You want to start a podcast, but you may be a bit nervous. The most important piece of information to know, right off the bat, is that you are capable of creating your own podcast. That’s not false confidence from a website. It’s the simple truth.

How do you get started? Do you need to know how to code to create your website? Can you create a podcast even if you have little money to invest in equipment and even less experience in broadcasting? Of course! If you have an idea, the drive to share your knowledge or opinions, and a bare minimum of easily accessible technology, you can start a podcast. 

Remember that every podcaster started where you are. Podcasting did not exist until 2004, so as a form of media, it is still young. The best time to start gaining experience is right now. Worried that you don’t know enough about the technical side? That will come in time, and your podcasts will improve as you continue to record and post more episodes. Many podcasters listen back on their early episodes and are shocked at how far they’ve come – and how much their sound quality improved – simply due to experience. You learn, grow and improve with each subsequent episode you create.

As a famous philosopher once said:

“You Better Work”

Britney Spears

Podcasts don’t simply appear on iTunes polished and ready to play. The creator developed the topic for the episode and recorded it well in advance of the podcast appearing on iTunes. In fact, recording an episode is the easy part.  After that, the hard work begins – editing for length, reducing background noise, and adjusting sound levels. Those steps turn the original recording into the shining gold that your (soon to be) fans ultimately hear. 

Sound overwhelming?

Don’t worry. Once you set the foundation and practice, you can create and edit your podcast quickly and efficiently. Before you know it, all elements of podcasting will be second nature to you. Below are the first steps to lay out the foundation of your podcast. Once you have these elements in mind and in hand, everything else will start to fall into place.

Getting started

The first thing you need to decide is the name and, even more importantly, the category of your podcast. This can be a tough thing to figure out right away, but you need to decide this before moving on.

Remember that, if you’re lucky, you will be “stuck” with this podcast name for a long time as your listening audience grows. You can choose something simple, a pun, a catchy phrase, or use your name – but remember that changing the podcast name in the future can confuse and lose your listeners, so decide on a name that you’ll be satisfied keeping for the long haul. There are, of course, good reasons to change your podcast name in the future, but that’s a topic for another day.

Knowing your podcast title and category will help as you formulate the topic of the show and the type of guest you want.  Remember to try and categorize your show correctly with the primary and secondary categories. For example, I have a show where I interview startup founders in developing countries, and it is categorized as entrepreneurship and investing. That is because I like those two categories myself, so I know my listeners will as well.

Length and frequency

Much harder than starting a podcast is keeping a podcast going. This is an important consideration when you begin. The infamous Podfade is real my friends.

Decide roughly how long you want each podcast to be and what day and frequency you want to record, edit and post new episodes. There are no rules here. Some massively successful podcasts are 10 minutes or less. Other equally successful podcasts average 2-4 hours or more per episode. 

Keep in mind, that the longer the podcast, the longer it will take to create the recordings and edit them, which is why very short podcasts often come out frequently – multiple times a week or even daily – while longer podcasts may post on a weekly, biweekly or monthly schedule.

While there is no perfect length for your show, we recommend starting anywhere from 30-60 minutes as the sweet spot. If that is too short or too long you can always adjust in a few weeks.

Figure out what day or days you will record content, and remember to build in time to edit. You may need more editing time in early episodes and much less as you get the hang of editing. Schedule time in whatever calendar you prefer, and treat it just like a meeting with others.

The most important factor in podcasting is consistency – not only in posting schedule but also in length and in content. Listeners like to know what they can expect so they can find the right time in their busy lives to listen to your show.

Many listeners build part of their routine on listening to podcasts – on their commute, while working out, cleaning, or getting ready for work. Imagine being part of someone’s daily routine! Consistency helps build a relationship with your listeners.

Deciding on your subject matter and schedule is not only convenient for your listeners, it also reminds you of your focus and keeps you on the path to podcast success.

Remember, your first steps are:

• Choose Podcast Title

• Select Your iTunes Category

• Determine the Length of Time Your Show Will Be 

• Decide How Frequently You Will Post New Content

Let’s move on from here to the next steps you need. Soon we will begin recording the show, but first we need to create our images.

Create Your Podcast Cover Image 

The cover of a podcast is similar to the cover of a book. It’s the first thing people will see when your show catches someone’s eye on iTunes. This is particularly important to consider and do right.

This doesn’t mean you need to be an amazing graphic designer or spend lots of money getting it done. In fact, some of the best podcasts have simple podcast cover designs.

If you need help, you can post a job request on a site like 99Designs or Fiverr, which can get you a design for as little as $5. Make sure you follow the podcast cover specs of at least 1600×1600 in image size.

Get the Right Podcast Equipment

Next, you will need to invest in equipment, which will be your biggest financial investment when starting a podcast. Fortunately, if you already have a computer, then this “biggest investment” can be in the $100 range to start, and that’s a microphone.

If you do not already have a computer we recommend spending the extra money on a Macbook Pro. Check out Amazon and you can find a deal on last year’s model, or you can get them used from Facebook Marketplace.  Even used they will not be cheap, but for creatives, there is arguably no better laptop than a Macbook. You will thank us later. 

Microphones

 There’s an entire page of equipment recommendations based on budget and needs, but you can’t go wrong with the USB microphone from Samsun, the Q2U, which you can grab on Amazon for roughly $80. When it comes to physical equipment, it truly can be as simple as a computer and USB microphone.

Do not overthink this. Get the best microphone you can afford from the page of our recommendations, but you do not need to spend $2,000 creating the perfect podcast home studio. Once you have revenue you can start to invest in that, but until then save your money and focus on the skill of podcasting.

Podcast Software

If you’re interviewing via video call there are two main options you can choose from, Riverside and Squadcast. You really do not want to cheap out here. A monthly subscription will set you back between $15-25, but the quality of sound you get compared to Zoom is well worth it. 

Another great software recommendation we have is Descript. In fact if you only get one thing from this entire article this software will change your podcasting game. Dare I say it will make you a podcasting pro?

What is descript? I am glad you asked. Descript is an all-in-one tool for podcasting. It can master your audio, help you edit out uhhs and umms, and even splice in what you meant to say. It is really powerful and honestly, there are too many things to go into for this document, so I encourage you to check out our Descript page here.

Descript launches new features monthly, so be sure to bookmark it and come back. We update frequently and this is basically a one-stop-shop for all the knowledge and tips you could ever need on their software.

If you want a true podcast editing software, and you do not want to spend money we recommend Audacity. It has a learning curve, but it is a pretty good tool. It has more than enough for you to edit a world-class show, and the skills you learn there will be transferable to any future software you use. 

If you are still with us,  you’re in the home stretch! Pat yourself on the back and know that you are closer than you have ever been to having your very own podcast.

Publishing your show

Once you have episodes ready to release into the world, you will need a way to get your podcasts onto iTunes, Stitcher, and a number of other listening platforms.

This is where most beginning podcasters stumble or get overwhelmed. Luckily it is really simple. 

If you choose the right podcast host, it can often be as easy as hitting a button. The best hosts do this all for you. 

We recommend two different hosts depending on your budget. We have an entire article here on the ins and outs of our favorite hosts, but in short either use Substack for a free platform with barebones features or choose Transistor for a low monthly fee that scales as your need does. 

When you publish your show you are going to want to have three episodes ready. You want to create a 5 minutes trailer that introduces you, what your show will be about, and why they should listen. You will post this a week before your show officially launches. This starts to gain a bit of traction and also helps you get your system up and running before your launch day. 

When you launch you will actually launch two episodes at once. This is because you want your guests to go right into that next episode. If they like your first episode and dive right into your second you have a GREAT chance of keeping them as a listener for the long haul.

 You Can Start Your Own Podcast

If you need more info on how to start a website for your podcast, check out my post on Starting A Website.

Good luck on your podcasting journey!

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