How to start a podcast in 2022 — The complete guide to creating a podcast
In the last three years, podcasts have grown in popularity by over 29.5%, and monthly listens have gone up by 65.5%. As on-demand audio continues to increase in popularity, experts predict podcasts are going to grow significantly in 2022. That means if you want to start your podcast: there is no better time than now.
There’s a lot that goes into starting a podcast, but don’t worry — you won’t need to buy tons of expensive equipment to get started.
For the most part, it can be pretty inexpensive and there are a ton of opportunities in the industry.
All you need is the drive to turn your passion into a reality.
Understand how podcasting works
Podcasting being delivered in an audio format — brings a whole new way to connect with your target audience. You have the creative freedom to utilize what you know to connect with other like-minded individuals and build your brand.
Keep in mind — there is a lot of planning that goes into creating those podcasts you listen to every week. You can’t just hit record and hope for the best. From creating an outline to help guide your conversations to editing out the imperfections of every episode in post-production. You need to think critically about your end goal and look for creative ways to connect with others through audio-based content.
Consider your podcast as an audio format of a blog or a piece of content you create. Every time you go to record an episode, you’ll need to shape and mold your content into what you envision. From planning, outlining, to building a brand.
Everything you do needs a purpose.
We’re here to help guide you through the process of how to start a podcast and provide you with the tips you need to get started.
Are you ready?
Let’s take a closer look:
Identify a podcast theme
Every good podcast needs a theme. That’s how you dial in on a target audience, grow your following, and get your content in front of other like-minded individuals. With a theme, you can build a following of listeners who enjoy your podcast and tune in every week to learn more.
Not having a theme doesn’t make or break your show — but it does make it hard to listeners to relate.
For example, if it’s a true crime series, listeners want to tune in every week to listen to another crime story. If they tune in and it’s not about crime and it’s about sports instead, it would be offputting for the listener.
You get the point.
To get started, choose a concept you’re interested in. Then, try writing out at least 20 podcast episode topics that fit that theme. If you’re able to write out that many topics, you probably found one that works for you. If you aren’t, consider going more broad with the topic or exploring different avenues.
Here are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself:
- Who is your ideal audience?
- What are you passionate about?
- What is the goal of the podcast?
- How is your podcast different from the rest?
- What do you want your audience to get from the podcast?
- What can you do that you’ve never seen a podcast do before?
Decide on a format
Once you figure out your podcast theme, you’ll want to lay out the format and structuring of your show.
Ask yourself — how do I want my show to look on paper? What do I enjoy that other shows do well? As you conduct competitor research and consider the different format options, it’s important to remember that consistency is key.
If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some podcast structure ideas:
For this format, a host will interview a different guest every episode. They will be there as more of a guide to ask that week’s guest thought-provoking questions and help guide them through to the end of the experience. This format is great if you’re looking for differentiation every episode because you can choose guests that fit your conversation needs and topics. Another great perk is if the guest has a following, you’ll get to expand your audience and get some free marketing!
If you’re an expert in your field and feel like you have a lot to say about a particular topic or theme, this could be a great format to explore. This format requires individuals to talk directly to the listeners. Keep in mind: this format is a lot of talking. You’ll need to talk for roughly 30 to 45 minutes. Before you commit to this style, you’ll want to make sure you can keep it up every episode.
This format is similar to an interview format. However, it requires a panel of guests to come in and speak on a certain subject. What is great about this one is that you have the opportunity to create an experience for listeners. You can choose to invite different individuals and personalities who have their own expertise, which will provide a range of opinions and insights. However, you’ll need to always be on the search for more than one guest, and you’ll need to balance all of their different schedules.
If you have a friend that’s also passionate about starting their podcast, you might want to consider a co-hosted format. This popular format involves two individuals having a conversation on a topic. You’ll need to have chemistry with the other person and a good grasp of your podcast theme to ensure you’re providing a fruitful experience for the listener. However, these podcasts have some of the best listener experiences and are extremely rewarding to follow.
Once you decide on the format, you can choose a more specific formatting option, such as:
Podcasts focused on delivering hard-hitting news to their followers. The host breaks down the latest news to be more digestible for listeners.
Research shows that 74% of podcast listeners listen to podcasts to learn something new. Which means, the educational format can be a great option for anyone that has knowledge or a skill they can teach others. Typically, every episode will aim to teach them one thing and dial in on the specifics.
For these, every podcast is in interview form, where the host will ask the interviewer some questions on a particular topic or theme for that episode.
You may be wondering, can I use more than one format? We’re going to advise you against it. You’ll want to find one that works for you, learn how to do it well, and stick to it. (We promise — it will make your life a lot easier!)
Not only that, but if your listeners are tuning in and expecting one format but get another, it can be challenging to know what to expect from your podcast, which could limit your audience.
Create your podcast brand
Your brand is everything. It’s the first impression potential listeners have before tuning into your podcast. It embodies your theme and represents everything you want your podcast to be.
Choose a name
Your podcast name says a lot about your brand and the content you create. Have some fun with your name, and make sure it fits your overall theme.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Keep it short, no more than four words
- Think of something catchy and inviting
- Make sure it’s easy to pronounce and spell
- Stay true to your theme
- Avoid offensive or vulgar words
- No keyword stuffing
Choose your genre
You wouldn’t believe the number of podcast genres there are out there! Your genre is important because it will help you reach your target audience and increase your searchability. When choosing a genre, make sure it’s relevant to the content you’re producing.
Fun fact — the top podcast genre in the United States is comedy!
Write your description
If a listener is taking the time to read your description: they want to learn more about your show before they tune in and listen to an episode. You have a few minutes during that moment to convince them it’s something they want to listen to. As you start writing, remember that your description is an extension of your podcast: and should accurately describe what yours is all about.
In your description, make sure you add everything relevant. Ask yourself:
- When can listeners tune in for a new episode?
- What do you discuss?
- Do you have weekly guests?
- Why should people listen?
- What is your goal?
- Why should people listen?
For some people, your description will be the first impression. Try to make it fun, engaging, and inviting!
While writing, try to keep your podcast intro to about 300 to 600 words. You may also want to conduct keyword research before writing your description since some directories utilize keywords for searchability.
Creating your cover art
Lastly, you’ll need cover art that accurately represents your brand and your podcast. When creating something visually appealing, you’ll want to limit the words and focus on the visual representation of your podcast brand.
Don’t be afraid to look at other podcast artwork for inspiration! If you aren’t creative, you can always outsource the art or pay someone to design it for you. However, there are free online tools you can use to help you create cover art if you want to try it yourself.
Here’s an example of the Lemon Squeezy podcast — Make Lemonade
Choose your podcasting equipment
Equipment can make or break the entire podcast. If you aren’t using the right equipment, you could risk reducing the sound quality, which can be an unpleasant experience for the listener.
With a podcast being audio content, the mic is the most important piece of equipment. It may sound obvious but a lot of podcasts overlook this step.
My personal fav is the Shure MV7 but don’t take our word for it. Check out James McKinven’s website about what podcast mic NOT to get.
If you’re just starting out and looking at your options, here are the three types of microphones you can choose from:
USB mics are a great microphone for first-timers because of their accessibility and affordability. It’s easy to use and attaches directly to your computer’s USB port, and doesn’t require an XLR connection. The downside is, they don’t deliver the highest quality of sound. If you’re testing the waters to see if podcasting is something you want to do, you can always start with a USB mic and work your way up to higher-quality equipment later down the line.
These mics have the highest quality of sound out of the three. They are ultra-sensitive and can pick up even the lowest of sounds. (which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your setup) If you plan on going with this type of microphone, you’ll need a soundproof room or a quiet space: so you don’t disrupt the recording. This mic does require an XLR connection.
These mics are the top choice for a podcast with more than one speaker and can withstand high sound pressure. They are reasonably affordable and are a step above USB mics. Keep in mind: these mics also require an XLR connection.
If you aren’t sure what option to go with, research done by The Podcast Host shows that 35% of podcast hosts use dynamic mics, 33% use USB mics, and 29% use condenser mics. It’s a pretty even split! Which means the option you choose is up to your personal preference.
If you’re choosing to go with a condenser or dynamic mic, you’ll need to also look into investing in an XLR connection. You have a few options here, such as an audio interface, a podcast machine, or utilizing an external audio recording device.
Lastly, you’ll need a solid pair of headphones. No, you can’t use your AirPods or earbuds for a podcast. You’ll need a professional, comfortable over-the-ear pair of headphones.
Remember: everyone has to start somewhere. If you aren’t ready to invest in a quality mic or headphones, you don’t need to. You can always start by utilizing your phone as a microphone. There are a ton of apps that you can download on your phone to help you start recording. Although the quality won’t be what you’re looking for, it will provide you with a sneak peek into the life of creating a podcast you can be proud of.
Get recording software
Professional recording software helps you edit your podcast in post-production and provides a high-quality experience for the listener. You’ll need this software to help you edit and record your sessions.
The good news is, that most of this recording software is affordable, and some are even free. If you aren’t ready to sign up for a monthly subscription or invest in software, you can try GarageBand or Audacity. Both are great alternatives to paid versions that can help you familiarize yourself with the software and get comfortable with editing your content together.
If you want something more advanced, you can try Riverside.fm. The basic plan is free, but if you need to use all the features, it’s $19.00/month. This is a great platform for podcasts because it allows you to record in 4k, live stream, screen share, and more.
Another great paid platform is Adobe Audition, it’s about $20.99 a month. It’s great for editing and recording your audio, all in one place in post-production. They also have a wide range of effects you can utilize to take your podcast to the next level.
Outline your first episode
If you’ve made it this far, congrats! You’re halfway towards starting your podcast.
Once you have everything you need, it’s time to revisit the podcast theme you decided on earlier and choose from your list of ideas to begin outlining your first podcast.
For the outline, you don’t want to script your podcast. (unless that’s what you’re going for!) Instead, consider how you want the conversion to flow, highlight key takeaways, and focus on points you want to touch on to provide the best quality experience for your listeners. You can add ideas, bullet points, quotes, stats, questions, or references. You can be as little or detailed as you want to be.
Consider the outline to be more of the podcast structure. It will guide you from the start to the end and provide the guidance needed to move towards your end goal.
There is some flexibility with the overall structure, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! However, you’ll want to make sure you have at least:
- Introduction and hook
- Welcome message
- Interview / Q & A
As you get more established, you’ll want to add ad placements into the outline.
While recording your podcast, you can use this outline to guide you and to guide your guests. As long as everyone is on the same page, the recording process will run smoothly, and you won’t forget anything.
Record your podcast
It’s finally time to record your first episode! Even though it might seem pretty straightforward, there are a lot of steps that go into ensuring you’re providing the highest quality experience: (and you won’t need to re-record the entire podcast!) Here’s what you’ll need:
A quiet space to record
Since most microphones on the market can pick up even the tiniest of sounds, this is a must-have. It may seem like the space you’re recording in is quiet. However, if you’re using a high-quality microphone, it’s picking up all of the sounds in the room. It’s okay if the room isn’t soundproof, but you’ll want to make sure the space is quiet: and there is nothing that could disrupt the recording.
If you’re worried that the mic might pick up an echo from the room or sounds coming outside of the room, you can always DIY soundproof your home. All you need to do is cover the walls with thick blankets. It won’t be perfect, but the thick fabric will work to absorb any of the unwanted sounds.
If you’re serious about starting your podcast, you can start looking into some more permanent soundproof solutions.
Set up your recording equipment
As you work to set up all of your recording equipment, you’ll want to adjust all your systems and set your recording level. Open up your recording software on your computer and make sure everything looks like it’s set up correctly.
You’ll want to find the perfect recording level, something that’s not too loud or too low. Then, you’ll want to record a high-quality audio file and save it as a WAV or AIFF file. You can later go in and convert the file to an mp3 when it’s ready to be published.
Be consistent with your tone
Don’t you love it when you listen to a podcast, and the speakers sound professional and you get to listen to clear, crisp audio from start to finish? We do too.
Recording your voice is never easy. Some people tend to get nervous once they are ready to hit a record. It happens to the best of us. Try your best to relax and be more mindful of your actions when recording. Most microphones can also pick up residual sounds that are coming from you.
Try to be consistent with your tone, the positioning of your mouth, and your speaking. It may take some time to get used to and find your balance, but once you do, it will improve the overall quality of the recording.
Do a test
Never forget to do a test.
Testing will allow you to point out any errors before they happen. After you do a test recording, take some time to listen to the recording like a listener would by testing it on a cell phone, laptop, and headphones.
This is the best way to ensure you’re ready to record it for real.
Don’t just jump into recording
When you feel ready, make sure to start recording at least 30 seconds of silence. This is to help you when you’re in the post-production phase.
Record an intro and outro
Once you’re ready to start recording your podcasts regularly, you’ll want to have a professional, go-to intro and outro you can use to get the complete feel of a podcast. Have some fun! Create a hook that expertly describes what your podcast is all about. Don’t be afraid to add some personality and music in the background.
Every podcast intro needs to have:
- Your podcast name
- Episode name and number
- Introducing the hosts
Additional elements you can add in:
- Music that isn’t copyrighted
- A slogan or tagline
- Name of your sponsor
Here are some tips for a successful and effective intro and outro
- Keep it upbeat and fast-paced
- Try to keep it under 30 seconds
- Don’t overcomplicate things
Your outro will have a slightly different positioning. Consider this to be your “wrap-up.” This is time you’ll want to step away from the topic, reflect on your podcast, and encourage listeners to come back for more.
Here are some tips for an outro:
- Stay consistent with the music and tone in the intro
- Always have a CTA
One thing you can’t forget with an outro is a CTA (call to action). A CTA will help guide listeners to follow you on social media, subscribe to your channel, or leave you a review. You can always mix up your CTAs or stay consistent and stick with one.
Edit your podcast
Once you’ve completed your first session, it’s time for the real magic to happen in post-production. During this time, your podcast will come to life, and you’ll be able to remove any imperfections.
One tool that’s relatively new but super powerful is Descript. Their editing tools are pretty nifty and easy to use if you’re just starting out.
Decide on podcast hosting
You’ll need to upload your podcast through a hosting platform. There are a ton of popular places to host your podcast. These include Buzzsprout, Transistor, and Simplecast (we use this Simplecast).
Once you upload your podcast episode, the podcast hosting platform will then distribute your content to one of the popular directories, like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or Google Play.
All of these directories provide a different user experience and it’s up to you to choose if you want to be on one of them or all of them.
Market your podcast
Consider this — what are your favorite podcasts? How did you find them? Did a friend recommend it? Or did you see it on social media?
After recording your first few episodes, you can’t expect people to just run into your podcast while searching for something to listen to on Apple Music or Spotify. You need to channel your inner marketer and market your podcast so that it can become more discoverable.
Here’s how you can get started:
Set up social media profiles
Social media is your new best friend. You can create pages on each channel for your new podcast. We recommend creating a scheduling cadence so you can actively post about new episodes, interviews, features, and everything in between. You can then share your podcast content on your personal accounts and get your friends and family to like and follow.
Paid social ads
For most platforms, social media ads are relatively inexpensive and can be a great tool you can use to expand your reach. We recommend looking into TikTok ads, Instagram and Facebook Ads, and Pinterest ads to get started. All four of these platforms provide endless opportunities for podcasters to promote their content.
Word of mouth
Never underestimate the power of word of mouth! Your friends and family can be a tool to jumpstart your podcast and push you in the right direction. It may not seem like much, but those few people can help spread the word to everyone they know, sharing it with their friends and family: and on their social media.
Monetize your podcast
Once you get your podcast up and running, it’s time to start monetizing. You want to make sure you don’t start doing this too soon since your priority should always be building your audience. If you feel like you have everything in a good place and you’re ready to take the next step, here are some things you’ll want to consider:
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make your podcast profitable. You’ll want to start by finding a brand or product that applies to your podcast. From there, you’ll make money off every sale that comes from the podcast. This is tracked through promo codes that you provide during the podcast.
Sponsorships are a big part of podcasting and can help you generate revenue. You can start by conducting research for potential sponsorships yourself. You’ll want to keep your niche and theme in mind to make sure it’s a sponsor that relates to your particular audience. Once you build your brand out more, sponsors will also start coming to you! Typically, they pay on a cost per mille basis, and you can expect a range of $18 to $50 CPM.
Wrapping up: How to start a podcast
A lot goes into building out a podcast you can be proud of. Don’t let all of the steps discourage you though. It’s a rewarding experience and creates a whole new way to connect with your audience.
Once people find a podcast they like, your content becomes an integral part of their daily routine. If that’s something that excites you, the process of creating your own podcast won’t ever feel like work.
If you’re ready to turn your vision for a podcast into a reality, there is no better time to start than now.
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