again, I will point out that this is just the process we follow because it works for us and our results speak for themselves. BTW, we have a whole course on podcast SEO.
For Our Podcast, 80% Planning and 20% Execution is Normal
So the assumption is that we do have clarity about our goals and value proposition for the audience. At this point, we want to identify potential SEO opportunities and turn these into topics for our season long episode plan.
The goal is to be able to rank for our show notes pages.
And there are 2 important pitfalls that we avoid by doing some quick SEO research:
- If we target impossibly difficult keywords, we will never rank on page one in Google, and thus we will never get search result traffic or new listeners
- If we target obscure keywords that no one ever searches for, we may rank on page one of the search results, but no one will ever visit our podcast from that.
SEO Keyword Opportunities
I myself may have a bit of an unfair advantage, because Polymash started life in part as an SEO agency. So we have access to some enterprise level SEO tools.
But the good news for podcasters is that there are affordable and even free tools out there to do the same thing.
So here is a quick demo (at 13:50 ) of how we identify high opportunity keywords using Mangool's SEO suite, particularly the KWFinder utility. This is a central part of our podcast workflow, and KWFinder is by far my favorite and simple to use SEO keyword research tool. We have coached a ton of podcasters to use it to good effect.
It gets better: This keyword research tool is only on part of an entire SEO suite to quickly add the following capabilities to your podcast planning:
- KWFinder: Our favorite keyword research utility for podcasters.
- SERP Watcher: Allows us to track progress as you start ranking for your desired keywords
- SERP Checker: Provides deep insights into Google search results, and allows us to judge which keywords to target and which to stay away from
Converting Podcast SEO Keywords into Episode Ideas
So in the podcast workflow, once we have identified a list of keywords with potential, it is time to take these keywords and base our episode plan on these.
In our Google Sheets planning template we have developed a formula to address the following SEO issue:
Each site has something called Domain Authority and Alexa Rank, which indicates how likely the site's content will rank on Google. This means every site needs to target keywords that are commensurate with their Domain Authority and Alexa Rank.
For old, established and popular sites it is easier to rank for more difficult keywords.
But new site owners with low DA and Alexa rank need to choose key-phrases they can actually rank for.
The formula we have developed matches the domain authority of any site with the keyword difficulty to target on KW Finder. This is all about prioritizing high opportunity topics, from high opportunity keywords.
Google Sheets to Organize Output
We have developed a Google Sheets template to help map this out.
Episode Topic Identification
Here is the process we follow to identify episode themes and topics based on our Podcast SEO research.
SEO Based Topics
As I mentioned earlier, we base our podcast episodes on our prior SEO research. By the time we are mid-season, we usually have a range of potential topics for a season to choose from, and hundreds of potential SEO keywords to choose from as well.
Initially we develop working titles for each episode before we even incorporate relevant SEO keywords from our list. But at some point it is important to design episode titles with relevant keywords that fits the topic, and that are commensurate with the ranking power of our site as well.
Episode Title Optimization
The exact wording of our episode titles is more important than many podcasters realize. You can have a great episode, but if the title is not compelling, click worthy, interesting or thought provoking, people will never click through.
Sure, your existing subscribers may listen. But this is about attracting new listeners and subscribers. Just think about where your episode titles appear, and what role they play in your podcast workflow and the way people consume podcasts.
- People may see your episode title on their iPhone or listening device of choice. Will they be interested enough to tap and listen?
- People may come across your show notes and episodes as a result of a Google search. But will your episode title be compelling enough for them click through?
- Your episodes titles may appear on social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Will it arouse people's curiosity?
So what makes a click-worthy episode title?
CoSchedule Headline Optimizer
There are a bunch of tools out there that help, for example the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. CoSchedule is a well know the social media scheduling platform we use, and they have developed a wonderful tool for designing highly converting titles for blog posts as well as for podcast episodes.
The tool is free, and you can try it out here. Their recommendations are based on a ton of research, word usage and title patterns proven to be successful on social media. Their algorithm checks for the presence of unusual words, power words, emotional words and the structure and length of each title.
Of course, fair warning: Don't become a slave to such a tool.
Making Title Optimization Part of our Podcast Workflow
But my point is more about following this thinking process and formulating a range of potential titles. I guarantee you this: If you formulate only a single title for each episode, it will never be as good as if you formulate 7+ titles to choose from. So it is making this discipline part of our podcast workflow that makes all the difference.
Google Sheets to Organize Output
For us to stay organized and to collaborate on SEO research as well as podcast topic and title planning, we again use our trusty Google sheet template to stay organized.
Episode Recording Preparation
OK so we've finally gotten closer to actually recording an episode.
Pre Recording Notes
Our own podcast's current season is a solo recording effort.
Using StoryChief For Script Development Ahead Of Time
If you've listened to our previous episode "How To: Easy Podcast Distribution And Content Syndication [S1E08]", you would have learned about the StoryChief app we use to distribute our show notes to more than 16+ platforms.
But we also use StoryChief to develop our solo episode scripts. This saves us a lot of time later, after the recording process. And because this season is video based, the podcast workflow to incorporate video is by nature a bit harder.
If you are interested in giving StoryChief a try, they offer a free account:
Beyond this it's 5 stories for 10$/month, 10 stories for 20$/month, 15 for 30, 20 for 40, 25 for 50 up until 30 for 60$; and 20% discount if you pay yearly.
Episode Specific Template Google Docs
Google docs are great for collaboration with clients, and we have designed our template to work for preparing, ID3 tagging, and creating show notes.
Our episode preparation template on Google docs that works for solo, interview or co-host driven formats. We also use this for our own podcast, but that is for capturing titles, descriptions, video metadata, ID3 tag information, embed codes for the episodes once everything is done.
Episode Video Data
This season combines an audio podcast with a video tutorials, demos and more. Because we cross publish each episode to our YouTube Channel as well, it is important to formulate the YouTube tags, description and links for each episode, and again our template allows for this.
Our Podcast Workflow Process for Video + Audio Recording
Finally, after all this planning, we are ready to record something.
ScreenFlow Video Templates For Youtube Channels
I use a somewhat unusual setup for podcast + video recording. You may have heard of desktop screen recorders like Techsmith's Camtasia and Telestream ScreenFlow? These are screen recorders that also use your webcam. Many people use them for creating courseware or evergreen webinar content. We've used both extensively here at Polymash. But for our podcast workflow a clear winner emerged:
ScreenFlow launched an innovation this year that I had been looking for a long time.
It automates the production process with the ability to configure recording templates. These templates then place your video into a template with a pre-existing intro, outro, lower thirds, resizing and repositioning the webcam image as a picture in picture on the screen.
ScreenFlow templates save us an amazing amount of time for our YouTube channel
If you click play on the video above, you can see the effect. After the initial setup of my YouTube channel, I do nothing more to produce these videos, other than to press the record button. Clever, no?
If you are relatively new to podcast, and video is not something you are considering right off the bat, here is our review of several new and highly innovative podcast recording software
VEED, A New Innovative Video Tool For Podcasters
Ever since the COVID pandemic hit, a lot more work is happening virtually. And this means a lot of us are spending more time with video tools. A side-effect from this has been that video tools are increasingly becoming innovative. There is a new player on the scene that is especially interesting for podcasters.
This new platform is called VEED.IO, and here is what it does:
You can record and edit your audio or video podcast online. You can use their live streaming software to record your camera, audio, and screen then edit your recording straight away. Their video editing software features pro tools to help you make high-quality podcasts perfect for streaming on various social media and video-sharing platforms.
- Lots Of Creative Video Tools: Video effects and filters, subtitles, auto-transcription, video effects, drawing, cropping, progress bars and ways to add text are only a small part of all that VEED offers.
- Screencapture: VEED allows you to capture your screen with multiple layouts, including side-by-side, top-bottom and PIP (picture-in-picture) layouts.
- Podcast Audiograms: You can turn your podcast into a video, add your podcast artwork and add a waveform too.
- Learn More about VEED via their video podcast.
You might also have noticed that in my opening sequences I talk directly to the camera. Hopefully I come across as fluent in these videos, but what you may not realize is that I'm assisted by a mini teleprompter attached to my webcam.
- My scripts live on an iPad on my desk, which I can speed up or slow down as I record. It's a strictly one man operation.
- The actual teleprompting screen is driven by my iPhone, and all of this allows me to look directly into the camera as I record my episodes.
If you are curious about this setup, below is an (affiliate) link to this amazingly small and affordable teleprompting device.
Meet our unique mini teleprompter
We use a compact, versatile, and easy to use teleprompter that helps us quickly deliver polished show notes to our listeners. Until now, teleprompters have been clunky, expensive, and difficult to operate–and many required film studios or a production team. This teleprompter changes all of that.
It’s a simple tool that helps us nail smooth delivery using just a smartphone and our desktop computer, DSLR, or webcam.
Podcast Quality Audio While Recording Video
One issue with doing a video podcast, especially one where one stands or moves around, is audio quality.
While sitting I can use my microphone and arm easily, but if I'm standing or moving around I like to use a wireless mic. This is also true for general video production or conducting on-camera interviews. I really did a lot of research before investing in this piece of kit.
What we use is what I feel is the most affordable and yet high quality pair of wireless lavalier microphones on the market. I think the quality is as good as the famous Sennheisers, but the price is 1/2. The system is called the COMICA CVM-WM300(A). There is also an optional interview mic to take this setup on the road and conduct amazing mobile podcasts and or video interviews.
Again, if you'd like to check it out, below is an (affiliate) link.
Live Audio through Loopback and Audio Hijack
We produce our client podcasts using a professional audio editing platform called Adobe Audition.
One of my favorite things is when podcast clients comment on how amazing they sound on the podcasts we produce for them.
This is in part because as a former audio engineer and record producer I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get that professional "broadcast" sound. (Let me know in the comments if I should do a special episode on that, happy to share!)
But it is also because Adobe Audition comes with some professional and sophisticated tools to help us shape a warm and inviting sound profile for each podcast host of guest.
So far, so good. But when recording video as well as an audio podcast, things become more complicated. And time consuming.
We would have to extract the audio tracks from video to import them into Adobe Audition to achieve the same custom broadcast ready sound, and then re-import them into the video. Too much work…
Luckily, I'm both lazy and smart:
So we've come up with a shortcut to get broadcast quality video sound, using 2 apps by a company called Rogue Amoeba:
- Loopback to create virtual audio devices to take the sound from apps and audio input devices, then pass it to any audio processing software.
- Audio Hijack, which functions like a real-time, virtual mixing console with EQ, compression and noise gating built in.
These 2 apps allow me to apply sound profiles in real time. Ordinarily this is done with a mixing console or in post-production, but this happens live. So the final video has that "broadcast" ready sound as it is being recorded.
The other advantage is that I can create profiles to attempt to make my lavaliers sound the same or similar to my Heil PR40 mic. (I can hear audiophiles groaning now). But at least I can get similar sound quality.
Audio Extraction and .mp3 Files From Video
So now that we have the video portion of our podcast recorded, it's time to extract the audio from the video and to export and upload it to our podcasts' .mp3 file
Video to Audio Conversion
We use the Wondershare Video Converter app to extract a high quality audio file from the video.
Loudness Standards, Noise Removal, Voice Leveling
A swiss company called Auphonic has developed a brilliant set of audio automation tools every podcaster should check out. We use Auphonic desktop app to automate the following steps:
- Establish a noise profile
- Applying Noise reduction from that noise profile
- Speech Volume Leveling
- Industry standard loudness standards for broadcast ready files at -16LUF
- Export to .mp3 formatted output file
This automation saves us at least 20 minutes per episode.
Audio Export to Libsyn
So now we finally have the .mp3 file to upload and release on our podcast hosting software Libsyn. First we apply the episodes title, descriptions and other podcast metadata to the .mp3 file. Then we upload to Libsyn and schedule the episode to go live at the desired time.
Video Export to YouTube
Remember we are using Screenflow to record our video content. It has the built in ability to export each video to our Youtube channel, including custom thumbnails, tags, descriptions and links. So the video portion of our podcast was already uploaded and scheduled on YouTube in a previous step.
Multi Channel Show Notes Syndication
I will keep this short, since syndication and distribution of show notes was the topic of an entire episode, episode 8. Suffice it to say this:
A critical step in our podcast workflow is to distribute and syndicate our show notes to as many platforms as possible.
After all, our podcast's audio files are being syndicated to be available in iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play.
Content syndication with StoryChief is to show notes what RSS feeds are to your podcast audio.
Finalize Episode Show Notes on StoryChief
Because we prepare our episode scripts in StoryChief, by the time we record our episode the show notes are 90% written already.
Embed YouTube Video Player
So all that's left is to embed the episode video into StoryChief.
Embed Libsyn Audio Player
We love StoryChief as a content syndication in part because it is podcast ready. We easily embed the Libsyn player widget into our episode to allow site visitors to choose their modality: Read, Listen or Watch.
Embed Lead Generation Widgets
Another reason we love StoryChief is that it allows for embedding various lead generation and email capture widgets. So if our episode has a "Lead Magnet" like a bonus guide, mind-map or check-list, we embedding it right in the StoryChief show notes.
Publish to 16+ Channels
At the end of the day, our show notes are scheduled to go live and to trickle out to an ever growing list of platforms, communities and blogs and "Ambassador Networks"
1/2 Year Evergreen Social Boost Campaign
In an upcoming episode I am planning to go into detail about how we create a 1/2 year long automated campaign to promote each episode on social media. Over the years we have tried and used a ton of different platforms for this.
The one I think is most innovative is called CoSchedule. It allows us to design a social campaign on autopilot.
I am lazy, but engagement cannot be automated
I answer every RT, question or DM related to our podcast episodes. But that does not mean I want to spend a lot of time on social media crafting individual tweets and social shares for our episodes.
CoSchedule has a clever automation concept called "social helpers". These are content snippets that help to produce a varied social feed, with different hashtags, images, messages. It shares our episode show notes content, but does not repeat the same tweet or image all the time.
Again, it's the sort of one time up-front effort that takes some time to set up initially, but then saves a ton of time for each episode. If you are interested in seeing this in more detail, let me know in the comments.
Again – this episode was just the process we follow because it is producing results for us. I do not recommend it to everyone, and the fact that we are producing video alongside the audio portion complicates things a bit.
If you are a new podcaster or a business considering podcasting as a content strategy, you may well think all of this is overkill.
But keep in mind that the lion share of the work goes into the initial planning, the setting up of templates and designing and implementing the various automation steps. And this is a one time only effort. And the routine production can be done by other people.
If you'd like to chat and explore possibilities for your own podcast workflow, feel free to book a time with me.