How to Start A Podcast: A Complete Step-by-Step Tutorial

How to Start a Podcast

In today’s world, you don’t need to be a pro to launch your own podcast. It’s easier for anyone to launch a successful podcast more than ever before.

But that doesn’t mean the process is easy. There’s a LOT that goes into starting a show. After chugging through the planning stages, you must write scripts, record, edit, submit your show to directories, etc.

This to-do list can be overwhelming for anyone (especially for those working on their first show). Luckily, we’re here to be the helping hand you need. From choosing a name and creating cover art to determining the length of your episodes, this guide will walk you through all of the crucial details of beginning your own podcast.

Ready to start your podcasting journey? Read on!

Planning/Research Phase

We know you’re eager to share your voice with the world. But don’t grab your mic just yet.

The first step is to do some planning and research. We urge you not to skip this seemingly boring yet crucial step, as it will set your show up for success. By doing your homework, you’ll have the structure you need to remain motivated and stay on track.

So, let’s cover some of the most important elements of the planning/research phase.

Finding Your Motive

Start by sitting down and asking yourself, “Why do I want to start a podcast?”

In most cases, the answer should come easily.

Maybe you’re a business that wants to attract new customers. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur who needs to build authority in your industry. Or, maybe you’re someone who wants to share their hobby or passion with others.

Whatever the case may be, it’s crucial to figure out your motive. That way, you can give your show direction and work with a vision and end goal in mind.

Landing on a Target Audience

Target Audience

Now that you’ve figured out why you’re making your show, it’s time to determine who it’s for.

Podcast hosts should ask themselves who they’re trying to reach.

If you’re a hobbyist, you’ll want to find people who are interested in your hobby. If you’re a business, your target audience might be your current customers, new customers looking for your products, or other industry experts.

Once you pinpoint your ideal listeners, you’ll be able to create content that speaks to them. You’ll also find it easier to push your show and make the most of your marketing efforts.

Do I Need an Audience to Start a Podcast?

As we discuss in the next section, you don’t need an audience to start your show.

But if you already have a following, it’ll give you a much-needed jumpstart. Whether it consists of social media followers or clients, your existing audience is bound to be excited about the new content you put out.

What If I Have No Following?

Want to start a show but don’t have a following? Join the club.

Many podcasters begin with their message falling on deaf ears. It will take a while for your new podcast to build the following you want it to have in many cases.

And that’s OK! As long as you make great content and market well, you’ll get tons of podcast listeners before you know it.

So, don’t let your lack of a following stop you. Instead, embrace the challenge and think about how rewarding it will be to build something from nothing.

Knowing Why They Should Listen

Whether you have an existing following or not, you need to figure out what will make potential listeners tune in.

The key is to provide unique value. Whether it be in the form of entertainment, knowledge, or something in between, value can take many forms.

If your episodes are unoriginal, redundant, or just plain boring, listeners are bound to click away.

Choosing a Topic

Of course, you’ll also need to choose a topic for your show.

The nature of some shows requires them to discuss everything under the sun. In most cases, however, we recommend picking a topic and sticking to it.

Having your episodes revolve around the same topic will give your audience the consistency it wants. If your podcast’s subject matter is constantly changing, podcast listeners may become confused or even frustrated.

Choose a topic that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. It’s good to get specific as people will want to listen to something no one has ever done before.

However, remember that there is such a thing as too specific. If you decided to make your show only about roses, for instance, you’d quickly run out of things to talk about. Instead, it’d be more appropriate to choose a topic like gardening techniques and put a unique spin on it. That way, you give yourself a little more wiggle room.

Picking a Podcast Format

Next, you should consider how you want to format your show.

There are tons of ways you can present your content to the world. But, at the end of the day, it boils down to what format is most accessible to you and potential listeners.

Remember not to get too hung up on format. It’ll likely evolve after your first few episodes as you get into the swing of things.

Need some podcast format ideas? Here are a few of the most common ways Apple podcasts structure their shows:

The Monologue

Many shows go with the traditional “monologue” format. A single host goes in with a topic in mind and talks into a mic in this style.

And that’s pretty much it. This format is popular because it’s so simple and helps you build an intimate connection with your audience.

The Interview

If you want something with more structure, you can choose to go interview-style. Bringing on different guests every week is the perfect way to keep things interesting. Of course, you’ll have to master your interview skills, but guests often come with funny stories, new information, and/or interesting perspectives.

Two podcast hosts laughing while recording a podcast

Segments

You can also choose to format your show with segments. For instance, you might take calls from listeners asking for advice. Or, you could pull questions from social media and provide your take.

Conversational

Lots of Apple podcasts have more than one host. And it makes sense when you consider how many benefits a co-host can bring.

For instance, a co-host can bring in new listeners by introducing your show to their followers. It’s one more person to help promote by, say, sharing a teaser episode to social media.

A co-host also takes a lot of the pressure off of you. Thanks to the conversational format, you won’t have to worry about talking every second. Instead, the two of you can bounce off of each other and keep the conversation flowing. As long as you have good chemistry, you shouldn’t run out of things to say.

While bringing on a co-host can be a smart move, you shouldn’t pick just anyone. See below for some tips on how to find your perfect partner in crime.

How to Pick Your Podcast Host

Ideally, your co-host should be someone familiar with podcast recording. They should be comfortable talking for long periods and understand how to connect with an audience. Additionally, they should be familiar with your niche and be willing to research topics as needed.

It’ll also be beneficial to choose someone tech-savvy. If they’re familiar with podcast recording equipment, the burden of setting up and editing won’t fall entirely on you.

Yet another ideal characteristic is if they have an existing following. Think of their audience as a bonus rather than a requirement. If they don’t have a following, they should at least be willing to promote new episodes.

Perhaps most importantly, you should find someone that you get along with. Good chemistry will be key to charming your audience and preventing awkward silence.

Pro tip: Don’t think you have to find a co-host that’s just like you. The best pairs are usually those with conflicting personalities. They’re comfortable discussing each other’s differences and getting into thorough debates about engaging topics.

Video Podcasts

Recording the video for a podcast

Want to take things up a notch? Consider integrating video into your show.

Video opens you up to more listeners who prefer this form of media. It also makes your content more engaging by allowing listeners to see you, your co-host, and your guests talking and laughing.

If you choose to go this route, make sure you choose a podcast hosting platform compatible with video.

Settling on a Podcast Name

When learning how to start a podcast, don’t overlook the importance of choosing a name.

The name is often the first impression listeners get of your show. It should tell them what your show is about and reveal a little about your brand.

Here are a few options you have at your disposal:

The Fun Route

If you’re particularly clever, the fun route might be the perfect way to go.

For instance, consider the comedy/food show Green Eggs and Dan. The punny title reveals the host’s humourous side while hinting that the show talks about food. It even incorporates the name of the host in a subtle yet memorable way.

The “Straightforward” Route

In some cases, you might choose to go the more “straightforward” route.

A title that describes exactly what your show is about might not be as memorable, but it can help listeners find you via search. There won’t be any confusion on what your show will offer!

The Brand Name Route

Some hosts might want to name their show after themselves or their business. However, we only recommend going this route if people are already familiar with you.

Want to use your name but don’t have a following? Include some additional information to clarify what your show is about (i.e., Mexican Baking With John Garcia).

Whatever podcast name you end up choosing, make sure you choose a good one from the get-go. It’ll be how users find you on platforms like Apple Podcasts and can be a pain to change later on.

Creating Podcast Cover Art

This wouldn’t be a “how to start a podcast” guide if we didn’t discuss cover art.

In tandem with your podcast name, your cover art contributes to the first impression with potential listeners. Make the most of it by choosing art that is intriguing and reveals what your show is about.

Podcast Logos and Artwork selection

There are tons of different directions you can go. If you want some inspiration, take a look at the top shows on Apple Podcasts.

You’ll see that some art relies heavily on pictures while others utilize typography. There’s art that’s cartoony, fun, simple, modern, futuristic, and everything in between.

Whatever you do, keep the following tips in mind:

  • First, focus on a design that’s true to your brand. If your design is misleading and doesn’t reflect what your show is about, listeners will feel duped.
  • Don’t add too much detail. If you overload your podcast cover art with pictures and text, it’ll look messy. Instead, make sure you only add the most important details and make them stand out. That way, when users view your show on something like the Apple Podcasts app, your tiny icon will look amazing.
  • Adhere to the file specifications of your preferred podcast directory. Typically, a 1400 x 1400 pixel PNG or JPG under 500kb is standard)

If you’re artsy, consider making your podcast cover art yourself. It’ll help you save money and add a personalized touch to your show. Free online tools like Canva make it easy for anyone to try their hand at graphic design.

If you doubt your graphic design skills, consider hiring a professional. Graphic designers on websites like Fiverr are accessible and affordable. Best of all, they can create a custom design that’ll show listeners you’re not the average podcast.

Taking Podcast Training Courses

While you’re planning your budget, you may want to consider if there’s room for training courses.

“How to start a podcast” training courses can be the perfect solution for newbies. They walk you through everything from optimizing audio quality to writing the perfect podcast description.

While training courses can help you skip much of the research and make it easier to get to the fun part, remember that they aren’t necessary. In fact, many successful podcast shows are self-made. It all boils down to whether you need professional advice or want to go the DIY route and learn completely from experience.

Planning the Episodes

Once you hash out your show’s details, you aren’t done with planning quite yet.

Now, it’s time to focus on the details surrounding your episodes.

Here are some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when planning episodes.

Deciding How Long Your Podcast Episode Should Be

There’s a lot of debating surrounding how long podcast episodes should be. Some argue that long-form content is better as it provides more value. Others prefer to keep their content short and sweet.

The truth is that there’s no right answer. You should make your episodes however long (or short) they need to be.

Two important factors that will help you determine the ideal length include:

  • How much you want to cover in each podcast episode
  • The attention span/preferences of your audience

While you don’t need to make every episode the same length, it’s good to keep things consistent. Listeners want to know what they’re in for so that they can, say, fit your episodes in during their commute.

Struggling to settle on the perfect length? Check out our comparison of short and sweet vs. long-form episodes.

Short and Sweet

Most listeners will say that a “short” episode is no longer than 15 to 20 minutes. This length has many benefits. For instance, it appeals to people with busy lifestyles. They may be more likely to tune in as they aren’t signing up for as much of a commitment. Plus, the short length will increase the chance of them listening to the whole thing.

Keeping your episodes brief may also save you money. When you don’t need as much storage space, you can pick a cheaper plan from your podcast hosting provider.

Listening to a Podcast on a phone

Long-Form

Seeing as many shows have 25-40 minute episodes, we would consider anything over an hour-long to be long-form.

Long episodes are appropriate when you have lots of good content. For instance, if you interview guests and the conversation tends to flow, there’s no point in cutting out valuable material.

And don’t worry about scaring off your listeners. Many people will be eager to tune in (of course, as long as you’re not filling your episodes with fluff). They might turn on your show during a long road trip or even pause/play it throughout their ordinary week.

Even if they have lots of good content, some hosts are hesitant to make their episodes long. If that’s the case, split into two or even three episodes. These chunks can make your message more accessible to your audience. Plus, separate episodes will build anticipation and make it easier to adhere to your release schedule.

Coming Up with a New Epsiode Release Schedule

If you look at Google Podcasts, you’ll notice that many shows release a new episode every week.

Posting weekly is ideal as people crave new content. If they don’t get enough episodes from you, they’ll find another show that can meet their demands.

Quality Over Quantity

While regular episodes are important, you should never sacrifice quality for quantity. Listeners will notice when you start churning out episodes just to meet deadlines.

Instead, strive to post as often as you can while maintaining your brand’s high standards. As long as you’re bringing your A-game, biweekly or monthly uploads can be more than enough to keep your audience interested.

Aim for Consistency

In a perfect world, hosts should aim for consistency. Listeners want to be able to look forward to the next new episode rather than wonder where you went.

Lastly, realize that your publishing schedule isn’t set in stone. You can surprise your audience with a new episode in the middle of a break. If you need to take the occasional break because you don’t have time to record a high-quality episode, that’s OK.

Beginning Your First Episode

Earlier, we discussed the importance of choosing the right name and cover art. These elements are crucial in compelling listeners to click on your podcast.

However, getting them to tune in is only half the battle.

You need to capture their attention even further and convince them to stick around. That’s where your intro comes in.

Your intro could take a million different directions. Some shows incorporate intro music to give it a professional sound. Others rely on a unique tagline, incorporate call-to-actions, introduce the hosts — the possibilities are endless.

Whatever you do, try to keep things brief. A concise intro will help new listeners feel welcome without overwhelming them. It’s also good for returning listeners as they’ll want to dive right in.

Perhaps most importantly, make sure your intro is consistent with the tone of your show. It should set the right mood to avoid unnecessary whiplash.

Choosing Podcast Music

As we mentioned in the previous section, adding intro music can be a smart move.

A memorable melody piques the interest of new listeners and lets your current audience know they’re in the right place. You can also add your podcast music to the outro to make your episodes more conclusive.

Hosts can even add music throughout the “body” of their episodes. However, you should only go this route when it adds value to your show. The music you choose needs to set the tone, create emphasis, inspire reactions, etc.

How to Add Podcast Music to Your Episodes

You’ll need to add music during the editing phases. While software like Adobe Audition and Logic Pro X let you drag and mix tracks, we recommend checking out your hosting provider. Many have podcast apps that let you easily add royalty-free music.

Whatever music you include, be careful with the audio levels. Making the soundtrack too loud can drown out your voice or distract listeners.

A Note About Copyright Issues

We know you want to incorporate your favorite songs into your show.

Even though your listeners would appreciate hearing today’s top hits, you shouldn’t use music that isn’t royalty-free. Otherwise, you could face some serious legal trouble.

Fortunately, it’s easy to find royalty-free music through websites like Epidemic Sound, Shutterstock, and Pixabay. You can download files for a small fee or even for free.

The Copyright-Free Music Debate

As great as copyright-free music is, some people have a vendetta against it.

Some think that it’s too hard to find a track that suits their brand. Others believe listeners can clock the generic beats.

If you don’t want to use royalty-free music, hire a pro to record a completely original track. This route is nice as it gives your show an even more personalized touch.

Coming Up With Titles for Podcast Episodes

As our “how to start a podcast” guide has demonstrated so far, you’re going to have a lot on your plate.

Perhaps the furthest thing from your mind is what you want to call your episodes. Can’t you just name them “Episode 1,” “Episode 2,” etc., and call it a day?

You could. But going the numerical route is a big mistake.

For one, it’s boring. No one is going to see “Episode 30” and think, “Wow, that sounds interesting. I better tune in!”

You need to give listeners a reason to choose your episode over the millions of others on Google Podcasts. Think of your title as an elevator pitch to your episode. Good ways to build interest include using a question, including a phrase like “How to…” or “X Ways to…”

Include Keywords in Episode Titles

Directories like Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts let users search by episode. So, in addition to being interesting to listeners, your episode titles need to be search-friendly.

Don’t be afraid to increase visibility by using relevant keywords in your titles. Taking advantage of trending topics is the perfect way to introduce your show to new listeners.

However, make sure your episode delivers what your title promises. If people click on a misleading title, they’ll become frustrated if you don’t deliver what you promised.

Bringing on Podcast Guests

Your show might invite the occasional guest to mix things up. But if you chose an interview format, you’re going to need to find new guests for every episode.

The pressure to find good guests can be a lot. During your search, keep the following tips in mind:

Don’t Choose Just Anyone

Especially when your show is new, it’s tempting to bring on just anyone as guests. However, we’re here to tell you that it’s OK to be a little picky.

You need to choose guests that are relevant to your show and eager to be in front of the mic. More importantly, your audience needs to find them interesting.

Expand Your Definition of Guests

All guests don’t have to be other podcasters. They can be anyone from local celebrities to authors to politicians. Tapping into unique perspectives will give your show the well-rounded approach it needs to stand out.

Be Persistent

When looking for guests, you need to be persistent. Proactive outreach means calling, emailing, and social media messaging any prospective guests.

The more you reach out, the more likely you’ll hear back.

Don’t be afraid to contact people who you think would never say yes. Even if your show is new, influencers and experts are always looking for the chance to be on new platforms. They’ll be especially willing to come on if they see that you have lots of potential to grow an audience.

And what’s the worse they can say? No? Rejection is all part of the game. As long as you remain persistent, you’ll find the perfect guests in no time.

Double Dip

No matter how many episodes you release, there’s bound to be one guest that sticks with your audience. Maybe they liked their charming personality or their chemistry with you.

In any case, make sure you give the people what they want! Feel free to invite this fan favorite back for a Round 2. Listeners will eagerly anticipate the new episode, and you won’t have to do as much outreach as the two of you already have a relationship. It’s a win-win.

Approaching Podcast Scripts

Anxious to record your first podcast episode? You’re not alone — most hosts are no stranger to these nerves even after they’ve recorded several episodes.

To make yourself more comfortable, you might feel tempted to write out a script. After all, how can you go wrong when you have your lines in front of you?

In some situations, scripts can be helpful. They’re especially relevant for structured, highly produced shows that involve topics like storytelling.

However, most hosts find that scripts do more harm than good.

Cons of Scripts

For one, scripts take way too long to write. It can eat up a lot of your time if you have to make one every week.

Scripts can also make your show sound boring and forced. Unless you have lots of practice under your belt, it’s hard to sound natural while reading a script.

Perhaps most notably, scripts can limit your creativity. Let’s say you’re in the middle of your show and suddenly think of a really good point. Because you’re too scared of deviating from your script, your audience ends up missing out on your excellent point.

Write an Outline Instead

To avoid the cons of a script, you should write an outline instead.

An outline is a perfect tool as it gives you a loose structure. If you’re ever stuck, you can refer to it to get back on track.

An outline also gives you a lot of wiggle room. By listing points instead of full sentences, it helps you sound more conversational. It also opens room for you to throw in additional points as necessary.

Podcasting Equipment

The magic won’t happen until you have some basic equipment

Some new hosts go the easy route and purchase a podcast starter kit. Inexpensive kits come with the barebones supplies you need, such as mics, headphones, and cables. More advanced packages may include mixers, pop filters, and mic stands.

If you don’t want to buy a starter kit, here’s an overview of important podcast equipment.

Choosing The Microphone

A podcast microphone is perhaps the most important tool in your arsenal. Without it, people won’t be able to hear what you have to say.

We recommend getting a simple USB microphone that you can plug into your computer. In addition to being cheap and easy to use, most USB microphone models sound great.

The best microphones for podcasting depend on your needs and budget. However, we’ve found that brands like Samson and Blue make affordable, high-quality podcast microphones.

Buying the Right Audio Recording Software

A USB mic plugs into your computer. But to capture the audio, you’ll need recording software.

Fortunately, there are a couple of free options available.

Mac users often turn to GarageBand as it comes as a default app. However, newer versions of GarageBand have somewhat limited features.

Thus, both Mac and PC users are better off with Audacity. It’s hard to believe that this software is free when you realize how useful it is for audio recording and editing.

If you want access to even more features, consider something like Adobe Audition. It’s a professional tool that’s available if you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. For years, hosts have been using it to get studio-quality recordings.

Note that most recording software doubles as editing software. Later, we’ll go over which editing features you should use to clean up your tracks.

Extras You May Need

All you need to make your first episode is a mic and recording/editing software.

We recommend sticking with these essentials until you get into the swing of things. That way, you can figure out if you like podcasting before you drop a bunch of money into it.

When it’s time to upgrade your studio, consider adding accessories such as the following:

  • Pop filter to improve sound quality
  • Studio headphones for editing purposes
  • Non-USB mics like dynamic mics or condensers
  • Audio mixers for non-USB mics

Recording a Podcast

Once you have all of your podcast equipment, it’s time to start recording.

Here are some of the most important tips to keep in mind before you press that big red circle.

Recording in the Right Space

New shows probably won’t have access to a fancy recording studio. But don’t sweat it!

It’s perfectly acceptable to film in a room in your house. However, to get the best sound quality possible, follow these recommendations:

  • Turn off fans, air conditioners, or anything else that produces white noise.
  • Choose a small room with drapes, carpets, or other paddings that will reduce echo.
  • Ask your roommates for quiet time.

As long as you have a decent mic and record in an ideal environment, your audio will sound professional. You can also clean up your tracks with editing software (which we’ll discuss later).

Pretending Like You’re Talking to a Listener

Many people don’t realize how foreign talking into a mic is until they do it themselves.

Don’t make the mistake that most newbies make. That is, they’ll act like they’re talking to the mic or themselves.

The goal is to sound like you’re talking to your listeners. So, create a persona in your head and pretend like they’re in the room. The more you practice, the more natural your monologue will sound.

If you have a co-host, it’ll be a little easier. You don’t have to do much imagination as a real person is sitting across the table.

Calming Your Nerves

Before you hit that record button, do whatever you need to do to calm your nerves. Some hosts will:

  • Drink a soothing tea
  • Meditate
  • Practice deep breathing
  • Review their key points with a co-host or friend

By calming your nerves, you not only feel more comfortable but also improve your sound quality.

Relaxed hosts are less likely to take noisy breaths that would make the editing process more difficult. You’ll also be less likely to shift around in your chair, shuffle papers, and make other unnecessary noises.

Recording Remotely

In a perfect world, we’d always be able to record with our guests in person. However, if you don’t want to limit your show, you’ll have to record remotely every once in a while.

The problem is that recording remotely can be a pain to coordinate. And it’s even harder to get good audio quality from these sessions.

Choosing the right podcast equipment for your show

If you’re on a budget, consider Zoom.us. This free video conferencing tool lets you record 40-minute calls with up to two people.

Those who want to avoid compressed audio files and annoying connection glitches should opt for a tool like Squadcast. As a “double-ender” call recorder, it records each person’s audio separately and then syncs both recordings together in post-production. The result? Amazing audio quality and less work when it comes time to edit.

Other tips for recording remotely include:

  • Choose a day and time that works for you and your guests
  • Make sure your guest has access to decent podcast equipment (especially headphones and a microphone)
  • Encourage your guest to record live audio in a quiet environment

Recording a Video Podcast

There’s debate around whether you should add a video element to your show. Some say that it requires too much time and effort to put together. Other podcast hosts might feel uncomfortable putting the stress of being camera-ready on their guests.

In some cases, however, video can be a powerful way to make your show more engaging. The format is particularly relevant to interview-style episodes as it pulls the conversation together.

If you decide to go the video route, you could use your smartphone. However, we recommend investing in a high-quality DSLR for streaming platform-ready images.

It’s also important to sync your audio and video. A delay will be funny the first few seconds, but your audience will quickly get annoyed.

Finally, make sure you clean up a little before hitting the record button. Your set doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should look tidy and welcoming.

Editing a Podcast

Before you upload your audio files to platforms like Apple Podcasts, you’ll need to do a little editing.

Make things easy on yourself by choosing a recording tool that doubles as audio editing software. That way, you can keep all of your audio files in one place and streamline your workflow.

Now, it’s time to go over a few editing tips that will make your life much simpler.

Working with a ‘Less Is More’ Mentality

A common new podcast host mistake is overediting. You cut, trim, delete and rearrange until your episode is virtually unrecognizable.

All of this editing not only eats up lots of your time but impacts your audience’s listening experience. They want to hear a natural-sounding conversation — not a mishmash of sound bites that don’t flow.

If you want to have a successful podcast, you should strive for minimal edits. Plan your episodes well so that you don’t have to cut anything from the middle. And, make yourself and your guests comfortable to remove “ums” and awkward pauses.

All you should have to do in a perfect world is trim a little off the beginning and the end of your podcast episodes.

Focusing on Quality

Instead of chopping up your audio, focus on improving the quality.

One of the most important things to do is normalize sound levels. Be sure to check the upload requirements of Google Play and other podcast directories. However, a good rule of thumb is to bring your levels up to -2dB using the “amplify” setting in your podcast editing software.

Yet another easy way to make your audio sound amazing is by reducing white noise. Apply a noise reduction feature to eliminate humming air conditioners and other droning background sounds.

Finally, you might consider adding filters to make your voice sound clearer, crisper, or fuller. While it’s normal for a podcast host to want to sound radio-esque, be careful about going overboard. Using tons of filters and putting each one on the maximum setting will leave your voice sounding watery.

Choose Podcast Hosting

Our “how to start a podcast” guide wouldn’t be worth anything if we didn’t talk about hosting platforms.

Without a podcast hosting service, your episodes don’t have a place to live on the Internet. Unfortunately, that means you can’t publish them to directories like Apple Podcasts.

Hosting platforms (AKA media hosts) also have tons of other purposes. They let you create a podcast website, put ads on your episodes, edit your audio, track analytics, and so much more. Some platforms even offer educational resources to help newbies learn the ropes.

Picking From the Best Podcast Hosting Platforms

Over the years, more and more people want to learn how to start a podcast. To meet the growing demand, tons of hosting platforms have hit the market.

The various choices can make it hard to pick the right one. Your decision gets even more complicated knowing that you should consider factors like your budget, preferences, and how big your show is.

If you’re just starting, consider Buzzsprout. This media host offers all the basic features you need at an affordable monthly subscription.

Other fantastic options include:

  • Transistor
  • Podbean
  • Anchor
  • Simplecast
  • Blubrry

Whichever platform you pick, make sure you sign up for the appropriate plan. You want access to the appropriate storage, bandwidth, and team size without spending more than you need to.

How to Submit Your Show to Podcast Directories (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, & More)

Many new hosts think they have to upload their show to every podcast directory individually.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Thankfully, that’s not how things work.

Submitting Your Show via Your Media Host

Your media host essentially does the heavy lifting for you. After making your account, you need to submit your show by entering details like your podcast’s description and title. You should also classify your show under the right podcast categories to ensure your episodes land in front of relevant listeners.

Once you hit submit, your podcast RSS feed will automatically generate. This RSS feed is how listeners can access your show.

From there, you can upload your first episode. Along with the audio file, you’ll need to submit the episode title and description. The platform will also ask you to choose which directories to submit to. We recommend selecting the major ones such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and any other directories your listeners flock to.

And that’s pretty much it! Your show and its first episode will populate on the directories you selected. And, they’ll eventually pop up on less popular directories (even if you didn’t select them when initially submitting your episode).

Publishing New Episodes

Every time you want to publish a new episode, all you have to do is upload the audio file to your account and create a new episode. Directories will automatically pull the episodes and deliver them to listeners via your RSS feed.

Manual Submissions

Technically, you can submit your show to individual directories using platforms like Apple Podcasts Connect.

However, as we’ve described above, this tedious work is unnecessary. A hosting platform lets you submit to multiple directories in one swoop.

Next Steps After the Launch

Hosts put in a lot of hard work to get to their official lunch. But in many ways, publishing your first episode is only the beginning.

Now’s not the time to let off the gas. However, to ensure you have a successful show, keep the following steps in mind post-launch.

Optimizing Your Podcast Website

With everything else you have on your plate, creating a website for your show might be the furthest thing from your mind.

However, we’d argue that this step is an important one you shouldn’t skip.

Even though it may not be immediately obvious, a podcast website comes with tons of benefits. For instance, it opens your show to new listeners. It helps your content show up in search results and land in front of the right people at just the right moment.

Your website will also act as sales funnel. When listeners tune in and want to see more from you, your website gives them a place to go. You can provide the value they’re looking for and guide them towards a final action (whether you want them to enter their email address, buy a product, etc.).

Fortunately, creating a podcast website couldn’t be easier. Many media host platforms let you make your own website as part of your plan.

Optimizing it, however, is another story. So here are some ways you can ensure you make the most of your website:

Embed Your Episodes

It only makes sense to make your episodes available on your website.

However, we don’t recommend uploading episodes directly to your site. These large files can result in bandwidth issues, inaccurate listening statistics, and an overall poor listening experience.

Instead, you should embed your episodes via your podcast’s RSS feed. All you have to do is log in to your hosting platform, grab the embed code, and publish it to your site. Listeners will then be able to view players and tune in to each episode, all without having to leave your site.

Create Transcriptions

Transcriptions are word-for-word accounts of each episode. To make them, you must listen to each episode in full and type out everything you hear. If you prefer, you can automate the process by paying for transcription software.

Creating transcriptions can be very time-consuming. However, we assure you that it’s well worth the effort.

Perhaps most importantly, transcriptions make your episodes more accessible. People who are hard of hearing or don’t speak your native language can use them to follow along and enjoy your content like other listeners do.

Another benefit of transcriptions is that they help SEO. Google eats up this kind of long-form content as it explains what your episode is about and provides value to users.

Add Show Notes

Both show notes and transcriptions are written materials related to your podcast episode. But that’s where their similarities end.

Show notes aren’t verbatim accounts of your episodes. Rather, they act as in-depth summaries. Most show notes highlight key points and provide resources for listeners who want to learn more.

While show notes are great for engaging listeners, they’re also ideal for search engines. You can incorporate relevant keywords and authoritative links to improve your rankings and attract new listeners.

Once you complete your show notes and transcriptions, realize that you can’t submit them to your hosting platform. You’ll need to upload them underneath your episodes on your website.

Advertising Your Show

Especially if you don’t have an existing following, it can take a while to build the audience you want.

Rest assured, listeners will find your show eventually. To speed the process along, be vigilant about your advertising efforts. You need to get creative if you want to spread the word and stand out from the thousands of other shows already out there.

Need some advertising ideas? Here are a few strategies we’ve found effective:

Share Clips to Social Media

In today’s day and age, social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools available. You’d be foolish not to use it to promote your podcast.

Girl long hair listening to a podcast on a run

Ideally, you’ll want to focus on the social media platforms where your target audience spends most of its time. For instance, if you want to attract an older crowd, Facebook will be your best bet. On the other hand, a platform like TikTok is more appropriate if you’re aiming for younger listeners.

Whichever platform you use, try to make your posts valuable rather than promotional. Sharing clips that are funny, interesting, or profound will make listeners curious. When they see clips from a few episodes, they’ll be more likely to share with friends and even tune in to your full show.

Use a Clear Call-to-Action

Even though your social media posts shouldn’t be overly promotional, a clear call-to-action can go a long way.

Think about it — if you see a funny podcast snippet on TikTok, you might think, “Hey, I want to see more of that.” But if the account doesn’t give any info as to the show name or where you can tune in, you’re not sure where to go. Like most listeners, you’ll probably lose interest and keep scrolling.

If the post had contained a clear CTA, however, you get the direction you need to follow the account, visit the podcast website, etc.

Should You Promote Specific Listening Platforms?

When crafting your CTAs, you might wonder if you should promote specific listening platforms.

Some people say it’s essential to perform well on Apple Podcasts as it’s where most podcast listeners go. You might also want to focus on Spotify as it’s the second-largest podcast directory in the world.

It can be beneficial to encourage your listeners to listen on a specific platform. However, we recommend keeping things simple. Telling listeners that your show is available on their preferred listening platform keeps

Leverage Your Guests’ Audience

We’re not saying that you should use your guests, but you can’t go wrong with leveraging their audience.

Having a guest on usually means that your show will see new traffic. In your episode, make sure to welcome these new listeners. You can do this by appealing to their interests, filling them in on the premise of your show, or demonstrating your relationship with your guest. Ultimately, you should strive to encourage them to stick around for future episodes.

Go on Other Podcasts

Even though you’re focused on producing your own show, you shouldn’t turn down opportunities to go on other podcasts.

Being a guest is another great way to expose yourself to new audiences. You can tell listeners a little about yourself during your appearance and even create hype for upcoming episodes.

Monetizing a Podcast

As our “how to start a podcast” guide comes to a close, we want to address one last thing — how you can make money on your episodes.

Monetization can be as simple as asking listeners for donations via PayPal or Stripe. Many fans will be more than willing to give a few bucks if you continue to provide great content. Just make sure to be clear that the money will go towards increasing production value.

Don’t feel comfortable asking fans for money? Here are a few other monetization options:

  1. Seek out sponsorships
  2. Join an advertising network
  3. Sell premium episodes

FAQs

Have more questions on how to start a podcast? Check out a few FAQs.

When did podcasting begin?

The origins of podcasting date back to the 1980s. During this era, a broadcast software provider known as RCS (Radio Computing Services) distributed digital versions of talk-related software to radio stations.

Can I start my own podcast with no money?

Over the years, hosts just like you have created their own podcasts with very little financial investment, thanks to affordable hosting platforms and podcast equipment. However, you will need to splurge a bit on quality equipment, like a microphone.

However, it’s possible more than ever to create a show inexpensively. You just need to budget and plan out your expenses before making any big purchases.

What should my first podcast episode be about?

Your first show should introduce your listeners to a topic you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. It could be your professional industry, one of your hobbies, a favorite movie genre — anything. Try to avoid picking a topic just because you think it’ll perform well.

It should also give listeners an idea of what content they can expect in every episode.

How much does it cost to start a podcast?

You don’t need a lot of money to start a podcast. However, if you want to keep things as affordable as possible, set aside around $100 for a high-quality podcast microphone and $200 for an annual hosting subscription. As for recording/editing software, use a free option like Audacity.

How much should I charge to produce a podcast?

If you’d like to make money by producing someone else’s show, you’ll need to plan for compensation for every aspect of the process – from consulting to editing and publishing. You can expect to charge anywhere between $1,500 and $3,000 as a producer.

How much do podcasters make?

It’s estimated that highly successful podcasters make anywhere between $500 – $1,000 per episode due to affiliate sales. However, that doesn’t include guest appearances on other shows, influencing, and merch sales.

The Bottom Line: Is Hosting a Podcast Worth It?

Now that you know how to start a podcast, you see why launching a successful show is a huge accomplishment. So much goes into creating a podcast, and it’s certainly no easy feat.

However, hosting a podcast is absolutely worth it if you’re dedicated to your craft. You get to connect with viewers worldwide, express yourself through a creative outlet, and learn new things about niche topics. Your mind will expand, and so will your wallet if you know how to make a great show and have patience.

This “how to start a podcast” guide is about as comprehensive as it gets. You’ve learned everything from how to edit your episodes to how to market your final product.

Now, it’s time to go for it! Feel free to bookmark this page, as it will serve as a handy tool on your journey. With our advice, you’ll avoid skipping steps and set your show up for success.

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