Schedule Your Way To A Successful Podcast
Thinking of starting a podcast? First you’ll need a plan — and an integral part of that plan is knowing how to schedule podcast episodes. Most podcasters post new episodes on a regular basis, and over time, that helps them build an audience. In order to consistently schedule podcast episodes — whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly — you need to know your process, set realistic deadlines, and stick to them. I don’t have my own podcast (yet!), so I reached out to a few podcasters for their best tips on how to schedule a podcast:
Marla Isackson, Host of the Mind of a Mentor Podcast
Marla Isackson, CEO and founder of Like A Boss Girls, hosts Mind of a Mentor, a weekly podcast where she talks with inspirational women about their personal stories. Mind of a Mentor has released more than 50 episodes over the last year, and to stick to the weekly schedule, Marla typically works on a few episodes at a time. She says, “I try to have a whole bunch [of episodes] in the queue. When I interview someone, I tell them their episode will run in about a month.”
Marla’s podcast team includes an audio editor and a virtual assistant who keeps guests informed every step of the way. Mind of a Mentor guests receive a series of messages during the podcasting process, starting with an email to set up a 15-minute screening phone call. Marla says, “I want to make sure the interviewee is articulate, knows what she’s talking about, is positive about what she does, and has an interesting story.”
The process also includes an email with a link to Marla’s Calendly account so that the guest can schedule a time to record their episode. The guest then receives a confirmation message that includes a link to the recording platform, a reminder email the day before, a thank you email after the podcast is recorded, and a message with the episode’s launch date that encourages the guest to share the link on social media.
She finds this podcast scheduling system efficient and effective. “All the emails we send out give a sense of professionalism, which is important because we want to be respectful to our guests and we want them to understand that we take their interview seriously.”
Catherine Meng, Host of the Design Voice Podcast
Catherine Meng is an architect based in San Francisco. She created the Design Voice Podcast to amplify the voices of women in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. When she first had the idea for her podcast, she put it off because she already had a full-time job and didn’t think she would have the time. Then she realized, “If I don’t make it, maybe no one else will, so I might as well just do it myself.” She found a way to make it work and launched Design Voice in 2018.
Catherine does all the work for her podcast herself, and she says the most time-consuming task is editing. It takes her five to six hours to edit each episode, and she typically does this during her lunch break and on weekends. She posts two episodes of the Design Voice Podcast each month, but she would do more if possible. “I would love to be able to put out one a week, but I know it’s unrealistic with how much time I have to spend on this.”
Like Marla, Catherine gets to know her guests before scheduling a recording. “I will try to chat with the person either on the phone or by email first to see if it makes sense for them to be on the show,” she says. So far, she’s never turned anyone down. “I find that everyone has interesting stories to tell.”
From there, she sends an email to schedule the interview. “There are all these scheduling tools and apps out there, and I looked into using them, but it seemed like more effort to use them than to just email a couple of times with my guests.” She gives the guest a range of dates and times and asks them to provide three dates and times that work for them. “If people give me three options, most often one of their options also works for me. I think it helps to give people a limit, and then I just have to choose from the choices they give me instead of asking an open-ended question like, ‘When are you free?’”
Suchandrika Chakrabarti, Host of Freelance Pod
Suchandrika Chakrabarti started Freelance Pod last fall. She says, “I decided to look at how the internet has changed — and is changing — work because I’m a journalist and I’ve had a front row seat to the digital shift in the industry over the past decade.” She interviews other journalists and podcasters about working in digital media and how this shift has unpredictably affected them.
As a freelancer, she finds that working on new episodes gives her typical work more structure, and she tries to schedule podcast episodes at least once per week. She says, “I’ve decided to get the episodes out on Sundays, which is a wildcard sort of day. How I feel each week ranges from ‘Can’t wait to get this one out!’ to ‘Oh god, work today? Noooo!’” Once the work is done, though, she loves the results. “It is so fulfilling to have that completed episode out there in public.”
Suchandrika’s podcast scheduling system varies from episode to episode. Sometimes she tries to schedule podcast guests just a few days ahead of time, and other times, she plans a few months out. She uses Google Calendar and an old-school paper notebook to keep things organized.
Her primary advice for other podcasters who want to stay on schedule: Back things up. She says, “I recommend storing a copy of your audio files in Google Drive, Dropbox, or some other cloud-based service just in case something happens to your laptop. If you’re recording on your phone, upload the audio to wherever you’re storing it ASAP.”
Katie Horwitch, Host of the WANTcast
Katie Horwitch runs WANTcast: The Women Against Negative Talk Podcast. The podcast is part of a movement of the same name she founded to help women shift their negative self-talk patterns. Katie launched her podcast in 2015, and she’s learned that the impulse to schedule podcast episodes ahead of time isn’t always helpful.
She says, “I used to record guests months in advance, but then I realized some of the information on the WANTcast would end up being outdated. I like to schedule my guests no more than two months in advance. On the flip side, sometimes I’ll record with a guest and air their episode two days later! It all depends on the structure and arc I’m going for within the season.”
Yes, the WANTcast has seasons, and Katie thinks your podcast should, too. She says, “Thinking of your podcast in terms of seasons help you plan efficiently, and prevents you from feeling like you’re just going with no end or purpose in sight. Whether you take a break in between seasons is up to you, although I’d highly recommend it. Separating into seasons of 10, 12, 15, 20, even 50 episodes can help you look back at what worked and what didn’t, then devise a game plan from there.”
Katie believes one of the reasons she’s been able to keep the WANTcast going consistently for almost four years is because she didn’t let herself get overwhelmed about how to schedule podcast episodes in the beginning. She says, “If posting an episode once a month on the first of the month is what works for you right now, great! I love that strategy! Quality of content always wins over quantity of episodes. You can always ramp up your production schedule once you become more well-versed in what you actually want to create and what your listeners are actually loving.”
Once you have that insight, you can schedule podcast episodes accordingly. “Posting for the sake of posting is not the way to make a dent in the podcasting world,” she said. “Finding your voice and staying true to it is.”