So, you want to start a podcast. You just don’t know how to start?
We have just the right thing for you: a handy little cheat sheet with 10 steps to guide you to your first live episode. We will help you find the right equipment, set up a publishing schedule, point you towards editing tools and hosting choices, and help you upload your podcast to publishing platforms like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. And we will throw in some tips how to promote your show so you can build an audience for your content. Let's go!
Checklist: How do I create a podcast ?
1. Make a plan
The best way to set yourself and your podcast up for success is to know what it is you actually want to do. What will be your angle?
- Do you want to introduce your listeners to your favorite music artists?
- Are you going to interview chefs about their best recipes?
- Do you just want to chat with a friend on air?
- Or are you a passionate lover of pizza and want to talk about all things pizza.
Don’t be afraid to pick a niche for your podcast: niches make for very dedicated listeners. Sketch out your idea for the podcasts’ genre and the kind of content you want to cover in your episodes. Jotting down some notes about this can also help you to find the right name and cover for your podcast later. Knowing whether you will be the only host or if you will record with a partner will also help you to choose the right equipment to produce your show with.
2. Flesh out a schedule and some episodes
Once you know which topic your podcast is going to cover, think about how often you want to publish new episodes. Keep in mind that every episode needs some preparation, time for recording and time for editing. A weekly schedule might be daunting if you are just starting and have a full weekly schedule with work and daily life.
The good thing about developing your own podcast is that you are the boss: You set the pace. And don’t worry: Plenty of successful podcasters publish every other week or just once a month and have a loyal listener base. You can always decide to go from a biweekly to a weekly schedule later once you have some experience. Just be consistent: If you keep changing rhythms and publishing dates, listeners might grow frustrated and give up on your show.
To help you make a decision about your publishing schedule, roughly flesh out a couple of episodes. It will give you an idea if you still have enough things to talk about 20 episodes from now. Next, think about how much preparation is required:
- Do you need to read up on stuff before each episode?
- Do you need to secure an interview partner or invite a guest?
These thoughts will help you nail down your schedule.
3. Shop for the right equipment
Bad news first: Your smartphone’s microphone probably won’t be enough to produce good audio quality that your listeners will enjoy. (Read more about recording with your smartphone here).
The good news, though, is that good podcasting equipment doesn’t have to break the bank. All you really need is a microphone and good headphones or a headset.
- Microphones (Cheap Options): Blue Yeti USB Mic, the Rode NT USB mini or the Røde M3.
- Headphones (Affordable Options): the Audio Technica ATH-M50X or Beyerdynamic DT 770.
- Or Headset: Beyerdynamic DT-290/M200/H80.
- If you record with several hosts, your best bet is an Audio Recorder: Focusrite Scarlet Solo 3 or Zoom H6.
- And in case you are podcasting on the go and need to take your equipment with you: Shure MV88.
4. Choose a name and think of a sound & look for your podcast
While you are waiting for your recording gear to arrive, now is a good time to think of a name for your podcast.
Everything is possible: It can have your name in it, it can be a play on words or just a good catch phrase that captures the essence of your podcasts’ content.
Just keep in mind: Like any good brand, your podcast’s name should be somewhat short and catchy. It will help your listeners remember your show and will make it easier for new listeners to find your podcast when they search for it. In some instances, longer titles also work well because they are self-evident.
Here are a few examples of good titles:
- The Daily
- How I Built This
- You’re wrong about
- The Michelle Obama Podcast
When you have settled on a name, take a minute to think about what you want your podcast to sound and look like: Intro and Outro music can ease your listeners into your episodes and make for a recognizable feature.
You don’t even necessarily have to pay for music:
- Websites like Free Music Archive and Musopen provide music for free.
- Or Websites like PremiumBeat and AudioHub offer music with creative commons license for a reasonable price.
Next up: Your podcast cover. Before your listeners hear you, they see your cover. By choosing a photo or illustration that fits your topic, you make the first look count. You can also choose to simply use the podcasts’ name as its cover.
- Great pages to find photos with a creative commons license and free of charge are Flickr, Unsplash, Pixabay, Google Images.
- If you don’t mind spending a little bit of money, try Adobe Stock or Shutterstock.
Now, how do you turn your fancy photo or illustration and your catchy name into a podcast cover?
- Canva is a freemium service with lots of templates and designs to play around with. You can upload your photo or choose from a library of backgrounds, add features and text and then download the result in different formats to fit your needs.
5. Find a place to record
You don’t need to set up a professional home studio in order to achieve good sound quality. Almost every room can become your studio. Just avoid too many flat surfaces around you that the sound will bounce off of. Bare, empty rooms make for unpleasant echo chambers. Basically: please don’t record in the tub in your bathroom.
A room with a carpet and walls with pictures on them is a good start. Book shelfs around you are even better because they swallow sound. A lot of podcasters start out by recording in or into their closet surrounded by clothes.
Whatever works for you, just go for it: Nobody’s watching, but we’re all ears!
6. Hit record!
You have chosen the topic for your first episode, your recording gear has arrived, you found a place to record. Time to tell your story. Many podcasters record directly with their editing software (See next step).
Some hosts speak freely, others work with notes, some use scripts. Which way you will go might be influenced by your format: if you have guests or co-hosts the conversation will most likely be free-flowing. As a single host, notes or a script can help you stay on track with the thoughts you want to share or the story you want to tell.
- Don’t forget to record a short introduction to tell your listeners who you are and what they can expect from your podcast.
- At the end of your episode, a quick goodbye with ways to get in contact with you (e.g. your email or social media channels) might be a good idea.
- You can also ask your listeners to rate and review your podcast on Apple Podcasts since it will help you become more visible.
7. Edit your episode
If you cringe at the sound of your voice, don’t worry: we’ve all been there. Luckily, your listeners will find your voice absolutely normal.
As mentioned before, most podcasters record directly with their editing software. And a lot of them use free software.
- Apple products already come with a free audio editing software: Garageband.
- Audacity is a software that works for both Macs and PCs and is free as well.
- Other options (that you will have to pay for and that work on both Macs and PCs) are Reaper and Hindenburg Journalist.
Editing has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s no rocket science, either. Almost every software has an introduction for new users and YouTube is full of helpful tutorials for the most common editing software. Connecting with other podcasters online can help to get support when you need it.
When editing, doing it in two rounds can be helpful:
- First, go over the recording to edit for content clarity. Maybe you have diverged somewhere, maybe you had to go back and repeat a sentence. Cut out everything unnecessary.
- Then, during a second round, you can edit for style and cut out expletives like “uh” or coughs and other noises. After that, you can run some filters or effects to polish the audio.
8. Choose a hosting service for your podcast
Now that your first episode is recorded and edited, you need to find a home for your podcast. There are plenty of hosting services for podcasts out there. Almost all of them have different plans, some are free.
Be aware that free plans can come with limited audio storage or other restrictions so if you want to release episodes very regularly, you might run out of storage.
For a small monthly fee, most hosting services give you varying amounts of audio storage, a webplayer to embed on your website and detailed analytics about your audience, best performing episodes, etc. Podigee offers a $12 plan for beginners and solo podcasters which includes unlimited audio storage, a Wordpress plugin, and 4 hours of audio encoding per month. We also have plans for advanced and professional podcasters. Our free 14-day-trial-period gives you the chance to see if this is the right choice for you.
9. Get your podcast listed on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts & Co.
It’s time to send your podcast into the world.
Your hosting provider will give you an RSS feed for your podcast. By submitting the RSS feed to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Overcast etc., your listeners can enjoy your show via the platform of their choice. All of these platforms have a quick start-guide explaining how to submit your feed to them.
10. Promote your show
Congrats, you have released your first episode!
Now you want people to listen to it – so let them know you’re out there! You might want to set up a website for people to browse on (especially if you have bonus content to publish or if you are also blogging about your topic). And the best way to create a buzz about your show is to promote it on Social Media. Pick the network(s) that work for you and post tidbits about your show, teasers and trailers.
With online services like Headliner you can create short audio teasers to release online and entice listeners to tune into your podcast. By connecting with your listeners online, you will be able to get out the word about your show and grow an audience. On social media, you can also connect to other podcast hosts which might land you an invite to one of their shows – and making guest appearances is always a great way to gain new listeners.
Keep in mind that maintaining a social media presence for your podcast requires some time. Nobody expects you to be on every network. As is true for every step into the podcasting world: choose what is fun and doable for you.