These days, it seems that everyone that you speak to has a favorite podcast that they rave about. If you’re late to the party and don’t want to admit that you know nothing about the podcast world, it can feel embarrassing, but it’s easy to get started with this new pastime.
The first step to podcast listening is to find a topic or podcast creators that interest you, and then choose how you want to listen to them.
You’ll need the right device, a streaming platform (see also ‘Anchor Vs. Podiant‘), and some basic knowledge, but ultimately, podcasts have been designed to be easy to consume.
There’s a good reason why podcasts have become as big as they are, and once you start listening to a series that you can’t get enough of, you’ll see what it is.
This beginner’s guide will show you how to choose a podcast, where to listen to them, and other important information that makes the listening experience enjoyable.
How Do I Start Listening To Podcasts
As with everything these days, the easiest way to tune into podcasts is to use a dedicated podcast app.
Podcasts have become one of the most popular ways to consume content, which means that there are a lot of podcast apps to choose from, so you’re coming into this at the right time if you want to be spoiled for choice.
The biggest names in podcast apps include the Apple Podcasts app —suited to iPhone users—and the Play Music app—for Android phone users.
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However, beyond this, there are hundreds of other options, some of which are podcast-specific and others that are for both music and content.
Each of them has a directory of podcasts to choose from, so it’s easy to find something to listen to, and they vary in things like subscription fees and user features.
When you’ve just started listening to podcasts, one of the best things to do first is to download podcast episodes using a listening app. They give you access to most of the podcasts out there, which is great until you’re ready to hone your listening in.
They’re free to download and you can use them on all types of devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, computers, and smart TVs, so there’s no shortage of ways to listen.
Before you jump into podcasts, have a look around at how your new app works and how the podcast episodes are laid out, including the host bios and blurbs for each show.
A podcast is also commonly called a series and each episode within it has a unique name or identifier, as well as a URL that leads podcast listeners to the RSS feed for each one, so they’re laid out similarly to a TV program.
Which Podcast to Listen To?
Now that you know where you’ll listen, you need to think about what to listen to. Although the good thing about podcasts these days is that there’s an endless choice of topics to be talked about, it can also make it harder to narrow them down to something that you like.
The best place to start is with the bigger and more popular podcasts, as these tend to have perfected the formula and usually have an engaging host and cover interesting content.
Otherwise, if you already know what type of content you’re looking for in a podcast, whether it’s model airplanes, the latest celebrity gossip, or something hosted by your favorite comedian, you can do a search online or in the podcast app to find new podcasts.
ALSO SEE: Best Podcasts Of The Year
When you do find podcasts you’re interested in, reading reviews and recommendations should give you a good idea of what to expect, and asking friends and family who have similar tastes in content can lead you toward some great finds.
Once you’ve narrowed down your interests, the algorithms that work behind the podcast streaming platform (see also ‘Zencastr Vs Zoom‘) that you listen on will help to point you toward other similar shows.
This is how most people find new content that otherwise might have been harder to discover, so be prepared to give it some time while you amass a list of favorite podcasts (also see, ‘Top Podcasts‘).
Do You Need to Subscribe?
Podcasts have become an incredibly wonderful source of free content, with most series costing nothing to enjoy.
For most, the only fee they pay is to the streaming app of their choice, and if you’re on one of their basic plans and don’t mind listening to ads between your music and podcasts, you won’t have to pay a thing here either.
Subscription podcasts are less common, but they’re still around and are a great way to offer unique content to people who are happy to pay for the privilege.
There might be bonus episodes or content within a regular podcast series that’s subscription only, or entire podcast series that charge a set fee to get access to.
For the podcast host, this isn’t the only way for them to earn an income, and most do well with other means, like sponsorship and advertising.
ALSO SEE: Best Podcast Promotion Services
However, if there’s special content or latest episodes that are worth paying for, you might want to consider becoming a subscriber and paying to see what’s on offer.
The Right Headphones
One of the main reasons for the podcast’s huge success is that it can be enjoyed anywhere, anytime, and especially while you’re doing other things.
The usual places where people listen to podcasts are during their commute to work, while they’re cleaning their house, or walking the dog, among others, so you need something that can aid with portability.
A good pair of headphones is essential for podcast listening if you plan on doing it outside of the home.
Although you don’t need to go as high-tech as you would for music and movies, quality noise-canceling headphones will make a huge difference to how you hear the audio of the podcast and all of its intricacies.
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For those planning on listening at home, you might want to invest in an affordable Bluetooth or smart speaker.
While you can play a podcast directly from your smartphone or tablet, it’ll be a lot clearer and have a higher volume when it comes from a speaker, and considering how cheap they are these days, it’d be a wise investment.
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When Are New Episodes Released?
Once you get hooked on a podcast or have even become a podcast addict, you might find yourself yearning for a new episode to be released, and this waiting can make them even more enjoyable when they finally come out.
The schedule that most podcasts are released on will depend on the series, its contents, and the creator, and there’s no set structure for when they should be published.
The most common time for a new podcast episode to be released is once a week but this can vary drastically for each series.
A podcast might air a new episode each day, just in a smaller format, or have a long-form episode that’s content rich and released just once a month.
To get an idea of the schedule of the podcast that you listen to, you can usually find this in the series information that’s listed with the show on the streaming service.
Sometimes, a podcast creator will have other series that you can tune into as well, so while you’re waiting for a certain episode to drop, there is loads of other great content of theirs that you can enjoy.
Watching vs Listening to Podcasts
Podcasts have traditionally been in audio format, but in recent years, video podcasts have become popular as well. The most popular websites to watch podcasts on are YouTube and Vimeo, as they’re free and have a bigger selection to choose from (also see, ‘How To Stream A Live Podcast On Youtube’).
However, it’s also common for content creators to stream podcasts from their social media accounts or on Twitch (also see, ‘How To Live Stream A Podcast‘).
The format of a video podcast will differ depending on the content creator as well, as there’s no set structure.
It could be visuals of them recording the podcast, a video presentation that highlights what they’re talking about, or just a static image of their podcast logo with the podcast audio playing in the background.
Although it offers a unique way to consume your favorite podcast, there are some downsides to the video format that should be considered.
It’s not as easy to get other things done while you watch, the download size will be larger, and you’ll have trouble finding all of your favorite episodes in video form, so it might not be for everyone.
A Podcast for Everyone
The great thing about podcasts is that they cover such a huge range of topics, so there’s something to suit every listener, no matter their interests.
Using this guide, you’ll be able to find your way to a podcast that’s right up your alley and finally get to experience what everyone’s been raving about for years.