how to start a podcast

Let your voice be heard: How to start a podcast in 2020

Podcasts or podcasting is one of the latest media and entertainment trends that is taking off around the world. 

Podcasts have been around for a while, but are re-emerging as an accessible learning and entertainment tool. 

In fact, in 2006, just 22 percent of the U.S. population was aware of the term podcast, but that number grew to more than 64 percent in 2018. 

Today there are more than 73 million podcast listeners in the U.S. alone, and that number is expected to continue to rise. 

So, what is a podcast?

A podcast is a series of digital episodes that are made available for download through audio files. These files can be accessed on your computer, phone, or tablet through several apps and podcast providers, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, or Google Podcasts. There are also several other podcast directories and podcast hosts.

Why start a podcast?

Podcasts are continuing to grow in popularity because of the entertainment, convenience, on-demand, and on-the-go listening experience it provides.  

Anyone can listen to informative and educational content and learn while getting other things done, whether you are at home or heading out the door. Podcasts allow listeners to control what they listen to, when they want and where they want. 

How to start a podcast

The radio used to be one of the most popular mediums of communication and entertainment, but to host a radio show you needed to get a job at a radio station or have broadcasting equipment. 

One of the reasons podcasts have blown up is because it allows anyone to express their thoughts and opinions while sharing knowledge in a convenient and on-the-go experience. 

You don’t need to work at a radio station or own expensive equipment to start a podcast. In fact, it’s never been easier to start a podcast than it is today. 

Related: 30 free tools to start an online business in 2020

Once you understand some basic podcasting terms and the process of creating and setting up a podcast, it’s pretty straightforward from there.

There are a wide variety of options for podcast hosting, setup, and distribution. In this guide, we take you through the steps of starting a podcast today!

How much does it cost to start a podcast?

The price to start a podcast is mostly dependent on your podcast goals and the long term vision you have for your podcast. Costs to start a podcast can vary from free to a few dollars a month, but whatever your budget, there are many options to choose from.

In terms of costs to start a podcast, the first things you would need to focus on are:

  1. Podcast hosting
  2. Podcast equipment

Podcast hosting

Podcast hosting is where your podcast feed will live. This is the home for your podcast, and there are several options to choose from for podcast hosting.

Podcast equipment

To start a podcast, you will need tools and software to record and edit your podcast episodes. Podcast equipment can range from mics, headsets, and recording equipment to mixers and editing software. 

You can start recording a podcast with your phone with recording apps like Garage Band. After you record a podcast, you want to improve the quality by editing the podcast. Editing allows you to refine and improve the sound and quality of your podcast. You can remove unwanted sounds and awkward pauses that sometimes occur during recording.

There are many editing software available, including free options like Audacity.  

How to start a podcast in 2020

how to start a podcast
  1. Identify why you want to start a podcast
  2. Commit
  3. Decide on the topic for your podcast
  4. Decide who is your ideal listener
  5. Decide on the format of your podcast
  6. Start recording your first three episodes
  7. Setup podcast hosting
  8. Distribute your podcast
  9. Promote and market your podcast
  10. Stay committed and consistent

STEP 1: Identify why you want to start a podcast

Knowing your why is just as important as making the commitment. Knowing the reason you want to do something will help you to clarify your goals and commit to doing it in the long run. 

STEP 2: Commit

This might sound cliche, but the first step to starting anything is to commit to getting started. Commit yourself to do something that you know your future self would be proud of, and you know could potentially help others out there.

STEP 3: Decide on the topic for your podcast

After you have made a commitment to yourself and clarified your goals for starting a podcast, decide on the topic of your podcast. Brainstorm ideas that you are interested in discussing and sharing with others. 

Choose something you are knowledgeable about or something you are very interested in exploring.

Choosing a topic for your podcast that you find very interesting will make it much easier for you to plan your podcast content, plus your excitement and enthusiasm will be reflected in your podcast. 

Top podcast categories

To help you choose a topic for your podcast, here is a list of popular podcast topics and categories on Apple Podcasts. You can use this list to help you generate ideas for the podcast topic you would like to focus on. 

ComedyReligion & Spirituality
FictionSociety & Culture
Health & FitnessTrue Crime
Kids & FamilyTV & Film

As you can see, there are dozens of categories and topics to choose from to start a podcast, and this list isn’t exhaustive. There are also many other subcategories, which can help to narrow down your topic.

But for now, think about the main topic you want to focus on for your podcast. 

STEP 4: Decide who is your ideal listener

Think about your ideal listener. What are they interested in learning or hearing about? 

The success of your podcast will largely depend on engaging your audience by providing interesting and relevant information. This will hook them and keep them coming back for more episodes. 

Tip: Before you start planning and recording your podcast, it’s a good idea to listen to a few of your favorite podcasts to get a feel for how other podcasts are structured. This can be a good source of inspiration and help to guide you as you plan your content. 

Listen to their podcast intro, theme song, format, length, the topics discussed, and their outro. This will help you to identify things you like and dislike, as well as things you want to include in your podcast. 

These are a few of my favorite podcasts that are fun, educational and inspiring. How I Built This, Up First, Throughline, Embedded, Side Hustle School and more recently Pessimists Archive.

They each do a great job of focusing on a specific theme that is entertaining, inspirational and educational at the same time.

Top things to consider when planning a podcast

The name of your podcast Theme song
Podcast subtitle Intro
Podcast description Podcast format
Podcast logo Podcast length
Cover artwork for your podcast Outro

STEP 5: Decide on the format of your podcast

Think about how you want your podcast episodes to be structured. Do you want to have guest speakers and conduct interviews on your podcast, or do you want to focus more on storytelling?

Here are a few examples of podcast formats

  • Interviews
  • Storytelling
  • Q&A sessions
  • Co-hosting
  • A combination of all of the above

Deciding the format and structure of your podcast is important so listeners can know what to expect in each episode, and it also helps to create a consistent and cohesive brand for your podcast.

Here are a few options to consider for the format of your podcast

Intro: How you start your podcast in each episode. You can have background music playing with you greeting your listeners and then introducing your podcast, or you can just jump right in.

Outro: How will you wrap up your podcast and let listeners know what’s coming next? 

STEP 6: Start recording your first three episodes

After narrowing down the planning phase of your podcast, it’s time to start recording. 

There are several tools you can use to record the audio for your podcast, including free and paid options. 

If you are just starting and testing the waters, you can start recording a podcast with just your smartphone. 

If you have an iPhone, you can use the voice memo app, and Android devices also have voice recording apps.

Using your phone is an easy and convenient option, especially if you are traveling or on location and want to record a quick interview. 

Other, more versatile options include:

STEP 7: Setup podcast hosting

After you have successfully recorded your podcast, it’s finally time to publish your first podcast. To publish your podcast, you first need to select a podcast hosting provider. There are several podcast hosting options to choose from, and each has its pros and cons.

Why you need podcast hosting

To share your podcast with the world, you are going to need to set up podcast hosting. This will be your podcast’s home and where your audio files will live.

Podcast hosts also provide the RSS feed for your podcast. This allows podcast episodes to be picked up by podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts for distribution.

It also lets podcast directories know information about your podcast like the name, author, and description.

How podcast hosting works

When someone subscribes to your podcast using their favorite podcast directory or podcast app, the podcast host will automatically send new episodes to be downloaded to the listeners’ podcast app, and they will also be notified, similar to a subscription service. 

Once podcast hosting is set up, you won’t have to worry about any technicalities. You will just upload your new podcast episode, and the host will take care of publishing. 

Every time a new podcast is uploaded to your hosting platform, the RSS feed gets updated, and the directory will reference the new episode.

STEP 8: Distribute your podcast

Now that you have hosting set up for your podcast, it’s time to select the podcast directories that you would like to distribute your podcast.

There are many options for distribution, but you want to make sure to include all the major podcast directories. These include:

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Google Podcasts
  • SoundCloud
  • Stitcher

These are a few of the major podcast directories, and as I mentioned earlier, there are many other podcast directories where you can submit your podcast.

For now, it would be good to focus on getting your podcast submitted to the main directories.

STEP 9: Promote and market your podcast

Congrats! If you have made it this far, you are well on your way to becoming a superstar podcaster. Now that your podcast is out there, it’s time to let the world know.

Remember, just like with blogs or YouTube videos, if you aren’t promoting it, no one will know it exists.

Share: Start by sharing your podcast with your network. Let them know what your podcast is about and where they can listen to it. 

Reviews: Ask them to subscribe and to leave a review. Reviews are very important to helping your podcast get found in podcast directories. 

Get social. Utilize social media to share your podcast with a larger audience. Tap into FaceBook and Instagram to create posts about your podcast. Also, use relevant hashtags to help people learn about your podcast.

STEP 10: Stay committed and consistent

As with anything in life, you have to stay committed and consistent to see results. Your goal should be to share your message with listeners and to grow your audience.

To do this, you have to commit to creating content and recording your podcast consistently. Whether that’s once a week, twice a week, daily or monthly, commit to a schedule and stick to it.

If you are consistent and create great content over time, you should see your audience grow. 

The first step is to start today. If you found this article helpful, please share and leave a comment below.

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