Successfully starting a podcast requires a little time, a little patience, and some knowledge. We can’t provide the first two but can definitely help with the latter.
Here’s a full compendium of everything you need to know to get things rolling, leaving no stone unturned.
It’s ideal for those starting a podcast for business but is suitable for any other need because the practical steps are exactly the same.
So, if you want to:
- Conceive your podcast properly
- Plan content and craft episodes
- Understand what’s needed to record a show, and what isn’t
- Learn about editing software and post-production
- Publish & distribute your first episode
- Become acquainted with podcast SEO
Then, you’ll love the detailed information in this post.
Whilst it’s not overly difficult, there’s a lot to get through so get comfy and stick with us to the end.
Let’s make something awesome.
What is needed to start a podcast?
- The Research Phase
- A – What’s the purpose of your podcast?
- B – Who will listen to your podcast? And, why?
- C – Is an audience required to begin a podcast?
- D – What if you have no audience at all?
- E – Pick a podcast name
- Content Planning
- F – Make them want to tune In
- G – How long should each episode be?
- H – How often do I release new podcast episodes?
- I – Selecting ideal episode titles
- J – Picking a podcast format
- Recording A Podcast
- K – Recording equipment
- L – Finding the right recording & editing software
- M – Creating and using a script
- N – Learning to talk into a mic
- O – Recording your vocals
- P – Prepare for remote guests or co-hosts
- Editing & Post-Production
- Q – Editing your podcast
- R – Hiring some to edit your show
- S – The super simple web-based option
- T – Getting music for your podcast
- Publishing & Promotion
- U – Cover art
- V – Choosing your podcast hosting
- W – Submitting to directories
- X – Do I need a podcast website?
- Y – Basic promotion
- Z – Podcast SEO
- Key Business Takeaway
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The (All-Important) Research Phase
Conceiving your podcast properly is one of the most vital aspects of a successful show.
It has to be interesting to potential listeners obviously but also to you too otherwise it’ll lose steam at some point.
So, put the time in now and view this stage as hatching a grand plan that will underpin a great podcast..
A. What’s the purpose of your podcast?
The answer to this question is the overarching reason you want to start a podcast.
Are you running a business? If so, is podcasting going to be used for content marketing to attract your target audience? Or, is it to engage and deepen the connection with your existing followers?
Alternatively, it could be for a hobby to share information and insights on a topic you’re passionate about.
Either way,there needs to be a direction for your show – an ultimate aim that it needs to accomplish because this affects the content you’ll create.
Brainstorm over the main ideas for a while but don’t delve into them just yet. Make sure you take a break, or two, and ideally do something completely different. This diffuses the mind and lets deeper, more creative thoughts and feelings emerge.
Once you have a list, the last thing to do is answer this question:
- What problem(s) will my podcast strive to solve?
By the end of this step, it should be possible to describe your podcast in a single sentence. For example, my podcast will be about using the web effectively to unlock potential and grow sales.
B. Who will listen to your podcast? And, why?
You need to understand what type of person your wonderful audio content seeks to attract, and thus who your ideal listener is.
- What do they want?
- Why are they struggling?
- What do they need help with?
- What information do they require?
If it’s a podcast for business then listeners may require help with a common problem in your niche. Consequently, they’d like listening to episodes that impart a solution, or a series of shows that break one down into bite-sized steps.
A hobby podcast could focus on doing something similar or take a totally different angle.
Just bear in mind that regardless of the direction you take, your content has to deliver value in some way. It doesn’t matter what the topic is – business advice, news, commentary or comedy – listeners have to be affected positively.
The most important thing here is to form a solid idea of who will benefit from your show – so answer these questions carefully.
C. Is an audience required to begin a podcast?
No, not at all.
But, if you do it’s no bad thing. It means your answers to the first two steps should be informed and more accurate than if no listener insight was available.
Have you surveyed your existing followers?
You have a golden opportunity to learn about their biggest pain points and what they’re struggling with the most. Listener feedback like this is incredibly valuable to begin building a content roadmap for the whole show, not to mention inspiration for your first podcast episodes.
Capitalize on the opportunity if at all possible – what you’ll learn acts like a compass so your podcast sets off in the right direction.
D. What if you have no audience at all?
The majority of new podcasters don’t have existing followers. Many people start a podcast to change that- they want to attract an audience, either for a business (i.e. for inbound content marketing purposes) or side hustle.
Podcast listeners don’t care if they’ve heard of you or not. It’s valuable content that attracts people in the first place and keeps them returning, alongside a podcaster’s brand.
Moreover, podcasting is where blogging was about ten years ago which means it’s much less competitive. There’s never been a better time to start a podcast because any topic is up for grabs.
E. Pick a podcast name
There’s no right or wrong with this per se. But, having to change the name of your show once you’ve got listeners is a hassle any podcaster can do without.
So, what’s in a podcast name?
Well, it’s two things. The name of your podcast is a searchable term both on podcast directories and search engines, and it’s a brand asset which needs to be memorable.
Catchy names by definition are more likely to be remembered and referred to by others as a result. This kind of name is brilliant if you’re going to promote your podcast episodes on social media because people love to refer to content that is thought provoking, quirky, controversial or just simply ‘cool’.
Of course, a clever name might not describe the show’s topic very well. As a result, it might not stand out as relevant to people when they’re searching on podcast directories or search engines. Some podcasters title their show by describing exactly what it’s about for this reason.
It’s a balance between catchiness and description so that your name is memorable yet relevant to what people might search for.
This will mean you become the brand and what people remember, rather than the topic itself. Shows like this often end up covering more than one topic because the hook is the podcaster rather than any one theme.
But, the disadvantage is that your name gives nothing away on what your podcast is about. Therefore, it’s harder to pick up new listeners who’ve not heard of you before and you’re very reliant on referral-type growth.
At the end of the day your podcast will succeed if you keep knocking out awesome listening and remain enthusiastic. So, go with the name that feels right to you – the one that makes you smile and want to tell people about it.
By this point you should be clear on the purpose of your podcast, what problem it seeks to solve and who it’s aimed at.
Now, it’s time to put more meat on the bones.
F. Make them want to tune in
This is the most crucial part of starting a podcast because ultimately its success will be determined by how good your content is.
People need a reason to listen in the first place but also a reason to come back for more. This will happen if your podcast is a body of work exploring a topic they’re interested in. Each episode must be engaging in its own right whilst leading on to others.
The way to ensure this happens is to keep a content roadmap.
Start off by brainstorming the common themes and sub-topics in your niche. Think about how these could be broken down further and how they connect to one another. Try to let logic dictate the lines between episodes, mini-series and series, and trust your instincts.
It’s very easy to find yourself planning the whole podcast in fine detail because your enthusiasm runs wild and ideas keep on coming.
Form a plan of which episodes will be your first content and what the next tranche of content will be about. Then stop so you don’t overwhelm yourself – keep your content roadmap quite light for now whilst other tasks need lots of focus.
G. How long should each episode be?
Well, up to fifteen minutes or so is generally considered a shorter episode, and over half an hour is generally considered a longer one. Some can last for ages! Well over an hour, and others are literally a couple of minutes.
But, no-one cares about this if the content is really worth listening to.
If you have valuable and relevant content that lasts for fifty minutes, why reduce it? Or if you have something that you can say in ten minutes, why make it longer?
Focus on providing quality listening by saying whatever needs to be said, and nothing more.
H. How often do I release new podcast episodes?
The answer to this question depends on why you’re starting a podcast. If it’s for business you should try to release new content as often as possible, ideally every week.
Because the more content you put out there, the more there is to grab the attention of new listeners.
Although you can still have an impact with a monthly or fortnightly show, most people plan their lives on days of the week. Routine sits at the forefront of everyone’s lives so releasing new content at the same point every week gives rise to returning listeners (i.e. an audience).
With that said, sticking to a scheduled deadline just for the sake of it doesn’t make sense. You could have a bigger impact if you put out a single excellent episode once per month instead of more shallow episodes every week.
Alternatively, you might plan on seasonal podcasting where the theme changes periodically. You’d set up a series depending on the topic, deliver the episodes to a schedule (daily, weekly, or whatever), then take a break until the next season’s series is due.
The best way forward will be specific to your podcast aim, topic of choice and of course your expectations.
Seasonal podcasting will likely take longer to build an audience but could be more realistic and sustainable if it’s for business when there’s so many other demands on your time.
I. Selecting ideal episode titles
An episode title determines whether it gets listened to or not. For podcasting, that’s a pretty big deal.
It’s the difference between lots of listeners and none at all. The audio content could be fantastic but that won’t matter if the title is flat and draws nobody in.
Great episode titles are intriguing, succinct and to the point. They tell people what to expect whilst arousing their curiosity at the same time. But, they also need to filter out unwanted listeners too.
Attracting people who quickly abandon your podcast because it’s not relevant to them is pointless.
Obsess over your episode titles to get the right listener listening to your show – if this turns out to be time-consuming and, at times, frustrating you’re doing it right.
J. Picking a podcast format
The format of your podcast is much like the length of its episodes; it needs to be whatever works best both for you and your listeners.
Generally speaking, people become accustomed to a certain format which they come to expect and enjoy. It’s risky changing it up unless there is a reason to do so that benefits your audience (for e.g. interviewing an influencer in your business sector).
There are two main formats for any podcast, both with their strengths and weaknesses.
A solo show is also called a monologue and is the most popular starting format because it’s the simplest to get off the ground.
You don’t rely on anyone else at any point in the creation process and can build a reputation as the sole authority on your subject. The podcast is yours exclusively, allowing you to make calls on content direction, scheduling and, in time, monetization.
This is why most podcasts for small businesses go for this option.
The name is self-explanatory and where you present your podcast alongside a colleague or friend.
The benefit here is it’s less intimidating and easier to be your natural self because you’ve got someone to converse with. Coming across as authentic and down-to-earth is how you’ll connect with listeners through your content.
This all depends on finding a decent right co-host though. Get it wrong and the show won’t last long; get it right and the content is much more likely to be attractive and engaging..
The main challenge to be aware of is properly ironing out who owns what, both legally and operationally. The last thing you want is to have a serious conflict after successfully growing and monetizing your podcast.
Recording A Podcast
Now you’ve got a firm idea of what your podcast is going to be about and why, it’s time to bring it to life.
This is where the fun begins, starting with the gear and technology.
K. Recording equipment
It’s entirely possible to record a podcast with any old computer and whatever USB microphone you can get your hands on.
But, unsurprisingly, low-grade recording equipment will yield low-quality results. Your podcast will sound like what it is – made without a great deal of care and attention.
Listeners are not bothered about professional sound quality but they will demand a clear voice without distraction. What’s more, they’ll buy into you as a podcaster if your audio sounds like it was made with care and attention.
Remember, you’re expecting them to give up the most valuable resource there is – time. So,
If you want your podcasts to stand out, invest in a decent mic that doesn’t cost the earth. The Rode Podcaster is the best all-round option because: it’s a USB connection, offers the broadcast sound quality, and cuts out a lot of background noise which makes for easier editing.
Having said that, go with the Rode Smartlav+ along with the Rode Podcaster if you’re planning to do in-person interviews. Together these tools provide a highly effective yet simple setup that will produce great audio results.
L. Finding the right recording & editing software
Getting some half-decent equipment is only half the battle – you also need to choose the right recording and editing software.
As a beginner, you’ll need to remove a lot of dead air from your audio recordings to provide decent listening at a basic level.
There are many recording and editing software options on the market today, but the two best are:
- Alitu: This is a web-based software that is accessed through any web browser. It’s entirely focused on simplicity meaning you can easily add music, publish your podcast to your chosen host, and automate your audio cleanup. It’s exceptionally easy to pick up and is perfect for anyone who’s not planning on heavy editing demands in the future.
- Adobe Audition: Although this software does come with a bit of a learning curve, there are countless video tutorials available. What’s more, it’s a sleek and highly intuitive user interface that makes editing very enjoyable. There is nothing this software cannot do that makes it the go-to choice for the more ambitious, not to mention totally future-proof.
Picking the right podcast software is crucial for your show’s success so if you’re not sure, try a free version of the one you’re most drawn to and go from there.
M. Creating and using a script
Whatever you do, don’t skip this step.
A podcast script means you have a loose idea of what you’re going to say from one section to the next. It needs to be a guide, not an essay because reading something word for word can sound like what it is… scripted!
Good podcast content is all about connecting with people which will happen if you sound normal like you’re sat opposite them having a coffee.
Think of an episode script as a list of sequential talking points that need to be elaborated upon. Note down the start, middle, and end sections so that there is a proper introduction, discussion, and conclusion.
Lastly, practice out loud a few times before you press record so you’re as familiar with the subject matter as possible.
N. Learning to talk into a mic
Even though you don’t have a live audience, talking into the mic for your podcast can be oddly nerve-wracking.
Some get hung up about how they sound and spend hours, even days, re-recording the same content over and over again.
The best advice here is to stop trying to record your voice into a microphone. Instead, just get comfortable and talk as if you’re doing so with a person stood in front of you.
Avoid making any noise (typically a ‘umm’ sound) between sentences which everyone suffers with at first. Just relax, speak slowly than normal at first if needs be and converse.
It takes practice but it also takes courage to draw a line at some point and run with it. You’ll won’t find your podcast voice instantaneously so don’t expect to. Focus on creating content that is engaging and useful to people first and foremost, and perfect your speaking technique as you go along.
O. Recording your vocals
Your vocals are one of the most important elements of your podcast, so make sure there’s enough time without distractions to record them.
And, get ready to make a few mistakes but avoid stopping every time as these can be edited out, or if that’s not possible, just laugh it off.
If you’ve ever listened to a podcast, you’ll know how intimate they are, much like when you sit and talk with someone over coffee. You’re bound to mispronounce a word or stumble momentarily because it’s natural to do so.
Natural vocals are good – you’ll sound authentic and like someone who doesn’t take yourself too seriously. Both of these traits are vital for making a connection with listeners.
There is more to recording the perfect podcast if you really want to get into it from the get go. Just don’t waste days trying to do something that might only come with lots of practice.
P. Prepare for remote guests or co-hosts
Having co-hosts or remote guests every once in a while can do wonders for your podcasts. They can keep you motivated and committed, facilitate conversations, and bring different perspectives.
Depending on who you’re going to invite, your co-hosts or remote guests can also make your podcast more fun and humorous.
To successfully add other people to your podcast, make sure that you use the right equipment. One of the most popular tools you can use is Zoom. Zoom is free and allows two people to have an online meeting that can last for 24 hours or 40 minutes for a group of individuals.
When inviting remote guests or co-hosts, don’t forget to plan out what each of you will discuss and who will talk when. This is important to prevent overlapping each other when talking.
Editing & Post-Production
Once you’ve recorded some raw audio content it’s time to top and tail it, and add a little polish should you wish.
Regardless of how tempting it is, don’t skip or rush this part of the process because it can be the difference between success and failure.
Good podcast listening is clear and easy to follow; bad listening is the opposite.
Q. Editing your podcast
Import the raw audio content for an episode into your software and then remove any long silences that are easy to spot.
Try to remove mistakes that are easy and simple to cut. For those that are too immersed in chatter, just leave them in to avoid distorting the flow of the audio.
Also, amplify the audio to -1 dB then save the file for exporting and uploading to your podcast host.
There are lots more things that can be done with podcast audio to help make it stand out or appear professional. These include adding intro and outro music, removing background noise and altering the audio levels so that your voice doesn’t ‘pop’ quite so much.
But, all this comes with time. The most important thing right now is to get lots of great content out there.
So, just make sure it’s good enough – really interesting listening with half-decent sound quality.
R. Hiring someone to edit your show
If you have a big enough budget and want to save a lot of time in editing your podcast, you can always hire someone to do it for you. There are many online platforms that allow you to connect with freelancers who are experts in editing podcasts.
You can start scouting for cheaper options on Fiverr and then expand your search to other online platforms like Upwork.
Always check the freelancer’s reviews and give them a test job before committing. Doing these things will enable you to gauge a person’s skills and assess if they’re the right fit for editing your podcast.
S. The super simple web-based option
If you’ve never used editing software before and don’t have enough budget to hire help, there is a third option. You might consider using Alitu, a.k.a. the “podcast making” tool.
In short, this tool does a lot of the basic editing for you. It’s extremely easy to use and you can actually record episodes directly as well. Moreover, the tool also has a large music library that can be used for music, jingles and any other audio branding required.
Alitu is brilliant for any podcaster, beginner or experienced, who just wants to focus on creating the raw audio content and save time on post-production.
T. Getting music for your podcast
Adding music to your podcast isn’t a necessity, but can make for a better listening experience that’s more engaging.
You can also choose to find and use free music online but keep in mind that these options will be more likely to appear on other people’s shows too. Making for unique listening is important if your niche is highly competitive obviously.
Publishing & Promotion
You’re nearly there – just a handful of steps left before you can let the world in on your creation.
U. Cover art
Just like episode titles, cover art can make a big impression on potential listeners.
Just like for music, cover art for podcasts is easy to find online on both free and paid websites. If you go with free stock images, be aware that other people might be using the same images.
You can hire someone to create unique cover art on Fiverr and other well known platforms, or even learn to do so yourself. Bear in mind, this takes time which might be better spent on the other aspects of content creation.
Cover images need to be 1400 x 1400 pixels and in JPG or PNG format so they show properly on the big podcast directories.
Remember, listeners will see the cover art for your podcast in a much smaller format so overly complex designs might do more harm than good.
V. Choosing your podcast hosting
A podcast host is a place to store your podcast’s audio files on the internet, much like website hosting does for a blog. It enables distribution to major podcast directories (like Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts) so that people can listen to them.
They also do a number of other things, including:
- Effortless RSS feed creation on sign up
- Intuitive dashboard & user experience
- Easy distribution to all major podcast directories
- Podcast web page with embedded player
- Essential sharing and promotion facilities
- Podcast analytics & statistics
- Totally reliable & secure hosting performance
You need to pick the right hosting provider for your podcasting needs which comes down to understanding the key differentiators between them.
Read the review then use the links therein to try out your favourite for free.
TL:DR – our number 1 pick is Captivate because they’re the most growth focused of all podcast hosts.
W. Submitting to directories
Submitting your episodes to the big podcast directories is how listeners access them for download and listening. Ideally, put them on as many directories as possible but always include Apple, Google and Spotify because they’re the most popular.
Distributing your podcasts to the directories is a straightforward process that is built-in to all the top podcast hosting platforms. Simply, follow their instructions and refer to support if you’re struggling or have any questions.
X. Do I need a podcast website?
If you’re already using a website for your business or your brand, it’s easy enough to add a podcast player using a tool like Fusebox, or a WordPress plugin.
If not, the best podcast hosting services include a website as part of their plans and, generally speaking, they’re good enough to get things going.
Of course, you might want to begin building your brand up from the off, especially if you’re podcasting for business, which means a custom logo and website are required.
Alternatively, you can get us to help out if you want to really take it to the next level.
Y. Basic promotion
This whole shindig isn’t actually about starting a podcast is it? It’s about getting people interested in listening to you.
So, here are the fundamentals for making your podcast available to the world:
- Add a podcast player near the top of your website homepage;
- Make sure every episode asks listeners to subscribe (usually in the middle, and at the end);
- Share every new episode on your favoured social media platform(s) and start the conversation by commenting on it;
- Claim your podcast on discovery sites, like Podchaser, then engage with the communities therein with reviews and comments;
- Build relationships with other podcasters in your niche and get featured on their show.
The truth is getting listeners is hard work and takes time, sometimes quite a lot of it.
Z. Podcast SEO
The good news is… you made it, this is the last step!
But, the bad news is all this will be a waste of time if you don’t get traffic to your podcast.
The activities in step Y will get it somewhere, but some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also needed to maximise its chances.
SEO is all about getting content ranked as high as possible in Google search results. As of 2019, this includes audio content i.e. podcasts which you might have noticed – ever seen the audio snippets, which appear similar to YouTube videos sometimes?
Truthfully, it wouldn’t be helpful to explain the whole of SEO in this post – it’s way too big a topic. But, it can’t be ignored and needs to be incorporated into your podcasting sooner rather than later.
For now, you need to know about search intent.
This is the underlying reason behind a query typed into Google search. It’s the core of all SEO activities – answering a specific search intent with your super relevant podcast episode.
For example, if I searched for ‘best website hosting’, my search intent is to learn about, and most likely purchase, the best hosting for a website. If I typed in ‘hotels in Miami’, I’m clearly seeking information about accommodation options with a view to booking one.
WIth this in mind, you need to work out what the search intentions of people in your niche are?
Do this by, you guessed it, searching Google for common topics and themes, problems and solutions. Then, incorporate your findings into your podcast creation by making each episode answer one search intention at a time.
If your episodes are considered highly relevant they’ll gain a reputation with Google accordingly, which will result in some traffic. The more traffic, the higher the reputation which leads to more traffic and so on.
This is simplistic and there is more to podcast SEO. But, at least the time you’ll invest creating podcast content will answer specific search intentions and satisfy the most fundamental aspect of SEO for podcasting. and can be built on with more in-depth practices down the line.
Key Business Takeaway
If your audio content delivers value by enabling listeners to overcome their problems or improve their lives in some meaningful way, it will stimulate interest in what you do.
Furthermore, if it raises awareness of problems your target audience doesn’t know they have, then provides brilliant solutions, you’ll get customers for life. You’ll be their authority because you helped them before anyone else did.
This is the power of inbound marketing compared to traditional outbound methodologies.
If the idea of customers finding you sounds interesting, it’s probably worthwhile checking out some of our essential reading:
- A 20,000 Feet Above Sea Level Overview of What Digital Marketing Is
- What You Ought To Know About Content Marketing
And, when you’re done there’s much more where that came from. Stick around, browse away and hop on the newsletter for handpicked, relevant content straight to your inbox.