Updated:Updated this articles in line with 2020.
What do you need to do to start your own podcast?
Why should you start a podcast? Is it even worth it?
I’ve taken from my experience of building up my own podcast, “The Digital Marketing Punkcast” and share my top five steps to help you build your own podcast to bring in a whole new audience.
What’s included in this post…
Why a Podcast?
When I started my podcast I didn’t really expect much to come from it.
Now I have many, many listeners each episode. They interact with me on LinkedIn, Twitter and even email me.
The podcast helped turn my brand of “Digital Marketing Punk” from empty words on a web page to a living breathing thing. I managed to give the brand my voice.
I had a call this week with a digital agency who are avid listeners of the podcast, at the end of the call they were amazed… “You sound exactly like you are on your podcast!”…although it is me after all.
I love the audio format. There is something so personal about it, having worked in local radio many moons ago I knew the speed in which audio can be created, produced and put live.
I don’t have to worry about how much hair looks or what weird faces I’m pulling when I’m in front of the microphone.
In fact most of the time I’m my comfy clothes (my old Sonic the Hedgehog t-shirt and a pair of joggers) while I’m recording.
*sigh* It’s so nice!
I also like the fact it’s SO easy for me to get other people onto the show and share thoughts and ideas about the things I’m also passionate about.
5 Steps To Starting a Podcast
There are 5 basic steps that I should have followed in order to start podcasting.
1) The Plan
This bit is really important. I was fortunate enough to have many years of mulling over my idea for a podcast in my head a lot.
The Ideas (Stealing) Stage
My first step in this was listening to other podcasts. Not just the ones that are within your area you are making a podcast in but ones outside of that too. I personally listen to a whole host of different podcasts are from interests of mine.
- WWE Wrestling
- True Crime
and I also listen to Digital Marketing podcasts as well.
The point is not to just reinvent what everyone else can listen to, they will most likely listen to the most established podcast.
You need to take the new, unique ideas that you hear from other podcasts and implement them into your own.
Now, podcasts are a very popular medium. It more important than ever to have a niche. You have to get an audience a reason to give your podcast a chance.
This makes it unique and will grab a broader audience (and maybe even steal some audiences too).
One of the first things you should get sorted in your head is your topic (this part is easy) and then how you will niche that.
I see lots of people who have podcasts, many of them are audio formats of their blog. Although there is nothing wrong with that, I personally find the audio format more accessible than reading. I’m very sure this opens up this content to an existing audience who might find it difficult to spend the time reading.
The limitation of this is that, the growth is very limited. This may be difficult to keep new listeners engaged episode after episode.
Create a Mind Map
Once, you’ve “borrowed” all the ideas you should make a mind map of them and start to bring those ideas together (with your own unique ideas ideally) to start creating the fundamentals for your podcast.
Within your mind map, you should establish a few basic…
- Who your core audience is
- How your ideas relate to this audience
- How long you want your podcast to be
- How often you want to release the podcast
- How your podcast is going to be different than competitors
Establish the Format
There are so many different routes you could take with your podcast, it should be just you speaking, or it could always take an interview route, perhaps it some kind of “zoo” format with a discussion between you and your co-presenters.
At this stage, you should iron out what format you are going to take and then start to structure out how you are going to present this format.
Although, although I enjoy a loose format with my own show, I like it to be organized chaos, in a sense that a listen will still feel comfortable listening to it episode to episode. Creating too much chaos could have an adverse effect of a listening enjoying a show one episode and the next being so different they don’t quite enjoy it so much.
Create a generic structure for each episode, but don’t make it so rigid that you don’t have any room to manoeuvre within it.
This is important because I know that this could be an issue that could turn people off from trying their hand at podcasting.
The truth of the matter is that the equipment doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
I know some podcasters have expensive microphones, large mixing desks and boom arms and pop shields. Coupled with Adobe Audition (which if you don’t already have is expensive in itself) you can start running up a very large outlay to get you started.
Truth is, as a starter podcast it’s simply unnecessary. You will need one piece of equipment to start out. A microphone.
This doesn’t have to be the most expensive microphone in the world, in fact, if have something as simple as a microphone headset that will be good enough.
This is just to get you started.
As you evolve your podcast and grow it. You can invest in better equipment as and when you see fit.
Do you need a mixing desk? No. Do you need
I personally, invested in…
1 USB Microphone of a semi-decent quality
1 Boom Arm Stand, which stops the microphone from picking up all those knocks on the desk.
1 Pop Shield, which stops all those plosive sounds I make from being recorded as a horrible noise.
This will probably be my equipment for some time to come unless I feel like I want to do some remote interviews outside on my studio.
This brings me nicely onto “studios”…
You don’t need a fancy separate room with foam tapes to all of your walls like professional recording studios do.
I record from my households home office, which is a tiny little box room. It’s not ideal, but it’s not detrimental to my recordings either.
When choosing a location for recording, it’s important you take into consideration the noise levels of the room when you talk. Exposed hard walls and hard floors will allow the sound from your voice to bounce back and back into the microphone. Which creates a horrible echo-y noise on your recording.
Larger rooms with lots of stuff in are much better than a smaller room.
However, as many of us don’t have that luxury. A small room with a carpet (or rug) will do perfectly fine.
This is still really nit-picky stuff and certainly shouldn’t stop you from podcasting.
Pick a room, any room and start recording.
There is a lot less to choose from with audio editing software than there is with audio hardware.
I personally use the latter. Audacity is a great little bit of audio editing kit and it’s a miracle that it is free.
I record my podcast directly into Audacity. Create little shorts bits of audio for things like my intro, outro, and sweepers (little noises that separate other audio) and then I drop them in.
It takes a little bit of learning for Audacity, but it’s exactly the same as learning something like Adobe Audition.
Remote Interviewing Platform
If you are thinking of having guests on your podcast (more on why you should later) but it can be a little tricky to start thinking about doing interviews locally.
You would need to get all your logistics right to travel, find a space to do the interview, etc, etc. Which if you are really dedicated to your podcast you could do!
However, for ease and sanity, it is certainly better to conduct interviews remotes.
You might be thinking that it’s easy to conduct an interview over Skype and record it, however, that’s not as easy as it sounds, although plugins to Skype will allow you to record both ends of a conversation. However, if you just try to hit the record button and have the conversation you will tend to find that only your voice will be recorded.
There are however platforms that will allow you to easily record interviews for your podcast easily.
One platform I use it called Zencastr it’s a great little tool which allows you to create little virtual recording studio remotely, so you and your guest can be cosy at home recording an interview and Zencastr will record the audio locally from both sides.
Once the conversation is complete, you will be presented with two audio files, one of you and one of your interviewee, with then you can drop it into your audio editing software and you have your high-quality recording.
The advantage of this platform is that it records remotely, so unlike, Skype, if there is a little blip in your internet connection, you don’t get that horrible robot sound recorded. What Zencastr does it record everything locally direct from the machine. It’s a great little bit of kit.
Podcasting Hosting Platform
So there are many options when it comes to hosting your podcast.
You can choose to self-host, which is great if you want complete control over everything.
However, in my research on this area, I’ve found it can be over complicated and unless you have the hardware and web hosting required, if you find your podcast really takes off (and we hope it does) then you could find some technical issues along the way.
If you have the knowledge, expertise, and hardware to self-host your own podcast then you should go for it. You will have 100% control over your podcast.
Podcasting Hosting Platform
If you just want to get your podcast hosted like the rest of us then you will need to look into a podcast hosting platform.
There’s a wide range of ever increasing podcast hosting platform out there to choose from.
Some of the big traditional players include…
There are all frankly very, very similar, the choice is whoever you feel most comfortable with.
Libsyn was my choice because I want onto the websites of many of my favourite personal podcasts and they all used Libsyn.
So, easy choice, however, it does mean that I can only speak about my experience on the platform, so for the purposes of this article, I’m going to leave you with the advice of… “Shop around”.
A Word about Anchor
Anchor is an up and coming podcasting platform which is really pushing forward to make it super easy for you to get your content out quickly and easily.
I should stress. I have not used Anchor personally!
I like how they have created a set of tools which make it almost painless to record and distribute their content, however, they came into a bit of hot water recently due to their “Terms of Service” stating that all content published on the platform was essentially owned by them.
They have since taken steps to reassure content creators that their content is their own.
This just doesn’t sit well with me as the podcast is key to my brand. Therefore, I’ve steered away from them for the time being.
However, I would probably recommend taking a look at what they have to offer if this isn’t a concern for you.
3) Creating Your Assets
Once you have your plan and equipment altogether. It’s time to get started.
I advise you go away and record your first podcast. This can be a simple introductory podcast explaining your intentions and your vision.
Let me make this clear… Your first podcast will most likely be terrible.
You can listen to my terrible first podcast here.
But it’s really important to get this first one out the way.
This will give you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
However, from a purely administrative point of view, this will the first time you will get to play around with your assets.
Writing your introduction script which will introduce your podcast each episode.
This is a really key element because this gives your listeners in the first 30 seconds an idea of what it is they will be listening to.
They will be asking themselves the questions…
- Is this for me?
- Is this my kind of thing?
- Am I going to like the person’s voice?
Something clear, concise and punchy is really going to grab the listener and make them carry on.
“Hi, I’m Digital Marketing Punk and you are listening to the Digital Marketing Punkcast, your guide through the unruly world of digital marketing without any sales bullshit or geek speak.”
Or… something better than that.
Plus it’s better than…
[Intro Music Ends]…”Errrr… Right… I’m Digital Marketing Punk and this is my show… Hope you like it”
Or something equally cringe.
Intro & Outro Music
Your introduction music is key to grabbing the attention of a listener and keeping them listening to what you have to say.
It’s not by any means essential but it will give a sense of a well organized and professional podcast.
To create something like this you will need two things…
Sound wonderfully simple, however, in reality, getting either of these is difficult.
Music is copyrighted (as it should be) and you will need to either need to find a musician willing to give you permission to use their creations on your show.
Or, you will need to get some royalty free music purchased.
I used AudioJungle to source the music for my own podcast at a very small one-off cost.
For the voice-over, I was fortunate enough to find someone looking experience in voice-overs to create one for me.
I do voice overs myself, however having my own voice introduce myself seems odd and a little egotistical. However, should you like my voice and want a voice over for your podcast making then you can drop me a line.
4) Marketing Your Podcast
This is the difficult bit.
As with all digital marketing, nothing is instantaneous without buying adverts.
So, it’s really important to be patient here.
You may have been wondering why I didn’t care that much about my first podcast being so terrible.
Because almost no one actually listened to it when it went out, but as episodes went on an audience started to grow and grow.
So much so, now I have to start thinking about re-recording my first podcast for the sole reason that some people may wish to start my podcast series from the very beginning and if they did. They wouldn’t go past episode 1… I wouldn’t blame them.
Utilize the audience you already have on your social networks and get people to start listening to your show.
Post about each show you release and use the podcast talking topics to strike up discussion in your comment feeds.
This engagement will get more eyes on your podcast and more eyes will slowly become more ears.
Another great way to promote your podcast is using a tool called Headliner.
This free (at the time of writing) tool is a great way to make videos of your audio podcasts for use on social media.
I try to take little segments of my shows and post them using Headliner.
Re-purposing your audio content into this video content is a great way to get more eyes to see your podcast and in the end gain more subscribers and listeners.
If you use it you will see how easy it is to create videos just like this one, with an image of your brand and subtitles (for those pesky people that don’t turn the sound on).
Another great way of promoting your podcast if through the guest that you choose to have on your podcast.
Getting guest is usually quite easy and many people will love to come on to a platform like your podcast and promote themselves and their ideas.
What you should be doing is using these guest to promote the podcast by promoting themselves on your podcast.
It’s important not to just expect your guest to promote it automatically, as these are busy people.
So, don’t forget to tell your guests when the podcast they appear is going live and give them a little nudge to promote it on their own social media channels.
When using this method, certainly with guests that have a large audience themselves you can find a great way of exposing your podcast to a whole new audience very, very quickly.
Appearing On Other Podcasts
After some time of doing my podcasts, people very kindly offered me to come onto their podcasts as a guest.
This is a really key trick to getting listeners. By taking 15 minutes out of my day to appear on other podcasts I found myself gaining listeners.
Don’t be afraid of reaching out to other podcasters as well!
However, be aware of which podcasts your reaching out to. If you are expecting any kind of return then you should be focussing on podcasts where you type of listeners would hang out and listen to.
5) Organising a Cycle
As wonderful as podcasting is, it still takes a whole lot of time to get a podcast from the idea phase to published.
- Organising a Guest
- Recording and Interview
- Recording the podcast itself
- Editing the audio
- Publishing the podcast
- Marketing the podcast
This can all take, in its entirety a long time.
That’s why it’s really important to create a cycle of tasks that you have to complete to create your podcast.
Getting yourself a Trello board to ensure that you get everything done in an orderly fashion and once you’ve created a few podcasts you will soon get yourself into an easy, smooth groove of creating your fantastic podcast.
I hope some of this has proved useful to you in your journey to creating a podcast of your very own.
It’s an exciting and brilliant journey to embark on.
Enjoy and get recording.
Also, don’t forget, if you want to listen to The Digital Marketing Punkcast you can check it out on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.