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Learn how to start a podcast, launch your show and start growing! This is your complete launch blueprint: a step-by-step beginners guide that goes from initial idea, to going live, to snagging your first 100 listeners.
In this article, I’ll walk you through every stage of creating your podcast, from planning and recording to publishing and promotion. By the end, you’ll know exactly how to make a successful podcast and, hopefully, execute it in the quickest, most pain-free way possible. So, let’s get into it!
Here’s how to start a podcast in 10 simple steps:
- Develop a Growth-Ready Podcast Plan
- Define your Show Structure & Format
- Establish your Podcast’s Brand
- Set up your Podcasting Equipment
- Pick your Recording & Editing Tools
- Present & Record your 1st Episode
- Edit Your Podcast Episode (Learn how!)
- Set up your Podcast Hosting
- Submit to Key Podcast Directories
- Create a Starter Launch Plan
Click any of the links to jump straight to that section.
This post contains affiliate links to products and services you might find interesting or useful. We’d earn a small commission should you choose to buy through any of them, though never at any extra cost to yourself!
🪜 STEP 1
Develop a Growth-Ready Podcast Plan
Here are the parts of a podcast plan that are likely to lead to great content and consistent growth:
1️⃣ Purpose: why am I doing it?
2️⃣ Topic: what am I talking about?
3️⃣ Audience: who am I talking to?
4️⃣ Uniqueness: why should they listen?
So, let’s work it through and create a fully-fledged podcast strategy for your show.
Want some extra help with this? Here’s a tool which asks the right questions, and uses AI to help you formulate that plan:
1️⃣ Why Are You Making a Podcast?
So, firstly, why do you want to make a podcast? This gives purpose to everything else, and keeps you motivated long term. Here are some of the most common.
- Marketing: Personal or Business Branding
Grow authority and trust. Be more personal than blogging, more evergreen than social media. Offer great, valuable content to customers. Nurture brand superfans.
- Creative Outlet: Make something Cool!
Make a show around your passion, from true crime, to vegan baking, to audio fiction. Create something you’re proud of!
- Build Community: Connect with Like-Minded People
Podcasting is a great way to bring people together around a common passion. Build that audience and attract them into a space where you can turn it into a 2-way conversation.
- Education: Teach my expertise
Teach what you know, or educate by example and help your audience to elevate their own skills.
- Entertainment: Help people have fun!
Comedy shows, quizzes: some great podcasts have no other aim than to entertain their audience, and grow great fans as a result.
So, what’s the bottom line with all this? Unless you answer the question of “why?” then you won’t be best positioned to design podcast content that’ll match your ambitions and objectives. You are building the foundations of your metaphorical house, so it’s worth a little extra thought (and work) to get it right!
Grab a pen and paper, and write this down:
✅ Pick a purpose: why are you running this show?
Alrighty, our WHY is in place! Let’s get into HOW we’ll do it.
📺 More of a visual learner?
Here’s a full video guide to making a podcast, below. Click play to get started!
2️⃣ What am I Talking About?
(AKA: Podcast Topic)
So, what’s the show about? This is usually the easy part. So, let’s get it noted down before we dig into parts that really make it zing! A lot of this comes down to who YOU are, and to your experiences.
✅ Who are you, on this show?
✅ What do you want to talk about?
Get specific on the who. This won’t cover everything about who you are. We contain multitudes, after all! But, when it comes to this show, who are you?
First, the good old-fashioned health podcast:
- Why: Podcasting for my Business
- Who are you: A Personal Trainer
- Topic: Health and Fitness
The pop culture podcast:
- Why: Podcasting about my Hobby
- Who are you: Huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction
- Topic: Zombie books, movies, games, TV shows
The entertainment podcast:
- Why: To entertain & have fun
- Who are we: 4 friends into improvisation
- Topic: Creating a new fiction story every week
Okay, now we know what you want to talk about. Let’s figure out who’ll be interested in listening!
3️⃣Who is your Podcast For?
(AKA: Target Audience)
Unless you know exactly who you’re making your show for, you’ve got no chance of growing an audience. If you don’t know who you’re speaking to, then no one knows to listen!
A lot of smart people talk about creating an ideal listener for your show, sometimes called a listener persona or avatar. It’s a great idea. Who exactly is it that’ll love your content?
That persona is something to keep in mind every time you plan an episode: “Would John, our listener persona, like this? Is this focused on what he likes, what he’s interested in?”
This all helps to keep your show focused and on track, both of which make for more engaging episode content.
And for growth, that listener persona drives every decision. The name, the description, the messages you put out on social media, the trailers you create. They’re all designed to tickle the fancy of that specific listener.
✅ Describe your ideal listener in a sentence
✅ (Optional) Create an in-depth listener avatar
Let’s build on the examples above.
The health show:
- Why: Podcasting for my Business
- Who are you: A Personal Trainer
- Topic: Health and Fitness
- Ideal Listener: Interested in weight loss, getting fit and eating better.
The pop culture podcast:
- Why: Podcasting about my Hobby
- Who are you: Huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction
- Topic: Post-apocalyptic books, movies, games, TV shows
- Ideal Listener: The same as me! Watches the Walking Dead and the Last of Us. Plays Resident Evil. Loves Contagion and 28 days later.
The entertainment podcast:
- Why: To entertain & have fun
- Who are we: 4 friends who are into improvisation
- Topic: Creating a new fiction story every week
- Ideal Listener: Enjoys improvisation comedy, great storytelling & wacky humour
4️⃣ Why Should They Listen to YOUR Show?
(AKA: How to be Unique!)
We now know who you want to reach. So, how do you get their attention?
You need to give people a reason to listen to YOUR show, amongst all the other options. But how?
Find a UNIQUE angle.
Here are some of the most common approaches to uniqueness:
🔥 Tight Niche: Solve a specific problem for a specific person
🔥 Personal Angle: Your unique take on an existing topic
🔥 Podcast Format: Create a unique format for your niche
🔥 Production Quality: Extra time & effort on audio polish
🔥 Outcome: Create a unique outcome that’s appealing
This step is all about figuring out why your show is adding something new to the topic.
- Topic: Health and Fitness
- Uniqueness: I used to be very overweight, but I found CrossFit and lost 50 pounds. I’ll use my experience to help you repeat my feat by sharing a short HIIT workout that I know overweight people can actually complete.
- Topic: Post Apocalyptic Fiction
- Uniqueness: I’ll niche down on audience AND topic. I’ll choose Zombie films only, so this is the Zombie film show. And I’m 51, so I’ll target older fans of the genre, delving back into classic Zombie films and fiction as much as covering the new material.
- Topic: Improvised fiction stories
- Uniqueness: We’re going to record our main story, but with a few alternative endings, every week. We’ll take suggestions from our listeners and record three of them, including them in the main episode. We’ll include chapters so listeners can skip to their favourite, or, listen to all three.
With a great uniqueness, you can make your show a no-brainer listen. Any time you tell someone about it (whether in-person, on an interview or in your wider marketing), it becomes really easy to tell anyone why they need to listen to your show.
And, not only have you given them a reason to listen, but you’ve also given them a reason to come back for more, and tell their friends about it!
Do this, right now:
✅ Write down your unique approach
Need more help on this, as well as a bunch more examples? Here’s an article:
FAQ: Do I Need an Audience to Start a Podcast?
Everyone starts with zero at some point. So, if this is your first content rodeo, podcasting is a great place to start. It’s actually a great place to experiment, to try new things, to test out topics and find your voice.
Once you’ve found that groove, you can expand into other mediums, too.
If you DO already have an audience, even a small one, what then? This could be anything from a business or brand to a musician, former athlete, or author.
Whatever the medium (social media, YouTube, blog), it’s a great kernel for your show’s fanbase.
During the planning stages, you may opt to survey your audience. Here, you can ask them things like “What’s your biggest pain point?” and “What are you struggling with right now?”. This could help you shape your content, going forward.
You might even choose to find out a bit more about them. This could be anything from demographics and location, to what other podcasts (if any) they enjoy listening to.
🎒 Want this Guide to Take Away?
No worries! Here are a couple of ways you can get this guide offline.
This is the concise guide, for minimum time & stress. Only the essential steps, tasks & homework, to get your show out in the world. Then, get the detail later!
It’s expanded out to include every one of the 20 steps, beautifully designed and laid out to guide you through the entire process in the most efficient way.
🔖 Or, bookmark this page and come back any time!
Just hit the little ‘star’ or ‘bookmark’ icon in the address bar above.
🪜 STEP 2
Define Your Show Structure & Format
Now that we know what kind of show we’re creating, it’s time to figure out how it looks! (or sounds…?). So, when looking at how to start a podcast, what are the most common questions about how it’s delivered?
Choosing a Podcast Format
The format you choose is really personal and depends on who’s involved. It’s totally up to you!
So, what are the common types of podcast show formats?
The Solo Show
Also known as the monologue.
Benefits: You don’t need to rely on anyone else to record a solo podcast, and you’re building a reputation as the authority on your subject. The podcast is also exclusively yours, so you can make calls on sponsorship and monetization. And you don’t need to split the profits with anyone.
Challenges: Perhaps the most intimidating style of show for the beginner podcaster. One of the biggest challenges of the solo show is getting over the feeling that you’re ‘talking to yourself’ and realising that you’re actually talking to the listener.
The Co-Hosted Show
Presenting alongside a friend or colleague.
Benefits: A great way around the ‘mic fright’ of recording alone is to chat on the show with someone else. If you find the right co-host, you have someone to bounce off, debate, or even mock (don’t be too mean!). Some co-hosted podcasts have great chemistry between the presenters. This can create a first-class listening experience.
Challenges: Not only do you need to set aside time to record, but that time must also be suitable for your co-host. There’s also the question of ownership: Whose podcast is it? Do you split any potential income 50/50? And what happens if your co-host loses interest or becomes unavailable in the future?
The Interview Show
‘Borrowing’ the expertise or entertainment value of others.
Benefits: Talking to your heroes. Doing an interview show gives you the opportunity to have a chat with someone you’ve always looked up to. On top of this, your guests will have their own audiences who may listen to the interview and end up subscribing to your show. If done right, you can really grow an audience this way.
Challenges: Interviewing is a skill that you’ll need to hone through practice, so don’t approach the A-listers in your field straight away. You’ll need to constantly find and approach potential guests, schedule interviews, and rely on others to show up (in person or digitally). You also need to rely on technology to work properly throughout each call.
Finally, there are a bunch of other formats that aren’t so commonly used but might well suit you.
For example, you’ve got:
- Roundtable – One regular host and several guests discussing one specific topic (e.g. The Game Design Roundtable).
- Documentary – A narrator walks you through a range of interviews, conversations and on-location clips to paint a picture (e.g. Startup)
- Docu-Drama – A mix between drama and documentary. Offering learning and info, but in an entertaining way (e.g. Hostile Worlds).
How Long Should a Podcast Episode Be?
How long does it need to be to get the message out? If you asked most podcast listeners, a “short” episode would probably be anything under 15 minutes. And a “long” episode would probably be anything over an hour.
Many will reference the time of the average commute (said to be around 20 minutes) as a good length to shoot for. But anything from 20 to 45 minutes seems to be within the “sweet spot” for a podcast episode length.
Don’t worry too much about these figures, though. Ultimately, your episode lengths should be decided by two things.
- Your content
- Your audience
If you have 50 minutes of valuable, relevant content, why chop it down to 20? Or likewise, if you’ve said everything you have to say in 10 minutes, why pad it out to 30? In extreme cases, say you do an interview, and it’s a fantastic conversation from start to finish but runs for 2 hours. You can always chop it in half and create two individual episodes.
Over time, your listeners will tell you if they think your episodes are too short or too long. Try to survey your audience once a year to gather data like this, and you can adjust accordingly.
Finally, length can actually be a ‘unique’ factor, as I mentioned earlier. Short and snappy 4-minute episodes could suit a certain type of listener, or huge 3-hour in-depth interviews might suit another. Think about whether length might be a deliberate, unique choice for you.
How Often Should I Release New Episodes?
So, how often should you podcast? Here’s the answer:
So, if you can only manage once a month, that’s fine. If you can manage every two weeks, even better. If you can manage weekly, that’s great.
You can still have a big impact with a fortnightly or monthly show, but people often plan their lives around what day of the week their favourite shows drop.
That said, sticking to a deadline just for the sake of it is pointless. You’ll have a bigger impact if you put out one excellent episode a month instead of a very average episode every week.
How to Make a Daily Podcast
Daily podcasts are more common than they used to be. These tend to be done in a short-sharp “one quick tip” style, running Monday through Friday.
Becoming part of your listener’s daily routine can be powerful, though you’ll get less time with them because episodes need to be short. Sure, you could do a one-hour daily show, but who has the time to listen to that, let alone make it?
With my daily show, Pocket-Sized Podcasting, I batch all of the work. Scripting, recording, editing, production, and publishing an entire week takes about 3 hours. The short focussed episodes are great for repurposing, too!
How to Podcast In Seasons
What if the podcast you’d like to create is a really in-depth, highly-produced show that goes out every single week? But, you know that, in the long run, this is totally unsustainable?
The ideal answer could be to take a leaf out of your favourite TV show’s book and podcast in seasons.
Here, a “season” represents a block of episodes. The “How many” is up to you. For some, it’ll be 6; for others, it’ll be upwards of 20. This means that you can really throw yourself into creating some great content and then take a well-deserved rest before going on to tackle the next season.
The beauty of this approach is that seasons can be themed, too, making your show accessible and appealing to new listeners. Our fitness podcaster, for example, might do an entire season on upper body strength, whilst our zombie podcaster could do one on video games.
Podcasters who take this themed season approach can also benefit from repurposing and monetising their content. We’ve seen many ebooks and courses created from serialised podcasts because a lot of the work in the planning, structure, and organisation has already been done.
One common critique of seasons is that listeners will “forget about you” during breaks. This doesn’t need to be the case. So long as you make it clear to them how the show works – then they’ll know what to expect. You’re also asking them to follow or subscribe on their podcast app of choice, so they never need to “remember” you’ve come back. Your next episode will be delivered to them automatically, without any effort on their part!
How to Create Great Episode Titles
Just like choosing a name for your podcast, choosing good, searchable, descriptive titles for your episodes is important.
The biggest mistake when it comes to naming your episodes is to give them boring and nondescript titles like “Episode 1”, “Episode 2”, and so on. Nobody’s going to know what to expect if they listen. You need to give them a reason to click on one of your episodes.
What’s the real meat of the episode? If there’s one key takeaway or solution here, what is it? This is a big clue as to what your episode title should be.
We find a lot of good and bad examples of episode titles with interview shows. If you have a guest on, don’t just call the episode “A Chat with Jane Smith”. If your listener has never heard of Jane, why would they care? But as it happens, Jane could be an expert on something they’re really struggling with, so this would be the perfect episode for them. It’s your duty as a host to signpost this to them as much as possible.
The added benefit of descriptive episode titles is that they’ll appear in search in most listening apps. So if someone types in a “how to” question on your own topic, and you have an episode on it, there’s a much better chance of them finding your show. Everyone wins!
🪜 STEP 3
Establish Your Podcast’s Brand
In the world of podcasting, our brand is in all three realms:
✏️ Written: our podcast name
🎵 Audio: music and voice
🖼️ Visual: podcast artwork
Let’s get that sorted before we get into making the thing!
How Do I Choose a Good Podcast Name?
No “how to start a podcast” guide is complete without answering this most common of questions: What the flip do I call the thing?
There are three main camps for choosing a podcast title and naming your show.
Option 1: The Clever Name
You might think of a really clever name for your show. But remember that people need to be able to find it when they’re searching for information about your topic. If you have a clever/catchy name for your show, try incorporating a description into the title. There’s no point putting out great content if nobody can find it.
For example, one of my old shows was called Path of Most Resistance. It probably falls into the ‘clever name’ category, even though I’m not that clever… So, to give a bit of description, I also used the tagline: The Uncommon Leader’s Guide.
Here are a few shows that do this well. They’re creative, but are still reasonably clear. Note, though, you’re probably still not 100% sure what they’re about. That’s the downside of this approach!
🎤 Beyond the Bump
🎤 Behind the Bastards
🎤 Should you Really Eat That?
Option 2: The Descriptive Name
The searchable (but some might say boring) choice is to simply call your podcast what your target audience is searching for. If our personal trainer called her show The Fitness Podcast, then there’s absolutely no doubt as to what it’s about. Look at these great examples:
🎤 The Australian Finance Podcast (Topic & audience)
🎤 The Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast (Topic & format)
It works really well for search and for recognition, but some people feel it can be a little… well… boring!
But, consider this: is attracting a zillion new listeners boring?! It is NOT. Simplicity and clarity are the best ways to do that!
It’s totally fine to add a few words to the topic name to build some character, but make sure the main keyword is fully mentioned in the final podcast name. Look at these examples; all really clear but still a little bit of personality and wordplay:
🎤 Diary of a CEO
🎤 The Rest is Politics
🎤 How Other Dads Dad
Option 3: Using Your Own Name
This is pretty much a no-no unless you’ve already got an audience. If someone started The Mike Smith Show and it was about rock climbing, people would just think, “Who is Mike Smith?” and move on to the next podcast. Again, you can incorporate this into your show’s name along with something descriptive (‘Rock Climbing, with Mike Smith’). But avoid naming the show after you without any other details.
🎤 The Mel Robbins Podcast
🎤 The Tim Ferriss Show
🎤 The Lise & Sarah Show
🎤 Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting
Finding Music for Your Podcast
There’s no rule to say your show must have music, but many podcasters stick some at the beginning and end of the show – if not between segments – to add that extra layer of professionalism.
Though you might have seen films or TV shows with 1 minute + of intro music, don’t copy this in your podcast. I’d say that you don’t want to have a piece of music playing on its own for any longer than 10 seconds. If you do this, it can really start to grate (especially for binge listeners), and you’re going to train your audience to start hitting the skip button.
What Music Can I Use Safely?
Many websites have music you can legally use on your podcast. This type of music will usually be called royalty-free, stock, or library music. You can now get subscriptions that give you access to huge libraries and lifetime licenses on anything you use during that subscription. This usually includes sound effects.
It’s possible to find free music if you search for ‘Creative Commons’ licensed music, but it’s often very commonly used, so it can take away a bit of uniqueness from your podcast sound. There are also varying levels of Creative Commons licenses. Some are very liberal, whilst others ban you from using that music for commercial purposes. Always check the source site and make sure you have permission to use a particular piece of music.
How to Create Your Podcast Cover Art
Just like your episode titles, first impressions are everything. Having attractive cover art that stands out is vital when your show lines up against thousands of others in apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Ideally, we’d recommend your podcast artwork be 1400 x 1400 pixels, in JPG form, and under 500kb in size. Some podcasters upload beefy 3000 x 3000 PNG files that can gum up their feeds, causing issues further down the line. So always opt for the smaller formats.
Your podcast logo will often be viewed as a thumbnail, so don’t cram any small text onto it. In fact, the only text on there should ideally be your podcast name.
You can create decent cover art for free on Canva. They even have podcast logo templates on there. Or, you might want to hire a freelancer on a platform like Fiverr if you’d like someone to do it for you. The benefit of working with a designer is that they can help you to encapsulate your branding. Cover art is a bit like choosing a podcast name in many ways. You’re trying to find that balance between descriptiveness, cleverness, and quirkiness, all in one static image – and it all still needs to work well when viewed as a thumbnail on a phone screen.
🪜 STEP 4
Set Up Your Podcasting Equipment
So once you’ve done the groundwork and planned out your show, it’s time to get to work recording your first episode.
Audio Recording Equipment
The bare minimum you need to record a podcast is a computer with a USB microphone and access to the internet. As a general rule, though, the more limited and lower cost your setup and equipment, the more limited the sound and audio quality of your show will be.
Simple USB microphone setups can give good results if you choose the right mic. Plus, it’s much better to get started and see whether you enjoy podcasting before spending big sums of money on audio equipment.
With that in mind, the Samson Q2U is my top podcast microphone pick for a quality and affordable dynamic mic. It could last you years, and you can use it with all sorts of other recording equipment, too. Availability depends on where you are in the world, but the ATR2100 is an almost identical option. Neither of these great podcast mics should set you back more than $100!
The Samson comes with a small mic stand, but a nice upgrade is a boom arm mic stand, to give you a bit more flexibility.
There’s a benefit to keeping things simple in that it’s very easy to record. That means you’ll be able to keep the show regular in the early days and really give yourself a chance to build a loyal following.
If you’re planning to do a lot of in-person interviews, the Rode Smartlav+ is a great tool. Two of them, plus the SC6 splitter, make for a really light, simple interview setup.
From there, you can upgrade to an even better USB mic (like the Rode Procaster) or maybe even upgrade your setup with the Zoom PodTrak P4. The P4 is a dedicated podcast recorder that lets you record four participants locally, as well as remote guests, both on the phone and online. It’s a fantastic all-rounder piece of podcast equipment.
🪜 STEP 5
Pick your Recording & Editing Tools
You’ve plugged in your USB microphone or your audio interface. But how do you capture a podcast recording?
Then, once it’s captured, how do you edit the audio file? Whether it’s cleaning up the audio, or removing your mistakes, time to pick your podcast software.
The good news is that there are lots of choices, and many of them do both recording AND editing. Some are even free! Let’s take a look.
Online Call Recording
Whether you have a co-host in another country or regular interviewees from all around the world, it isn’t difficult to create a podcast recording with them.
Alitu includes both solo and call recording inside one recording studio. Reliable, includes audio cleanup (noise reduction, levelling, etc) and tied directly to Alitu’s editing tools, it’s a complete package. It’s audio-focused right now, but plans to add video in the near future.
I mean, everyone knows Zoom now, right? So, super easy to share and use. Also free for up to 45 minutes. The quality is… fine… but certainly not A+.
Riverside offers a range of features related to video recording and repurposing, including simple text-based editing, video clipping and it’s own streaming platform.
Another double-ender recorder, Squadcast captures great-quality audio and video.
👉 For full details, read: Best Call Recording Platforms
Audio Editing Tools (+ Solo Recording!)
These packages are our picks for editing, but bear in mind they offer solo recording, too, for those all-important intros, adverts or solo episodes. Plus, of course, Alitu also includes call recording.
Audacity is a good quality, free-of-charge audio editing package. It’s a bit old and clunky, but it’s free, and does the job!
Adobe Audition is my favourite Pro-level production tool. Great workflow and feature-rich. It’s available through a paid subscription.
Here, you can compare Adobe Audition vs. Audacity.
Alitu: The Podcast Maker is designed to be the easiest audio editing experience on the market, tailored specifically for podcasters. It has everything else you need to run your show, too.
This web app records your audio (solo or remote call) and automates the audio cleanup, volume levelling, and EQ. Its editing tools are simple, and you can even chop out audio by deleting text in Alitu’s auto-generated transcripts!
The episode builder is a simple drag-and-drop interface for adding music, sponsor segments, etc. Then, you can directly publish via Alitu’s own hosting so your show is pushed out to places like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other listening apps.
If you’ve never worked with audio before and find the very thought intimidating, then Alitu was made for you. If you want to see how it works, check out my guide on making a podcast with Alitu.
For what it’s worth, if you’re a Mac user, you will probably have Garageband installed by default on your machine. This is popular audio software with podcasters too, although recent versions have really cut down the features it offers. These days, I’d recommend that even Mac users get hold of Audacity as a free alternative.
What’s the Best Laptop for Podcasting?
The humble laptop fits nicely between the bulky desktop (don’t you ever try to move me, ever!) and the dainty mobile phone (take me everywhere you go, and please, doomscroll me to your heart’s content). It’s the ultimate “best of both worlds” when it comes to podcasting hardware.
So, what’s the best laptop for podcasting? As our tech-spert Sarah says in her article dedicated to answering this question – “The brand doesn’t really matter. It’s what’s under the hood.” She goes on to recommend an 8GB of RAM quad processor with a base speed of 2.6GHz.
Finally, if a laptop is out of reach, then you can even start a podcast on your phone! The Apple App store and Google Play alike are awash with recording tools. Check out our podcast on Podcasting with a mobile phone.
🪜 STEP 6
Present & Record your 1st Episode
Time to get this thing down on tape. Or… the 21st-century equivalent anyway! Let’s cover presentation skills, and recording that audio.
How to Script your Podcast
Once you’re set up with a microphone and software, you are ready to hit ‘Record’ – but what will you say? That’s where podcast scripting comes in.
When we talk about ‘scripting’, it’s easy to imagine an in-depth essay that’ll be read out word-for-word to become your podcast episode. That approach can work, but it’s only for really highly produced, heavily edited shows.
For a start, it takes aaaaages to write, every time, so if you’re working yourself, you’ll never manage it every week.
Next, unless you’ve practised this a lot, like highly produced presenters have, it’s really hard to avoid sounding like you’re reading. And listening to someone reading out a script is really, really boring…
The intimate nature of podcasting is far more suited to a conversation rather than a sermon. So try to wean yourself off a fully scripted show with bullet points of everything you want to cover, including your podcast intro. This will become easier over time with practice until, eventually, writing a full script will seem unnecessary.
How to Talk Into a Mic
This is probably the most difficult thing to conquer when learning how to start a podcast. You need to get over that feeling that you’re talking to yourself. Instead, focus on talking to a single person. We discussed who your podcast is for earlier on when tackling your listener persona. If you are a business, you may already have this persona or “avatar” sketched out. Remember, an avatar is basically your ideal customer/listener.
When creating that persona, it’s up to you how much detail you put in. Some people go as far as creating jobs, hobbies, likes, dislikes, family, friends, etc. The point here is that holding a conversation with them, rather than with yourself or the microphone, will sound much more natural and engaging. This means everyone who listens feels like you are talking directly to them. And, this leads to building and strengthening relationships over time.
There’s also another factor to think about when recording, and that’s mic technique. Our Mic Technique for Podcasters guide covers that in full detail.
How to Be a Good Podcast Host
Of course, there’s more to being a good podcast host than mic technique, or having the confidence to talk into one. It’s said that a good host needs to be curious, genuine, relatable, and a cohesive storyteller.
It’s not always what you do on-mic that counts, either. Research can be a big part of running an engaging and informative podcast – especially if you’re inviting guests on.
🪜 STEP 7
Editing Your Podcast
Irrational hatred of your own recorded voice: check!
But you’ve recorded it anyway. Strong move. Now, how do we polish it up nice, so it can be catapulted out into the world?
This is where you take that podcast recording and edit out mistakes, stitch together audio clips, add music or FX and make sure it all sounds great with EQ, levelling, compression and more. Let’s look at how it all works.
How Much Editing Do I Need to Do?
From awkward pauses to uhms and ahs, there are no shortage of things you could edit out in the post-production phase.
If you want a starter guide on what type of editing to do, check out my article on the MEE Podcast Production process. This keeps editing simple, sustainable, and consistent.
Here’s the rundown, though. For your first ten episodes, keep it really, really simple. Follow this plan for Minimum Effective Editing:
- Trim the start & end
And when you’re ready, you can add a bit more polish with Minimum Effective Editing v2:
- Trim the start & End
- Remove mistakes (with a click edit)
- Noise reduction
- Add music
When you’re ready, you can add even more, but honestly, the improvement to time ratio just doesn’t provide enough value in many cases.
Outsourcing: The Hands-Free Option
It can take a bit of time to become comfortable using Audacity, and time is something a lot of folks lack. If you’re prepared to spend some money to save time, you can always outsource your editing and hire someone else to do it. You’ll find options for all budgets and requirements over at our Podcast Production Directory.
What File Type Should I Use for Podcasting?
The most common format for uploading a podcast episode is an MP3 file. Not all MP3 files are created equal, though. Most podcast editing software platforms will ask you to make some decisions when you’re exporting an episode.
- Bitrate? Choose 96kbps for spoken-word audio
- Constant (CBR) Vs Variable (VBR) bitrate? Choose CBR
- Mono or stereo? Go mono, unless you’ve got loads of music and sound effects
- Sample rate? Opt for 44100Hz
If this seems like the sort of stuff that melts your brain, remember that podcast-maker tool Alitu does this all for you automatically!
🪜 STEP 8
Set up Your Podcast Hosting
When it comes to getting your podcast out there for everyone to hear, you’ll need a podcast hosting platform, sometimes called a media host.
Media or podcast hosts are services that store your audio and allow listeners to listen, download, and subscribe to your podcast via your podcast feed.
One common misconception when learning how to start a podcast is that you’re meant to upload your podcast to places like iTunes/Apple Podcasts. This actually isn’t the case (see our ‘How to Upload a Podcast‘ article).
I use a few different podcast hosting providers, and you can read what I think of them in my dedicated roundup. But here’s the TLDR;
- Alitu: Hosting tied in with call recording, audio editing & audio cleanup
- Captivate: Growth-focussed podcast hosting, with tools like media kit generation, dynamic ad insertion, and multiple podcasts.
- Castos: a host focussed on private podcasting & linked with a strong production service
We added hosting to Alitu so that you can do everything in one single podcast platform.
Your Podcast Website: Publish Your Shownotes & Player
If you’ve already got a website for your business or brand, then you don’t need extra web hosting – you can just set up your podcast on your main website. Check out how to install podcasting tools on your website here.
When you sign up for media hosting, you often get a free website with it, too. Captivate, RSS.com, and Transistor all give you a simple but decent-looking site for your podcast. If you’re running a hobby show, this is a good option to keep things nice and easy. You might also fancy looking at Podpage, which can build a great-looking podcast website for you in minutes. Alternatively, there’s the self-hosted WordPress option, which you can learn more about in my main podcast websites guide.
Whichever way you choose to set up your site, that’s where you’ll publish your episode show notes (AKA your episode descriptions) as blogs. You’d make your audio content available here, too, by embedding your podcast player in your blog posts. Then, when you share an episode on social media, you’ll link to your blog post, and potential listeners will end up in your home base. At that point, you can direct to anything you like, such as your ‘subscribe’ or ‘start here’ pages.
🪜 STEP 9
Submitting to Podcast Directories
Once you’ve created your show inside your media host of choice, you can then submit it to a podcast directory. These are the podcast platforms where listeners can discover, subscribe to, and download it.
Any good host will have a decent set of auto-submit or guided-submission tools. So, they make it easy to get your show into Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and other popular spots (although forget about Google Podcasts now!).
You need to have at least one published episode in order to submit your show to some key directories. It’s a good idea to create a short teaser, podcast trailer, or episode zero early on in your podcasting journey. This way, you can ensure you’re being listed on all popular platforms in time for you dropping your first “proper” episode.
Once your podcast is out there, the way podcast listings work varies from platform to platform. For example, Apple Podcast search will favour shows with high numbers of all-time followers, while Google Podcasts used to be mainly focussed on search keywords. That means that established shows can have the upper hand when it comes to discovery, so take on board my podcast naming advice from earlier in this guide.
🪜 Step 10
Set Your Launch Plan
Once your podcast is set up to launch, that’s when you’ll move on to thinking about promotion, building your listener base, and maybe even earning a crust from your show.
Get Your First 100 Listeners (and Beyond)
When it comes to growth and visibility, I have a few options for you to bookmark and check out.
- Our Ultimate Podcast Marketing & Promotion Guide
- Podcast Advertising: How to Advertise Your Podcast, from Facebook to Face-to-face
- The Podcast Host Planner (Notebook)
- The Alitu Showplanner: Generate Names, Ideas, Scripts, & More
- Podcast Growth: How to Grow Your Podcast Audience (Book)
- Short daily podcast tips on Pocket-Sized Podcasting
- Should you join a podcast network?
Try at least a few of these in the first few months, and you’ve every chance of reaching far more of your target audience.
A Caution on Podcast Download Numbers
Podcast hosting services give you download stats which help you gauge how your show is doing. You can also get some platform-specific data from the likes of Spotify, Apple Podcasts Connect, and YouTube.
Download stats can become an obsession, especially when comparing yourself to any popular podcast. But there are so many variables when it comes to what are “good” download numbers. You might be surprised to learn that many successful podcasters thrive with “only” a few hundred downloads per episode.
So try not to compare yourself with others. The only valid comparison is against your own content and your own numbers.
Podcast Growth Starts With Your First Few Listeners
When you start a podcast, it’s tempting to go off chasing every potential listener. But one piece of invaluable advice we’ve found over the years is to take care of those who’re already listening. If you do this, your podcast will grow as a result.
Delivering consistently good content, coupled with solid Calls to Action (CTAs) at the end of each episode, can work wonders for podcast growth. Typically, this is an ask like “subscribe or follow the podcast on your listening app of choice”, “leave a rating and review”, or “please share the show with someone you think would like it”.
These are all good CTAs, but you’ll want to focus more on the “share” and “follow” ones in the early days. Getting a nice review is great, but ratings and reviews don’t necessarily move the needle in the way the other two do.
Earn Your First Shilling
If you put the work in, stick at it, and consistently deliver great content for your audience, then you’ll eventually be in a position to think about monetizing your podcast. Here are a couple of resources to get you up and running:
How to Start a Podcast: Raring to Go?
Phew! So, that concludes our crash course on how to start a podcast. Remember to bookmark this guide so you can return to it each time you work through one of the sections. As you’ll see, launching and growing your own show takes a bit of work – but it’s a fun and rewarding type of work. The fact that you’ve gone and looked for a guide like this one says a lot about how seriously you take your creative projects. Now, there’s nothing else to do other than get started. You’ve got this, and I can’t wait to hear about your journey, as well as your success 😁
Join the Podcraft Academy, for Live Coaching, In-Depth Courses & Resources on how to Launch
The Podcraft Academy is our coaching and support space, which includes a huge collection of courses, resources and tools to help you get your show out there.
The core of the community support is our weekly live Q&A support sessions, where you can get all your questions answered by one of our team, and talk to others in the forums.
Then, start with our Podcast Launch course, which takes you through every single step of making your show live, right from that initial idea. And you’ll find a bunch of other resources in the community, too, from presentation skills, to equipment guides, to editing courses.
Hope to see you there!