How to start a podcast: a complete step-by-step guide from the experts.

Podcasting is more popular than ever and it’s now even easier to get started with your own show at home. With production now more accessible, passionate content creators can create quality shows from the comfort of their living room. If you’re keen to share your interests with other fans around the world, podcasting could be for you.

 

Learn how to start a podcast of your own with the help of our podcasting experts, Jamie Jeffers and Lo Boutillette, who’ll guide you through every step – from planning to publishing and promotion.

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What you’ll learn:

 

Planning your podcast.

Before starting your podcast recordings, you’ll want to iron out what your show will cover. The most successful shows say something interesting about a subject. Niche topics can appeal to a smaller audience of passionate fans, but even if your chosen topic is pretty broad – you can still make your show unique by providing a new perspective or unique angle to your content. 

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“To get the maximum amount of potential listeners and subscribers, there should be a very specific voice and sound quality that you’re after and you must know what you’re going to talk about.” 

– Jamie Jeffers, The British History Podcast

Below we’ll help you identify your audience and decide how you’re going to engage with them. Then we’ll discuss choosing a recording format and how to start recording your podcast.

 

Why should you make a podcast?

Think about why you want to make a podcast. Having a clear goal will give you direction when creating your show. Consider what you want to achieve, as this will help you to create the outline of your show and find your unique voice.

 

Beyond sharing your passions with likeminded people, other reasons for starting a podcast might include:


Less competition than blogging.

Right now, podcasting is a less competitive medium than blogging. There are just under two million podcasts currently available, but the internet is packed out with more than 600 million blogs[i].

 

Good for promotion.

Many businesses use podcasts to promote their services or products. While podcasts can be a good platform for advertising, they’re also effective tools for personal promotion. Becoming an expert podcaster can boost your personal brand, whether you’re an individual creator, or marketing for a business.

 

Build an audience.

By building an audience that tunes in every week, you’ll have a following of loyal fans who will interact and engage with your show.

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Monetise.

You can earn money from your podcast, too. You could sell ad space to companies that want to use your platform to promote their products or services. As the content creator, you can charge a fee or take a cut of the advert’s profits.

Just remember to have a balance between podcast content and adverts – no one tunes in to listen to adverts, after all.

Just for fun.

More than anything, podcasting is fun. Talking about your interests and passions, and engaging with people who share them, creates great discussion and some fun moments. You might learn a few things about yourself, too.
 

Who is your podase audience?

Understand what your show is about and know your voice. Good podcasts connect because they’re focused on a topic and because their hosts can deliver a voice and perspective that’s unique. Consider who you are targeting with your podcasts by asking yourself:

 

  • What is your audience interested in?
  • What opinions or information can you share?
  • What is their reason to listen?
iphone with a pod case playing next to a laptop

What’s the best podcast format?

Depending on your topic (or your confidence) your podcast might work better with you as the sole presenter. Or perhaps you’d prefer to have a co-host or guests, creating more of a discussion-style show. Choose the style you feel comfortable with. If it’s a single voice podcast with a narrator, stick to a script. If you’re doing a conversational group show, make sure every co-host knows their role.

 

You’ll need to decide on a format, or running order, for your show. Consider what you want to include and when. Your show might look something like this:

 

  1. Intro Music
  2. Introduce yourself and your guests
  3. Talk about a topic
  4. Advert break
  5. Talk about a topic
  6. Advert break
  7. “That’s all for today”
  8. Remember to subscribe and review
  9. “See you next time”

 

Your show might look different, depending on how much you want to discuss or whether you have guests to interview. It’s all up to you. 


Making it stand out.

You’ll want to consider your show’s name, too. Make it something that stands out, but also something your audience will understand. Whether you choose puns, play-on-words, or a simpler title – make it memorable or catchy.

 

How should you plan your podcast’s length?

The length of an episode will be determined by how much you have to discuss. There’s no perfect length, whether you want to make a show people can listen to on the bus or an hour-long discussion they can tune into at lunch. Your show should be as long as it needs to be. Just remember, you’ll need enough interesting discussion to fill the time.

You’ll also want to consider:

 

  • How often are you going to be able to record and release episodes?
  • Can you stick to whatever you decide? Your audience will expect content.
  • Will you upload weekly episodes, or create a shorter series that runs for part of the year?
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Recording your podcast.

You’re almost ready to start your podcast. Now you’ve got the creative plan ready, it’s time to get your recording equipment set up and decide how you’re going to record your show. 

 

Where are you recording your podcast?

Where you record your podcast will affect the background noise. Choose somewhere quiet, where you can record your voice clearly. Recording in a busy office or in your garden by a road might mean your voice is lost among weather and traffic noise.

 

Some professional podcasts are recorded in soundproof studios, but if you’re just starting out, a quiet bedroom will be fine. 

 

You might also want to broadcast your podcast live. This can be exciting, but there won’t be a chance to edit out any mistakes. For beginners, pre-recording is best. This way, you can re-record parts you aren’t happy with and edit the best bits together before releasing your finished podcast. 

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What tools do you need to record a podcast?


Microphones
are your most important podcasting tools. There’s no upper limit to microphone quality or expense — you can spend thousands of pounds on a mic, preamp and wires. But for most beginner podcasters, a USB mic will do the job. 

 

Make sure you use a pop filter on your mic. Without one, hard sounds like plosives (B or P sounds) or sibilants (S sounds) can pop or hiss unpleasantly in your audience’s ear. Pop filters also mitigate the inevitable sound of your exhalation. You could also use a dead cat, a kind of soft covering that goes over a microphone.

 

You’ll also need editing software such as a digital audio workstation (DAW) or Adobe Audition to turn your raw audio files into episodes. While some high-quality podcasts will use the same complex editing software that produces music, podcasters can generally get by with simpler programmes.

 

Likewise, if you’re providing a live video feed of your podcast broadcast, you might need video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro to splice the clips together.

 

Your podcast needs to ‘live’ somewhere. You’ll need a website, an RSS feed and a hosting service for your audio files. A basic WordPress site will usually suffice, and setting up an RSS feed is a similar process. For hosting, services like Blubrry and Libsyn offer affordable services for hosting your podcast episodes.

 

Recording a podcast on Windows or Mac.

You can use your laptop or desktop computer to record your podcast. This is where you’ll plug in your microphones, and you’ll need one to run your recording and editing software. 

woman in a white blazer, on a train. Listening to her ipod.

There isn’t much difference between Windows and Mac OS when it comes to recording software. Most leading software, like Adobe’s, have versions compatible with both operating systems.

 

Recording a podcast on iOS or Android.

You can record podcasts on-the-go with your smartphone or tablet. If your mobile device is compatible with audio editing software such as Adobe’s Audition app then you’ll have access to many of the same tools and effects as the desktop version right there in your pocket.


How should you record your podcast?

Whether your show is scripted or not will depend on your chosen format. If you’re presenting the show on your own, you might prefer to read from a pre-written script. However, if you’re hosting interviews with guests, an unscripted conversation is going to be much more interesting and authentic.

 

Remember these top tips for speaking into your mic when recording your podcast:
 

  1. Hold the microphone as close as possible to your mouth, without it touching your lips.
  2. Position your microphone slightly above your mouth – you don’t want to be reaching up or slouching down to speak into it.
  3. Make sure you speak loudly and clearly – don’t mumble or speak too quickly.
  4. Invest in a microphone arm to hold the mic steadily in place.
  5. If you have long hair, keep it tied up so it doesn’t brush against the mic.
  6. Avoid wearing jewellery or heavy clothes that might rustle or jangle in the background.
online-live-radio-studio-desk

Editing and producing your podcast.

Once you’ve recorded your podcast, you’re ready to edit. Take the time to edit the best parts together, remove any mistakes and re-record any parts you aren’t happy with. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s OK – learning is all part of the fun.

“It doesn’t matter what you record or how you record it, there’s going to be some noise and somebody’s going to have to take care of it.”

– Lo Boutillette

 

How do you edit a podcast?

Editing your podcast gives you a chance to iron out any errors and perfect your broadcast audio.

 

Most DAWs have tools or plugins for reducing background noise, but they need room tone as a reference point to know what level of background noise to filter out. Also, be ready to make some extensive edits. Many podcasters record far more audio than what actually makes it into the episode. 

 

Things you might want to consider include:

 

  • Stabilising the volume. Make sure your podcast has a consistent volume throughout. It can be disconcerting for a listener if some parts are louder than others.
     
  • Reduce background noise. Every room has a slight background noise, even if you’re recording in a quiet bedroom. A good microphone will pick up faint sounds, such as the buzzing of a refrigerator. Reduce these until inaudible.
     
  • Fading. Use sound fades to signify different parts of your show starting and ending. Audio slowly fading in and out sounds more professional than simply turning it on and off. Consider fading in your jingles, intro and outro music, or any ads.
man-and-woman-in-white-shirts-podcasters-interview

Can you use music for your podcast?

You can use music for your podcast. But if you’re distributing it publicly you’ll need the copyright to use the music if the track has been created by someone else. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to afford the rights to the latest chart-topping hits. However, you could create your own music if you’re talented enough. Alternatively, there are plenty of free sounds and audio tracks online. Find these in online audio libraries, like Adobe’s Stock Audio. Just remember to credit the original creator. 

 

The same applies for any jingles or sound effects you might use during your show.

 

How should you publish your podcast?

Once you’re happy with your finished podcast, it’s time to upload it to your chosen site ready for your fans to listen.

 

Before you do, there are a few things to consider:


Export

You’ll want to choose a particular file format to export your podcast in. MP3 is a very common file format. MP3 files are small in size and quickly uploaded or downloaded. However, they’re not always the best sounding option as they lose some of their audio quality in order to be so small.

 

Find out how to convert audio files here.

WAVs and FLACs have great audio quality and are still very common too. The downside with these is they have a much larger file size than some of their rivals. This can make them slow to upload and download. Plus, they can take up a lot of space on a hard drive.  

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Podcast hosting.

Compare podcasting hosting sites like Spotify and Blubrry before you commit to using one particular platform. You’ll usually have to pay a fee and adhere to strict criteria to use these sites. Find the platform that best suits your needs and your budget.

 

Podcast uploading.

As you upload your podcast, you’ll need to write a short, catchy description for both your show and each particular episode. You’ll only have a few words in which to do this, so make it short, but interesting. It could be templated. Describe what listeners can expect to learn in your show, or what you’ll be discussing. The aim is to get them interested enough to hit the play button.

 

You’ll need to choose some artwork, too. Podcast artwork is a bit like an album cover. It needs to be original and advertise your podcast in the best way. Perhaps you can create a logo or eye-catching piece of artwork yourself ready to upload and display proudly on your podcast page.

 

Podcast promotion.

Once your podcast is uploaded and all your descriptions added, it’s ready to be listened to. However, you’ll need to let people know where to find you, so consider how you’ll advertise and market your podcast.

 

  1. What will appeal to your particular audience?
  2. Where are your audience likely to be? What social media platforms do they use?
  3. Are there any forums or online discussion pages where your topic is already discussed?
  4. How much money are you willing to put into advertising?

 

You can advertise on social media using a platform’s advertising window, or you could opt to use your chosen podcasting platform’s built-in advertising tools. These cost money though and if you aren’t keen to invest much at this stage then spreading the word is up to you. 

Radio DJ at work

Maybe you can find online forums or social media fan pages where people are already discussing your chosen topic? You could post on these pages advertising your podcast and letting people know to give you a listen.

 

Building a loyal audience can take time. So, if your podcast takes a while to generate much feedback, don’t be discouraged. Some of the most popular podcasts have been around for years. Stay positive and ensure each show is the best it can be by including high quality production and interesting, new ideas.

 

Adobe podcast partners.

 

  • Jamie Jeffers is the host of the fantastic British History Podcast, an engaging deep dive into the long history of the British Isles. Jeffers’ show covers the island’s stories from prehistory to the present day.

 

  • Lo Boutillette is a creative producer, editor and director at LatinX.com, where she produces a range of incredible stories, videos, podcasts and more dedicated to Latin life and culture. 

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