Does this situation sound familiar? You waited patiently for a highly anticipated package to arrive at your home, but when you check your mail on the scheduled delivery date, it’s nowhere to be found.
Talk about a vibe killer.
The same thing can happen with podcasts: listeners expect new episodes on a steady schedule, but if they’re released later than expected, it might impact consistent listener engagement with your show.
When podcasters don't stick to a steady schedule, it can be the first sign of "podfading," when a show becomes less and less regular until it eventually disappears. One of the best ways to keep yourself accountable and avoid podfading is by implementing a podcast schedule.
This is a 360-degree view of every component that goes into creating and distributing your episodes.
In this article, you’ll learn the importance of a podcast schedule, what goes into it, and how to use it to manage your workload.
Make your podcast schedule the foundation of your show
Whether podcasting is your main gig or your side hustle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with planning, recording, and releasing episodes on a consistent basis. That’s why a podcast schedule is essential to keep track of which tasks are done, what’s coming up, and when it’s all due.By organizing the elements of your upcoming episodes, you’ll be less likely to miss a deadline and fall out of rhythm. Not to mention, the added structure can help you feel more confident as a creator.Keep in mind a podcast schedule is more than a calendar listing your episode release dates or a notebook full of ideas. To get the most out of your podcast schedule, it needs to be comprehensive and action-oriented. Here’s how it’s done.
How to design a podcast schedule that works for you
No matter what type of show you produce, podcast schedules work best when you plan the big picture first, then map out the details. This approach keeps your priorities straight and ensures you don’t get lost in the details of podcast production.Let’s break down three main tasks that go into designing a podcast schedule.
Map out your editorial calendar
A podcast editorial calendar is a big picture view of the future episodes for your show. It can live in a digital calendar or project management software (more on that later).Chances are you have lots of episode ideas with different variables, so keeping them in one place is a great way to stay organized—especially if you collaborate with multiple people.An editorial calendar also helps you visualize and stay accountable to your publishing schedule, whether that’s an episode every day or every week. Ideally, you should have at least one episode scheduled for each one you release, but planning further out can reduce the likelihood of running out of ideas. If you’re in the planning phase of your podcast, it can help to record a few episodes before your official launch date so you’ll have episodes in the bank to stay consistent from the get-go. This is also a great way to test your flow and figure out an ideal production schedule moving forward.Beyond the episode title and description, here are some useful criteria to include for each entry in your editorial calendar to clarify your thinking:
- Target publish date
- Episode season and/or number
- Episode topic or title and guest (if applicable)
- Whether it will be a video podcast, audio-only, or both
You should aim to stick to your editorial calendar as much as possible, but it doesn’t have to be set in stone. For example, if you get a last-minute opportunity to interview your dream guest, you might have to rearrange your production schedule. The important thing is that you always keep your calendar up to date, so nothing slips through the cracks.
Define all of your tasks
With podcasting, you quickly learn there’s a lot of work that goes into every episode: brainstorming, scripting, editing, marketing, and more.Once you set your editorial calendar, outline the actions you’ll take for those episodes to go from planned to published. They don’t have to be in order at this point, but making a list helps you estimate your workload and ensures consistent quality across all of your episodes.Specific production tasks can vary depending on your show’s structure, genre, and complexity. But here are some fundamental components of podcast production to keep in mind:
- Conduct topic research
- Identify and book guest(s)
- Write your podcast script
- Record the episode
- Edit the episode
- Incorporate ad breaks or ad reads into the episode
- Write your episode description and show notes
- Create episode artwork
- Publish episode
- Draft and schedule promotional content: social media, email, website, etc.
- Review episode analytics
Breaking down your production process into small chunks makes it more manageable and also helps you identify which tasks can be delegated.
Create a standardized production workflow
A podcast production workflow is a pre-defined process you’ll follow to publish each episode. It details when each task needs to be completed, who handles them, and how much time is allotted.One popular way to structure your workflow is with a flowchart, which breaks down the steps of your process in sequential order. If you’re operating on hard deadlines, it can be helpful to block off a specific amount of time for each—for example, two hours for research, three hours for editing, etc. This way, you can avoid biting off more than you can chew in a given day.The most important part of creating a workflow is ensuring it’s standardized, meaning you stick to the same preset guidelines for each round of production. The fewer decisions you have to make, the more efficient your production process will be.
3 tips for a more efficient podcast schedule
These strategies will help you manage your workload, so you can spend less time on logistics and more time creating content.
1. Use project management software
Project management software puts all of your tasks, due dates, and workflows into one space. A dedicated tool for project management will give you several advantages over traditional spreadsheets, including the ability to upload and share files, assign tasks, and collaborate remotely.
2. Delegate when possible
You don’t have to be a professional at every aspect of podcasting to create an amazing show. Many top podcasters don’t work solo.For example, you might be a great researcher, but editing isn’t your strong suit. It’s better to ask for help than to fall behind schedule because you’re trying to do everything yourself. Whether you have friends who want to get involved or you hire professionals, delegating will free you up to focus on your strengths as a creator.
3. Take advantage of automation
Automating tedious tasks lets you save your time and energy for high-level thinking. Here are a few ways to work automation into your production process:
- Use Anchor to schedule your episodes to publish at a later date
- Voice-to-text software to create a show transcription
- Social media scheduling software to pre-batch your content
- Calendar apps to schedule recording sessions, interviews, and meetings
Build a routine to build an audience
Creating content that’s entertaining and engaging certainly plays a huge role in the growth of your show. However, if your podcast falls behind schedule or lacks consistency, it can be hard to maintain the momentum you need to build a fan base.That’s especially true in the early stages of podcasting when you’re trying to earn people’s trust. Accordingly, the sooner you settle into a podcast schedule, the better off you—and your listeners—will be. When you combine creativity with consistency, you set your show up for success.