So you want to start a podcast… now what?
Podcasting is easily one of my favorite ways to make content and can be incredible for your influence, brand, and business (and it’s fun!). It’s been over a year since I started Beyond Influential and I get a ton of questions on how to get started podcasting, so I’ll be sharing a variety of posts on the “behind the scenes” of my process and what you need to know in order to get going on your own podcast journey.
How To Start A Podcast
I want to say this upfront, there really are no “rules” when it comes to what your podcast should look like, but I want to make sure you know what’s involved in starting a podcast from a high-level, practical standpoint. Launching a podcast can be as easy or complicated or budget friendly or high production value as you make it. You can do every step yourself or outsource almost the entire process. No matter what you choose to do, I want you to be an informed consumer. Let’s get you recording your first episodes as soon as possible, here’s an overview of what you’ll need to go from podcast idea to launch.
Your Podcast “Brand”
If you’re familiar with me and my content, branding is my bread and butter, so it’s only natural I’d want to start there. You should have an idea of what you want your podcast to be about and who it’s for before you get started recording.
What’s your podcast about? First thing’s first, you should have an idea of what your overall podcast concept is. Podcasting is a long game and consistency is key, so if you are considering a variety of potential themes, or even if you have only one in mind, do yourself a favor and make sure it is something you genuinely enjoy and will want to continue talking about.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the concept stage, but it’s more important that you get started. Try not to feel too much pressure to be too niche or too broad – as you get going, you’ll naturally narrow in more on the specifics. Create a concrete list of episode ideas and topics around your theme that you’re excited to record.
Ideal Podcast Listener
Who is your ideal listener for your podcast? Your audience is ultimately your number one priority. Your audience and who you are trying to attract will play into every aspect of your podcast “brand” – from the title to the format to episode topics… you name it! Consider what the mission of your podcast is and who that would resonate with.
After you have your overall concept, you should consider the podcast format that makes the most sense for you. Do you want your podcast to be a solo show? Co-hosts? Guest interviews? In-person or remote interviews? How long do you want episodes to be? 5 Minutes? An hour? One episode a week? More than one episode a week? The beautiful thing about podcasting is there are no rules when it comes to format – you can choose what’s right for you and your desired audience.
Podcast Title, Show Description, & Cover Art
You’ll need these three elements no matter where you choose to host your podcast. Always consider what would be appealing for your ideal listener. Make sure your show title is searchable (ie. something your audience would actually search for – this goes for episode titles too!). You should be able to describe your podcast in a clear and concise way to your ideal listener in 2 to 3 sentences. Your podcast cover art might be your first impression for new listeners so make sure it’s something that is clear, eye-catching and created with that ideal person in mind.
What You’ll Need to Record: Podcast Equipment
Many people love the idea of having a podcast, but hate the idea of anything technical. I’m not a “tech” person and if I can do it, so can you! Not only is podcasting doable for those of us who might not be as technologically savvy, but the equipment does not need to break the bank. I want to make this as simple as possible, so let’s talk about what you’ll need.
Audio quality is easily the most important technical aspect of podcasting (obvious, right?). No matter how great your content is, it won’t make up for bad audio. If you’re going to spend money on any aspect of the podcast process, you’ll want to invest in at least one good microphone. Here are three of the most popular podcasting microphones that are also affordable for most budgets: Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB (this is the one I use!), the Blue Yeti USB, and the Blue Snowball. As an added bonus, you’ll have a great microphone for when you are the one being interviewed on other podcasts too.
(Pro tip: If you mic doesn’t come with a pop filter (like this or these), you’ll want to make sure you grab one for each mic so you worry about your b’s and p’s. Also don’t forget any necessary cables!)
Keeping with the theme of audio quality, you want to be able to hear how you and your potential guests sound. Depending on your price point and what feels comfortable for you, there are plenty of options for headphones. Sometimes I’ll use my iPhone earbuds that came with my phone and sometimes I’ll use my Bose. (Don’t overcomplicate it – you can make most options work!).
Now, no matter whether you are doing your interviews in-person or remotely, you’ll need a device to plug your mic into and record. You can use a computer, a mobile device, or a portable recorder (I use a Zoom H6). If you are just starting out (or on a budget), I recommend using a device that you already have access to until you are consistently podcasting. I like my Zoom because it records each input as a separate track (which makes it easier to edit), I can adjust the levels separately, and for in-person interviews it’s all I need to actually record the conversation.
What You’ll Need to Record: Popular (and Free!) Podcast Software
This is where you can go down a million different rabbit holes when it comes to the “best” way to record a podcast. I’m going to remind you that there are NO rules as long as your podcast is consistent and the audio quality is good. Let’s walk through some of the most popular software that podcasters use to record and you can figure out which one works best for you.
Skype is a great way to record remote interviews because most people are already familiar with it, the sound quality is usually good, and it’s free.
Zoom Video Communications
I personally use Zoom for my remote recordings (not to be confused with the Zoom recorder I mentioned above). Similar to Skype, you can use it for free and it allows me to record both audio and video.
(Pro Tip: If you want to get fancy with Skype or Zoom, there are also some paid options to get record these calls as separate tracks for more advanced podcasters).
The world of podcasting is changing quickly and Anchor is an app that is meant to be an all in one podcast solution, from recording to editing to hosting to distribution to sponsorships. In February 2019, Anchor officially became a part of Spotify, but still functions as a separate app. If you are new to podcasting, on a budget, and have access to a mobile device, there is no reason to not give Anchor a look.
Audacity is a free recording and editing software that works on both PC and Mac.
GarageBand is free recording and editing software for Mac.
Audition is Adobe’s recording and editing software. If you pay for an Adobe Suite Subscription, it might be “free” for you.
Before You Record: Tips
One thing I love about podcasting is you can pretty much podcast from anywhere! Perfect conditions rarely exist even if you are prepared. You can always look for studio spaces to rent in your area, but it’s not necessary. I’ve recorded from my home, hotels, Airbnb’s, and even outside a coffee shop on a busy LA street (this is where good mic’s matter!). That being said, some locations are better than others.
In an ideal world, the best place to record would be the same place each time for consistency in a location that would absorb sound waves, which is generally a room that is smaller with more padding in the walls. One of the best places for podcasters to record is a closet (I’m serious and I know many who have). If the closet doesn’t seem overly appealing (and/or if you have in-person guests), any room that doesn’t echo too much will do (ie. carpet, few or no windows, lower ceilings).
Control what you can and don’t worry about the rest.
Pre-Production & Prep
As a new podcaster, I would recommend having at least 6 episode ideas planned out (A good idea would be to use your first episode as an introduction to you and overall podcast).
In terms of how much you prepare, there might be some trial and error in what works for you, but that could include outlining, scripting, or bullet points. If your show has guests: have you done the necessary outreach, have you confirmed them, have you done your research, have you outlined your questions? (I’ll be creating more content around interview prep, guest outreach, and how I ideate episodes in upcoming blog posts!)
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to record a professional sounding podcast bumper (ie. intro/outro) or have one made. Nick (of MicMe) created my bumpers for Beyond Influential.
- Make sure to set it up and test all equipment & software
- Extra batteries & chargers never hurts
- If you’re recording from home, turn off that might beep, vibrate, or distract (A/C, phone, etc.)
- Pre-Production and/or interview notes ready
Record Your First Episode!
Start recording and enjoy the process!
Save Your Receipts
And don’t forget to save & backup your audio files! Google Drive, Dropbox and external hard drives are lifesavers.
Editing Your Podcast
The amount of editing your podcast will need is really up to you and your preferences. There are plenty of free resources on how to edit a podcast using user friendly editing software. Some of the most popular editing software is the same as the recording software options mentioned above like Audacity, GarageBand, Anchor, and Adobe Audition. Another popular option is Auphonic, which is free for up to 2 hours of audio per month.
Hiring an editor
Even if editing yourself is “doable,” some people just don’t have the time or just don’t want to do it. In that case, it would be a good idea to hire an editor to clean up your audio for you. Pricing will vary depending on factors like how much editing is needed and episode length.
An experienced podcast editor can also be incredibly helpful in some of the more nitty gritty areas like helping you optimize . your episode titles, submitting your episodes to your podcast host, your rss feed, id3 tags, proper audio (.mp3) file formats… the list goes on (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, an editor will!).
My editor, Chris (Podshaper), has not only been essential in making sure the audio quality of my podcast sounds professional, but he’s the reason I’m able to continue being consistent week after week. His editing and input saves me time and energy that I use where it makes more sense: creating content and running my business.
Publishing Your Podcast
Once you have your fully edited episode (or episodes if you batch recorded) ready to go, it’s time to distribute your podcast!
The podcast industry is going through a lot of changes right now, but there is still no one single destination that listeners go to consume podcasts. That means that your podcast needs a place to live and a way to get distributed to the appropriate podcast directories and destinations for your audience (iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, etc.).
The easiest way to do this is through a podcast host. Some of the most popular podcast hosting companies include Libsyn, Blubrry, Anchor, Spreaker, and Podbean, all with different costs associated for different features.
Your podcast hosting should make it easy to:
- upload your audio files
- create a valid RSS feed for your show
- allow your podcast to be easily downloaded
- submit & distribute your podcast to the appropriate directories for your listeners
If you are paying for hosting, you should expect analytics, as well as good customer support who can walk you through any part of the process that might be confusing and help you optimize your podcast for success (blog posts, tutorials).
Launching Your Podcast
There is no perfect science to a podcast launch or a guaranteed formula to success aside. As I said earlier, podcasting is a long game and it should be fun! There are benefits when it’s done right, but if you’re looking for quick fame and fortune, it’s not through starting a podcast. If you aren’t a celebrity or don’t already have a huge audience, you might not make the iTunes “New & Noteworthy” and that’s perfectly ok! That being said, you can and should make your podcast launch an event and get people excited for it. It’s an accomplishment to create a podcast and your voice deserves to be heard!
Leverage Your Network & Social Media
Word of mouth and social media are going to be your best friends when it comes to gaining new listeners and subscribers. If you’re creating valuable content that makes sense for the people in your world, don’t be afraid to let them know! Send those emails to your list. On the social media front, you can create content to tease the different episodes.
One of the best ways to grow your podcast is to be a guest on other podcasts, so don’t be afraid to pitch yourself to relevant podcasts or reach out to people in your network who have podcasts with audiences who would enjoy your content.
And when it comes to actually releasing your episode(s) into the world, you can release one by one or start with a few published so new listeners can binge.
There are no rules!
For more content on podcasting, check out Beyond Influential Ep. 62 with Michael Bosstick on the business of podcasting, Ep. 44 where I talk about the BTS of my podcast process, and What I Learned From Starting a Podcast. If you’re interested in my Podcast equipment & other popular recommendations, click here to browse & shop.
Full disclosure: the links to equipment in this post are affiliate links that take you to Amazon.com. I will be compensated (at no extra cost to you) should you choose to purchase anything from these links. Thank you in advance (I appreciate you!) and please note that the prices change and vary over time due to Amazon marketplace changes.
(The links to Chris & Nick are not affiliate links – they just deserve the recognition).