Table of Contents
Starting a podcast can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, but it also requires careful planning and execution to be successful. Here are my tips to help you be successful. It goes from generic to very specific, by the way.
Define Your Podcast's Niche and Audience:
Choose a specific topic or niche that you are passionate about and knowledgeable in. Be sure you know your target audience and what kind of content they’re interested in. This will help you create content that resonates with your listeners.
Develop a Compelling Brand and Visual Identity:
Create a memorable podcast name, logo, and cover art that reflect your content and appeal to your target audience. A professional-looking brand can help your podcast stand out and attract more listeners. I use Canva to do all images for my website, Elementor to design the website (on WordPress) and Teachable to host my courses.
Plan Your Content and Format:
Outline the structure and format of your podcast episodes. Decide on the episode length, frequency, and style (interviews, solo episodes, storytelling, etc.). A well-structured plan will make it easier to stay organized and consistent. I started out with one format (expression episodes) and expanded to others! You don’t need to be permanently committed to a format, although your listeners will appreciate some sort of consistency.
Someone once told me that before starting a podcast or blog, it’s important to be able to think of 100 different episode topics. If you can’t easily think of 100 episode ideas, then how can you be sure you have enough to say about the subject? Will it be worth it?
Before posting your first episode, I’d create four episodes, which will help you get a feel for the process. Remember, there’s always a learning curve both on the technological side and in your own ability to sound confident. Most podcasters are embarrassed by their first episodes; make them as good as you can (perhaps get some feedback!) and then launch. Having four episodes will give you some back-up episodes in case it takes longer to create new episodes than expected.
Set Yourself Up for Success: Join a Community
I’m a part of the Buzzsprout Podcast Community on Facebook and I know how much value there is in being part of a group of people doing the same thing. You’ll see common struggles among podcasters and get tips and feedback from the community on how to overcome them! Honestly, I wish I had known about this group when I was getting started.
Other podcast hosting platforms (see below) have communities as well! Don’t miss out.
Invest in Quality Equipment and Editing Software:
Good audio quality is crucial for retaining and attracting listeners. Invest in a decent microphone and headphones to improve the audio quality.
- Microphone: I use ShureSM7B, but other people rave about the Blue Yeti and are fine with Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB.
- Headphones: Want good sound? The headphones below are used by top audio engineers and have “exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range with deep accurate bass response.”
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50X (less than $200)
- Mount: You need something to hold your microphone. The thing that holds it is called a mount. I really like this mount, since it doesn’t take up desk space and doesn’t fall over like the table stand I used to have. Not only is it affordable, it comes with a pop filter so you don’t need to get that separately!
- Innogear Microphone Stand (less than $50)
- Interface: An interface is what you use to record audio from your microphone to your computer.
5 Quick Tips for Improving Audio
Apart from the audio and headphones, there are some BASIC tricks that when implemented will do wonders to your audio.
#1. Sit under a blanket.
You don’t need a fancy audio recording studio or booth, get comfortable underneath a thick blanket and record from there. This is a technique that I heard about from a few different podcasters – the DuoLingo French Podcast (they said that’s how they asked guests to record during COVID). The Office Ladies, which is one of the top podcasts out there, is recorded inside of a closet full of clothes. If you don’t feel comfortable under a blanket, record in a closet or small room to avoid reverb / room sound.
I have panels on my walls to absorb the sound and I still record under a blanket. I’ve compared the sound quality thoroughly and it’s simply better underneath my comforter. Don’t knock it (reject it), ‘til you try it.
#2. Learn the tricks of your editing software.
Audacity is fine for editing and it’s free, and the podcasters I know use it. My husband (who’s a music producer) swears that Reaper is the best software to master because you can save settings there so that your audio is uniformly mixed (“radio ready”) for all episodes. I’ll probably switch to Reaper or Descript at some point, but haven’t yet.
Descript allows you to edit your audio by editing the words, rather than the audio. So if you don’t enjoy editing waveforms, you might really like this. It can also automatically delete your uhs and ums.
In general, recording and editing on any of these should be easy. Youtube is just a few quicks away and there are so many video tutorials nowadays that there’s no excuse for being confused. Learning how to use the basics (normalizing, compressing, limiting, noise reduction and amplification) will really make your audio sound much better! You can learn it in a day or less.
#3. Use a pop filter.
You won’t understand how much you hate every word that begins with the letter “p” until you have to reduce the sound of each one individually. A pop filter is cheap, there’s absolutely no reason to not have one. The Innogear mount above comes with one, but if you already have a mount, then get this pop filter.
#4. Try AI Editing for FREE
Recently a lot of people have been talking about AI in the podcasting world. Some websites have appeared where you can submit your audio for free and then they’ll do basic mixing (leveling out peaks, reducing background noise, etc.).
Enhance by Adobe is one of them. I think the success of this is based on your recording situation, so it’s MOST definitely worth trying out. If your audio even gets slightly better, it’s worth the effort! At least for now, it’s still free to use.
#5.Hire an Audio Editor
If you don’t have time and want someone to edit your audio, you can always find an audio editor for fairly cheap on Fiverr.
There are other services that allow you to hire based on hours edited per month.
Find the Right Podcast Host:
What’s a podcast host? Well they can be in charge of a few things:
Hosting and Distribution: Your podcast hosting platform should help you get hooked up with every podcast app and player out there (Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts, etc.) ensuring all of your episodes are accessible to listeners. All you have to do is post in one spot and your episode will appear everywhere. They’ll help you set this up!
Monetization: Some podcast hosts give you the option to generate an income. For example, your host might have ad placements integrated into their system so that you can accept ads and automatically get money based on the number of downloads you receive. The amount you earn will depend on the host (they’ll take a cut because they did the effort for you). Some hosting services may also provide affiliate marketing opportunities.
Legal and Ethical Considerations: Hosts must be aware of legal and ethical guidelines related to podcasting, such as copyright laws, privacy regulations, and content standards. Complying with these rules is essential to avoid legal issues.
In essence, the podcast host should provide everything you need to make more, good-quality content and reach more listeners.
My thoughts: START with a free or cheap podcast host, you can always transfer your RSS feed to a different host later.
It’s important to realize though, when you go for free / affordable it won’t always be perfect. You might have limited
- Spotify for Podcasters – (formerly Anchor)
- Free service, owned by Spotify. This might be a great place to begin. However, it’s unclear from the outside what laws and regulations exist regarding your ownership of your show. Previously with Anchor, many podcasters expressed their concern about giving up their full ownership of their show. Read the fine print. What I can say is that over the past two years, Spotify has been actively in improving their platform for podcasters. While I’m hosted with Buzzsprout, I can still engage with my audience (take polls, ask questions, etc.) from the Spotify Podcast platform, which is great!
- When I started podcasting, I hosted many exclusive episodes on Libsyn. It was easy and very affordable.
- You could also test it out with Buzzsprout; it’s free to start. You can upload 2 hours a month and that audio will be hosted for 90 days. If you decide that after that time frame you’d like to upgrade or switch hosts, you can do that! Just be sure you do it before the 90 days runs up.
Why I chose Buzzsprout as my host...
I’ve been using Buzzsprout since 2021 (after switching from another host), and they’ve continued to impress me. Here are some of the perks for just $12 a month.
- Get a free website: Provide your listeners with a slick and easy to use website. Link your socials and crowdfunding pages on Patreon, Buy Me a Coffee, etc. See mine.
- Join their free community to help you progress. Being a podcaster can feel like a solo endeavor and there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re alone and struggling! You’re not alone! There’s a community going through exactly what you’re going through, you just have to connect with them!
- Get the best customer service. Honestly, they are helpful. So helpful. I’m a needy customer and they respond quickly and thoroughly.
- Earn money. While I don’t earn much money from ads on Buzzsprout (about $200-$300 per month), I can easily accept an ad to be dynamically inserted into my podcast and earn money from it. Just a warning though, don’t expect to earn much!
- One of the best in the industry. They’re up to date with what’s going on in the industry and share news via their own podcast, Buzzcast. They constantly update their site with the newest technology. For example, over the past month they introduced AI to simplify your work flow (create your transcript, write your summaries, etc.).
- Mastering: For just $6 extra per month you can also "master" your audio. Even though I edit my podcast, I like how this extra feature improves my audio quality.
One last thing, the interface is just user friendly, so people who are not savvy with tech (like me!) have no problem navigating how it works.
Be Consistent and Patient:
Building an audience takes time. Consistency is key, so stick to your chosen publishing schedule. I started posting one episode per week the first year and now do one every two weeks. Be patient and keep creating high-quality content. It may take a while before you see significant growth in your listener base.
Also, try to avoid comparing yourself with others. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen people say “I only get 50-100 downloads per month, is that normal?"
There’s no such thing as normal. Some people have few, but very engaged listeners! Remember that podcasting is not just about creating content; it’s also about connecting with your audience and building a loyal following over time. Stay dedicated to your podcast, continuously improve your skills, and adapt to listener feedback to increase your chances of success.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sponsorships: If you look for sponsorships on your own, check out Podcorn. You can see a sponsor’s budget and choose sponsor’s that align with you. Unlike automated ads with a host, you’ll need to manually place an ad on your website (baked in or dynamically inserted). You can also find your own sponsors, just write to companies you like and submit a proposal. Typically a podcast is paid between $18 – $25 per 1,000 downloads (this is called the CPM – Cost Per Mille).
What’s a Podcast Network? A network can help a podcast market, distribute and find advertising / sponsorship for their podcast. It’s usually only available for podcasts with a high volume of downloads, such as Advertisecast. It doesn’t appeal to me because as a podcaster you give up your right to choose who you want to advertise.
How should I record at a distance?
Once you get into the podcasting world, you’ll notice you’ll start getting ads for Riverside.fm. Their brand also comes up often in conversation. I never used them to be honest, I’ve only seen the reviews. Since software like that is constantly updated, go check it out and decide for yourself!
As of right now, the quality of audio on Zoom is not good enough for a podcast, in my opinion. My guest and I will have the call over Zoom and then to ensure we have high-quality audio for the show, the guest will record locally on their microphone. After we finish the call, they send me a wav file (yes, it’s heavy). Having separate files for editing purposes is ideal! Since people speak differently and have different recording environments, they require different editing techniques. Your editor will thank you.
Why are transcripts important? A transcript is the written text form of audio, and it’s crucial if you want people to find your episodes or rank well in internet searches. I use Sonix.fm to do my transcripts because I like how incredibly accurate they are and how easy the interface is to use. You can also use Otter.ai or try out the transcript creator on Buzzsprout that comes with a subscription.
AI is rapidly transforming the podcasting industry, which is another blogpost entirely! For now, I hope you enjoy my tips on getting started with a podcast! 🙂