There are a lot of people listening to podcasts now. In fact, around half of the adults in the US listen to podcasts, and it is across all demographics. More than that, the podcast audience is growing rapidly. Because of that, it is a great time to look into creating your own podcast.
The good news is that nothing is stopping you from creating a podcast. Since the market is growing, there is room for new podcasts. Moreover, podcasting allows any number of topics and styles to succeed. You do not even need to be a great speaker to find success. If you are interested in learning more, keep reading down below.
Why Podcasting Stands Out
Before discussing the specifics of how to make a podcast and turn it into something successful, it is important to know why it stands out from other methods. For starters, it allows you to build a connection with your audience. More than many mediums, it engages people using long-form discussion.
Additionally, audiences can consume podcasts in almost any setting. If you do a podcast with video, you can post it on many platforms. However, it is just as effective as audio-only content, where people can listen to it on the go. And, of course, it makes it easy to gain a following of people around any topic you want.
Stage 1: The Concept
The first part of any future podcast is to wrap your head around what you actually plan on doing. Of course, there are multiple parts to this, and you might not be able to give perfect answers immediately. However, a great place to start is with the concept. Every good podcast needs a strong concept or topic to center around.
Pick a Topic
There are many ways to go about choosing a topic or concept for your podcast. Think about any podcast you have seen or heard before. Most of them have a strong concept or topic that stands out from everything else. There might be exceptions, but all podcasts take on a certain flavor over time.
Additionally, know that podcasting is hard work, even if it seems effortless when you listen to someone else. It is not as easy as talking for an hour or more and throwing it online. It takes dedication, meaning you should try to find a topic that you are passionate about.
A good way to find out if you have something that could work is by creating a list of episodes ahead of time. It is a good sign if you can think of a few on the spot and expand on them, creating a significant list. At the very least, you will not be struggling to figure out what to do a few episodes in.
Figure Out a Name
The name of a podcast is the first thing people see. Before people read the description or listen to an episode, they know the name. In fact, even before that, the name might be responsible for a podcast appearing in someone’s search. After all, the podcast’s name serves as the show’s set of keywords.
When you think about it, you will realize that all of the platforms used for podcasts are search engines. You put in a word or name, and it brings numerous results. Therefore, the name can be very important depending on what you want to accomplish. That being said, there are many types of names out there, such as:
- Names that utilize a pre-existing brand name
- Personal brands that build off the host’s name
- Names that explicitly state what the podcast is about
- Nonsensical or abstract names that explain little by themselves
All of them can be successful. More important than anything else is the successful use of keywords and the marketing that comes later. Of course, the name can also be changed later, so picking something solid and moving on is also an option.
Write a Description
Once your name is settled, it is time to work on a description. It is only around a single paragraph, but it is vital for converting interested people into listeners. Keep your mind on effective keywords or phrases, but make sure you write something that people will want to read and find interesting.
This is where knowing your topic or concept will help. The same is true of your audience. Knowing what you are doing and who you are doing it for makes writing a description easier. As long as you feel comfortable with the podcast you are creating, you can simply write to your target audience.
Choose Your Format
There are multiple formats when making a podcast. Some people prefer to speak to their audience by themselves, focusing on the content and delivering information or entertainment alone. Others prefer having someone to speak to, whether it be a guest or co-host. Some common formats include:
- Interview Podcasts: Generally feature a single host and an interview guest.
- Scripted Non-Fiction: Focus on a single theme for an entire season.
- News Recap: News summaries about a certain field.
- Educational: Also scripted, but they focus on education.
While those are only a few of the possible formats, they represent a decent percentage of the popular podcasts out there. Moreover, they are a great place to start if you still are not certain about your own format.
Additionally, determining the proper length is also important. Going a bit over is fine, but you need to decide how long you can reasonably talk about your topic. The important thing is to be engaging and spend enough time each episode to build a connection with your audience. The same is true for how often the podcast is released.
Decide on the Artwork
Artwork is another important aspect of podcasting. The same is true for music. But when it comes to the artistic side of a podcast’s packaging, the brand is important. In fact, there is an argument to be made that artwork can come last. After all, things might change while you are creating the show, meaning you might need different artwork.
However, regardless of when you decide to figure out your artwork, know that it is an important step. Just like a name, the artwork is one of the first things people see, so it represents your podcast from the start. It is also an important step in branding and future marketing.
When choosing artwork, keep a few things in mind. First, each platform might have different specifications for what they accept. Secondly, ensure that you make something that will be just as clear as a small image as it is as a large image. Remember, many people use their mobile devices when listening to podcasts.
Stage 2: Tools of the Trade
After getting a handle on the concept, you can begin to think about the tools and equipment you will need. The easiest place to start is with basic equipment, such as microphones. However, various types of software will also be necessary, including editing software to put the finishing touches on your episodes.
Pick Your Podcast Equipment
When it comes to equipment, the most obvious starting place is a microphone. Having a good microphone means better sound quality, and while it is not mandatory for success, it helps. After all, while people will put up with a lot for a good podcast, a better listener experience is always welcomed.
You also need to consider how many microphones you need. If you plan on putting together a one-person show, you can pick up a single mic. Moreover, you probably do not need an audio interface. But if you plan on including multiple people in a single podcast, an audio interface is a great choice. Then there are accessories:
- Microphone Boom Arms
- Professional Headphones
- Pop Filters
While these accessories are not a must, they can improve the experience for you, the audience, and any guests or co-hosts. A boom arm makes it easy to adjust the angle of the microphone and speak comfortably and clearly. Meanwhile, headphones can ensure everyone hears things clearly. And a pop filter just clears up the sound further.
Additionally, if you plan to have video recordings of your podcast, you need to pick out something for that as well. There are a few options when it comes to video recordings, but a solid choice is using a high-quality webcam. However, setting up a video camera is also an option.
Get Your Software Set Up
Podcasting software focuses on the editing process, especially when it comes to audio-only podcasts. Not only is it useful for ensuring the best sound quality, but if you need to cut anything out, it makes it easy. There is plenty of editing software out there, but some of the popular choices include:
- Audacity – Free – Mac, Windows, and Linux
- GarageBand – Free – Mac and iOS
- Pro Tools – Free/Paid – Mac and Windows
- Hindenburg – Paid – Mac and Windows
- Adobe Audition – Paid – Mac and Windows
Additionally, if you want to perform long-distance interviews, you will need the right software for that as well. Squadcast is a great choice if you do not mind spending a few bucks every month. At the same time, Zoom and Skype are decent free options, with Zoom being far superior in terms of audio quality.
Choose a Hosting Service
Finding the right hosting service does not necessarily have to happen before you record an episode, but it is not a bad idea. After all, once you have some episodes ready, you want to be able to focus on what matters, getting your podcasts on the right websites and marketing them.
Think of a hosting service as a hub. It will handle pushing your new episodes to any number of podcast platforms. All you have to do is pick a hosting service, connect it to whatever platforms you are interested in, and let it take care of the rest. Some popular choices include:
Many people consider Buzzsprout to be a cut above the rest, but you should look around for yourself. You might end up finding a service that fits your needs precisely.
Stage 3: Recording Episodes
There is a lot to do before recording an episode, but once it is all done, it is time to record. And the first thing you need to do is remember one thing: it will not be good from the start. Okay, maybe it will be. But chances are, things will take a while to gel into place. Consider the potential challenges:
- Technical problems
- Issues with guests or content
- Clunkiness in the editing process
The important part is to keep going and focus on what you are talking about. If you originally chose a topic you are excited about, you can simply treat it casually and adjust as you go until you find your rhythm. There is also plenty you can do to ensure the episodes are as good as possible.
Take Steps to Improve the Episodes
Podcasting takes work, which is something that deserves to be stressed a few times. You will not succeed immediately, but that is fine. Experience is necessary, and as you grow, so will your podcast. However, there are things that can be done to improve your podcast, including:
- Write an Outline: Having a degree of structure or talking points can keep you on track and make things easier. Being able to write a decent outline also means you have plenty to talk about, which can be the hardest part.
- Pick a Good Spot: Small rooms with a lot of echoes are not good for podcasting. On the other hand, large rooms with plenty of quiet, open space are fantastic. However, a room with plenty of sound-absorbing material is also a good choice.
- Test Your Equipment: You want to set your equipment up ahead of time. After that, get familiar with it, at least to the point of knowing where you want everything so you can record comfortably.
Once you have done all that, you can really start recording. In fact, you can have the outline in front of you as you do, using the talking points and other details to refresh your memory. Though, it is better to avoid a true script to keep things natural.
Put on the Finishing Touches
In the same sense that your first podcasts might not be great, none of them will be perfect. You will make mistakes, even if it is just mispronouncing a word or struggling with a dry mouth. That is where editing software comes into play. You can ignore mistakes and keep going until you get it right using editing software.
There are a few options when it comes to editing your mistakes. The first is to simply keep going the entire time, simply redoing any parts that need to be redone. After that, you can edit everything out in post-production. Alternatively, if you want to come out the other side with a mostly-finished product, you can edit out mistakes immediately.
Depending on your format, both are valid options, though you might want toward one more than the other. If you are going with a very long podcast or have guests, stopping to edit could become problematic quickly. On the other hand, if you are doing a short one-person podcast, you can afford to go a bit slower.
A few other finishing touches that you want to consider include artwork and music. You might have already picked artwork for your podcast, but if you have not, now is the time. After that, consider the music you want to use in the intro and outro. It is not something you have to do, but it can be a nice touch.
Get the Podcast Online
With an episode or more recorded and the finishing touches finalized, you need to put it out there. Of course, that involves making sure it is part of the right podcast directories. Some of the popular directories you should consider:
- Apple Podcasts
- Google Podcasts
You might want to consider other platforms, especially if you are planning to have video versions of your podcast. While some of the above platforms support that option, YouTube and other video platforms are great for those types of podcasts. Make sure you put your podcast up everywhere!
Stage 4: Building Your Podcast
While you might finally be able to sigh with relief once you have recorded and edited an episode, there is still work to be done. While good content is a great way to impress an audience, it is not always enough to build an audience. In fact, in the early stages, marketing is a must.
Marketing is an entire subject all its own, but there are some things you can think about from the start. In the following section, you will find some effective tips for getting your podcast off the ground.
Make the Launch an Event
The start is a big deal, so you should make it one. While this will be easier for some people than others, you should not simply post the first episode. Try reaching out to communities you are already a part of, such as social media and forums. You can also find people that are in the same industry your podcast targets.
Even if you are someone switching gears entirely to make a podcast, do your best to get attention on your podcast. As mentioned, this might be more effective for some than others, such as those with a pre-existing community. However, it is a good idea for anyone, even if it is just friends and family.
Engage with the Audience
Even if you only have a few people starting out, do your best to engage the audience. Respond to comments and interact. You want to make sure you build a connection. Moreover, you can take the chance to ask them for feedback. Not only will it help you refine your podcast, but it will build a sense of community.
Engaging with the audience is particularly important for one reason: not every podcast needs to be huge. You can be successful with a podcast even if you only have a dedicated following. Niche podcasts can work, so it is more important to have a dedicated community.
There is a lot to do when you are starting a podcast. Moreover, even when it has been created, there is more work to be done. That being said, for those just starting out, it is important to just start doing it. Put up episodes even if they are bad, and ask your audience for input. You can then slowly refine yourself as you keep making content.