While podcasts have been around for almost two decades, in the past five years they’ve truly hit their stride. By the end of 2022, 62% of US consumers over the age of 12 had listened to a podcast. That’s an increase from 57% the year before!
The rise in popularity of podcasting as a content channel is also partly due to emerging software that has made it easier to create high-quality audio content at scale. Podcasts are also becoming more engaging to video consumers too, as episodes can be recorded with a camera and live streamed, shared on video-focused social media like TikTok and Youtube, or even monetized through a video subscription platform.
How can you capitalize on this trend and start your own podcast? We’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to start a podcast.
- Benefits of podcasting
- Planning your podcast
- Start building the foundations
- Start promotional efforts
- Recording and editing
- Post-launch tips
Build your reputation within a niche
One of the hardest parts about being a thought leader or a business owner is building your reputation in your chosen niche. Through a podcast, you give your listeners direct access to your expertise. You can also bring other thought leaders in your niche as guests onto the podcast to complement your existing knowledge and help you grow your reach!
Scalable monetization options
As a creator, you might be seeking new ways to build revenue this year. Podcasting is a fantastic monetization channel because once the episode is live, it doesn’t take much more work to maintain! Starting a podcast – and sticking with it – can prove to be a very lucrative career if you are patient and put in the effort to consistently create quality content that engages your audience. You can also earn more through advertising and sponsorships – but we’ll get to that later in this article!
Creates networking opportunities
Whether you’re looking to connect with your audience, grow your business, or just share information with like-minded people, podcasting is a great way to build relationships with a wider community. Many podcasts also have discussion groups where listeners are actively connecting over topics related to recent episodes.
Decide on your niche
Your podcast’s niche is the general area that you want to have discussions in. To find your niche, think about what skills and interests you already have. And don’t forget to do market research to see what podcasts might already exist in that niche to make sure it isn’t oversaturated already.
Whatever you choose to talk about should also serve some purpose. Decide what you want your users to gain from listening to your podcast and use that to help craft your niche.
Research your target audience
Knowing your target audience is super important for making sure that your conversations are going to be understood, accepted, and loved. If you’re new to working with a specific type of audience, it would be helpful to do some research or meet with new people that fit into your ideal listener type. They can give you good insights into what tonality or slang you should use, which advertisers they would be most interested in, and what kinds of topics they want to hear about.
Determine the role of the host
As the podcast host, your role is to share other people’s stories or educate your audience, but you might also opt to include a co-host as well. You’ll want to consider how much involvement you want with elements like episode planning, editing, and promotion. If you’re just starting off on your own, you’ll most likely need to wear all of these hats at the start. If you’re working with a team, make sure each member is well aware of their responsibilities before you dive further into podcast planning.
Choose a podcast name
Selecting the right name for your podcast may take time. The title should be short, recognizable, and align with your brand and the topics you’re likely to cover.
Here are some tips for creating a successful podcast name:
- Keep it short
- Search for any possible competition or names that might be confused with your podcast
- Make it easy to remember
- Consider how it would look as a graphic in your podcast artwork
- Try to come up with something that aligns with your niche
Create cover art
Like a logo, your podcast cover art is a differentiator between you and other content. Your cover art should reflect the tone, feel, and brand of your podcast, and be readily recognizable as this is the artwork that listeners will identify your podcast with. You can utilize tools such as Canva, or outsource your cover art to a freelancer on a service like Fiverr or Upwork.
Outline your podcast’s format
When it comes to podcasting there are different types of formats to choose from, and depending on your topic, some styles might be better suited than others. At this point, you should determine how long each episode will be, how often it will be released, and how often you would like the episode to break for advertising or updates.
Podcast styles include:
- Interview podcasts: These podcasts feature a single host who interviews individuals within a particular industry or as part of a topic theme.
- Scripted non-fiction: Typically, these are serial-style podcasts that have a single theme for a full season.
- Scripted fiction: These podcasts are similar to radio dramas and are often scripted. News recap: A format that summarizes the news within a specific industry.
- Educational podcasts: Scripted non-fiction that focuses on teaching their audience.
Select the right podcasting tools
When you think about how to start a podcast, equipment should be one of the first things on your mind. The most important factors to look for in equipment include usability, sound quality, and suitability.
Other equipment you’ll need includes:
- A microphone that provides clear audio and eliminates background noise
- A high-quality video camera if you plan to record and distribute the episode on video platforms
- A tripod to hold up the camera or microphone if working independently
- A computer that can handle a high quantity of audio and video files USB sticks or cloud storage for maintaining a large amount of content
- Editing software
- Transcription software
- Soundproofing or sound treatment equipment (see this section for more info!)
To select the right tools, make sure you factor in budget, accessibility, usability, and scalability. If podcasting is an experiment that you might not entertain in the long-run, it’s not wise to buy the most expensive version of everything. It’s also a good idea to make sure the tools can be used together so that you’re not purchasing incompatible products.
Get audio elements
Any successful podcast will need music and a professional introduction to have at the start of every episode. This acts as a readily recognizable feature of your podcast and should reflect the tone and topics of your production. A voice-over introduction also helps shift listeners into the right mindset for your podcast while identifying to new audience members what your show is all about. If you have sponsors, the introduction is a great way of highlighting that sponsorship by including who the podcast is partnered with.
If you are considering using music, ensure the soundtrack isn’t licensed and can be utilized for the purposes of a podcast.
Set up your recording space
Sound proofing and sound treatment are two terms that many podcasters tend to get confused over. To ‘soundproof’ a room means you are isolating it from any unwanted external noise elsewhere in the building. To ‘sound treat’ a room means you are going to improve the way sound sounds within that room.
There’s a few things to know that will help you with purchasing sound elements for your room:
- Acoustics and reverb. Excessive reverb or echo on your voice can make your show sound amateurish. A room with a lot of hard and bare surfaces will have your voice bouncing around like a pinball machine.
- Improvised spaces. There are numerous reasons why you might not be able to dedicate an entire room to becoming a podcast studio. As an alternative, use a space that already has a lot of soft furniture or set-up localized sound treatment around your recording space.
- Semi-permanent setups. If you’ve got a bit more room in your house, you can set up a recording studio that can still be used for other non-audio-related purposes. You can buy or make sound-treated baffling boards or partitions on stands. These can be set up to form a mini ‘dead room’ around your recording area. Another option is to use acoustic blankets or curtains which can be hung on rails or hooks.
- External or internal noise considerations. Are any of the walls of the room external or joined to your neighbor’s house? Does your neighbor tend to play the drums, watch the television at a high volume, or have a dog that never stops barking? Consider these external elements when starting to record.
Choose your podcast hosting platform
Your podcast needs to be stored somewhere so that it can be accessed by listeners. Akin to website hosting, your podcast hosting platform will then connect with podcast search engines like Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
Things to look for in your podcast hosting service include storage, usability, and analytics. Many will also offer website plugins so that you can publish your podcast to your own website and the platform will take care of the podcast upload and sharing from there.
See some of the top podcast hosting platforms here!
Create a website
If you are not posting your podcast to an existing website, you may wish to create a site or set up an additional one where all the information about your podcast lives.
This site will feature information about the podcast and information about you, along with the episodes for people to listen to and perhaps even episode guides and key takeaways.
Determine your monetization strategy
A lot of creators earn a substantial amount of money from podcasting efforts. Sponsorship is one way to monetize, but you can also consider pay-per-view or subscription-based services. As you become a thought leader in the space, you might also think about selling your podcast episodes as an audio course.
Make it easy for your guests to participate in your podcast by using familiar tools, leveraging a scheduling software, and providing details about discussion topics in advance.
Book podcast guests
Bringing guests onto your podcast can help you expand your reach by leveraging the guest’s existing audience and reputation. If you’re looking to have guests on your podcast, you’ll need to reach out to them early to make sure they’re available for your recording date.
When considering potential guests for your podcast, assess the following:
- Their overall alignment to ensure their ideas and expertise suit your audience and are interesting to your listeners
- Their community and reputation. Are they considered experts in their field and will they bring new listeners to the table to expand your podcast’s reach?
Secure a sponsorship
You may or may not choose to use sponsors for your podcast, or that might be something you add-on when your podcast has built an audience following.
The sponsor’s role is to pay for placement. They might sponsor your show, have a recurring or one-time placement in the show, or sponsor an episode.
You might need to find and approach them and offer your audience profile, listening numbers, and then outline the benefits of what’s in it for them. You should find someone who fits with your podcast’s niche and purpose, will work well with you, and who is relevant to your audience. It needs to be a win-win relationship. And don’t forget to have fair pricing agreements in place too. Podcasting ad rates vary a lot depending on industry, placement type, and your podcast’s position in the market.
Determine your marketing plan
Think about where your target audience finds out about new information. This might be on a podcast hosting platform like Spotify or Apple Music, but it might alternatively be on a social media platform, news site, search engine, or through face-to-face communication. Your research on your target audience is vital here!
Build a plan for how you’ll promote your podcast as each episode goes live. You can use some strategies like:
- Paid ads
- Email marketing
- In-person events
- Social media posts
If there’s no existing community built for your target audience already, you can build your own community for your niche. Learn how to build an online community here.
Create an episode plan
Think about what you want to talk about in your podcast episode in advance. Don’t try to script every word as this can cause the episode to feel unnatural. Instead, aim to have some key talking points and then host an honest conversation from there. If you’re not sure what to talk about, try these ChatGPT prompts to give you a bit of inspiration!
Have an organized recording day
On the day that you’re recording your first episode, make sure to plan your steps and goals. It’s also helpful to leave plenty of time for doing a re-run or accommodating any technical glitches.
If you have a guest or sponsor, make sure you’ve answered any final questions or concerns they may have before you begin recording. Test all of your equipment to make sure the audio and video work well. And finally, don’t forget to hit the record button!
Once you’ve recorded your podcast, it will need editing. The editing process stitches together things like your introductory voice-over, theme music, and the actual content of the episode. This process also allows you to smooth out issues like filler words and repeated words.
Transcribing each episode is a great way to convert the conversation within a podcast into a usable and easily accessible form.
Once you have a transcript, you can use it in a host of different ways, for example:
- Post the whole transcript along with the episode
- Create show notes from it
- Find the best quotes and use them to promote your podcast on social media or email newsletter
- Create a blog post from the episode
Create show notes
Show notes allow people to gain information from your podcast at a glance. They reflect the key takeaways of the episode and might also then dive a little deeper into what was said so people have an action guide and steps they can take next.
You might also wish to include any links and resources mentioned in your podcast within your show notes.
Upload your first episode
With any luck, you’ve picked a podcast hosting platform with simple uploading of an MP3 file. Then you will also need to enter the episode title, description, summary, publish date, and episode number.
As a tip, it’s a great idea to create your podcast description in advance in a text document, then just copy and paste it as part of each episode upload.
Submit to major platforms
The process involved is similar for each, involving:
- Copy the RSS link of your podcast from your hosting platform (it’s a simple URL).
- Submit it to the podcast directories where you want your show to appear.
- Once you’ve copied the RSS link for the first episode, you won’t need to do so again. Each new episode will automatically be picked up from your feed.
- Be patient. It can take a while for that first episode to appear (up to a couple of weeks), but after that, each show should appear within a day.
- Each time you publish an episode, the description you have entered into your hosting platform should also automatically transfer across
Generate reviews and ratings
To help your podcast grow fast, leverage other people’s positive reviews! Make sure your podcast platform has a way to collect reviews. Use positive reviews in your marketing to help future listeners see the value that your podcast brings to others in your niche. You can also use lower ratings as feedback areas for improvement, if you feel they’re relevant.
Starting a podcast is a great way of showcasing your expertise and building an audience. It’s also a hugely popular form of content that people can listen to wherever they are. As you learn how to build your podcast and launch it, remember that research, consistency, and quality are the top factors to help you grow your presence.
After your launch, you should frequently collect feedback from your listeners through online polls, reading reviews, or through one-on-one conversations. This is important to help you find topics that are relevant to people’s interests in your niche. You’ll also want to see how your audience responds to monetization and sponsorship decisions you’ve made. This feedback may give you valuable insights and an opportunity to generate more revenue, too!
Deep dive into each of these steps and more in the P’s of Podcasting Course built here right on Thinkific.
This article was originally published in April 2021, it has since been updated in September 2023.