Have you ever wanted to start a podcast? If so, then this post is for you. We'll cover everything from how to find your podcast topic, and get your first guest, to microphone settings and recording equipment. So if you want to learn about how to start a podcast in 2022, keep reading!
This complete guide to starting a podcast is organized into sections, largely based on timelines. If you just followed this guide, you'll be able to start and launch your podcast. To make it easy, I created the PODIENCE: The Podcast Audience Building System, a free 2-day podcasting course.
Let's now look at an overview of what you can expect to find in this article.
How To Start A Podcast From Scratch - Step-by-Step Overview
What You Need Before You Learn How to Start a Podcast
Starting a podcast is one of the best things I did to my career and frankly, my life. A podcast has the potential to open doors to opportunities.
Of course, you need to make sure that you have all the right elements in your show. These are elements that help you build authority and relationships, and perhaps grow your business or brand, or even make money. This post will help you do all that.
But there are two important topics I want to share with you before we got into the rest of this post.
Clarity and belief
No matter how much you spend time learning how to start a podcast, or how much you spend on the best podcasting courses, you need two things in place - clarity and belief.
- Clarity: You need to know why you're starting a podcast. Is this for hobby or business or are you starting a podcast to build your personal brand?
- Belief: You need to believe in what you do. Especially when starting a podcast. To tell you the truth, starting a podcast is a lot of work. If you don't believe it can help you with your 'why', you should think twice.
So I'm urging you to think through the above two points before you continue reading this post. No matter how easy we make your podcasting journey, you got to have the clarity, belief, and be prepared to put in the work.
Video Podcast vs Audio Podcast
There's a rise in video podcasts today, thanks to tools like Zoom, Riverside.fm, and SquadCast. These tools are great. They give you great power - to capture HD video and audio. But you need to decide if you want to do a video podcast or an audio-only podcast.
You could do both simultaneously. But video editing will need extra time unless you're ready to publish your video podcasts unedited on YouTube (which is perfectly fine).
Hat-tip: consider adding a video podcast if you have a good following on platforms like Instagram or YouTube. Else, just an audio podcast is good. At the point of writing this post, Spotify is thinking of introducing video podcasts on their platform - so that's something to look out for!
Five Stage Process To Create Podcast and Launch From Scratch
To launch any good podcast takes a little time. But no matter what podcast you decide to create, you will need to go through the following five stages:
- Podcast Planning
- Podcast Topics and Content Planning
- Invite Guests for Podcast Interviews and Record Podcast
- Podcast Editing and Production
- Publish and Promote Your Podcast
In the rest of this post, I will walk you through each of these stages step-by-step.
1. Podcast Planning
1.1 Define Your Target Audience
In simple words, who are you creating this podcast for? The listeners you want to connect with using your podcast are what we call your target audience. These are the people who will be listening to your episodes, and following or subscribing to your podcast.
Defining your target audience is the very exercise that will make your podcasting journey easy, enjoyable, and sustainable. But picking a target audience can sometimes be challenging. Here are a few tips to help you pick and define your target audience:
- They should be real. You should be able to find and speak to at least one person that belongs to your target audience.
- Your target audience must be existing podcast listeners. It's easier to target existing listeners than new podcast listeners. It's hard to create a habit in people, and you don't want to be spending your energy on doing that.
- You should be interested and feel comfortable talking to these people. If they don't naturally interest you, perhaps you are not targeting them for the right reasons.
- They should have a shared set of specific needs.
You need to know your target audience's biggest needs, desires, fears, and concerns. If you know someone that you think is your ideal listener, talk to them. Here are some examples of some target audiences:
- Infopreneurs creating online courses using Teachable.
- Vegan mom-bakers who are mothers of autistic kids.
- Stay-at-home Dadpreneurs Creating Info Products
Notice how specific these target audiences are. They all have a specific set of needs, challenges, and fears. If you're more interested, read this post on defining your target audience.
1.2 Pick Your Podcast Topic
If you look at Apple Podcasts, about 80% of podcasts are pod-faded. In other words, these podcasts have not had a new episode released in the last three months. One of the biggest reasons podcasters stop putting out newer episodes is because of falling out of love with the show's topic.
Podcast topics play a very important role in determining the success of a show. And often, it's not just the topic, but also the host's affinity to the topic, and their ability to create value for their listeners, among many other reasons.
Since you have decided to start a podcast, you need to pick a podcast topic. Here are some indicators to see if the topic you picked is a good topic for a podcast:
- You are comfortable talking about it.
- You are an authority on that topic.
- The topic is closely connected to another topic that you are an authority in.
- You are curious about that topic but know enough to ask the right questions.
- You have past experience with the topic, but you’re now reestablishing a connection with it.
- You know that your audience is interested in the topic.
If you want to unlock attractive podcast ideas, read this post. In that, I help you with a three-step process so you can unlock your podcast idea. Here is another article where I show you how to find a unique podcast idea along with 10 podcast ideas from Top 50 podcasts.
1.3 Create Your Podcast Outline
Creating an outline of your podcast is like defining your podcast concept. The exercise of outlining your podcast will help you think through the most critical elements of the podcast. It will help you uncover possible roadblocks, thereby helping you save so much time.
Also, a lot of the outcomes from this exercise will go directly into your podcast. But how to make a podcast outline? Let's look at this step-by-step.
1.3.1 Pick Your Podcast Name
Your podcast name is perhaps the simplest way to express what your podcast is all about. At this stage of planning your podcast, your podcast name also helps you crystallize your thoughts better. In fact, the name you pick for your podcast at this stage may not be the final name of your show.
Here are some tips to pick your podcast name:
- Use keywords that your target audience understands.
- Keep it simple. Avoid using fancy words or composite words.
- If you already have a brand, consider using the brand's name.
1.3.2 Craft a Compelling Podcast Description
The exercise of outlining your podcast is all about getting clarity. My favorite exercise to gain clarity is to write down everything inside my head. But that will cause chaos if you don't do it step-by-step. Let's look at these steps in more detail.
126.96.36.199 Write down "what your podcast is all about".
If someone asked you what your show is all about, what would you say? Let's look at some examples.
- "a show about how to create passive income even if you just started to think about it" (Smart Passive Income Podcast)
- "show about how to launch info products online even if you don't have a plan" (The Launch Plan Podcast)
- "a show about how to really enjoy the work that you do and enjoy your vacation time" (Three-Month Vacation Podcast).
The goal here is to capture the essence of the show. Just the essence, and nothing else.
188.8.131.52 How do you describe your podcast to a stranger.
Let's say you told someone what your podcast is all about, and they said "tell me more!"
What will you say? And that's what you want to do in this step. But instead of trying to write a nice-looking short paragraph, write down everything that's inside your head.
When you have everything on a piece of paper (or your computer notepad), it's time to shorten it. Write a second version that's half the length of the original description. Here's what your podcast description should contain:
Why should your target audience listen to the show?
1.3.3 Pick Your Podcast Format and Episode Length
Now that you have your podcast name and podcast description, it's time you picked a format for your podcast. In other words, what will listeners listen to in each podcast episode? And what will be the approximate length of each episode?
Will your podcast episodes be interview-based? Or are they solo episodes? Your episode length can play a huge role in your listeners' decision matrix. You can read more about podcast formats here.
This brings us to the end of this step of outlining your podcast. If you'd like to read more, here's is a link to a post I wrote about how to outline your podcast.
1.4 Create Your Podcast Cover Art or Podcast Artwork
The Podcast Artwork or Podcast Logo, as some people call it, helps people recognize your podcast. It’s the image that appears in podcast directories when people search for podcasts to listen. Listeners also see this artwork when they are listening to one of your episodes.
What should I include in my podcast artwork? How big should it be? How can I create my podcast artwork? We’ll cover all of that in this section.
What to Include in a Podcast Artwork?
Your podcast’s artwork is useful to people in a few different ways:
- For someone that’s heard of your podcast, the artwork helps them identify your show.
- And for people that know you or your brand, the artwork helps establish the connection between your brand and your show.
- For someone that’s casually browsing the podcast directory, the artwork helps them choose your show over many other shows in the category.
Given this knowledge, it’s important to consider having the following elements in your podcast artwork:
- Name of your podcast
- Host’s name
- Elements of your brand – logo, colors, etc
- Visually communicate what the podcast is about
These are recommended, but not always necessary. Try and avoid having redundant elements – viz., having the host’s name and photo, brand logo, and podcast name if both the same, brand name and byline if the brand name is good enough.
Podcast Artwork Specifications
The most used version of a podcast artwork is a square image (preferably JPEG) that doesn’t exceed 3000×3000 pixels in the RGB color space.
How to Create Podcast Artwork?
You can create your podcast artwork or cover art in a few different ways. Below are some ways to do that:
- Use Canva to create your podcast cover art.
- You can create using a tool like Pixelmator or Adobe Photoshop.
- Hire a designer from Fiverr or a logo designer from 99Designs to create your podcast cover art.
1.5 Create Your Podcast Music or Podcast Jingle
Music is increasingly finding its place in podcasts for different reasons. Podcasts like Serial accentuated the use of music in podcasts. What are the uses of music in podcasts? Should I use music in my podcast? Can I use any free music in my podcast?
We’ll answer all these questions really quickly in this section. Let’s start with the uses. Here are some reasons why music finds its way into podcasts:
- Enhance podcast intros and outros
- Part of the main content (music review show, etc.)
- Breaks between sections
- Background music
Why Add Music To a Podcast?
There are plenty of reasons why you might want to add podcast music. Here are a few things you need to be aware of if you plan on adding music to your podcast.
- License: Finding royalty free music is extremely important to avoid getting into unnecessary legal trouble. Also, check if the music is licensed under creative commons. Depending on the kind of license, you might be required to attribute credits to the creator.
- Beats: Make sure you pick music that has the right beat frequency to enhance the tempo of your podcast and the segments inside your show.
- Loudness: While music is nice to hear, it can sound out of place if they are too loud or feeble.
- Right Moments: Introduce music in the right moments, else that spoils the experience of the listener.
Where to Find Royalty Free Music?
There are quite a few ways you can get royalty-free music, but my favorite is Audio Jungle. The reason I like them is that they have a very good collection, use filters to find the music you want, and the music is affordable.
“But I want someone to produce music for me!”
Well, if that’s you, I highly recommend Music Radio Creative because they don’t just compose custom music for you, but also offer royalty-free music from a library. They also offer high-quality voice-over services at really attractive prices.
Please note that the above link is an affiliate link, but I recommend them only because I continue to use their service.
1.6 Shortlist and Buy Your Podcast Equipment
Most new podcasters have one question in their head: “What podcast equipment do I need to get started?”
The answer to this question totally depends on your need and how much you want to invest. You can find an equipment setup from a laptop and a microphone, to a full-blown studio setup. Let’s take a quick look at each one of them really quickly.
You can get the full equipment guide for podcasting when you download Ultimate Podcast Launch Checklist.
This is one of the most convenient setups for podcasting. And it consists of just a laptop and an Audio Technica ATR 2100 microphone. There’s a new version of this mic, ATR 2100x comes fitted with a USB-C. You can use this with any laptop and a headphone, and you’re off to the races.
The other alternative to this setup is to use the Logitech ClearChat H390 headset + noise-canceling mic. The Logitech ClearChat H390 is one really good piece of a microphone with headphones and I’ve used it quite a bit during travel. The audio is clear and the headphone has nice padding, which means you can comfortably wear them during long conversations.
If you don’t have a laptop, I recommend using a zoom recorder like Zoom H5 (which is what we use) to record your podcasts while on the move.
Home Office Setup
The highlight of the home office setup is to invest a little into better sound quality and ergonomics. The use of an audio interface to use the XLR output of your microphone is a good addition.
Cloudlifter is one of the best audio interfaces in the market. It helps boost the gain levels and thus helps you record great audio from your microphones. A second great addition to your setup is a good mic stand – I recommend a boom arm mic stand.
Pro Podcasting Setup
This is a very good option if you have a studio setup, and maybe even interview guests on location. A mixer can be a very good addition to your setup – and I recommend the Mackie ProFX8 V2.
I like the Mackie ProFX8 V2 for its build quality and more importantly their pre-amplifiers or preamps. The preamps in this mixer offer a good gain, which is very much needed for dynamic microphones like Heil PR 40.
No matter which setup you choose to pick, definitely add a microphone pop filter to your kit.
1.7 Download Your Podcast Software
Podcast Recording Software
The recording software is one that you use to record your podcast. Typically such software allows you to record sound from your microphone and gives an audio file as the output. But if you are doing podcast interviews, podcast recording software will also allow you and your guest(s) to connect, in addition to recording your conversation.
There have been many vendors in the market that make really good podcast recording software today. Here are a few options you can pick from below:
- Ecamm Call Recorder: For recording Skype Calls on Apple Mac. (Audio & Video)
- Zoom Meetings (Audio & Video)
- Zencastr (Audio & Video)
- SquadCast (Audio & Video)
- Riverside.fm (Audio & Video)
While all these five support audio and video, Zoom Meetings additionally also allows you to live-stream your interviews on Facebook and YouTube. They also allow for recording audio in separate tracks. This feature is very helpful when you get to editing your podcast as you can independently adjust the volume.
Podcast Audio Editing Software
This is the software you need to record and edit your podcast. You might not *always* use this for recording, but you will need this for editing.
- Apple GarageBand (Free; Apple)
- Audacity (Free; Apple/Windows)
- Adobe Audition (Paid)
- Hindenburg Journalist (Paid)
- Descript (Paid)
- Type Studio (Paid)
All these software offer an interface for editing your podcast including adding sound effects, podcast music, add new sound tracks, and more. You can also use them to record your podcasts. But I recommend you use a dedicated recorder like the Zoom H5 or dedicated recording software for recording.
Video Editing Software
Video podcasts are gaining popularity. If you plan on recording, editing, and publishing your podcast video, here are some options I recommend:
- Descript (Paid)
- Screenflow (only for Mac users)
- Camtasia Studio (Windows)
Descript is a budget video editing software that also integrates with your podcast hosting platform, and can become your all-in-one podcast editing solution.
1.8 Signup for a Podcast Hosting Platform
Podcast hosting platforms, audio quality, media host, podcast host
Hosting platforms are cloud-based infrastructure platforms that offer space to store your episode MP3 files. They also offer a unique URL to your podcast episodes in the form of an RSS Feed.
“But there are so many podcast hosting platforms. Which are the ones you recommend?”
Yes, the number of podcast hosting platforms has continued to grow significantly. But that said, I have my personal favorites. These are the ones that I recommend because they make your life easy in addition to being a good podcast hosting platform.
My personal favorite is Buzzsprout. It's pretty good and well invested in the podcasting space. As a media host, they offer to host your podcast episode with good audio quality. If you are using software like Descript, Buzzsprout offer out-of-the-box integration too. You can directly export your podcast episodes from Descript to Buzzsprout with the click of a button.
And that brings us to the end of Podcast Planning. You've made tremendous progress so far. Let's now move on to the next stage.
2. Podcast Topic Breakdown and Content Planning
You now have a podcast that's waiting to be produced. It's at this stage that many new podcasters made a huge rookie mistake - they skip content planning. Doing that can lead to results you never want in the first place.
Breaking down your podcast topic and content planning is the very first step to creating any content. Let's take a look at both of them in a bit more detail.
Podcast Topic Breakdown
You had earlier picked your podcast topic in the first stage. It's now time you broke that down to smaller sub-topics. Doing this exercise will let you expand your view about the topic itself. You will start to uncover interesting sub-topics that you might not have considered before.
How to Perform a Podcast Topic Breakdown?
When you try to break down your podcast topic, it's important you consider looking at multiple places. Below are some spaces you can look for help when performing a podcast topic breakdown:
- Facebook Groups: Oftentimes, Facebook Groups have "topics" as one of the tabs. Also, look for questions and hashtags to find "related topics."
- Wikipedia: It's built on the foundations of topics and sub-topics and related topics.
- Articles on Google Search: Oftentimes, articles ranking on the first page of Google Search for a given topic will have a good list of sub-topics too.
Podcast Content Planning
Once you have done a topic breakdown, it's time you planned your content. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to plan your content:
- Identify top content for each sub-topic
- Shortlist ones that are of interest to you
- Mark content that will require other help (like co-hosts, guests, experts, etc)
- Write down a title and short blurb for each piece of content
- Break down the content into a few bullets
Now you have a list of content pieces that are waiting to be created. All you need to do is prioritize them based on the availability of guests/co-hosts/experts and create your podcast editorial schedule. Once you're done, please move on to the next step in this guide.
3. Invite Guests for Podcast Interviews and Record Podcast
You have a clear content plan and an editorial too. It's now time for you to record your podcast. If you have guests for your podcast, you need to invite them first. But scheduling an interview can soon turn into a nightmare if you don't make it easy for your guest to book a time. This matters even more if you live in a different timezone than your guests (like me).
I recommend using a tool like Acuity Scheduling for this purpose. It helps make podcast interview scheduling very easy:
- Guests can make bookings without needing a timezone converter. Acuity Scheduling gives them a view of your calendar in their local timezone.
- You can ask the guest to fill out a few questions (incl. a short bio or topics) before making a podcast interview booking.
- Sends automated reminder emails to your guests (and to you) as the interview date gets closer.
Record Podcast Episodes
You have invited your podcast guests. Now it's time to record your episodes. You have picked a podcast recording software too. Now it's time for you to write down the instructions for a guest to attend your interview. Once you have it, you can either include it in an automated email from your guest scheduling software.
Here are podcast recording tips that will help you to record high-quality podcast interviews:
- Find a quiet place to do your podcast interview
- Prepare for the interview beforehand by taking some notes and writing down some questions
- Take a few minutes to make your guest is comfortable
- Do a quick mic-check for your guest and yourself before you hit the record button
- Record your interviews in separate tracks
- Finish the interview with a few minutes to spare, so you can thank your guest and finish strong
When it comes to recording your podcast episodes, here's a productivity tip - batch them. In simple words, try to have all recordings done on a particular day or a week or a month.
4. Podcast Editing to Complete Podcast Production
Podcast production is the process that begins with your podcast interview. Your podcast editing plays a big role in your podcast production. It's in this step that you ensure your final episode has only what you want your listeners to hear. Here's what you should focus on during podcast editing:
- Keep relevant content. Remove everything else.
- Create coherence by ensuring the final episode flows from beginning to end.
- Add the other key elements like a jingle, podcast intro, voice-over, soundscaping, b-roll, etc.
- Increase the sound quality and remove noise
If you are doing this by yourself, consider using a tool like Descript as it will dramatically reduce the time needed to edit your podcast.
5. Publish and Promote Your Podcast
Episode titles, podcast directories, hosting service, apple podcasts connect, podcast host
Publishing your podcast is what you do the very first time. It's when you submit your podcast to podcast directories, where listeners search and find podcasts. Some of the popular podcast directories are Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.
Submitting to podcast directories takes a few minutes, and the process is largely manual. You do it by submitting your podcast RSS Feed to the podcast directories. But what is an RSS Feed?
Podcast RSS Feed
Podcast directories don't host your podcast episodes. The episodes (and their MP3 files) reside inside your Podcast Host. The only way a podcast directory will know about your podcast is through something called an RSS Feed.
What's an RSS Feed?
It's a protocol or language that is used by many internet-based applications to access content from other internet-based applications.
Your Podcast Host will create an RSS Feed for your podcast when you upload your first episode. The RSS Feed is unique to your podcast and does not change. So every time you publish a new episode to your Podcast Host, the podcast directories will automatically know about it too.
Here's the bottom line:
You don't have to know too much about the RSS Feed other than the fact that your podcast will have a unique RSS Feed. And if you're using a platform like Buzzsprout, they help you submit your podcast RSS Feed to podcast directories directly with a few clicks. Easy peasy.
How to Promote Your Podcast?
Promoting your podcast has a big impact on your podcast's discoverability. First off, when you promote your podcast, more people get to know about it.
Second, when enough existing listeners of another podcast find and listen to your podcast, you will likely get more listeners. This happens because directories like Apple Podcasts will start to "suggest" your show to other listeners of that podcast.
Here are some ways to promote your content:
- Repurpose Your Podcast Content
- Engage in Communities
- Share with Your Email List
- Be a Podcast Guest
Let's look at each one of them in more detail.
1. Repurpose Content
You have some amazing content as MP3 files. It’s time to repurpose them. Here are some ways to repurpose your podcast content:
- Extract quotes to share on social media.
- Write blog posts based on topics covered in your episodes.
- Create infographics, and checklists using Canva.
- Create video teasers, and audiograms using apps like Headliner.
- Shareable slides to upload on Scribd.
- Content upgrades for lead generation.
- Go LIVE on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
- Create a Thread on Twitter and tag your guest.
- Create stories on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
- Create Instagram Reels.
2. Engage In Communities
Start engaging inside communities with potential audiences around related topics. The best places to consider are Quora, LinkedIn, and Facebook Groups.
3. Share With Your Email List
If you have an email list, share your new podcast with your list. Don’t have an email list? Start one, because an email list is an excellent way of engaging with your audience.
4. Be a Podcast Guest
Being a guest on other podcasts is one of the best ways to reach out to a new audience. Now that you have a podcast published, being a guest on other related podcasts can help you attract new listeners to your show.
You can read more about how to find podcasts and be a guest in this article. Being a guest on other podcasts is also a very powerful marketing strategy. And that is a great segue to the next section.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Start a Podcast
1. Can I Start a Podcast for Free?
Yes, you can start a podcast for free. Here's a recommended set of free tools and apps to get started:
- Your smartphone
- Garageband or Audacity for editing
- Anchor.fm for hosting your podcast
2. How Can I Ask Good Questions to my Podcast Guests?
A podcast interview is a great time to ask someone questions, build a relationship, and create highly valuable content for your listeners. Please read this post where I wrote in detail about a five-step process to come up with good questions. It also has some questions that you can use to get started.
3. How to Make Money Doing a Podcast?
You can make money doing a podcast in a few different ways:
- Using affiliate marketing and selling affiliate products
- Leveraging affiliate advertising
- Create your own digital products
- Sell your own physical products or services
- Getting sponsorships
Please read this post where I wrote in detail about how to create a podcast and make money using digital products.
4. Should I Create Podcast Transcriptions for Every Episode?
Yes. Transcriptions play a big role when it comes to the discoverability of your podcast. This is applicable even more if your show is in English. Google does read podcast transcriptions available as a PDF or on a web page. Further, if you're using a tool like Descript to edit or record your podcast, you can get podcast transcriptions for free.
5. How to Build a Podcast Audience?
To build a podcast audience, you must consider building a show that addresses their biggest needs, concerns, desires, and fears. We teach you how to do that inside Podience, our free two-day podcasting course.
And once you do that, consider making it very clear who the podcast is for in your podcast description and in every podcast episode, including the podcast intro, title, and content.
How to Start a Podcast - Next Steps
We have created a two-day podcasting course called Podience where you'll learn how to create a podcast that attracts listeners. In two days, you'll learn how to create a podcast from scratch. You will implement all the steps from this blog post, record your episode, and publish your podcast in 48 hours.