Starting a podcast can seem daunting, but with the right approach, and tools, it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through every step of starting a podcast from scratch, from coming up with ideas to uploading and promoting your podcast.
After reading this guide, you will have all the info you need to start a successful show.
How to Start a Podcast (10 Easy Steps)
1. Define Goal
When starting a podcast, you need to know why you’re doing it. Some people want to make a podcast as a hobby, while others want to teach something.
Some want to share their experiences or raise awareness about something important. The strategy and format of your podcast will depend on your podcast goals.
The goals can change and evolve over time. Whatever your podcast goal is, it is crucial to set a clear goal to create a meaningful show.
2. Plan & Prepare
Once you have defined your goals, the next step is to plan and prepare for your podcast. Here are some key steps to follow:
a. Know your audience
To create a successful podcast, it’s crucial to understand your audience. Consider who your listeners are and what topics they might be interested in. For instance, if you’re creating an educational podcast, think about the challenges your audience might be facing and offer solutions to those problems. By focusing on the needs and interests of your audience, you can deliver content that resonates with them and keeps them coming back for more. Remember, knowing your audience is the first step in creating a podcast that they will love!
b. Choose a topic
When picking a topic for your podcast, think about something you really like and know about. It’s better to focus on a specific niche, or a small topic, so you can create many episodes that you and people will enjoy. For example, instead of “technology,” choose a smaller topic like “artificial intelligence in marketing.” This will help you connect with your listeners more easily and build a strong following. Just be careful not to limit your podcast by picking a topic that’s too specific. You might want to expand your topic later on when your podcast becomes more popular.
c. Choose a name:
Choosing the right name for your podcast is crucial. Consider your content, audience, and competition when brainstorming ideas. Keep it short, unique, and easy to pronounce. Research to ensure the name isn’t already taken to avoid any copyright issues. Test your options with friends and family, and consider using an online name generator. Say the name out loud repeatedly to make sure it sounds good and makes sense. To improve discoverability, add relevant keywords, but don’t keyword stuff them. For example, if your podcast is about mental health, choose a name like “Mental Wellness” or “Healing Minds.” Check our huge list of podcast names for multiple niches.
d. Decide cadence & format:
Decide on your average length of episode, style, frequency, and day of release, and set a realistic release schedule that you can stick to.
- Length: Decide an average length for your podcast, but don’t worry about sticking to it every time. Focus on creating episodes that serve your audience’s purpose, whether it’s short or long. Just make sure you don’t go off-topic and make it too lengthy.
- Frequency: Choose a schedule that works best for you, whether it be weekly or biweekly, and remain consistent. Publishing frequently can lead to more opportunities for downloads and content creation, but it also requires more work. Don’t stress about finding the perfect schedule; pick one and stick with it.
- Style (format): Decide whether you want an interview, solo, cohost, or narrative show. Interviews are great to build relationships with guests and share their stories, but scheduling can take difficult. Use tools like Calendly to simplify booking. Solo shows showcase your expertise and help build trust with your audience but it may feel weird at first. Regardless of which style you choose, practice is key.
- Create an episode topic list: To ensure a sustainable podcast, plan out a list of 20-25 potential episode ideas in advance. If you struggle to come up with at least 25 ideas, it might not be a good topic to pursue. Write down potential guest names and ideas, not titles. For example, if you’re starting a movie review podcast, you can create a list of episode ideas such as “Top 10 favorite action movies,” “Worst movie sequels of all time,” or “Interview with a local film critic.” By creating a strong topic list, you’ll have enough ideas to keep your podcast going for the long run.
- Create guest line-up: Just like episode topics, it’s crucial to have an interesting line-up of guests. Plan ahead and create a list of 40-50 potential guests you want to invite to your show. Research people who are experts in your field, authors, influencers, or celebrities who align with your podcast’s theme. Reach out to them, keeping in mind that only about 1/4 of them may respond. On average, this will allow you to book 10-15 guests for your show. Try to book them at least 1-2 months in advance and consider recording episodes in bulk. This will save time and allow you to focus on creating quality content.
3. Get Equipment
Once you have planned and prepped everything, it’s time to get the right equipment and set up your podcast. Here are a few things to consider:
a. Quality Microphone
Investing in a good microphone is essential. Two cost-effective choices are the Samson Q2U and Audio-Technica ATR2100x. Both deliver great sound and reduce background noise. They have both USB and XLR connections, allowing you to record directly on your computer or through an XLR cable. The number of mics you need depends on the number of participants for in-person recordings.
Headphones or earphones can help you avoid mic bleed and monitor your recording. Any headphones would work, just ensure you don’t record using the headphones mic.
c. Interface or Mixer (for in-person)
To record with multiple people in the same room, you need a mixer or audio interface. Both of these devices let you record multiple microphones at once and route the audio to a recorder or computer. They also offer the ability to change levels and add effects. Some good options are the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 and Zoom UAC-2.
d. Pop Filter (optional)
To reduce plosives and some sibilance, consider investing in a pop filter. A pop filter is an inexpensive addition that will improve your audio clarity.
e. Mic Stand (optional)
A mic stand is a great way to keep your microphone from moving around. This will, in turn, help you keep a consistent sound quality.
- Place the mic 6-8 inches from the mouth
- Slant mic to prevent plosives
- Test the equipment before recording
4. Produce Creatives
Creating compelling content is crucial to attract and retain listeners. Here’s what you need to create:
a. Write a Podcast Description
Write a brief podcast description that outlines what your podcast is about. Include a brief call-to-action, your podcast’s social handles, website, and email in this description. This will be displayed under your podcast’s title.
b. Write Trailer Script
Write a trailer script for your podcast. Its purpose is to draw in listeners. A trailer presents the basics of your show in audio form and can be used for various purposes, like setting up your podcast host, introducing your show to new listeners at the top of Spotify, and used to run ads and pod swaps. Compose a summarised version of your podcast description, and add extra details to create an effective trailer.
c. Write Intro and Outro Script
Write the intro and outro script, and keep it under 30 seconds read for each. This will be added in every episode, so pay close attention and try to make it flawless.
d. Write Common Questions
Prepare a list of generic questions for your guest interview in Google Docs or Notepad. This will help keep the conversation organized and running smoothly. You may ask follow-up questions and modify your questions as needed, but the list should serve as a base for the interview.
e. Design Artwork
Design an eye-catching artwork that represents your show. This is a critical step in gaining new listeners. Artwork that stands out and grabs the listener’s attention will give you the best chance of gaining new listeners, especially when starting a new show. People do evaluate a podcast by its cover, so use a platform like Canva to design a memorable artwork.
f. Create Templates for Branding and Promo Content
Create branded and promotional templates (e.g. quote cards, audiograms, and show notes) to promote your podcast online. Select brand colors and font before launch to maintain consistent branding across the web. Canva and Headliner are useful for creating quote cards and audiograms, while ChatGPT is useful for writing show notes. Establishing templates from the beginning will save time in the long run.
g. Buy Music
Purchasing music from Premium Beats is simple – select a song from their vast, high-quality selection, and purchase a single standard license. This can be used for the trailer, intro, and outro of your podcast. Music can be used to set the tone and engage listeners, so make sure to select a song related to your topic. Be sure to take advantage of any discounts that may be available.
h. Produce Trailer and the Intro & Outro
Record the trailer and the intro & outro for your show, using the scripts you wrote above. You have the music ready. Now, it’s time to edit and mix the trailer recording with the music, then mix the intro & outro with the music. Use Audacity or GarageBand to edit the audio.
5. Setup Host & Socials
It’s time to upload your trailer and set up your podcast or media host, social media accounts, and website (optional). Here’s what you need to do:
a. Choose a Podcast Host
There are many podcast hosting platforms to choose from, including Anchor, and Buzzsprout. If budget is a concern, Anchor is a cost-free option. For additional features, opt for a paid platform like Buzzsprout or Captivate. Choose a platform that suits your budget and offers the features you need.
b. Upload Trailer to Setup Host
Upload the trailer you just produced to your podcast host. This will set up your podcast host account and get your show on Apple, Spotify, and others. Some platforms may delay, so follow the next step to speed up.
c. Submit Manually to Speed Up
To get your show listed on leading platforms quickly, manually submit your trailer to Apple Podcasts, Spotify and others. Note that it can take up to 2 weeks for some platforms to list your show, so submit at least 3-4 weeks before launch.
d. Create Social Media Accounts
Create social media accounts on the platforms your target audience uses. Especially Instagram Reels, Tiktok, and YouTube Shorts, as they give the greatest exposure without additional cost. Well-crafted Twitter threads and LinkedIn posts also perform really. Facebook groups or Reddit can also be great places to share your show and build a community.
e. Create a Website (optional)
Selling a product/service? A website can help you guide listeners to your offer. Additionally, publishing show notes, and transcripts, and repurposing episodes into search-friendly blog posts, can help get organic traffic from search engines like Google. Platforms like Podpage, WordPress, or Squarespace can help you create your website (though this may be time-consuming). Outsource the task to a freelancer or agency like ours to maximize your podcast efforts.
- Submit your podcast to all directories
6. Record and Edit
Once you have everything ready, it’s time to record and edit the episodes. Here are the steps:
a. Record your episode
Before recording, assemble the necessary equipment, test it, and follow the scripts/questions you created. Record your episode in a quiet, low-noise room. If remote, use Riverside or Squadcast, and if in-person use Audacity or Garage Band. Zoom is an option, but can reduce quality and lead to lags. For both in-person and remote, record separate tracks for each person. If there are drift issues in remote recording, these can usually be fixed during editing and post-production.
b. Edit your episode
Edit your podcast episode with Audacity or Garage Band. Both are free and can be used to reduce noise, add intros/outros, music, and adjust volume levels. Paid options like Alitu and Descript are available, but sometimes their AI editing can be unreliable. If you’re looking for a smoother editing experience, outsource the task to a freelancer or agency like ours.
- Record in a quiet environment
- Use headphones during recording
- Bend the mic slightly to avoid plosives
- Hook listeners at the beginning
7. Post and Promote
After you have edited your podcast, it’s time to upload and spread the word. Here are some tips to promote your podcast effectively:
a. Upload your episode
After editing, upload your episode to your podcast host. The host will make it available on platforms like Apple Podcast, Spotify, and others. You can also schedule episodes and track download numbers from your host.
b. Promote your episode
Marketing is as important as making the show. I’ve listed ten of the most effective ways to promote a podcast with free and paid options:
- Create short-form videos (free): Create multiple short-form clips for Reels, Tiktok, and YouTube Shorts. Ensure to add a call to action at the end of the video such as “Listen to Full Episode – Link in bio” and use Linktree to list your show links.
- Consider Podcast SEO (free): Optimize your podcast titles, descriptions, and transcripts for podcast apps and search engines to increase your podcast’s visibility in search results. Use Voxalyze to optimize for podcast SEO.
- Be a guest on other shows (free/paid): Reach out to other podcasts in your niche and ask to be a guest on their show. This is a great way to reach a new audience and earn backlinks to your podcast website.
- Leverage your network (free): Let your friends, family, and colleagues know about your podcast and ask them to share it with their network.
- Repurpose (free): Turn your podcast episode into a search-friendly blog post, show notes, and transcript for each episode. Post them on your website to attract visitors from Google.
- Podswap (free): Reach out to other podcasters in your niche and collaborate on a cross-promotion strategy. Use Rephonic to find shows to partner with.
- Do a Giveaway (paid): To get listed in Apple Podcasts’ New and Noteworthy section, create a contest with a call to action to subscribe and leave a review, then apply through Apple’s placement form once you see a spike in reviews. This method has been successful for indie and larger podcasts. Retaining listeners depends on the quality of the content and production.
- Run Ads (paid): On platforms like Castbox, Overcast, Podcast Addict, and Spotify ads. They are very effective but require a budget.
- Use Newsletter (paid): Promote your show via large newsletters related to your show and/or create a newsletter of your own. Collect email addresses from your audience and send frequent helpful updates and your latest episodes.
- Avoid Facebook Ads (paid): Do not spend money on Facebook ads, it’s not effective. Many podcasters have tried them and seen very little to no results.
- Promote your podcast more than once
- Begin with one/two promotional methods, then try the rest
8. Monitor & Improve
It’s important to monitor your podcast’s performance and make improvements where necessary. Here are some key metrics to track:
a. Track Downloads and Retention Rate
Monitor your download numbers to see how your podcast is performing. You can find this data in your podcast host and also on Apple Podcast Connect. Use this data to identify popular episodes and areas for improvement.
b. Check Reviews
Ask your listeners to leave reviews on Apple Podcasts and use those reviews to improve your show.
Based on the downloads, retention rate and reviews, make changes to your show and keep improving.
9. Be Consistent
Finally, podcasting is a long game and it takes time to see results. Consistency is key when it comes to podcasting. Commit to a regular publishing schedule and stick to it. Consistency helps build a loyal audience and keeps your podcast top-of-mind for listeners.
a. How much does it cost to start a podcast?
It depends on the type of podcast you are starting. A basic podcast setup can cost anywhere from $100 to $500. If you are looking for more advanced services like editing and promotion, you may need to invest anywhere from $1000 to $2000.
b. How do you start a podcast for beginners?
Starting a podcast for beginners can seem daunting, but with the right guidance, it can be a breeze! First, you’ll have to decide on a topic and format, set up your equipment, and plan your first episode. After that, you’ll need to record, edit, upload, and promote your podcast. If you don’t have experience in any of those areas, it’s best to outsource the task to a team of professionals.
c. Do podcasts make money?
Yes, podcasts can make money, but it takes time and effort. To monetize your podcast, you will need to first build an audience. Once you have established a consistent listener base, you can explore monetization options like sponsored content, advertisements, affiliate marketing, and donations.
d. Can I start a podcast for free?
Yes, it is possible to start a podcast for free. Use your phone to record in a quiet room, and edit with software like Audacity or Garage Band. Use Anchor to host and publish your podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and others. All of these tools are absolutely free.
If you’re ready to start your own podcast but aren’t sure where to begin, let us help! Our team of experienced podcast producers can guide you through every step of the process, from planning and recording to editing and promotion. Contact us today to learn more about our podcast launch services and get started on your podcasting journey!
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