By Camomile Shumba
In April, we gathered together four successful podcasters who told us of the energy, creativity, and hustle needed to create a podcast which was “like having a constant friend, you can always rely on.” We heard from Hannah Ajala, Lorraine Candy, Francesca Specter, Cara McGoogan with the guidance of chair Daisy Wyatt, head of digital at Mail+.
Lorraine Candy, former editor-in-chief of Elle, and The Sunday Times Style magazine and former editor of Cosmopolitan, hosts a podcast called Postcards from Midlife. It launched in December 2019 and focuses on women’s health, mental health and wellness in midlife.
Similarly, Francesca Specter, who was a deputy editor at Yahoo! Style and a lifestyle reporter at the Daily Express, started her Alonement podcast, in March 2020 – just as the UK locked down. The show delves into “being alone, lonely and alonement”, a term coined (and trademarked) by Francesca, which means finding joy and positive value in being alone
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Hannah Ajala, a guest lecturer at the University of West London and the founder of We Are Black Journos, an event platform, freelances for the Africa Daily podcast. The BBC World Service current affairs show runs Monday to Friday and engages a young audience and the African diaspora.
Lastly, Cara McGoogan, a feature writer at The Telegraph, hosts, Bed of Lies, a seven-part narrative of female activists who found out their loved ones were spying on them. The podcast launched in December 2020 under The Telegraph umbrella.
We gathered ten tips from our panel to help you be a great podcaster.
1. To be a successful podcaster you need the support of other people
- Lorraine’s podcast benefited from the strong audience she had gathered from her journalism.
- Francesca, who did not have a strong initial following, said her connections, support on social media, and featured in publications like The Daily Mail and Red helped.
- Hannah said being a part of the BBC made promoting her podcast easy as partner stations would share her work.
- Cara spoke about how the BBC and the Guardian reviewing her show helped grow an audience – as did having a younger built-in Telegraph audience.
2. Speak with authority
- Francesca’s podcast was inspired by her book Alonement: How to be alone and absolutely own it, which gave her expertise in this topic.
- Lorraine said having great guests, a proper script and an interactive producer helped.
3. Acast is a great money-making tool
- Acast is a podcasting platform helps you monetise and grow your podcast.
- Francesca gets advertisements fed into her podcasts via Acast and would recommend doing this “sooner rather than later”. She said through analytics you can learn about your audience’s likes and dislikes.
4. Download Audacity
- Cara said Audacity, a free open-source editing tool, was a great way to get good quality content from interviewees.
5. Be adaptable
- Hannah said podcasters should consider how to tell a story through the use of a headphone or speaker as interviewees are no longer in the studio.
- Francesca pointed out it is important to consider the “on the go” experience your audience may be having listening to your podcast.
6. Buy a good mic
- Lorraine recommended a snowball mic.
- Hannah suggested a Zoom mic. Both are affordable and on Amazon.
7. Organisation is key
- Having a structure helps podcasters remember the questions they have raised, Cara “Those sort of threads are what you need to carry listeners onto the next episode.”
- Hannah added having a back-up plan was key in case something failed.
- Lorraine planned her episodes around events that were relevant to her podcast, such as Menopause Awareness Month.
8. Use your personality
- Lorraine “Don’t be afraid to put your personality into it. People want to listen to you, as well as the experts.”
9. Let your podcast timings suit you
- Hannah said 15 minutes works for Africa Daily because the content is not meant to be too heavy.
- Francesca started with podcasts being 45 minutes or longer to mirror the length of an average London commute.
10. Edit your content straight after recording
- Francesca recommended this – when it’s fresh in your mind.
Get to know the podcasters
We asked our panelists to share some of their favourite podcasts and this is what they said:
- Francesca: How to Fail With Elizabeth Day, in which she discusses how you can learn from your mistakes.
- Hannah: The BBC’s Witness History about key moments in black and civil rights history.
- Cara: Wind of Change by Patrick Radden Keefe, which he describes as being about Spies. Secrets. Soviets. And tight leather pants.
- Lorraine: BBC Radio 4”s Fortunately with Fi and Jane, a behind-the-scenes look with broadcasters Fl Glover and Jane Garvey and Gabby Logan’s Mid•Point about life in middle age.
‘What’s wrong with you? 101 things only the mothers of teenage girls know by Lorraine Candy is coming out in June. Pre-order here. Alonement: How to be alone and absolutely own it by Francesca Specter is available now.