Marian of City Breaks Podcast returns! After recently sharing The Story Behind City Breaks with Découvrir La Vie, Marian follows up with a podcast infused guide to creating a Travel Podcast.
Enjoy reading and listening. Have any questions for Marian? Leave a comment below!
Introduction: How to be a travel podcaster
How would you go about starting a travel podcast? Read on to find my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic, which (naturally!) centre on my own podcast series, City Breaks. In addition, I develop each answer on an audio file – a mini-podcast if you will – and give advice to others who are thinking starting their own travel podcast. Have a listen!
1. A travel podcast could be all sorts of things – what do you think defines City Breaks?
First, it’s easier to say what it’s not! It’s not an audio version of a guide book which tells you what there is to see and when it’s open. And it’s definitely not a tale of ‘what-I-did-on-my holidays’. I try to give people all the stories and interesting snippets about a place which they would research for themselves if they had the time. It’s aimed at people like me, who love to travel and learn from their travels. You definitely need to have your audience in mind and I’ll talk about that on the podcast:
Have a listen: finding your audience
- imagining your ‘typical’ listener
- deciding what they’d like to hear
2. Why did you decide to focus particularly on cities?
Well, firstly because a lot of the travel I enjoy is to cities, which I love because they are full of history. I enjoyed visiting Seville and learning how European and Arabic cultures intertwined there across the centuries, or seeing the beer hall in Munich where Hitler made his first big speeches. I wanted to share those aspects with my listeners. But not all travel podcasts are the same and every new podcaster will find their own angle.
Have a listen: finding your angle
- different types of travel podcast
- how to decide what approach is right for yours
- thinking about a suitable delivery style
3. Do you do loads of research? And do you visit all the places you write about?
Yes, ….. and yes of course! My podcasts are quite research heavy. I start by reading up some general history, and take it from there. For Florence, for example, I also read biographies of Dante, Machiavelli and Michelangelo, and some materials on the renaissance because that’s such a massive part of what makes Florence attractive. I need to know I can refer to all the main aspects without making factual howlers. And yes, I always visit just before starting on the series, even if I have been before. It’s important to be up to date.
Have a listen: more on research
- where to look
- what to look for
- when to stop!
4. How long are the podcasts? And how often do they come out?
I don’t over-stress about the exact length. I try to be plus or minus 30 minutes and I do think listeners like it if the length doesn’t vary too much. They know that one of my podcasts will last, say, roughly the time it takes them to wash up, or maybe half the length of their commute, and if you deviate too much, it’s annoying for them. My podcasts are weekly and again, I think people prefer regularity, but it’s not a cast iron rule.
Have a listen: more about length and frequency
- what’s a ‘good’ length?
- is it important to publish podcasts often?
5. Does each episode have the same structure?
Mainly, yes. A lot of my episodes are about a particular site, and give a little history, then an idea of what to see there and perhaps also some extracts from travel diaries or novels set in that place. I make sure I start with an interesting ‘hook’ and I always finish with a reference to the next episode.
But some episodes need a different structure. One on Peter the Great, who founded St Petersburg, for instance, tells the story of his life through the places most associated with him: the little hut he built himself when he first arrived, his grand fortress, the Peterhof Palace and the cathedral where he is buried.
Have a listen: structuring your podcast episodes
- the beginning
- the middle
- the end
6. Do you use a script? How many ‘takes’ do you do?
I don’t want to read out everything word for word, but nor do I want to waffle! So I make quite detailed notes, with headings for each main section and then key word bullet points under each heading to remind me what I want to include. I include a lot of quotes from other people and I write those out in full, so I know they are correct. With all that pre-prepared, one take is usually enough, but then I have to edit it and that takes much, much longer!
Have a listen: editing your podcast
- can you edit as you go?
- what to do in the ‘main’ edit
- the finishing touches
7. What about all the technical stuff? What does a new podcaster need to know?
I feel the content and the delivery is the important stuff and that the technical aspects should not be a distraction. I am absolute proof that you can podcast even if you are not very technically-minded! I have Audacity installed on my pc and I use that to record using a good quality plug-in microphone, creating a sound file which I can edit. When I’m happy with it I export it as an mp3 and when the podcast is due to go live, I upload it to the hosting site I use, which is podbean.com.
Have a listen: a checklist for new podcasters
- equipment and software
- where to get ideas and advice
8. How do you grow your listenership?
Two things need to be done: finding new listeners and keeping the ones I have! The biggest spike in downloads came the week after I had an article about City Breaks published in a magazine called Bonjour Paris, whose readers, of course, would definitely be interested in a podcast series on the city! So I keep looking for similar publications and proposing articles to them. I also think about where else people who go on city breaks look for information and I get in touch with them. Travel companies, travel magazines, tourist boards, other travel podcasters, they are all on my list! As for keeping listeners engaged, let’s leave that for the podcast.
Have a listen: keeping your listeners engaged
- remaining interesting
- encouraging listener participation
9. How time-consuming is City Breaks? Is there any money in it?
It’s so difficult to say how long it all takes. I don’t count the travel, as I do that for pleasure! Hours of reading, research and note-making go into each series, then for each episode, I spend a several more hours pulling things out of my research notes and compiling the episode plan. Recording might take only an hour or so, for a 30 minute episode, but editing it takes 4 or 5 times that. Then there’s everything else, which includes marketing, time spent on the website or on social media, and dealing with listener enquiries. I’d say City Breaks takes at least the equivalent of at least two full days a week, maybe more. As for money, I will cover that in the podcast!
Have a listen: can podcasts make any money?
- payment from listeners
10. How do you think City Breaks will evolve as time goes on?
I imagine the basic formula will stay quite similar because I won’t run out of cities to cover! But I’d like to go further afield, having stuck to Europe so far. And recently I have learned that sometimes a change can be very positive. COVID has made travel and research difficult, so I’ve been doing some episodes called ‘City Break Ideas’ where I use listeners’ suggestions plus a bit of my own research and then squeeze four or five city break ideas into one episode. It’s been good for listener engagement and I think I will keep doing these sometimes, even when travel gets back to normal.
Have a listen: your chance to contribute to City Breaks
- 4 ways to get involved
Listen to City Breaks Ideas, Episode 01:
Or, if you prefer listen through Apple Podcasts.
More from City Breaks Podcast:
Browse the City Breaks Paris series in full over at CityBreaksPodcasts.co.uk.