There will be days that you have an episode due to meet your production deadlines, but no guest lined up and no real idea of what to talk about. This is an unenviable position to be in, but we’re all there from time to time.
In a perfect world, you’ll have plenty of runway for episodes going into the future by a couple of weeks, or evergreen shows ready to be inserted at the drop of a hat. But we don’t always have them, despite the best of intentions; and it happens to everyone.
Join me on The Company Show as we explore the different strategies you can use to make sure that you always have an episode ready to go. (Add this to your cheat sheets!)
Listen below, or continue reading the blog post.
Tune in to learn about:
- How to prepare for unexpected production woes
- Four strategies to help you generate an episode topic
Don’t forget to join us for our free monthly strategy calls on the third Thursday of every month.
How to maintain consistent episode uploads
So what do you do when a deadline needs to be met and you’re staring at the proverbial blank page with your microphone starting accusingly at you from the boom arm? First, if you are currently a podcast producer who will lecture clients at length about the importance of runway and backup episodes you give yourself a bit of a stern talking to.
Here’s how that conversation might sound:
There are always going to be things that go catawampus. Guests can cancel last minute, you can lose power in a storm, and work emergencies can crop up. The list goes on and on, and eventually one or more of these things will happen, possibly all at the same time.
But if it is at all possible, you need to maintain your release schedule. As Tom Fox from the Compliance Podcast Network says:
Your podcast is a promise to your audience, when you say you’re going to release, you must do so.
The best way to be prepared for the unexpected is to prepare for the unexpected! You do this by creating a recording runway, where you’re recording episodes now that are going to be released a few weeks in the future and that gives your whole workflow wiggle room.
The next best thing to do – and ideally this is in addition to recording with a runway – is to have a couple of evergreen episodes you’ve recorded in advance that can be slotted into the calendar if you ever need a last-minute episode. You want to make sure they really are evergreen and don’t make reference to things that are happening in your business or the news that will be out of date if you end up using the episode 6 months from now.
Finally, you want to have a list of episode ideas, or really good friends that can be tapped if you ever find yourself on recording day without anything to say. You should keep a running list of episode possibilities in your episode guide that you can deploy as needed.
All sounds very simple and sensible, doesn’t it? It sure does, and it is—but it’s not always going to happen. Like it did to me on the date of recording of this podcast episode. I told you it happens to everyone.
4 ways to generate podcast episode topics
Since the show must go on, here are ways to get out an episode even if you’re not sure exactly what to talk about.
1. Ask someone for an idea
If you have coworkers or a cohost, they’re your first and best bet. When I was thinking glumly about the big “record The Company Show episode” on my list of to-dos for the day, I was feeling utterly uninspired, and more than a little irritated with myself. So I sent a Slack message to my friend and business partner, the inimitable Audra Casino explaining my plight.
She hit back immediately with:
Do an episode on how to cheat an episode when you don’t have any ideas.
Your colleagues and partners will have the subject matter expertise to have topic ideas kicking around and can let you know what THEY would like to hear on the show. This can be a great way to jump-start your motivation.
If you don’t have someone on your team or in your network you can ask on zero notice, then you can ask Chat GPT! You might want to prompt it with something like: ”Can you suggest 15 episode ideas for a podcast about widget manufacturing?” or “What are 10 questions business owners might ask before starting a podcast.”
The AI can be a great assistant and get rid of that blank page paralysis that causes so much difficulty in creating content.
2. Revisit an old episode
If you’ve been podcasting for a while, you’ve probably recorded a few that could use an update. I did this a few weeks ago with our episode Leveraging a Podcast in Your Business, which was an update to one of the very first episodes we’d ever released on the show.
I’d say it’s good practice to spend a little time with your episode archive every year to see what you’d like to update, expand on, or correct, if things have changed. A gap in the editorial calendar is a great time to do it.
3. Seek Inspiration from other podcasters in your space
You’re probably not the only company podcasting about what you’re podcasting about, so if you’re scrambling for an idea see what your fellows are talking about.
You don’t want to replicate their content by any means, but you might find topics you have your own opinion on, ideas you want to respond to, or just get inspired by the good work other people in your industry are doing. And it never hurts to give credit in these instances.
4. Search your inbox or your social media channels
Look for questions that people in your industry are asking about your industry. If you’ve got a sales or customer support team, they can be great to tap into for this too.
If someone cares about an issue enough to make a post about it, they probably aren’t the only one, and it could become part of your own question-and-answer library that you can have on hand when it comes up again in the future.
Between these four ideas, you should be able to get an episode out the door in short order. And once you do, do what I’m about to do, and record an additional episode that you can pop into the bank and pull out next time the inevitable happens.
“You’re probably not the only company podcasting about what you’re podcasting about, so if you’re scrambling for an idea see what your fellows are talking about.” – Megan Dougherty
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About Megan Dougherty
Megan Dougherty is the Co-Founder of One Stone Creative. She has been a digital marketer for over a decade, with a strong focus on digital course creation, content marketing, and multimedia content production. As the co-founder, she takes pride in high-quality, on-time work and helping people get their messages to the people who need to hear them.
She likes spreadsheets, deadlines, and creating online experiences that are good for both the creators and the end-users. She hates jumping out of airplanes, mushrooms, and hyperbolic language in messaging. When not helping to produce podcasts, courses, and videos, she bakes pies and watches Star Trek. (Janeway forever.)
Find her on LinkedIn!
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We’re starting to get ready for this year’s Podcasting for Business Conference, and we’re currently looking for speakers! Go to PFBCon.com and click on “Become a Speaker” to share your idea! It’s happening this November, all online.