Have you ever thought it might be fun to start a podcast but not had the faintest idea where to start? I had this thought in December of 2018 and dove headfirst into podcasting without any idea what I was doing.
Throughout the first 50 episodes I released, everything was learned the hard way. I was editing my own shows, teaching myself how to work with sponsors and incorporate ads into the show, and continually evolving the show to what it is today.
After recording over 100 episodes, I have learned quite a bit about running a podcast and using that podcast to boost credibility and build my brand. Here are some of the basic things you need to do if you want to start a podcast. If you would like more detailed information about launching a podcast, let’s schedule a call.
Before you do anything else, you need to sit back and design your podcast. You need to be able to answer a few questions if you want to have a successful show:
- Who is my ideal audience?
- What is the message I want to get through to them, or what is the journey I want them to embark on after listening to my show?
- What is the transformation I want my listeners to achieve, and how will I help them on this journey?
- How do you want the format to look? How will the show take place, and how long will my episodes be?
- Who would be the perfect guests, and how can I network with them?
Sit down and figure this out upfront. I promise it will save you a lot of headaches down the road.
When it comes to finding a niche, you should double down two or three times. For example, my podcast niche is service members and veteran real estate investors and entrepreneurs. You need to niche down to a smaller group of people at least until you gain traction. If you launch as just a “business podcast,” you’ll be competing against some extremely large podcasts.
The next piece of the puzzle you need to put together is where to host your podcast. Personally, I started out using Podbean and have stuck with them for the time being because it is easier than switching. They have worked well for me and were a cost-effective host to start with.
Anchor, Buzzsprout, and Blubrry are some other popular hosting platforms.
If I could start all over again, I would work with an editing/publishing team that handles everything in-house, including hosting! This one-stop-shop would have cost more than what I paid when starting out, but it would have been much easier and scalable.
Give some thought to your recording platform, too. If you want to record your podcast with video that you can upload to YouTube, you are pretty much limited to recording with Zoom, Skype (and accompanying software for quality audio), or in-person.
I utilize Zoom for my recordings, but the audio isn’t captured as well as some platforms. Luckily, you can set it to record a separate audio track for each participant which allows you to increase and decrease the volume to make sure everything is leveled out. You will need to pay for the pro membership of Zoom in order to record these shows if they last longer than 40 minutes. This is fairly affordable though, and I have found that I utilize the pro membership features a ton with other groups and settings. This is 100% worth your money in my opinion.
If you don’t care about recording video, there are some great platforms out there like Zencastr, Audacity, Garage Band, and many more. Some of these offer extremely high-quality recordings. I personally have always enjoyed recording shows that use Zencastr because it allows you to see the wavelengths as you’re speaking which is fun and can help you maintain a similar volume level throughout the recording.
Equipment to Start a Podcast
Don’t get too wrapped around the equipment at the beginning. Yes, I use a high-end microphone and a quality camera to record all of my podcasts now, but at the onset, I had nothing more than an affordable USB microphone and headphones.
Starting a podcast doesn’t need to cost you a fortune, but as with any hobby, it is possible to spend a lot of money on gear.
For someone just starting out, I would say that a Blue Yeti microphone and Logitech C920 webcam are sufficient. You will also need a nice pair of headphones. I recommend the Sony MDR-7506, which is industry standard and very affordable.
When you want to get more advanced, I am currently using a Shure SM7B microphone with a Focusrite 2i2 audio interface. This setup works well for me, but when I begin doing more in-person interviews, I will buy a more expensive audio recording setup like the Rodecaster pro.
The editing software I purchased when I first started was Camtasia. I bought this software because it can screen-record my desktop very well and allows me to edit both the audio podcast and YouTube videos for my show. There are a lot of great editing programs out there, but I’m not well enough versed in them to give you an apple to apple comparison.
Honestly, use whatever platform you must if you can’t afford an editor, but I would suggest outsourcing this process as soon as possible.
As I mentioned above, if I could go back in time I would have outsourced hosting, editing, writing show notes, and scheduling from the beginning. It used to take me 3-5 hours per episode to produce a podcast, and now it takes me 45-90 minutes, depending on how long we talk!
Extrapolate that time requirement over 100 episodes, and the difference is over 300 hours. That is equivalent to over 7 weeks, or almost two full months, of my life at a typical 40-hour career. Let me tell you, that is a LOT of time to spend on tasks that don’t generate the kind of income you can generate in other parts of your business…outsource it!
This is the whole reason I partnered with my editor to launch Veteran Media Services. Now I can help entrepreneurs free up their time with affordable podcast services to help them build their sphere of influence. If you would like to hear more about how we can help you, schedule a short introduction call with me here!
Publishing – When to Schedule Your Shows
The best thing you can do to improve your quality of life is to get your podcasts scheduled in advance. Trust me, it is much better to have to tell a guest, “Your interview won’t air for 45-60 days because we are scheduled pretty far out,” than it is to be scrambling on a Wednesday to find a guest, record and edit a podcast, and publish an episode at 0500 that same Friday!
I would recommend getting a full month’s worth of episodes recorded before you launch your show and then staying at least three weeks ahead in order to avoid this unnecessary stress.
The Most Important Growth Tactic
If you want to grow your podcast, you need to get it in front of more listeners. There are two primary ways of accomplishing this. First, you can be a guest on a lot of podcasts, and if the listeners of that show like what you have to say, they might begin following your podcast too. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, get your guests to share their episodes!
When you bring a guest onto your show, you need to make them look good, sound good, and want to share your episode. You do this by conducting a good interview and portraying them as an expert. Ironically, having the big names on your podcast isn’t what makes it grow. Having people on your show who are relatable and will share your episode is much more conducive to growth.
When an episode goes live, you should send your guest an email with links for them to share your podcast, YouTube video, Audiogram, quote cards, or anything else you can think of. I even have a “Click here to send a prepared tweet” button in my email. Your goal is to make your show as easy for the guest to share as possible and give them a reason to share.
Your guest has a sphere of influence, and if he or she shares your episode with that sphere, some of those listeners will likely come over to check out your podcast.
Another great tip at the end of a show is to ask the guest if they know anybody else who would make a good guest for your show!
Consistency is Key When You Start a Podcast
If you want to become a successful podcaster, you need to be consistent. A lot of podcasts don’t make it through more than 20 episodes before quitting. Understand that if you become a podcaster, you need to become a podcaster for the long term. It won’t take off right away, but it will grow!
You need to master the arts of batching and time blocking if you want to become a consistent, successful podcaster.
Instead of lining up an interview here and an interview there, try to line up 2, 3, 4, or more podcasts in a row and record them all at once. This is called batching and it is extremely effective because you only have to setup/teardown once, instead of every time you record. Also, once you get hyped up and into “interview mode,” it is great if you can keep knocking them out. I try to record an entire month’s episodes in one or two days as much as possible.
Time-blocking just means blocking out a window on your calendar for recording podcasts and then sticking to it. The best way to do this is to use a tool like Calendly. I have recording time-blocks setup on Calendly, and my guests get to pick which date/time works for them based on what I opened in my schedule. Pro-tip, you can ask the screening/application questions in Calendly so that everything is automated.
Being disciplined isn’t always easy, but you need to simply put it on your calendar and then do it. Think of it as having integrity to yourself. You wouldn’t break an important date with the significant other of your dreams…why would you break it with yourself?
Burnout definitely happens. As an active-duty Marine, I have some pretty busy weeks. In order to accomplish everything I’m working on outside of the military, my first alarm goes off at 0355 every day. That allows me to spend two hours working on my business before I commute to work for the Marine Corps. I then work on the business again in the evenings.
To date, I have recorded shows as early as 0300 and as late as 2200. Sometimes I’ll have a late recording with an early recording the next day…I’ve recorded as many as five shows in the same day!
Burnout is Real For Creators Who Try to Start A Podcast!
I have struggled with burnout before, and now I intentionally schedule a time to sit at the pool, get a massage, go hiking, get out of the office without my cell phone, and just decompress.
You need to give yourself permission to take breaks and relax. This isn’t a lack of productivity; it is a necessity that will lead to increased production in the long term.
TL;DR Start a Podcast!
If you weren’t able to read this article, you probably won’t stick with podcasting long enough for it to be worth your time. Either go back and read the article or don’t waste your time starting something you aren’t willing to research.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, just decide what you want the podcast to be about, buy some basic equipment, and start. You’ll get better with time, but only if you practice…you have to get the reps in! Now get out there and start a podcast!