Are you missing out on the chance to reach out to a new audience and build a one-on-one relationship with listeners? This guide is a simple roadmap on how to start a podcast and get your voice heard.
Podcasts are the perfect entertainment for the daily commute, workout, while cooking, cleaning the house or doing other chores. They are very diverse, highly personalized and have a high level of intimacy. And people love them.
How to start a podcast: The topic and concept
Think how you can put a personal stamp on your show and differentiate yourself from everyone else. How to start a podcast but keep it new, fresh, exciting and authentic?
Sum up your podcast show in a brief, one-line tagline. What is your unique selling point? Why should someone listen to your show and not listen to something else?
- Are you focused on a particular industry?
- Are you a comedian telling jokes?
- Or are you telling stories?
- Are you an educator teaching people new things?
- Are you curating news?
- Are you reviewing products?
- Are you doing interviews with industry insiders who have amazing stories to tell in captivating ways?
A catchy and memorable podcast name
How can you put your show topic and concept into one short and punchy name? Try and be descriptive but don’t be generic. Then register the domain name.
Format, frequency and length of your podcast
How often and when can people expect to hear from you? You have complete freedom here.
Do you do a short form or a long form podcast? Are you twice monthly or twice weekly show? Decide on this, communicate it, and keep it consistent.
Create a hub for your podcast
How to start a podcast is one thing, but you also need a website hub where you put everything together and that you can use as a home base.
Here people will be able to learn about you and the show, subscribe, listen, and get a deeper involvement with your brand.
A site will also help you get discovered by a new audience that’s searching for content on Google. I use WordPress to power my sites as it’s one of the best blogging platforms. See my list of blog sites.
To-do’s before hitting the record button
The most popular podcasts today are very often full-scale professional productions with big budgets, many staff, high-end equipment, and post-production polish.
Still, many smaller scale productions that carved out their own niche by keeping it simple are popular too. You can do it too.
Here are my recommendations and the things you need to create a great and compelling podcast:
Don’t spend tons of money
Don’t start an expensive production by buying professional equipment and building a home studio. Not in the beginning at least.
Try it out first, see how you feel, and what results you’re getting, before making the big investment. Recording a podcast can be done with help from the latest technology that you already own.
Use your smartphone microphone to record your podcasts
The latest iPhone or Samsung devices can record high-quality audio which is more than enough for a new podcaster. Use a free app such as Roll Call if you’re recording interviews over a computer.
What if you don’t own a smartphone or you’d like to feel more like a pro? Consider getting an affordable USB microphone. These are among the best reviewed.
You may need audio editing software for post-production
Audacity is recommended to mix your recording with music and other sound effects. It’s not the prettiest but it’s simple to use, free, open-sourced and works cross platform. Mac users can use GarageBand.
If you’re looking for something east and quick, you could use one of the apps such as Opinion for iOS.
The intro to the show
Think how you want to introduce your podcast. Do you get to the point and go straight into the content? Do you want to have a short intro clip with music and voice over?
Many podcasters get quick and affordable intros on sites such as Fiverr. Don’t overdo it, though. People are impatient, and you need to grab their attention straight away before they go somewhere else.
Want to use some music in your podcast show?
Creative Commons is your friend for music as it’s for the imagery. Some artists choose to release their work and allow others to use it.
Jukedeck is an interesting tool worth exploring. It uses artificial intelligence to create music for you to use royalty-free.
A high-resolution and eye-catching show artwork
These are important for branding and to get you discovered and clicked on in the podcast apps. You need one 1400×1400 pixel image.
The best and quickest way to start a podcast
Don’t just upload your audio to the server where you host your site. Audio files are large and allowing them for download or streaming puts too much strain on a server.
This affects the speed and the uptime of your blog. Several specialized companies offer media hosting but the fastest way to start a podcast is Anchor. It automates the whole process for you.
- You can record and edit the podcast on their website or app
- You can upload and host your content there
- They transcribe your show
- They automatically get your podcast on Pocket Casts, Apple Podcasts and Google Play Music with one click
- And it’s free
SoundCloud is an alternative to host your podcast
SoundCloud is another great and free starting point for new podcasters.
It’s one of the most popular audio sites which can help you spread your podcast to more people.
This will be your server where you’ll host your files and from where you can embed shows onto your site or syndicate them through an RSS feed to all the popular podcast apps.
It also allows you to redirect your subscribers to a new location if you eventually decide to move your files to a different service.
Create a SoundCloud account and optimize your profile
When creating your account the name you want to display on the profile should be the name of your podcast. On the settings page, you can upload the profile image for your podcast, add the description, and the links.
Follow the process as described here. This will automatically setup your RSS feed that you need when submitting your shows to podcast apps.
Time to rock’n’roll: Get into a quiet room and record your show
Got everything ready? It’s time for some rock’n’roll. Do it in the way that makes you feel comfortable.
Do you want to script it? Could you use a rough outline to help you? Do you just want to talk about whatever comes to your mind?
Make sure to show passion for the topic. Do several takes. Delete them and redo them again and again.
Practice even more. Ask for opinions. It’s tough to listen to your voice, but have patience and know that you will get better and more comfortable the more you do this.
Load your recording into Audacity and do post-production
Add the intro, add music and other sound effects if you want, edit out any awkward pauses or any mistakes. When you’re happy with your product, you can export the finished episode.
Publish a post about the new episode on your blog
Tell people what’s in the show for them. Add any other information that you believe is valuable such as doing a transcription. Embed the show into the post. Both SoundCloud and Anchor make this simple.
Now it’s the time to get your show into the most popular podcasting apps.
Get your voice heard: Places to share and promote your podcast
Interestingly enough, not many podcasts are shared on social media when compared to images and video. This is why you need to work extra hard on promoting your show and gaining an audience.
You can easily distribute and syndicate your shows to the different podcasting apps thanks to Anchor.
You can also submit manually using your SoundCloud RSS feed. Save the URL of your feed as you will need it when submitting to the services below.
- Apple Podcasts app (or iTunes on laptop) is one of the most popular destinations for podcast listeners. Submit your RSS feed URL here.
- Stitcher is one of the most popular podcasting apps for mobile phones. Submit your podcast here.
- Pocket Casts is another one. Submit your podcast here.
- TuneIn is another popular app. You can add your podcast by contacting them manually here.
- Get on YouTube. Some podcasters publish video versions of their podcasts to reach an even larger audience. Check out my how to start vlogging using YouTube guide here.
Do a collaboration with a prominent site or podcast
How can you work together with an influential user to get the word out about your show?
Can you reach out and try to do an interview on another podcast? Can you get an already established and popular podcast to promote your show by syndicating a part of it?
Facilitate word of mouth sharing
It’s critical to get your listeners and loyal fans involved with your podcast. Ask them to share, review, and subscribe. All these will help get more attention to your podcast and acquire new listeners.
Share your show
The process of promoting your show is similar to when you’re promoting an article. You need to work to get it out to as many people as possible.
How to make money podcasting
As a beginner, you should put all your efforts into producing quality shows and building a loyal audience.
When you succeed with that, you’ll discover that podcasting offers several ways for you to make money. These are some of the options you have:
Crowdfunding is your best bet
If you have a loyal audience and a podcast they believe is worth paying for, they will reward you.
Patreon is a great platform that allows you to get funded by your true fans. There are hundreds of podcasters there making thousands of dollars monthly through donations from listeners.
- Last Podcast On The Left is a horror comedy podcast show making $23,000 per month from almost 4,000 fans.
- The Jimquisition is a current affairs and video games podcast making over $12,000 per month from more than 5,500 fans.
- The Liturgists podcast explores “the most vital issues of our time” and is making more than $16,000 per month from over 3,000 fans.
- Several podcasters were successful in running crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter too. Some of the biggest successes are Planet Money and 99% Invisible.
- Podcasts such as Dan Carlin and the No Agenda have been very successful with accepting donations.
- No Agenda have a special donation program. Donating will get you a special mention or you could be listed as an executive producer.
Sponsorships and native ads
If you’ve listened to a podcast, you’ve come across sponsored messages where hosts drop mentions of different products and services at some point within the show.
They also describe their relationship and experience with the product, and personally recommend you try it by using a promo code.
Podcasts are appealing to advertisers as they provide an opportunity to tell their stories to an attentive audience interested in a niche topic.
This makes them one of the most expensive ways to advertise online. The cost for MailChimp to advertise on the popular Serial podcast was between $25 and $40 CPM (cost per thousand).
But how do I find sponsors?
More than a third of top downloaded iTunes podcasts don’t have any ads so it’s not easy and you need to have built an audience of true fans.
Think about companies and products that fit with what you’re doing and contact them directly. You can also let agencies such as this one try to find sponsors for you.
Some shows, such as Take it With You, choose to go on the road like real rock stars and record new episodes in front of a live, paying audience.
This might not be the way you could do it for your first ever episode, but it’s something that could be a great opportunity if everything goes very well.
Many podcasts also sell a variety of merchandise branded with the logos, colors and other imagery and quotes.
Pay per download, pay to get access to the back catalog, or pay for exclusive content. Some podcasters even have mobile apps for premium members only.
How to track the success of your podcast show
Traditionally podcasts were difficult to track in great detail. The only number available was the number of file downloads.
This was inadequate metric as it didn’t really tell who downloaded the file or if they actually listened and engaged with it at all.
It’s still difficult to get the very granular data like you can get on your site, but you’ll have access to more data by doing this:
- Embed the show on your own site so people can come and listen to it from there. This will allow you to use Google Analytics to track data such as geographical location of visitors, time spent on site, and referral sources.
- Apple Podcasts App now has more analytics for some of your listeners depending on what device they’re listening on. Have a look here.
- By using SoundCloud to host your podcast, you’ll also get access to their stats which include metrics such as the number of views, likes, comments, reposts, downloads, top countries and cities, and websites that embedded your podcasts.
More successful podcasts for your inspiration
I’ve already mentioned several impressive shows throughout this post. For even more exploration and research, do check out the following shows too:
- Freakonomics Radio: The hidden side of everything.
- Monocle Radio: Inspiring people, companies, and ideas.
- StartUp: When someone who knows nothing about business starts a startup.
- BS Report: A sports podcast.
- The Art Of Charm: Where ordinary guys become extraordinary men.
- Love + Radio: Interviews with an eclectic range of subjects.
- Radiolab: Show about curiosity.
- Monday Morning Podcast: Bill Burr rants.
- StartTalk: With Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Start me up
You have what you need on the topic of how to start a podcast. You are now inspired and ready to get your podcast started and your voice heard.
Listening to your voice needs time to get used to, but it’s definitely worth putting some effort in it. You may very well discover a new audience that you would never have without podcasting. Give it a try to see how you get on.