Starting a podcast can seem daunting and like a long process at first, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
The individual steps you have to make are easy and completing them one by one will help you start podcasting in no time. These steps are similar for every podcaster so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel by yourself.
Here, in this article, I’ll be giving you some tips for planning your podcast, starting with the basics, and figuring out everything you must do.
- Before reading this guide
- 1. Why do you want to start a podcast?
- 2. Think of a style
- 3. Know your audience
- 4. What’s the value you deliver?
- 5. Use your voice
- 6. Find a structure
- 7. Episode Duration
- 8. Your workflow
- 9. Your schedule
- 10. Get the equipment needed
- 11. Start strong
- 12. Find podcasts for inspiration
- 13. Prepare for guests
- 14. Learn where to see analytics
- 15. Create a brand
- 16. Use social media
- Going forward
- Starting A Podcast FAQ
Before reading this guide
There’s something I would highly recommend to you before proceeding to read what follows.
You can’t keep everything in your mind, you will forget things and the process will seem more complicated than it is.
Instead, I would suggest you grab a pen and paper or open a document on your computer to write everything down. Write them in a way you can refer to it later and follow the steps, as they apply to you. You don’t have to write everything that follows. Write what applies to your case, ignoring the rest. If you think about something that is not mentioned below, go ahead and write it.
You can use whatever software you want to do this. Here are some ideas…
- A Word document
- An Apple Pages document
- The notes app on your computer or phone
- Google Docs
- … anything else that is available
If you want to experiment a bit I would suggest you use Notion, as it is a great tool for organizing and planning. You can organize your whole podcast and its future episodes with it. It’s a tool worth learning. But you don’t have to necessarily use it. Using every one of the options I listed above will work just fine.
Go ahead, open a document and then come back.
1. Why do you want to start a podcast?
You have a general idea of why you want to start a podcast.
It can be because you just like podcasts and you would like to have your own. It can be because you’re interested in connecting with people in a niche you’re into. It can be because you have a business and want to use it as a marketing channel.
All of the above are fine. Podcasting is a great medium and can be used for multiple reasons. We need more podcasts and people expressing their opinions and sharing their insights with the world. I bet you have many interesting things to speak about!
So, what will your podcast be about? Will it be about something in particular, that you’re interested in? Will it be about your business? The first thing you have to write down is this.
Pick a general topic or a specific niche. Everything is fine. There are a lot of people out there interested in various different things. There’s an audience that is waiting for you to provide value in whatever they’re interested in.
Think about how you will “transmit” what you have in mind to the world and the reason it will matter to your audience.
If you want think of a name for your podcast. It can be anything. Be creative. If you have multiple ideas write them down. You don’t have to commit to anything yet, you’re starting carving, it doesn’t matter if it looks rough at first. Some initial ideas can help you come closer to the perfect title until your first episode comes out. You can change it later.
2. Think of a style
What will be the “style” of your podcast?
Will it be a more casual and friendly or a more serious one? Usually, non-business podcasts are more chill, and business podcasts are a bit more formal. But who says a business podcast has to be boring? There are many business podcasts that are more casual. It really depends on the audience you want to target. Business doesn’t have to equal ice cubes.
3. Know your audience
Podcasting means connecting with people. Real human beings, on the other end, will listen to what you’re saying. You won’t be speaking to the void. It’s easy to forget this while you’re in your office by yourself and planning on creating your podcast.
Research a bit about who your audience will be. Think of who you would like to listen to your podcast and create a listener persona. Write down the following:
- What their age is? You wouldn’t speak to an 18-year-old person the same as you would to a 60-year-old senior.
- What’s their interests and/or hobbies? They must have something to do with your podcast’s topic. For example, if you’re planning on making a gaming podcast you will want to talk to gamers. If you’re niching down to console gamers, you will want to talk to them. If you are a wedding photographer you will want to talk to couples that are planning their wedding. If you are a food blogger you won’t be talking to car nerds, but perhaps people interested in BBQ.
- What’s their job? For example, if you have a business selling photography Lightroom presets it’s a better idea to think of professional photographers, making a living from this than an accountant being interested in photography. You can be creative though, for example, a food blogger, who makes a living from their blog, may want to use your presets to improve the photos on their site!
- What’s their location? Let’s suppose you are a wedding photographer based in Greece. You may want to target couples searching for tips on finding a photographer for their wedding on a beautiful Greek island. You can be creative, you may create an episode “Best places to get married in Europe” and talk about what a good option Greek islands are. The potential customers will find that information valuable and if they choose to get married there, they will surely need a photographer! ;)
- What are their goals in life? Everybody has some long-term goals in mind. For example, someone may want to start coding as a way to find a job in the future. You, as an experienced programmer who is planning on selling courses, may want to start a podcast helping beginners and providing value to them in their journey. By giving quality free content to people you will make them interested in checking your paid content too!
A piece of advice I must give you is to not try to speak to everyone. Think of some listener persona in particular while creating your podcast or at least your every episode. Being too general you’re risking people having a difficult time finding your content, as there already is enough general content out there. Which episode, of the two below, is more likely to drive more listeners to your podcast?
- Quality Lightroom Presets
- Film-like Lightroom presets for summer Instagram photos on a Greek beach
You were right if you guessed that the second one will generate much more traffic!
People are more likely to search for something in particular, as it is more likely to find what they want.
4. What’s the value you deliver?
People are much more likely to remember your podcast and listen to your future episodes if you are providing value to them.
They want to hear about something interesting and learn something that will entertain them or help them with a goal they have.
The value you deliver can be of many forms:
- Entertainment. People that just want to have a good time listening to your podcast. These podcasts can have a more conversational style or even be comedy shows! The value you will provide is… fun!
- Actionable Advice. People may search for actionable advice, on something they are interested in or want to achieve. For example, if you are making a podcast about writers, actionable advice would be an episode about “5 ways to boost your creativity when writing”. This advice is what the listener will derive value from, and keep listening to more.
- Education. These are podcasts that people listen to learn about something. Like we mentioned above, a novice coder may want to be educated in this field, in order to find a job in the future. A historian may want to find information about a particular event in a war. A musician may want to listen to the history of his favorite band.
It doesn’t matter how your podcast will deliver value, but it must provide some value to the listener, otherwise, they won’t be interested.
So, for this one, write down how your podcast will provide value to the audience you are targeting on having.
5. Use your voice
People want to connect with other, real people. And sometimes on the internet, especially when there is no image, it is a bit difficult.
You don’t want to put walls between you and your audience. You want to be friendly and kind. Don’t try to make your audience feel bad about not knowing something, especially if they’re starting out on a hobby you are into for years.
Even if it is a podcast about your business, speak like what you would in real life. Don’t pretend and try to sound more serious than necessary. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to be formal, but be authentic at the same time.
Sound knowledgeable about what you’re talking about but, at the same time, slow down and think about your audience. They may not know that much, so you will have to get into more detail about things you may think are self-evident.
If you have a co-host or guests, make the conversation sound normal, like it would in real life. I find it weird when listening to artificial-sounding conversations on some specific podcasts, even if the content is good.
Practice makes perfect. Don’t expect to be able to find your voice from the beginning. It will take a couple of episodes and that’s normal. The more you do it, the more ways you will find to get better!
6. Find a structure
It is a good idea for your podcast to follow a specific structure for all its episodes, something you can think of when starting.
A common episode structure is the classic Intro - Main Content - Outro.
I won’t go into more detail here, I have written a whole other article titled "How to structure a podcast episode?” for you to learn from.
If you are looking for ideas on what to say during your episodes’ outro you can visit "What to say to my podcast outro? (15 ideas)”.
7. Episode Duration
What will be the ideal duration of your episodes?
It’s a good idea to make all your episodes of similar duration, so people know what to expect. And if for some reason an episode requires to be shorter or much longer than your usual duration, you can announce it during its intro.
For more information check the “Plan the Length” section I have written in the relevant article.
8. Your workflow
You will need some software to plan, record, edit and upload your podcast.
You already use pen and paper, or another software to plan your podcast, as we discussed earlier. You can use it to plan every one of the episodes. Just create a new document for each one of them and write down everything that you will need, including notes, talking points, guest information, and more. It’s a good idea to have a script that you can follow that will make your life easier.
To record your podcast you can use simple software like Audacity or GarageBand, or even Riverside to record directly to your browser.
I have written a few guides on how to use recording software. With a bit of experimentation, you will get started much easier than you would imagine.
- How can I create a podcast on GarageBand?
- Recording your podcast episode online on the browser
- Recording and editing a podcast on iPad
Recording software has all the tools necessary to record, mix and export your show and get it ready for distribution. Fortunately, many podcast hosts support all audio formats so we don’t have to get more technical here!
If you have guests there’s software that you can use to make the process easier. For example, Notion and Google Docs support multiple people working on the same document at the same time. This will make it easier for you to plan what you’re going to talk about before hitting the record button.
You can use software like Skype or Zoom to hop on a video call to make things more personal with your guest.
For uploading your podcast episodes to well-known apps like Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you will need a podcast host. You can’t upload directly your episodes to them. I have written another article on why you need a podcast host in the first place, feel free to check it out!
9. Your schedule
I highly recommend you upload episodes on a fixed schedule. People like consistency and predictability.
You want your audience to know when you’re about to release a new episode so they expect it and come back.
In fact, randomly releasing episodes is the mistake I listed as #1 in our “Podcasting mistakes to avoid” article. It is that important.
How often are you planning on releasing new episodes?
- Weekly. One episode a week, on a specific day, is recommended for most podcasts. You will have enough time for planning and recording, and your audience will remember when to check for your latest episode.
- Bi-Weekly. I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t have a lot of content to put out. It takes a serious commitment and you have to dedicate much time. It is a good idea if you want to repurpose your blog content, so more people find out about you.
- Monthly. You surely can make one episode each month. Usually, it is suggested for longer, conversational podcasts, or interviews with key figures in a niche.
Feel free to write down how often you will be releasing new episodes, and make sure to stick to your schedule!
10. Get the equipment needed
You don’t have to get fancy expensive equipment for your podcast to sound great.
You can have a great-sounding podcast, even on a $100 dollar budget or even using your phone’s microphone.
Microphone technique is important, feel free to check “18 Recording Tips For A Great Sounding Podcast”.
If you want you can get some headphones, to listen to yourself while recording, a sound card if your microphone is XLR and doesn’t have a USB output, and a mixer, if you’re planning on using multiple microphones and headphones for different co-hosts or guests.
I would suggest you now spend so much time or money when researching and getting equipment. The content of your podcast is much more important than how great it sounds! Would you listen to the most pristine-quality podcast if the content was uninteresting?
11. Start strong
Don’t rush into publishing anything, just to get started. Make something good. Take some time and plan things (that’s what we’re doing right now).
Find a strong first topic and come up with all the interesting things you can say about it.
Make sure to introduce yourself, talk about your background and what will your podcast be about. After the planning we are doing right now, you will know what you say.
Make sure to tell the audience what to expect from your episodes and where to find more about you and your business (if you have one). Mention your social media links and prompt them to follow you.
Prepare the audience for what comes up on your podcast!
Keep in mind that your first episode will not be perfect, and that’s expected. People know you are starting out and they don’t expect you to be a professional. They will cut you some slack, they’re interested in what you’re about to release next! With every episode, you will keep improving.
Upload your first episode even if it’s not perfect!
12. Find podcasts for inspiration
There are many podcasts out there. There must be similar ones to the ones you’re planning to make.
Now, I don’t suggest you be a copycat, but you can analyze why these episodes are good and get inspired by them.
After a few episodes, you will find your personal style anyways.
13. Prepare for guests
If you’re planning on having guests make sure you are prepared! People don’t want to feel like you don’t value them, or their work.
Research your guests, here are a few ideas:
- Check their website. Many people have personal websites. Especially if they’re creators themselves. Make sure to read the pages on their websites and get familiar with their work.
- Check their social media. Almost everybody has social media account. Check to see what they’re into, and what’s their style and get inspired for questions you may ask them.
- Read their book or blog. You may want to invite a guest that is an author or has a blog on their niche. Be sure to read them and get familiar with their work.
As you are reading keep notes about your guest, you will probably forget many of the things you’ve read during recording the show.
To keep the conversation on rails you have to come up with a few questions. You’ve done your search so that won’t be that difficult. Come up with 5-10 questions, as conversation starting points, and it will develop itself. Just be sure you understand what you’re asking, it’s easy to make a question that doesn’t make sense if we’re not into a niche. Don’t worry though, everybody makes mistakes!
14. Learn where to see analytics
Most podcast hosting platforms have analytics functionality. If you have created an account with them you will easily find where is the analytics page on the dashboard.
You can track some metrics like:
- Listens. How many listens do your whole podcast and each individual episode have?
- Demographics. Where are the listeners coming from and what apps do they use?
- High-Performing Episodes. What are your highest-performing episodes, so you can make more of them?
Tracking these metrics will help you understand a bit better what content attracts more listeners and what you can change.
15. Create a brand
A brand adds to the audience’s perception of you.
Having a brand about your podcast means creating interesting cover artwork, that appears on apps, having intro and outro music, and more.
You can find a graphics designer to create cover artwork for your podcast or use a tool like Canva if you want to do it by yourself.
When designing your artwork think about the emotions it will associate with it. For example, you can experiment with different fonts or colors. Black can be a more “serious” color than yellow, which can be a more playful one.
Think about your target audience and how you want them to perceive you.
16. Use social media
Social media are a great marketing channel. Everybody, and their parents, are using social media as a way to stay up to date. The effects of social media on society are questionable but you’re planning on providing real value, so it’s a good idea to use them.
Some ideas on using social media on promoting your podcast are:
- Create a Facebook page for your show
- Create an Instagram profile
- Create a Twitter account
You can of course keep your “personal” branding and use your own social media to promote your podcast, instead of creating new accounts for it.
You can use an online editor to create promo material and shareable clips from your podcast’s artwork and audio. We will be releasing one soon, we will keep you updated.
Don’t forget to promote your show. Before your first episode gets uploaded you can hype your existing audience. And then, for each episode, you can upload a couple of posts and stories with quotes from the show. You can even upload interesting audio segments to prompt people to listen to a whole episode.
If you have guests, ask them to share the episode on their social media, so it reaches more people. They will be happy to.
And even if you publish weekly, be sure to post regular updates. Create two posts a week, one when your episode comes out and one a few days before the next one. Be sure to not overdo it!
Another idea is asking your audience questions, that you can answer on your next episode.
And finally, be sure to interact with other members of your niche’s communities, to build some relationships and promote your podcast. You’re providing value, people will be happy to support you!
You now have a document containing everything needed to figure out while starting a podcast. I bet it doesn’t seem that confusing after all!
Starting A Podcast FAQ
How much money does it cost to start a podcast?
It doesn’t have to cost you anything if you don’t want to. You can use your mobile phone’s microphone and free audio editing software.
How much time will it take for my podcast to go online?
After you upload your first episode and submit your podcast to popular apps it can take up to 72 hours for it to be available.
Are there many people listening to podcasts?
Podcast listeners are expected to reach around half a billion in 2023!