How I Created One of India’s Top Podcasts on My First Attempt
Updated: Mar 11, 2021
I know that title sounds a little braggy. I had to do it for the SEO benefits. And because I like to brag. But hopefully I can make up for my boasting with some valuable information on how I created one of India’s top podcasts on my first attempt. Yes, me.
You: Wait, which podcast?
So glad you asked. The podcast is a documentary mini-series called Bangalore In Stories. It’s about some really cool things that happened in Bangalore and maybe even shaped the city’s culture in some ways. On the show, I interview people who were involved in those cultural events or have some kind of connection to them.
Chart-topping shenanigans aside, I’ve gotten to cover some amazing stories from doing the podcast. Like the one about how two people who escaped the Holocaust and did hard labour in Siberia made it to Bangalore and eventually introduced popcorn to India. Or the one about the band from Bangalore that became the first Heavy Metal outfit from Asia to be featured on MTV. I’m humbled I’ve gotten to tell these stories and capture them on audio for generations to come (sappy, I know).
This all started when I came across that story I just mentioned about the couple that introduced popcorn to India. I read that and thought to myself, “There have to be more crazy stories like this one that happened right here in Bangalore.” And so I went looking for them.
Before we get to some of my ideas on how to create a great podcast, let me clarify a phrase from the title.
What Does It Even Mean to Be "One of India's Top Podcasts"?
Just to be clear, we're one of the top podcasts in India on the Apple Podcasts charts. That happened after Apple picked us for their New & Noteworthy spotlight. That's a list where Apple picks “compelling, new, or unusual content" to show up on the front page of Apple Podcasts.
Getting on New & Noteworthy is something of a holy grail in podcasting. It’s a fast-track to podcasting stardom, bringing with it new subscribers, glowing reviews, and the ability to write articles like this one.
Somewhere around when we hit the New & Noteworthy list, we also became one of the top podcasts in India on Apple's charts. The highest we've been so far is #6. We’ve been the #1 Documentary podcast in India on Apple Podcasts for a month straight now. We’ve also reached the top of the Society & Culture category. Yes, it’s been quite the ride.
So when I say that we’re one of the top podcasts in India, what I mean is we’ve done really well on Apple Podcasts. We have a sizable listenership on other podcasting platforms but nothing that comes close to what we’ve achieved on Apple’s podcasting app. At this point, you probably have this one question at the top of your mind.
How Do I Make It Into Apple’s New & Noteworthy Podcasts List?
The honest answer to that question is that I don’t know. In fact, nobody really does, except a few Apple insiders.
If you look this up online, you’ll see that everyone has their theories about how to get on Apple’s New & Noteworthy list. Some people believe that the number of subscribers and reviews your podcast gets within 8 weeks of its launch is what determines the selection. But there are plenty of podcasts with lots of subscribers and reviews that never get there.
One thing that’s for sure is that Apple does handpick some podcasts to put in the New & Noteworthy list. So if you make a really great podcast and don’t find a huge audience, you can still make it on there. All that’s in your control is making a great podcast. And that’s what we’ll talk about next.
How to Make a Great (Possibly Chart-Topping) Podcast
Now we know that there isn’t a surefire way to get on Apple’s New & Noteworthy section. But there is an obvious way to make the charts on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else they have podcast charts: lots of listens, subscribers, and reviews. All that is partly a by-product of creating great content. Let’s talk about a few ways you can make that happen.
What Should I Podcast About?
This is the first question that any budding podcaster has. "I want to say something but what do I say and why would anyone want to listen!"
I hear you. I felt the same way, too. I talked to people about starting a podcast for years before I did. And then I finally took the plunge. How'd I do it? By doing it. It's that simple. Do the Nike thing.
As to what to podcast about, I recommend choosing something you enjoy talking about. That way the only extra step to creating the podcast is sticking a mic in your face.
I made Bangalore In Stories because I love the city and pointlessly rue not being around here in the ‘70s and ‘80s. So I created a podcast about Bangalore and its stories. You can make a podcast about travel or cooking or strategies to deal with that one annoying neighbour. If you really care about something, other people probably do, too.
The main reason this is important is because successful podcasting is about consistency. The only way you’ll get anywhere with it is if you do it for a while. So you want to pick a theme that you won’t mind droning on about for years and years.
How to Make a Podcast
Don’t overthink the equipment. You can start a podcast using just your phone today and it’ll sound just fine. No, really, it will. But if you really care about quality you can find one of those lists online about budget podcasting mics.
The main idea is that what you say is more important than what equipment you use to say it. Of course, you don’t want your audio to sound like it’s coming from the inside of a hungry animal’s stomach. As long as your listeners can tell what you’re saying, you should be fine.
Record your audio into Audacity if you’re using a computer. It’s a piece of free software that you can use to record and manipulate audio. Make your podcast art with Canva if you’re just starting out.
The final piece to the puzzle is a podcast host. There are some free options like Anchor, which I’ve recommended to people and seen work just fine. There are also a few paid options. I use BuzzSprout because they give you a nice-looking website and it’s been really great to use so far.
How to Find an Audience for Your Podcast
Your first few listeners will always be close family and friends. You want to cajole and coerce as many of them as possible into listening to your podcast, sharing it, and leaving reviews on Apple Podcasts.
Of course, share your podcast on social media so people in your extended network know what you’re up to. You’ll be surprised how many friends you haven’t met in years will be nice enough to share something you’ve made if it’s genuinely good stuff.
One strategy that really worked for me was creating a trailer for my podcast well before it launched (here it is in case you want to take a look at it). The snippets in the trailer piqued people’s curiosity and I had a lot of my friends get very excited about the podcast.
Once the podcast was out, I created 1-minute trailers for every episode. This was, once again, to coax listeners with an easily digestible piece of content. You need them to buy into your idea before they commit an hour of their lives to listening to an episode. A trailer is a great way to get that done.
Make sure to have a small section in your podcast where you plug your own podcast. Use that opportunity to let people know where to find you online and that you’d like a review on Apple Podcasts. I closed my podcast out with that and I have a feeling some of the reviews that we got came from that.
To state the obvious, being active on social media is a great way to build your audience. I created a dedicated Instagram page for Bangalore In Stories and posted snippets from the podcast there. I also reposted some of that content to my personal profile. Consistently posting bonus content on social media with appropriate hashtags works well to get new eyeballs (earballs?) your way.
What Makes Your Podcast Different?
Not to be that guy or anything, but, what makes your podcast different? Why should anyone spend any of their short lives listening to you? It’s important to ask yourself that if you want to create a podcast that really makes a mark.
Seth Godin likens this to being a purple cow. There are millions of podcasts out there and if you aren’t a purple cow in a field of black and white, you aren’t going to create something that gets shared around.
But before you start obsessing over what makes you different, a disclaimer. Don’t let the thought paralyze you to the extent that you end up not creating a podcast at all. Always favour execution over ideation. It will amaze you how much you learn just from putting something out into the world.
While you’re definitely working towards putting a podcast out, give some thought to what makes it unique. I loved the idea of Bangalore In Stories because there’s nothing quite like it out there. I’ve had people hit me up and ask me how I managed to find some of the stories we’ve covered. That’s a good sign that you’ve made something that stands out from the crowd.
You don’t have to know your podcast’s USP before the first episode is out. Sometimes, you need to put something out there, see how your audience reacts, and then change something up to make your podcast more entertaining or impactful.
Go Forth and Be Fruitful
So that was a lot of the wisdom I’ve acquired from creating Bangalore In Stories. Although the small success the podcast has had is nice, my biggest takeaway from all this is how great it feels to create something I’m proud of. That’s the best feeling in the world. It’s right up there with finding a curly fry in your order of regular fries.
Now it’s your turn. Go make that podcast you’ve always wanted to make. It’s a lot of fun and such a great medium to tell all the stories inside you.
In case you’re wondering who I am, I’m Prateek and I’m the founder of a podcasting agency called PodMacha. Along with creating original shows like Bangalore In Stories, we also produce and run podcasts for companies and entrepreneurs.
If you have any questions about podcasting, hit me up on LinkedIn. I would love to help!