As a software engineer and avid tech enthusiast, starting Git Cute Podcast, a tech podcast, was a way to enhance and share knowledge, insights, and passion with a global audience. That said, launching a podcast is a significant undertaking, and making sure you take an intentional approach could mean the difference between success and failure.
Here are a few steps and considerations for launching a tech podcast, from defining your niche to selecting equipment, engaging with the audience, and building a successful brand.
Discovering your specific area of expertise
Around the time I started Git Cute, I was going through an intense phase of imposter syndrome in my previous role as a senior software engineer at the time. My podcast, among other important purposes, was a helpful outlet to preserve my sanity.
Whatever your reasons are for starting, it is crucial to identify your niche before delving into the podcasting realm. The vast tech landscape covers diverse topics like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, software development, gadgets, and more. Narrowing your focus will help to become an expert and attract a dedicated audience. For example, my area of expertise in software engineering is Java and platform engineering.
Narrowing your focus will help to become an expert and attract a dedicated audience.
So many of Git Cute's episodes are about core concepts in object-oriented programming, infrastructure, or various aspects of DevOps, including Ci/Cd. Next, conduct thorough research to identify gaps in the current tech podcast market and find a unique angle that resonates with your interests and expertise.
Planning & content creation
Creating compelling content is the cornerstone of a successful podcast. Here’s some of the key areas you’ll want to hone in on as you consider the best content for your audience.
1. Develop a content plan
Outline the topics, themes, and formats you want to explore. In the beginning, I wrote my first season of episodes in a notebook while I was at work at my first senior engineering job. I wrote about things that I wish I would have known about before I became a senior software engineer, things that I was passionate about, and things that I knew my community would want expansion on.
2. Determine the best format
Consider the length and frequency of your episodes to maintain consistency and meet audience expectations. I knew that since I was going to be the only person on my podcast for the season, I wanted my episodes to be no longer than 30 minutes and to get directly to the point while still maintaining a conversation tone.
3. Keep up with trends
Stay updated with the latest tech trends and innovations, which will allow you to deliver valuable insights. As a software engineer, it is important to stay up-to-date on news about languages, frameworks, or hardware, for instance. Incorporate that knowledge into your podcast episodes and be sure to expand upon the topic with additional research and context.
4. Stay authentic
Remember to add your personal touch, injecting your enthusiasm and opinions into the discussions to make your podcast stand out. This was the most important part of the entire podcast for me; my opinions are what is going to make my episodes stand out from other tech podcasts. Showing your enthusiasm does not have to be forced if you are talking about topics that you are truly interested in learning about and sharing that.
Equipment & recording setup
To produce high-quality audio, investing in podcasting equipment is essential. Here are a few tips:
- Purchase a reliable microphone to capture clear and crisp audio, reducing background noise. USB microphones such as Blue Yeti or Audio-Technica ATR2100x are popular for beginners and are less expensive. I had a Blue Yeti initially and soon invested in a Shure SM7B, not only due to the success of Git Cute, but also because I can use it for various other activities like streaming.
- Acquire headphones to monitor audio quality during recordings. It's important to note that these items don't necessarily have to be expensive. Using headphones vs. editing through your speakers is preferred to hear subtle differences in background and speaker audio.
- Consider using audio editing software like Audacity, or you can choose a podcast hosting platform with already built-in editing capabilities; I'm currently using Spotify for Podcasters.
It’s going to take some experimentation to get it right, so try different recording techniques and environments to find the setup that yields the best results.
Engaging the audience
To create a dedicated and engaged listener base, it's crucial to encourage participation by asking questions, requesting feedback, and inviting listeners to share their thoughts and experiences. A few takeaways from my experience on this front:
- When I was first starting Git Cute, I wanted to keep my light, joyful demeanor from Twitter - my main audience base - and be sure that crossover audiences would feel right at home from the first episode.
- I also ask listeners to email me any questions, comments, or concerns at the end of every episode; You can incorporate their suggestions in future episodes to create a sense of community. Since Twitter is my favorite social media platform, it was easy to promote on social media by crossposting and setting up teaser bytes to attract listeners.
- Related to the above, use the social media platform that you are the most comfortable with and promote your podcast regularly. By doing this, you will be interacting with your tech community which can lead to collaborating with other podcasters or industry experts. This can also result in expanding your network and attracting new listeners.
Building a podcast brand
A distinct brand identity will help your podcast stand out in the competitive tech podcasting landscape. When thinking of ideas for my podcast, I wanted to stay true to my personal identity while being truthful with my listeners. I already had a small audience on Twitter that appreciated that approach, so when it came to the podcast's brand, it was a natural transition from social media:
- Design a visually appealing logo and create artwork that reflects your podcast's theme and personality. I designed both iterations of Git Cute Podcast's logos through Canva with a paid subscription. You could also look for a graphic designer if you need a complete graphics package, such as a color scheme, banners for various social media sites, etc.
- Develop a compelling tagline and consistently use it across your promotional materials.
- Leverage your unique voice and perspective to establish a recognizable brand voice.
- Maintain a consistent release schedule to build trust and reliability among your audience.
Over time, as your podcast gains popularity, explore sponsorship opportunities with relevant brands to monetize your content.
Monetizing your podcast
If you have a podcast and are passionate about technology, monetizing it can be an exciting way to earn income from your content. To maximize your podcast's revenue potential, it's important to explore the various options available for monetization. These can include pre-roll or mid-roll advertisements, sponsor mentions, or product placements through partnerships. A few other paths to monetization could include:
1. Crowdfunding or listener support
Platforms like Spotify for Podcasters allow your listeners to contribute financially in exchange for exclusive content, merchandise, or behind-the-scenes access. I like using Spotify for Podcasters because they make it easy for me to approve or deny certain sponsors and to record the ads from the app on my phone.
2. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is also a profitable way to make money with your podcast. You can team up with companies or platforms that match your content and earn a commission for each sale or referral generated through your podcast. For instance, I utilize Amazon Creator for my affiliate linking, and I'll use customized promotions to substitute ads if I can't secure a sponsor for that episode. It's essential to balance monetization and preserving your content's quality to ensure a positive listener experience while reaping the benefits of your efforts.
Starting a tech podcast: Parting thoughts
It’s important to start with a simple question: Are you interested in technology and want to share your knowledge? If so, then starting a tech podcast is an excellent way to do just that.
To get started, you'll need to define your niche, plan engaging content, invest in quality equipment, engage your audience, and build a solid brand. But that’s just the table stakes. You can differentiate your podcast through qualities that are harder to quantify: dedication, consistency, and passion, which are all vital to thriving in the tech podcasting industry.
So, once you're ready, hit record and dive in.
Jocelyn is a Java advocate and a senior software engineer. She's the author of Git Cute: A Software Engineer's Guide to Seniority and host of Git Cute Podcast.
She's passionate about Java, scalability, full scale testing, automating deployments, and diversity and inclusion within our tech community.