How to Start a Podcast in 7 Steps (and Set it Up for Success)
Dec 10, 2019
If you’re wondering how to start a podcast of your own, you’re not alone.
Podcasting in America recently reached a huge milestone. According to a new study conducted by Edison Research, 2019 was the first year ever that the majority of Americans say they have listened to a podcast.
When you consider how quickly podcasting’s popularity has skyrocketed, it’s pretty astounding.
Take, for example, the number of people who listened to a podcast in 2006 verses 2019. In 2006, 11% of Americans said they had listened to a podcast at some point in their lifetime. That’s about 32.8 million people.
Fast forward to 2019, and 51% of Americans say they have listened to a podcast this year. That’s about 144 million people. Over the course of the last 13 years, 111 million Americans started listening to podcasts who had never listened to a podcast before. That’s pretty incredible.
Just in case you’re one of the 49% of Americans who still haven’t listened to a podcast, here’s some basic info about the medium:
A podcast is a digital audio file (like a radio show) that’s made available for download via the internet. They’re often released in a series like a TV show with new episodes every day, week, or month. Given their popularity, there are a ton of different podcasting apps you can use to download and listen to podcasts on your phone, in your car, or through a smart speaker like an Alexa or Google Home.
One reason why this medium has become so popular over the past decade is because learning how to start a podcast is relatively simple. The equipment you need is easily accessible (more on that later), and modern platforms make it easy to upload and distribute your podcast to anyone with an internet connection. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between podcasting now and the early days of YouTube.
Why Start a Podcast?
Before we dive into how to make a podcast, it’s important to think about why you want to start podcasting.
In general, podcasts are great for industry leaders and people with extensive experience and expertise in a specific field to build or grow an audience. But really, anyone can start a podcast about anything they’re passionate about.
The average length of a podcast is 43 minutes, which makes it the perfect format to go in depth about topics you might have extensive knowledge about. Whereas social media videos are designed to be short, concise “bites” of content, podcasts are full meals.
As an expert in your chosen field, starting a podcast will help those who are interested in your specific niche learn information they might not otherwise have access to. This helps build your audience and further establishes you in a certain field.
Podcasts can also help you reach an entirely new audience. Plus, podcasts can help drive traffic back to your website or blog as you have many opportunities over the course of each episode to direct listeners there for additional content or merch.
How to Create a Podcast
A lot goes into making a podcast but commit to your project and tackle these seven steps one by one and you’ll be golden.
- Determine your concept
- Get your equipment
- Record a pilot episode
- Find royalty-free music
- Create your cover art
- Pick a hosting platform
- Upload and submit your podcast to directories
1. Determine Your Concept
As you think about how to start a podcast, one of the most important steps is determining your concept. What do you want to talk about? Will you have a cohost? Who might you interview or have as featured guests? What’s the “hook”?
Remember, podcasts thrive on detailed, often niche, information and topics. Listeners turn to podcasts to get in-depth looks at stuff they can’t get from any other platform. Think about your field of expertise, and consider why your perspective or experience is unique. Don’t be afraid to dive deep. Your podcast’s concept should be fun, bold, and easy to explain (even if the topics you’re covering aren’t).
This is a good place in the how-to-podcast steps to think about what you’re going to call your podcast. The best podcast names are equally clever, descriptive, and searchable. You want your listeners to be drawn in by a catchy title, but you also want them to know what they’re getting into and be able to find you in the first place.
Some of our favorite examples are:
- My Favorite Murder: We know we’re in for a true-crime podcast that centers around murder, likely mixed with a bit a comedy.
- Hostile Worlds: A short and sweet (yet fun) name for the podcast that journeys to the most inhospitable and frighteningly beautiful places in the universe.
- Dark Poutine: Another true-crime-meets-comedy podcast, focused solely on – you guessed it – murders in Canada.
2. Get Your Equipment
While it’s possible to record a podcast with just your phone, we recommend investing in a microphone that plugs into your phone or computer for better audio quality. You can get a high- quality USB microphone that connects directly to your computer and doesn’t require any additional software for under $50. A quick Amazon search will reveal lots of good options for podcasting.
The only other equipment you’ll need as you figure out how to start a podcast is a good pair of headphones and editing software. If you have a Mac, your computer comes pre-installed with Garage Band, which has all the features you need to record audio on your new mic and edit your episodes. If you want to go all out, Adobe offers their professional audio-editing software Audition for a monthly subscription price of $20.99.
3. Record a Pilot Episode
You’ve got your concept and you’ve got your equipment. Now you can get to the fun stuff—recording your pilot episode.
Take some time to get familiar with your equipment before recording. You’ll want to experiment with microphone placement, so you don’t wind up with an episode full of “plosives”—that burst of air that our mouths make with “P” and “B” sounds.
Once you’ve got a basic understanding of your mic and editing software, consider the location you’ll be recording in. Home offices or studios (if you have access to one) are a great place to record your pilot episode since you can control the environment.
While some people are excellent improvisors, consider making an outline (including introductions, talking points, transitions, and more) so you can ensure your podcast is perfectly delivered.
Once your pilot is done, share it with friends and family and ask for honest feedback.
4. Find Royalty-Free Music
Music for podcasts plays a powerful role in the mood, tone, and overall feel of your podcast.
As you think about how to start your own podcast, consider the kind of vibe you want your episodes to have. Is your podcast serious and data-heavy? You can lighten the mood with hopeful and happy interludes, or double-down with a robotic-sounding intro music. Is your podcast going to be funny? Consider picking music to match.
Picking podcast music can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to make sure you pick royalty-free music for your podcast from a reliable source like Soundstripe so you don’t run into any copyright infringement issues.
5. Create Your Cover Art
Your podcast’s cover art is just like an album cover or book cover. Every time someone downloads or streams your podcast on their phone or computer your podcast’s cover art will be there.
When people are searching for podcasts and land on yours, the cover art will be the first thing they see—so make it good! Get in touch with an artist, graphic designer, or illustrator you trust for your podcast’s cover art. Don’t know anyone? Browsing related hashtags on Instagram is a great place to start (we recommend #ArtvsArtist, #PortfolioDay, #MeetTheArtist). Find someone you like and send them a direct message.
6. Pick a Hosting Platform
When learning how to start a podcast, picking a hosting platform can seem like a daunting task. Now that podcasting is firmly established as a viable industry (it generated nearly $500 million in revenue in 2018 and is predicted to produce more than $1 billion by 2021), there are tons of different hosting options available to you.
As a side note, even if you already have a webhost for your website, you’ll want to get a separate host for audio files given the bandwidth and speed demands required for audio file streaming.
Here are a couple good options that can help you get you started:
Some hosts offer deals or discounts to first timers. Some even offer help with how to set up a podcast, so shop around and find one with good reviews at the right price point.
7. Upload and Submit Your Podcast to Directories
When figuring out how to start a podcast of your own, this next part can seem complicated, but we’re here to tell you that it’s not.
Your podcast’s RSS feed is essentially an automatically generated list or stream of each of your podcast episodes. It displays each episode’s title, artwork, description, and file location.
Once you pick a podcasting host and upload your first episode, your host will send you a link to your RSS feed—this is what you’ll submit to iTunes and other podcast directories. Once a directory has your RSS feed, you don’t need to worry about uploading your episodes to each directory. Simply upload the new episode to your host, and it will automatically add the episode to the individual directories.
Here are the main podcast directories you’ll want to submit your RSS feed to:
There are many other podcast directories, but these are the main ones you’ll want to target at the outset to build your initial audience.
Launching and Growing Your Podcast
So, you’ve figured out how to start a podcast…Now what?
Next, you’ve got to launch your podcast and keep building an audience in the weeks, months, and years to come. Here are quick tips for how to launch your podcast and how to increase podcast listeners.
How to Launch Your Podcast
When strategizing how to start your podcast, there are tons of things you can do. You’ll want to have a launch page on your website (if you have one) and consider creating an event and teasing the upcoming launch on social media. Get creative and have fun.
To take it a step further, you can send a press release to any publications within your network, and direct people to your landing page and to encourage them to sign up for your mailing list.
The best way to grow your podcast audience quickly is to get featured in the New and Noteworthy category on iTunes. There are a few ways to do this, but the best way is to create some buzz around your podcast by doing a launch.
Build a Community
The best way to continue building a loyal podcast listener audience is with good reviews. One tip to increase the number of reviews of your podcast is to encourage listeners to leave reviews for each podcast episode. Be honest! It’s okay to tell people that they’re listening to a new podcast and if they like it, it would mean a lot to you if they went and left a review.
You can even incentivize reviews by offering a prize or mention on the podcast to randomly selected reviewers. It’s a fun way to encourage more reviews and promote your podcast at the same time!
Find the Right Royalty-Free Music for Your Podcast with Soundstripe
There’s a lot that goes into figuring out how to start a podcast, but luckily, Soundstripe can help.
Use Soundstripe’s extensive music and sound effects library to make sure your first podcast episode sounds as professional and polished as the best podcasts out there.