How to Start a Podcast

10 Steps to Start a Successful Podcast 

How to Start a Podcast

Posted September 10, 2018 | Updated September 8, 2020 | Jacob Bozarth 

Are you passionate and knowledgeable about a certain topic or field of interest? Do you have strong networking connections with others who are? Starting a podcast can be a great way to gain a following and share your expertise in a certain field. 

Not only does a podcast help you establish yourself as an expert, it can also be a great marketing tool to help grow your business or organization. But even if you have great things to say, you might not know how to start a podcast or understand everything that is involved with actually launching your podcast to make it available for others to hear on iTunes.That’s why we’ve created this simple overview of what you need to start a podcast.

It’s one thing to have a great idea, but another thing altogether to make it happen. We recognize that the thought of how to start a podcast can seem somewhat daunting. What do you need? How do you get people to listen? Do you have to record somewhere special? Don’t worry, we are here to help answer these questions and get your podcast off to a great start. 
Starting a podcast is easier than people make it seem and creates a unique avenue to grow and engage an audience. It is an affordable and marketable addition to provide listeners an inside scoop on you and/or your business/organization. Podcasting is a quickly growing platform that will give you a one-up on your competitors. It’s a way to educate, entertain, and engage, with no limits on the amount of content you can share. 
 
Whether you own a business, are a story-teller, have a passion for a certain topic, or are somewhere in between, podcasting may be your next best move!

Topic 

When you think about starting your podcast, choose a topic that excites and motivates you. Maybe it’s cooking, or traveling, or sports, or business… Whatever it may be, the more passionate you are about it, the more likely your audience will get on board, as well. Consider what podcast categories you want your show to fit into when you are planning the content, as this will have an impact on how your show get discovered in directories like Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. 

Target Audience 

Speaking of your audience, you’ll want to identify a target audience. It may be true that anyone can theoretically pull up a podcast and start listening. However, to be sure of it, you want to pinpoint a select group of people who will be interested in what you have to say. Perhaps it is a certain age group, gender, or interest group. You’ll want to know so you can provide content aimed specifically at them.

Show Format 

The way you format your podcast will largely depend on the content you are producing. A popular format is to host guests in an interview-style. The Joe Rogan Experience is a popular example of this. You can also choose to discuss a certain topic or share stories by yourself, or with a co-host. The Fantasy Footballers are one example of a conversational podcast. It’s important to gauge your content, as well what will keep the attention of your audience.

Now, there are various formats you can choose for your podcast, which will vary based on your topic and content — and can change episode to episode, if desired. There’s the interview style, where perhaps you are not the knowledgeable one on the topic, but you host guests who are. If you’re going solo on this, there’s a solo-cast option, or monologue. You could also choose to have a co-host or switch things up by doing storytelling / podcast theatre.

Now that you have these important things established, consider what you want to focus on for the first season. Maybe it’s discussing one major theme from various angles, or diving into a specific story. Whatever it is, realize this may likely change over time. 

Once you have a loose idea / outline of the season itself, spend some time thinking through the episodes you’d like to include. These don’t have to be drafted word-for-word, but a basic outline is definitely helpful so you know where you are headed. Maybe it’s a bulleted list, or several interview questions — basically, just think it through before you hit the record button.

2. Name Your Podcast 

You want to choose a name for your podcast that describes, to some degree, the nature of the topics you are focusing on. In other words, pick something that somehow relates to your content, so as to avoid misleading people.

Also keep in mind that people appreciate short and simple names. Keep the name concise, on-topic, and, if possible, memorable or catchy. You also want to choose something that is just as easily said as it is read. If it is tricky to say, or overly long, recommending it to a friend or relaying it to Alexa may prove challenging; so you might want to go with another title. 

Before you stick with a name you love, be sure to search for that title on your web browser and podcast apps to ensure it hasn’t already been claimed. And it never hurts to ask those around you what they think about the name you’ve come up with. Sometimes they’ll have a perspective you hadn’t considered, or an idea to make it even better.

Podcast recording equipment can be a little daunting, especially if you are just beginning and have little to no experience recording a podcast. A lot of necessary thought goes into knowing how to start a podcast, choosing the right equipment, the necessary post production work, and not to mention what you have to do to gain an audience who will actually listen to what you have to say!

Podcast Description 

A written description detailing your show helps the listener choose whether or not they want to tune in. It also helps boost your SEO efforts. This is your shot to convert the reader into a listener. 

Use words or phrases that will grab the attention of your target audience. Ask an intriguing question, make a shocking statement, or list fascinating topics your podcast covers.

The information you give your audience up-front is meant to bring clarity, not confusion. Give them details on speaker bios, a summary of content, helpful links that pertain to the topic, etc. 

Cover Art

We are drawn to visually-appealing things, simple as that! If something looks good, we are more likely to explore it in more depth. With that, it is crucial for your podcast cover art to be attractive. 

Be sure to include the name of your show and try to make it stand out by using contrasting colors and legible but sizable font. However, avoid overcrowding it and filling space with content that is not relevant.

Podcast Intro Music 

Don’t undervalue the impact of having a killer introduction. The intro is what will form your listener’s first impression of your entire show, so make it count! Spend the extra time to put thought into how you explain the episode/show/speakers, etc. The episode content is important, of course, but if you shrink back in the intro, your listener may lose interest before they even get to that content.

Music helps set the tone and makes us feel a certain way. Choosing intro music could either make or break the mood of your show. High-ranking podcasts often have theme songs that become familiar and almost nostalgic for its listeners. For example, The Dave Ramsey Show or Serial each have instrumental melodies that depict the mood of their podcast and have become iconic sounds to their fans.

The intro is your chance to hook a listener and make them want to keep listening, so choose music that will convey what your show represents. This is also a chance to give a blurb about the purpose of your podcast and what this episode will entail.

Due to the current situations we find ourselves in during 2020, remote recording has seen an up-tick, especially when it comes to hosting interviews. Is it actually possible to still maintain high-quality audio, even while being in separate places? It totally is, by way of computer platforms like Zoom and Squadcast, or even phone calls. We detail the best tips for remote recording in this article, so be sure to check that out.

Now aside from remote recording, what sort of things should you keep in mind when recording your podcast audio?

1. Environment

Try choosing a room that can naturally absorb sound. You want to avoid echoes in the background, as that greatly decreases the quality of your audio. Walk-in closets or well-furnished rooms are great options, since they have things in them that will help block out any echo. If that is not feasible, consider buying studio foam, or even egg crate foam, to create an environment free of excess noise. Also try to avoid any location with many natural sounds like HVACs, computers, people, fans, lights, etc.

2. Microphone Techniques  

Believe it or not, the quality of your podcast audio can be greatly affected by how your microphone is positioned. We suggest staying around 4-6 inches away from the mic; this allows a clean, consistent sound that isn’t too overbearing or too muffled. To help maintain this distance, a mic stand or broadcast arm can come in quite handy. A pop filter (a gadget that is placed between you and the mic) is also helpful in cutting out any popping sounds that your mic picks up.

3. Recording Levels 

No matter what sort of recording equipment you’re using, you’ll need to adjust your gain setting so that your mic peak levels land around -10 to -12 dB. There should be a visual meter to gauge these levels, but if not (and really, even if there is), we suggest using high quality, closed back headphones to survey the sound of your recording.

You want an articulate, high-quality podcast, right? Although there are other factors, perhaps one of the biggest is the process of editing. This is when you’ll carefully merge separate audio files, cut out sections of an interview that proved unhelpful, add sponsor breaks, overlay background music, and the like. 

We highly suggest you use good quality, over the ear headphones as you edit. They will help you to hear (in detail) things you wouldn’t hear otherwise, were you listening over a speaker or normal earbuds. Doing so also allows you to hear tonal differences, lip smacks, and any other unwanted sounds.

There are a number of audio editing softwares you can use, depending on your needs and your price point. Garageband (Mac) and Audacity (Windows) are good places to start for free. Our team of professional audio engineers also offers top-notch podcast editing services that leaves you with a finalized product you can confidently show off to your listeners.

How to Podcast with Garageband (Mac) 

How to Podcast with Audacity (Windows) 

7. Set Up Podcast Hosting

Resonate Podcast Hosting

There are a lot of options when looking for podcast hosting platforms. And there are an ever-growing number of hosting sites to choose from. There are a variety of options each host offers that can either simplify…or complicate… the decision making process. There are variations based on the listener target demographic, features, pricing, ease of use, compatibility with landing pages or websites, networking options, monetization and variations on how to track your analytics. These are all important elements that people find real value in. 

So as you set out on the journey, it’s important to get your bearings to know what you’re really in search of. What’s important to others might not be important to you. The challenge, especially for first-time podcasters, is knowing what is most important and understanding what’s most valuable. 

Overview: Resonate Hosting provides cutting-edge podcast hosting services, including one-click publishing and an audience insights dashboard. Additionally, it offers a podcast microsite with options to subscribe and browse, plus a podcast embed player which allows for easy listening on your website. Each of these features are catered to you as the host best serving your listener. You have content they want to hear and Resonate Hosting can help you get it to them — quickly, efficiently, and effectively! 

Price: Free 14-day trial! Then starting at $25 monthly after that (based on desired features)

Learn more here

Over the past 6 years we have had the opportunity to work with all of the major podcast hosting platforms on the market. We have learned the pros and cons of all these platforms, and walked our clients through countless setups. That same experience was what we used to build Resonate Hosting. But we recognize that our hosting solution won’t be the perfect fit for every single podcaster, so we still want to recomment several key alternatives to Resonate hosting so that you can get your podcast up on Apple Podcast and the other key directories. 

If you want to read the specific reasons we recommend these 5 platforms,  check out our post on the top 5 podcast hosting platforms. 

You can have a fantastic audio clip that’s been recorded and edited, but unless the listeners can access it, all that work has been wasted. As we just described, you’ll need a platform to host your audio content. This platform will create an RSS feed which is then distributed to directories such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, etc. Most directories take 2-3 business days to approve your podcast, and Apple Podcasts often takes 4-5 business days, so be mindful of that. But once you go through this one-time directory setup, your audience can go directly to those podcast apps to find and listen to your podcast. 

For further specifications on various directories:

Is there still some fogginess about this? Not a problem. Our team deals with this regularly. Let us know what we can answer for you to make sure your listeners can actually hear what you’re promoting when you say it’ll be available.

 

Once you distribute your podcast and the directory approves it, you’re officially “on air” — congratulations! We do recommend that you follow through with the next couple of steps, though, to ensure people have as much access to your hard work as possible.

 

While your hosting platform will be the home for your podcast audio, we also recommend that you have a website for your podcast. Having a website will allow you to drive web traffic to your show and provide a place to post show notes, transcription, and other resources. If you have a current website, you can create a landing page on that site or you can have our team build your website from scratch! We offer fast and simple websites for your podcast at a very affordable price. We will provide you with a blazing fast website, nightly backups, and beautiful themes that are SEO optimized.  

Once you get your feet wet and start your podcast, a website is also a great place to put information about paid subscriptions, premium content, or advertisers. Because get this: as much fun as it is to create podcasts, you can actually make money using this medium. By offering valuable and desirable content, you can charge listeners a certain fee in order to access your podcast. Another popular way to earn money through podcasting is offering advertising segments during your show that would appeal to your target audience. If you have a website, this allows an easy way to share more about this paid content, as well as your advertiser’s product. 

 

Now that you know how to start a podcast you need listeners. 

1. Use Keywords in Your Title 

This will help those searching for podcasts come across yours. As much as you want to be creative with your title, sometimes it’s best to keep it to the point. Think about what you would type into a google search if you were looking for a new podcast to listen to. An example of using keywords would be “The Cleaning of John Doe | True Crime.” You can also add keywords to the artist area. i.e. Vanessa Pearson: True Crime Podcaster.

2. Don’t Skimp On The Written Description of Your Show and Episodes

This will help those searching for podcasts come across yours. As much as you want to be creative with your title, sometimes it’s best to keep it to the point. Think about what you would type into a google search if you were looking for a new podcast to listen to. An example of using keywords would be “The Cleaning of John Doe | True Crime.” You can also add keywords to the artist area. i.e. Vanessa Pearson: True Crime Podcaster.

 You don’t have to give away any spoilers when writing your description, but including some “juicy” details will draw in listeners. You don’t want people to pass up on listening to your podcast because you left out important information. Remember content is key! 

3. Submit to Every Single Podcast Directory Possible

The more places your show can be heard, the better. Google some well known podcasts and see which podcatchers they appear on, and be sure to submit to all the same places. You can also search “list of podcatchers” and you’ll find a number of them. Some examples are: 

4. Press Releases 

Look for opportunities on DiscoverPods.com or reddit.com. When you see blogs or articles listing “Best Crime Podcasts”, “Best Comedy Podcasts”, etc. be sure to comment and commend the author for making the list and mention yours to them. You should also write to the author asking how you can get added to the list or possibly mentioned the next time around. Even if they are unable to help you out this time, networking is never a bad thing so keep in touch with them if possible. If you do get added to one of their lists, be sure to promote them! They’re always looking for more followers, just like you. 

5. Be Active on Apple Podcasts 

Find podcasts similar to yours and post reviews. Your username should be the name of your podcast. This will help you gain a little more exposure to those reading reviews. Something to remember is to always be kind. If you have constructive criticism it’s best to send it in a private message.An extra iTunes tip: From launch date, you have 8 weeks of eligibility to be on the top 100 New and Noteworthy list.  Though no one really knows the exact secret to getting on this list, there are a few things that can help your chances. You can release a minimum of 3 episodes on launch day and spend your first week reaching out to your audience and ask them to download all three episodes and leave a rating and review. 

6. Interact on Social Media 

TwitterFacebookInstagram, etc. are all incredible tools for picking up listeners. It’s super easy to stay in touch with your listeners through social media. Be grateful for all of the followers/listeners that you have. Don’t stress if your numbers aren’t where you want them to be. Enjoy the journey and watching your podcast grow. 

7. Don’t View Other Podcasters as Competitors

It’s easy to fall into this but it’s important to separate yourself from it. View other podcasters as your equals or friends, not your competition. You all have something in common and similar goals. It’s important to lift each other up. If you show love, people will show you love back. As much as you want to promote your show, try recommending another podcast you enjoy or one similar to your own. You’d be surprised by how many people respect a selfless action from another podcaster. A great way to be helpful and supportive is by joining podcast groups on Facebook. It’s a good way to make friends, ask for advice and give advice as well. Some groups to join are “Podcasts We Listen to”, “Underdog Podcasts Community”, “Podcasters Support Group”, “Podcast Growth Mastermind”, etc. 

8. Make Things Fast and Easy For Others

Once you’ve joined some Facebook groups, ask the admin if you can introduce yourself and your show. If they allow it, put a link to your website or hosting site, as well as a link to Apple Podcasts. It’s important to make things as hassle free for your listeners as possible. Don’t make them search for you–give them a clickable link. 

9. Use Hashtags 

There are so many hashtags that you can use on social media that will get your page viewers, which may lead to your podcast getting listeners. Many podcasters use #FF which stands for “Follow Friday.” List other podcasts and use the hashtag. It will get retweeted and you’ll find yourself on tons of lists linked to the hashtag. Other common hashtags are #PodernFamily and #PodcastShuffle.

10. Audio Swaps and Guest Spots 

This is one of the best things you can do to grow your show. Reach out to fellow podcasters to see if they are willing to do an audio swap or be a guest on your show. An audio swap is when a 30-60 clip of your show is featured on theirs and vice versa. If someone plays your clip or you do a guest spot on their show, advertise that episode for them (and for you).

And last but certainly not least, don’t forget the people who help you: Always show love to fellow podcasters, listeners, editors/producers, music creators, etc. Give credit where credit is due. While this list is by no means exhaustive, we hope you are able to find a few takeaways that will help you focus your time and attention surrounding successfully marketing your podcast. Vanessa’s success may not be your success but we strongly believe that by implementing some of these steps you too will be able to find some success in marketing your podcast.

Another key way to add marketing value to your podcast is by providing transcriptions and show notes.  

11. Show Notes 

Incorporating show notes into the life of your podcast is a way that helps to engage your listener with your content and differentiate yourself from others. They establish what an episode is about, who your guests are, where they can find additional info on external websites and social media accounts, how they can leave comments, etc. Show notes are also a way that helps confirm your credibility and demonstrate your care for the listener. Additionally, if you are sure to include keywords, it can do wonders for your SEO endeavors, so that a larger number of people can find your podcast.

12. Transcriptions

It is indeed what it sounds like: a written, word-for-word depiction of your podcast episode. By providing a transcription, you automatically stand out from the crowd because now, regardless of their timing or situations, your audience can engage with your content — whether with their ears or their eyes. Reading your own spoken words can also help you to polish your speaking skills for later episodes. Already having your podcast in written format allows you to quickly grab highlight quotes for your website, social media, email blasts, etc. One of the most valuable things transcription can do is boost your SEO efforts, so that more people can find your podcast.  

Conclusion

As we mentioned, knowing how to start a podcast can be a daunting and overwhelming task. Thankfully there are many great resources out there for those just getting started. We hope that this guide gets you well on your way understanding the steps to starting a successful podcast. If you are looking for support starting your podcast you can schedule a call with our team, chat with us on this page, or email us at hello@resonaterecordings.com.

JB Headshot square

Jacob Bozarth

As President & Co-Founder of Resonate Recordings, Jacob leads the team & oversees all sales & marketing initiatives. Jacob can often be found recording, producing, & mixing many well-known podcasts when he is not spending time with his family in Louisville, KY.

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