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Naming your podcast

Shakespeare once wrote “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell so sweet”. Implying that the names of things do not affect what they really are. Despite his worldwide fame and writing ability,  I have to disagree with the bard when it comes to podcasts

At this moment in the podiverse timeline, you need to be simple and straightforward with what we do. Don’t be like Shakespeare and write flowery clever language. Be like Ronseal. If you want to cut through then be clear and straightforward – let the tin say what it is (for those of you not familiar with Ronseal, youtube the adverts – you’ll get the idea pretty quickly)

This will really boost your organic listens, where somebody discovers your show just by trawling through the names of shows. And the listeners you get this way can really help your audience grow. Get it wrong, and, well let me speak about some of my experience in that.

A few years ago I launched two podcasts with a couple of friends, and didn’t follow the advice above. We decided to go with something clever and a bit cool.

And so our silly soccer show, poking fun at the stupid things footballers do was christened “On The Left Side.”

We thought this would stand out and say to people “This is a really funny football podcast with high production values and sketches looking at things a bit differently.” Safe to say with hindsight it clearly doesn’t.

It screams politics. To be fair we do occasionally fit in the odd political gag, but that’s not the audience we are aiming for.

But by the time we realised our mistake we were too far gone, we’d built up a decent regular audience so stuck with the name, but it’s difficult to grow organically when people’s first impression is that it’s not about football.

We had a little more success with the martial arts interview podcast we set up, hosted by British instructor Mick Tully. We thought Mick’s Martial Arts was a great name being a play on Mixed Martial Arts. But if somebody hears us say MICK’S Martial Arts, do they think we said MICK’S?  or MIX or MIXED? Searching for Mixed Martial Art’s will bring up something entirely different.

And while at least this one is “semi” Ronseal in that it’s a podcast about Martial Arts and the title indicates that, it also has the name Mick in the title. With the greatest respect to Mick, does everyone know who he is? Actually looking at his facebook it may well be the case, but again those who haven’t experienced the phenomenon that is Mick Tully, will not understand what or who Mick is.

So back to Ronseal and naming your podcast.

Try coming up with the simplest way to explain what your show does.  Try it out on somebody who doesn’t really know what you do, tell them the name and ask them what they think the show might be about. Some great examples of this Ronsealness arel:

My Dad Wrote A Porno, Two Scientists Walk into a Bar, Missing Richard Simmons, PodTips – Podcasting Tips and Support, How I built This, and Stuff you should know

Now of course there are lots of other podcasts that don’t follow this rule and are successful… Radiolab, No Such Thing as a Fish and S-Town to name but a few. None of these really explain what the show is in the title and yet have massive audiences. But look closer and you’ll see that they all have lots of things you may not have… Namely resources and big sponsors.

Once you’ve chosen a name, before you start recording make sure nobody else is using that exact name. Search iTunes, google, check you can grab the dot com. Check social… Facebook, Twitter Instagram, boat, pub, dog whatever you are going to use. And don’t despair if the name has gone, try a little variation – adding the word show or pod or podcast. And maybe give up and try something else  if you find yourself having to do that thing you do when you are trying to get an email address but have a very common name and (don’t email him, it might be the wrong John Smith).

Going back to Shakespeare, he understood this very well. After all, the line that started this came from a play called “Romeo and Juliet”… I bet you can guess who that’s about…

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