Want to make a good vlog or podcast?
It’s fair to say that some people are naturally “tuned in” to what their audience wants, and how to deliver it to them. But the majority of successful vlogs and podcasts were built by people learning and adapting as they went along. Often their early work barely resembles the content they push out now. It’s a journey, a learning curve.
So how can you get a head start in your vlog or podcast?
Below, I’ve written a guide detailing the most important ingredients for creating a popular, successful audio or video channel. I received advice from several Youtubers and Podcasters, and summarised their top tips.
What subject are you going to make your vlog or podcast about?
Selecting a niche that you know and care a great deal about is the first step to creating a successful and sustainable YouTube channel or podcast. If you fully understand a subject (and its audience), then that immediately makes it easier for you to generate ideas and brand your content the appropriate way.
Remember that your passion for a niche can be seen and heard clearly through your content — it’s hard to hide your true emotions over the long-haul. So if vlogging or podcasting on a certain subject feels unnatural to you, then that’ll most likely be picked up by the audience.
2. Keeping the Audience’s Attention
The internet is competitive. This creates an audience of highly selective, easy-distracted divas to appease.
Your video/podcast needs to be energetic, purposeful and concise. Otherwise the audience will begin to lose track of the flow of information and switch off — both mentally and physically.
Here’s some general tips for keeping your audience’s attention:
- Keep your content short. Cut out the deadwood to become more efficient. If you deliver your message with less running time, then that’s better for everyone.
- Pace yourself. Avoid overloading the audience with too much information in one short stint.
- Target your content. Split up your topics into small, standalone instalments (rather than bulking them together).
- Get personal. Your persona creates your unique identify — so be sure to show it. You may also decide to:
- Speak directly to the audience (e.g. address them as friends, answer their questions).
- Appease enthusiasts by throwing in niche references (e.g. in-jokes, ‘nods’ to previous events).
- Be consistent. Once you develop a style that’s working, avoid overhauling it all at once. Acknowledge what the audience likes; don’t try to alter their preferences overnight!
You need to judge what your audience responds to:
So what you think is fun or interesting isn’t necessarily what the audience wants.
3. Standing Out
Being different is better than better. So focus on bringing something new to your chosen industry.
For your video or audio channel, take inspiration from market-leaders, but remember there’s a risk you’ll be seen as “yet another” of the same kind. I’d personally avoid trying to replicate any vlog or podcast that:
- Holds an enormous audience, where there’s little hope in competing against them directly.
- Has cornered various outlets (YouTube, Podcasts, Spotify, etc), making it difficult to find an untapped channel to operate on.
Your vlog or podcast idea doesn’t have to be ground breaking. To succeed, you just need to come up with a fresh spin on something else.
The same applies to generating any business idea.
4. Format & Style
People enjoy structured entertainment. It’s those repetitive elements that we look forward to — and expect — in visual and audio entertainment.
TV programs are usually presented in a format that consists of a theme tune, recurring characters (and gags for comedy), the continuation of a wider story, an episode arc, interludes. The most common type of formats are game shows and reality shows; many of which are remade in multiple markets with local contestants.
Likewise radio shows are built on recurring segments — often short recycled formats such as quizzes, call-ins, discussions, ‘top 10’ countdowns, and guest interviews.
Many of those long-standing TV & radio formats are transferable to online content. They give the audience something familiar and recognisable to tune in for next time. In turn, it builds your brand and identity.
Suggestions for your Vlog or Podcast
You might find it helpful to experiment with video and audio content in various set formats, such as:
- Series: sequential episodes, broken down into smaller digestible pieces.
- News: features topics relevant right now
- Review: of something specific (e.g. a product, service, experience, etc)
- Roundup: tying together several previous uploads
- Q&A: answering questions from the audience
- Guests: featuring special collaborators
- Excursions: taking place in a totally new setting/environment to the norm
With a bit of experimentation you can determine what style of content garners the most views, interactions and follows. Then you can produce more of what your audience enjoys, and expects from you.
5. Production Quality
Your message is more important than its production quality, right?
In an ideal world, yes. But people online are extremely shallow.
Take my word for it: a lot of viewers & listeners will immediately bounce from low quality video/audio content without giving it the time of day. Creating high quality content will, if nothing else, prevent you from losing out on views and followers for the wrong reason.
Anyone taking their YouTube channel or podcast seriously needs to invest in equipment in to produce high quality content:
- Video: a good camera — as opposed to just your smart phone — is vital.
- Audio: a decent mic, to reduce irritating echo, is a no brainier. There’s a helpful microphone review here.
The following video by Think Media is intended for YouTube beginners looking to learn about the basic equipment required.
Does low quality have a place?
In some cases there’s something to be said for low-quality video segments taken on a whim (e.g. Snapchat or Instagram stories). It feels more genuine and personal than content edited to perfection.
So that’s something else to consider.
6. Current Trends
Riding on the waves of popular, relevant, trends is one way of reaching out to entirely new viewers or listeners. It also provides existing followers with fresh content, which encourages more ongoing engagement.
You might decide to base your vlogs/podcasts around interesting topics you encounter through:
- Browsing social media
- Watching the news
- Reading articles, magazines and newspapers
- Reading the comments section of your own content
- Researching recurring questions on Quora/Reddit/Forums.
Being on the lookout for current trends will help inspire new ideas. The same goes for traditional blogging.
be aware of the input required
I should also point out that basing content around current trends means it’s not going to deliver any value in the future. Trends, by definition are here for the short term. Producing new, relevant content relies on continued input.
The world is a big place, and so is YouTube. There’s an untold amount of YouTubers and Podcasters creating high quality content that very few people know about. That’s where collaborations come in.
By doing a “collab”, two relatively isolated audiences within the same niche are introduced to the other’s content.
- Small channels can pull together to become stronger than the sums of their parts.
- Big channels can foster even more growth within their niche.
Getting an endorsement by, or a feature on, a large channel with a lot of subscribers is likely to have a positive impact on your growth.
Not everyone will want to work with your vlog of podcast, of course. But provided you’re creating great content, and you’re willing to spend time networking, you’ll be sure to establish beneficial partnerships.