How to Start a Podcast…
Have you ever wondered how to launch a successful podcast?
And we’re not just referring to any run of the mill podcast… we’re talking about a really successful podcast that people want to listen to, review and recommend. So you want listeners to be really keen to tune in and brands’ willing to spend their marketing budgets to reach them. The conditions in 2021 are perfect for making a podcast.
We’re going to walk you through the nuts and bolts of how to start your own successful podcast – we’ll explain the podcast process in a straightforward way so that you’re ready for your launch day and beyond. By the end, if you follow our advice, you will soon have the confidence to start your own podcast and to share your voice with the world.
Because podcasts are an amazing way to build a real connection with your intended audience – instead of the disjointed communication that you can have through social media, podcasts let you engage with your audience with unique, long-form content – you are literally a voice that speaks to them with authority about a niche subject.
Podcasts are also far more convenient than blogs as people can listen to podcasts whilst driving, working out, or just doing chores around the house – they can plug themselves in and be transported to the world you are talking about. And the great thing about podcasts? There’s a lot of new, unexplored territory in the podcasting industry, just waiting to be discovered. Put it like this – there are at least 600 million blogs, 23 million YouTube channels, but only 800,000 podcasts in Apple Podcasts. That means for every podcast, and there are 750 blogs and 29 YouTube channels – so, maybe yours will be the next BIG THING with all that scope… Podcasts let people connect over a niche idea, and you can find others who share the same enthusiasm. And no topic is off-limits.
So, how to start a podcast isn’t difficult, but there are a number of essential steps you’ll need to go through in order to get it launched.
So, Why a Podcast?
There are podcasts on every conceivable subject – they’re as diverse as the people who create them. As a result, there are amazing podcasts about everything from history, fashion, pop-culture, lifestyle, neuroscience, and business tips. There are simply no limits.
Podcasts can help you get your ideas out to the world in a contemporary way. As a result, you are able to hold your audience’s attention for longer periods of time, create a personalized listening experience, build valuable network connections, and hopefully make a decent income. Finally, it positions you as an expert in your niche so that new listeners can look to you for new insights, inspirations, and ideas. And because the average podcast can actually rack up to 141 downloads in the first 30 days, and as your audience grows, you’ll have the opportunity to impact and influence more lives.
So, given the eagerness for potential listeners to tune in and brands’ willingness to spend their marketing budgets to reach them, the conditions are perfect for making a podcast.
So, What’s Needed to Start a Podcast?
Starting a podcast isn’t difficult, but there are a number of steps you’ll need to go through to get it launched before you can upload your audio files to Apple and Spotify, where they can reach unbelievably huge audiences…
Lots of people think that to start a podcast. They’re going to need lots of podcast equipment – technical equipment such as recording software, an expensive microphone, editing software, and to have studio quality recordings – you don’t – it’s actually possible for anyone to create fantastic audio from anywhere. You can literally turn your own laptop or tablet into a ‘proper’ recording studio by using recording software, as well as editing software, which you can download yourself. But, if you’re going to take this podcast production seriously, starting a podcast takes some know-how and some pretty impressive equipment.
Set a Clear Focus, and Stick to it
Starting a podcast isn’t hard, but the first step is to work out your podcast’s goals upfront. Next, you need to be clear on why you’re starting a podcast – perhaps you want it to complement your blog, maybe find new leads for your business, maybe you’re passionate about a particular project, or maybe you want to connect with like-minded people? Having an idea as to why you want a podcast is fundamental to its success.
When you have decided why you want to start a podcast, the next step is to decide on the subject you want to discuss – how much do you know about the subject and whether it can generate any monetary value. For example, if your goal is to say, promote your own local book shop, then educating and engaging potential customers on various forms of contemporary literature, for example, can attract leads for your business as you engage with listeners through stories or conversations with featured guests, such as writers and fellow readers.
Most podcasters aspire to grow a massive following with thousands of listeners, but you need to identify who should be part of it before that growth can happen. Therefore, the demographics, interests, location, and how your future podcast will help your audience solve a problem are essential. Then you’ll have to think about where people fit the description. Where they are likely to ‘hang out’ online or in their community and how you can directly engage with them there.
Once you have a clear goal in mind, you should then develop a detailed plan that will help you reach that target.
Have a Catchy Name and a Proper Description
The best idea is to choose a catchy title that helps to convey your identity and what your podcast show is about when it comes to podcast names. So, it should be concise and be relevant to the subject you’ve decided to talk about. It’s the same for naming your various episodes – try and include keywords and phrases that your listener would use. For example, you can include the names of well-known personalities or celebrities who will be featured in a particular episode.
It’s really important that you include a proper description and the name of your podcast because most people judge new podcasts by the descriptions they are given. Therefore, the summary of a podcast must be accurate and describe what will be discussed and what the audience can expect from listening to it.
There are literally dozens of podcast categories and subcategories on Apple Podcasts—everything from arts and science to comedy, politics, and religion. You should choose the category that suits your podcast’s theme the most. Next, check out the other podcasts on Apple Podcasts that are similar to your own and note which category and subcategory they use. Try and include as many relevant keywords as you can, as this will help with the search engine optimization (SEO) of your podcast listings. Because Apple Podcasts is a search engine, many people who find your podcast will have found it through a simple search.
The Right Podcast Format
There are a number of popular podcast formats which you could follow, or you can create your own unique podcast structure. Of course, there are pros and cons to each type of style, so you should think about what’s the best way to entertain or educate your potential audience, and what would suit you best in presenting – these could include…
Monologue podcasts: this is when one host speaks about their expertise or experience
Co-hosted podcasts: with two or more hosts having a conversation about their expertise or experiences about a given subject
Interview-based podcasts: a host interviews and then guides the conversation around a guest with a question and answer format
Story-telling podcasts: a host narrates fiction or non-fiction, which typically includes special sound effects, audio sourced from real-life, as well as the use of multiple voice actors
Mixed-style podcasts over a number of different episodes or through recurring segments
Panel podcasts: a host holds a discussion between a group of guests around a single, especially- chosen subject.
The important thing is to choose a podcast format that suits the chosen subject matter and that you’re comfortable with carrying out.
If you love improvisation and banter, you’ll probably feel happy having a co-host.
If you like everything planned and scripted, you might prefer a more structured format.
If you are a complete beginner, it can be easier if you choose to begin your podcast with a co-host. The other host can be any person you know and who you are comfortable with, such as a friend or colleague. You’ll also find you can have a more engaging conversation with a co-host with whom you share common interests.
Equipment and Software
Can you start a podcast with just an iPhone?
In a nutshell, the answer is yes. Because iPhones have microphones, they have everything you need to record the audio for your podcast, but bear in mind that the audio on your mobile may not be as clear or as professional sounding as you’d like. You can also buy and download several apps that will turn your iPhone into a podcast audio recorder. Podcast hosting services also offer in-app podcast recording capabilities – many of these apps are available for Android devices as well.
A microphone attachment is an ideal way to improve sound quality using your phone while making it easy while recording on a device that’s nearly always with you. More or less, every desktop and laptop computer has a USB microphone port, which allows you to connect devices such as an external microphone. These microphone devices are plug-in-and-play, which means you don’t have to worry about too technical like drivers or installation. And you can get quality USB microphones relatively cheaply. Many podcasts, especially free ones today, have some of the most simple setups and still use USB microphones.
However, you might decide to invest in a more expensive XLR podcast microphone that plugs into a mixer, producing a better sound quality for your podcast.
You can, however, achieve good audio quality with a really good USB microphone is more than enough for most people. Just try and avoid using your computer’s built-in microphone for your podcast, as the audio quality will be dire as their built-in microphones were not designed for podcast recording. You’ll really need a good external microphone if you’re at all serious about starting a podcast.
Therefore, to start a podcast, you really should have access to and learn how to use some easily available equipment and software. And podcasting equipment doesn’t need to be costly – you can start an audio podcast with pretty basic pieces of equipment such as a microphone, headphones, and a pop filter. What you need to do is to assess your podcast’s audio priorities and recording set-up and then decide on the kind of equipment you think you’ll need. You should also learn about the various software options such as Audacity, GarageBand, Reaper, Adobe Audition which you could use for recording and editing, and then choose the best one for your particular needs.
Script-writing and Recording
Once you have the recording equipment in place, it’s now the fun time of writing the script and recording the podcast itself. If you’re new to this, you should put in the time to learn about script-writing techniques because a clear and smooth recording requires a perfectly structured script that might include: a short and concise introduction, perhaps a guest introduction, an episode discussion, and maybe a recap of earlier episodes… A huge mistake a lot of podcasters make is to ramble on verbatim with no script and by trying to rely on the banter with their co-host too much. Some people are great at this spontaneous chatter as the podcast host – others aren’t, and it can be disastrous.
Don’t forget your podcast name or title – it should be relatively short and catchy – definitely something memorable. After all, it’s the podcast name that will be flouted throughout your marketing strategies, so it’s got to stand out from the competition! And don’t let your podcast episode titles be an afterthought either; they’re as crucial as your podcast’s primary name. Ideally, they should be easy to search for, clear, and descriptive enough that someone wants to download and play them.
The recording quality is also important, and many beginners prefer to record their podcasts at home from their own DIY home studios. There are some people who say you can record a podcast anywhere. However, you do need to ensure that the acoustics or sound quality is at a reasonable level throughout the whole procedure by having adequate noise-prevention measures put in place. This means that recording in a small space with hard, flat surfaces will almost always mean a more reverberant-sounding recording, and that isn’t what you want in your podcast audio – so this rules out the shower room!
So, if possible, the best place to record is in a quiet, large room with plenty of space around you, and preferably with no chance of you being disturbed whilst audio recording.
Therefore, if you want to start a podcast, it’s quite easy to begin the process with little experience or serious overheads. What is important to remember is that your content is crucial because no one wants to listen to a podcast just because it has superior sound quality. But people are happy to cope with inferior sound quality if the content of your show is excellent!
Cover Art is Important
Your podcast cover art needs to be aesthetically pleasing – we’re talking totally eye-catching beautiful! But, seriously, don’t neglect this significant part of your podcast, as Apple podcasts, in particular, seem only to feature podcasts with very professional-looking, great artwork.
Okay, you may need to spend some money getting someone to design your cover art, but regardless of whether you’re doing it yourself, or paying a designer, try and use words and images that are large enough to be clearly legible regardless of the size of your podcast. Check out what the Apple podcast competition is for inspiration, and see what art is particularly eye-catching.
Because podcast cover art is the first thing people see when they’re browsing for their new podcasts. So you could follow the cover picture with an excellent introduction about what your podcast is about – you could perhaps get someone to introduce you at the start, as this will enhance the value of your podcast considerably and is also a great way to get your podcast noticed when you’re first starting out.
You’ll be surprised at how important your cover art is – it’s the finishing touch that complements your podcast’s title and description, as well as the content.
So, whether you like it or not, most listeners judge podcasts by their covers.
It’s thought that most podcasts lose 20-35% of their audience in the first few minutes of them listening, so getting each episode’s introduction, theme music, subject matter, and frequency of when you publish spot-on is essential from the very beginning of the very first episode – you need to establish this from day one! So you need to start strong from your first episode and work to engage people from the beginning of each new episode…
Don’t forget things such as having podcast music included in your episodes – alongside your intro and then outro music. You should also consider what is catchy for your overall podcast music title track… Music is very often subject to copyright, so royalty-free or creative commons’ licenses will cover most of your bases if you’re new to this game. There are also many services available to find free and affordable music, and you just need to do a bit of research.
People often worry about how long their podcast episode should be, but you shouldn’t be too concerned about this – if there’s a lot to say, say it – it’s how you say it that really matters! The quality of your episode is paramount. Because your podcast episode length and publishing frequency is a unique decision for every podcaster, it really comes down to the podcast’s subject matter, episode length, and your own audience’s listening habits.
Okay – so, you’ve now that you’ve decided on your podcast’s episode subject matter and episode length, you now have to analyze when and where you expect your potential audience to go to utilize that content. Will your listener cope with one 2-hour long episode per week? Will your listeners stay loyal and remember to download the latest episode if you publish infrequently, or perhaps only once a month?
Whichever frequency you choose, your podcast listeners will come to expect new episodes on that desired schedule. So, if you miss a podcast episode publish date, you could risk losing listeners because they can’t rely on your show. So a vital question to ask yourself is, ‘can I really be consistent and stick to this episode schedule that I’ve chosen?’.
So, you’ve written your outline for the episode, picked a sensible, quiet place to record, set up your microphone, and have practised your microphone technique. Have you practised? You should – it’s not as easy speaking into a microphone clearly, without mistakes, without having practised beforehand. There’s a definite skill to it which shouldn’t be ignored…
Now it’s time to start recording your first episode.
What could help make your podcast episode consistency easier is to produce an episode template before you get started. Then, you could reuse the template each time, so you have your music in place, your space ready for your ad spots, as well as tracks for yourself and your co-host and interviewees for each episode before you even start.
Editing your audio recording can be scary if you need to make changes in your intro and outro, or to remove gaps of dead air, and cut out your mistakes, and eliminate background noises and those difficult-to-ignore pops. You can buy audio editing software for yourself. However, if you’d rather someone else edit your podcast, it can be taken off your hands – there are a lot of post-production podcast editing service providers that can help with your audio files.
You now need to sign up with a media hosting service to host your audio files, and you can either have a website set up on their site to deliver them or place them on your own existing website.
Podcast Hosting Providers and Distribution
When you create a podcast, you need to think about a podcast hosting service. You need to try hard to get your podcast listed in the top podcast directories is crucial for your podcast’s continuing success. With over 800,000 podcast listings, Apple Podcasts is the Number One in the podcast directory in the world. But, the podcast directory also lists app giants alongside Apple podcasts such as Spotify and Google Play. And, if you get your podcast into Apple Podcast Library, Spotify, and Google Podcast Library, your podcast has the advantage of being in front of 95%+ of all podcast listeners. After that, you need to grab your podcast RSS feed and submit your podcast to other podcast platforms as well such as Overcast and Pocket Casts, and the many more which are listed in the podcast directory.
Podcast hosting is easy. You can really easily submit your podcast anywhere you want by using the RSS feed you can find in your settings, and you’ll only need to distribute your podcast once. After it’s set up, you’ll be able to sync your future podcast episodes to all platforms with just one tap of a button.
In order for your podcast to work, you need to have an audio file, and an RSS feed that users can subscribe to and be able to download your new episodes when they come out. WordPress comes with a built-in RSS feed for blogs. Many podcasters decide to choose to use WordPress as their podcast website platform. And you can connect your podcast website with podcasting apps like iTunes to make it easier for millions of users to listen and subscribe to.
One of the most effective marketing strategies you can do is to create accounts and submit your RSS feed to every podcast directory so that your new podcast episodes will automatically be published to each platform, exposing you to new audiences as they browse through their favourite listening app for new shows.
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Marketing Your Podcast
Once your podcast is launched and out in the world, you’ll need to start moving towards promoting and building your listener base. Marketing your podcast is essential to keep it alive. But podcast marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach- a marketing strategy that might result in loads of downloads for one podcast show may be a slow burn for another. It’s worth trying out different scenarios and being prepared to think outside the box.
It’s all about confidence and trying out new ideas, finding different messaging angles – including social media, and pushing yourself to find the audience that you want. It’s been suggested that when you record your first podcast, you should air 3-4 episodes on your launch day so that your new listeners can become hooked with a bit of binge-listening of the first few episodes…
If you use social media, you could find that one of your episodes could add value to a discussion on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Then you could introduce the show to new listeners, perhaps even leading you to convert your podcast into a YouTube video.
You could maybe give yourself three key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure you stay on track – in podcasting marketing. They might include:
Reviews – when we begin to think about how to start a podcast, they think about audio equipment, editing software, and coming up with a fancy name – these are important. Still, reviews are one area that is often overlooked. Great reviews create social proof – proving your podcast is worth subscribing to…
Subscribers -ask your listeners to subscribe, share, and review your podcast at the beginning and end of each episode. This is an excellent call to action and seems genuine rather than pushy.
Downloads – find out if there’s a trend when people tend to download at particular times rather than others. Make your publishing times strategic – consistency is a rule of thumb.
You could then create a list of everything that will help you achieve these KPIs. Work out from that list which actions will have the highest impact for the least amount of effort. So perhaps from your KPIs, you could tackle:
· Creating a VIP launch market
· Influencer marketing
Word-of-mouth and networking are also great marketing tools – people tend to underestimate them – friends and family are great marketing tactics. Come on. If you love something, you want to share it, don’t you? The world of podcasting is no different. And other podcasters probably have audiences very similar to your own. You could reach out to those podcasting creators and ask them to set up a cross-promotion with you – you mention them in return for them mentioning you.
How about inviting guests onto your podcasts who can add high value and creditability to your listeners? By doing this, you get access to your guests’ audience when they share their interview to their network, your guest can reach your own podcast’s audience, and listeners can hear from extremely knowledgeable people on your podcast. Win, win.
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How to Start a Podcast?
So, how to start a podcast isn’t hard, it just takes a bit of know-how, but the pay-off can be fantastic and extremely rewarding. There are many off-shoots from starting a podcast which includes setting up a website to go with it, for example. You can produce show notes which are like transcriptions, a simple summary of what you talked about, or an entire blog post that can be tailored more towards reading than listening, gaining you a wider audience.
There are simply loads of ways for you to start a podcast – and if you need help, you can always ask for a bit of help from your friends at Legiit…