Learning how to start a podcast is easier than many people think – so easy, anyone can create a great podcast. There are a few key elements you need to get your first podcast off the ground, including a theme, brand, some basic gear, and a couple software programs. This beginner’s guide covers everything from podcast equipment to audience growth tips to help you get your podcast off to a great start.
Choosing Your Podcast Theme and Niche
Learning how to start a podcast begins with choosing a theme or topic to focus on in your podcast. This can be anything you want, but you should have two important factors in mind: sustainability and audience. Could you create enough content in a certain topic to sustain a podcast over dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of episodes? Is there an audience for that topic? If so, who are they?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself when you’re thinking about starting a podcast. Make sure you pick a topic you’re passionate about already. Choosing a topic just because it is popular or seems trendy won’t guarantee success and won’t be fun to discuss. You are the star of your podcast, so center the show on something that you’re knowledgeable about or excited to talk about, even if you weren’t doing a podcast on it.
Your podcast audience is your niche. This is the specific group of people your podcast is geared towards. For example, if you were creating a podcast on the highs and lows of raising a puppy, your niche would be dog owners. You could get even more specific by targeting people who own a certain breed of dog. Try to keep your niche specific without making it so small there’s no audience.
Creating Your Podcast Brand
Once you have an idea of your podcast’s topic and niche, it is time to create your podcast brand. This is a key part of learning how to create a podcast, but it can also be the most challenging step. Your podcast brand is the whole identity of your show: what it’s about, what makes it unique, who you are as a host, who the podcast is for.
Your brand encompasses everything from the tone of your content to the logo and description. Think of your favorite clothing brand or movie studio. What makes that brand unique? Why do you enjoy the content or products they make?
Take those same questions and flip them around to start exploring your podcast brand. What makes you unique as a host? What does your content have to offer that listeners can’t find anywhere else? You might be talking about a super popular topic, like puppies, but your take on it could be different from every other podcaster’s.
This stage is where you will create your podcast logo, description, and format. For beginners, shorter episodes are usually easier, but episode length is not as important as you might think. Listeners care drastically more about content quality rather than length. Your episodes could be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more.
If you don’t have graphic design experience, you may have to outsource your logo design. However, free tools like Canva and Adobe Spark can help you save money by creating a logo yourself. Don’t overthink your logo design – remember, most people will be listening on their phones, so your logo will just be a little square. Focus on choosing a font and color scheme you like and consistently use that font and color scheme across your brand.
What Podcast Equipment Do You Need?
There’s more to learning how to start a podcast than coming up with episode ideas. The gear you use to create your podcast is crucial for success. However, good podcast equipment is not as expensive as many people expect. The main piece of equipment you need is a starter microphone. About $50 USD is usually a good minimum to spend on a decent first microphone.
Microphones can be a complicated piece of tech, so make sure you do plenty of research before buying your first mic. Many mics designed for live streaming will also work great for podcasting. Examples of good beginner mics include the Samson Q2U, HyperX Solocast, Razer Seiren Mini, and Shure SM58. As a beginner, it’s usually easier and more affordable to start out with a USB microphone.
Besides your mic, all you need is a half-decent computer. It helps to have a high-performance laptop or PC, but this isn’t at all required to make a great podcast. Depending on the mic you have, it may be helpful to get a boom arm to attach your mic to your desk or table.
What Podcast Software Do You Need?
In addition to your physical podcast equipment, you will also need some software for recording and editing your podcast. These tools vary drastically from one person to another based on your editing experience and preferences. For instance, some people simply record a video and pull the audio from that into a free editing tool like Audacity. Others use a purpose-made podcast editing program.
If you don’t have any video or audio editing experience, you may want to consider spending a little extra to get access to a simplified podcast editing program. Alitu is a popular choice, as well as Podcastle, both of which require monthly subscriptions. If you don’t want to pay any extra fee, try using Audacity, which is free for Mac and Windows alike. You can use some tutorials to get started learning to record and edit.
If you are hosting your podcast with one or more other people or plan to interview guests, you’ll need an extra bit of software. Some people use Skype or Zoom to record podcasts with multiple people, but this format isn’t ideal for getting good audio quality. A purpose-built program for multi-person podcasting, like SquadCast or Iris, will give you much better results.
Additionally, you’ll need to find some royalty-free music to use in your podcast. You don’t need much and you can reuse a few tracks that you think encapsulate your brand well. At minimum, pick an intro or logo track and an outro track. Before using any music in your podcast, make sure it is royalty-free and cleared for open commercial use (that means don’t use Taylor Swift songs or your favorite movie soundtrack in your podcast).
Publishing and Sharing Your Podcast
Once your first podcast episode is recorded and edited, it’s time to publish it. There are many platforms where you can post your podcast episodes today, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. You can pick one platform or post your podcast on several different platforms. It may be easier to stick to one or two platforms at first.
The process for publishing your podcast episode varies a bit from one platform to another. Regardless of the platform, it is often helpful for beginners to use a purpose-built podcast hosting tool, such as Buzzsprout or Casted. These tools simplify the technical process of prepping a podcast episode for uploading, such as converting to the right file format and setting up an RSS feed for you.
Some podcast publishing platforms have a built-in suite of tools for creating, editing, and publishing podcasts, making them super easy to get started with. For example, Spotify has a connected podcasting tool called Anchor that has recording, editing, hosting, and publishing tools all in one place.
It’s normal to be nervous when you post your first podcast episode. Remember, learning how to start a podcast is a continuous process.
Tips for Growing Your Audience
Arguably the hardest part of learning how to create a podcast is learning to stick with it. Making a great podcast requires dedication and perseverance. Even the most successful podcasts today started with zero listeners. It takes time, patience and hard work to grow your audience.
The most important tip for growing your podcast is to keep going and spread the word. Experts say two of the biggest mistakes new podcasters make are trying to be perfect and worrying about your audience size. It may feel awkward at first, but you have to relax and get excited about your podcast early on, even if you only have a few listeners on each episode.
Tell your friends and network that you have a podcast. Share news about your show online. Use social media to connect with other podcasters, your listeners, and the community for the topic or niche your podcast is about. Keep posting new episodes consistently and go into each and every episode like you’re creating content for an audience of thousands. If you’re excited about your show, your audience will be, too.
There are plenty of actionable tips you can use to boost your following, as well. For example, by connecting with other podcasters, you could find an opportunity to guest star on someone else’s podcast. Their listeners might be interested in your content, too, and go check it out after hearing you on a show they already enjoy.
How to Start a Podcast: Creativity and Dedication
Learning how to start a podcast takes time and creativity, but anyone can be successful in this community. Podcasting is all about sharing your knowledge and perspective on something you’re passionate about. If you take the time and patience to learn how to create a podcast, you can craft content that inspires and entertains and build a whole community around your show.
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