Ever listened to a podcast and thought, “hey, I could do that.”?
Or maybe you’ve heard of others making six figures every month from podcasting. (Joe Rogan makes $75,000 per episode).
More people are listening to podcasts than ever before. As the audience for podcasts continues to grow, there has never been a better time to start a podcast for your business or a personal hobby.
Podcasts are a great way to build a genuine connection with your audience. Instead of the fractured connection you make through social media, podcasts allow you to engage your audience with unique long-form content. And podcasts are more convenient than blog posts. People can listen to podcasts while driving, working out, or just doing chores around the house.
There is also a lot of unexplored space in podcasting. As of 2018, there are close to 50 million YouTube channels, 440 million blogs, but just over 550,000 podcasts listed in Apple Podcasts. That means for every podcast there are 800 blogs and 90 YouTube channels.
Imagine the incredible opportunity there was to start a blog in 2004 and you’ll have an idea of where podcasting is today.
Step 1: Develop your podcast concept and choose a niche
Just like with blogging, you need to find a niche for your podcast to fill. Something people desire to learn about and that doesn’t exist.
How to pick a title, format, and theme for your podcast
How to pick a title, format, and theme for your podcast
Podcasts are as varied as the people that create them: there are great podcasts about history, pop-culture, neuroscience, and a fictional town where aliens are friends with the Yeti. The only limit to what you can do with a podcast is your own imagination.
To start, you’ll need to ask yourself “Why am I starting a podcast?” and “What is my podcast about?”
Once you’ve answered the why and what for your podcast, the rest of the concept will fall into place.
What’s the best format for a podcast?
Some podcasts just have a single host, others are scripted stories, and others feature in-depth interviews. The most important thing to remember is that the format should fit what your podcast is about and be a format you’re comfortable with.
Here are a few of the most common podcast formats:
- Interview podcasts: These are podcasts with a single host who interviews people in a particular industry. Examples: The Joe Rogan Experience, Fresh Air, and Trained by Nike.
- Scripted non-fiction: These shows are mostly serial podcasts that have a single theme for a full season. Examples: Serial, Slow Burn, and Hardcore History.
- News recap: A podcast that recaps the news in a specific industry. Examples: The Daily, Kickass News, or Planet Money.
- Educational podcasts: These are scripted non-fiction shows that focus on teaching their audience. Examples: Stuff You Should Know, Hidden Brain, and TED radio hour.
- Scripted fiction: These podcasts are most similar to radio dramas and are often scripted and highly produced. Examples: Bubble by Maximum Fun, Limetown, and Everything Is Alive.
How do I pick a name for my podcast?
When you’re picking a podcast name, you’ll want to pick something that’s catchy, memorable, and will rank for keywords that are relevant to your podcast.
You don’t want to stuff your title with keywords, but you want to make it easy for people to find your podcast. So if you have a one or two-word podcast name you should add a really brief description in the title tag.
Step 2: Get some recording equipment and software
Podcasts are awesome because they have such a low barrier to entry. You can start recording a podcast with your iPhone headphones and grow your way into a $20,000 podcast studio. Picking the best podcasting setup can get confusing, especially if you don’t have a background in audio recording.
Just remember, your content is the most important part. Nobody listens to a boring podcast just because it has great sound quality.
Step 3: Pick Your Podcast Hosting Provider
If you don’t pick a reliable, good quality host, listeners might have trouble downloading or streaming your podcast episodes. This is a good way to lose listeners.
Podcast hosting services are built on media servers that are designed to store large media files (your episodes) and support the high bandwidth needed for listeners to download or stream episodes.
Each podcast host has its own strengths and weaknesses.
There are 4 main things that you should consider:
- Price – How much can you afford? Generally, the more you pay, the more space you’ll get. It makes sense to start off with an introductory package and then upgrade later as you record more shows.
- Simplicity – Some podcast hosts are easier to use than others. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, go for simplicity over power.
- RSS Feed support – Make sure they automatically create an RSS feed for you.
- Embeddable players – How easy is it to embed a player with an episode somewhere else (do you even need this feature?). Do you like what it looks like?
- Sitebuilder – Some podcast hosts give you a site builder so you can build a complete website that can easily integrate your episodes. This may be useful or completely unnecessary for you. Others simply give you a basic podcast page that lists your episodes.
Step 4: Record your first episode
To become a great writer, you have to become a great reader. In the same vein, you’ll become a great podcaster by listening to podcasts. If you don’t listen to podcasts already, start by subscribing to a handful and listening to some episodes.
Write a podcast outline
One of the biggest mistakes new podcasters make is that they tend to ramble. The best way to fight this tendency is to write a podcast outline. Taking 15 minutes to sketch out an episode with bullet points will lead to a dramatic improvement.
Pick the best place to record your podcast
While you might really enjoy singing in the shower, recording in small spaces with hard, flat surfaces will almost always mean a more reverberant sounding recording. If possible, you’ll want to record in a quiet, large room with plenty of space around you.
If a small space is the only one available, try to find one with fewer reflective surfaces or lots of material that can absorb or diffuse the sound: furniture, carpeting, or even a closet full of clothes can help. This means that for a lot of podcasters, the best place to record is in their walk-in closet.
Step 5: Edit and export your episode
Editing audio is a lot like editing video, but simpler. Still, all audio editing software has a learning curve, and you’ll need to commit time to learn how to use it.
Let your content goals be your guide here—are you looking for a leaner, faster pace? A shorter runtime? Does it make sense to preserve a conversational dynamic? Is it a narrative format, an interview, a monologue?
Identifying your goals before you start cutting and crossfading will keep your episodes flowing naturally.
Import and Clip Together Your Audio Files
First, you’ll need to import your audio clips into your editing software, like Audacity.
You do this by going to “File > Import > Audio” in the menu.
You may have multiple clips of your episode content, as well as your intro, outro, and any ads. You can then see the profile of each clip and edit them individually or together.
To move parts around, you can highlight a portion of a clip, and then cut and paste it somewhere else (just like text). You can also select any single track and apply effects like ‘Noise Reduction’.
Tips for editing your podcast episode
- Use crossfades between clips
- Pay attention to your breath
- Trim filler words and false starts
How to export a podcast episode as MP3
Once you have finished editing your episode you’ll want to export and optimize your audio file.
If you’re using Audacity, download the installer package for the LAME MP3 encoder.
Then, go to “File > Export Audio” in Audacity to bring up a save menu.
Set the file type to MP3, and bitrate to at least 128kbps.
Your sample rate should be 44.1 kHz by default, but you can always confirm it in “Edit > Preferences > Quality”.
Once you click “Save”, another pop-up will come up that allows you to tag your audio file.
Tags are used to provide information about your file, like who made it, and what its title is.
Step 6: Upload your episode to your podcast host
Now that you have your final audio file, it’s time to get your podcast online. You’re going to need to find a reliable place to host your podcast and a way to generate an RSS Feed.
Step 7: After you publish your podcast, how do you promote it?
Start by Listing Your Podcast in Top Directories
When listeners browse directories like iTunes or Podio, they only see podcasts that have been added to the directory.
You only have to add your show to a directory once. From there, your RSS feed will update as you add episodes, and the directories will update as well.
Most directories only require you to have a single episode on your RSS feed, but it’s a good idea to have at least 5 or so. If someone listens to an episode of yours, you want them to be able to listen to more to encourage them to subscribe.
Common mistakes to avoid
- Not Planning Long-Term
- Not Being Consistent
- Not Promoting Your Show
Are you ready to start your podcast?
Podcasting is a growing medium that makes it easy to reach your audience. While it’s growing super quickly, there is still a ton of opportunity to launch a podcast before the market becomes too competitive.
We went through each step of making a podcast, from developing your podcast concept to recording your first episode, to steps to continue improving once you launch your show. So what are you waiting for?