Podcasts are a great way to connect with an audience, build trust, and establish credibility within a business niche.
They are easy to launch and consume, free, and your audience can listen to them on the go, on any device.
There is a growing number of enthusiastic listeners around the world, and successful shows now enjoy a cult following.
If you’re ready to take the next step and launch your own, read on. In this post, you’ll learn how to start a podcast for free or next to nothing, and discover everything you’ll need to consider before launch.
How to start your own podcast
Podcasting is popular because it is accessible to all and relatively easy to get involved with.
In this article, we’ll take you through eight steps on how to set up a podcast:
- Creating a strategy. Planning is key to your success. Whether it’s the topic you’ll be covering or your end goal, everything needs to be planned.
- Purchasing equipment. You can opt for a professional podcasting setup right out of the gate or try to kickstart your podcast on a low budget.
- Recording your podcast. While it might seem self-explanatory, a proper environment and the right preparation can really make a difference in the quality of your recordings.
- Editing the recording. With the use of free or paid software, you can tweak your audio recordings to your liking. While you can hire someone to do the work for you, learning how to make a podcast on your own can be very helpful for your future projects.
- Finding a podcast hosting service. Every podcast needs to be organized and stored somewhere.
- Uploading your podcast to streaming platforms. Once your podcast is online, you’ll need to upload it to a popular streaming platform for everyone to see. You’ll have heard of iTunes, but there’s plenty of other options.
- Promoting your podcast. Just having your podcast out there is not enough. You will have to actively reach out to a potential audience via social media and other channels.
- Retaining a steady release schedule. Once you launch and have your first listeners hooked, make sure to keep them updated with new episodes.
1. Strategy and topics for podcast episodes
Planning is crucial if you want to create a sustainable and successful podcast. Here we break down what to consider when planning your strategy and content creation.
How to create a podcast strategy
Just like running any business or project, careful planning is crucial when you want to launch podcasts.
Here are some ideas to think about when building your strategy:
- Start with a goal. Identifying and prioritizing your business objectives will help you take the action steps needed to achieve your goals.
- Pick a niche. Start with a broad topic that you’re interested in, then pick a sub-topic. Verify that your niche isn’t too crowded, and analyze how starting a podcast of your own can fill that gap.
- Market research. Listen to some podcasts you’re most interested in or pick something that is similar to your niche. Take notes on the details you like or noticed, think of what could be improved.
- Distribution. Plan which podcasting streaming services you’d like to be on, and what kind of schedule you will be adhering to. Remember to be consistent with it.
Planning your podcast
Once you know your goals and found your unique voice, it’s time to get started planning your podcast.
When thinking about what problem your podcast is trying to solve, we recommend starting with the following:
- Build your brand identity. You’ll need a catchy name that shows what your show is about, and a striking logo to display next to each episode.
- Plan your content. What topics within your niche do you want to talk about? Doing a quick keyword search will shed light on what many people in your target market are curious about.
- Think strategically. Getting on the front page of a podcast streaming platform is all about how many downloads you get. It’s a good idea to reference past episodes and hint at future ones so listeners are more inclined to download them.
You also need to think about the duration and format before you launch your podcast.
Will your show run for 30 minutes or a whole hour? Will it follow a narrative style or will it be more like an interview?
You’ll also need to think about who will host your show. Will you host it on your own or will you have a co-host?
2. The basic equipment that you’ll need
Here are some of the pieces of equipment you need when making a podcast:
- Microphone. Invest in a high-quality microphone. It will enhance the sound quality of your show dramatically when compared to some cheaper options.
- Microphone pop filters. This helps to reduce the popping sound we sometimes make when we speak, especially when pronouncing words that include letters “b” and “p”.
- Studio headphones. These will help you monitor the audio for any static or other sound issues and prevent audio feedback.
- Audio interface. Since high-quality microphones use analog connectors instead of USB connection, an audio interface converts the analog signal from the microphone into a digital format. It will also iron out any latency issues that normal computers cannot process.
- Computer. You will need a desktop or laptop to be able to edit and package the audio files.
How much does it cost to start a podcast?
You can either launch a podcast on a shoestring budget or go fully professional.
You can get started podcasting for free by recording yourself on your smartphone and fixing it up in audio editing software.
For example, there are free apps like Anchor that allows you to record, edit, and publish your podcasts all within one platform.
However, the sound quality may not be the best when recording on a smartphone.
If you’re serious about your launch, try to invest in good equipment. Depending on the quality you’re aiming for and assuming you already have a computer at ready, basic equipment can start from as little as $250-300 in total.
3. Record your first episode
Now that you’ve got a strategy and equipment, it’s time to record your first show.
Pick a good location to record in, as background noises can impact sound quality or make your guests feel uncomfortable. Choose wisely and stay consistent with it – at least for the first few episodes.
Always perform a soundcheck before you begin recording. You don’t want to spend hours working, only later to find out that it wasn’t recording at all or there were serious technical issues.
Most podcasts use the first show to introduce the hosts and concept, so let your listeners know what they can expect.
You may also want to record an intro and outro for your podcast to add more personality to your show. For example, adding a catchy jingle at the start will make the show much more memorable.
4. Editing your first episode
No matter how good the quality of your recording is, you can’t simply upload a raw audio file. That’s not how to start a podcast. Some post-production work needs to be done to craft each episode.
In short, you must ensure that the audio quality is top-quality, remove any background noise, and even cut out mistakes. You can also add music or sound effects too.
This process may be a little time consuming or tricky at first, but you’ll get the hang of it.
To make the editing process faster, create a template with your jingle, intro, and outro already in place, so you can simply add the recorded audio file later.
Here’s a list of great audio editing software you might choose:
- Audacity. A brilliant, easy to use, and free audio editor available for Windows and Mac.
- Garage Band. Free editing software that comes with all new macOS computers.
- Auphonic. Post-production software that allows you to do more complex audio editing.
When you’re happy with the final product, save your file.
Fill in the metadata and be as specific as possible, since it will be easier for podcast streaming platforms like iTunes to recommend your show to the right audience.
5. Find a podcast hosting service
Next, sign up for a podcast host to store your audio files and organize your podcast library.
Podcast hosting services also help you distribute your podcast to various streaming platforms, as well as provide useful analytics.
Here are three services that you may want to check out:
- Buzzsprout. One of the most popular services for hosting podcasts. They’ve got helpful features such as built-in transcription and an ad network program to help you grow.
- Captivate. This platform helps you promote your podcast. Their Podcaster plan includes a mobile-responsive site, and they even provide a podcast sponsorship kit.
- Libsyn. Another great podcast hosting platform. You can take control of your monetization with premium subscription options.
Choose the service that best fits your needs. Factors to consider include storage and bandwidth allowance, the price per month, analytics tools, and promotion features.
Once you’ve posted your first podcast episode, you’ll be provided with an RSS feed URL. This contains the information about your podcast including artwork, descriptions, and all your uploaded episodes. This will be read by your chosen streaming platform.
6. Submit your podcast to a streaming platform
When submitting your podcast, usually you will be asked for the cover art, description, category, and the RSS feed of your podcast.
You can submit to as many podcast directories as you want since it doesn’t cost extra to publish on these platforms.
Here are some of the most popular podcast streaming platforms:
- Apple Podcasts. One of the most popular streaming platforms available. It serves both as a podcast directory and an app, with thousands of listeners tuning in every day, and is accessible via iTunes.
- Spotify. Spotify has gained its popularity as a music streaming platform, but recently introduced features for podcasters. With a large userbase, the platform is ideal for podcasts looking to become recognized.
- Stitcher. This is the second most popular podcast directory. Its main selling point is its affiliate marketing program that lets you start earning through your podcast.
7. Promote your podcast to make it popular
There are plenty of ways to promote your show, including:
- Podcast. Promote your podcast during the episode. Encourage your audience to share the podcast with their friends if they enjoyed it and leave a review.
- Website. You can use a countdown widget on your website to announce the release of new episodes.
- Social media. Social media platforms are where you can interact with your audience directly. For example, you can post a story each time you post a new episode.
- Traditional media. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. You can also cross-promote your podcast by being a guest on other podcasts or shows.
- Email address list. You can notify your email list about your new episodes. Make sure you encourage listeners to leave their email address on your website.
8. Be consistent by creating new episodes regularly
If you want to create a podcast that’s successful, you need to provide valuable content and ensure consistency for your listeners.
At the end of the day, the audience wants to be entertained, or learn something new, so ensure that your content serves that purpose well.
In the very beginning, it may take you a couple of months, or a year to get to the level you want to be. So just be consistent with your work, listen to the audience, and check your analytics to keep improving.
How much money can you make from a podcast?
Revenue from running an audio show will range depending on how many listeners you have and how engaged your audience is.
After all, podcasting is a form of content, and how much you make is influenced by how your podcast fits into a broader business context or strategy. Here are some examples for making additional cash:
- Sponsorships. Companies within your industry can pay a certain amount to get noticed by your audience.
- Affiliate marketing. This lets you earn a commission each time a listener visits or buys a product or service that you mention on your show.
- Driving listeners to your business. You can direct your audience to your business website. For example, if you have a show about fashion, you can invite listeners to book a styling consultation with you through your site.
- Crowdfunding. You can direct listeners to a crowdfunding platform such as Patreon and give them premium content in exchange for helping them keep the podcast running.
When approaching companies about sponsoring your show, it’s a good idea to share some statistics about your podcast, website visitor numbers, and social media followers.
If you don’t have a large following yet, you can analyze your engagement rate. Some companies value podcasts that have high engagement, rather than just a big following.
You can do this by looking at how many reviews people have left about you, and the average podcast download number per week.