How to start your own podcast
Everything you need to do to start a podcast
Podcasts are booming in popularity, 32 percent of Americans listen to podcasts at least once a month. But it's just Americans listening tuning in, podcasts are growing rapidly in popularity in South America, South Korea, Mexico and in the UK where 6.5 million people listen to them weekly.
Since this platform only keeps growing, now is a great time to start promoting your business by podcasting.
In this post we'll teach you how to create your very own podcast.
Why a podcast?
Podcasts are unique because people can listen to them at any time. While working, driving, exercising and even doing chores around the house. Because they're purely audio, there are less distractions and listeners are captivated by the content. As a result, there's a higher expectation for more complex, thought provoking content.
As quickly as the podcast market is growing, there are still many unexplored areas just waiting for you to fill them with your unique point of view. Remember, where blogs were when they first started to evolve more than 15 years ago compared to today. Podcasting is a new form of blogging but the difference is you record the content,
Follow these guidelines to create your very own podcast
Determine the purpose of your podcast
The primary purpose of your podcast will set the framework for its entire creation. Here are some example objectives to help you identify your purpose:
Why do you want to start a podcast?
To promote yourself as an industry leader.
To create leads for your business.
To share knowledge or a message.
To simply have fun.
Whatever the reason, focus on providing value. If your visitors aren't walking away with new and helpful insights after listening to each episode, they have no reason to continue to listen.
To create a foundational definition of your podcast, identify why the existence of your podcast will be beneficial to your audience. The best way to do this is with a solid value proposition.
Who is your target audience?
Identifying your target audience will help you create content that is specifically tailored for their unique enjoyment, it will also help you laser target your marketing efforts.
Correct market research involves identifying the locations and interests of your target audience and then collating this data into an ideal listener persona. This helps you focus on creating content that engages your listeners. You need to give people a reason to listen.
Create a value proposition
A value proposition will help you identify the unique benefits you will provide your listeners.
Consider the following:
What sort of people make up your ideal audience? Who will benefit from what you have to say?
What is unique about what you have to say? Why should people listen to you and not to someone else who makes podcasts on the same topic?
Your value proposition is specifically what you have to offer your ideal listeners.
Here is an example of poor value proposition example for a dog training podcast:
"On the ultimate dog training podcast, Xavier’s tips on dog training will teach
you how to stop your dog from pulling on the leash."
Would this reason compel you to listen to this podcast? Probably not.
Perhaps you would you be more likely to listen if the value proposition was changed to the following:
On the ultimate dog training podcast, Xavier, a world renowned dog trainer and
dogsport competitor, shares his insight into the problems behind why dogs pull on their
leash when you walk them. Each episode will equip you to confidently train your dog to finally walk calmly by your side.
Can you see the difference? The latter example identifies the uniqueness of the podcast (it is presented by a decorated dog trainer), gives the audience a reason why they should listen and clearly presents the benefit of listening.
Steps to create your own value proposition
To create your own value proposition. Follow the steps:
Specify at least one issue your ideal audience can strongly relate to.
Identify how you can solve these problems.
Identify why you are unique and why people should listen to your solution.
Provide actionable steps to solve these problems.
For simplicity you should structure your value proposition around the most primary issue you are solving.
Choosing a podcast name
Your podcast name needs to be memorable and grasp listener attention. It also needs to rank for its relevant keywords (something most people fail to consider). Follow these three objectives when thinking of a podcast name::
Make it relatable
Be careful not to make it so clever your target audience can't relate to it. You need to strike a healthy balance between being witty, memorable and something your target audience will identify as a solution to their problems.
Here is a good example:
The Xavier Experience: Uncommon Dog Training Tips.
The tite "Ultimate Dog Training Tips" While this is good, it is really not all that memorable. If you are going to use a descriptive title, keep it short.
Include your name.
Including your name in the title is a great way to build your personal branding. If you already have a large following, it will help your followers easily identify your content.
It is always a good idea to add a tagline to identify the primary objective of your podcast. Simply calling it "The Xavier Experience" is quite vague and doesn't really give people a reason to listen.
Use keywords in the title
It is important to use keywords in your title to help people find your podcasts, it will also help you show up in search results when users type a related phrase, for example, "how to train my dog"
Select a podcast format
The type of podcast format you select depends on whether you will be presenting it solo or alongside other people. Sticking to the one format maintains consistency which helps your listeners mould to your podcasting style.
If you are too erratic and unpredictable, listeners will abandon your show for something more stable.
Pick a format you are most comfortable with. Here is a list of the most common podcasting formats:
This is the simplest format where you are presenting the podcast alone. This is a good way to build your reputation as an expert in your industry or any other topic.
Also you completely own the podcast so you do not have to answer to anyone. You are the one who looks for sponsorship to monetize it and all profits belong to you.
When you are a podcast beginner, the solo show can be intimidating. If you solely focus on providing incredible value to your audience, the process should become much easier for you.
Co-hosting a podcast with a friend or industry colleague can be easier when you first start out. It gives you the support of another person to fill any silence gaps. Chatting to a co-host also makes your presentation sound more relaxed and conversational rather than like a lecture.
If you choose a co-hosted format, It is important for you to choose a co-host you have a natural connection with. Settle for somebody you can literally talk about anything with, this will ensure your show stays upbeat and dynamic.
You also need to consider the ownership split of a co-hosted format, will it be a 50/50 split? What will happen if your co-host loses interest or is not available at times?
You need to have confident (and profitable) answers to these questions before entering a podcast partnership.
Podcast interviews with industry experts gives you the opportunity to talk with people you look up to. Your guests may also have an impressive following they can promote your show to, which can accelerate your podcast growth.
Interviewing people can be challenging. It is a skill that takes practice. This format is best for natural conversationalists.
Another challenge is approaching the right people to interview on your show and then relying on them to be available during the scheduled recordings.
Other uncommon podcast formats
In a documentary you walk your listeners through conversations and present on location interviews to share interesting information.
Docu dramas are a mix of documentary and drama that offers listeners a highly entertaining learning experience
A roundtable podcast consists of multiple hosts discussing different topics. The wider hosting panel offers a greater diversity of opinions which makes the show much more engaging.
Using a script for your podcast
Unless you are going to improvise in your podcast, you will need to write a script, or at least write an outline for what you are going to cover in each podcast episode. While you may think using a script will make the show sound too formal, it helps you stay on track if you have no presenting experience.
Why good podcasts use scripts
Using a script does not mean you have to read it word for word. Podcast scripts range from comprehensive to simple bullet points.
A script is a skeleton you can customize as you go along and helps to create the mood and feel of each show. It helps the show flow, makes it sound natural and prevents you from rambling or forgetting what you planned to say.
Before you decide if you need a script or not, ask yourself the following:
Do you process your thoughts externally or internally?
If you process your thoughts internally you may want to write them down before talking. People who process their thoughts eternally naturally vocalise them, which makes great podcasting material.
What type of script suits your show?
If you're great at improvising on the fly, a simplistic outline style of script will work for you. This is an ideal script format because the most capable podcasting hosts are always comfortable with improvisation. If you're just starting out and you're nervous about presenting, a word for word script will help quell your fears.
If you're not a skilled writer, you'll have trouble writing a compelling script people will actually want to listen to. But that shouldn't stop you, simply hire a skilled freelance writer to create your script for you. If you use freelancers to strengthen all your weaknesses, your podcast will have the greatest chances of success.
Podcasting script formats
Bullet point scripts
Bullet point scripts are the most common used by podcast hosts. These are great if you like to banter with a co-host or guests like on radio shows. They are simple and quick to write and provide enough structure to keep a podcast episode going while always giving you the option of deviating course.
These types of scripts work best for co-hosted podcasts or where you conduct interviews or have guests.
Takes little preparation.
Makes editing easier once recorded.
While it provides some structure, you can still improvise and ad-lib throughout the show.
You can get sidetracked.
It leaves room for rambling.
Without enough structure you can forget important points.
Detailed podcast scripts
A detailed podcast script has more detail than bullet points but is not as detailed as a full script. Detailed scripts usually have an introduction, sponsor’s ads, music and closing remarks or a call to action at the end. Detailed scripts are suitable for most podcasts with a co-host or interviews.
It is still casual but provides structure and flow to your podcast.
Ensures you cover the subject thoroughly while leaving some room for improvisation.
Adds supporting data and points.
Takes more time to prepare.
Requiresmore editing when recorded.
Full podcast scripts
There are times when a podcast benefits from a full script and are necessary for solo podcasts, audio dramas and short shows that offer advice or are educational.
Adds complete structure.
Helps a podcast host feel confident they are thoroughly covering all elements of the subject.
The host needs to practice reading the script so it sounds natural.
Producing a podcast takes longer.
It can be more difficult to record as mistakes can be obvious.
Choosing a podcast platform
You will need to choose a podcast platform to host your podcasts. This simplifies the storage and publishing of your podcasts. You will need to use a podcasting platform to publish your podcast to all streaming services.
What are the benefits of a podcast platform?
Your listeners can listen to your podcasts from a podcast platform. They will allow you to create an RSS feed for listeners to find your podcast in different directories. You can also access an analytics dashboard to track the performance of your podcasts (number of downloads, average listening times etc).
Some platforms also come with website builders so you can create a blog, website and add widgets to help promote your podcast straight from the platform.
Selecting the right platform
It is important to select the right podcast hosting platform to suit your purpose. For example, if you only want to have fun with friends and family or share short interviews, a free platform may be all you need.
But, if you are going to take podcasting seriously and want to monetize them, then you will need a platform with the storage and bandwidth you need. Also, how much you are willing to pay monthly determines the features the platform offers. Just keep in mind there is no point paying for features you won't be using.
Here a breakdown of some of the most popular podcasting hosts
Buzzsprout offers a free option and subscription options start from $12 a month.
Buzzsprout is an extremely popular podcast platform with more than 100,000 people using it to launch their podcasts. It has an episode automation feature that lets you upload audio files and adds ID3 tags and bitrates to promote your podcast. Listeners can access your podcast from Overcast, Google Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify and Alexa. Buzzsprout gives you access to advanced statistics for all your podcasts.
Options for monetizing your podcasts through affiliate marketing.
Offering unlimited storage space.
A trial period of 90 days.
Gives you access to the most popular podcast directories
Buzzsprout’s free version advertises your podcasts on public websites.
The bandwidth is limited to only 250 GB.
Podbean has a free option and monthly subscriptions start at $9.
Podbean offers a fully featured website builder you can use with your own domain name and branding. It has a good range of podcast templates and you can choose your own layout. Podbean also has monetization options using crowdfunding, premium content or advertising. Podbean’s free version only offers limited storage and video support is only available through paid subscriptions.
iTunes and RSS support.
The ability to create your own podcast website.
Compatible with embeddable media players, and Android and iPhone apps.
You can only run more than one podcast channel with a subscription.
You need a monthly subscription for unlimited bandwidth and storage.
Blubrry subscriptions start at $12 a month.
Bubrry makes it simple to upload and publish podcasts in three steps. It gives you control over an RSS feed on iTunes and you can optimize it for Android devices. If you want to use analytics tools, you have to purchase the Podcast Statistics package.
WordPress plugins available.
Makes publishing effortless.
Easy, free media migration.
Paying extra for access to analytics tools.
The amount of storage depends on your subscription plan.
Podiant subscriptions start at $12.99 a month.
Podiant users publish 22,000 podcasts a day and reach hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The platform offers a range of podcast themes and you can access all the tools you need to publish your podcasts. Podiant allows you to create a blog, and embed content from YouTube, Twitter and Instagram to help you widen your audience reach.
Users can host their podcasts from one website.
Does not place limitations on storage or bandwidth.
Compatibility with all main podcast apps and directories.
The free trial is only for 14 days,
The type of analytic tools you receive depends on the subscription.
Castos subscription options start at $19 a month.
Castos offers unlimited storage and bandwidth. You can create as many podcasts as you want. When you upload them, Castos automatically shares them to most of the main directories. An added advantage is you can transcribe your podcast but it costs a small fee per minute.
Supports video and audio podcasts.
Access to all the main podcast directories.
Customizable podcast player.
Access to advanced analytics tools.
The ability to republish video to YouTube is only available using a subscription.
Short free trial.
Equipment and software for recording podcasts
It is easy to record a podcast. When you start out, it is as simple as plugging in headphones into your Android or iPhone. The content you record is the most important part.
People will still listen to your podcast even if the sound is not the best as long as it has amazing content. But you may want to start out with at least:
You do need a microphone for everyone speaking on your show. The inbuilt microphone in your laptop or computer is not good enough. It will cut out and sound like you are talking under water. It is also a good idea to get a foam pop guard for each microphone. It stops words starting with b and p from sounding harsh.
Headphones are also important when recording a podcast as it helps you hear when you are talking too loudly or when talking off mic. This will help you adjust your mic technique. They do not need to be expensive and you should have a set for all people involved in recording a podcast.
Podcast recording software
There is a lot of software available for recording a podcast. So, how do you choose the best one for you? To start, choose one that suits your style and format.
Let’s take a look at a few.
Recording solo podcast software
Recording on your computer
One option is downloading and installing an audio program for your computer. An option for beginners is Audacity and it is free.
On the other end of the spectrum is Adobe Audition for the more experienced. It has a monthly fee but the quality is much better and you can also use it to edit your podcasts.
Solo recording on the web
Computer recording is good if you always record from the same place. But if you are mobile you may want more flexibility. Using web-based software such as Alitu offers flexibility and lets you record outros, intros, quick updates and ad slots.
Recording calls for a podcasts
There are times when you will want to record phone calls, especially when doing interview podcasts. Zoom is good software that allows you to record web-based calls. Other alternatives include Ringr and Skype but you have to download separate software to record a Skype call. You can use Talkhelper on your computer or eCamm on a Mac to record Skype calls. Or you can use your smartphone’s voice recorder when on the move.
Recording your first podcast
Your first recording may not be the best but you'll get better with practice. Every podcaster has to start somewhere.
By the time you get to this stage you should already have your podcast outline or script to keep you on track.
Choose where you are going to record
Choose a large room that is quiet, if possible. If all you have is a small room, make sure it does not have a lot of flat, hard, reflective surfaces that can cause an echo. These are hard to edit out of a recording. Try to use a space that has soft furniture and carpet that will absorb the sound. This prevents all sorts of audio problems.
When you get a good, crisp recording, it makes editing and mixing a lot easier.
Positioning your microphone
To avoid the harsh sounds of p popping and the hiss of an s, make sure the mic is set up to the side at a slight angle to your mouth. This prevents bursts of air hitting the mic directly and gives a more natural recorded sound. Also make sure your mouth is between 2 and 4 inches from the mic for the best audio quality. But all mics are different. You may have to experiment to find the best distance from the one you own.
Sound quality check
To test how you sound, talk into the mic from different positions and record it. Play it back to see what position gives you the best sound quality and stick with it.
Editing your first podcast
This is where a lot of podcasters give up. Editing and the production side can be difficult. Any auditory distractions need removed from the recording, and voiceovers, intros, outros and pre-recorded ads need to be expertly created.
If you're not confident enough to edit your recordings, hire an expert freelance audio editor to get the job done for you. This is the most time consuming part of the process so if you outsource it will avoid a big headache.
Using music in your podcast
It is always good to add music to your podcast during the intro and outro. There are many websites that give you access to music you can use but it is not usually unique. It is often used by many others so you may want something different to represent your podcast shows. Something that becomes recognizable as relating to you and your brand. Hire a freelancer to create theme music that's completely unique to your show. Once you have this you can use it for all your podcasts.
Export your podcast to the hosting service
Once the editing is complete, save it in the proper format for your podcast hosting service and upload it. Usually it should be in an MP3 format so it is compatible with most podcast apps.
Add ID3 tags to the audio files so they have the right information to identify your podcast episode. RSS feeds use this information for podcast apps to access. Some hosting platforms will add them for you automatically.
Adding artwork, categories and a description
Your podcast is almost ready to submit to podcast directories. Now it is time to make it look great as well to catch the eye of your listeners.
Artwork may not be something you can do yourself. Hire a freelance graphic artist experienced in podcast artwork. You can use this artwork to promote your podcast and share on social media. Your artwork should reflect the subject of your podcast so it makes a good impression.
The artwork should look good no matter what size you want to use it at and not contain more than four or five words at the most. People need to be able to read the words when you use the image in its smallest size. The artwork should contain some aspects of your branding such as the same colors as your website or your logo. It needs to be consistent so people learn to instantly recognize your work.
Categorize your podcast
Now you need to choose the category or categories your podcast fits into. Also choose a sub-category to boost its visibility. For example, if your podcast is about dog training it is better to be at the top of a sub-category like Dogs > Training rather than being lost in the Dogs category.
Add a description
Add a description which is the metadata for your podcast. This is the information about your MP3 file and includes:
Title of the show.
What it is about in one paragraph. Make sure to let people know what is in it for them and it should be cleverly written so they subscribe.
Filling out the metadata makes your podcast visible in directories so it is searchable.
For success, you need to list your podcast in the top directories. Places like iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify and others. These are the places people search to find new shows. This is an important step because it is how you find an audience. They can subscribe to your channel to download your podcast.
Most good podcast hosting services have auto submit tools or tools that will guide you through submitting your podcast to the top directories.
Launching and marketing your podcast
When you have at least three to five completed episodes, it is time to launch and market your podcast. This gives you three episodes for launch day, and one for each of the next two weeks.
How you launch your podcast channel is up to you. But it is important to get it right to start attracting an audience. If you are not experienced at marketing, it is a good idea to hire an experienced freelance marketing expert.
Launching your podcast gives you the opportunity for iTunes to feature your shows in the "New and Noteworthy" section for the first eight weeks for free. This can help you grow your audience quickly in a short time.
For iTunes to notice you, you need to launch your podcast so that people start listening and give it reviews. This will help you to grow organically too.
The best way for people to notice your podcast, is to create a hype around your launch. You should have already been building your audience before launching. Create a landing page to promote your podcast to let people know what you are planning. Make sure page visitors can opt in to a mailing list you can use when you launch. Building this list before you launch is important as it is an instant audience.
On launch day, have at least three episodes uploaded to give people something to listen to straight away. Launching only one will not give you the audience numbers for iTunes to notice your podcasts.
Send an email to your email list on launch day. Ask them to subscribe to your podcast channel and leave a review after listening. Receiving reviews on the launch day increases the odds of iTunes noticing you.
Getting the world to listen
Marketing your podcast is a huge, time consuming job. Where you have the budget, it is a good idea to spend some on a freelance marketing expert to get results. You want people across the world listening to what you have to say.
Your marketing needs to add value. You do not want to drive people away. Avoid spamming with links and annoying people. The purpose of marketing is to genuinely engage your target audience. To offer something of value to them.
But, how? Here are some ideas.
Share with friends and family
Send a link to friends and family if the podcast contains content that is of interest to them. Ask them to leave a review on iTunes and to share the link with others. This is an easy way to get your first batch of listeners.
Promote on social media
Social media is huge. It is a fantastic way to connect with people. But the key is to share quality material—video, teasers, soundbites, rich media and images. Here are some marketing ideas to try:
Create short 15 second soundbite clips and share to Twitter and Facebook with a link to your download on iTunes.
Tweet and post Facebook episode updates that contain your iTunes URL.
Develop images with quotes as standalone posts and tweets and do not forget to link to iTunes.
Send out episode teasers at least 24 hours before release.
Keep sharing podcast episodes two or three times a week.
Join relevant industry and interest groups and communities and ask moderators for permission to share your work.
Create content that discusses the behind the scenes making your podcast and share to social media.
Answer questions on Quora and Reddit
Look for questions on Quora and Reddit relevant to your podcast. Answer their questions on the site and mention you answer this more fully in your podcast and add a link. This gives you a presence and helps to establish you as an expert in the field. The key is to give people value by helping them out as well as adding your link.
Take advantage of a guest’s followers
Take advantage of their audience of your guests, tag them in promotional posts so that their followers can access the relevant episodes.
Create a YouTube video from your audio
Turn your audio into a video to upload to your YouTube channel. This is beneficial for search engine optimization to boost your rankings. It also gives you a video to share on social media and widens your potential reach.
There is software online such as Online Converter that makes the process simple.
Offer a transcript
Offer subscribers a transcript of your audio. This is good for search engine optimization and helps generate leads. Transcribe all or excerpts of the audio to include in podcast notes and on YouTube. Use a service like rev.com or hire freelancer to transcribe it for you.
Partner with other brands
Mention other brands in your podcast and let them know when you do. They may mention your podcast in return in their social media channels. Or you can send brands a quick email to connect with them and they may agree to sharing your podcast to their audience in return for mentioning them in your show.
Offer guest appearances on other podcasts within your industry, they may reciprocate the favour and agree to be on your show.
Creating a podcast is an excellent way to promote your business and brand. It establishes you as an expert in your field and opens the floodgates to a tidal wave of potential customers.
While the process of creating a podcast may seem daunting, the benefits greatly outweigh any disadvantages.