How to Create a Podcast?
So, you want to know how to create a podcast? We’ve created a complete guide that walks you through the whole process from start to finish.
Table of Contents
What is a podcast?
Simply put, a ‘podcast’ is audio on demand and made available to be streamed or downloaded over the internet. Podcasts tend to be split into series and episodes and can be subscribed to online. The ‘podcast’ is the name of the channel, with the ‘podcast series’ and the ‘podcast episodes’ being formats of the podcast.
Episodes vary in length, from minutes to hours, depending on the topic of conversation. They are usually listened to on the go as they are easily accessible via mobile devices. Series and episodes are easily accessible via popular hosting sites such as Apple Podcasts and Google podcasts.
The quality can vary as professionals and beginners have access to podcast hosting platforms. Anyone can become a podcaster and creating a podcast has never been easier as equipment has become more affordable and easier to use.
How do you start a podcast?
In order to start a podcast, you’ll need to accept right now that it’s going to take a lot of effort to get a podcast off the ground and listened to by enough people to make it worthwhile. It does, of course, depend on your own personal goals, but if you’re looking for large scale growth, it will take time.
You will need a few things to start a podcast, so make sure that you’ve got your eye on these things. We’ll be covering everything in detail throughout this guide.
- Audio editing software
- Podcast hosting account
- Access to the internet
Once you have all of the above there’s nothing stopping you from creating a fantastic podcast that can be listened to by anyone in the world.
What equipment do you need to start a podcast?
Before getting into how to create a podcast, we’ll need to look at what equipment you need. The good news is that equipment for starting your podcast has never been more accessible and affordable. But as with everything, the more budget you have, the higher quality pieces you can buy.
Here are the pieces of kit you will need to get before starting.
Being an audio-centric medium, your microphone is quite possibly the most important piece of your kit. If you have terrible audio, your audience will hear it straight away.
It’s better to invest a decent amount of your podcasting budget on this item, and not trying to get away with using default microphones like the one on a mobile phone.
2. Digital Recorder
If you’re recording on the go or recording more than one person, you may want to consider investing in a digital recorder.
You can buy a digital recorder with two XLR inputs that allows you to effortlessly have two microphones set up hassle-free. As they’re usually quite portable, you’ll have no issue relocating your studio.
To see all our recommended digital recorders, please take a look at our Best Portable Audio Recorders guide
A computer is great for two things, running your recording software and editing your final recording.
If you’re getting yourself a decent microphone, then you’ll probably need a good computer or laptop that’s powerful enough to run the microphone or microphones.
But it does depend on how you’re setting up your podcast equipment. You could record using a digital recorder of course and only need a computer for editing your episode.
What do you need to set up a PC?
Headphones are important to listen to your recording as you record but also to help you listen closely whilst you are editing.
You’ll use the headphones during the recording to make sure all your levels are correct, and having the detail available here will allow you to adjust carefully. Having a good pair of headphones will allow you to hear those little noises that will affect the final broadcast, such as a radiator or an air conditioner unit quietly.
Although top of the range headphones are not essential as a beginner, the more experienced podcasters will tell you how much they appreciate having the quality in the playback.
5. Pop Filter
Although small, a pop filter is an important piece of kit to own in order to avoid those popping sounds (e.g. Ps and Bs) in the final recording. Some microphones come with built in pop filters, but we recommend you have another standalone one as well just to make sure.
They’re usually inexpensive and should easily fit into your budget.
A mixer may not be as important as other elements of the kit, but having one will allow you to easily upgrade your microphone for an XLR connector for better sound quality.
As well as quality, a mixer will give you more control over the sound levels as you go along without fiddling with the microphone or any other device that could make a sound.
7. A Boom
This is another nice to have, but it makes you life a whole lot better if you have a boom stand to avoid any table top noises on the recording.
You can get around this by making sure your microphone is placed ona a tea towel (or similar), or you can just set up using a boom.
How to choose a podcast topic?
Choosing your podcast topic is one of the most important things you’ll do when starting a podcast, as you’ll be living and breathing whatever you choose for the duration of your podcast.
You’ll want to ask yourself a few questions.
Do you like the topic?
You’ll be planning, researching and writing scripts about this topic, and you’ll only get as far as a few weeks down the line before your interest in the topic starts to influence the quality and output. Make sure you select something that you enjoy, or something that you’ll be able to continue doing for the duration of your podcast.
Will your audience like the topic?
Your audience are the important ones and if they don’t like your topic then you won’t have any listeners. If nobody’s going to like it, may as well give up now. If you’re not sure about this one, you can try a few things.
Try searching your topic on podcasts sites and have a look to see if there are other similar podcasts available. Of course, what you don’t want is a huge mass of very similar topics as that would mean that it’s too popular and would be difficult to stand out!
Put your topic in a keyword research tool, such as the Hoth, SMErush or Google Keyword Planner. Most of these sites will tell you if there’s any interest in the topic, and if there is anyone out there searching for what you’re going to be focusing on. If there isn’t, then you probably won’t have an audience outside your inner circle.
Is the topic focused enough?
If your topic is focused enough is a little trickier to tackle, as you won’t sometimes realise how broad a topic is until you start investigating and researching. The importance of finding a topic that you can focus on in important to allow the audience to understand the purpose of your podcast.
You can’t talk about fixing cars one week, and then how to cook a nice roast chiken meal the next, before then moving on to talking about space and black holes.
Choose one niche and stick with it.
Do you know enough about the topic?
This is dependent on how you’re going to structure your podcast as you don’t have to know anything about your topic before starting. You might want to start researching and learning as you go along. Or you may be planning on hosting guests in an interview-style programme, and they’re the topic
But, be careful if you are going to run the show yourself on an unfamiliar topic. You’ll need to keep yourself up to speed with all the information you need, as the audience interested in your podcast and topic will most likely already know a lot about it!
Obviously, it’s easier if you’re already an expert on your topic, but you can always learn about new topics and do just fine.
Can you get enough guests?
If you’re planning on basing your podcast on interviewing guests and experts, make sure you’ve got a sure way of accessing and finding them.
You may have one or two people in mind, but will you be able to sustain that for the duration of your podcast, potentially for a long period of time?
How to create a podcast brand?
One of the exiting elements of creating a podcast is that you’ll need to think about and create your very own brand. What you choose here will set the tone of your podcast and will be one of the first things people will judge you on as they reach your content.
Of course, don’t go too heavy on the branding, you will only need 3 key elements.
You’ll need to think of a name for you podcast. This doesn’t have to tie in with any of your topics but search engines can use your name in search results. As a loose example, a podcast called ‘The Cooking Show’ is more likely to appear when someone types in a search for ‘Cooking Show’. SEO isn’t as simple as that, but don;t be afraid to go down that route with your podcast name, it might help you.
Your logo will be the main visual people see when they’re on podcast sites looking for podcasts and the thumbnail will probably be your logo initially, while you’re still building a brand identity.
The logo could be text, it could even be a picture of you – the main thing is that you should be able to indlude your logo as a representation of your podcast in various different places. So make sure it’s robust enough!
This is one thing people don’t tend to think about when building a brand. The tone of voice you use verbally, as well as written, is all a part of your brand.
Are you a serious accademic? Are you a free thinking spirit? Or are you just here to have some fun?
What tone you choose will define the sort of audience you’ll be attracting, so make sure you give it some thought and stay true to the voice you choose.
More for the podcast itself, but music is a really strong brand recognition tool. If anything, try and find yourself an opening theme for your podcast. Just a little something to play at the start so that the audience is introduced to your audio brand.
What would be even better, as well as an intro, is having some unique background music for certain areas of the podcast. Slowly, the audience will become affiliated with your unique music.
And if your theme is catchy enough, they might be whistling it all day in work!
How to choose a podcast style?
Choosing the style or format of your podcast doesn’t have to be a final choice that’s locked in, as this could change for every episode if you really wanted. But, it’s usually a good idea to try and keep a consistent style for each podcast as it makes it easier to package your podcast offering to your audience.
As an example, TV shows usually keep the same style or format for every episode or series. Oprah and Ellen both host talk shows, Game of Thrones and Walking Dead are both dramas. These programmes don’t change style or formats at all,
Before actually planning your podcast episode you just need to be aware of the different options available.
Storytelling / Narrative
Possibly one of the more popular formats, if you’re looking to tell a story or to run a narrative over a few episodes, this is the format for you. A storytelling format can take place as one story over a whole series or an individual story in every episode.
All you need is a beginning, a middle and an end!
This type of podcast centres around location being a key factor. It has many versions, from being a touring podcast where the host travels around, to being based in a specific location like the outdoors or a special place.
A teaching podcast does exactly that, and focuses os teaching something to the audience.
Another very popular format, the interview is focused on having guests on the podcast. There is a fine line between this format being very easy and very difficult, as you are placing your episode in the hands of another person.
The other difficulty with having guests, and usually different guests, in every episode, is you need to be consistently getting more and more guests to come on the podcast.
Case Study Based
This style is centered around a topic; be that an individual, an event or anything that’s actually happened in real life. These podcasts usually share styles with an interview style podcast as an event or a topic could feature interview with a guest. But, that guest is not the sole focus of the podcast.
How to write a podcast episode?
It doesn’t matter how long have you been in the industry, planning will always be one of the most vital aspects of various creative processes. Be it recording an album or making a movie, it’s really important for you to come up with a detailed plan before starting to write.
The same is true for writing a podcast. It combines elements of journalism, presenting as well as audio production. Producing a podcast episode isn’t always a piece of cake!
Listed below are the main phases involved in planning a podcast episode:
- Interview Preperation (optional)
- Writing the Script
Each one of your podcast episodes will be different. That’s exactly why you’ll have to put in a great deal of your time and efforts into planning each and every one.
Below are the steps needed to plan and create a podcast episode.
Creating an outline is the first important step before you create a podcast episode. It involves putting your raw thoughts down on paper; all your ideas, extra things you’ll need, people to contact, tasks to complete and anything else that pops into mind.
You can then begin arranging them into a loose structure for you to work with moving forwards.
First, you need to create an outline of what your podcast episode will be about. Note down the title, who you’ll be interviewing, theme, research required as well as the list of all the tools and kit you’ll be needing. You don’t need to have a minute-by-minute plan. At this stage, all you need is a rough a rough outline or a few tasks to complete.
After noting down everything, not only will you have a clearer brief in your hand, but you will also be able to imagine how your podcast episode will run and grow from there.
It’s at this point you could think of some creative ideas to give your episode an edge. Rememebr, you aren’t required to make any definitive decisions in this phase. Feel free to go wild.
Research is an important phase of your podcast production journey.
Here, you’ll be able to back up your outline with some data or facts. You can begin adding detail to the frame you’ve built. If you had anything that you weren’t sure about in your outline, this is where you investigate things in more detail.
With thorough research, you will be able to define your key points, inform your interviewees, discuss a topic authoritatively and confidently. All these things help to engage your audience and enrich the content.
This process involves things like, reading news pieces, articles, blog posts, listening to other podcasts, interviewing people. Take your time to make sure that you are comfortable with the topic and situation in question.
Note, if you’re hosting your interview in an external location, you will also need to visit that location during this stage to make sure that it is suitable.
You don’t need to become an expert over night, but a solid understanding of the topic will allow you to understand and follow the conversation, allowing you to ask better questions and guide things along in an interesting direction.
3. Drafting the Script
At this stage you put your outline and reasearch together to create a draft script.
Fill your original outline with important pieces of information from your research. Even at this stage, you don’t need a full script, only a plan that will take your through the whole podcast. This will also allow it to flow better as you’re recording as you will have mapped out the journey.
However, I’d advise you to create a more detailed script for the more detail orientated or heavier sections of your podcast episodes at this stage so you have more time to check them before hand.
Remember, one the most important things to keep in mind throughout this process is your audience. As you’ve done before, keep asking yourself:
- What topics do they want to hear about the most about?
- Will they tune in to my next podcast episode after listening to this one?
- What will make them download this episode?
4. Interview Preperation (optional)
Many podcasts have guests, or sometimes more than one guest.
If you’ll be having a guest on your episode, you’ll need to plan your work as well as what the guest will need to do. Make sure you plan out your questions or topics you’d like the guest to cover beforehand. Of course, you can add in a few extra questions on the day if you like, but always have something prepared.
Listed below are some things to keep in mind while planning to interview a guest:
- Have you done enough research on your guest?
- Will you need to promote your guest’s product or service?
- Have you thought about questions?
- Do you have a quiet, conformable and suitable place to record?
- Have you set time limits?
Once you’ve done this, provide your guest with the plan beforehand so they have time to practice or think of answers. If you’re organised, a few days before is usually more than enough time.
If you can, it’s also a good idea to briefly talk them through your plan or hold a shorter mock interview before the recording, to help things go as smoothly as possible on the day.
Even so, don’t worry if you can only give them the plan on the day. Just make sure that you have a clear structure to be able to guide the interview, and everything will be fine.
5. Writing the Script
Finally, it’s time to write the script.
This script will guide you through your episode as your recording. Take your draft script and amend into a final version. Make sure you use what you planned so far in your outline, research and draft.
You can be as detailed as you want with this element and is down to personal preference and natural ability. Some will be fine with a few notes, others will want a full script to read. It’s your personal choice.
Regardless of detail, listed below are a few important structural elements you may want to include:
- Summary of the episode
- Guest introductions (optional)
- Main content
- Ad reads (optional)
- Sign off
- CTA (e.g. Ask your listeners to tune in to your next podcast)
As you’re finalising, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Let your personality shine through
- If you’ll be reading, avoid any grammatical errors
- Allow any writing to flow naturally and suitable for a conversation
- If you don’t know how to pronounce any word, spell it out phonetically.
- Keep your eye on the number of words and time limit
- Edit! Refine! Repeat!
Once you’ve finalised everything, practise, practise, practise!
How to record a podcast?
As a beginner, you sometimes don’t realise how important the little things are when recording sound. Did you choose the right room? Have you brought enough microphones?
Here are a few things to consider when recording a podcast.
1. Think about your recording space
When recording your podcast your main focus should be on the recording space. Make sure you’ve thought this through before hand, and that you have visited any external recording spaces to check suitability.
You’re looking for more than just an empty room:
• Look for a quiet room
This might not be as obvious as it sounds, due to podcasts being perfectly ok in ambient areas such as coffee shops and parks. But a quiet room does usually give you more clarity in the recording, and also alows you to edit cleanly. As an example, if a car is passing by in the background and you want to ‘cut’ a sentence, you won’t be able to, as you’ll not be cutting the car zooming past in half (and the audience will hear that!).
As well as this, it usualy isnt as easy as it sounds! A house next to a road might have cars passing by every 2 minutes, or an air condissioning unit might be humming away in the background in the only room you have.
Leave your recording equipment to record the silence for at least 5 minutes in order to test how quiet the room is.
• Listen to the room tone
Even if you find a quiet room, the other element to consider is the tone of the room. Does your voice echo eveywhere? Does it sound like you’re in a big church hall somewhere? Of course, this might be the sound you are looking for, but it usually isnt.
You’re looking for a warm, nearly muffled sound that’s being absorbed by your surroundings and big sofas and thick curtains are great for absorbing and giving you this warm sound.
• Make sure there’s no wind
Although this might be an obvious one, you should avoid being outside when recording a podcast due to the challenges of avoiding wind noises on a microphone. You may have seen TV crews with big mufflers on their microhpones to try and combat this, but it’s always a challenge even for them.
Avoid recording outside, unless you fancy a challenge.
2. Think about your microphone placement
Remember that your microphone placement is cruicial if you are going to capture the sound in the highest quality possible. You’ll want your microphone being the same distance from your mouth as much as possible throughout the recording.
The same is true if you have guests on the podcast. You’ll need to make sure that the microhpone they are using is close enough to accomodate any unexpected movements your guest might make. They won’t be as aware of keeping a consistent deistance as you’ll be.
3. Keep an eye on your sound levels
Whatever you’re using to record, make sure you have some way of measuring and monitoring the sound input level. This usualy comes up as a level going from green to red.
What you’ll need to do is adjust your sound to avoid it being in the red zone. Being in the red zone means the sound being recieved by the microphone is too loud and will end up not sounding great when you listen back. The sweet spot is getting as close to the red zone as possible, without actually going into it!
What is the best set up for podcasting?
Setting up your equipment for podcasting has never been easier given that most connections are now USB and can connect directly with your computer. We’ll run though some of the main setups that can be setup anywhere.
USB microphone to computer
Connecting and USB microphone with your computer is the easiest way of getting set up. Once connected you’re connection should work stright away with your software.
XLR microphone to computer
If you prefer an XLR microphone to get higher quality then you’ll only need one extra piece of kit. Get yourself an USB mixer or audio interface, so that you can easily connect it with your computer. Just plug your XLR microchone into your mixer or audio interface and you’ll be set up.
Using a portable audio recorder
Portable audio recorders are super useful, not only for being portable sound recorders, but they can also alow you to set up in many different ways We’ll run through some of the main ways you could use one.
Firstly, you could use the inbuilt microphone to caputre your audio and then transfer over to your computer.
Secondly, do the same but by using an external XLR microphone instead of the inbuilt microhpone, and then transfer the file over to your computer.
Or thirdly, you could use your audio recorder as your microphone, but connect it directly with your computer through your mixer or audio interface. You then capture the sound directly on your computer without the need for transfering anything.
Recording with more than one microphone
Recording more than one microphone is super easy. Using hte XLR set up with a mixer or an audio interface, simply plug in more than one microphone. Of course, make make sure you have a mixer or an audio interface that has more than one input and you have the correct cable.
One thing to note, we don’t recommend plugging in more than one USB microphone into a single computer as it confuses things and could distrupt your recording. Of course, there are ways of getting around it, by using drivers or by having two computers. But, it’s far easier and safer to use XLR microphones through an audio interface.
How to produce a podcast?
Once you’ve done your recording you will need to edit and produce a final audio track. There are a few things to consider here that will elevate your final track from being a piece of audio into a podcast show suitable to be listened to by an audience.
Editing your podcast
There are numerous editing programmes available to edit an audio track and they works very similar to how video editor work.
One of the more popular free audio editing programmes is called Audacity and available to download on to your PC or laptop and available on Mac.
Another great programme, that’s available through the Adobe Creative suite is Adobe Audition.
If you’re a Mac user, then Logic Pro and Garage Band should help you edit your podcast.
Sound tracks and effects
This element is slightly optional as sometimes you won’t need a sound track or sound effects, but they can help elevate your episode.
For the sake of the recording, getting hold of music beforehand will help the post production go smoothly. You can also ask guests for any relevant audio beforehand so that you have it ready to go when your podcast is being edited (as long as you have the copyrights!).
We recommend using additional audio for 2 key elements:
1. Intros & outros
Having a good theme tune behind you will help you solidify an identity and a brand with the audience and they will grow to affiliate with this theme. It also helps the structure of your podcast and eases people in or out of different sections.
2. Background Music
Filler or background music can keep things interesting during long periods of talking or discussion. The background music is usually affiliated with the main theme in some way to further reinforce the brand and identity. It can also change the mood of the podcast if you’re looking to go fram a funny section into a serious section, and so forth.
Background music can also be used to cover up any quiet background noise that shouldn’t be there or hide audio blemishes!
- Music can reinforce comedic or dramatic moments
- Music can help introduce a guest, or a paticular topic
- Musican help to introduce a segue between segments
Remember, you can download various audio files from different audio sources across the Internet. Some are free, but you will have to pay for most.
How to upload a podcast to the internet?
You’ve planned, recorded and edited your podcast and now you’re ready to upload your podcast to the internet for everyone to access it. Lucky for you, there are platforms available that make it all easy for you.
What you will need to do is choose a podcast hosting provider that will keep your audio files safe and will give you access to distribute your podcast to podcast sites across the internet.
We’ve picked 3 for you below to have a look at as examples, but more information is available in our Top Podcast Hosting Sites article.
Podbean is definately one of the best hosting platforms on the market right now, with access to Google, Itunes, Spotify as well as all the other popular podcast sites.
- Easy to use
- Access to all the top podcast sites
- Looks great
- Reports of flawed security features
Buzzsprout is all about making things easy, with one of the better dashboards you’ll ever come accross.
- Easy to use
- Great support staff
- Simple for beginners
- Noteasy to monitize
- Not many website customisation options
Extended: Best Podcast Hosting Sites
How to promote a podcast?
Although your host site will push out your podcasts on to agrigators, you still need to promote your podcast in order to help grow a following. Below we’ve listed a few of our favourite, but we have more available for you in our How to Promote a Podcast article.
1. Grow a following on social media before launching
Who said you couldn’t be active on social media before launching? Make sure you’re using the time wisely to grow a stready following within the target audience of your podcast.
You can do this by:
- Posting great content
- Commenting in other communities
- Asking opinions
2. Create a content calendar
Create a content calendar for all your promotional activities. It will help you stay organised and will allow you to notice any gaps you have.
If you’re going further than only using social media as a content source, then include other methods within this calendar, such as press releases or email campaigns.
Make sure that you’re properly mapping out your marketing campaign in the build up to launch, but also preparing to use the content calendar for the duration of your podcast. Don’t stop it after launch, it’s a great way of keeping yourself active on promotional channels.
Having a content calendar will also allow you to spot if you’re doing too much. It’s best to keep your activities under control or you’ll be running the risk of burning yourself out.
3. Launch with more than one episode available
If you launch with only one podcast avaialble, you are missing out on a valuble chance to convert more people into fans. Make sure you’re going live with a few different options available for your audience to binge.
You won’t need more than 2 or 3 episodes to make a great impression on your audience. But don’t forget all your social media opportunities as well. Make sure you’re convering all your episodes into bite sizes videos on social media for people to share with their friends!
4. Reach out to other podcasters
Don’t just build a following of loyal fans, reach out to other likeminded podcasters as well. This could be hugely benificial for you in order to pick up tips and advice as well as build frendships that you can use in everyday life and help to get mentioned on other podcasts.
Running your own podacst can be stressful and challenging, so being able to share your experiences and problems with likeminded people can be really helpful on a personal level.
5. Upload video versions of your episodes
Remember to convert your audio episodes into video episodes as well. Podcasts are popular on platforms such as YouTube, so not uploading something might leave you missing out.
Extended: How to promote a podcast?
Tips for podcasters
We’re nearly at the end of the guide, so we thought we’d leave you with these few words of wisdom.
1. Create a content plan
Creating a main content calendar is one of the most important things you can do. This will give you something to work towards when recording and editing to make sure you’re working to a deadline. Make sure you plan a regular release at a consistent time, such as every Wednesday evening, or every 2 weeks on Sundays. This will let your audience know when to expect you, and ultimately get into the habit of expecting and listening to you.
On top of this, make sure your content mapping your episodes as well to make sure that you’re covering the most interesting range possible within your niche or topic.
2. Engage with your audience
It’s really important that you’re doing the best possible job of engaging with your audience during you podcasts. This helps build a relationship with your listeners and will make them more likely to follow and listen again and again.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. If you’re funny, be funny and if your serious, be serious. Although you can choose a podcast tone of voice it’s a lot easier to be true to yourself and let the audience follow you, and not some character you made up.
3. Get the right equipment
We’ve said it before, and it may sound obvious, but the better your equipment the better your sound quality is going to be. In a sense, you’re lucky with a podcast as it’s all about the sound, and you don’t need to worry too much about anything else.
Get yourself a great microphone, and work back from there!
4. Think early about monetization
If you’re pumping many hours into creating a podcast it’s worth considering your monetization options. As your starting out this might seem a long way away, but thinking about it now will enable you to map out your journey towards that point in time.
Some leave the monetisation down to an open advert slot invitation for a general sponsor. But if you’re thinking about other avenues, you may have to angle yourself in a certain way early on to be able to achieve it.
So take a look into your options now to avoid any disappointments in future.
5. Don’t be disheartened by low numbers
Especially if you’re starting out, you may not be finding the audience numbers you thought you would early on. The truth is, that’s completely normal, unless you had a mass following on another platform to leverage.
Launching a podcast is all about growth and learning step by step. Hardly any of your ‘average’ podcasters starting out would have hit the big time for a while. Listen back to their first ever podcast episodes and see how far they’ve come since then, it would have been a lot of hard work and dedication. That is what’s most probably in front of you right now, so don’t get disheartened, chin up and plough on!
Extended: Podcasting Tips for Beginners
We trully hope you’ve found something of interest here. Creating a podcast can take up a large amount of your time and efforts, but with the right approach there is every reason for it to turn out great.
So, what are you waiting for? Go create a podcast.