Have you been thinking about starting your own podcast?
If so then welcome to what I think is the most comprehensive and easy to use guide on creating your own podcast.
There’s so many good reasons for starting a podcast. It’s a great way to grow your business, connect with other leaders in your space, deepen your relationship with your audience and much more.
Podcasting has seen an explosion in recent years, but just because the market is competitive, it doesn’t mean you should avoid doing a podcast altogether. In fact, the average listener listens to five different podcasts per week, so there’s no reason yours couldn’t be part of the mix.
Below we walk you through how to start a podcast, from the very beginning stages with no idea, all the way up to creating your very first episode.
Why You Should Start a Podcast
Naturally, you may have a lot of resistance to starting a podcast. Fear of public speaking and reaching out to strangers is a huge fear that most of us have. Beyond the internal struggle, there are all sorts of technical requirements, like recording and editing episodes, dealing with feeds, embedding podcast episodes into your site, and much more.
Now, we don’t highlight these common points of resistance to scare you, but instead to show you that you’re not alone. Even today’s top podcaster’s had to overcome these same fears and knowledge gaps when they first got started.
If you’re still on the fence, then check out some of the sessions why you should absolutely start a podcast below.
Improved Website Traffic
Podcasting can be a great way to send more traffic back to your website. According to Convince and Convert over 67 million Americans are monthly podcast listeners. That’s a huge amount of people, chances are the people who discover you via podcast would love to learn more about what you do.
In fact, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, actually found that most of his readers found out about his blog via his podcast. If you’ve been looking for a way to improve your traffic, then podcasting can be a great vehicle to help you get there.
Deeper Audience Connection
Chances are not everyone that follows you is going to be a big reader. Your audience will probably prefer to consume content in various formats. Those who prefer to listen will be left high and dry until you start your podcast.
Beyond delighting your audience by delivering them the audio content for them to enjoy, you’ll also be able to connect to your audience on a deeper level. Hearing your voice helps to build a deeper bond than just reading your writing.
The Ability to Network With Influencers
If you’ve been trying to get on an influencer’s radar, but haven’t had any luck, then maybe it’s time to try podcasting. Once you have a solid number of downloads and your podcast grows in popularity you’ll notice that it becomes increasingly easier to get high profile guests on your podcast.
Appearing as a guest on a podcast doesn’t take a ton of additional effort in regards to your guests, beyond the time investment. They show up, answer questions, and get to talk about their work in front of a new and diverse audience.
Having a high-quality podcast can be a solid value add, and help you get in the door with people that would otherwise be difficult to connect with.
Create A Potential Business Asset
Your podcast won’t be a huge financial asset to your company right out of the gate, but it could end up being profitable in its own right down the road. For starters, once you hit a certain number of downloads you’ll have the opportunity to accept advertisers and sponsorships for your show. This will help to offset any existing expenses for your show and turn it into a valuable income stream.
Beyond the potential to profit directly from each episode you publish you’ll also receive tons of additional related benefits that will help grow your business. For instance, when you interview high-profile guests you’ll increase your credibility and build trust with your audience.
Plus, a podcast will help to improve your overall traffic and expand your audience, which can be very valuable to your business.
Improved Communication Skills
Improving your communication skills will help with all aspects of your business. Whether you’re running a webinar to sell a high-end product or service. Or, are on the phone with a potential client trying to close the sale. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively will go a long way towards improving these conversations.
Having to converse meaningfully around topics that surround your market will also help you better articulate what it is you do, and the value you add to your customer’s lives.
Before You Start Your Podcast
Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of starting a podcast it’s important that we cover a few mindset shifts you’ll want to take to heart if you want your podcast to stand out from the pack. We’re in the golden age of podcasting, but that also means that everyone and their grandma now has a podcast.
The only way to rise above the noise is to be better than the noise, the following tips will help you do just that.
Go Outside Your Comfort Zone
No one’s going to want to listen to your podcast if you’re just interviewing your friends and family. Unless you’re incredibly well-connected and are friends with the like of Barack Obama. But, if you’re like most people, then you’ll be trying to get in touch with guests who intimidate you.
Make a list of dream guests for your podcast. Don’t be afraid to reach for people who you might think of as unreachable or out of your league. Sure, you might not be able to get these guests on your show right away, but in time with a large enough audience, they might just say yes.
See if you can find new and creative ways to reach out to your guests. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for introductions from people you’ve just had on the show. A referral introduction from someone you just interviewed is much more valuable than reaching out cold.
Remember, No Isn’t the Finish Line
If you’re going an interview-based podcast, then you’re going to be reaching out to a lot of guests. One thing you’ll need to get used to fast, is people saying no.
But, just because you get a no once doesn’t mean you should stop asking. Most people may not even respond to your request the first time around. Don’t be afraid to follow-up, or come up with new ways to reach out to the person.
You might have sent an email, but they could have an assistant that filters out all unknown interview requests. The key point is to find a channel the person you’re trying to reach out to actually uses. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out more than once, even after a no. It could be a scheduling conflict, or they could be taking a break from interviews for a few months. Persistence is key.
Connect Over Story
No matter what kind of podcast you’re doing you’re going to want to bundle in stories whenever possible. If you’re doing an interview based podcast, then get your guests to share stories about their lives. As humans, we bond over story, and by conveying information in a story-based format it will be much easier for your guests to digest.
If you’re doing more of an information-based podcast, where it’s just you and the microphone, then you’ll have to find ways to make your information interesting. Take the podcast Hardcore History, instead of just listing historical facts, the host Dan Carlin is able to create a compelling narrative and in turn, it has helped make his podcast incredibly popular.
Always Be Listening
There’s no point in hosting a podcast if you’re not going to be listening to your guests. Most of the guests you’ll have on your show will have been on podcasts before. One thing you want to avoid them doing is simply repeating the same story, or same answers they gave during their last interview.
This interview might be the last time you ever get to talk to this person, so don’t waste it. What burning questions do you have for your guest? Did they say something interesting they just happened to gloss over? Ask them about it.
Pay attention to what they’re saying and don’t be afraid to dig into anything that sparks your interest.
Consider Your Why
This section can be bundled into actually reaching out to guests. Before you begin reaching out it’s smart to give your guests a reason to say yes. If you’re running just another podcast it’s going to be hard to convince your guests.
Maybe your podcast is a perfect overlap of the audience they’re reaching? Maybe you offer a unique perspective that’s not being done elsewhere? Whatever it is, find a handful of reasons why it would be worth it for your guest to spend their time talking to you.
Commit to the Long Haul
Before you make the jump into podcasting you need to commit over the long-term. A podcast is much more than just a recording of people talking. Some podcasts are, but not the good ones at least.
Podcasting can be incredibly beneficial, but those benefits usually take a long time to come into effect. You not only need to commit to mastering the technical domain of podcasting, along with consistently reaching out to guests, but you also need to commit to a regular release schedule.
Your listeners need to know when to expect a new episode from you. Create a schedule and stick to it, even if the results aren’t happening as quickly as you’d like.
Internalize the above tips and you’ll be on your way towards producing a high-quality podcast that your listeners will love, all while being valuable to your guests at the same time.
How to Start a Podcast
If you’ve made it this far, then you’re convinced that podcasting is the right step for you and your business. Below we walk you through the entire process, from having no idea to recording and uploading your very first episodes.
1. Plan Your Podcast
If you already have a website and you’re looking to add a podcast, then you probably already have a niche you’re operating in. You just take that same niche and apply it to the podcast space.
If you haven’t started out online yet, then you’ll need to spend a little more time during the niche selection phase. Basically, your niche is a small proportion of a smaller market you’ll focus your efforts on. So, instead of creating a general health and wellness podcast, you’d create a podcast that helps middle aged men incorporate yoga into their daily lives.
The questions below will help you narrow down on your niche and help you discover a topic you’d love to podcast about:
• What can I talk about into the late hours of the night?
• What do I love to talk about whenever given a chance?
• What kind of problems would I love to solve for my listeners?
• What topic could I talk about for years without getting burnt out or bored?
• What kind of influencers would be a dream to connect with?
Picking a Name
Your podcast name is incredibly important, but a lot of beginning podcasters tend to overlook its value. Your podcast’s name is going to be with you for the long-term and plays an essential role in your brand.
You could name your podcast something completely random, but when you’re new this will make it more difficult to start gaining traction. A better approach is to name your podcast something that actually gives your listeners a clue to what your podcast is about.
If you have an existing brand name, then you can always use that name for your podcast as well, but you’re not stuck to it. You may want to utilize a more catchy and clever name for your show, but make sure you include a description that includes keywords to suggest what your show is actually about.
One great way to come up with a great name is to study your space and see what the most popular and commonly named podcasts are. Chances are you’ll be able to pick out a few themes that all of the names share.
Once you’ve landed on a name make sure you register the domain name, so in case your podcast becomes popular you’re not stuck battling for a domain later on.
Your Podcast Format
Most podcasts will have a similar episode format. The biggest distinction is if you’re going to be doing an interview-based show, or not. You don’t have to copy the same format as other podcasts out there, but it can be helpful to establish a specific episode format. This will help keep all of your episodes the same, even though the content in each episode will differ.
Below you’ll find a common podcast format you can utilize if you’d like:
1. Introduction to a voiceover or theme song
2. Any announcements and recurring segments
3. Guest interview
4. Closing thoughts on the episode
The structure you use will be dependent on whether or not you’re interviewing guests, or if you’re creating all of the content yourself. Down the road, you may even incorporate advertisements, which usually occur during the introduction, and another time during the middle of the interview.
Typically you’ll choose one of the following formats that your show will follow.
1 – Co-host: In this style of show you have multiple hosts. You can incorporate interviews, or even just have a show of the two of you talking on a given topic.
2 – Solo: In a solo show it’s just you and the microphone. This style of show is typically used for entertainment or educational purposes, where you’re dispensing knowledge on a given topic.
3 – Interview: During interview shows it’s you and a guest. Typically, you’ll ask them a series of questions related to the work the do, and your audience will walk away with valuable insights about the person, and their unique skill, or craft.
The length of each episode will depend upon the type of content you’re producing. The last thing you want to do is increase the length of each episode by padding it with filler material. That’s the quickest way to bore your audience and annoy new listeners. You’ll have a wide range of podcast episode lengths to choose from, but most podcast episodes typically run from 20 to 45 minutes.
The length isn’t as important as making sure your content remains compelling throughout. For example, if you have a killer episode that’s 45 minutes long, there’s no need to cut it down to 20 minutes. The opposite is also true, if you have 15 minutes of solid content, then don’t pad it out with another 15 minutes of unnecessary filler.
How often you release isn’t as important as actually sticking to a consistent schedule. Now, if you’re releasing a new episode once a month it’s going to be hard to gain traction. The more frequently you release the more material you’ll have to promote and the quicker you’ll gain traction with your podcast.
However, keep in mind that producing a quality podcast does take a lot of work. It’s better to produce a higher-quality podcast less frequently, rather than rush through producing a podcast, just to stick to a frequent production schedule.
Be honest with yourself and the time it will take for you to produce an episode and set your timeline accordingly.
2. Get Podcast Basics in Place
Below you’ll learn how to build a solid foundation for your podcast. A lot more goes into podcasting that just recording a conversation. Below you’ll learn how to create stunning podcast artwork, how to create your podcast website, and learn what kind of microphone and editing software are worth using.
Your podcast’s artwork is just as important as your title. Think of your podcast’s artwork as a book cover. It needs to represent your podcast while being eye-catching to your visitor. When a listener searches for new podcasts to listen to it’s the first thing they’ll see.
Most of iTunes podcast lists end up using the smaller version of your podcast art, which will look like the image below. So, it needs to look good, even when shrunken down.
Keep the following in mind when evaluating your podcast’s artwork:
• It needs to be recognizable and enticing at a small scale.
• The name of your podcast should be clearly legible. Avoid having long wordy titles.
• The images you use on your cover art should represent your podcast well.
If you’re not the designer type you can commission designs through freelancer portals like 99Designs, or Fiverr if you don’t have a lot of money to invest.
Canva is also a great free tool to help you create podcast artwork.
Getting a Microphone
Luckily, investing in a solid microphone won’t cost you a fortune. When you’re just starting out you probably don’t want to invest a ton of money into your podcast equipment.
Some of the cheaper options out there, which still provide you with good quality audio, are called USB mics. These plug directly into your USB port and make recording incredibly simple. Check out some of our recommendations below.
3. Samson Q2U
If you’re looking for a higher-quality podcasting microphone, then the following are solid choices. Just be aware that you’ll be investing quite a bit more into your microphone setup.
2. Blue Yeti
Create a Website For Your Podcast
Even though you’ll upload your podcast to iTunes, Soundcloud, and other sources, it’s always a good idea to have a home base for all of your work. If you have an existing podcast you have the opportunity to either add a separate podcast page that lists all of your episodes, or you can incorporate your episodes into your existing blogroll.
If you don’t have a website set up yet, then you’ll want to purchase a domain name that matches the name of your podcast, and build out a simple website to host each of your episodes. Instead of walking you through each step here’s some useful resources to help you build your own.
Just keep in mind that you’ll want your podcast’s image to match your existing website’s brand.
Choosing Your Recording & Editing Software
When it comes to actually recording your podcast you’re going to have a few different options. Just like the microphone selection above, it will be dependent on your overall budget and technical fluency.
If you’re using one of the USB microphones highlighted above, then you can plug your microphone into your computer and you’re all set. You just need audio software that’ll allow you to record and edit your podcast.
One of the most commonly used audio software is called Audacity. You can download it entirely for free, and it will provide you with the necessary tools to record, edit, and publish your podcast episodes.
If you’re a Mac user, then you probably already have GarageBand installed, which some users opt for. However, be aware that GarageBand doesn’t offer the same level of in-depth editing features that a tool like Audacity possesses.
You also have the option of using a paid software like Abode Audition, which is a high-level audio editing tool. Since Adobe is a more advanced tool the learning curve will be a little steeper, but it will provide you with features to help you produce a very professional sounding podcast.
If you’re interviewing and recording remote interviews via Skype, then you’ll want a recording software like Skype Auto Recorder. After the interview is recorded you can easily upload the file directly into a tool like Audacity for editing.
3. Sourcing Guests
If you’re just starting out without a big audience in place, then doing guest interviews can be a great way to grow your audience. To start it’s a good idea to have a mix of both large and small guests. Larger guests will help to lend your podcast credibility, even though they might not always share the interview with their audience.
However, smaller guests are much more likely to share the interview, which will put your podcast in front of new audiences.
Remember to have a few podcast episodes ready to go before you launch. This will help give you time to source and produce new podcast episodes, without having to scramble for new guests or miss your podcast episode deadlines.
It can be helpful to create an email template you can use to reach out to new podcast guests. However, it can also be helpful to get on the person’s radar before you send a cold email. Even something simple, like tweeting and sharing their content, commenting on their blogs, or even engaging over Facebook will help them put a face to a name.
4. Producing Your Podcast
With all of the foundational podcast elements taken care of it’s time to start producing your podcast. The steps below will walk you through reaching, editing, and uploading your podcast.
You’ll want your podcast to feel conversational, not like you’re reading word-for-word from a script. But, instead of thinking of your script like a movie script, think of it like an outline. You won’t write out every single thing you’re going to say, but instead, create a rough outline of your talking points.
If you’re nervous in front of the microphone having a script in front of you can help you feel less nervous and keep you from going off on tangents. Also, if you’re running an interview-based podcast, then it can be helpful to have a basic set of questions you’d like to ask. New questions will arise throughout the interview, but having a list to choose from will help to ensure there’s no lull in the conversation.
Recording your podcast is quite simple. Especially if you’re using a USB microphone and recording software like Audacity. All you have to do is plug in your microphone into your computer, open up your software, and press record.
If you’re importing something you’ve previously recorded, like a Skype interview, then just import the audio file into your editing software of choice.
With your podcast recorded it’s time to start editing. The quality of your editing will either help or hinder the success of your podcast. High quality editing will make your podcast sound professional, while low-quality editing will make your podcast sound amateur.
With today’s competitive podcasting landscape it’s much more difficult to succeed with a low-quality podcast.
The steps you take will differ depending on the editing software you’re using. But, typically you’ll want to do the following edits to improve the quality of your audio file.
- Normalize the audio to take out high-volume spikes.
- Turn down or edit out any existing background noise.
- Delete any stuttering, big gaps in conversation, or other things that detract from the quality of the audio.
Your podcast doesn’t have to utilize music, but if you listen to a lot of podcasts you’ll notice that a ton of them utilize theme music throughout their intros. It does help to make your podcast sound a little more professional.
To source music, you’ll be looking for stock music or royalty free music. This will allow you to edit and place your own audio on top of the music, without running into any legal hassles. If you have a musically gifted friend you can ask them to create a music intro for you, but if not you can check out a website like Music Bakery to source your music from.
5. Uploading Your Podcast
With your podcast finished you’re going to need a place to host your media files. There are multiple different avenues you can use to host your podcast. Some of the most popular are highlighted below:
Soundcloud is a great option as it includes a very high-quality media player and offers very competitive pricing for beginners. You can also make your podcast publicly available on the Soundcloud site, which could lead to new listeners.
Plus, if you’re looking to embed your podcast episodes into your existing website you can easily do that with Soundcloud.
Including Show Notes on Your Site
If you have your own website that’s related to your podcast you’ll want to embed each episode into your site, as well as include show notes. You can embed your epodes using any of the media hosting options above. But, Soundcloud makes it includes easy. To embed with Soundcloud just follow the steps below:
1. Navigate to the Soundcloud podcast episode you uploaded.
2. Click on the share option and select embed, then you’ll see the HTML code you can copy and paste into your site.
3. Create a new blog post on your site and copy the code into the post.
4. Below the audio file you can then create a separate blog post, or just post the transcription of your podcast below.
For show notes you can either include a word-for-word transcript of the episode, or you can create an entire blog post about the topic that pulls out the best bits of information. You can experiment with both to see what your audience resonates with the most.
Uploading to ITunes
You can upload your podcast to a ton of different podcast directories, which can help to improve the reach of your podcast. Like, Stitcher, and Blubrry, but the one place you really must be uploading your podcast is iTunes.
The steps below will help to ensure your podcast gets listed in iTunes:
1. Double check that all of your podcast’s information is correct. This includes your title, description, author name, and cover art. You’ll want to check these settings within the media hosting service you’re using to host your podcast.
2. Copy your podcast’s RSS feed, from your podcast host of choice. This is what iTunes will use to upload new podcast episodes to your iTunes page. You’ll also want to ensure your podcast feed is valid.
3. Open up iTunes and select the Podcasts option.
4. Find the Podcast Quick Links section and click on ‘Submit a Podcast’. Copy your RSS feed into the box and click next.
5. Your podcast is now submitted to iTunes. You may have to wait a while for your podcast to show up, as each submission is reviewed manually. It’s also important to have a few episodes uploaded before you submit your podcast to iTunes. If new listeners stumble across your podcast they’re much more likely to give it a listen if there’s more than a single episode sitting in the feed.
Optimizing Episode Titles and Descriptions
One thing you’ll want to do for each episode is create a compelling title and description. If you have a popular guest, then you’ll definitely want to highlight them. But, otherwise focus on the benefits your listener will receive when they listen to your episode.
When someone uses the podcast search on iTunes individual podcasts, along with episodes show up. So, make sure to include any relevant keywords in your title and description as well.
6. Promoting Your Podcast
If you want your podcast to be successful you’re going to need to do a lot of promotion. You can’t expect your podcast to grow on its own without any help on your end unless you’ve already built up a large and engaged audience via other means.
One solid means of promoting your podcast is to create multiple forms of media from each episode you produce. For example, you could turn an episode into a blog post, a guest blog to publish on another website, a series of social media updates, or even cool shareable images.
Beyond converting your content into multiple media formats you have other options as well:
- Reaching out to guests and asking them to share the podcast episode with their audience.
- Asking your audience if they’d be willing to leave an iTunes review of your podcast.
- Doing a series of guest blogs about your podcast topic, with a link back to your podcast website.
- Reach out to other podcasts about becoming a guest on their podcasts.
- Growing your audience via content marketing, advertising, and social media, and pushing that audience to your podcast.
Overall, you’ll have a bunch of methods available to promote and grow your audience for your podcast. Instead of trying to do everything it’s important that you have a set of promotion activities you use after every single episode. This will help your podcast gain traction over time.
7. Staying Consistent and Persistent
You may have dreams of creating a podcast that achieves millions of downloads and is one of the most popular podcasts in your space. These are solid things to shoot for, but just know that numbers like these won’t happen overnight.
Creating a large podcast audience is a long-term game. Just because you haven’t seen the results you’ve been looking for after a few episodes, that doesn’t mean you should give up. With podcasting, the results will come as long as you stick to a regular publishing schedule, promote each episode, and keep improving the quality of your podcast with better guests, improved material, and higher-quality production.
Audiences take a while to build, but it will grow, you just have to keep with it. Like anything, you’ll get better in time, your show will improve, and you’ll start to attract new listeners.
Podcasting can be an incredible way to connect with your audience, expand your network, and even grow your existing business. It can be a very valuable addition to your life and business, even if you don’t end up profiting from it directly.
A lot of people go through the phase of thinking, “I should really start a podcast,” but most don’t end up pulling the trigger. We hope the tutorial above will help you get started with your very own podcast. Just follow the steps above and you’ll be on your way towards producing your very own exciting and compelling podcast.
Still, have questions related to getting started with podcasting? Please share in the comments below.
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