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How to Plan Your Podcast with Alastair McDermott

May 15, 2023
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

In this episode of The Recognized Authority, Alastair McDermott talks about the critical elements that can ensure podcast success. He offers a wealth of wisdom gained through his own experiences.

This episode is a special excerpt from Alastair’s audiobook, “33 Ways Not To Screw Up Your Business Podcast”. Alastair explores the vital aspects of planning and designing a podcast, from setting goals to identifying the target audience, selecting topics, deciding on the format, and even naming the podcast.

Alastair also introduces a pilot program that aims to aid experts in creating regular content. Whether you’re contemplating starting a podcast or not, this program promises a month’s worth of daily content with just two hours of work every month. If you’re interested in learning more, visit

This episode is packed with practical advice, making it a must-listen for anyone embarking on their podcast journey or seeking to refine their current podcast strategy. Check out the show notes for more details and reach out to Alastair on social media. Enjoy the show!

Show Notes

Guest Bio


podcast, episodes, authority, format, listeners, publishing, choose, topic, season, build, business, create, audience, guests, interview, recording, content, podcasters, evergreen, niche

Voiceover, Alastair McDermott


Alastair McDermott  00:00

In this episode, I’m going to dive into the key elements that go to creating a successful podcast.


Voiceover  00:05

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.


Alastair McDermott  00:22

This is actually an excerpt from my AUDIO BOOK “33 Ways Not To Screw Up Your Business Podcast”, which I’m recording right now. And this book is getting good reviews as a guide for people who wants to start a podcast. I’m very honored to have the foreword from Rochelle Moulton, who’s an authority in authority. The excerpt is from the start of the book, part one, which is called Designing Your Podcast. And it covers seven of the real key things in planning a podcast and designing a podcast. From goals to audience to topics to format and naming. I wanted to share with you some really practical insights and tips on planning the podcast.


Alastair McDermott  01:06

But before we get to the content of today’s episode, I just want to mention a pilot program that I’m going to be running over the next month or so. I am piloting a new offering to help experts to create content on a regular consistent basis. Doesn’t have to be a podcast, but it could be and it will help you to create a month’s worth of daily content with just two hours of work. Two hours of recording. Two hours of your time every month, and the rest is hands off for you. If that sounds interesting to you, then please check out the links in the show notes. Or reach out to me on social media. You’ll see all the links there.


Alastair McDermott  01:49

Now on with the excerpt from “33 Ways Not To Screw Up Your Business Podcast”.


Alastair McDermott  01:58

33 Ways Not To Screw Up Your Business Podcast. Number one, have a clear goal.


Alastair McDermott  02:05

Most podcasts fail and fail quickly. The quickest way to pod fade is to start without clear business goals. Starting and sustaining a podcast is a lot of work and having clear goals will guide you as you make decisions. The good news is having a podcast can help you achieve several different business goals, some compatible with others, and some less so. Start with the end in mind. Follow Stephen Covey’s advice. Start with the end in mind and you’ll start off on the right foot. Think about what you want to achieve with your podcast. For example, if you’re an independent business owner like me, you might want to establish your authority and personal brand, demonstrate your expertise and build relationships with clients. If you work in a larger firm, you might want to use the podcast to help recruit employees.


Alastair McDermott  02:50

Your Podcast goals could include growing your audience, establishing you as an authority and thought leader. Building relationships with potential clients, building relationships with authorities in your field, recruiting great employees monetization through sales of your services or products, monetization through sponsorship every decision that you make around the podcast should be framed in the context of achieving those goals. From naming the podcast to the format you choose to how long the episodes are. One way to think about this is where your ideal clients fit in your podcast.


Alastair McDermott  03:32

For a podcast focusing primarily on business development, your guests might be your ideal clients. For a podcast focusing primarily on building authority, your listeners might be your ideal clients and your guests are industry experts. Reality usually isn’t quite as clear cut. Podcasts are great for achieving multiple goals at the same time. So you might have a significant overlap. And that’s okay, it’s your podcast and you make the rules.


Alastair McDermott  04:04

33 ways not to screw up your business podcast. Number two, target a specific audience.


Alastair McDermott  04:13

The most important aspect of podcast planning is to pick a clear specific target audience. It’s not for everyone. Don’t try and create a podcast for everyone. Those podcasts end up being bland, lacking in personality and find it impossible to stand out. Instead, start with a specific target audience.


Alastair McDermott  04:34

For example, if you’re in the fitness space, rather than targeting the entire weight loss category, you might choose people who want to lose weight through VR gaming, or women who want to start back running after having a baby if you’re in marketing, rather than targeting all businesses, target niche like hotel furniture manufacturers, mid sized cargo transport operators, or men’s fashion ecommerce stores. By the way, those are all real examples of actual businesses. And while not all of them have podcasts yet, I think they would be interesting enough for their tired.


Alastair McDermott  05:09

I think they would be interesting enough for their target audience to listen to. Niching down is counterintuitive. It seems counterintuitive, but the more you niche down, the better. You’re moving from competing in the ocean to competing in a much smaller pond, you will stand out from the crowd. Your podcast will be more appealing to listeners in the niche audience. Your content will naturally be more interesting as you’re forced to make it relevant for your audience. If you’re not sure where to start with picking a niche, check out the specialization podcast at


Alastair McDermott  05:47

33 ways not to screw up your business podcast. Number three, choose a topic you love talking about.


Alastair McDermott  05:54

This should be obvious, but surprisingly, some podcasters don’t love the topic they’re talking about and it shows it’s a mistake to pick a topic purely based on popularity. When you love the topic you’re talking about your passion shows through in your voice and your energy, your listeners will pick up and appreciate it. It makes it a whole lot easier to sustain a podcast for months and years when you love the topic. You don’t need to be an expert. Yet. The good news is you don’t need to be an expert on the topic when you start. If you spend months or years podcasting about a topic, talking to experts in the field, your knowledge will inevitably grow over time. Interviewing experts is a fantastic way to learn as is researching and planning solo episodes. If the topic niche seems overcrowded, you might want to niche down further to a sub topic with less competition. But it is a positive sign. If there are already several podcasts covering the topic. Competition means the topic has been validated to some degree, and your fellow podcasters make for great guests for your podcast, and might even reciprocate by having you guests on their show too.


Alastair McDermott  06:42

One other thing to bear in mind is that you will naturally expand and diversify what you cover over time exploring related topics. That diversification is good. If there’s a clear link between topics, and your listeners have an interest in them. I would suggest focusing on the core topic first, and then branching out later. After you develop your style and build an audience.


Alastair McDermott  07:26

It’s okay to tweak things. You can also tweak and adjust the topic over time. It’s your podcast and you can do what you want with it. For example, after 20 episodes, I renamed my interview show from Marketing for Consultants to The Recognized Authority. Even though the name changed, I still cover exactly the same topics just with more focus branding. Obviously, it will be better not to make drastic changes that might confuse or irritate your listeners. But it’s absolutely fine to make changes that are congruent with your topic, your business and your goals. Whatever topic you choose, talking about something that you have genuine passion for will help you stay motivated and avoid burnout.


Alastair McDermott  08:09

33 ways not to screw up your business podcast. Number four, pick a format that lets you start easily.


Alastair McDermott  08:17

When you’re creating a podcast, you’ve got a lot of choices to make. One of the most interesting choices is the format of the podcast. Do you want to have an interview show, a solo show or a show with a regular co host? This decision comes back to your podcast goal. What do you want to achieve with the podcast? Here’s a rundown of options you can choose from and who they might be a good fit for. Starting with the more traditional format options.


Alastair McDermott  08:43

Interview podcast. The classic interview show is the most popular format, where you interview a different guests on each episode of your podcast. The content is naturally baked into the conversational format. As you can do as much or as little preparation as you like. The interview show comes with a network effect, you can reach new audiences if your guests share the episode with their social networks. That is not guaranteed to happen. But you can help by making it easier for them to share. See elsewhere in this book for more on that. You can choose who to bring onto your interview show. It’s a great way to build relationships with people you couldn’t normally access that could be well known authorities in your field, or you could bring on guests that you’ve identified as potential clients of your business. The downside of an interview podcast is that you were putting the guests on a pedestal to showcase their expertise, and it can be difficult to showcase your own expertise and build your own authority in that context.


Alastair McDermott  09:43

Co-hosts podcast. Co-hosts podcasts are buddy shows were the same co hosts take part in each episode. These often make for very popular podcasts when the co-hosts have great rapport and have fun. Some podcasts have a panel of co-hosts and rotate in than out each episode. I don’t think it’s coincidence that my favorite podcasts to listen to are in the co-host format, including 2Bobs with David C. Baker and Blair Enns, and The Business of Authority with Rochelle Moulton and Jonathan Stark. This form can work really well if the CO hosts already have a large audience. But bear in mind that you won’t get the same network effect as interviewing a different guest each week. Unless you want to bring a guest into a two. It’s your podcast, you get to choose.


Alastair McDermott  10:30

Solo podcast. The solo format is where you pull up a mic and start recording yourself. This is the simplest of all podcast formats, but also one of the toughest to pull off. Solo Podcasts can foster a more intimate connection with your listener as you’re talking directly to them. But you have to be careful not to bore them. As you don’t have the changeup of voice that comes with another person on the audio. You can help to break up the monotony of the monologue by varying your tone of voice, the speed that you speak, and even introducing breaks with audio stings like you hear on the radio. For solo episodes, it’s important to outline your podcast in advance, an open with an attention grabbing hook that opens a loop in their head. Evergreen educational podcast. One format that is hugely interesting is an evergreen educational podcast. I first saw this from Seth Godin, where he recorded a two day workshop for entrepreneurs called Startup school. Seth published it as a 15 episode evergreen podcast published in 2012. And it’s been online for over a decade, helping entrepreneurs building his authority and acting as a top of funnel device. You can listen to spotlight podcasting is Jonathan Bailey strong and I discussed the benefits of the Evergreen podcast format. In episode 65 of The Recognized Authority. Coaching podcast, you could record coaching sessions with clients only with permission of course, to show what it’s like working with you. I’ve done this on The Recognized Authority. Natalie Ekdahl does this on her biz chicks podcast. And Jonathan Stark does this on ditching early hybrid show. You can pick up hybrid format, where you have a mix of different formats in different episodes of your podcast, or even different formats within a single episode. Repurpose other content, you can repurpose other content to your podcast for example, YouTube videos, recordings of conference talks, webinars or even panel discussions. You can use this repurpose content to supplement your regular podcast episodes. And in fact, mixing it up can help to keep listeners engaged. What I picked for my podcasts, I chose interview show as the primary format for The Recognized Authority, because I wanted to create a sustainable, long term audience building podcast. However, to help build my own authority and credibility, I occasionally publish solo episodes, and with permission republished my appearances on other people’s podcasts. I chose the Evergreen educational model for the specialization podcast in order to quickly create an asset that generates leads for my business and positions me as an authority on specialization. It was far quicker for me to record this podcast than to write a book and it works in a similar fashion in building authority. I again chose interview show as the format for Accelerating Your Authority, because I wanted to interview my ideal clients in a short form higher frequency podcast than The Recognized Authority. Having a separate podcast for this allowed me to optimize the workflow to automate more and to turn around publishing the episodes more efficiently. It’s your show and your choice. Just remember that whatever you choose to do, you need to keep it sustainable over the long term. 33 ways not to screw up your business podcast. Number five, pick a short name. Naming your new podcast is an important step in creating your podcast. It’s important because it sets the tone for what your show is all about and helps you stand out in the sea of podcasts. It is a significant decision. And so I have some specific tips to help you. But before we get to that, I want to reassure you of something. The podcast name is not set in stone. You can change the name later. I’ve renamed my podcast as of plenty of other podcasters I changed mine from Marketing for Consultants to The Recognized Authority after 20 episodes. In fact, if you go back and listen, you can hear the different introduction. Obviously it’s better to pick something fantastic and stick with it from the start. But don’t let the naming decision bog down your progress. Choose something good enough and get moving. My tips for choosing a podcast name here are Some tips to guide you through the process. Number one, keep it short and sweet. Aim for a name that is four words or less and memorable so that listeners will be more likely to recommend your podcast to others. Number two, avoid using a personal name. Unless you have established a personal brand, a large audience, it’s best to choose a name that’s in line with your topic, rather than using your own name. Number three, relevance is key. Your name should reflect the content and theme of your podcast. Number four, branding. Your Podcast name should reflect the tone and style of your show. If your show is humorous, your name should reflect that. If your show is serious and informative, your name should reflect that as well. Number five, zoom at a level. Choose your topic and then move up one level of abstraction so that your name has room to grow as your show evolves. This also means that if you want to bring guests on, they will feel like they can contribute to the discussion. Number six, say it out loud. Practice saying your potential names out loud to see how they sound. Number seven availability. Make sure the name was available as a domain name and is not in use for another podcast. Search on Apple podcasts and on Spotify. Number eight, test the name. Before finalizing your podcast name. Try it out and a few friends, family members and potential listeners get their feedback and see if they think the name accurately represents your show. Number nine, avoid common words. Don’t include the word that or podcast in your title. And try to choose a name that is unique and sets your show apart from others. Number 10. Consider search. Think about how your name will appear in search engines, and if possible, include keywords related to your niche. In conclusion, choose a name that accurately represents the content and style of your show is memorable, relevant and unique. And remember, if you don’t love the name, you can always change it later. The most important thing is to start creating and sharing your content. 33 ways not to screw up your business podcast. Number six, pick a frequency that you can stick to podcasting is a long term play, you need to show up consistently. Consistency builds trust. Publishing regularly over a significant period of time demonstrates your audience that you are reliable and enough for the long term. listeners will start to bring your podcast into their routine once they trust that you will show up at the same time every time that allows them to develop us parasocial relationship with you where they feel like they know and trust you. I release The Recognized Authority at 6:01am Every Monday, and have done so for over 100 episodes. I’ve gotten emails from listeners in several countries, telling me how it’s part of their Monday morning routine. Workflow. There are a lot of moving parts involved in releasing a podcast episode. Some of that will depend on your choice of format, and whether you create individual episode cover art. at a very minimum, you will be recording and editing audio writing show notes for each episode and uploading it to your podcast host. You will need good workflows to produce a podcast episode time after time. Ideally, you’ll delegate as much of the heavy lifting as possible, leaving you free to concentrate on producing great content. Release frequency. When you are considering frequency, there are acceleration effects to consider. The more often you release, the quicker you’ll build an audience and see benefits for your business. On the other hand, you risk burning out if it’s more frequent than you can handle daily. If you can keep up with the Daily Show, your learning curve will be very quick. And you should see acceleration effects coming into play where you grow faster than your less frequently published peers. You can do weekdays only to give yourself a bit of space and use batching to record a week’s worth of episodes in an afternoon. Alternatively, you could record on a live stream. See the section on formats for more about that.


Alastair McDermott  19:33

You do risk burning ash, but it can and has been done by many podcasters led by John Lee Dumas and his entrepreneurs on fire podcast, which has around 4000 episodes at this point. You can hear me speak with him about podcasting and content creation on episode 113 of The Recognized Authority. Weekly. The most common release schedule for active podcast is weekly. It’s a sweetspot for a lot of podcasters. With a weekly release, your regular listeners can make your podcast a part of their routine. If your podcast is 20 to 45 minutes, you’re probably spending two to three hours a week recording an on production. monthly and quarterly. I know some podcasters who release at a slower pace, like monthly or quarterly, it’s less likely that it will become part of your listeners routine. But there is still some value in positioning you as an authority and demonstrating your expertise. One off, I mentioned an evergreen educational podcast series in the format discussion. I think that there’s a place for these one off podcast series. And that’s underscored by the fact that Seth Godin startup school podcast is still live and hasn’t been updated in over a decade. 33 ways not to screw up your business podcast. Number seven, do a fixed length first season. Rather than launching your podcast with an open ended goal, you can plan to do a fixed length for Season. A podcast season is similar to a TV show, it separates the episodes out into self contained blocks. Seasons give you a natural break. Having seasons gives you a number of advantages. It’s a natural break that gives you a chance to step back and evaluate how the podcast is working for you. It’s an opportunity to vary the show themes between seasons. This is particularly useful for educational podcasts, you could change up the format from solo to interview, or bring in a new co host. You can even switch up the publishing schedule. Although I’d be wary of changing the schedule too much as you might lose some of your regular listeners. The break gives you a rest, it means you get a chance to step off the publishing treadmill, you can take time to recharge and get excited for the next season. You choose the season length. With seasons, you choose what works best for you. From the number of episodes in the season to the frequency of publishing to the length of the break between seasons, it’s entirely up to you how you do it. Take a cue from TV, or even shows with similar formats can have entirely different approaches to season length. Take CSI Miami, which regularly had 24 to 25 episodes per season, and the BBC Sherlock, which took a very different approach with only three episodes per season. Short first season is great for testing. If you’re completely new to podcasting, you might want to commit to a first season of eight to 12 episodes. That will give you an early break to implement feedback, pivot, change workflow, release schedules, or even change the podcast format. A longer season builds momentum. If you were a veteran podcast listener, and you’ve been planning your podcast for some time, you might plan for the first season of 50 or even 100 episodes. That’s what I did with The Recognized Authority, taking a short hiatus at episode 100. To evaluate the format and options. Seek listener feedback. One thing that you can do with seasons is to ask for feedback from your listeners. As you’re coming to the end of the season. Create a short survey asking them what they love about the show and what doesn’t work so well for them. You can ask them about the topics the frequency, the episode length, and the format. Use the feedback to plan your next season to make it even better. Tell your listeners what they can expect. The final piece of advice with seasons is to tell your listeners about it. Tell them when you’re planning to take a break and when you’ll be back, they’ll be far more likely to stick around if they know what’s going on. Thanks for listening. That is an excerpt from my AUDIO BOOK 33 ways not to screw up your business podcast is currently available in Kindle paperback hardcover over on Amazon. And the audiobook will soon be available on Audible as well. So like I mentioned at the start of the episode, I am piloting a new offering to help experts to create content on a regular consistent basis doesn’t have to be a podcast, but it could be and it will help you to create a month’s worth of daily content with just two hours of work two hours of recording two hours of your time every month, and the rest is hands off for you. If that sounds interesting to you, then please check out the links in the show notes or reach out to me on social media. You’ll see all the links there. Love to hear from you about that and get out there and get creating content start building a body of work. See you next time.


Voiceover  24:47

Thanks for listening to The Recognized Authority with Alastair McDermott. Subscribe today and don’t miss an episode. Find out more at the recognized

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