The 10 commandments of podcasting that work.

I ran two podcasts back when podcasting was just starting out. I spent a good amount of time and money learning as much as I could about something we were essentially inventing ourselves. Now that the dust has settled and I now find myself with yet another podcast I thought I’d bestow upon you some things I’ve learned about podcasting over the years.

10 – Record an “episode zero” before going all in

So you think you can podcast? I did too and recorded a few “Episode Zeros” before finally recording my Episode 1. Doing a few trial runs will help you with ironing out some problems, but don’t try to polish this too much at some point you need to release something! Share this episode with a few close friends and ask for constructive criticism. Be happy you hit the record button that’s the first step!

9 – Crap in crap out

Think about your listeners and what they are going to want to hear from your podcast. Do you want to bother them with that crappy $5 microphone? Do you want to have them hear you type on your keyboard while using the built in mic on your computer? You have a few choices here: Headset, Dynamic Mic or a Condenser Mic (in a very quite room). I’m fond of dynamic mics but condenser mics make you sound boomy and give you that voice of God-like sound.

8 – Keep it clean or at least warn your listeners if not

The folks at iTunes don’t listen to every single podcast that is out there, BUT you need to be careful with being very explicit if you end up using… well, explicit language. iTunes has a specs page that gives you some guidelines, here are the ones you need to worry about if you are going to have a potty mouth on your podcast. iTunes uses a ratings system much like the TV or Movies rating system so you can warn people if you tend to curse.

Your podcast may be rejected for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Strong prevalence of sexual content.
  • Use of explicit language in the title, description or cover art of the podcast.
  • Use of explicit language in the podcast when the <explicit> tag is not set to “yes”.
  • Inclusion of offensive material, such as racist content or child pornography.

7 – Structure

Just like how TV shows and movies have a beginning, middle and end so should your show. Try to work out some structure to your podcast and reap the benefits of having your listeners get excited for their favorite part of your show. Without some consistent structure, people will get bored of your poorly planned show and won’t come back to listen to more. Try breaking your show up into segments, I’ve listened to a few shows where there are some segments I skip, but other parts of the show I enjoy and will keep listening.

6 – Don’t over use the sound effects

Unless you are going for a “Morning Zoo” like radio show then keep your wacky zany sound effects to a minimum. Remember people are listening to this in their cars, at work, and on the plane. The last thing they want to hear is you ringing a bell or scaring the crap out of them when they are driving their car and they hear a police siren.

5 – Don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail

Best thing about podcasting, there are no rules. Be as far out there as you want and if enough people are into that sort of thing you’ll have an audience. Be too crazy and no one will listen. It’s a small balance you need to do, but once you find your niche stick with it, your listeners will thank you for it (or they won’t unsubscribe).

4 – Have your own style

As stated in #7 have some structure, but once you have that structure find the style that matches it and play off of it. Your job is to either inform, entertain or add value to someones day. Pretend you have to listen to your own show, would you?

3 – Listen to your listeners

On my show GeekFit we use to take listener feedback via a voicemail hotline. There are a few ways to do this Google Voice is quite popular and gives you a real phone number for your listeners to call. SpeakPipe is a service that lets your listeners leave a voicemail from their web browser. You can even ask your listeners to record the audio of themselves talking and email that audio in. On WPwatercooler we’re experimenting with tips, tricks and topic ideas using a form on the website along with a way for people to post video we’d use on the show. Once you have some feedback from listeners take their suggestions into consideration, you asked for some feedback and now you got it!

2 – Don’t go overboard on equipment

I know you want to have the biggest and best podcast right out the gate, that’s fine but don’t spend your good hard earned money on a bunch of equipment and when it arrives you say “now what?”. As I spoke about in a previous posting, start small and work your way up to some decent gear. If I had to tell you one piece of gear to spend money on it would be a decent mic. Just like I said in #9, crap in crap out. You may have that golden throat or that great radio voice but it won’t sound very good without a decent mic. Now days a good USB mic can do wonders, back when I was podcasting I was using a mic with a mixer with various knobs and switches. Now I can do most of that from software. Don’t fret, I’ll get into that in an upcoming post.

1 – Album Art

The album art is what makes your show stand out from the rest of the shows on iTunes Podcast section (or the many other podcast directories that are out there). Take the time to get some decent album art drawn up or draw some yourself (the suggestion for the image dimension is 1400 x 1400). My friend Becky from Podcast Designs does some great looking album art for cheap.

Podcast Designs creates album art designs for podcasts.

  • $10 for album art PSD (Photoshop) file and jpg w/ text removed
  • +$5 for text customization (title, description, etc)
  • +$10 for text and graphics customization

Places like that have lots of designers can whip something up for you too, your mileage may very.

I hope this list helps you out!

Feel free to leave me some questions or comments below and if you like my article share it on your favorite social network!

Jason Tucker

Jason Tucker

Web Developer at Tucker.Pro
Jason brings 15+ years of hands-on experience as a web developer and systems administrator at large corporations and businesses in the fields of healthcare, manufacturing, technology and entertainment. Specializing in PHP coded sites utilizing WordPress. Jason owns and operates Tucker.Pro a WordPress web development company in Whittier, CA. He is also the host of WPwatercooler a weekly WordPress YouTube show and podcast
Jason Tucker
Jason Tucker
Jason Tucker


  1. […] hard when our podcast GeekFit was mainly one way street instead of interacting with our audience. In a previous post I talked about the voicemail service we used to accept voicemail feedback from our listeners and we played them on the show, but aside […]

  2. Do it right the second time. - WP Media Pro on February 14, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    […] Why do I call this Episode Zero? As I stated in my previous post The 10 commandments of podcasting that work: […]

  3. forRabbits on April 26, 2013 at 12:30 am

    I almost cried. This is the best advice about podcasting that exists on the internet. I’ve been carefully planning my podcast for several months and you nailed it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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