So you want to start a podcast, eh? Well, good on you! We wrote earlier this year about how podcasts can help spice up your content, and since then podcasts have shown no sign of slowing down in popularity.
The problem is, though lots of people are ready to jump on the podcast bandwagon, not everyone knows what is entailed in doing so, at least in terms of producing a professional quality podcast that has a chance to succeed in a crowded marketplace.
The fact is, anyone can podcast! It involves a relatively small financial commitment, and technology that can be learned with a little bit of elbow grease and a basic understanding of computers and the internet. So let’s dig into what’s involved in starting a podcast, and by the end, you should have pretty good idea of what’s involved and whether it’s for you.
Are You Sure?
Podcasting may not cost very much in dollars, but it does cost a lot in time. Before you commit to producing a podcast, you need to be sure that it’s something you are able to, have the knowledge to and are excited about doing. Once you start, you’ll need to stick to a regular production schedule, and that means making time for it.
You shouldn’t expect to make much if any money podcasting, at least at first. It can be a very useful tool when supporting an already existing business, but on its own it can take years before a podcast has grown a large enough listener base to be attractive to advertisers.
Finally, you need to have a niche area of expertise. The more focused your podcast is, the more likely it is to attract listeners who are likely to stick with it. It’s no good to just have a general chat about what’s on your mind.
Get The Hardware
You’re going to need a few pieces of gear to get up off the ground with your new podcast. You’ll need a computer, but let’s assume you already have one of those. After that, first and foremost is a microphone. Any microphone you can get your hands on will work, but there is a noticeable difference in quality between a high-end mic and a low-end one, so choose wisely. You don’t need to break the bank, a decent mic can be had for under $100, though if you want bells and whistles you can spend a LOT more if you want to. The main choice you’ll be facing is whether you want a USB mic or an analog XLR mic. If you’re on a budget, you probably want a USB mic, since you can just plug it into your computer and get going. You won’t be able to achieve quite the warmth and clarity of an analog mic, but you can get close enough for comfort.
If you decide to go analog, then there are number of other smaller items you might need. At the very least, you’ll need an audio-interface with XLR inputs so that you can plug your analog mics into your computer. Whether you get USB or XLR mics, you might also want to get a Pop Filter, which is a barrier that sits between you and the mic and stops your plosives (words involving t,p,k,d,g and b) from creating nasty pop sounds when you speak.
Get The Software
The type of software you need is called a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). There are tons out there in the wild, but many of them are very expensive. Pro level DAW’s can run upwards of $1000. There are a few reasonably priced ones like Adobe’s Audition CC, Reaper or Hindenburg, but most people opt for the completely free Audacity.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Just like any other large creative endeavor, podcasting takes a lot of planning. What is your release schedule going to be? How many episodes ahead to do you want prep? What are the episode topics going to be? Will you have any guests? If so, what questions are you going to ask them? Once you have a topic in place, go a step further and write an outline or blueprint for exactly how each section of the podcast will flow, breakdown you topic into elements and then make lists of items you want to make sure to discuss in each section. Go into each recording session with as much knowledge about how that session will proceed as you can muster.
Record & Edit
Using your new hardware, software and carefully concocted plan, get recording! I won’t delve into the nuts and bolts of how to go about doing that here, there are plenty of guides online, but it is fairly straightforward. You record your audio using your microphone and computer, and then piece it together with your software. It might seem scary at first, but once you get the basics under your belt, you’ll be cutting and splicing with the best of them.
Time For Branding
Your new podcast needs an identity. If it exists within an already branded business, then you can extend that brand on to it, though it can be fun to give it a little twist to help it stand out (a fun name, a variation on your logo, etc). If not, you’ll need to create your podcast brand from scratch. You’ll need a logo and styles (color scheme, typography, etc), a cover graphic, a website, and branded elements to place within your podcast (theme music, intro, outro, etc). If you are not a designer yourself, have a professional do these, you don’t want to come out of the gate looking like an amateur.
Take It Live
Though you’ll need a website for your podcast to live, you don’t actually want to host the audio there. Thousands of potential concurrent listeners (hopefully!) would crush your standard budget web server. Instead, host your audio on an audio hosting service like Libsyn or Blubrry. Then you’ll just need to embed that hosted audio online somewhere so people can listen to it!
We recommend a combination of a WordPress website with Blubrry hosting and the PowerPress plugin. This gives you complete control over your podcast from creation to dissemination, while making the process of doing so as easy as possible.
You’ll also want to get your podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcast directories, but if you only choose one, put it on iTunes. You can get more info on how to do so from their official documentation, but if you’re using the recommended setup I outlined earlier, you should already be good to go because PowerPress is designed to make your content iTunes compliant.
You may want to wait until you have three or so episodes already produced and online before you submit to the directories, so that people are seeing at least some content when they find you.
Boom! You have a podcast. You are now the bomb-diggity ultra-suede master-sauce, or whatever the kids are using to say cool these days. Congrats! If you’d like some help from a team that’s produced several successful podcasts (From Founder to CEO, Regen360), give the Solamar team a shout.