Starting a podcast today is a bit like forming a rock band in high school all those years ago. Back in the day, young whippersnappers would listen to records of their favourite rock bands and then have their eureka! moment: they should form their own musical group in their parents’ garage. Fast forward to the present, people everywhere want to create a podcast after spending the last 30 minutes to 3 hours listening to The Joe Rogan Experience or Contra Krugman.
But while the market is overcrowded with more than 700,000 active podcasts and 30 million episodes, the demand is only ballooning. According to the 2018 Infinite Dial study by Edison Research and Triton Digital, we spend on average six hours each week listening to a whole range of podcasts, from news politics to business to comedy.
Are you interested? Well, creating a podcast is a lot easier said than done. But once you get the hang of producing one, you will become passionate about it and potentially establish a new career.
Here’s how to start your very own podcast in 11 easy steps.
1. Find Your Niche
The very first step you need to take is to brainstorm what niche you want to concentrate on.
Obviously, you want to focus on topics you are familiar with or have expertise in. The last thing you want to do is muse on subjects that you know only a little bit about and have very little interest in because it generates views that can only hopefully be monetised.
It’s important to point out that the world is your oyster in this regard. But people listen to podcasts to be informed or entertained, not witness the host making a myriad of errors.
Do you want to muse on Austrian economics and entrepreneurship in the 21st Century? Are you interested in talking about classic films? Will you spend two hours discussing global financial markets? Whatever you want to discuss, it’s essential to pick a genre, stick to it throughout the entire duration of your programme – never ramble or go on a rant – and ensure you are astute on the matter at hand.
Ultimately, it is crucial to determine what is the purpose of your podcast.
2. Choose a Hosting Provider
A lot of novices make the mistake of recording an audio file and then uploading it to YouTube. But while this is more convenient and potentially money-making, YouTube is not a podcast hosting provider – it is a video content platform.
You need to go where the podcast viewers and search engines are. Therefore, you should consider the top five hosts:
Of course, as you navigate the market, you will need to determine several factors, including:
- budget: how much do you plan to spend on this endeavour?
- length: for some podcasts that go above three hours, the file size will be incredible, which could mean you may need to shell out for a premium package.
- quality: if you have basic equipment and rudimentary software, then your quality will be passable, which means you do not need a state-of-the-art provider.
- content: talking vanilla issues? Pontificating on controversial things? Go where your audience is.
- dedication: how much of your time are you dedicating to this podcast? If it is a passive project, then you might not want to spend an enormous sum on a provider.
On a side note, YouTube is a good complementary option for your content (see below), but it should not be your primary tool when considering how to pick the best host for your audio venture.
3. Choose a Name
There are three ways to go about coming up with a podcast name:
An example of a basic title is The John Smith Show. A clever one is Pod Save America. An interesting name, despite it being grammatically infuriating, is Your Welcome with Michael Malice. Unsure which one to utilise? It really depends on who you are, what you are specialising in and perhaps how long each episode is.
If you are an industry source, then The John Smith Show would suffice. But if you are building your name in a particular area, then a punny podcast name would be preferable.
4. Create a Unique Design
Sure, you’re not having to worry about an audience watching you, but the design of a podcast is still important.
When listeners are searching for your podcast on iTunes on their iPhones or on their browser on Stitcher, the very first thing they will notice is your podcast cover. This is essentially a visual first impression of your podcast and what you are attempting to convey through this medium. Think of it like the old CD album covers or movie posters: you can garner eyeballs through creative and impressive cover art.
Here are some tips for designing a podcast cover.
- Know your limitations and accept them; for example, use iTunes’ rule of maximum size of 3000x3000px as inspiration.
- Consider the mood of your podcast: comedy (something bright), serious (something neutral) or riveting (something related to the genre of your podcast).
- Utilise the six rules of podcast cover art: line, shape, texture, framing, colour and type.
- Realise typography matters, and that it will convey your podcast brand. So, modern font is chic, and serif font is classic.
From the logo of your show to the layout of the website that markets your podcast, you need to think about the colour scheme, the font and everything else that is associated with web design.
And remember: if you’re not much for graphic design, you’re better off hiring a professional.
5. Purchase Equipment and Software
Do you think you can get away with recording a podcast by using the microphone on your computer? Think again! Do you believe you don’t need any software to put together and edit your episodes? Only if you want to churn out a mediocre product that reeks of the desperation of wanting to partake in the growing field.
Put simply, you need the right equipment and software to have a successful podcast. Now, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on microphones, headphones and computer programs, but you still have to dole out a few bucks on equipment.
Here are five things to get you started:
- a microphone (prices typically range between $50 and $250) – the Blue Yeti USB Microphone is a popular option
- headphones – try Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50x Professional Monitor Headphones; whatever you do, avoid headphone/microphone combos
- a suspension boom like Rockville’s DMS40 Microphone Boom Arm
- a pop filter – the SUNMON Microphone Foam Windscreen Cover is highly recommended
- editing software like Adobe Audition – the annual plan costs $20.99 per month
You should also consider creating a Skype or Google account if you’re planning to interview guests.
6. Plan Your Content
One of the worst things you can do in a podcast, aside from having poor audio, is rambling.
Unless you are a raconteur à la Orson Welles or Conrad Black, it can be difficult to avoid straying from the path of the subject you are discussing. Therefore, when you’re in the infancy stage of your latest endeavour, you need to prepare and plan your content before even considering recording an episode.
This will consist of the following:
- jotting down the main points you wish to discuss
- timing how long each segment will be
- inserting an appropriate plug at the right time
- what you want to finish off with; coming up with a conclusion on the spot is difficult.
If you have a to-do list in front of you, it’s easier to stay on target.
7. Record an Episode
Now, here comes the fun part: recording an episode.
Since you’re just starting out, it would be a good idea to stick with a shorter episode, somewhere in the ballpark of 15 minutes. Unless your initial episode is an hour-long interview with President Donald Trump or former Prime Minister Theresa May – and nothing is off limits! – then you should stick to a quarter of an hour or less.
A template is one of the best things you can do when recording every episode. This is something that you can use every time you record an episode because it will already consist of your intro and outro music, space for ad spots, tracks for your voice or an interviewee’s voice.
Here are also a few other suggestions:
- consider the music you’re choosing to start or close your episode; think about the listener’s environment
- rehearse and build your confidence before you start
- be sure to lock away your pets so they don’t interrupt
- keep your opening to a maximum of 30 seconds
- pen timestamps to know where you might need to edit
- use lip balm to avoid lip-smacking noises, and hydrate beforehand
- be yourself; don’t try to imitate others and don’t pretend to be somebody else.
Moreover, it would be preferable to take advantage of Audacity, which consists of a wide variety of audio editing and recording tasks, like mixing stereo tracks or splitting recordings into separate tracks.
8. Edit the Episode
Now, here comes the gruelling part: editing an episode. Yes, this is not fun at all, but it is a necessary element of podcasting. You want to add the music, insert a stellar introduction, edit out mistakes and, if applicable, place an advertisement at the right place.
This is not as simple as it seems. It takes a lot of practice and trial and error to get it right. However, with enough time, editing will not be as hard. That said, here are some pointers to help you get started:
- allocate an amount of time to edit; don’t rush it just to get it out there
- don’t tidy everything up; leave some material as it was – uhs, errs and umms are no biggie
- if you don’t like an edit, then you can always hit the ‘Undo’ button
- refer to the timestamps referenced above
- listen to your audio at a good level – you shouldn’t crank it up nor should it near mute.
Also, please remember two other things. The first is to be sure to really listen – not passively – to the entire podcast as you edit once or twice to catch errors. The second is to not over-edit and attempt to make it a Stanley Kubrick masterpiece.
9. Publish Your Podcast
Since you have selected a hosting provider, your next step is to publish the podcast on a platform like Spreaker or Podbean.
Depending on what website you are using or what plan you have, you will need to consider the size of the file, the audio quality, the nature of the content and a whole host of other terms and conditions of service. But this should not be difficult if you’re talking about something as vanilla as the stock market or a plant-based diet.
10. Market Your New Podcast
What good is a podcast if no one, except you and your mother, listens to it?
Indeed, attracting ears and little grey cells to your podcast can seem like an achievable feat to attain just because the market is so crowded, and the competition is fierce. But it’s not impossible. As long as you have good content, you can grab your slice of the podcast market.
Here are a few tips for marketing your episodes:
- submit your podcast to Apple, Google and Spotify podcasts
- request your audience to write reviews on your show (social sharing is key in today’s marketplace)
- join a community of fellow podcasters, particularly in your niche
- utilise the power of social media and dedicate a Facebook or Twitter page to your podcast.
- insert a link to your podcast on your business card
- reward devoted listeners – the ones who share your content, write reviews and participate
- create a YouTube channel solely for your podcast (this is where the website is useful).
Persistence is key. Again, it is crucial to point out that if you have great content, then you will inevitably build an audience, even if it is a dedicated few at first. You need to meet the universe halfway by putting in the work, and you will be rewarded with a gradually increasing audience.
11. Monetise Your Podcast
Unless you’re a big name in the world with a huge following, you won’t be making anything off your podcast in the beginning. Nobody will want to advertise on a podcast that attracts eight views. But you should not be discouraged if your endgame is to monetise your podcast. It just takes time.
When you’re ready to earn an income from your podcast, here are several ways to do it:
- write a list of potential sponsors that suit your podcast genre
- Contact brands through personal efforts, not automated form requests
- publish on YouTube and generate revenues from AdSense
- ask your audience to contribute a cup of coffee or sponsor you through crowdfunding
- if you already have business relationships, find out if they would like to advertise on your podcast.
As you attempt to nab advertisers, be sure to have the numbers ready. You should not spend a week trying to compile the statistics to respond to an enquiry from a representative, who will likely be disinterested after 72 hours.
There are two things you spend a lot of your free time doing: talking and listening to podcasts. Why not merge the two and launch your own podcast about something important to you?
It won’t be a good idea to quit your day job and focus exclusively on your podcast as part of your dream of going solo in the business world so early on, but it could lead to a rewarding career and plenty of prosperity. But who knows? Perhaps you might have a hit on your hands, and you reach a vast number of viewers, bringing you newfound fame, riches and self-employment.
Have you started your own podcast? What tips and advice would you share with aspiring podcasters? Join the conversation in the comments section below and let us know.