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Podcast mission statement

Like any creative endeavour, a podcast needs a guiding principle, a mission statement or a simple few words that act as your North Star. These words will help you through those days where getting the next episode out feels like a slog, and help you formulate your elevator pitch: that brief sentence that describes what makes your show a must-listen for your target audience.

Hopefully you’ve already thought about why you want to start a podcast, and why a podcast is the right medium for your message. Now it’s time to think about who will listen, how they’ll listen (in earbuds at the gym, on the sofa with a glass of scotch, or in the kitchen with a smart speaker), and how your podcast fits into their schedule.

Your podcast will deliver value to your listeners. Now you get to think about how your listeners will contribute value back to you. Is it through eventual monetisation, to sign up to your product, to attend your training sessions, to buy your book, or to come to gigs? As you provide value to your listeners, they’ll provide value back to you and hopefully your listenership will grow, which will enable you to make even better podcast content, which your listeners will love more… and the cycle continues.

Your podcast’s listener story

A listener story is a way of distilling your podcast’s purpose into one short phrase. It’s a statement that follows this format:

“I make [my podcast name] about [my subject matter] for [my target audience] so they can [have some benefit].” Here’s a few examples of listener stories from podcasts you may already know:

  • I make 99% Invisible, a podcast about the hidden thought that goes into things that we take for granted. I make it for people who like to question the things many of us don’t think about, so they can become better informed about the world around them.
  • I make the Reply All podcast about Internet culture, for people who /are/curious about the web but aren’t necessarily technical, so they can explain to their uncle how our phones aren’t actually spying on us.
  • I make Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, where I speak to comedians and other celebrities. I make it for comedy fans so they can have a laugh and learn more about the people they watch on-screen.

Remember that your audience isn’t “anyone who likes to laugh” or “people who like TV”. If you already have a significant audience or following, they might be a suitable audience, but if you’re just starting out and you want your podcast to be able to grow, you’ll need to think about exactly who will be listening.

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