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8 Things I’ve learned while starting a new podcast

By Karen Cahn, CEO & Founder of IFundWomen

AUGUST 26, 2021

My team and I started The IFundWomen Show podcast with the purpose of making startup coaching free and accessible to all women entrepreneurs because entrepreneur problems are truly universal. In our coaching calls, we get asked the same questions all the time—questions like “How do I get my products in a major retailer?” to “How do I know if I’m ready to raise venture capital,” or ”How am I supposed to be loud and proud on social media when I’m an introvert?” and everything in between.

Everyone knows by now that my first startup was a beautiful failure that I learned so much from, and I loooove talking about it. If it wasn’t for the extreme amount of mistakes I made, and smartly learned from right away, IFundWomen would not be here. #Truth. 

It’s been my experience that starting something that puts you squarely in the public eye, be it a new business, putting out new creative work, or starting a podcast, can be scary AF. I will be the first to admit it—I care about what people think of me, but really only because I’m so closely tied to IFundWomen’s brand, that if I say something off-color or offend someone, I’m potentially losing a customer for the business. For a big mouth like me, censoring myself online, even on my personal IG has been, and continues to be, very challenging. 

That said, I always wanted to start a podcast, and lots of people were asking for it, so it was with that spirit that I said, OK, let’s do it. I was scared—not going to lie. 

So, my friends, as my team and I are finishing up releasing the beta season of the IFundWomen Show, I want to share my eight biggest takeaways thus far as a new podcaster:


1. It’s not as easy as it seems.

We’re all familiar with entrepreneurs on social media who post glamorous photos and embody a carefree, be-your-own-boss lifestyle. But the reality is, the things that look glossy and simple are almost always the result of many, many hours of behind-the-scenes production prep, hard work, and perfect hair and makeup. The same goes for podcasting, minus the hair and makeup. 

I’ve always been a big podcast listener, and I knew how much production work it took to make something fantastic. Great business podcasts should sound like a casual, unedited, and natural conversation, but again, that’s not entirely the reality. Yes, you are having an awesome conversation about an important topic, but it’s very well planned out. You can’t just wing it. 

We have an entire team behind the IFundWomen show—it takes time to plan, create a production schedule, come up with content, the run of show, find guests who mirror our brand and our values, meet deadlines, actually record these episodes, then edit unscripted conversations, sometimes clips of up to two hours, into a concise 30-or-so-minute story that brings meaning and value to our audience. We’ve gone through countless rounds of testing, learning, and iterating to come up with our formula that will bring us to “get it right,” something we’re still continuing to figure out.


2. Analytics are everything.

Data doesn’t lie. You must be maniacal about looking at the data, daily, to see important insights about your podcast. Consider where your listeners are coming from (both geographically and by platform), how long they are listening for, when listeners drop off (AKA change the channel), etc.

First, you need to select a podcast distribution app to work with. We use PodBean. It’s fine. If folks have any recos on better ones, let us know! We are legit in beta and are far from knowing everything. Then, you need to create podcast accounts on all the major platforms like Apple, Spotify, Google, and Amazon (and Audible 🙄 same difference) if you want to see listener analytics per platform, which of course you do. 

Your own preferences and insights can only take you so far. Data is your best friend and is the best way for you to notice knowledge gaps you can’t see (such as, maybe my listeners don’t actually like my favorite sound effect of a weed whacker hacking through weeds through their speaker as they cruise down the parkway). I’ve learned to put my ego aside and use data to prioritize what is resonating with my audience, even if I disagree (the weed wacker sound effect was amazing, but bye-bye for now).

data and analytics for your podcast


3. Pre-production prep is key.

Even if you think you can do it all on your own, I promise, you must have a producer. A producer is the person who books guests, creates your podcast outline, preps guests for what will be asked of them, makes sure guests have proper sound equipment (more on this later).

You must have a “run of show” or a story arc you are trying to tell for each episode. If you simply choose a topic and ramble, the conversation will be difficult to edit and you will likely stray from articulating your topic with clarity and effectiveness. Your audience doesn’t want to eavesdrop on a phone call, it wants to listen to the coaching session they were promised on a topic that has value to them. You are asking for someone’s precious time, so give the people what they want—valuable information on topics they care about. 

Sticking to the plan and story arc is key, though this is easier said than done. I’ve found myself getting carried away with guests at times, like I did with my friend Kim Roxie, Founder of LAMIK Beauty, which led to off-topic rambling and giggling that ultimately created hours of work for my producer to edit out. 


4. Buy good equipment - it’s not that expensive.

This one is a no brainer: Invest in equipment that will make your audio quality clear. Nobody wants to listen to a podcast with crappy quality in this day and age. Your show is competing with thousands of others, so this is a must. This is something that I’ve learned through analytics, too—if the audio quality drops off, so do listeners.

We use this microphone, this microphone stand, this Pop Filter, and these earphones. I record my conversations with guests directly into Zoom. No, it’s not as glamorous as recording in a studio, but it has worked well for our beta season so far. However, audio issues sometimes arise with guests. I can’t expect guests to have my same audio tech setup unless we were to ship them pod equipment. As a new show that is still trying to prove demand, this isn’t an investment we can make yet. Remember, no matter what you are building, you need to prove demand before investing in supply. A good example of a podcast that definitely proved demand and has tens of thousands of listeners is Masters of Scale, with Reid Hoffman. When I was featured on Masters of Scale, during the early days of COVID-19, they sent me an entire, expensive mic setup so I could have great sounding audio, at home. 

podcast equipment used on the ifundwomen show podcast


5. Find an amazing editor.

Your editor is the person who will edit the actual audio file for flubs and stutters, add licensed music and sound effects, and make the sound quality flow. Editing audio is one of the simplest ways to improve the quality of your content tremendously and add legitimacy to your vision. 

If you’re really lucky, your editor will also be your sound engineer. We don’t have one, and sometimes the guest has a bad mic or the sound via Zoom is not great. An audio engineer can quickly fix this stuff to make your audio sound amazing and professional.

Side note: my 17 year old son is a genius sound engineer but he refuses to help me with the pod. Nice. I even offered him a paying gig to engineer the sound but he wasn’t “creatively inspired” to take on the work. Yet, I digress. See? If my editor was here, that whole part would have been nixed because it’s off-topic! 


6. Catchy Episode titles can drive clicks but don’t ensure listener retention.

Ever see a YouTube video with an amazing title that lures you in, but then the video stinks? The same goes for pods. Having a hot-topic title can drive clicks, but that doesn’t mean that people are going to listen. We have one episode which is ranking super high on the “download” list, but when we looked at how long people were listening for, we were shocked! Our audience did not relate to the guest at all. That doesn’t mean get discouraged—but know your audience, pay attention to data and make sure the content you’re putting out will really resonate with your listeners, regardless of how hot the topic is.


7. Hire a graphic designer

You need to have a great graphic designer. Your podcast may sound great, but how are you going to make it look aesthetically so you can promote the sh*t out of it? You need a “show page,” AKA a website for your podcast, that looks on-brand. This is critical because your “podcast show page” is what is going to rank high on Google. Take a look at our podcast show page. Having graphics that mirror your brand is important, and these graphics can be recycled on the socials so you can easily promote your podcast in a way that makes sense and is professional for your brand.

kim roxie lamik beauty on the ifundwomen show podcast


8. Know your audience.

Finally, and frankly, this should have been #1, know your audience. Your podcast content must not only be relatable but also valuable to the core audience that you’ve built up trust with over the years. Whether you are rolling solo or have a brand like IFundWomen, you need to know your audience before selecting guests and topics. This also means, stick to the purpose and mission of your pod. The IFundWomen Show Podcast's mission is to provide free and accessible startup coaching to women entrepreneurs around the globe. It’s all about paying forward our startup knowledge and tried and tested methodologies with the masses, for free. Access for all. The episodes that have done the best this season all stick to this core mission and heavily resonate with our audience and their entrepreneurial wants and needs.

Final note: Creating this podcast, in community with my teammates at IFundWomen (shout out to Sofia Badalamenti, Gabriella Campos, Julia Steele, Manali Hanamsagar, Sarah Sommers, Michaella Estevez, and the great Shakivla Todd), has been like having an adorable, new puppy. Sometimes it’s an absolute joy, most times it’s a ton of labor, and once in a blue moon, it’s frustrating AF. But in the end, I know that this creative experience is going to be worth it in some way, even if we just do a season and learn from it. So, it’s with this nugget of wisdom that I say, go forth and podcast!

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