The Top 3 Characteristics of a Successful Podcast, According to a Podcasting Pro
Ginni Saraswati, founder and CEO of podcast production company Ginni Media, shares why Intentionality, Cadence, and Thoughtfulness of Content are the three most important characteristics of a successful podcast.
Podcasts have become increasingly popular in recent years as a platform for entrepreneurs to build their brands and share tricks of the trade. But with so many podcasts available, it can be challenging to break through the noise to build an audience.
There are few people better suited to help business owners solve this problem than Ginni Saraswati. Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Australia, Ginni’s path to podcasting started somewhat by accident. Ginni worked as a volunteer for an LGBTQ radio station in Melbourne, Australia for 10 years where she hosted a morning show. During that time, the early 2000s, radio stations began the practice of repurposing interviews that ran on FM radio into podcasts. This unintentionally made her a podcast host, and she quickly recognized podcasts as the future of audio.
She eventually launched her own podcast, The Ginni Show, but it wasn’t easy. With the exception of a producer who helped her put together sound effects, she had to figure out everything herself––and without the resources of the radio station machine behind her. She realized that if she was having this problem, other people were too. So, she launched a podcasting services side hustle: Ginni Media, a one-stop-shop podcast production company that offers a range of podcasting services under one roof.
Today, Ginni Media produces podcasts for renowned media brands such as Allure and Architectural Digest, while also providing tools for thousands of people to create and produce their own shows. And The Ginni Show has garnered multiple award nominations and scored interviews with luminaries such as Olympian Erin Mielzynski, Paula Abdul, Ruby Rose, fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, among others.
Below, Ginni shares the three characteristics of a successful podcast: Intentionality, Cadence, and Thoughtfulness of Content.
1. Be Intentional
The intention behind the podcast is crucial. Before starting a podcast, it is essential to determine why you are doing it.
Ginni Saraswati: I’m a New York Knicks fan––it’s something I’m passionate about and could talk about for eons. So if I created a Knicks podcast, the intention would not be to make money, but to create a platform where I can connect with other Knicks fans. But for some entrepreneurs, the intention behind a podcast could be a multitude of things: a content vehicle, a lead generator, an opportunity to connect with other people in their industry to grow their network and potentially collaborate with and grow relationships.
That intention party is super important because that is going to dictate how invested you're going to be financially or time-wise. Because podcasting is going to take one or both of those investments: you're gonna need to put in time or some form of finances behind it to keep it going.
So that's the first thing I think that step is often skipped. That's why there are so many, unfortunately, not-so-good podcasts out there. Intentionality is a key foundational block to podcasting.
2. Commit to a Cadence
The cadence of a podcast is another critical characteristic. It is essential to commit to a realistic cadence for your podcast because it creates a level of trust with your audience and they will appreciate your reliability.
Ginni Saraswati: Commit to a realistic cadence. I always recommend to my clients to try, at minimum, a weekly cadence. That way you don't have to put stress on your listener to remember when you’ll be uploading new episodes. If you don't develop that cadence and commit to it, you can very quickly break down the trust between you and your listener. If I tell my listeners that they’ll get a new episode every Monday at 6am but don’t stick to that, I risk losing people very quickly because there's so many options out there.
Podcasting is such an intimate form of media. You're literally in someone's ear. So the potential to impact is greater because it is such an intimate space. Typically people who listen to podcasts do so while they're completing tasks by themselves––it's like having a buddy come with you to go do your laundry or come with you on a walk. We take that for granted these days.
So that's why it’s so important to commit to a cadence. That’s the first step to developing trust with your listener.
3. Be Thoughtful and Engaging
A good podcast should have thoughtful and engaging content.
Ginni Saraswati: There should be a level of thoughtfulness and presence behind the content of a good podcast. It doesn't have to be this 13-page prepared story outline and structure, but there should be a level of thoughtfulness behind it.
A good podcaster is a good listener. In Q&A podcasts I often hear podcasters just rely on their question sheet––they jump to the next thing and the next thing and sometimes completely miss important insights that their guest shares. Listening to your guests and engaging with them can lead to more thoughtful conversations.
For more information on Ginni Media, visit their website and follow them on Instagram.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.