An analysis of the different types of podcasts and how to choose the right for you...
... to make your voice heard and tell your story!
In this article, I will cover the main podcasting goals and the main podcast’s formats you can choose from in order to make sure your ideal clients will hear your voice and will be willing to listen to your stories… And a surprise awaits you at the end of this post 👀
What is your podcasting goal?
Before starting your own podcast, you need to set the goals you want to reach with it. These goals will really help you to map your podcast activity and make sure you obtain the results you wanted to have.
There are 3 main podcasting goals which will help you to better define your podcast’s reach. Depending on what you want to achieve, the strategies you are going to apply will be different.
Brand awareness podcasting
This is when a brand or a business uses a podcast to showcase and demonstrate their knowledge and area of expertise.
You will focus on what makes your knowledge different from your competitors’ and how you can share it with your target audiences.
This type of podcasting goal is interesting when you want to actively generate leads with your podcast by directly addressing your audiences’ issues and showing how you can solve them.
Brand values podcasting
This one can seem almost the same as the previous one, however there is a slight difference. Brands and businesses using this type of podcasting goal will choose a topic and angle of approach which will align with the values shared by the brand and its target audiences.
This type of podcasting goal is interesting when you want to create a strong community around your brand, sharing the same values, interests and passions.
Brand sponsored podcasting
This situation happens when a brand lends its name to make other brands or individuals express their creativity.
It works as a basic sponsoring or celebrity endorsement. A famous name can decide to put its celebrity at the disposal of lesser known names. The win is two-fold: the famous name is seen as a patron supporting emerging talents, and the lesser known names can capitalise on the celebrity and expertise of their patron to gain in visibility and awareness.
This type of podcasting goal is interesting if you are already a well-known brand desiring to help and to extend its influence.
On the top of that, you also need to determine the end goal of your podcast.
Do you want to inform, to delight, to entertain?
This will influence your tone of voice, the subjects and the type of vocabulary you will use when preparing your editorial planning for your episodes and your scripts.
Here, I want to remind you that you need to take into consideration 2 main things to be sure your podcast will be relevant:
Who you are as a brand, your missions, your values, what makes you different from your competitors, your identity
Who are your target audiences, your community, what they want to learn from you, the issues they have you can address, how they want you to communicate and interact with them, the tone of voice, the topics they are interested in and so on.
When in doubt, always refer back to your brand identity and your personas.
The different podcast formats you can choose from
Once you are clear with the big why of your podcast, it’s time to move to the next step: choosing your podcast format.
There are 7 formats which are very popular among podcasters. We are going to analyse each of them, with their pros and cons, to make it easier for you to choose the right format for you.
Format #1: The interview podcast
The interview podcast might be the first format coming to mind when you start doing your researches.
The format is quite simple: you have a permanent host, for example you or a representative of your brand, interviewing different guests, for example people having an authority in your industry or your clients, depending on your objectives.
Topics and guests will change from episode to episode, however you need to follow a general topic as a common thread for your podcast.
The interview podcast Pros:
No need to do extensive researches for your episodes’ topics as this will be the guest’s role. You still need to know what this person is going to talk about to prepare questions to which your guest is going to answer.
You will be able to capitalise on your guest’s perspective about your industry for example.
You will be able to capitalise on your guest’s own community to develop your audience and your reach as he/she will certainly share the episode with his/her followers. Or you should encourage to do so as this is the prime objective of conducting interview podcasts: creating a synergy between similar communities.
You can even think about doing roundtable podcast’s episodes with more than 1 guest once you feel more comfortable with this format and you ambition to create debates around different topics with different specialists and points of view.
The interview podcast Cons:
You might need to spend the majority of your time looking for potential guests for your podcast. You need to make sure that your podcast’s concept is relevant to the guests you want to interview and to “sell” them your podcast. I would recommend you to prepare a presentation sheet for your podcast in which you would write your concept, your audience, your frequency, previous people you might have already interviewed and your metrics. On the other hand, make sure to do a background check of the person you want to interview and that his/her personality as well as knowledge will be relevant to your own community.
You will need to have a flexible schedule to arrange it according to your guest’s availability to record your episode.
You will need to make sure that your Internet connection is working when you do online recording. However, you can’t control it or the possible power cuts that might happen and on your side and on the side of your guest. If it happens, make sure to reach out your guest as soon as possible, to apologise and to reschedule when possible.
The interview podcast format niche is quite packed. Make sure to differentiate yourself from your competition by something extra, unique to attract listeners.
Format #2: The Conversational or Co-hosted podcast
The conversational podcast is a format in which you have, usually, two hosts talking on a different topic in each episode. This format looks like a conversation between two people. It’s usually a good format for casual topics or to present topics in a relaxed way, as a conversation you could have with your friend around a cup of coffee.
This format can also be used when you deal with complex subjects you want to decomplexify. It can give a human touch to abstract notions and make them sexier to your target audience.
The conversational/co-hosted podcast Pros:
It’s a format requiring less structure, less planning than other podcast formats. You just need a general guideline for each episode’s topic to follow with your co-host.
It’s a conversation between two people, so the workload is shared and in terms of researches and in terms of speaking. Moreover, there will be always someone to tell something when the other has finished his/her thought.
It’s a casual, friendly format around conversations. It can make your audience feel that they know. When they listen to your episodes, they have the impression to participate to a discussion with friends. This podcast format helps you to create strong personal bounds with your community.
Each host can ask each other questions to help clarify a point of view and each of them brings his/her own experiences and perspectives on the topic.
The conversational/co-hosted podcast Cons:
You need to make sure that there is a good chemistry between the two hosts. You don’t want your episodes sounding like a box match where each host makes cutting remarks to each other. So choose a person with whom you have good vibes: a friend, a colleague…
You need also to make sure that each host has an equal speaking time to avoid tensions. So prepare your episode’s structure accordingly.
Depending on where your co-host is located, you might have to deal with schedule management to record your episodes. Either you record separately each track, but you will lose the spontaneity and conversation touch of this format or you might fall victim of the hazards of Internet connection.
Format #3: The Educational podcast
The educational podcast format focuses on teaching a subject to your audience. It’s a good format if one of your goals is to educate your community or if you are looking to increase your brand awareness.
You can achieve it with interviews, where you invite industry specialists, or it can be co-hosted or done in solo.
As you will share knowledge, you might want to provide your audience with something more than an episode. It could be a blogpost for example people could refer to to complete the podcast episode, a link to additional resources or a link to download a worksheet to practice what you were teaching in your episodes.
The educational podcast Pros:
Educational podcasts are a great tool to position yourself as an authority in your sector.
As you are going to deliver high-quality content and teach your community to solve their issues, a true Master Yoda, your community will come back and ask for more.
You can create an interaction with your audience beyond the podcast itself by encouraging them to go reading additional information, download a document helping them to take the most of your teaching or to watch a video to complete or to prove your episode’s topic.
The educational podcast Cons:
As you are going to teach something in your episodes, you need to make sure your researches are backed up. It might require extra time to prepare and might not be compatible with a weekly publication.
Not only you will need extra time to prepare your episodes, this is your reputation which is at stake, you will also need extra time to prepare supporting documents depending on what you will teach.
It might also be difficult to teach in an audio format topics requiring visuals. Difficult, but not impossible though.
Format #4: The Solo podcast
Maybe the easiest of all podcast formats! Why? Well, as its name says it, you are alone. You are your own boss and have complete freedom on what you want to do with your podcast. No need to justify yourself to anybody else, apart maybe your audience and community, as you don’t have any co-host or guests to interview.
What you need is a good idea, time, the will to experiment with recording (for that you need a computer, a microphone, headsets, GarageBand or Audacity) and post production (GarageBand or Audacity work well) and a hosting plateform (Buzzsprout for example). You are all set!
The solo podcast Pros:
You are the only master and commander. You decide everything alone: your schedule, your editorial line with the topics you want to talk about, when and where to record, the frequency…
This format helps you to create a deep bond with your community. As you are alone, it makes your podcast even more personal and your audience will have the impression they know you and they are part of your life.
The solo podcast Cons:
You are alone, true, but you are alone to deal with everything. And, over time, you might feel overwhelmed by the management of each step of your podcasting adventure.
You are also alone to speak and need to make sure that you have enough information to cover your topics. In advance of recording, prepare a sheet of paper listing the main points you want to cover with your main arguments. Or you can write the full script of your episode to feel more comfortable and to be sure you are not going to miss anything.
Format #5: The Non-fiction storytelling podcast
If you are looking to have evergreen ideas for your podcast, why not trying yourself in the non-fiction storytelling? You could investigate a true story, a crime, something that is happening currently. You will transform yourself in a sort of investigation journalist. Possibilities are endless: politics, economics, business, past crimes, paranormal occurences, current news analysis, historical facts. Just pick one and have fun!
The non-fiction storytelling podcast Pros:
You can decide to solve one case per season and each episode will be dedicated to the progression of your researches and conclusions, making sure your audience will want to come back for the next episode to know what happened. Try to create suspense at the end of each episode…
Your episodes will be based on existing documentations. You just need to carefully read them, compare different points of view, maybe interviewing people, and to draw your own conclusions to share with your audience. You don’t need to invent anything from scratch.
You can make your community engage with you at the end of each episode to see what they think. They might be willing to share their own researches and conclusions with you
The non-fiction storytelling podcast Cons:
Spontaneity is hard to achieve here as you will need to compulse a lot of documents beforehand and prepare your script carefully.
Keeping the suspense throughout the season and not revealing the end too early is tricky to manage.
A lot of pre work and researches will be required. You will need to invest a great amount of time to make sure you confronted all the sources on that topic.
You need to have a great time management organisation. Preparing your episodes weekly for a weekly publication will be very time consuming and will take all your free time. See if you can’t be sponsored by a brand to be able to do your podcast full time.
The easiest part is the recording one.
Format #6: The Fiction storytelling or Theater podcast
Turn your podcast into your personal theater. You can use podcasts to tell fiction stories. The podcast arena will become your scene. It’s a perfect format for authors. Each episode can correspond to a chapter. A bit like an audiobook if you want but with a wider broadcast. You can also really focus on creating the soundscape of your story to let people really immerse into the ambiance, the characters and visualize the whole context.
The fiction storytelling podcast Pros:
It’s a very original, creative and unique way to tell your stories.
You can create a whole different universe, even for your brand.
Fictional stories are great to connect on an emotional level with your ideal clients who will identify themselves with the heroes of your stories.
Few brands or authors are adopting this podcast format. You can be one of the first to surf on that wave and be seen as a trend setter.
The fiction storytelling podcast Cons:
This format can require a lot of works: finding actors to have different voices for each character of your story, finding soundtracks to convey the atmosphere of the moment and having a black belt in post production and editing skills.
You need to have a great story to which people will easily identify and wait with impatience for the next episode/chapter to be published. If you use this format for your brand, you need to have a perfect knowledge of your ideal clients to make them the heroes of your story and, through it, connect with them on an emotional level. For that, just think about the last time you had goose bumps, almost on the verge of crying and longing for more after having listened to a song, an audiobook, watched a movie, could be a short one or a long one, could be advertisement.
You need to master the hero’s journey and the storytelling principles.
Format #7: The Short-length podcast
Not interested in a 1-hour long podcast? I feel you… The ideal length of a podcast is between 15 and 30 minutes. Think about the commute time to work of your audience as this is usually when people listen to podcasts. Or when they run or do their household…
Anyway, you can decide to do short-length episodes, also known as bite-sized content or limited-run series. In practice, it means that your episode will last 10 minutes maximum during which you will focus on a precise point, knowledge or information. By limiting the duration of your episode, you ensure that you go straight to the point!
The short-length podcast Pros:
As it’s short, you need less time to prepare, record and edit your episodes.
You focus only on the essentials and your listeners will have only the information they need to know. You save time in preparing each episode and they save time by listening only what they need/want to learn.
It’s a good format to use if you want to test a new topic or to switch to another podcast format.
It’s the format if you are a minimalist and don’t like long sentences or long speeches.
The short-length podcast Cons:
Short doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the quality of your content. You go straight to the point, yes, but you do it well with high-quality contents.
In this “less is more” format, frugality in terms of minutes might be easier to say than to do.
These are the main podcast formats you can meet. However, you can also use your podcast to repurpose video contents or to turn your blogposts into audio.
You don’t have to create new contents for it as you will use existing pieces of content. And it will help you to reach a wider audience.
So why not thinking about this option when it comes to launching a podcast?
And, to conclude this article, I would like to tell you one thing.
It’s not because you choose one podcast format that you can’t change it in the course of your podcasting adventure. It’s not something written in stones for eternity.
You can have a solo podcast and, from time to time, deciding to have guests. You can have a co-hosted podcast talking about non-fiction or fiction storytelling.
The options are endless.
What to remember, it’s to always keep in mind your audience, your ideal clients and the main messages you want to convey.
Then, consistency in publishing, having interesting topics which will make people waiting for the next episode, quality content, will help you to reach your objectives.
Quite a lot of information to process, right? I made it easier for you by creating a Podcast Format Cheat Sheet summarizing the 7 podcast formats I covered in this article, their pros and cons and a part to help you choose the right format when launching your podcast.
I hope this article helped you to comprehend how you can set goals for your podcast and choose the right podcast format for you to make your voice heard and tell your story.
I am ready to help you to make your podcast adventure the best one of your entrepreneur’s journey! Check out my podcast launching offers and my podcast management offers for more details how to do it.
And, if you have any question or doubt, why not booking a call with me to discuss your challenges and expectations?
See you soon!