The Think Biblically podcast is turning five. It’s hard to believe, but that means my co-host Scott Rae and I have recorded over 250 episodes! It is now one of the top podcasts in the area of faith and culture and gets over 100,000 downloads per month. My thanks to Talbot School of Theology for partnering with us.
While there are certainly podcasters with more experience (and downloads), here’s five principles I have learned about having a successful podcast.
1. Value people’s time. Given that there are over 2.4 million podcasts, if you don’t bring value to people quickly, they won’t listen. Period. Scott and I get to the content immediately. We rarely banter. And we never discuss the weather. We want listeners to know that we value their time and are going to deliver biblical thoughts from beginning to end. We have even tightened our introductions recently so we can get to the content swiftly.
2. Consistently deliver valuable content and you can grow an audience. When I made one of my first YouTube videos (which took me a full day), a successful YouTuber called me and said, “Nice job. Now do it again. Then do it again.” The same is true for a podcast. If you want a successful podcast, be more like the turtle than the hare. Unless you are an athlete, politician, or rock star, you will likely have to build from the “bottom up” rather than the “top down.” But it can be done. Set up a reasonable calendar for releasing episodes, and then stick with it. If you consistently deliver valuable content, you can grow an audience.
3. Stay in your lane. For a podcast to be successful, it needs a narrow lane of focus. Whether on news, sports, or theology, successful podcasts do not try to be “all things for all people.” The Think Biblically podcast is focused on thoughtful Christians who want guidance on how to think Christianly about some of the most pressing cultural issues of our time. Many non-Christians listen, but our focus is on equipping Christians. Scott and I either discuss a cultural issue or we interview a Christian author who can help us think biblically about their area of expertise. Discover your lane and stay in it.
4. Pick good guests. While content is certainly king, it is also important to choose guests who are good at being interviewed. Keep this in mind: Being a good writer and a good podcast guest are not the same things. There is a certain energy, clarity and focus that is required for being an effective interviewee. By far, the best guests (and hence the best podcast episodes) are those who have solid content, and they know how to be interviewed (Hint: If you are not sure how a guest might do, listen to a few of their interviews or watch them on YouTube first).
5. Ask thoughtful questions. Perhaps the most important skill for a podcaster is to ask the right questions of your guest(s). There is an art and skill to asking good questions. Since hosting the Think Biblically podcast, I have been cultivating the skill of question asking. One thing I do is follow experts and learn from them. And I listen to a lot of podcasts for content and to observe what kinds of questions generate the most interesting content.
To celebrate the 5th year of the Think Biblically podcast, join Scott Rae, Josh McDowell and me for a special LIVE recording of the Think Biblically podcast on Monday Oct. 24 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Biola. We would love to meet you in person! Refreshments and a reception will occur after the event.