About nine months ago, sisters Alison Goldstein Lebovitz and Amanda Goldstein Marks were on the phone, cracking each other up, when they realized their conversations might make a good podcast.
Each sister is accomplished in her own right: Lebovitz hosts a weekly PBS talk show from her hometown Chattanooga, Tenn., while Marks is a stand-up comedian based in Decatur, Ga. But by combining their long-distance wit, they produced a compelling podcast called Sis & Tell that gives listeners the sense they’re eavesdropping on a private, hilarious conversation.
Sis & Tell has won a lot of fans—and grown the sisters’ personal brands—in a short time due to its intimacy, authenticity and humor. But those fans, while adoring, will also let the sisters know when they’re screwing up.
“You have to make sure you’re staying true to your goals and mission,” says Lebovitz. “When we tried to make it a little more complex, what we heard from our listeners is go back to your roots.”
Lebovitz and Marks, who will be discussing podcasting at the upcoming Social Shake-Up Show, May 7-9 in Atlanta, offered up the following tips for launching a podcast.
Keep the Content Plan Simple
It all starts with the content plan: What can you offer that will make your podcast unique? What sets your podcast apart? Just as young writers are advised to “write what you know,” podcasters should also keep it real and not overreach or try to be somebody they’re not.
“From episode to episode, your content will evolve,” says Lebovitz. “But you have to go back and check to make sure that it’s still in line with your original concept. Don’t get too lofty, don’t get too grandiose, don’t try to do too many things at once.”
Case in point: When the sisters started interviewing people on their podcast, fans complained that it wasn't what they signed up for, straying too far away from the improvisational nature of their one-on-one conversations.
Keep the Technology Simple
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a podcast off the ground. As it grows, you might want to invest in high-end equipment, but make sure you’re going to commit to the podcast before you commit to spending big bucks, the sisters advise.
Marks and Lebovitz conduct their calls on Skype while wearing headsets, capturing the audio with an inexpensive program called Ecamm Call Recorder and editing it through Apple’s Garage Band program.
"The investment has been minimal and the output has been really extraordinary," says Lebovitz. "So, you don’t need a lot to get great results."
Keep the Promotion Simple
You also have to consider where to host your RSS feed—such as SoundCloud and Libsyn—and then you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops on as many channels as possible, such as iTunes and Stitcher.
“Somebody recently asked me which one, and I said ‘All of the above,’" says Marks. "Put them out as many places as possible."
It’s also critical to promote your podcast using titles, subject lines and hashtags that are going to draw attention quickly.
“You only have a few words and a few seconds to make the first impression with potential or current listeners,” says Lebovitz. “So, you want to draw them in with something that might be provocative or timely.”
Follow Jerry: @Jascierto