How to Start a Podcast
Who would have thought 10 years ago that podcasting would become one of the biggest media forms today? Podcasts have become part of our daily routines. According to Edison’s “Share of Ear” report, Americans play at least 21 million hours of podcast audio every day. In fact, the same study showed that podcast listeners spend more time on podcasts than on the other audio type. Yet in the big picture, the podcasting industry is still in its infancy. For example - more than 227 million blogs are scattered across the internet compared to a mere 750,000 podcasts. This relatively uncluttered marketplace gives an opportunity to more easily rank and create awareness as a podcaster than as a blogger. If you are one of the people looking to break into the podcast industry, then this article is for you. It is a step-by-step guide that will help you launch your podcast.
Why Do You Want To Start A Podcast
What do you want to achieve? Do you want to create awareness for your brand, are you looking to establish yourself as an authority in your industry? Are you an influencer looking to spread awareness on a pressing issue? Do you want to empower a particular group of people with your teachings? Or do you want to podcast as a hobby? Answering this “why” question will keep you and your content grounded and focused on that purpose, and encourage you to remain committed - especially at the beginning as you’re still growing your audience.
Choose A Niche and A Theme
What is your podcast all about? As an SEO marketer, you might be dishing out SEO tips on your podcast. If you want to narrow it down (and you should narrow it down), you could choose to podcast on dishing out SEO tips for restaurants. Now you’re starting to have a very focused niche and theme.
Who Are Your Ideal Listeners?
Podcasting is based on intimacy, listeners often feel like they know the hosts of their favorite podcasts. The reason for that is not far-fetched. A good podcast targets an individual listener. Define who your perfect listener is. What is their age, location, their average listening span (how much time can they spend to listen to an episode of your podcast)? Ask yourself several questions about your ideal listener, get to know them. This will help you better connect with your listeners. You want them to find your show relatable - as if you know them on a personal level.
Types Of Podcasts
A consistent podcast structure will set expectations with listeners and keep them coming back. What podcast structure works best for you as a host and for the goals of your podcast? Based on you content, your host style, and your audience - here are some styles you might choose:
- News and current affairs
Crafting a podcast title is somewhat of a dark art. You can be creative and go with something like ”Getting It Right The First Time”. This title is intriguing and catch - but vague. It doesn’t give potential listeners any idea of what the podcast is about. You could choose a straight to the point title, such as ”Dishing Out SEO Tips For Startups”. Anyone who comes across your podcast title will know what to expect. It’s a lazy way to choose a title - but also makes sense. Another way to title your podcast is to use your name, e.g ”The Susan Smith Show”. Unless you’re already a celebrity in your own right, anyone who comes who across your podcast will ask ”Who the heck is Susan Smith?”. Your podcast title can have your name but it must include an idea of what your podcast is about. For instance, ”Dishing Out SEO Tips For Restaurants, with Susie Smith”. While there are several potential routes for naming, the main elements you’ll want to include in your podcast title are the following:
- What your podcast is about, this will help search engines suggest your podcast for when listeners enter keywords that are related to your podcast content.
- Your podcast title should be as short and catchy as possible, this is how to ensure that listeners remember your show.
Your Host Name
If you have an already existing brand outside of podcasting, consider using your brand name. For example, if your brand name is Susie Smith SEO Experts, you can use it as your host title, assuming that your podcast is relevant to SEO. Just like with the podcast title, you should optimize your host name. An easy way to do that is by adding a tagline. For instance, Susie Smith, Restaurant SEO whisperer. When users search for ”SEO” or ”restaurants”, Susie Smith’s show has a chance of coming up.
Podcast Description / Summary
Here’s your chance to completely win over potential listeners. iTunes allows up to 4,000 characters in the description. That’s enough to describe your podcast and what listeners should expect from the podcast. More importantly, the description gives you more room to target focus keywords so that your podcast can rank on iTunes and other directories.
Before anyone reads your podcast summary, before they click on an episode of your podcast, the first thing they see is your artwork. It’s how you create a first impression. It is also a form of marketing for your podcast. Your podcast artwork will be displayed in media players as people listen. So, be thoughtful and creative. Go look at some album covers if you need some inspiration. For iTunes, the most recent format for podcast artwork is 3000 x 3000 pixels max and 1400 x 1400 pixels minimum at 72 DPI. Use the maximum pixel size in order for the artwork to display clearly on media players with high-resolution.
Double check that any text in the artwork is still readable when the artwork is viewed on smaller devices. Many mobile media players and directories automatically shrink podcast artworks to 300 x 300 pixels. If your text is too small to read on 3000 x 3000 pixels, then it will be almost impossible to read when the artwork is shrunk. A general rule of thumb is to make sure that your text is still readable when your artwork is shrunk to 150 x 150 pixels.
Scripting can help ensure you talk about all the points you want to discuss in the episode while not getting carried away. You will also find yourself saving time in the editing process by having a more organized recording from the beginning. Many newcomers make the mistake of reading their script rather than using it to direct their show. To avoid making the same mistake, write bullet points for your script.
All the planning without taking action is pointless - so get right into it. Record your first episode, then record more. Getting your content out there should be your priority here. There are countless ways you can improve your audio quality (and we’ll have more articles on that topic), but you first need to just get started.
You may not even like how you sound at first - most people sound nervous the first time they record. But you will get better with repetition (or at least get used to hearing your own voice). You should record at least five episodes before launching your podcast so that you have enough content to post it on a regular schedule while you record new ones. To give your listeners the best quality, record in a quiet room.
Tools And Equipment You Need For Recording And Editing
For a beginner on budget, you should get the most affordable tools that can still produce quality audio. You probably already have access to some items on these lists - and might not have to spend any money to get started. Here are some of the tools you can choose from depending on budget and available resources.
- Samson Go Mic - $30 - good, low-price mobile setup
- Blue Yeti Mic - $123 - good for two person conversations
- Audio Technica AT2020 USB - $150 - high quality condenser microphone
- Apple earbuds (yep, many podcasters started with this)
- Plantronics 655 Multimedia Headset - $118
- Sennheiser PC 8 USB Headset - $37
- Cable Arm – Although it is not necessary to have this, you may want to purchase on to hold your mic steady. Holding a microphone by hand can result in extra noises as well as just be a pain to hold for a longer podcast.
- Pop Filter – Also not a necessity, but it can increase the quality of your audio by lowering the level of mouth noises like “esses” and pops when saying certain words.
Don’t focus too much on the precise duration of your podcast episode. The unspoken motto of many successful podcasters is ”quality content over duration”. It will be unprofessional to ramble on if you no longer have anything to say, or to cut out important points because you don’t want to exceed the duration. While most podcasts range somewhere between 25-45 minutes long, the most important guide here is your listeners’ preferred duration. If a particular topic takes longer than your audience will listen for, just divide it into multiple episodes. You also need to be consistent with your duration. Don’t publish an episode of 20 minutes this week and a 2 hour podcast next week.
Editing serves several main purposes to improve the structure and quality of your podcast.
Sometimes you may need to completely cut out an irrelevant anecdote or two from your recording if it doesn’t contribute to the quality of the podcast.
You have the opportunity to fine-tune the recording by cutting out filler words where necessary, leveling the volume throughout the episode, cutting out interruptions if you have multiple speakers on an episode, and cutting out any other distracting noises or silences.
Calling out sponsors might not be a natural part of your podcast episode script and can kill the flow of a natural conversation or interview. Editing is the perfect time to add in snippets about your sponsors.
Here are just a few podcast editing programs to consider when getting started.
Audacity (Free) for Mac and Window
*This is a much lighter weight interface compared to full DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) such as Garageband or Audition). While it’s free, the editing experience not be as smooth in this program
- Garageband (Free) comes with Macs
- Adobe Audition ($19.99 p/m)
- Hire an editor – you can hire someone from a freelance platform like Fiverr or UpWork.
Launch Your Podcast
In order to launch your podcast on your website, you’ll want to choose a hosting platform. The hosting platform is usually different from your website (although some hosting platforms also off website services) and is specifically for hosting a playing your audio files. You’ll then embed that audio player in your website. Here are some of the most popular hosting platforms.
- SoundCloud - Plans from Free to $16 per month
- Libsyn - Plans from $5 to $75 per month
- Podbean - Plans from Free to $9 per month
- Buzzsprout - Plans from Free to $24 per month
Tag Your Audio File
Each recorded episode of your podcast is an audio file and should be in MP3 format. Now, let’s assume after recording your first episode and editing you export it as ”DSEP001.mp3. Before publishing the episode, you need to provide the ID3 tags, also known as metadata. This is to ensure that your audio file is readable by media players and directories such as iTunes. Using either iTunes, or going to your file itself, right clicking, and selecting “Get Info”, you then add the following information to the audio file:
- Podcast title
- Your host name
- The episode title and number
- Podcast artwork
After properly tagging your audio file, you can upload and store it on a server (the hosting platform). For you entire podcast feed, the hosting site will give you a link that looks something like https://hostingsite.com/susiesmith/rss - this is known as your feed address.
Submit Your Feeds
When you reach this stage... congratulations! You’re ready to launch your podcast. New podcasters often assume they have to upload their audio file to directories every time they publish a new episode. However, you’ll actually submit your feed address from above (https://hostingsite.com/susiesmith/rss) to the podcast directory (Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher, etc.). The directory will scan your submitted feed for your tagged MP3 file. You don’t have to keep submitting your feed address for future episodes. Instead, the directories will be automatically updated anytime you publish a new episode on your podcasting hosting site.
Congratulations! You’re well on your way to becoming a podcast megastar! As continue to consistently provide your listeners with quality podcast content, you can gain more listeners and eventually become a voice of authority in your field. While sponsors probably won’t be knocking on your door after you upload your first episode - once you have the right sized following for a niche audience, monetizing your podcast may not be too far around the corner.
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