How to start a podcast: Best steps to take in 2022
How to start a podcast : Best steps to take in 2021
Podcasts are all the rage these days. In our increasingly hectic lifestyle, fewer and fewer people can find the time to read about the topics they care about. Instead, they turn to podcasts, which they can listen to easily while on the commute or as they carry out household chores.
And you want to jump onto the bandwagon. Maybe you are an entrepreneur, looking to build authority for your business. Or perhaps you are a hobbyist, itching to speak about your passion.
Or you might just be looking to earn some money and become famous in the process.
Whatever your reasons, you want to know how to start a podcast and make money, and we are here to help you hit the ground running.
Why are you Doing a Podcast?
The first thing to get out of the way before you start a podcast is asking yourself why you want to do a podcast. How you proceed from here depends entirely on your answer.
For if all you want is to record an episode or two in your spare time, you hardly need to concern yourself with how to make money from it. On the other hand, if your primary question is how to start a podcast and make money, your podcast will have to be highly polished and professional.
And perhaps most importantly, it is this reason that will motivate you to get out that next episode when you are feeling down and out.
Who is Your Podcast for?
Once you have figured out your goals, the next step is to determine your audience. After all, the topic (and delivery style) that works for a forty-something management executive is hardly going to cut it with a teenager.
But it goes beyond just ages. Depending on your topic, your listeners are going to vary wildly in tastes and expectations, and you must know what they want.
A common strategy is to create a hypothetical ‘persona’ of your audience in the form of an imaginary person with the traits an average listener of yours would likely have. That way, every time you sit down to plan your podcast, you know who you are writing for.
Why Should They Listen?
What is a podcast? A podcast is simply an audio show that is hosted over the internet. Whatever topic you have picked, chances are that there are already a host of podcasts speaking about the same thing. In order to stand out from the competition, you need to do offer something different.
What is that sets your show apart from all others? What unique aspect of your podcast would have your audience coming back for more?
Remember, marketing tricks and a regular production schedule can only help you so far. At the end of the day, it falls upon the content of your podcast itself to make a mark upon your listeners.
Naming your Podcast
Many people underestimate the importance of a good name for your show. After all, if the content is good enough, people will start listening to it anyway, right? Wrong.
People have limited time, and thanks to the internet, an unlimited array of options to spend that time on. When thousands upon thousands of videos and podcasts are clamoring for your attention, it becomes a tad difficult to personally check out each and every option.
Just like it is the title of a book that leaps out when you are browsing through a bookshelf, it is the podcast names that entice a potential listener into trying out your offering. If you are looking for the most important factor in how to start a podcast and make money, this is it.
How Long Should an Episode be?
When planning a podcast, you first need to decide on the duration of every episode. While small deviations from the norm are not an issue, varying the length wildly from episode to episode can put people off. So how long should an episode be?
Many people fall into the trap of trying to decide an optimum episode duration based on competition. Just because a famous podcast releases twenty-minute episodes does not mean that it would also be the best for you.
Attempting to fit the duration to say, the average commute time is also not a good approach to take. The only good way is to let your content decide your durations.
If your topic is heavy enough to require fifty minutes, you shouldn’t try to cut it down to another size. Likewise, if small and preppy episodes fit your specialty better, no point in trying to pad it up to a greater duration.
How Often Should I Release an Episode?
The most important thing in any kind of web content is regularity. No matter what kind of content you are producing, whether it is a web serial, music videos, or podcasts, you need to be regular.
That said, it is also necessary no to go overboard. No one has the time to listen to a dozen releases a week, even if your content is top-notch. You must strike a balance between keeping your listeners interested and overwhelming them with too much content.
As time goes on, your listeners would chime in with feedback to let you know if they prefer shorter or longer episodes, and you can adjust your timings accordingly.
Choosing Good Episode Titles
Just like with your podcast itself, choosing a good searchable name for your every episode is important. Never make the rookie mistake of simply numbering them; it doesn’t tell a potential listener what the episode is about.
The names should be descriptive yet also catchy (if you can manage both), while not being too long. Keep in mind that individual episodes can often garner more attention than the rest of the podcast and might be shared across social media.
Choosing a Podcast Format
The format of your podcast, like the duration of episodes, is something that depends entirely on your content and style. For most podcasters who are just starting out, it is the simplest to just go solo, as you don’t have to rely on anyone else or their schedule.
That is not to say that solo is the easiest way to do things. Some people find it better to have a co-host so that they do not feel they are talking to themselves. Others prefer roundtable discussions involving a changing cast of guests.
Again, the format is not something you will get locked into; depending on listener feedback, you can always change it. Or better yet, you can keep changing things around for different episodes, as many podcasts are known to do.
How much does it cost to start a podcast? Unless your podcast is about music production, you do not exactly need top of the line hardware for it. You can start recording with just a basic microphone and your trusty old laptop or add a podcast kit on top of it. But since you are looking into how to start a podcast and make money, so it would help to get a somewhat better audio recording setup.
You can just choose a better USB mic (like the Rode Procaster) or if you don’t mind the extra expenditure, go for a digital recorder (Zoom H5 is a good one). If you are looking to conduct a lot of interviews for your podcast, you can consider a Rode Smartlav+ or two along with an SC6 splitter for your own budget interview setup.
As for the computer, there is no singular best laptop for podcasting. To save effort, you can go for a podcast starter kit or choose from easily available podcast equipment packages.
Recording & Editing Software
When figuring out how to start a podcast and make money, a good podcast software is at the top of the list of steps. While it is okay to skimp on the recording equipment, you need a proper audio workstation software for recording and editing your podcast. Fortunately, there are plenty of good options available for free, so you don’t have to burn a hole through your pocket for a quality application.
Audacity is a great general-purpose Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) with all the bells and whistles you would ever need for audio processing. It is free, with plenty of tutorials online to get you started making your podcasts in no time.
For something even easier, you can look into Alitu: The Podcast Maker, which is a web app specialized for podcasts. It has many nifty features like audio cleanup and episode building tools that make recording and editing your podcast a cakewalk. While it is not free, the additional utility makes up for it.
Scripting your Show
Now that you have the basics for creating your podcast in place, all you need is to start recording. But first, you need to know what you are going to talk about. Beyond the general theme and topic itself, you should also be clear about the overall flow of the episode and the principal points to be discussed.
At this point, it can be attractive to sit down with a pen and paper and plot out a detailed script. That is the wrong approach.
Listening to someone read out from a written script sounds incredibly boring, and is a surefire way to drive away your audience. Remember, this is not a speech, but rather a conversation with your listeners, and must sound that way.
And just like a real conversation, you shouldn’t try to map out each and every word, but rather decide upon an outline to follow, and improvise from there.
How to Talk into a Mic
And now we come to the hardest part of podcasting. No, we are not kidding. If you have never tried anything similar before, you cannot imagine how difficult it is to talk into a mic.
The main problem is that since there is no one standing before you, it feels like you are talking to yourself. And a monologue without an audience would never have the emotion or the enthusiasm that a real conversation holds.
To sound natural, you must focus on talking with a hypothetical listener. As we discussed earlier, it helps to have an imaginary persona in your mind to represent an average member of your audience. This imaginary person is whom you should converse with, as then you will be able to connect directly with your audience.
Recording Remote Guests or Co-Hosts
Often the guests you are inviting into your podcasts reside a thousand miles away. There are many ways to get around this issue.
The simplest way is to just use a Skype call and record the conversation. The drawback of this approach is that Skype compresses sounds for internet transmission, greatly reducing the quality of the audio you receive.
A much better option is to use a tool like Squadcast, which records each person live on their own computer, neatly sidestepping all connection issues of Skype.
Editing your Podcast
Once you have recorded the audio, your work is not yet over. For the podcast to sound good, it is time to get down to editing it. The best tool for this is Audacity, the free DAW we recommended earlier.
There are plenty of detailed guides on editing your podcast online, like this one which will walk you through all the steps that you need to take to convert your rough recording into a professional sounding podcast.
Music for your Podcast
Strictly speaking, music isn’t necessary to create a good podcast. That being said, most top podcasts use a piece of short intro music to set the mood and serve as a ‘signature’ of their show.
Be sure to keep this music no more than 10-15 seconds at most, as any more than that can detract from your main content itself.
But where to get your music from? While there are quite a few free options out there, the music available on these sites tends to be rather commonplace in nature. The best option is to reach out to a musically inclined friend or get your own hands dirty using Audacity. As the piece you need has to be very short, even a simple tune would suffice.
Creating Podcast Cover Art
Just like the title of your podcast, the cover art goes a long way in promoting your podcast and catching the attention of potential listeners. And as was the case with music, you don’t need to spend big bucks for a quality cover.
Most podcasters use a tool like Canva to craft a cover from creative commons (royalty free) images. Heck, if you dabble in photography yourself (or have an artistically inclined friend), you can make a good cover from the usual tools like Photoshop.
How to Publish your Podcast
You must be wondering how to upload a podcast to iTunes or how to upload a podcast to Spotify. A common misconception is that shows are directly hosted by iTunes or Spotify. That is not true. Before you can reach out to any media directory, you need to get your podcast hosted on a podcast hosting service.
Basically, a podcast hosting service provides online storage for your media, and allows people to listen, download, and subscribe to your show. Obviously, these services aren’t for free.
Buzzsprout is by far the cheapest option, with a limited free plan you can avail to get started, and inexpensive paid plans that you can upgrade to later. For private podcast feeds, you can consider Transistor, while Captivate is the best option if you are looking for more bells and whistles.
Each of these services come with a free website you can use to keep things organized. But if you are looking for how to start a podcast and make money, the real deal is to submit your work to media directories. Fortunately, all the services mentioned implement auto-submit tools to popular directories like Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.
What’s The Next Steps After you Launch
In the beginning of the article, you asked us how to start a podcast and make money. And if you have followed all th steps, you well on your path toward it. Your podcast has been designed, recorded, and uploaded to iTunes and Spotify. Now, this is where your real work begins.
There are countless podcasts out there on the internet, waiting to be discovered. It is up to you to guide more listeners to your content. A part of that is delivering quality, but an even greater part is marketing.
As in indie online content producer, your best bet is to leverage the web. Promote your show on your personal social media accounts and start building your userbase. Once you have a sizeable audience, it is time to start thinking about how do podcasts make money.
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