Episode #2 - How to Start a Podcast - A Quick Start Guide

Published on
June 2, 2021
 - By Sean Earley

Have you been considering starting a podcast for your business? If not, what is stopping you?

Admittedly, I am a huge fan of podcasting, so my opinion may sound biased, but read on and in the next section I will share a few eye-opening statistics that might motivate you to finally get started.

Yes, there is a little bit of a learning curve to launching your first podcast, but with a little bit of preparation and practice, you can get up and running in a fairly short amount of time.

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In Episode #2 of the "Grow Your Digital Business Podcast," I offer a quick start guide for how to start your own podcast in 5 basic steps.

Before we get into the details, however, let me list a few mind-blowing facts about podcasting and podcast advertising that might inspire you.

Exciting Podcasting Statistics

(The following is a list of statistics that can be found in our annual RobotSpaceship Trend Report)

  • Podcasting has quickly evolved to be one of the most effective mediums these days to market your business, products, and services, to create awareness, and to reach your target market. It has one of the highest engagement rates AND conversion rates above any other marketing medium, with a reported 70% awareness factor of new products and services.
  • Podcasting is one of the quickest and easiest formats to produce above blogging and video. Simply hit record and start talking.
  • Podcasting is the New Radio: Based on 2019 statistics, 32% of all Americans listen to a podcast on a regular basis. These numbers continue to increase, year over year. As a result, Ad revenue has reached $659 Million USD in 2019, with growth projections of $1 Billion by 2021. 
  • Podcast listenership has not declined due to the pandemic, and in fact, is increasing.
  • 4 out of 5 podcast listeners make a call to action after hearing a podcast ad.
  • The average podcast listener is an affluent, younger demographic between the ages of 18 and 34, with an average household income of 41% starting at $75k and up.
  • Women (aged 18-34) are the largest growing new podcast listener demographic, year after year.
  • 34% of agencies and brands already do podcast advertising, with 37% stating they will be running ads in the next 6 months, 46% are considering running ads within 6 months.
  • The largest podcast platform is currently YouTube 38%, then Apple 35%, then Spotify 33%. Spotify could pass up Apple to second place by 2021 - 2022

So… convinced yet? I know! These are pretty amazing numbers, right?

Ok, then! Let’s get into it.

As I previously mentioned, for many, the creative and technical learning curve for getting started, as well as time-consuming design, production and marketing commitments can often be challenging.

As with anything, you can get carried away, both technically and in terms of content, so let’s start with the basics in order to take a pragmatic approach to get you started as quickly as possible.

5 Steps for Starting Your Own Podcast

To launch your own podcast, there are essentially five basic steps:

  • Concept
  • Production
  • Editing
  • Distribution
  • Community Management / Marketing

Concept

Obviously, first, you need a concept and a name for your podcast. An idea that makes your podcast interesting for the listeners, a name that is short and is easy to remember and reaches your target group. 

Most likely, you already have a topic in mind, so now I recommend doing a bit of research on Apple Podcasts or Spotify in your chosen niche to check if there is an existing market, existing podcasts or an opportunity to expand into a new area. 

(Also, to see if anyone already stole your podcast name idea! I hate it when that happens...)

Typically if there are a decent amount of existing podcasts in a particular niche, then it is a good sign that there is a large pool of potential listeners as well as potential advertisers where you can provide value and easily monetize.

After you decide on a name and concept, start mapping out the format. In general, decide if you want to run solo and tackle the topic alone or think of an interview format where you talk to guests about your topic. 

I typically recommend planning out your first 4-5 episodes in advance. Start with an Episode Zero to explain your format to your listeners, then plan out what the additional posts will cover.

Think of it like a series, so the first 4 to 5 episodes cover a decent general set of topics. 

Keep in mind that when you decide on a concept and format, that there is enough potential to cover an endless set of topics. Is this a topic where you can easily do 100’s or 1000’s of episodes?

Tip: News and trends about an ever changing niche is always a winning concept.

Example:

For example, in one of my other podcasts, the Modern Musician Magazine Podcast, I discuss the latest news, reviews, gear, software, events, artists & tutorials for today’s modern musician. 

Sometimes I discuss topics solo, and other times I interview other musicians or music industry professionals. There is an endless variety of topics I can discuss and an ever-changing industry of news to cover as well as listeners and advertisers. It is also a topic I am passionate about so I never run out of both topics or inspiration.

Inspiration is a critical point here. Don’t start a podcast on a topic you don’t find interesting just because you think it might be lucrative. I’ve been there, done that and it doesn't work out.

Not only is it a personal interest, but there are also endless opportunities to monetize the podcast because there are so many different types of products and services in the music industry.

How Long Should Your Podcasts Be?

I personally prefer podcasts that are around 20 to 40 minutes because I typically listen to podcasts while jogging. I know that I can download one or two episodes and have enough to listen to and enough variety to enjoy my run and be inspired without having to ask “Siri to play DJ.”

It really depends on the context of how people listen to podcasts but in general, people tune in while commuting, doing sports, taking a smoke break, or traveling. A podcast shouldn’t be any longer or shorter than a drive to work or a short plane flight.

Another idea is to switch up your format. Do a longer weekly podcast on a certain topic and then consider an additional “This week in the news” type episode that is under 15 minutes, for listeners who just want a short “snack” while taking a break or running to the store.

Ask your listeners what they prefer and you will  eventually get a feel for what gets better results.

Podcast Artwork, Websites and Creatives

Once your concept is solid, you will want to get all the promo artwork and creatives ready. This means your podcast logo, your podcast cover art and any blog post or episode promo images. Spotify recommends that a podcast cover should be sized at 3000 x 3000 pixels.

Also consider that very often when your podcast thumbnail is viewed on a mobile device on most of the podcast platforms, the thumbnail will be relatively small, so make sure your podcast cover is easily recognizable when in a list of other podcast thumbnails. Make the text as large as possible, or an easily recognizable photo.

Podcast Blog

You may also want to consider starting a WordPress Blog for promoting each episode. It will give you more promotional flexibility and will offer a lot more opportunity for adding a mailing list sign-up form, or better ways for adding more promotional material such as posting videos, additional images, advertising, etc.

Production

Next is “production”. Basically, any audio format is suitable for producing a podcast. (WAV, MP3, AIF) Most smartphones, tablets and laptops already have an audio recording function built in, so lots of podcast producers just use their headphones and smartphones.

An average laptop can easily record and edit audio with free or inexpensive software, so again, the entry point is usually fairly easy.

This is really a matter of your technical aptitude and your time requirements. Purchasing professional podcast equipment is a huge rabbit hole of time and money, so (unless you are a gear hound like me… I am also a musician and a music producer) this should only be done when the format has had some success and you know you want to continue for the long term.

A shot of my home studio, including my morning heavy metal detox smoothie.

Podcast Equipment:

Here are the basics of what you need:

  • One or more microphones possibly swivel arms and pop protection. I am a big fan of the Shure SM7B
  • A recording unit, e.g. B. a laptop, a mobile recording unit (Zoom h6) or a professional mixer/recorder, such as the R0DE R0decaster Pro
  • Digital audio editing software (often referred to as a DAW or digital audio workspace) such as Garageband, Logic, Audacity or Audition from Adobe. I personally use Reason.

Basically, it is fairly easy these days to record directly onto the laptop or computer with a USB microphone. If you want to conduct interviews or double moderations, you will need to record the microphones as individual tracks: either with a USB audio interface or a separate audio recorder (see above).

It is fairly common to record podcasts with people who are not in the same room. To do this, you can use simple web tools such as Skype or Zoom on one side or record the phone signal from the other. I am also a big fan of Zencaster for in-browser multi track audio and video recording.

Unfortunately quality is hard to predict when doing external interviews, so if you plan to record remote podcasts regularly, I recommend that both parties record their own voice separately with a good microphone and only hear each other over the phone or chat.

Then one of the parties involved has to “collect” the audio files of the others and put them together in an audio program. This leads us to the topic of “editing”.

Editing

As soon as you have the audio recorded, the editing begins. This is done using any of the DAW software mentioned above. This will allow you to adjust the volume of the individual channels, cut out entire sequences or errors (in my case lots of “ums” and “ahs”) adding compression, EQ and effects, and adding intros, jingles or advertising.

Editing requires a certain basic understanding of audio production and audio production software. Mixing is another rabbit hole of learning, trial and error, as well as just having a good ear, so honestly, don’t expect to get this perfect right away. Just decide on your level of “done enough” in order to get the podcast episodes finished and sounding 

This is also really where either tutorials or outsourcing a podcast producer can help.

When finished, the files are exported for the web, as an MP3 or WAV, so that they can then be uploaded to a podcast platform. 

Example: Editing a podcast in Reason

Distribution

To bring the podcast to the listeners, you have to put it on the web and make it accessible. You can do this via your own website file servers or through commercial podcast hosts such as Anchor or Soundcloud. 

These enable not only the physical storage of the audio file, but also the show notes, promo images, keywording and often commenting and social sharing options. 

Show notes are important to add to each episode so the listeners can reference any of the topics you discussed, or related links. They also help with Search Engine Optimization. Some podcasts also include a fully written transcript in a timeline format, which also makes for great SEO.

Once this is all uploaded, your podcast will be online with all this information and can then be made available on the major portals such as Spotify, iTunes, deezer etc. 

Some platforms such as Anchor will automatically distribute your podcast to other platforms such as Apple and Spotfy.

Other platforms only offer file hosting, in which case you will need to use the provided RSS feed that references your podcast and submit it individually to all the various platforms.

Marketing & Community Management

Now that your podcast is live, you will want to share it with the world. This is where marketing and community management take over with the goals of using social media to expand your reach, and build a sizable base of followers and subscribers. 

Most podcast platforms include sharing functionality so that you can share your podcast on all of your social channels. This is also where the graphics and website you created in the “Concept section” will be needed.

Podcast Promotion Checklist:

When I promote a podcast episode, here is a list of all the various channels and content I use per-episode:

  1. Publish the podcast on my chosen podcast platform, including cover art and show notes.
  2. Add a blog post to my WordPress site which includes a more detailed podcast promo image, show notes, an embedded audio player with the podcast episode and a full text transcript to improve SEO.
  3. Share the Blog post on Twitter, Facebook Page, facebook Personal feed, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
  4. If you have a mailing list, send an email to your subscribers to announce the new episode.
  5. Create an Instagram story and TikTok story video where I do a quick teaser about the podcast. Then I tell the viewers to “click the link in my bio” to go to the blog or episode blog post.
  6. Share the Spotify version of the podcast episode to an additional Instagram Story with an arrow gif pointing to the Spotify play link.
  7. I also create a short audio waveform teaser video which includes the podcast episode graphic and a functioning audio waveform. I typically share this on all of my socials the day after I post the podcast as a reminder “Did you remember to listen to this episode…?”
  8. Facebook Ad - if the podcast is profitable, I will usually run an inexpensive facebook / Instagram ad to promote the blog post. (Average budget is about $2 per day for a week, or until the next episode)
  9. Be sure to answer and engage with all comments and direct messages that result from your social posts.
  10. Rinse, wash and repeat for every episode, forever! 

Summary

To summarize, these are the 5 key steps to how to start your own podcast. I wouldn’t necessarily say they are easy steps, but once you do the work to produce and launch the podcast, you will start to establish a streamlined process to quickly launch your future episodes. 

I hope this post was helpful and informative and as always, if you have any questions or additional topics you want me to discuss, please let me know.

Need Help? Hire Me!

I offer professional podcast consulting and production services via our podcast network RobotSpaceship Studios. If you need someone to handle the production, graphics, marketing or just have a strategy session to help guide you through the process, contact me and let me know what you need. I would be happy to help!

Need help producing your podcast? RobotSpaceship Studios offers Podcast Consulting, Production Packages, Audio Editing, Graphic Design, and Marketing for all of your business Podcast Needs.

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Be My Guest!

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For questions, feedback or ideas about this podcast, send an email to: seanearleyrocks@gmail.com

About Sean Earley

Sean Earley is a marketing consultant, music producer, and host of the "Grow Your Digital Business Podcast." His passion is inspiring businesses, entrepreneurs, influencers, and creative professionals on how to monetize their creativity and be more successful. Learn More

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