How to Start a Podcast: A Simple 7 Step Guide
If you haven't noticed, I've been obsessively podcasting for about 8 months now. Not long at all to be teaching anyone else how to do the same, but the thing about podcasting is that it's pretty simple once you know how. And I know how. So why don't I show you?
To start off with, I presume you know why you're starting your podcast and the topic, at least roughly. I'm gonna just assume you do anyway. But if not, then pick a placeholder topic and carry on reading.
This is everything you'll need to know, in order:
HOW TO START A PODCAST
a simple guide
Pick a Topic
Okay, I know I just said don't worry about a topic but perhaps do. Don't think about it in 'blog niche' terms because the podosphere is far less crowded and much easier to stand out. You could chat about your life, your favourite food or something more specific like blogging, creativity, gluten-free dieting or style.
I've found podcasting to be so much fun, but like with anything -- you need to be passionate about the topic if you want to keep going.
Interview or Solo Show?
Since starting my podcast I've had lovely feedback, mixed feedback, negative stuff too but the thing I've heard the most is this: you're such a natural interviewer. That's strange to me because when I hear myself I cringe!
I mean.....I don't speak in proper sentences and I waffle for Britain but somehow my chats seem to impress people somehow. And I think it's purely because I only interview people I am genuinely interested in. That's kind of it.
I thought about strategy and, obviously, when the podcast gained traction and I was featured on the iTunes homepage I received interest from people wanting to be on the show. But down to sheer laziness, I decided early on to only chat with people who interested me in some way.
I'm blessed with a wonderful bunch of blogger friends because I've been around for a little bit.....but there are people within the industry I wouldn't have wanna chat to. Not because they're not interesting but because I personally don't have much to fangirl over.
And that's another thing. I'm a shameless fangirl and proud. I don't try to be cool or professional when I interview people. I'm 100% myself whether that means I'm nervous, waffly or giddy and overexcited. And I honestly think that means that the listener feels comfortable - because I'm a bit of an idiot and proud!
You'll know that in the first season I chose solely to interview people. And I'm sticking to that format because I like listening to it, and that's the ethos of my show - introducing you to the blogger behind the blog.
But in #Podmas, I sat down and recorded 12 mini-episodes of just me. And I actually loved it! It was harder to keep things flowing because it was just me and my thoughts (I never work with a script) but it was easier to edit, both for sound quality and for content.
Whether you decide to use a script or not is entirely up to you. Try it out for a teaser episode and see how it feels.
NOTE - If you decide to Interview, then there are a few options you can use to record your guests. I use Call Recorder (which records your Skype chat) and then I extract the audio from the .mov file it creates using Quicktime.
You could also use Google Hangouts or Zencastr.
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Choosing Your Podcast Host
Just like with your blog host (unless you have a hosted blog with someone like Tumblr or Wordpress.com) you will also need a host for your podcast.
I used to host with Libsyn, who are really great. They have a few monthly payment options and it depends on how much you're uploading (the frequency and size of your podcast) but it starts from $5. The analytics are great too and I could see my downloads per episode super easily. The stats have got even better now too!
You can also host with Soundcloud, which is free (I guess there are pro options) but they are newer and I haven't used them so can't comment.
I host everything with Squarespace, as that's what my blog is hosted with too -- this saved me $15 a month as I pay no extra for it.
Submit your Podcast to iTunes
When you pick your host, you'll typically submit everything through them (although you will need to do it through Apple at the very start too).
Make sure you follow these instructions to ensure that your podcast is accepted. Once done, you are ready to start podcasting!! I've heard the main issue is the artwork, so make sure that's the right dimensions and you should be fine.
Also consider submitting your podcast to other directories, including Spotify and Stitcher.
Record and Edit
The techy stuff was massively aided for me by my girl Sam Sparrow who is a super experienced podcaster and all-around babe. She helped me with the initial setup, answered all of my questions and showed me a few nifty tricks too.
But she uses Garageband, which I didn't get on with at all (because I am a div....most people find it simple!) so I used Audacity instead.
Both are free, so I suggest you go ahead and have a play with them both and see what you think. I watched a few YouTube tutorials and learned as I went if I'm honest but it really wasn't hard.
The main thing I learned (from Sam, and experience) is that getting the audio right first time is the easiest thing to do.
And the best way to do that is to follow a few super simple guidelines:
- Don't sit by a window, and try to be in a room with soft furnishings instead (bedrooms not bathrooms!).
- Watch your levels as your record, so you can tell your guests to speak up (or speak up yourself!).
- Use headphones to block out ambient sound.
- Use a microphone.
Should You Do Show Notes?
I mean, I dunno. I do, but they can be a faff. Especially as I send them to guests beforehand. It's easier now I publish podcasts through Squarespace as I skip the step of writing show notes, then copying it into a separate blog post too.
If you use bit.ly links in your show notes you can track conversion and whether or not they're worth doing but in my view -- it's worth writing a small amount at the very least, with references to people's social media handles etc.
If it's a very long show note, perhaps think about writing a summary then adding a link to 'see the full show notes' on your blog.
Promoting Your Podcast
I think that getting into New & Noteworthy is a lot of people's goals. But there is no real formula to guarantee you do it and a lot of noise around what you 'should' be doing to get there.
Based on what I heard, I presumed I'd have NO chance but I was featured on the Apple homepage New & Noteworthy (there are pages for every subcategory) straight away. This did give me a big boost in downloads and helped me reach a new audience but it can't have had such a huge effect as downloads didn't drop massively when I left the coveted section ;)
Because my podcast is pretty niche I knew who my audience was and where to find them. So I focus on promoting via Instagram and Twitter. You know who your audience is, so target them and be shameless! Soon enough, they'll be promoting it for you :)
A few final thoughts: Don't worry about your audio too much -- as Sam Sparrow always tells me -- content is way more important.
Yes, there will be people who switch off and leave you a bad review because you slurped tea or edited shabbily, but that happens to everyone! Honestly! Have a look at some of the biggest podcasters and see the grumpy negative reviews. It's no drama and every time someone switches off, you're niching down and getting a less diluted fan base.
it's exciting.....honest ;)
I hope this has been useful and let me know if you have any specific questions.
I hope this is the year you decide to start your podcast too, and if you are planning it & want a little help -- stay tuned, because Sam Sparrow and I are making an e-course for you!! It'll contain everything you need to know to start your first podcast from the techy bits, to the practical stuff and how to find your own niche.
If you want to be the first to know about this, and get a discount on the price -- sign up to my newsletter :)