How to Start a Podcast in 6 Steps
If you’re considering starting a podcast, now is a good time to get started. There are 57 million people in the US listening to a podcast every month. In addition, 25 percent of Americans between the ages of 12 – 55 listen to three podcasts every week on average. Podcasting is quietly growing, and that’s good news for you as an aspiring podcaster.
Like any other project, podcasting requires upfront planning and preparations before you begin. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to start your own podcast.
Step 1: Choose Your Topic
Choosing the right topic for your podcast can be difficult. As an aspiring podcaster, you may have a general idea of what to talk about on your show but you may be struggling with the specifics to focus on. If you’re in this situation, we suggest that you take a step back and consider the following steps to help you find your focus.
Define Your Purpose
Besides (hopefully) making money, why do you want to podcast? What drives you to invest the energy and resources needed to pursue this venture? For example, a basketball enthusiast might want to start podcasting to talk about their favorite NBA team or players. Put your deepest motivation on paper because every episode should flow from that purpose.
Determine Your Audience
You can generate a wealth of topics from your purpose, but it can become overwhelming and confusing at the same time which is why it’s important to identify your audience. What is the age range of your audience? What are their goals and interests? Asking these questions can help you narrow down your choices as you develop topics that are relevant to your audience.
A good example of a podcast that has successfully determined its audience is the Dave Ramsey Show. The podcast is focused on personal finance but is written in a way that targets the average person who may not be financially savvy. In it, Ramsey shares easy to understand and actionable advice with his listeners rather than weighing it down with technical details or industry jargon.
Find Your Niche
In 2015, there were about 5,000 podcasts added to iTunes every month according to a study published on Medium. In other words, you are very likely to have hundreds if not thousands of competitors in your area. This is why it’s important to find your specialization.
Millennial is a great example of a podcast that has nailed down its niche. Unlike other podcasts that focus on pop culture or comedy, the show is about the life of a millennial in Megan Tan. Podcasting from her closet, Tan recounts her experience from waiting tables after college to landing her first real job. Throughout seasons, listeners also got to meet Tan’s boyfriend as they followed her journey in applying for a sought-after fellowship and eventually getting a radio gig. Tan’s story appeals to a particular audience: millennials.
Step 2: Consider the Costs and Purchase Equipment
The primary expenses of starting a podcast include your equipment, such as a microphone, computer, and headphones as well as an internet connection and web hosting. Depending on your budget, you can choose between these options:
|Audio Editing App|
– Cost-Efficient Option – using the computer you already have and its built-in microphone, you can record and edit a basic podcast for free. You can also register on SoundCloud to get free three-hour podcast hosting. However, you will still require a website and a web hosting service, but you can minimize these costs while you get started.
– Starter Pack – to improve the quality of your podcasts, consider investing in some of the basic equipment used by podcasters who are just starting out. With a budget of $600, you can get quality entry-level gear including a laptop, microphone, headphones, stand and boom arm, and shock mount.
– Business Option – in addition to the equipment mentioned above, a virtual assistant can help you market your content so you can focus on writing and recording your podcasts.
While you can use what you have right now, Kristin Marquet, Creative Development Media Founder and Creative Director, says that you should invest in quality equipment:
“Anyone interested in starting a podcast will need to invest in the proper equipment – a website, a substantial microphone, a Skype account, podcasting hosting, a good pair of earphones, and Canva to design your promo images.”
Proper equipment can range widely in price. Let’s look at some options below.
We recommend allocating as much of your budget as you can to your microphone as it will have the most impact on your podcasts’ sound quality. You need something that effectively cancels background noises while providing broadcast quality that is free from delay or echo.
Unlike video editing, audio editing does not require a lot of processing power. Therefore, you can use any Windows, Mac, or Chromebook computer. If you do need a new computer, then we recommend investing in one with decent memory and processing power for good overall performance. A quad core machine with 2 GHz of processing power, 4GB of memory, and 500GB of hard disk storage should do the job. Laptops with good components can cost less than $300. If you want to invest in top of the line machines, you need to pay around $400 – $1,000.
Headphones come in handy when recording as some people feel more comfortable listening to their voice while doing a show. It’s also absolutely necessary when conducting a remote interview so that you can hear your guest. Considering that headphones do not affect the recording sound quality, an entry-level option should suffice.
You need a stand that will hold the microphone in front of you. The stand should also be sturdy and flexible so you can make adjustments and find the suitable height and angle to capture your voice. Desk clip-in stands are popular among podcasters because they are easy to maneuver plus they save space.
Any desk movement, such as nudges and heavy typing, produce vibrations that can affect sound quality. You can keep your microphone steady with a shock mount that isolates it from vibrations and stand noise.
Audio Editing Software
Speaking of audio editing, you also need software that can eliminate background noise, cut out unwanted sounds, and add background music among other functions. Audio editing software licenses range from as low a $20 for basic applications to as high as $900 for pro-level licenses, but there’s a free application available for newbie podcasters that offer many of the same features as paid options.
Audacity is an open-source audio software for recording and editing. It offers multiple features such as recording live audio, splicing, editing, and converting files into various formats. Best of all, it’s free.
Your website will serve as your primary marketing tool. This is where your audience can have direct access to your podcasts and articles. Plus, it can help you generate more revenues through banner ads and affiliate links. Which website host you choose will depend on your budget and how much traffic you expect it to receive, but there are many economical options available.
Even though you have a website with a hosting service that lets you store files, it’s still recommended that you get a different host for your podcasts. Podcasts can take up hundreds of megabytes in storage depending on length. Eventually, you will encounter storage or bandwidth issues if you choose to host your podcasts on your web host.
Podomatic offers 15 GB of bandwidth per month and 500 MB of storage at no cost. If you have room in your budget, consider investing in Amazon S3. Prices vary by region, but it costs around $0.022 – $0.026 per GB for standard storage.
Step 3: Record and Edit Your Podcast
The specific details of recording and editing your podcasts may vary depending on your chosen tools and software; however, the general process is more or less the same. Once you have all the necessary equipment, you can follow these steps to start recording your podcasts:
- Set and test the input volume of your microphone.
- Open your audio recording and editing software — for example, Audacity. Before you start recording, make sure the software is set to record from your chosen microphone.
- Click the red circular button to start recording. Don’t worry about making mistakes at this stage. You can always edit your podcast after you record it.
- Listen to your recording and use the noise reduction feature of your software to eliminate any background noise.
- Delete sections of your recording where you made mistakes.
- Use the leveling feature of your software to correct areas where the volume may be louder than others.
- Export your audio as a WAV or MP3 file. These formats are supported by virtually all media players while providing good quality audio and a reasonable file size.
Here’s a video from CNET on how to record and edit your podcasts using Audacity:
As you record each podcast, you might ask yourself whether you have enough material for more than one episode. If you get into this position, you might be tempted to release episodes ahead of schedule. Anand Bhatt of Al & Anand Crack Hollywood Podcast chimes in on the issue:
“One of the hardest things to do is to resist the urge of breaking up the podcast into too many episodes and releasing too often. I know we struggle with this and have to use will power. One recording session may yield a dozen episodes and you might want them all out that day. But most people only see your latest episode, and some podcast listening platforms will auto-unsubscribe your audience if they miss too many episodes. So take breaks between episodes. Once a week is usually good depending on your audience. It is also OK to take a month or two off despite what everyone else will tell you. Instead of looking at your podcast like a morning radio show, think of it like a TV show (even if it is just an audio podcast). You can do it in seasons and be just fine.”
Discover more steps for starting a podcast at fitsmallbusiness.com.