Podcasts are growing in popularity and offer a great way for you to expand your audience. Find out how to start a podcast of your own with our guide to podcasting.
Defining Your Podcast Topic
Before you start recording your podcast, you will need to think of what you want the podcast to be about and why people should listen to your podcast. Don’t copy other podcasters, audiences are looking for unique shows with opinions. What are you most knowledgeable about or what would you like to learn more about? Lots of podcasts out there take the interview approach, where a host will ask a changing panel of guests questions about their experiences. Within the online business niche, this has become a rather saturated market, but may still work if you have a unique angle. Audiences will always be interested in hearing about the experiences of successful people, no matter what niche they’re in. It also offers you an opportunity to create buzz for your podcast on your guests’ blogs and social media channels.
Take a look at the iTunes podcast directory or the Stitcher podcast directory and find shows that are within your niche. Listen to as many episodes as possible and try to analyse what makes these podcasts work. What aspects of each podcast do you like and what do you not like? It’s likely that general audiences have the same opinion as you.
Once you know what you’d like your podcast to be about, create a content plan for the first 5 episodes. You will want to record at least 5 episodes of your podcast before publishing your podcast onto iTunes and Stitcher. This way, you’re more likely to get repeat listeners as they will see you have more than one episode available and it gives you plenty of time to focus on your next move.
What Equipment Do I Need to Record a Podcast?
To record a podcast, you will need a microphone and a piece of audio editing software. You don’t need hundreds of pounds to start recording a podcast. There is lots of equipment out there that you might not need for your first few episodes.
If you don’t have a massive budget, a USB or audio jack microphone would be a good place to start. Remember, audio quality is important as most people listen to podcasts on their headphones. Entry level microphones can be purchased from around £11.99 from Amazon. We would recommend the Tonor Black Microphone for PC or the Blue Microphones Snowball Condenser Mic for PC/Mac.
Audio Editing Software
There are a number of different audio editing software packages out there, the most popular being Adobe Audition and Audacity.
The Free Option
Audacity is a freeware audio editing suite, which is a good choice for editing your podcast. The interface might take a little time to get used to, but there are plenty of Audacity tutorials on YouTube that will show you how to use the software. As it’s a freeware product, there are lots of excellent add-ons available for Audacity, like Chris’s Dymanic Compressor plugin, which will help reduce the file size of your podcast files.
The Paid Option
The other piece of software that professional podcasters use is Adobe Audition. Adobe Audition comes bundled with the Adobe Creative Cloud, which is offered on a subscription model. This means you can try out the software and if you don’t like it, you’re not forced to stick with it. Adobe do a 30 day free trial of Creative Cloud and offer discounted subscriptions to students. Audition is used by professionals and offers a huge amount of settings to play around with. If you’ve used any other type of editing software in the past, Audition won’t be too hard to pick up. It features the same drag and drop interface you’d see on most other pieces of editing software.
You will also want to brand your podcast with an intro. This could be a simple spoken word intro, or if you want to make your podcast sound a bit more enticing, you could invest in intro music. Look for royalty free music on Google, or purchase an audio pack on Audiojungle. There are hundreds of sites out there offering royalty free music, but we would recommend purchasing over using entirely free to use music. Remember, if something is free, it’s likely used by lots of other people already, and you’re looking to stand out rather than blend in.
Recording Your Podcast
Now that you have a concept and the right equipment, it’s time to record your podcast. To get the best audio quality, find yourself a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed by traffic noise or the sound of other occupants in your home. A good tip is to always leave 10 seconds of silence before you start recording and at the end of every segment. This makes it a lot easier to edit your audio later on, as you’ll be able to see a visual representation of the start and end points of each segment within your audio editing software.
Write out queues for each segment so that you don’t lose track of the points you wish to cover during the episode. If you suddenly get a case of word salad, stop recording and start again. Set aside at least a couple of hours to record your podcast and an equal amount of time to edit it later on.
Recording Interviews via VOIP
If you’re going to record an interview with someone who is in another location, you can either do this via Skype or Google Hangout, which both allow you to record the live feed. If you are a Windows user, you can install MP3 Skype Recorder to help you record your Skype conversations.
However, you will need to make sure the other person has a decent internet connection and microphone for this to be an enjoyable listening experience. The other option is to get your guests to install Audacity or Adobe Audition and record their part of the audio separately. You can then later edit the two feeds together in your audio editing suite.
Any time you plan on having guests on your podcasts, make sure you talk them through the basics of the show and the talking points you’d like to cover during the interview. If you’re planning a G-Rated podcast, you won’t want to have a guest on that will swear during the whole interview. Let your guests know what to expect before you start recording and take control of the situation.
Hosting Your Podcast Files
One option you have is to self-host your Podcast audio files on your blog. This can save you money, but might not be the best idea if your podcast suddenly becomes extremely popular, as it will affect the bandwith of your website. If you are using a shared hosting provider, such as Bluehost, a large influx of downloads could result in your site slowing down. To set up a podcast on your own website, you will need to create a separate RSS feed for podcast clients to subscribe to. Your subscribers will then be alerted every time you upload a new episode. If you’re on WordPress, you could use the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin to configure your podcast feed.
3rd Party Platforms
There are lots of 3rd party podcast hosting platforms to choose from. Two of the most popular paid platforms are Libsyn and Podbean. Both operate on tiered pricing structures, with varying file size limits and . The benefit of using a 3rd party podcast hosting provider is that your website won’t take a hit if your podcast suddenly becomes very popular and you also don’t have to manually submit your podcast to various portals. The providers automatically publish your latest podcast episodes onto the most popular podcasting services.
Getting Podcast Listeners
Now that your podcast is available on iTunes and Stitcher, your next focus is to get as many positive reviews as possible within 14 days of launch. Ask your friends to listen to your podcast and leave genuinely constructive reviews on iTunes. The more positive reviews you get within that 14 day window, the more likely you are to get featured in iTunes list of New & Notable podcasts. Remember to ask your listeners to leave reviews on iTunes at the end of every episode and mention the URL of your blog so that they can engage with more of your content. Create a post for each podcast episode you publish and ask your listeners to leave a comment on the post as well. This will benefit both your blog and your podcast in the long-run, as you build up a dedicated audience.
Designing Podcast Cover Art
Make sure your podcast has attention-grabbing cover art, so that you can stand out among the crowd. Look at the artwork used by other podcasts within your niche. What colours and typography would stand out in that category? If you have a bit of budget to spare, you could use a service like 99designs to have professionally designed cover art made.
Just like with blog posts, having a detailed description of each episode of your podcast and making extensive use of meta data is best practice when publishing a podcast. A good method to use is to write out the talking points covered in each episode with a time stamp within the description, and to put links to any products or sites you may mention during the episode within the show notes.
These are some of our tips to help you create a successful podcast. What are your best tips for increasing podcast engagement? Let us know in the comments!