I get asked ‘how do you start a podcast?’ all the time, so I thought I’d compile my best advice for all of you budding beans that want to start a podcast this year.
Last August I started my podcast The Guide to Life After University to help young people navigate life after graduation. I’ve absolutely loved doing it and the format has worked really well for these discussions too, and I’m excited to start the second series at the end of the month!
For reference I am not a tech nerd, if anything I’m easily confused by technology. I am self-taught for most of what I do online and tbh Google and YouTube are there for a reason, they’ve got everything you need to know.
I’ve kind of compiled this like a recipe with things you need, the additional bits if you fancy it and a super easy step by step guide.
Things you need:
- A Concept
- Logo & Title
- A way to record the audio
- Hosting Site
- Audio editing software (Audacity is the easiest imo)
- Royalty free music
Additional things that are not essential:
- A USB Microphone to plug into your laptop (I use the Samson Q2. It was highly recommended online and I really rate it. I did order a cheaper mic originally (around £30) and the sound quality was just no different to headphones.)
How to start a podcast
Concept & Research
First of all, you need to come up with an idea. Yes, this is probably obvious but would this concept work well as a podcast? Will it work with solely audio? Can you listen to your voice or does it irritate you? PS. You have to listen to yourself talk a lot in the editing process, so if this makes you uncomfortable then maybe a podcast isn’t right for you in this moment.
Brainstorm as many corresponding topics as you can that would work as an individual episode of your show. If you can think of 20 topics already in the same theme, then that’s essentially two series of your podcast. So you know your idea has legs – yay!
When you’re at this stage, begin to search those topics or key words for existing podcasts. Does the podcast you want to make already exist? If so, how can you bring your own flare to it?
Then think about its structure. If this is a solo venture will you have guests on each week, if so, how many? If this is a joint venture, you may want specific segments to give some structure to your discussion.
When you’re doing your research listen to what other podcasts do. Shagged, Married, Annoyed with Rosemary and Chris Ramsey have some great segments including ‘What’s your beef?’ when they discuss what the other has done to annoy them in the week. Then they do another section where they offer relationship advice to people who have emailed in.
Set yourself a deadline
I do this with everything or I would literally never get anything done and postpone it to my heart’s content. You won’t ever feel ready or confident, so just get started.
I would set a goal of four to six weeks from the day you begin this process (which may even be today) to launching your podcast. That’s more than enough time to complete all of the steps outlined here. Set that launch date and you CANNOT move it.
Logo & Title & Description
Most people already have one or two ideas floating around for a podcast they’d love to listen to and create, but it’s actually taking it from a concept to a podcast that causes the delays. So choose your title (again double check if it’s taken too) and then create a Logo.
You can either outsource this to a designer, or create it yourself on free software such as Canva. Owen at Owen Mooney Visuals designed my logo. Owen and I used to work together on a magazine and I adore working with him and his eye for design. He really brought my idea to life.
Either way, you want to make sure your logo is high quality, eye-catching and the fonts is easy to read.
At this stage I would also write out a short blurb of what your podcast is about. This will be your description for the show or form part of your pitch to your guests on what the show is about.
Now you need a place to host your podcast. iTunes, Spotify or Google Podcasts are the directories, your show isn’t hosted on these platforms.
You can also host the audio directly on your website if you have one, but it can eat into the storage and slow your site down, which is why I didn’t do that myself.
As with all subscriptions, you simply make an account on one of these platforms and fill in the details about your podcast from logo, title, description and any other links.
Recording your first episode/trailer
When it comes to recording, I think there’s a misconception that you need a lot of equipment when there are many free and minimal ways to record.
At the simplest level you could record the audio via Zoom with headphones plugged in and ask your guests if they’d do the same.
Another way to record the audio it is to have an external microphone, then record the Zoom audio. Or for the best sound quality you can record your side of the audio on Audacity directly (with an external microphone/ headphone mic) and ask your co-host/guest if they’d be able to record their own audio (with headphones in) on their phone or on Audacity too. This method takes slightly more editing as you have to overlay both audio tracks together, but it’s a great sound quality.
I use a mixture of the techniques above. I have the Samson Q2 microphone that I use to record all my audio, whether that’s with a guest on Zoom or on a solo episode recording directly in Audacity. Some of my guests will record their audio separately, otherwise it’s simply via Zoom, which has worked really well.
I know a lot of people are also using the Anchor app to directly record, edit and share their podcast, so that might be worth looking into too.
Once you’ve recorded your episode it’s time to edit!
The simplest software to edit audio in is Audacity in my experience. As I mentioned I had no knowledge or training on any of this before I started but figured Audacity out pretty quickly. It’s free software to download to your computer and it’s very user friendly.
When it comes to editing your first episode, I generally edit out background noise (when I can), any interruptions (accidental notifications, phone calls, dogs) and heavy breathing.
After that I save that audio clip and record a new file in Audacity of my introduction and then my outro. Typically, I write a rough script for these sections to make sure I’ve covered what I need to for the episode.
Royalty Free Music
Now it’s time to find a short audio clip that you want to use as your theme tune. I’d recommend just typing into google ‘royalty free music’ then listen through options on different sites and download the piece that appeals to you. Before trimming it down to 15-30s for your podcast.
Upload your first episode
Now you can upload your first episode onto your hosting site. It’s only after you’ve uploaded the first episode/teaser that the podcast will be sent to the directories such as iTunes, Spotify etc.
It can take up to 7 days for the directories to register your podcast, so bare that in mind when you’re launching your show. It took 24 hours with Spotify for me and about 5 days with iTunes.
I think this is quite handy as then you can listen to the episode before everyone else does, just to enjoy the excitement and if you’re anything like me double check that it was the right audio file. My biggest fear is uploading the wrong one!
Share to socials
Once everything is live, get sharing it on social media! I’ve written here before about how I grew my social following, if you’ve started a new account for your podcast then I’d recommend those tips.
Create a graphic to share on Canva using the colours and imagery from your logo. You can also create audio graphics to give your audience a snippet of the episode on Waiive.
It really is straightforward. My other general tips would be:
- Invite guests onto the show – it makes for really interesting discussions and it’s an amazing way to speak to people you admire and inspire you!
- Record in bulk ahead of time. When I first launched my show, I recorded about 6 episodes in the first 2 weeks and it helped so much. I knew who was on the show and the topics ahead, which gave me a lot of confidence and direction for the second half of the series too.
- Outsource on promo graphics & logo, it saves time and you can lean on other people’s expertise!
- Plan ahead. If you have a list of topics you want to discuss then if an interview is cancelled last minute, you can record a solo episode quickly on a different topic.
- Just do it. There will be points where the tech holds you back or you free confused or nervous. But bite the bullet, go all in and get cracking. If I can do it, you can too!
Do you want to start a podcast? What’s holding you back?