What is a podcast?
It’s really just a recorded conversation published as an RSS feed on the internet.
To be a podcast, people must be able to subscribe to the feed. This is usually free. Popular podcast apps include Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Overcast, Spotify and even YouTube.
What’s your podcast going to be about?
Before you start a podcast, there are a few things you’ll want to decide upon first.
What are you going to talk about?
What’s your theme?
What will make your podcast stand out and different from all the rest?
This could be your style, voice, accent, choice of format etc. Everyone is different, so stick with what you know and your podcast will be different.
How long will each podcast last? Popular podcasts can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as 3 hours. There really is no right length. Don’t try to replicate Radio. Make your podcast the way you want.
You don’t need guests to make a podcast. Popular websites are releasing their blog posts as podcasts now. However, podcasts with more than one person are going to be more fun. So, plan to have a regular host with at least one guest. Pick a format that suits your podcast. If the podcast is an interview-style show, then you will only want a host and a guest. If your podcast is more informal, try for 2 or 3 guests. Any more than 5 participants can be difficult to manage. If you have lots of people wanting to be on your podcast, try and schedule them at another time.
Inform your guests ahead of the show of what you expect from them. Layout some ground rules e.g. try not to talk over each other. Explain that the show can be edited, so don’t be afraid to start over if you make a mess of a point. You want to put your guests at ease and have a normal free-flowing conversation. Don’t worry about ‘dead air’ – this can be edited later.
I would suggest making a shared Google Doc for each show. Share this with guests ahead of time. You don’t want to ambush your guests and you want them to be prepared for the discussion.
What do you need to start a podcast?
When Dave Winer started podcasting in 2001, all he did was talk into his computer (he still does this today). So, you don’t need a recording studio to produce podcasts.
Work with what you have.
In order to get started and to test the format to see whether it works for you, try to use the tools you already have. Don’t be too concerned about audio quality. The tech side of podcasting is the easy part. On the other hand, producing a good show can be challenging for newcomers.
Recommended: PC/Mac/Laptop and an external microphone.
If you are going to record both ends of the conversation try and make sure you have a wired internet connection. This will improve your quality and reduce latency.
You could record a podcast purely on your smartphone, but you’re probably going to want to use a computer. With that in mind, you’ll need a microphone. While you could use the inbuilt microphone, you should use an external one. Using a microphone helps to eliminate background noise. These can be quite affordable or really expensive. If you have a set of headphones with a microphone, try those to see what the audio quality is like. Blue is a popular brand with podcasters and is a relatively cheap way to get a decent mic.
How are you going to record the audio?
You could use Zoom and download the audio after. I prefer to use audacity and would recommend you get each person to record their own audio. This allows you to mix the audio together for much higher quality.
There are apps specifically for podcasting such as Anchor. This is another good way to get started.
Depending on the format of your show, you might only need one participant (the producer) to be using a recording device (probably a computer). How your guests join the conversation will depend on your choice of app e.g. Skype, Zoom etc
If you are aiming for a polished production, everyone will need a decent mic, and to record their input. They would then send their audio to you separately after the show and you would edit the tracks together.
Who’s going to produce your podcast? You’ll probably want to edit it – even if it’s just to add an intro and outro. If you want to do podcasts properly, you will end up producing them in an app like audacity.
If you’re using Zoom and recording a video conversation, you can also then publish your show to YouTube (aim for the widest audience).
Make sure you include show notes with each episode. If you reference articles, websites etc in the show, include links in your show notes. This improves the user experience.
You will want to publish a transcript of the podcast. This will help your SEO and is a good way to win new listeners. Use a service like Otter.ai to do it for free. Just make sure to read it before publishing.
Your podcast needs cover artwork. Follow the Apple podcast guidelines for this. You can make this yourself or get a graphic designer to make one for you.
How are you going to promote your podcast?
Start with your website.
You need to host the audio file somewhere. You can use your website to get started. If your podcast takes off, you will switch the hosting of the audio file to a CDN.
Remember that podcasts are basically RSS feeds. So you’ll publish the podcast on your website and then syndicate that feed. You will want to get listed on all the popular performs e.g. Apple, Google, Spotify, Pocket Casts etc. It’s free and easy.
Use all your social channels to promote the show. Ask your guests to promote the show. Give them prepared tweets etc if necessary.
Ask for feedback from listeners.
Ask for audience participation e.g. Post on Facebook / LinkedIn and ask questions.
Publish the video as ‘talking heads’ on YouTube, along with your transcript and optimise your description.
Start a newsletter for your podcast and grow a list to nudge listeners to remember to listen to your latest show.
Become a Podcast Guest
Become a guest on other podcasts and use that as an opportunity to promote your own show.
If you have the budget, promote your podcast with ads.