How to Start a Podcast – Forbes Advisor
If you want to start a podcast but don’t know where to start, follow these steps for success.
1. Define your niche or topic
Limiting a topic or niche may seem limiting, but it will help you target your content better and build a long-term audience. It will also help you build trust and more definitely establish yourself as the subject matter expert.
Choose a topic broad enough that you can reasonably talk about it for several episodes, seasons, etc., but specific enough to appeal to a certain type of person or demographic.
Find existing podcasts
Before you dive into recording your first episode, it’s a good idea to do a little digging to see if there are any other similar podcasts out there.
You may find that there are few or no podcasts on your selected topic, or that your niche is already quite crowded. Even if it’s the latter, doing your research can help you figure out how to position your podcast in a way that sets you apart.
Choose your format and frame rate
Your podcast can be a solo or group act, the choice is yours. If you want to host your podcast alongside someone else, you’ll need to coordinate how to do it efficiently. Along the same lines, if you want to interview guests on your show, you may need to do some initial outreach.
Your cadence is your release schedule, i.e. how often will you release a new episode. Some podcasts release new episodes every day, while others release episodes every two weeks. You will need to determine the best cadence for your schedule. Sticking to the cadence you set will help build trust and familiarity with your future audience.
Define your audience
Perhaps the most important question you will need to answer before creating your podcast is: who is this podcast for? Having an ideal listener in mind will help you create content that is both valuable and relevant. Try to get basic information about your ideal listener, such as:
- How old are they?
- Where do they reside?
- What do they do for work?
- What forms of media do they already consume?
- Do they already listen to podcasts?
- What do they do in their free time?
- What problems do they usually face?
- What would they like to know more about?
2. Build your brand and online presence
Naming your podcast is an extremely important step. You want your podcast name to relate to your topic or image, while being clever or memorable. Avoid using the word “Podcast” in your show name, as it is redundant and takes up valuable character space.
Speaking of character space, strongly consider the overall length of your title. Longer does not necessarily mean better. In fact, a study by Pacific Content found that most podcast titles are 29 characters or less.
In addition to a title, you will need to spend time creating your branding elements. Branding elements include your show’s cover art, color scheme, and any custom design or audio work.
You can design your cover yourself using a free design tool like Canva, or hire a professional graphic designer to help you capture exactly what you’re looking for.
For custom audio sounds, such as intro or ending music, you can work with a professional musician or studio. Otherwise, you can find sounds that match your style and mood in a royalty-free music library.
Create a website or RSS feed for your podcast
Now that you’ve recorded an episode or two of your show, you need to make it accessible. One way to do this is to create a website for your podcast. You can build a website using free or paid tools, but we recommend going with paid tools if you know you want more customization options and a professional feel. On your website, you can host download links or embed your episodes so that others can listen and enjoy them.
Another option is to create an RSS feed using a podcast-specific hosting site (like Anchor or BuzzsSprout) instead of a traditional host (like WordPress or Wix). The term “RSS feed” might ring a bell if you blogged in the early days of the iInternet. Modern podcast distribution software still relies solely on RSS feeds, but you don’t need to have a full website to submit your podcast to Apple, Spotify, or other directories.
There are many companies that will host your podcast and create an RSS feed for you for free or at low cost. All you need to do is upload your episodes and basic info, and you’ll have an RSS feed that you can then use to submit podcast directories.
Create social media profiles
Typically, if you’re starting a podcast, you’ll want to create social media profiles using your podcast name. While it can be great to build a profile on a number of different platforms, it’s worth considering which ones your audience uses the most and focusing on those. Indeed, social media can provide a great marketing opportunity, but only if you actually use it.
Set up an account with a podcast platform (i.e. Spotify)
This step is optional, but highly recommended if you want to reach as many listeners as possible. To make your podcast more visible, you can submit it to a directory. Most major directories rely on your podcast’s RSS feed to verify its legitimacy and ownership, so you’ll want to make sure you have one in place beforehand.
Some of the most popular podcast directories worth submitting are:
- Apple (formerly iTunes)
- Google Podcasts
Once your podcast is successfully uploaded to a directory, anyone using the directory will be able to find your podcast if they search for it by title or keywords.
3. Source recording material and editing software
Chances are, you can record audio using the computer, tablet, or phone you already own. However, for better and clearer sound, most podcasters recommend investing in a separate podcast microphone. Podcast microphones can cost between $20 and $10,000.
You don’t need to pay for podcast editing software if you don’t want to or can’t. GarageBand is a great free option if you have an Apple device, as is Audacity, which is free on any device. Otherwise, you can invest in more advanced premium software such as Adobe Audition, Logic Pro X or Hindenburg Journalist.
If you don’t feel comfortable or have no interest in editing your podcast, outsource it to a freelancer. You can find a freelance podcast editor to work with through sites like Fiverr, Upwork, Craigslist, or Facebook.
4. Record and edit your first podcast
Once you’ve nailed down your gear, you’re ready to record. Some podcasters write scripts ahead of time so they know what to say ahead of time, while others do it on the fly. The choice is yours.
Even if you’re writing a script, you’ll likely need to pause, pause, re-record, and/or edit your audio to produce a polished, final version. Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you will get. Podcasting is a skill in itself that takes time and practice to do quickly.
Name the titles of your episodes
Each episode you save must have a unique name. Your episode titles should accurately describe what the episode is about and, if applicable, who the episode’s guest speaker is.
While it can be tempting to come up with clever or witty names for your episodes, it’s more strategic to name your episodes with accuracy and precision. This will help your podcast’s SEO, which means it will be easier for listeners to discover your podcast in search engines or podcast directories.
Create a compelling show description and episode descriptions
To tell potential listeners what your show is about, you’ll need to write a general synopsis as well as descriptions for each of your episodes. For your overall synopsis, be as clear and concise as possible by answering these basic questions:
- What is your podcast about?
- Who is your podcast for?
- What can listeners expect to hear?
- Why should people listen to your podcast? What will they gain by listening?
- How often/when do you release new episodes?
- How/where can people connect with you other than by listening to your podcast?
Your episode descriptions should be just as concise, but you’ll have the option of inserting relevant links to resources, products, or whatever else you’re talking about.
Submit your episode to directories
Once your podcast is ready, the next step is to submit it (or upload it) to the podcast platforms of your choice.
5. Promote your podcast
Once your podcast can be discovered and downloaded, it’s time to spread the word about it. You can take a local approach, such as sending direct links to your close friends and family, creating a paid social media ad campaign, or anything in between, the choice is yours.
A popular way to market your podcast is through social media such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok. If you already have an established following on social media, you can use your existing accounts to promote your podcast. Otherwise, you can create new accounts for the sole purpose of promoting the podcast and connecting with your community.