Jason Ward 4/4/24 11:30 AM

The answer is why – creating a successful podcast often boils down to answering one simple question

During my nearly 2-year journey with Netprofile, I've had the luxury of working on several podcast projects with our clients. During these escapades I've had the pleasure and honor to work in relatively diverse roles from scriptwriter to mixer. 

Another facet I’ve partaken in is crafting the theme music. It's a role near and dear to my heart – and one with various enlightening aspects. Through musicianship I've repeatedly found myself pondering the psyche of podcasts and what often goes awry in sculpting such content for a business-minded audience. 

Guidelines stretch beyond paper trails 

With the uninterrupted rise of the medium, a surprising amount of podcast practitioners seem willing to sell you on the idea that only a certain kind of key can unlock the treasure trove of success with the format. With all due respect: hogwash. That’s like implying that only a certain kind of frame can house the painting you wish to display in a manner befitting the art. 

The secret to a podcast's success isn't a musical intro under 12 seconds, a meticulously manicured script, or a celebrity host behind the mic. Equipping your podcast with one or all of the aforementioned aspects may indeed provide better odds for success, but they certainly guarantee nothing. 

However, if the people behind the enterprise believe in the core message and take strides to ensure it resonates with others, we’re on the right path. It becomes much easier to grasp the essence of this blog’s title: the content needs to answer the question of why. 

When podcast creators have something to say, a well-thought-out and professionally honed structure helps the content shine. Without substance, though, the blueprint for a successful podcast is about as enticing as an empty frame.

A destination suffices for a map – add purpose for fuel 

The modus operandi of podcasts is generally derived from the same two components as professional creative work in general: what are we doing (1), and when do things need to progress to the next phase (2). A key part of the executor's role is the ability to define the combination ratio of the two to ensure the best possible outcome. 

One plus two. That's content creation in a nutshell for ya. 

It's essential for projects to have guidelines in place for the thin red line to stay visible and traceable for all involved. This line in the sand needs two things to be truly useful and usable: a target, and a reason for why it's being drawn in the first place. 

As a composer, I'm fairly quick and consistent when necessary, but this flexibility is dependent on understanding the apparent and the subtext. To having a clear and concise line-of-sight to why this creative path has been chosen. The keyword is applicability: the map is marked with Rome’s location, but the journey there requires (and allows) free-form navigation. 

Efficient time management as well as diversity of expression hinge on the same factor: how comprehensively the underlying motives of the project have been defined. The question is not only about where we are going, but why we are on this journey in the first place. Once these details are defined, things along the way tend to fall into place. 

That may sound naive, but I know what I'm talking about.

A dozen years of joy and tears 

This year marks the 12th anniversary of our video game podcast, Nelinpeli; a beloved hobby project for its creators, myself included. I don't mention this to boast - well, not just to boast - but to emphasize that I've been wading in the deep end of the podcast pool long before podcasts became so popular. When you arrive at the party before the crowds start to amass, you have ample time to get to know the space before it fills up with other people. 

Still chugging along on the same budget of zero, Nelinpeli remains one of Finland's most popular nerd-centric guerrilla medias. More noteworthy than the long lifespan, though, is the way we’ve managed to find success: essentially, by doing things in a way that directly contradicts what all contemporary podcast wisdom seems to direct you towards. Those who consider themselves knowledgeable in the field of podcasts would tell you we've been doing everything wrong from the start. 

That might be entirely true. However, there's one thing we got right from the start: we knew how to tell our audience, each other, and ourselves what the reason for our podcast's existence was. Why we wanted to embark on this journey and crash this desolate podcast party before anyone else had shown up. And you know what? That was enough. 

From thereon, things have had a tendency to fall into place. 

Let's continue the conversation later, perhaps on the metrics of podcast success – I have a few thoughts on that, too. In the meantime, be sure to get in touch, and let's start brainstorming about the best reason to create a podcast for your business.