So you want to start a podcast? …updated March 2020
You’ve found the right place!
Podcasting is ON FIRE and will continue to hold a special place in the hearts of millions of listeners around the world who love free, on-demand, audio content.
Before we dive in, I want to share 2 free resources with you that will be great compliments to this guide and in helping you start a podcast.
- Free Podcast Course: Bite-sized tutorials to help you create & launch your own podcast!
- Free Podcast Masterclass: A 1-hr training designed to help you create, launch, grow, and monetize your podcast!
Where do I start with podcasting?
You start with an idea and a desire to share value.
Follow the step-by-step guide below and prepare to IGNITE!
Step 1: Identify your podcast topic
Coming up with an idea for your podcast is a big first step – and an exciting one!
You might already have an idea – or several ideas – in mind; or you might be starting from scratch.
If you’re already running your own business, you should consider creating a podcast as a marketing extension of your brand. Podcasting is a great way to reach an entirely new audience, provide massive value, and create a community of people who know, like, and trust you.
If you’re starting from scratch, then we share an exercise in our Podcast Masterclass we like to call “Your Zone of Fire”. It’s to help you come up with your podcast idea, and you can do right now.
Step 2: Define your avatar
Your avatar is your ONE perfect listener – THE individual who you’re creating your podcast for.
Once you have your idea, it’ll be much easier to envision who the perfect listener of your content is.
And don’t worry; defining your avatar is just a step to help you get started. It doesn’t mean the individual you define has to ALWAYS be your perfect listener.
In fact, you might launch your podcast thinking your avatar is Sally, 25 years old, and a grad student looking for tips on how to choose her career… and then end up finding out it’s a totally different person!
How will you know?
You’ll know because once you launch, you’ll be encouraging your listeners to reach out to you with feedback. Through one-on-one conversations with them you’ll discover who they are, what their biggest pain points are, and hear all about their dreams and aspirations.
Once you know these things, you’ll be off to the races!
All of that said, your avatar will play an integral role on your journey to launching your podcast. You should consistently be checking in with them and asking them what they would want.
Format, frequency, podcast name, content – you’re creating this for your avatar, so put yourself in their shoes and just ask them!
Here’s a video I created for Free Podcast Course all about how to Define your Avatar. Enjoy!
Step 3: Name your podcast
Naming your podcast can be difficult. Some find the perfect name immediately, while others have to do in-depth brainstorming over multiple days – sometimes even weeks.
When choosing a name for your podcast, think about your topic and your avatar.
You want to choose a name that quickly and easily communicates what your podcast will be about.
You also want to choose a name you know will clearly resonate with your avatar.
Focus on being clear with your podcast name – not clever.
It’s good to have your website URL match your podcast name, but not critical.
And if you already have an existing business and you’re adding a podcast on as a marketing tool, then carrying the same name and URL is the best practice. No need to segment your audience if you’re focusing on the same topic!
Take your time here, as your podcast name and branding is what will help attract your ideal audience to you, and then confirm for them that they’re in the right place.
If you’re interested in a little crowdsourcing to help you get started with a name – or to help you choose between multiple names – then Squadhelp is a great tool (that’s my affiliate link).
Pssttt… Seems like there are a lot of steps to getting started with your podcast, right? But every step is SO WORTH it when you get to launch day and are sharing your message with the world! Plus, we’ve got your back! We created The Podcast Journal: Idea to Launch in 50 Days to walk you through every step of the way!
Step 4: Determine the format of your podcast
The format of your podcast includes structure, length, and frequency. Let’s review each in a little more detail…
The structure of your podcast
The structure – or type – of podcast you produce is completely up to you! …and should definitely involve input from your avatar. If you imagine your avatar tuning into your show, what would they hope to hear when they press play?
The options are endless and it all depends on your creativity.
You could do an interview-based, topic-based, Q&A, seasons-based, or variety podcast. The sky’s the limit!
It’s important to remember this is YOUR show; if you start out with an interview-based podcast and then decide to switch it up, then go for it!
You can mix and match the above in any manner you desire, but just be sure your audience knows what to expect and when to expect it.
The length of your podcast
This is how long each of your episodes will be.
Entrepreneurs On Fire started out between 17 – 25 minutes because my avatar, Jimmy, drives to and from work every day, and that’s the average commute time.
Remember: every decision you make on your journey to launching your podcast should involve your avatar. What would your avatar want?
Depending on the structure of your podcast, you might have varying lengths, too. No problem – if your avatar likes variety, then spice it up!
The frequency of your podcast
This is how often you’re going to be releasing episodes.
Again, this is definitely something you’ll want to check in with your avatar about… even if they “don’t yet exist”.
For example, my avatar, Jimmy, drives to a job every day that he doesn’t like. He wants to hear inspirational stories from entrepreneurs who took their leap and made it big.
For Jimmy, inspiration daily is a big deal. He doesn’t want to just hear it 1 time per week, or every other week. He wants to hear it every single day.
What would your avatar want?
Would they want to tune in to your podcast daily, weekly, monthly?
You also have to consider the amount of time you have to dedicate to your content creation, because keeping up is not always easy. Whatever you decide, the key here is to be consistent.
Step 5: Create your artwork
Your artwork needs to be square, and 1400 x 1400 at a minimum (that is, as of the time we’re writing this post).
These are Apple Podcasts (iTunes) rules, and if you don’t follow them, your podcast will not be accepted to their platform.
Check out the most up-to-date artwork requirements plus some other valuable info for preparing your podcast for Apple Podcasts.
Your podcast artwork also needs to POP so that when your potential listeners are scanning the podcast directories, your artwork JUMPS off the screen.
Put it to the test – check out Apple Podcasts for a real-time visualization of just how easy it is to get lost in the sea of podcast artwork logos. Don’t let this happen to you!
Our top tip for creating great podcast artwork: don’t over-crowd it. Leverage as much space as possible to get your podcast name as big and clear as possible.
Need a designer? We love 99Designs, and if you use our affiliate link you’ll get a $100 VIP offer!
Step 6: Purchase your equipment
This is such a simple step that people love to overcomplicate.
You can start a podcast with a small budget, and I have an entire page of podcast equipment recommendations that start at just $26!
My #1 recommendation for a microphone is the ATR-2100, and the best podcasting setup when you’re just getting started is a simple podcasting setup.
For her podcast, Ditch Busy, Kate uses an ATR-2100 plugged into her MacBook Pro, her Apple Earbuds, and records directly into Adobe Audition. Super simple!
Step 7: Interviewing guests for your podcast
For audio-only interviews on a MAC, I recommend connecting with your guest on Skype and recording with eCamm Call Recorder (note: eCamm Call Recorder doesn’t have an update that works with the most recent Apple update – Cataline. See other options if you aren’t able to use this one, we’ll cover recording software in more detail in step 8).
If you’re on a PC, then we recommend connecting with your guest and recording with Zencastr. You can also use this option if you’re on a MAC and don’t want to use Skype.
For video interviews, I recommend connecting with your guest and recording on Zoom.us. You could also use this option for audio-only interviews, and it’s a great option if you have interviewees who will only be able to join you via phone.
Zoom provides call-in numbers, so that makes it simple.
Note: we don’t recommend recording or doing interviews with guests who are using a phone (landline or cell phone). The audio quality will suffer, so you want to encourage – even demand – that your guests be on a computer with reliable Internet and a good microphone (the Logitech ClearChat Headset is very reasonably priced and available on Amazon).
Step 8: Software to record and edit your podcast
To record and edit your podcast, you’ll need to use software designed for podcast recording and editing.
We covered a few options for recording interviews above: Skype + eCamm, Zencastr, and Zoom.us.
But if you’re doing topic-based, solo episodes, then there’s no need for any of those. You can record directly into your recording and editing software.
Whether you use one of the recording options above, or record straight into a recording and editing software, I love Adobe Audition for podcast recording and editing.
Step 9: The 7-step Podcast Workflow
1. Record and edit your Podcast
2. Add intros & outros
3. Export your mp3
4. Tag your podcast
5. Upload Podcast to your media host
Note: Your media host is the platform where you upload and schedule your episodes for release, and it’s where you’ll receive your RSS feed to submit to the major directories. Our recommendation is Libsyn (promo code FIRE will get you the rest of this month and next month free!)
6. Schedule the release
I walk through each of these steps in detail on my completely free Podcast Masterclass if you want to see them visually!
Step 10: Submit your podcast to the major directories
Once you have your host setup, an RSS feed for your podcast, and you’ve published your first episode (this is required in order to submit your feed to the major directories), you’re ready for launch!
Submit your podcast to Apple Podcasts
Submit your podcast to Stitcher Radio
Submit your podcast to Spotify
Here’s a complete list of all the podcast directories we recommend submitting your podcast to.
Step 11: Promote your podcast
You’ve gone through all the steps to create your podcast, and it’s finally live – CONGRATS!
Now it’s time to promote it!
It’s a huge mistake to publish an episode and then expect people to just go out and find it; you have to let people know about it.
Here are a few ideas to get you started with promoting your podcast:
*If you’re doing an interview-based show, email your guest with a reminder the day it goes live and ask if they’ll help share it with their audience;
*Create a show notes page that you can direct people to in order to increase traffic to your website (that’s where people can find out more about you and what else you have to offer!);
*Get social: promote your episode on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram… don’t get me wrong – it doesn’t have to be ALL of these platforms. Choose the top 1 or 2 social platforms you know your listeners are on and use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or MeetEdgar to start promoting your show;
*Use a tool like Repurpose for visual sharing options on Facebook and YouTube.
*Create visual teasers using Splasheo to get people excited about tuning in!
Promoting and repurposing your content is not only simple, it can also be very beneficial since everyone likes to consume content in different ways and on different platforms.
Launching a website to help support your podcast
Once you’ve launched, you’ll want a “home base” where you can direct your audience (your website).
Your website is where you should direct people who are interested in learning more about you, your podcast, accessing resources you have to share, and engaging and interacting with other listeners.
Ideally, you’ll start building an email list day one with the help of your website, complete with an opt in offer (a free download, for example), and an email capture form.
This opt in gives you a direct connection to your audience that you own.
We are an affiliate for Bluehost, which is a great, affordable hosting platform that allows you to build your website using WordPress, which is what we recommend.
See how easy it is to get started? :)
Patience and consistency are key
Creating your own podcast takes time, but it’s definitely doable.
The list above is in no way meant to be all-inclusive of every single step you need to take to create a successful podcast and platform, but it does include the framework necessary to get started.
I hope this post has opened your eyes to the possibility of creating a podcast!
Final Calls to Action!
Free Podcast Course to help you create and launch your podcast!
Podcast Masterclass: How to become a successful podcaster without spending a lot of money or being ‘techie’
The Podcast Journal: Idea to Launch in 50 Days.
Cheers to your podcasting success!
~ John Lee Dumas
Note: This post was originally published in 2014 and has been fully revamped and updated in March 2020 to continue providing relevant value to you!