Podcasting 101: Don’t Make These Mistakes

Trent Dunham interview with Casey Helmick

Are you anxious for your podcast to get off the ground, or better yet, reach new heights?

I recently interviewed Casey Helmick, Chief Strategist at D+C, about the challenges of podcasting and mistakes we often make.

Here is part of our conversation: 

Trent: One of the challenges that we see with our clients is a demand for their time. As pastors and teachers, they are asked to produce weekly content on a regular basis. An effective podcast requires a time commitment, which can become a main barrier for many leaders. Speak into that. 

Casey: Podcasting is a channel that functions more like a TV network than it does a TV show. You have the flexibility to produce something like an interview, talking with someone for 20 minutes or a five-minute clip of a sermon.

I recently met a ministry leader who asks his assistant to record certain phone calls he has with peers. Then they decide if there’s something in there that might help people (of course, with consent).

If you work smarter, not harder, you can find moments to record short segments and short clips. We default into thinking a radio show has a 28-minute slot that we have to fill on the dot. Podcasting frees you from all that. There are no rules or regulations. It’s like the Wild, Wild West! As long as your people are consuming the content, it can be whatever length you want.

Trent: Can you speak into how to determine content and address the importance of consistency?

Casey: In podcasting, consistency is key. Communicate what you are offering: “This is an interview, and our interviews are typically 20 or 30 minutes,” versus “Here’s a short clip of a teaching moment from our pastor.” As long as you’re communicating clearly with your audience and they know what to expect, you’ll find success.

A key mistake many people make is just not being consistent. You start a podcast and go heavy on it for a few weeks, and then it just disappears… and so does your audience.

Trent: What other mistakes have you seen people make when producing a podcast?

Casey: Here is a big one: The main leader of your organization doesn’t have to be the host of your podcast. They don’t have to carry that weight. Give yourself the freedom and flexibility to say, “Johnny sits down in cubicle number seven and manages our website, and he has a great voice. He has a little bit of extra capacity, and he’s committed to our organization. Let’s position him to be the voice of this podcast and we’ll bring in the main leader when necessary.”

In podcasting, people want creativity and personality. They don’t just want research content or interviews that go over the basics. There’s an entertainment level of podcasting that doesn’t always exist in traditional media. And that’s something that successful ministries are finding a way to explore.

Sometimes the leader of your organization is not the best personality to position for a podcast. It can be a great way to harvest talent inside of your organization and make others feel special and a part of the team.

Trent: What about the need to produce a podcast for a specific audience, such as a pastor and a full sermon? Are we saying not to do that?

Casey: No. We’re saying, treat your podcast listeners as podcast listeners. Record a 30-second bump intro that says, “Hey, podcast listeners, this is a sermon from this date. I hope it blesses you. It’s part of the series, here’s how you can get access to it on our website.” Communicate that they matter as their own niche community. It’s not just a repackaged, repurposed thing. Although it can be, you need to acknowledge them as an important community.

Your podcast community is typically one of your strongest supporting communities. They’re actively finding your content. They’re putting it inside of their phone, which is personal.

They may have heard you on the radio or might attend your church. If you can get them to be a podcast listener, it’s a metric that says they care about what you do. It’s a new level that’s extraordinarily important, and that’s why we should take advantage of it and produce content that drives them to that next step. 

For more insight on effective podcasting, check out The Dunham Podcast episode “Ultimate Podcasting Podcast.

More Insights from Dunham+Company: “The Company I See (Part Two)

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