How to Start a Podcast. A Guide to Planning and Creating a Podcast
With the rise in popularity of podcasting, now is the perfect time to unleash your creativity and share your voice with millions of listeners. According to Statistica, over 88 million people in the U.S. listened to podcasts in 2022, with a projection of over 100 million listeners for 2024. That’s a lot of people hungry for quality content!
And while starting a podcast can seem daunting, with the right planning and preparation, you too can join the ranks of podcasting pros. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to plan, record, and launch into the wild and wonderful world of podcasting.
Step 1: Planning Your Podcast
Now that you’re all revved up and ready to go, let’s dive into the planning stage.
Why are you Making a Podcast?
Ask yourself, what’s your podcast’s purpose? Is it to share your expertise on a particular subject, to entertain your audience, or to have meaningful conversations with guests? Knowing your why will help you stay focused and motivated throughout the creation process.
Who is Your Podcast For?
Next, think about who your target audience is. What topics would they be interested in, and how can you deliver value to them? Understanding your audience will help you create content that resonates and keeps them coming back for more.
Why should your audience listen to you?
What makes you unique? What value can you provide that no one else can? These are essential questions to answer, as they’ll help you differentiate yourself from the competition and build a loyal following.
Do you have enough ideas?
The key to creating a successful podcast that stands the test of time is simple – choose a subject area that you’re genuinely passionate about! Your enthusiasm for the topic will shine through in every episode and keep your audience engaged. You want to be making great content one year from now, and beyond, so keeping the long game in mind is really important!
Then, you need to come up with enough ideas for your podcast episodes. We recommend listing out at least twenty-episode ideas to keep you going for the first season. You can also include potential guest names too. Check out ‘The Secret To Overcoming ‘Podfade’: Consistency’ for great tips on how to get the ball rolling.
Picking a Podcast Name
Choose a name that reflects your brand and resonates with your listeners. But don’t worry if you’re struggling to come up with the perfect name – check out this free podcast name generator tool and you’ll soon have the perfect name for your new show!
Step 2: Choosing Your Podcast Format and Structure
Here are some considerations when choosing the format and structure:
- Podcast Type: Interviews, solo shows, co-hosted shows, documentary-style shows, storytelling shows, and more are just a few of the formats you could choose from. Think about what format will best suit your content, style, and target audience. For example, if you’re an expert in your field, you may want to consider a solo show where you share your knowledge and insights with your listeners. Or, if you want to bring in multiple perspectives, an interview-style show could be a great option.
- Podcast Length: The length of your podcast episodes is another crucial factor to consider. A good rule of thumb is to keep your episodes between 20-60 minutes, but this will ultimately depend on your content and audience. You don’t need to have the same length episode every single time either, but it’s best to stay within an expected range.
- Podcast Media Format: Consider your budget, equipment, and content type when deciding on your podcast’s media format. Audio-only podcasts are the most common, but video podcasts and mixed-media formats are becoming increasingly popular.
- Podcast Episode Structure: Consider including an introduction and outro, segments, and guest introductions in your episodes. A consistent structure will help your listeners know what to expect and keep them coming back for more.
- Podcast Frequency: Decide on a frequency that’s both realistic for you and that will keep your listeners engaged. Whether it’s a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly podcast, consistency is key.
Step 3: Choosing Your Podcast Equipment
With the right equipment and some simple techniques, you can record a podcast from anywhere in the world.
First and foremost, you’ll need a good microphone. It’s the most essential piece of equipment, so be sure to invest in one that will make your voice sound great. You can start with a USB microphone that’s simple to set up and use. You can find great options for less than $200. Make sure to choose a dynamic microphone that will record your voice clearly and minimize background noise.
When recording a remote podcast, wearing headphones or earbuds will reduce feedback and improve sound quality. Headphones also allow you to monitor the quality of your audio and your guests’ audio in real-time, rather than during editing. When selecting headphones, look for options with a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, which should be sufficient for speaking voices. Another tip is to avoid noise-cancelling headphones because you want to experience the rawest version of your audio, so you hear what your audience will hear.
You’ll also need accessories including a pop filter to minimize popping noises, and a stand to keep your microphone stable during recording. A pop filter is an inexpensive solution and will filter out these unwanted sounds, while having a stand will prevent the inconvenience of holding the microphone during every recording session.
Step 4: Choosing Your Podcast Recording and Editing Platform
When it comes to choosing a podcast recording and editing platform, there are several options for different budgets and needs, including Adobe Audition, GarageBand, and Audacity. These are all good choices for those who want a more hands-on approach to recording and editing their podcasts.
If you’re searching for an all-in-one podcasting platform that provides unmatched reliability, exceptional quality, and outstanding support, look no further than SquadCast. With cutting-edge cloud-based technology that incorporates multiple backup files and advanced features like localized recording for remote podcasting, SquadCast gives you the highest possible audio quality and the best podcasting experience.
Step 5: Preparing Your Podcasting Environment
Try to find a room with lots of sound-deadening fabric and low ceilings to limit echoing. If your budget allows, you can also buy relatively inexpensive soundproofing panels and screens. With the right equipment and techniques, there’s nothing to stop you from recording a professional-sounding podcast from the comfort of your own home.
A strong internet connection is also a must for remote podcast recording. Check your upload and download speed to make sure you have a minimum of 5mb/s, and ideally, 10mb/s. This will prevent your recording and conversation quality from suffering.
Step 6: Practicing and Testing Your Equipment
Practicing and testing your equipment before you start recording will help you avoid any technical difficulties down the line. You should:
- Get familiar with your microphone. Make sure that you’re speaking into it from the right distance, which is usually around the size of a fist away. Also, try to keep your head still and at a consistent distance from the mic to maintain a steady pitch and volume.
- Avoid any sudden movements while recording. This includes fidgeting, shuffling papers or tapping on the desk. Even small movements can be picked up by the microphone and can be a distraction for your listeners.
Using a recording platform that integrates Dolby.io audio technology will also make you and your guest sound and feel like you’re in the same room when recording together.
Step 7: Recording Your First Podcast Episode(s)
It’s important to plan and research your first episode to make sure you deliver a high-quality show.
Research each topic – This will help you structure your podcast and ensure your content is informative and engaging. Also plan to define the scope and purpose of your episode, so you can stay focused and avoid confusing your listeners.
How to Script Your Episodes – While you don’t have to read from a script, having a basic outline or structure will help you cover all the key points and make smooth transitions. Using storytelling techniques, such as hooks, anecdotes, and cliff-hangers, will grab your audience’s attention and keep them engaged.
Coming up with interview questions for your podcast – If you plan to conduct interviews, you’ll need to prepare some questions in advance to guide the conversation and to draw out insight and experiences from your guests. Check out the best podcast interview questions for some great ideas.
In person recording or remote recording
You’ll need to decide whether to record your podcast in person or remotely. Depending on your guest’s location, in-person may not always be possible. If you’re recording remotely with your guest, here are some tips:
- Send your guest a microphone or have them use a headset with a built-in microphone to improve audio quality.
- Record their vocals locally to ensure high-quality audio (SquadCast does this automatically – meaning the audio is recorded through their computer and not through yours which makes a huge difference in audio quality).
- Set up audio before the main interview to make sure everything is working properly.
- Let guests know you’ll need to walk them through audio tests.
You can access a remote interview checklist here.
Step 8: Editing and Producing Your Podcast
Editing and producing your podcast is your chance to add creativity and a personal touch to your show. Have fun with it, and don’t be afraid to try new things! To get started:
Editing your Podcast
Make sure you have the right editing software for your needs. There are plenty of options available, from free to paid, and it’s important to find one that works for you. Editing is an essential but often overlooked step in creating a professional-quality podcast. Whether you prefer a highly produced approach or simply want to clean up your audio, it’s essential to edit out background noise, adjust volume levels, remove filler words, and minimize harsh sounds. These seemingly small changes can make a huge difference in the quality of your podcast and the experience of your listeners.
Intro and Outro Music for Your Podcast
When you find the perfect intro and outro music for your podcast, it sets the tone and creates a recognizable brand for your show. There are plenty of websites that offer royalty-free music.
Choosing the Right File Types to Work With
MP3 is the most common file type used in podcasting because of its small size and compatibility with most devices. However, if you want the highest quality audio, WAV is the way to go. Check out WAV Vs MP3 Audio Formats: Which Is Better For Podcasters?
Step 9: Publishing and Distributing Your Podcast
Now it’s time to share your podcast with the world. Here are some key steps to publishing and distributing your podcast effectively:
Creating Podcast Cover Art
Your cover art is the first thing that people will see when browsing through podcast directories, so be sure to make a good first impression. It should be eye-catching and visually appealing while accurately representing your brand and the content of your show. You can read more in our Podcast Cover Art Best Practices guide, which is full of tips and recommendations for creating effective cover art to attract more listeners.
Writing a Podcast Description
Your podcast description is the introduction to your show, and should give listeners a clear idea of what to expect from your content. Using keywords that accurately describe your podcast and targeting your intended audience will increase visibility on search engines.
Writing your show notes
Show notes are a summary of each episode, plus any relevant links or resources that you mention during the show. Be sure to create high-quality, engaging, and informative notes that provide value to your listeners. Your show notes should include a brief overview of the episode, highlights, key takeaways, links to any resources or references mentioned during the show, and a call-to-action to encourage engagement from your listeners.
Choosing a Podcast Hosting Platform
This is where your podcast will live online, so it’s important to choose a reliable and user-friendly platform that fits your needs and budget. Consider factors like storage, bandwidth, analytics, customer support, and ease of use when selecting a hosting platform.
Some popular platforms include Buzzsprout, Libsyn, and Podbean.
Distributing to Podcast Directories
After hosting your podcast on a platform, the next step is to distribute it to podcast directories including Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. These directories make it easy for listeners to find and subscribe to your show, so you should optimize your podcast for these platforms. Follow the submission guidelines carefully, making sure that your podcast meets the requirements to get listed on the directories.
Step 10: Promoting Your Podcast
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
Create Your Podcast Trailer
Keep it short and sweet, and make sure it reflects the tone of your show. Your trailer should give a brief introduction to your show, highlighting what listeners can expect to hear in future episodes.
Create a Podcast Website
You can use your website to post show notes, share news and updates, and even sell merchandise. Make sure it is easy to navigate and visually appealing, with clear calls-to-action that encourage listeners to subscribe and engage with your content.
Invest in Podcast SEO
Focus on using relevant keywords in your titles, descriptions, and show notes.
Consider reaching out to industry influencers and collaborating with them on guest posts, interviews, or other content that can help increase your reach and visibility.
Promote Your Podcast on Social Media
A great way to connect with potential listeners is by sharing sneak peeks of upcoming episodes. Be consistent with your social media posting schedule, and use engaging visuals and catchy captions to grab your audience’s attention.
Make the Most of In-App Opportunities
Many podcast apps offer in-app opportunities to promote your show. Take advantage of these features to get your podcast in front of more people. Encourage listeners to leave reviews and ratings on these apps to increase visibility in search results.
Set Up Promo Swaps or Collabs
Collaborating with other podcasters can be a great way to cross-promote your shows and reach new audiences. Look for other podcasts in your niche and reach out to see if they’d be interested in partnering up. Consider offering your guests or collaborators unique promo codes or special offers to encourage their own listeners to check out your show.
Step 11: Monetizing Your Podcast
Sponsorships and host-read ads are a popular option but can be challenging to secure. It’s best to find sponsors that align with your content and audience size. Affiliate marketing is another option, where you earn a commission by referring listeners to other companies. With the right hosting and monetization platform, your podcast can become a profitable venture!
Checklist – What You Need to Start a Podcast
Don’t leave your success to chance – use this What You Need to Start a Podcast Checklist to ensure that every episode is a hit with your listeners.
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your podcast production to the next level, SquadCast has everything you need. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up today and start creating a podcast that your audience will love!
Arielle Nissenblatt is SquadCast’s Community Manager. She’s obsessed with all things podcast-related and is the founder of EarBuds Podcast Collective, a podcast recommendation engine. In her spare time, Arielle enjoys hosting zoom trivia for friends and strangers all over the world and rollerblading.