How to Start a Podcast: Tips for a Successful Launch
With video and written content requiring the full attention of your audience both visually and audibly, podcasting offers them the ability to consume content while going about their day. With busy schedules, long commutes, and other demands, podcasting creates an opportunity to entertain and inform your audience in even more situations. You can basically bring podcasts anywhere!
If you’re ready to add a podcast to your business or blog or start a podcast as an entirely new business venture, I’m going to answer all your questions about how to start a podcast.
I’ll be diving into each step as we go, but here’s the basic overview, taking you from picking a subject to publishing and promoting:
How to Start a Podcast
- Choose a topic
- Choose a show title
- Write a show description
- Create show artwork
- Create an intro and outro
- Record a podcast episode
- Set up podcast hosting
- Edit the podcast episode
- Publish the podcast episode
- Promote the podcast
Equipment and tools you need to start a podcast
The beauty of podcasting is that there is a relatively low barrier to entry. It’s possible to start a podcast with nothing more than a smartphone. Realistically, if you’re looking to publish a professional sounding podcast, you will want to invest in some tools, but much of what I’m going to recommend is inexpensive or even free.
Recommended podcast tools:
Computer: A computer is a necessity for your podcast, and you probably already have that covered.
Aside from a computer, you will need three primary pieces of equipment: a microphone, a boom arm, and a pop filter. You can find kits for all of these, like this one, on Amazon, but I’m going to go through each of them.
Microphone: You can spend anywhere from $20 to $1,000 on a microphone, but a reasonably priced Audio-Technica ATR2100 is a reliable favorite of many podcasters.
Pop Filter: A pop filter is a screen that attaches to your microphone and helps ease the uncomfortable popping sound of certain words, like those starting with “p” or “b.”
Boom Arm: This is a microphone stand that can be mounted to your desk or work surface allowing you to use your hands freely while recording.
Skype: If you are interviewing guests for your podcast, you’ll want to offer a recordable call option. Skype is something your guests may already have, and you can find tools to help you record Skype calls.
Podcast hosting service: Podcasts aren’t shared directly to platforms like Spotify or iTunes – you’ll need to use a hosting service to store files and update metadata. Your host will then utilize RSS to distribute the podcast episodes to the different platforms. Libsyn is what Mike and I use for Laptop Empires, and Buzzsprout is another commonly utilized hosting platform. Libsyn subscriptions start at $5 per month.
Your step-by-step how to start a podcast guide:
Now that you know exactly what you need in order to get started, it’s time to work towards your launch.
Choose a topic
While it might sound like fun to just sit around and talk about whatever interests you, that’s probably not going to be a sustainable model. Choosing a topic and finding your niche will let others know what they can expect from you, and it will also help you narrow down what your personal spin on that topic will be.
You can always grow and evolve over time so don’t panic too much about finding the perfect topic. Start by considering your expertise, your life experience, and what you’re passionate about. If you’re able to merge those things together, it’s likely a great podcast topic.
Choose a title
Your podcast title is the first impression you make on your audience. iTunes and other platforms are search engines, so you will want to take that into consideration when naming your podcast.
Some popular options for podcast titles are:
- The [YOUR NAME] Show
- The [YOUR BUSINESS NAME] Podcast
- A keyword heavy name such as The Six Figure Side Hustle Show
Picking a title isn’t the most important part of learning how to start a podcast, and you aren’t stuck with what you pick forever. I say that because trying to land on the best title can be a potential mental roadblock.
Write a show description
Your show description should include a detailed overview of what your show offers. Think of it like an elevator pitch – a few lines of copy that you’ll use to convince people to listen in. iTunes gives you 4,000 characters to accomplish this, and including keywords relevant to your topic will help listeners find you. Using keywords in your description will probably be a natural part of how you describe your show, so don’t go crazy and stuff keywords in every line. Just be natural.
Here’s the Laptop Empires podcast description as an example:
Welcome to the Laptop Empires podcast hosted by Bobby Hoyt (Millennial Money Man) and Mike Yanda (Red Dirt Marketing Co). In this twice-weekly podcast, the former Band Director and Attorney share cutting-edge strategies for growing online businesses. The duo pulls on their experiences building blogs, online communities, and courses to grow businesses for themselves and other business owners. Every episode is packed with content and actionable strategies presented in a laid back, conversational manner. No topic is too big or small for this no-filter show about making money online and having fun doing it. Whether you’re a full-time entrepreneur, side hustler, or you’re thinking about joining this crazy online business world, you’ll want to join the Laptop Empires crew each Monday and Thursday and learn how to create an online business that lasts.
Create show artwork
Your show’s artwork is the only visual representation you have of your brand – it’s a little glimpse of who you are. Choose something that represents your podcast, while also catching the attention of potential listeners who are scrolling through iTunes or another service.
Mike and I decided to be a little extra and go beyond just a logo – we actually hired a cartoonist to create a mascot for Laptop Empires. His name is Biggie Snuggz, and he’s an adorable teddy bear with a thick gold chain. Sometimes he looks a little grumpy or tired (he’s just a dad trying to work from home and hold it all together), but the point in having him is that Biggie Snuggz tells listeners that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
As you go through the steps of how to start a podcast, this is another one that shouldn’t hold you up too much. You also don’t have to go big and spend a bunch of professional artwork. You can find many reasonably priced graphic designers on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. You can also create artwork of your own on a free platform like Canva, but make sure your image is no larger than 3,000 x 3,000 pixels.
Create an intro and outro
While not completely necessary, many successful podcasts utilize pre-recorded intros and outros with music and voice-overs. Intros and outros create bookends for your podcast and add a level of professionalism.
You can hire voice actors and musicians on Fiverr and Upwork to create these, then using them in each episode. But, you can also make your own intro, doing your own voiceover and using royalty free music.
Record a podcast episode
Getting all of the right equipment together is really one of the biggest steps in learning how to start a podcast, but once you have that, you’re ready for the fun stuff – recording your first episode.
Start by setting up your microphone and launching your software. You might want to play around with it a little bit to get comfortable… it’s okay to need some time to get used to it!
You also don’t need to record your entire episode in one sitting. Stop and take a break when you need to because you can always edit things out. Mike and I take a ton of breaks. I might need more coffee and Mike might need to help his son with a Transformer… this has literally happened.
Having an outline or notes can help you stay on topic even when you break, but it’s still important to sound natural, speaking off the cuff instead of sounding overly scripted.
Edit the podcast episode
The software you use to record your podcast will be the same one you use to edit it. If you don’t know much about editing, you can use YouTube to learn what you need to know – podcast editing is definitely something you can learn to do yourself. But if you really need or want to, you can find freelance podcast editors online.
Audacity offers a detailed overview of how to edit audio files and you can find it here.
Set up podcast hosting
When publishing a podcast episode, you don’t need to share it directly with each platform, like Spotify and iTunes. Rather, you will need a host which allows you to upload and distribute your podcast episodes to the different platforms with ease.
We use Libsyn for Laptop Empires, which starts at only $5/month. But their $15/month plan will give you access to analytics to measure your podcast’s performance.
When you sign up for the hosting platform, you will need to enter all relevant information before getting started, such as your podcast name, description, and artwork.
Within the Libsyn platform, you will create new “Destinations” for the platforms you want your podcast to go to. The tool provides detailed instructions for how to add each destination so that your podcast will be shared on those platforms. For example, here is the explanation of how to add Spotify as a Destination for your podcast.
Publish the podcast episode
Once your hosting platform is set up, you are able to upload your edited podcast file and distribute it to the different platforms. When uploading the episode, you will need to add the metadata including title, description, and any episode-specific artwork.
Promoting your podcast
Knowing that getting people to listen to your podcast is the goal, then learning the best ways to promote your podcast is going to be just as important as learning how to start a podcast. Here are several ways to promote your show and find listeners:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is utilizing relevant keywords that people would search online so that you will rank in search results. SEO is typically discussed for blog posts and even on YouTube, but platforms like iTunes are also search engines, meaning you’ll want to pay attention to the keywords you use in your descriptions.
To boost your chances of being discovered on iTunes, you should encourage your listeners to leave reviews. When you have more reviews, the platforms will believe your content is more relevant and show it to more people within the platform. Many successful podcasters read select reviews from listeners during episodes, and this encourages listeners to leave reviews in the first place.
Social media and email list
You can also leverage your audience on other platforms and promote your podcast episodes to them. Think about using your social media platforms, Pinterest, and email list to notify your audience of new episodes.
You can repurpose content from an episode into a graphic for Instagram or share a helpful tip from an episode as a tweet.
You can encourage listeners to take a screenshot of an episode while listening and tag you on social media, letting you know what they think of the episode. This is a great way to have your audience spread the word.
Many podcasters encourage their audience to share a screenshot on Instagram, then reposting on their own accounts. Your listeners benefit because they enjoy being seen and shared by the podcaster, and the podcaster benefits by making a connection with the listener and their followers.
Interview people with audiences
You can interview guests who have their own audiences so that the guest will promote the episode on their own platforms. This will introduce you and your content to a new audience, and if your content resonates, they could become regular listeners.
Be a guest on other podcasts
At the same time, you can also be a guest on other podcasts as a way to gain exposure to that audience. Many direct competitors won’t welcome you as a guest, but you can certainly network with other hosts and find related podcasts that aren’t direct competition.
Need more tips on how to start a podcast?
If you want to hear more about how we started the Laptop Empires podcast and our tips and tricks for success, check out our podcast episode How to Start a Successful Podcast From Day One.