Introduction

The most common obstacle to starting up a podcast is not knowing what to do, how to do it, or where to start. This guide will help you get past all the guesswork so you can smoothly launch into podcasting and take to the air!

Whether you are a freelancer, a passionate hobbyist, an activist, a business owner, or the marketing manager for a business or product, podcasting provides you with a current and potentially regular way to communicate with subscribers, customers and your target audience, to promote your specialty, create brand awareness and encourage potential sales.

It can help you to establish or expand authority in your field, and to disseminate information, by providing valuable and/or entertaining content to your listeners.

It’ll help boost your search ratings with Google, making your enterprise more readily discoverable on the internet.

It’s also a useful alternative to publishing written material on the internet, because people can listen to audio while they are driving or doing other things, so there is an efficiency for listeners who might be otherwise pressed for time.

The following guide covers the main, step-by-step points on how to go about it all. We’ve simplified and taken out the guesswork so you can get right to it.

The most common barrier to podcasting is

Table of Contents

1.    What is the purpose of your podcast?

You first have to ask yourself why you want to make a podcast. What purpose will it be serving?

You might be using it as a vehicle to create an online presence, so people can connect with the thoughts and information you have to share. Or, to establish your own credentials as an authority on a topic. Maybe you want to gather a groundswell of opinion? Perhaps you want to promote a hobby, like remote control car racing for instance, or drum up interest in, or education about, a product or service you offer.

Podcasts work to gather a network of followers or subscribers. Doing them regularly could lead you to monetizing your shows and/or gaining sponsorships.

With the ‘live’ and personal audience connection podcasting offers, you can potentially engender goodwill in the marketplace, share information, or keep your listeners up to date on subjects of interest.

Narrow it down so you are aware of your own reasons for podcasting.

Identifying “what is my purpose?” is the place to start. It’s a critical element to hold in mind to keep you focused and motivated, especially on those days when you’re finding it hard to choose your subject or put a show together. Specifying what you want to achieve helps you to know it when you actually do achieve it!

2.    Who is your podcast targeting?

This is a vital key element, second only to why you’re doing it. If you don’t know exactly who you’re aiming your show at, you’ll only have a small or random chance of growing an audience or sustaining its interest over a time.

This is a vital key element, second only to why you’re doing it. If you don’t know exactly who you’re aiming your show at, you’ll only have a small or random chance of growing an audience or sustaining its interest over a time.

If you’re coming at it from a business point of view, for example, if you’re a dietician who wants to make a healthy diet podcast, then your target audience might be people who are interested in healthy eating, weight loss, gaining more energy, etc. You might even narrow it down to a specific age group, if that is a relevant factor for you.

If you’re creating a hobby show around your love of remote-control cars, then your target audience would be those with the same passion. They might attend RC racing events and want to know about the latest cars and equipment.

So, try and create a notional profile of your ideal customer. Sketch out exactly why it is that this type of person would like to listen to your content. Keep that ‘persona’ in mind every time you plan an episode. Ask yourself: “Would ‘Steve’, our target listener persona, like this? Is this focused on what he likes, what he’s interested in?”

Remember, the profile of your ‘listener persona’ is basically that of your ideal customer/listener. Asking those questions will help you to keep your show focussed and on track, which will make for more engaging content overall.

Now that you have an idea of who you want to reach, you have to ask – how do I reach them?

3.    Why would they listen?

There needs to be a reason why people would listen. Revisit whether your intention is to entertain your listeners, to make them laugh, or think, or to educate them, or provide them with useful tips and information to make their life or work easier, or some other purpose. If you know what need you are seeking to fulfil for listeners, it makes it a lot easier to cater to that need.

Creating content that will hit the spot for your target audience means they will get something out of listening to your podcast and hopefully be interested enough to subscribe, share the content and/or come back for more.

Whether you’re the dietician providing information that will help someone to lose weight and gain more energy, or you’re doing a really entertaining interview with a friend or customer at the RC race track, if listeners feel a benefit, then not only are you giving them a reason to listen, you’re giving them a reason to return again and again.

It’s important to think about this in the early planning stages. As a start, write down five or six potential podcast episodes you think your target audience would love to hear. Topics that would pique their interest or get their attention. If you’re stuck for ideas, consider repurposing existing videos or blogs you’ve made, to present old and new material in a fresh format.

4.    Keyword research

Keywords are those words most commonly used when people search online for something. Your aim should be to make your podcast, description, or website words match and include the keywords people use when looking for what you have to offer. Keyword research identifies the most common words people use when they’re searching for your type of product, service or topic.

Using well-chosen keywords will help your website to be more readily found on search engines like Google, when folks are looking for what you are offering.

Carefully selected keywords can be seeded in your written content – in the podcast description information and in words written in your website pages. Those words can then get picked up in a search by a potential listener or customer.

With the wonders of technology, Google is now also going through the audio content in podcasts and delivering front page search results at the exact moment the search term appears audibly in the podcast. So, remember to also include your keywords in the actual words and phrases spoken or played in your podcast.

5.    Topic research

In addition to keywords, also look into key topics. Using your seed keywords along with questions you commonly get asked, do some topic research to discover what kinds of root words and phrases most commonly come up in search questions.

While you may think a good topic of interest might be ‘women’s shoes with small toe opening’, it’s always good to get this confirmed or see if other phrases have better potential.

6.    How to name your podcast

Ok, so at this stage you should be ready to name your podcast. As a rule of thumb, unless there’s a good reason, try to avoid the ‘clever name’.

Essentially, you want people to find your show. So, while you might think of a really clever name for it, ask yourself who will know how to find that? If you have a clever/catchy name you want to use, then try to also incorporate a description (using your keywords/topics) in the title.

Generally, think of the way words flow most naturally when choosing topic names. Consider, for instance which of these phrases you think would work better?

Thinking of using your own name?

How famous are you? If you have thousands of Instagram and Facebook followers based on your name, then go for it. Otherwise, don’t do it. Nobody will be searching for you. You need the name to be, or incorporate, what they are searching for. They’ll find you when your content’s topic and words relate to their search.

7.    How important are good episode titles?

In short, they are critical!

Along with the keyword and topic research we discussed earlier, it is vitally important.to create your podcast’s name by choosing pointed, searchable and descriptive titles for your episodes.

Don’t make the mistake of just naming your episodes “Episode 1”, “Episode 2”, and so on. Nobody’s going to know what they’re about or what to expect if they listen. The whole point of a podcast is that people listen to it, so give them a reason to click on one of your episodes. Draw them in with a well-chosen, descriptive title.

iTunes allows searching by episode name. So, you can show up there not only for the terms in your podcast title, but for the keywords in your episode names as well. That can give you extra reach if you name your episodes well.

8.    What ‘s the right length for a podcast episode?

A podcast can be as long or short as it needs to be, depending on how good your content is and what you want to say. As a general rule, it is wise to bear in mind that given the barrage of information we are all exposed to, people generally have shorter attention spans when surfing for information. So, perhaps it is best to ask: “How long does my podcast need to be to get the message out succinctly?”

Most podcast listeners regard a “short” episode as, probably, anything under 10 minutes; while a “long” episode would be anything over roughly an hour.

The first few minutes are critical in whether you’ll retain your listeners’ attention, so be sure to make some interesting points promptly, rather than spending a lot of time warming up to the subject. You want your listener to be interested enough to hang in for more.

Don’t pad or stretch to 15 minutes if 10 would be better. Being succinct is a good strategy and will be appreciated by your audience. Avoid wasting your listeners’ time with unnecessary delays or slow, drawn out or repetitive styles of communication.

On the other hand, if you have 50 minutes of valuable, relevant content, why chop it down to 20 minutes? If your podcast is replete with interesting or useful information, then, ideally, listeners will stay engaged and appreciative.

9.    How do I decide on a release schedule for my podcast episodes?

Now that’s an important question! Here’s the short answer:

Choose a schedule you can comfortably stick to on a regular basis.

 If you feel you can only manage a podcast once a month, that’s quite ok. If you can produce an episode every two weeks, even better. If you can do it weekly, then well done! It will depend on the volume of information you want to get across, the perceived demand for new updates or inputs on a regular basis, and your other time commitments. Try not to set a frequency that is going to overtax you before you even get things up and running.

Yes, you can still have a big impact with a fortnightly, or even a monthly show, It’s the routine that’s important as it generates its own power.

Be warned though, that there is little point in sticking to a deadline just for the sake of it. You’ll create a much better impact by putting out one excellent episode per month, than a very average episode every week. You need to respect your listeners by not using up their time and patience unduly.

What if you do an interview and it’s a great conversation from start to finish, but runs for 1 or 2 hours? In extreme cases like this, you can consider cutting it in half to create two episodes, or even four episodes of a half hour length each. You don’t want your potential listener to feel intimidated by the time commitment involved in choosing to listen to your podcast.

10. What is the best format for a podcast?

While some do broadcast live to air, let’s assume for our purposes that you will first start by prerecording and possibly editing the podcast before putting it to air.

The format you choose to go with will be your personal choice, and when deciding on a format, the starting point is to ask yourself Who is to be involved.

Will it just be you? Or are you intending to have one or more co-hosts? Will you be interviewing guests, or perhaps playing excerpts of prerecorded interviews or material? If having more than one participant or host, will an online connection between more than one location be required?

The Solo Show – Monologue Format

If it’s just you, then in many ways a solo show is much simpler. It will basically consist of a monologue – with or without inserted, prerecorded pieces. In a solo show you can build your credibility and authority on the subject matter without having to rely on others to help present the material in each episode.

While it is more straightforward, the solo show is probably also the most

intimidating format for a newbie podcaster. People have observed that one of the biggest challenges they found in going solo is getting over the feeling that they are just “talking to themself” and realising rather, that they’re talking to the “listener”.

This is where it is helpful to remember the profile or persona that you came up with earlier, for the typical listener in your target audience. During the podcast, imagine you are conversing with them. Take the opportunity to answer the kinds of questions that people tend to ask you about your topic and maybe give them something new and interesting to learn from you. Think back to the keywords and topics you decided were useful in the earlier stages and refer to them in the things you say.

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The Co-Hosted Show Format – Presenting alongside a friend or colleague.

For many, it’s easier and personally less pressured a format to chat on the show with someone else. With the right co-host you can have interesting two-way dialogue: bouncing off each other’s ideas, debating, or even laughing and joking with each other. Good, co-hosted podcasts often have some great chemistry going on between the presenters. This can make for an exciting listening experience.

The challenge is scheduling both of you to be available to record together – whether in the same studio space, or via a live link. The advantage of a co-hosted format is that the two-way flow of communication can voice some of the questions or queries that target audience members may be wanting to know about, making it a more comfortable, ‘real’ vehicle for delivery of the information.

 

The Interview Show Format

In an interview show you will either be the interviewer, or the interviewee.

As the interviewee – If you are to be the ‘expert’ on your chosen subject, then someone else can ask you all the right questions, allowing you to respond with the material you want to get across. The dynamics of a two-way flow of interaction, similarly to the co-hosted format discussed above, help what you say to come across in a more relaxed, conversational way.

As the interviewer – This is where you can present material of interest to your target audience by interviewing people who can bring your chosen subject matter to life. You could, for example, interview one or more of your heroes. Maybe you’d like the opportunity to chat with people you’ve always admired or looked up to, or with respected experts on relevant subjects. As interviewer you can shape the flow of what is presented in the podcast. Again, when asking questions, remember to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience ‘persona’ to elicit responses you think they’d like or need to know about. Interviewing and listening well are skills that you’ll need to hone through practice, practice, practice.

As an added bonus, your guests will sometimes have their own followers and audiences, who may access your podcast to hear the interview and they may end up subscribing to your show. If done right, you can really grow an audience in this way. By choosing the right guests you can expose your podcast to a much wider audience than it might otherwise achieve on its own – especially when you’re just starting out, so that is a point worth noting.

11. What Recording Equipment do I Need

The bare minimum of equipment you’ll need to record a podcast is a laptop with a built-in microphone and access to the internet. However, the more limited and low-cost your setup and equipment are, the lower the sound quality of your show.
The good news is if you choose the right mic, simple USB microphone setups can give great results. Generally, it’s a good idea to start where you are at and then see how things work and whether you enjoy your podcasting, before you start spending big sums of money on fancy audio equipment.

If you are intending to have a co-host or do an interview style show, it would be a good idea to invest in some lapel microphones and a splitter. Trying to interview someone with one big microphone in between you may be a bit unwieldy and make for patchy audio when people move off mic. Even if you are podcasting in a solo format, buying a lapel microphone is still really advisable. Once you clip it in place it is one less functional thing you have to worry about when you are focussing on creating a good presentation. By using simple recording & editing software you can keep costs and complications to a minimum. For basics, you can use your phone with the microphones plugged in via a splitter. You have to weigh up if using more expensive and sophisticated equipment will be worthwhile in the end and whether it will make enough of a difference to justify the extra cost. As to where you record, be aware that sound will tend to bounce and echo if you are in a sterile room with bare walls. Look into the best ways to create a welcoming sonic atmosphere for your listeners and guests. Using sound baffles / acoustic foam can help to reduce the level of airborne sounds and reverberation in echoey spaces.

12. Do I need A Script?

Before you hit the “record” button you’ll want to have a fair idea of what you are going to say. The last thing your listeners need is to hear you fumbling over words before you have even launched into your show. So, yes, starting with a simple script will help, (unless you have a real ‘gift of the gab’ and are confident you know what you will be saying and how you’ll be saying it.)

Bear in mind though, that it is not advisable to write a detailed, lengthy, essay-style script and then read it out monotonously. If you are just reading long screeds of words it will bore your listeners and lack that fresh, “live” quality that is so much more desirable. If you are wanting to create highly-produced and heavily-edited shows, then more detailed scripts might be in order, but generally, you want to use your script as a prompt to speak more naturally.

Also, it is worth noting that script-writing takes preparation time and ultimately you don’t want the whole exercise to become a chore, or a barrier to getting your podcasts out regularly. Use your sense of balance to decide the level of detail you feel you need to present your information in an interesting and engaging way. Your listeners will appreciate it if they don’t have to listen to someone reading a long, pre-written script.

Have fun and create an engaging show! Aim for conversation, rather than a dreary sermon. Using a script consisting of bullet points lets you list off the things you want to cover while so you can speak more naturally, in your own words, around those points. Don’t worry! It gets easier as you practice over time and eventually you may not even need a script.

13. Talking into a mic

podcasting step 13 Talking into a mic

It can take a little getting used to talking into a microphone. As we’ve said, people can feel like they are just talking to themselves and their concentration can trail off, as if no one is listening.

The main thing is to focus on talking to your ‘listener persona’ – your ideal customer/listener. Imagine you’re holding a conversation with them, rather than talking to the microphone or the empty air. This will help you to sound much more natural and engaging. People who listen will feel more like you are talking directly to them, which helps to build and strengthen relationships with your audience over time.

Also be aware of not going “off mic” by swaying back and forth, or walking away from the mic if it is in a fixed position. The sound quality needs to be consistent, so keep an even distance between you and your equipment so you are not fading in and out of range.

14. Recording remote guests or co-hosts

Sometimes your co-host or guest might be in another building, or even another city. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t have to be a problem and can be as easy as talking to someone on the phone. They don’t have to be face to face with you for you to record your chat with them.

Skype and Zoom are the most common ways to communicate online and record calls. Be sure you familiarise yourself with which buttons to click, well before the time comes for recording, so you are comfortable and conversant with how it works and don’t need to get frazzled when the time comes to record your call.

15.Editing your podcast

We’ll keep this part short and simple! Perhaps the easiest way to edit recorded calls is to use the Audacity program. It’s free and once you get the hang of it, the software just works.

Here’s a link to all you need to get your editing started:  https://www.audacityteam.org/

16. Do I need music for my podcast?


You don’t have to use music. Ultimately it is up to you and it depends on what sort of mood or atmosphere you want to create on your show.

Broadcasting music will bring up copyright issues, if you don’t own the rights to use the music. So, you either need to make sure you have the appropriate permissions to use music that belongs to artists or labels, or stick with resources that you pay for, or which are free to use.

You can get podcast music from several places online. One free option is Incompetech. It works well and will likely serve your needs. Bear in mind that since it’s one of only a few free sources, you might hear the same music popping up in other places online, so you won’t have a unique sound unless you record your own music or make special arrangements.

17.Specifications of cover art for podcasts

The cover art you use for your podcast will be one of the things that attracts people to click and listen or to just scroll by. Because the artwork is often viewed in a smaller format, it doesn’t serve you well to clutter up the space with a lot of details that are hard to read. Often a simple photo of yourself, coupled with your logo works well. It is unique and shows you are a real person that listeners can engage with. Another alternative is a picture that relates to your subject matter or theme, with your name or logo.

As to the dimensions, ideally your cover art should be 1400 x 1400 pixels, in JPG or PNG form, and under 500kb in size. If you are using iTunes is important to stick to these specs.

18.Ready to publish your podcast?

Ok, so you have your recorded and edited material. What do you do with it to get it up and out there?

Just as a website is hosted by a server, your podcast will similarly need hosting. You can choose from many free and paid options which you can find by searching ‘podcast hosting’. One host we can recommend is https://www.whooshkaa.com/which is straightforward to use and, importantly, free.

Set up your account and create your show with the media host of your choice, and then you can submit the podcast to various directories. From there, listeners can discover and listen to it. They might also choose to subscribe and/or download your show.

You can also post the show on your own website and direct listeners to your website itself.

19.After you Launch

Congratulations! Well done! You’ve got your podcast out there launched it into the world. So, what happens next?

  • Share the link by email, with your customer database and prospects.
  • Post it on your social media pages and generally spread the word.
  • Encourage people to subscribe for future episodes and to share the link.

Wishing you the very best for your next steps in promoting your podcast and building your listener base!

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