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How to start a podcast

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Written by Becky T

Published Aug 03, 2023

Over the course of the past 10 years, podcasts have gone from being virtually non-existent to becoming one of the most popular ways to consume content across the globe. We're all busy in the modern world, desperately trying to fit our hobbies and interests around our hectic schedules, which is perhaps why podcasts are so well received; they give us the freedom and flexibility to engage with our interests while we go about our daily routines. From getting ready to commuting to work, going the gym to cooking our dinner, podcasts slip perfectly into our busy lives.

So if you're thinking about starting your own podcast, we're here to reaffirm your decision. Starting a podcast gives you the opportunity to inject your business into your audience's routine, building trust whilst driving engagement across channels. To help you on your journey, we've put together an essential guide on how to start a podcast.

Contents:

  1. Build your brand
  2. Create a content plan
  3. Gather your equipment
  4. Record your podcast
  5. Launch your podcast
  6. Promote your podcast
  7. Wrapping up

Build your brand

Before you get yourself in front of the mic, it's important that you take some time to build your brand. Even if you already have an established business, building a brand around new ventures is a crucial step in the process. You may be well-known for your fashion line or photography business, but if you're not yet known for podcasting, then it's time to lay some groundwork.

When it comes to naming and visual branding, it can be helpful to leverage the reputation of your existing company, but make sure there is some distinction when marketing your podcast. For example, you can add a qualifier to your company name such as "Tutti Talks" (not a real podcast, unfortunately), so that when people search for your podcast they're led to the right place. Creative titles that incite people's natural curiosity also work well, for example, "No Such Thing As A Fish" and "My Dad Wrote A Porno"; they give some clue as to what will be discussed whilst still evoking intrigue. In any case, it should say something about what you do without boxing you in too much.

no such thing as a fish podcast cover art

When it comes to choosing a topic, ask yourself: how does what I have to say add to mainstream discourse? With over 5 million active podcasts (Forbes, 2023), it's easy to get lost in the noise. Therefore, it's important that you have something novel and distinct to add to the discussion. If you're incorporating multiple hosts, think about how each person can bring something different to the table. Learning how to start a podcast is a lot about learning what you have to offer.

Most importantly, what do you enjoy talking about? One of the keys to building a successful podcast is consistency; to stay in people's minds and establish yourself as a trusted resource, you'll need to upload podcast episodes on a regular basis, generally every week or fortnight depending on the length and type of content. This means that you're going to have to churn out fresh ideas on a regular basis, so it will quickly become obvious if you don't enjoy talking about your chosen topic, or if you go to niche and run out of ideas early on. Industry and news-based podcasts do well for this reason, as they can hook onto the week's trending stories without having to plot out topic ideas every week.

Looking for a podcast studio in London?

Choose from 1000+ spaces and locations on Tutti and deal directly with space hosts for a quick, hassle-free booking process.

Create a content plan

Now that you've nailed down your branding and the general themes of your podcast, it's to get more specific with your content planning. To start with, try mapping out a 6-week schedule, jotting down the tentative titles for each episode and what you'll discuss.

Establish how long you want each episode to be and map out a loose script that details how long you'll stay on each topic or section. Since podcasts are built for the flow of natural conversation and don't follow strict scripts, it can be difficult to get through everything you want to say without running overtime. Constricting yourself to time limits within each episode will help you to stay on track and direct the flow of discussion. Of course, you'll have the opportunity to cut out audio later but you want to limit the amount of cuts so that the dialogue still feels natural.

image showing an aerial view of a woman typing on her laptop
Image by cottonbro studio

If you want to play it safe, keep your episodes to under half an hour. This increases the chances that your audience will remain engaged and fits most listening habits (lots of people listen to podcasts while doing other tasks, such as going on a run, commuting to work, or cooking dinner). TEDx Talks notoriously have an 18-minute limit, citing that any longer and they run the risk of the audience's minds wandering off. 10-minute snippets can work for daily rundowns of the day's news, whilst more research-intensive projects may give room for longer episodes.

Think about what platforms you want to post your podcast to and on what days of the week. Stick to a consistent schedule so that your listeners can build a habit; it's a good idea to publish your podcasts early in the morning in the timezone of your audience so that they can listen at a time of day that suits them best (and according to Demand Sage (2023), most people listen in the morning). Be realistic about your schedule as well - planning, recording and editing a podcast is a surprisingly time-intensive task, so don't tie yourself to daily episodes unless you have a large team that you can rely on for help and post-production.

Gather your equipment

When it comes to how to start a podcast, there are a few crucial pieces of equipment that you'll need in preparation for your recording session. If you're renting out a podcast recording studio, your equipment list may be a little shorter. However, it's important that you do your research and make sure that the space is equipped with everything you need. If you're looking for places to hire film equipment from in London, we've got you covered.

If you're opting for building a home studio or want to supply your own equipment, sourcing a microphone that delivers high-quality audio is absolutely paramount. Most podcasters will use XLR microphones as they offer crisp, accurate recordings and an ability to handle a wide range of frequencies. However, if you're looking for something a little cheaper and more portable, there are a number of great USB microphones on the market. Microphones like the Samson Q2U and ATR2100 offer both XLR and USB output, giving you the freedom to choose between the two, meaning you can start out using USB in your home recording studio and then progress to XLR without needing to upgrade your kit.

image of an XLR microphone
Image by by Johnathan Farber

Having video recordings of your podcast is becoming increasingly popular as it allows you to tap into audiences on YouTube that typically wouldn't listen to podcasts elsewhere. To do this, you'll need a video camera setup, as well as a creative backdrop and any visual branding that you want to include. Having a filmed recording of your podcast will also enable you to post video clips to Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, which fare much better than audio-only content. If you're lacking a neat, visually appealing place to film, consider using a green screen and add a background when you edit.

It's a good idea to have a laptop on hand whilst you record, in case you want to reference images or videos to your guests or co-hosts. These can be added to the video recording in post-production, so make sure you keep track of any references that you've made. Having a laptop on hand also means that you can see script notes and conduct any necessary fact-checking as you record. You may also have someone moderating the feed from the control room who can relay feedback via a live text chat; the other option here is to have them communicate via headphones, but you may find this distracting if you're just starting out.

Record and edit your podcast

Now for the fun part! Once you've acquired your equipment and mapped out your structure, you're ready to get chatting. Part of the allure of podcasts is listening to genuine conversations unfold as they happen and witnessing people's unscripted reactions to each other. This means that rehearsals could actually hinder your production - which is great news if you're feeling eager to get stuck in. Pre-recorded podcasts also give you the freedom to take breaks or inject with notes about the direction of conversation. You can even recruit a moderator to help you do this (some podcasts will have moderators who are mic'd up, others behind the scenes).

Image by Austin Distel

When it comes to editing your audio, try to cut out waffle and less engaging portions to keep things concise and interesting. However, don't over-edit as this can detract from the flow, and much of what people like about podcasts is their chatty, conversational spirit. Ask friends or those in your network to proof the unedited recording and make note of where they felt their attention slipping; sometimes we're too close to our own content to judge it fairly and it can be useful to have an outside opinion.

Most video editing software also offer in-built audio editing, so if you're including a video recording of your podcast, it makes sense to edit visuals and audio together on the same platform. Otherwise, dedicated audio editing software such as Audacity and Adobe Audition offer useful editing capabilities.

Launch your podcast

Now comes the moment we've all been waiting for - getting your podcast live. There are a number of different hosting platforms that you can use to do this. Podcast hosting platforms give you a place to store your podcasts and provide you with an RSS feed that allows your podcast to get featured on podcast directories such as Apple Podcasts.

Spotify has recently launched its own podcast hosting service, Spotify for Podcasters, which allows you to upload your podcast directly to Spotify and distribute it anywhere you like. Apple Podcasts doesn't offer this but lists a number of recommended hosting providers, including Acast, Buzzsprout and Audioboom. You can however upload directly to Apple Podcasts without an RSS feed, but this means your show will only be available on Apple Podcasts.

Google Podcasts and Amazon Music for Podcasters also require an RSS feed to submit your show. You may have to wait for verification from some of these platforms when you submit for the first time, so take this into consideration when planning your launch.

If your podcasts are longer than 30 minutes, it's a good idea to include timestamps in the description box of each episode so that listeners can locate specific sections. In any case, include a brief outline of the show's key talking points.

image of spotify's transcript feature shown on a podcast in mobile view

You should also supply a transcript of your podcast for deaf and hard-of-hearing users; have this available on your website and promote it where you can. Luckily, Spotify offers automated transcripts, but with other platforms, you may have to manually add your transcript to the description, or link out to your website.

Promote your podcast

We've put this as the final step, but really your promotion should start long before your first episode goes live. It's important to create anticipation before you launch to give your podcast the best chance at success. Post clips, soundbites and teasers on social media and try to pull in any existing audiences that you have.

Once your first episode does go live, it's time to put your foot on the gas and really get your name out there. Engage your audience and ask them to leave ratings on Apple Podcasts or any other platforms that facilitate reviews. Don't underestimate the power of social media, and make sure you're promoting across multiple platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Once you have a few episodes out, you can try getting featured in podcast roundups online: simply google "best [your industry] podcasts" into Google and try reaching out to a handful of publications to ask them to feature your podcast in their list. You can also search social media using relevant hashtags (e.g. #podcasts, #philosophypodcasts or #podcastrecommendations) and comment on posts recommending your show.

screenshot of a tweet asking for podcast recommendations
Image by Twitter

Building a community around your podcast is an essential part of growing a loyal fanbase and working with them to deliver engaging content. Interact with viewers on social media and ask them what they want to see more of. Once you're better established, you can begin to offer merch and even live shows to build an even stronger sense of community.

If you can, try and land interesting guests to boost your show's visibility, and reach out to other podcast hosts to see if you can make a guest appearance on their show.

Wrapping up

So there you have it - everything you need to know when it comes to how to start a podcast! Starting a podcast from scratch can be a daunting experience, but at the end of the day, the fastest way to figure out what works is to get stuck in and start testing your ideas. You may find that you need to tweak things like length, frequency, and format as you adjust to your own capacities as well as the desires of your audience - this is a normal part of the creative process, so allow yourself to evolve and don't hold yourself to such rigid expectations.

Looking for a podcast studio in London?

Choose from 1000+ spaces and locations on Tutti and deal directly with space hosts for a quick, hassle-free booking process.

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