How to podcast — A complete guide to starting and growing a podcast
According to a report updated in February 2023 on Neal Schaffer’s website, there are almost 2.5 million podcasts on Apple podcasts alone. There are more than 71 million episodes in podcast feeds.
Unfortunately, because of this, a lot of people are afraid to start a podcast because they fear the market is too saturated.
The reality however, couldn’t be further from the truth. Of the podcasts online, only 450,000 podcasts are active.
The Podcast Host explained that there was a huge surge of wannabe podcasters in 2020 because as we all know, we were all stuck at home with nothing else to do. Heck, it’s when I started my own podcast as well.
But now, the world has all but “gone back to normal.” The good news is listening to podcasts continues to grow in popularity, making this the perfect time to learn how to podcast.
Now, you might be thinking, “Sure, there’s only 450,000 active podcasts, but that’s still quite a lot.”
Well, consider this. In 2023, Demandsage reported there are 455 million WordPress websites worldwide.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather compete with 449,000 other people than 454,999,999 for attention!
With that in mind, let’s get down to what you came for – how to podcast. In this guide, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned since my 2019 Podcast Movement conference up to now about how to start and grow a podcast. Let’s get into it!
How to podcast — Everything you need to get started
Interested in learning how to do a podcast? Here’s what you’ll learn in this guide:
- How to podcast — A complete guide to starting and growing a podcast
- What you need to make a podcast
- How to plan a podcast
- How to create great podcast content
- The technical side of podcasting
- How to publish your podcast
- Tips for monetizing your podcast
- How to get more podcast listeners
- Conclusion and next steps
The people I have met, the sessions I have attended at various conferences, courses I’ve taken, and now the people I’ve interviewed have taught me so much about podcasting. We’ve got a lot to unpack in this post, so buckle up because you’re in for an exciting ride.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into how to podcast.
What you need to make a podcast
No matter who I talk to in the industry, it still seems the most widely debated topic is what equipment you need to make a podcast.
Some people have said you could just start with your smartphone and a really good sound editor. Others said you need a boom mic, editing software, a soundproof recording studio and a bunch of other equipment.
At the risk of ticking off the masses on this disputed topic, I’m going to try to be as unbiased as possible and give you a few different options for how to do a podcast.
I will preface this equipment advice with this — it’s understandable to want to purchase the most expensive equipment out there to give yourself the best chance of success. But, it’s also important to note that not everyone starts at the pro level. Sometimes we allow our desire to keep us from even getting started.
And, many of the well-known gurus I spoke to at the conference acknowledged that no matter how you start, your first episodes will always make you cringe.
Besides, you might start and realize you don’t like podcasting at all. Isn’t it better to just work with what you have to test things out before shelling out a bunch of cash? I think so! You can always upgrade later if you decide that podcasting is a medium you want to commit to.
Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas are two well-known podcasters. Speak to virtually anyone about podcasting, and odds are they have heard of these two men.
Both of them teach both free and paid courses on the subject, and both have been hired as consultants to help popular online business owners launch podcasts for themselves.
Because they were at the conference, of course I had to pick their brains on everything I could in the limited time we had. Luckily, since they get a lot of the same questions regularly, they were able to point me to some awesome resources they already had on their websites.
Pat’s show is called Smart Passive Income, and he runs a website of the same name. His show features weekly interviews, strategies and advice for building an online business. His show has had more than 60 million downloads.
John, known by most people as JLD, runs a show and website called Entrepreneurs on Fire. JLD’s claim to fame is being the first podcaster to do a daily show interviewing entrepreneurs of all types. He has nearly 4,000 interviews on his website, and 138,813,200 total listens as of February 2023.
Below is the equipment they say you need to get started.
Pat Flynn says you just need the following:
- Microphone: He recommends the ATR-2100 USB microphone, or the Samson Q2U if you’re not in the United States
- Microphone stand: He recommends a “Boom Arm” extension
- Shock mount (to reduce vibrations being picked up on the mic)
- A pop filter or windscreen (to reduce the explosive sounds made by B- and P-words, which blow air into the mic)
- Editing software such as GarageBand for Mac users or Audacity for Mac and PC users (both of which are free)
You can download Pat’s Podcast Cheat Sheet for free here.
JLD says at a minimum you need:
- Microphone: No. 1 mic recommendation is the ATR-2100
- Recording and editing software such as Garageband or Audacity
- Headset or Earbuds
Grab JLD’s free podcasting course here.
Other people I have spoken with suggested having the following equipment before getting started:
- A webcam in case you need to do video interviews
- Zoom/Riverside.fm/some other video chat service to record interviews
- The Blue Yeti microphone with USB connection (though several podcasters disagreed about this) – This is what I personally use for my podcast, and one I host for a client
- An adjustable boom arm
- Design software
- A vanity URL for your podcast’s name — again this was a topic of significant debate
- Microphone stands
- A shock mount
- Microphone cables
- Backup hard drives (external or internal)/cloud storage service
Pro tip: Before purchasing any equipment, do your own research, read reviews, and be realistic about your budget. You don’t want to go into debt trying to launch your show!
Website and hosting recommendations
Do you really need to buy a domain before you launch a podcast? Yes! If you ever plan to make any money on it, you absolutely need a domain for your podcast. And, even if it’s basic, you need your own website too!
Here are just three reasons why:
- You don’t own social media platforms you will be promoting your show on. A website gives you a place to direct people to so you can get them in your funnel or at the very least on an email list
- It’s great for branding
- You can sell affiliate products and your own products and services to your audience
Do you need a separate URL for your podcast?
If you are launching a podcast of the same name as your business, for example, you might be able to get away with creating a podcast page on your current domain as Pat and JLD have both done.
On the other hand, if you want a name completely different from your business or blog name, it is a good idea to purchase a separate URL. Even if you never use it, it’s good to keep it in your back pocket so you have options.
I personally own several URLs with GoDaddy just in case I use them for future business, blog, book or other product ideas.
Find your perfect domain now!
What about hosting? Do I need a podcast hosting service when I’m just starting out?
The short answer is, yes. You do need somewhere to host your podcast episodes because you can’t exactly record some audio and simply load it to iTunes. You’ll need a podcast host to store and distribute your audio files.
The top ten podcast hosting companies are:
Pro tip: Try all the podcast hosting companies you can before committing. Many of them have free trials/plans.
How to find the right host for you
Here are just a few things you should look at when shopping for a podcast host:
- Pricing – there are lots of free options, but sometimes it’s worth it to pay for hosting
- Reviews – look at the worst reviews, and the best ones to get a good gauge of what working with the host will be like
- Storage space (some hosts charge extra for storage, and it’s easy to run out of storage fast!)
- Episode length limits (again, some hosts charge based on the length of your episodes which can feel really restrictive!)
- The user experience: It should be really easy to use – especially in the beginning of your podcasting journey
How to plan a podcast
Now that you’ve gotten the equipment under control, what’s next? Planning your podcast before you launch.
There are several things you need to consider before you record your first episode, let alone put it out for the world to hear. When you begin your planning process, here’s what you should think about at a minimum:
What will the title of your show be?
While this may not be your first consideration, it is important to figure out what you will call your show before you start recording.
There are several options for your show’s name. Some people choose to use their business name for their podcast, like Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas. Others choose to use their personal name.
- The Tim Ferriss Show by blogger, author and speaker Tim Ferriss
- The Chalene Show by fitness, business and marketing guru Chalene Johnson
- The Colin and Samir Show by filmmakers and content creators Colin Rosenblum and Samir Chaudry
Then there are others who create a name completely different from their business and personal name such as:
- Online Marketing Made Easy by online business guru Amy Porterfield
- We Can Do Hard Things by author Glennon Doyle
- Juicy Scoop by influencer and comedian Heather McDonald
If you choose to do an intro and/or an outro for your podcast, you’ll want a podcast name in place before creating it. It’s also a good idea to purchase your domain name once you’ve settled on your name as well.
You’ll also want to consider your show’s subtitle and summary or description. Your show’s summary should be 4,000 characters or less because that’s how much room iTunes gives you to promote what your show is about.
What are your podcast goals?
Are you hoping to make money directly or indirectly off of this new venture? Is this simply going to be a hobby? Or are you just learning how to make a podcast to see if you even like it?
It’s important to establish what you want to get out of podcasting before diving in. Like starting a blog, creating a podcast is not a fast thing to do.
Yes, you can start a blog in less than 30 minutes, but actually creating the content, building your audience and gaining traction with it is an entirely different ballgame.
For example, if this will be a hobby project, you might not need the most expensive equipment to get started. If, however, this will be used as a tool in your business to reach a new audience or yield potential leads, you might want to put more thought into how you produce and launch your podcast.
Who is your target audience?
This might be based on your podcast goals. Your target audience might be the same as your ideal customer avatar if your podcast is launched as a business marketing tool. If not, you should sit down and think about who your ideal listener will be.
The reason this matters so much is you should never go into content creation attempting to appeal to the masses.
Like blogging, book writing and business, if you try to appeal to everyone you’re more likely to not reach anyone.
Let’s say your podcast will be about how to train your dog. Your target audience would be dog owners who are wanting to learn how to train their dog, and your podcast should be developed and marketed as such.
What topics will you discuss?
Using our dog training example, a podcast about that subject would likely have topics including, but not limited to:
- Potty training
- Teaching them to sit/stay/come/etc.
- How to stop them from jumping/barking/chasing/etc.
- Training with treats (or without)
You get the idea.
Once you start thinking about the subject and title of your podcast, you can hone in on the topics, and subtopics, most appropriate to create content around.
This was news to me at Podcast Movement! I naively didn’t realize that as with the book industry, there is an entire genre of fiction podcasts. And, like novels, they are broken down into romance, crime, horror, etc.
I was fortunate enough to stumble into a fiction podcast meetup at the conference, and I can honestly say I was fascinated by the various shows that are in existence right now.
The biggest challenge, these fiction storytellers told me, is that they sometimes hit a creative roadblock, and that can be problematic if they are trying to meet a publishing schedule.
Unlike a novel that is released all at once, if you have promised your listeners a new chapter or story each Monday, it can be difficult to continue a storyline without hiccups.
That’s not to say that fact-based podcasts are not without their hiccups.
Many podcasters — both fiction and non-fiction — told me they plan content several weeks, if not months, in advance to ensure they will have something ready to go live on the days and times they have set up for their listeners.
What will the format of your podcast be?
Podcast formats include:
- Non-fiction storytelling
- Fiction storytelling
While you don’t have to commit to a strict interview format, consistency is a good idea if you hope to build an audience.
Some of the podcasters I spoke with typically use the interview format, but they also have a regularly scheduled episode where it’s just them either recapping past episodes or doing a deep dive into a topic on their own.
Other hosts will dedicate one season to interviews, and another season to just sitting down by themselves with a microphone.
If you set up your podcast to be an interview series you’ll need to line up people for content creation.
You’ll likely need scheduling software, you’ll need to create a waiver or legal release for your guests to sign, and you’ll have to figure out how to actually host and record the interview.
Some podcast hosts even require their guests to have a certain microphone to be on their show to maintain audio consistency and quality.
Are there branding considerations you need to think about?
If your podcast is a hobby or new business venture, you may be creating a brand from scratch.
On the other hand, if you’re treating it as a business marketing tool, you’ll need to consider your business’s current branding, goals, values, etc.
For branding, you should start thinking about artwork including the image you’ll use on podcast platforms such as iTunes, as well as logos and other images you may want to use on your website, social media, newsletters and in all other messaging about your show.
Virtual attorney Andrea Sager regularly discusses trademarks and copyrights for podcasters, and she explained you shouldn’t wait to trademark your brand.
As she explains, “One of the top reasons you shouldn’t wait to file a trademark application for your brand is because you want the maximum protection possible. Once your brand has a registered trademark, the world will have notice of your registration in the United States. It will still be important to monitor your registration for infringers, but your registration will appear in a TESS database search, which is what many new small businesses depend on when choosing a name.”
She went on to say that registering a trademark gives you “the ability to shut down an online business that is infringing on your registered trademark. If all of the online platforms close the accounts of the infringer, then you have shut down an online business without filing a lawsuit. This can save you an incredible amount of money and time.”
I highly recommend her blog if you want to learn more about your virtual rights.
Related: Trademark vs. copyright: Which one does your business need?
How long will your episodes be?
The topic of how long a podcast should be was another heated one amongst several people I have spoken with over the last four years. And when I got home and researched it I couldn’t find a definitive answer.
Unlike a blog post where the length can affect SEO, a podcast can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as 90 minutes.
Some people I talked to said your content should be just long enough to address your topic. Others swore by keeping it to 20 minutes or less so that someone grocery shopping, on their commute, or working out could listen to an entire episode in one sitting.
You can send listeners a survey in a newsletter, or ask on social media. After all, you’re creating the content for them, so why not let them simply tell you how long they want the content to be?
What’s your message?
One of the podcasters I had a wonderful conversation with was David Hooper. He wrote a book on podcasting called “Big Podcast,” and he says the message you want to spread with your podcast “is the foundation on which everything else about your podcast will be built.”
He went on to say that “a general message won’t be motivating to you or interesting enough to keep listeners engaged — you need to be specific.”
In order to do that David says you need to ask yourself a few questions:
- What are you excited about?
- Where can you add the greatest value, and how can you do it in a unique way?
- What outcome do you want for people who listen to you?
David explained that your podcast’s message starts with you, but it’s not about you.
In a way, you’re just a messenger delivering the message.
How often will you release new episodes?
You have so many options for your release dates.
Some podcasters choose to release 10-20 episodes at once so their listeners can binge on them Netflix-style. Others commit to once a week or twice a month.
Then there’s JLD, who for a while was releasing new episodes daily. He’s since scaled back, but for several years his listeners got used to daily episodes of Entrepreneurs on Fire.
Whatever you choose for your release dates, do yourself a favor and stick to your schedule.
Like I mentioned earlier, consistency is an important factor in building a new audience. If your listeners expect a new episode every Friday and you suddenly take a few weeks off, they may move onto something else.
How many episodes are you willing to commit to before you launch?
Most podcasters I have spoken to suggested launching with at least 5 to 10 episodes with the bare minimum being 3.
The reason for this is the same reason you should launch your blog with that many posts. If you have a new visitor, you want to give them more than one thing to consume when they first “meet you.”
How to create great podcast content
At some point, you’ll need to start planning what will actually be recorded on your show. With that in mind, here are some simple tips for how to create great podcast content:
Winning at storytelling
At first blush, storytelling may seem like it’s only for the fiction podcasters, but it’s really not.
Storytelling is an important component for every podcast host. It’s the best way to relay your message or share a lesson with your audience.
You’ll set the stage with an interesting subject, you’ll paint a picture, and then you will tell a story that will begin with a hook that keeps the listener there through the middle and until the end of the episode.
Your story needs to have a theme or guiding concept — like in fiction, this key idea will give focus and meaning to your story.
You need a strong character taking action, moving the story forward. You also need a voice, whether it’s suspenseful, impassioned, or comforting, that sets the tone for your story.
With any luck, it will be so good that listeners will come back for another episode to hear another story.
If you are using an interview format for your podcast, there is an art and a science as to what makes for a good interview.
I have to share the brilliance from one of JLD’s sessions he gave at a conference on top actions world-class podcast hosts take for every interview. Here are his best tips on interviewing guests on your show:
Ask unique questions that your guests haven’t gotten before.
This is sound advice because the truth is, the more popular podcasting becomes, the more likely your guests will be to have heard all the questions before.
A great idea would be to ask your interviewee if they have any questions that they’ve never been asked before. Do this before recording day so they have time to think about it, and give you a solid question and answer.
Give your guests the questions ahead of time.
Don’t treat your show as a shock value news interview. The last thing you want is your interviewee to be stunned or tripped up by the questions you’re asking. That is unless you’re going for a Howard Stern-vibe or trying to entrap your guest.
Chat before you begin recording.
Don’t just dive right into your interview. Most people are nervous to be recorded. So, a warm-up chat helps calm everyone’s nerves and ease into the interview session.
This next tip might honestly be my favorite.
Don’t waste time introducing your guest and reading their bio. You can do that in post-production. Use their limited time to focus on the stuff they need to be there for.
Remember this is a recorded interview and it can be edited.
If you’re having audio trouble such as a scratchy mic, background noise, etc., take a moment to pause the recording and make adjustments and note when in the interview you paused. It’ll be better for everyone, especially your audience.
Make sure your guest’s call to action at the end of the interview is clear and concise.
How can your audience continue the conversation with the guest? Where can they follow them on social media, buy their book/course, learn more?
At the end of the interview, after you’ve stopped recording, engage in a post-interview chat.
As a past guest on a handful of podcasts, I’ve been left wondering if I did OK, when it was going to be released, and what would happen next. In the post-interview chat, addressing these concerns will not only help your guest feel more at ease, it will give you the opportunity to ask for a share once the episode is live, and continue building the relationship.
I’ll add to this that you should also be prepared with backup questions on the fly. While you want to give your guests their questions ahead of time, some people will give short answers and need a little help. In other words, you may find you have to drag the material out of some guests.
Think of it like the people you send a paragraph long text message to, and they send back “Yep” or “OK.”
Therefore, prepare some follow-up questions for those moments that you need additional information, clarification, or for lack of a better phrase “filler.”
Pro tip: Make sure you get a podcast release form from your guest ahead of time.
Attorney Gordon Firemark has a free podcast guest release form you can grab from his website.
Why do you need a release? As he says, without one your guest could demand you edit their episode a certain way, demand payment, force you to take the episode down, and a whole host of other issues. His best advice is to cover your rear, and protect yourself!
Related: 11 ways to prepare for your first podcast guest appearance
Basic production tips
Aside from storytelling and interviewing, there are some basic things you should do before recording your podcast episodes. These include, but aren’t limited to:
Check all of your equipment before you begin recording.
A test may be helpful if you haven’t used your equipment in a few days, or if you’ve had to unplug or restart anything.
I met a gentleman who had done an entire episode into his microphone, only to realize an hour later that though it was being recorded, the microphone wasn’t plugged in.
If you are interviewing someone, make sure they check all of their equipment as well. That’s why the pre-interview chat is so important — it’s a great opportunity to make sure everything is working.
If you don’t have access to a recording studio, try to find a quiet space to record in.
Many of the podcasters I’ve met actually recorded in their closets until they could afford better equipment and recording space.
Another method several people told me they have used was covering their workspace with a blanket while recording.
For additional ideas on reducing background noise, echo, etc., I recommend checking out this article.
Be conscious of where your microphone is in relation to your mouth, and keep that distance throughout your recording session.
This tip I learned from Pat Flynn is so simple, but I honestly never would have thought of it when researching how to podcast.
He said, “If you drift away from the mic or even look away briefly, that will reflect directly in the sound quality of your episode. The key is to stay consistent throughout the whole recording.”
Don’t begin recording without a plan.
You don’t need an entire script, but you should have a flow in mind to avoid rambling incessantly.
Try to avoid “ums” and “uhs.”
Don’t let it scare you to the point that you stutter and get tripped up, but at least be cognizant of how often these filler words are said. Remember, this can be edited later.
Keep in mind that your listener only has audio.
You shouldn’t reference something your listener can’t see. They’re not going to care that your co-host or interview guest is looking at you with a funny facial expression because they are unable to see it.
Try standing while you’re recording.
This can provide better air support while you are speaking because there is less pressure on your diaphragm. You’ll also come across more confidently in your delivery.
Use two microphones.
If you have a co-host or are interviewing someone, make sure you have two separate microphones, and record the audio of each person separately when possible.
Sharing a microphone will throw off the sound and make it awkward to talk to each other.
Do some vocal warmups before you start recording and stay hydrated.
Practicing some simple vocal warm-ups can help clear your voice and get any roughness out of the way.
You may also want to consider drinking some water or tea while recording. Avoid soda, milk and coffee, however, as those beverages can cause coughing, burping and other sound distractions.
If you’ll be recording several episodes, honey in a cup of tea may be a good idea because of its soothing effects on your throat and vocal cords. Take time between episodes to drink some water and relax your vocal cords a little as well.
Some of the podcasters I met even use a humidifier the night before they plan to batch record to hydrate their throats.
Understand that certain topics will be difficult to discuss
Depending on what your podcast is about, you will need to be cognizant of the fact that some subjects will need more thought than others.
For example, if you are bringing up the #MeToo movement, and women being sexually harassed or assaulted, you have to take a careful approach.
One of the sessions at a past Podcast Movement event touched on this beautifully. The creators of the podcast “Believed,” discussed their multi-episode documentary about former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar, and how for years he got away with abusing hundreds of women and girls for two decades.
NPR’s N’Jeri Eaton, deputy director of programming and new audiences, moderated the session with “Believed” co-host Lindsay Smith and editor Alison MacAdam as they told the story of how the show came to be.
Before they recorded a single episode, they had to get clear on the story they were telling, and how their audience would react. The intention was to be honest, unbiased, and sympathetic towards anyone listening who may have suffered the same way as Larry’s victims.
Lindsay and Alison said they had an intense planning session to figure out just how much hand-holding would be necessary for their listeners and to make sure this wasn’t just a show about shock and awe.
Rather it was a show about helping listeners relate to the narrative to see how easily something like this could happen, and why women are scared to tell their stories for fear of no one believing them.
The truth is with hot button subjects such as abuse, diversity, politics, racism and many others, you will have to keep your audience and their reactions in mind.
It’s important to have facts before simply jumping into an episode so as not to offend or misspeak. You can’t bring your own biases into the narrative — instead, you need to do a little research before recording.
Even when your subject matter seemingly has nothing to do with hot button issues, it’s imperative that you plan ahead.
Off-color comments and jokes can destroy a show and a host’s reputation — and if it’s related to your business, it could shut that down, too.
While it’s easy to brush this advice off as “worrying too much about what others think,” the reality is your listeners will be from diverse backgrounds. How you handle what you discuss matters.
Of course, there are some shows that intentionally cross lines and push buttons, but if you want your show to be a thoughtful one, this is something important you must consider in your content creation.
The technical side of podcasting
For the most part, all you really need to do to record your podcast is plug your microphone into your computer, open your audio recording software, hit record, and start talking. Again, make sure everything is working properly before you sit down to record a full episode.
It’s OK if you’re nervous the first time. It’s normal, and with time, you will become more comfortable.
In fact, several podcasters I met recorded several test episodes that have never seen the light of day just so they could get used to being behind the microphone.
Another thing that may help calm your nerves is the realization that you can edit it. You don’t have to be a pro in the beginning.
As Jared Easley, co-founder and co-organizer of Podcast Movement, says, the most important thing when you’re ready to start a podcast is to just start.
Just start recording, and packaging your podcast for public consumption. The faster you do that, the faster you can start learning, tweaking, fine-tuning your voice and sound, improving your delivery, etc.
Record your intro and/or outro
You might want to hire someone for this, but however you choose to do it, your intros and outros should be ready to add to your podcast sooner rather than later.
Some podcasters like to have a different intro every time, whereas others choose to use the same one.
If you are planning on using music for your intros and outros, you’ll need to make sure you are using music legally.
The music you use must be royalty-free, bought and paid for by you, or an original creation by you. Do your research into the music you are using before using it. It’s better to be overly cautious and safe.
Side note: Some of the podcasters I’ve talked to online and at the conference used freelancers found on sites like Fiverr and Upwork for their intros and outros only to get hit with legal trouble.
One had to remove every episode, re-edit with new music, and reload them. Another was hit with some pretty serious fines.
There is a myth that you can use seconds of a song without getting in trouble for copyright infringement. Several attorneys that were at the conference told me this is completely false.
Don’t risk your podcast, your money, your business or your reputation. Make sure whatever music you use on your podcast is legal.
As for what I did – I asked for referrals and commissioned a musician to compose an intro and outro song for my podcast, and another to compose the music for a show I host for a client.
I’ve recently learned it’s becoming a common practice to hire musicians struggling to get gigs, and honestly, I think it’s brilliant. When you hire a musician instead of a random person on a freelancing website, not only will they be grateful for the work, but it will be a unique piece you won’t have to worry about copyright strikes with.
Speaking of which – make sure whoever you hire that you compensate them fairly and get your legal ducks in a row regarding use. For example, some of the musicians on Fiverr charge extra if you are planning to use the music in a podcast. So read the fine print before purchasing commissioned music and blindly using it in your podcast!
Bottom line: Be careful who you hire, and the music that is used in all aspects of your podcast!
Editing your podcast
Even if you will eventually outsource the editing, it’s a good idea to get a grasp on basic editing techniques.
This is especially important if you have a tight schedule because if you have to publish an episode by Tuesday and your editor is suddenly sick with the flu, it will fall on you. It’s better to have some understanding of what to do.
While we obviously can’t go into a full lesson here on how to edit your podcasts, Pat Flynn has created a free tutorial for editing in both Audacity and Garageband. You can get them on YouTube here:
- How to Record and Edit a Podcast in Audacity
- Complete Tutorial for Recording and Editing with Garageband
If you aren’t using either of those software programs for editing, there is probably a tutorial for whatever program you have.
Check YouTube and the website of the software you’ve acquired. Learn the ins and outs, and you might just surprise yourself with how quickly you can nail down the process.
The other popular software programs I’ve heard about for recording and editing podcasts include:
- Adobe Audition
- Apple Logic Pro X
- Hindenburg Journalist
Note: I have only worked with Audacity, and have not personally used any of the other programs, so I cannot attest to their quality. I’m simply relaying information from those I’ve met on my journey of researching how to podcast.
A quick word on editing your podcast with AI
If you are strapped for time, there are “AI” programs you can use to help you edit the sound of your podcast. I’ve not used all the options available, but two of the ones I have played with were actually pretty decent.
I have used both the Descript “Studio Sound” feature, and Riverside.fm’s background noise remover and “Normalize Audio Levels” features. Both did enhance the sound quality of my podcast episodes, and saved me significant editing time.
That said, I also then ran my files through Audacity to complete the processing of my episodes and get them ready for publication. Still, as AI tech continues to improve, it’s going to become increasingly easy to get crisp sound without as much effort for your podcast.
Best WordPress plugins for podcasters
Some of the plugins recommended to me are:
Again, do your research, and read all the reviews before simply installing a plugin on your WordPress website.
What about mobile recording?
I have met several people who record podcasts on their phones.
They said the trick for using a phone to record is to use a high sound quality microphone made specifically for recording audio with your smartphone and install an app made for podcasting on the go such as Anchor or Audioboom.
The most common complaint I heard about mobile recording is that the audio quality is never as good as using a computer.
However, I did learn there are SaaS (software as a service) companies that can take your mobile audio and clean it up, making it broadcast ready. But again, I can’t speak to which of the options available are the best for the money.
How to publish your podcast
Once you have recorded your episodes, it’s time to distribute it to the various podcast directories for the world to hear.
Distributing to Apple Podcasts (Formerly iTunes)
Apple Podcasts is the most popular podcast directory to listen to podcasts, so you should start there. Here are the steps for publishing your podcast to Apple Podcasts:
- First, take your final audio file and load it to your podcast hosting service. This is where your audio and video files will be stored on a server, and from there you can broadcast those files to users on the Internet.
- With your podcast host, you’ll be given a unique web address — an RSS feed — of your podcast.
- Additionally, Apple requires the following for submission:
- Make sure you have an Apple ID
- Give your podcast a title
- Write your description
- Load your artwork
- Choose the category that best suits your podcast—many podcasters recommend choosing up to three
- Select the language of the episode
- Mark whether the podcast is “Explicit” or “Not Explicit”
- Once you have followed the prompts to submit your show, you will need to wait for Apple to approve your podcast. This can take up to a few weeks, but could be approved in as little as an hour to a few days.
Distributing to other podcast directories
Many podcast directories actually use Apple Podcasts to distribute your podcast, but you may need to load it manually to others. The top four that most people suggest adding your podcast to include:
For most directories, all you will need to do is create an account, add your RSS feed, verify ownership, and then press publish. Click each of the directories mentioned above for their instructions.
Pro tip: Distribute your show to as many podcast directories as possible.
Each listing is another backlink to your website or at the very least your podcast. The more links, the better because every podcast directory is another opportunity for your show to get found by new listeners!
If you’re looking for a list of podcast directories to submit your show to, RSS.com has created a pretty thorough podcast directory list along with tutorials for many of them. I personally used it as a starting point to get my show out there by going down the list and have been submitting my RSS feed to each of them over the last couple of years.
Publishing to YouTube
A lot of podcasters are choosing to upload their podcasts to YouTube as well to increase their reach and tap into some SEO juice.
You can do this one of three ways:
- Film yourself and your guests as you record your podcast, and edit the video to load to YouTube – A great example of this is the Creator Support podcast. Hosts Colin and Samir film their episodes, then strip the audio and release it as a podcast.
- Use a service like Audiogram or Headliner to create a moving image for your audio
- Simply create an image for your podcast, convert the MP3 to an MP4, add the image as a static graphic, and voila! You’ll have a video version of your podcast that you can load to YouTube.
If you choose to go the static image route, the image should include your podcast name, the title of the episode, who’s featured on it (i.e. the host and/or guests) and a logo.
Some podcasters choose to add an additional graphic to this static image that represents what the show is about, or who is appearing on the episode.
For example, if I was interviewing an ice cream shop owner, my static image might have an image of the owner, their shop, or a scoop of ice cream.
Of course, to convert your audio to a video file and add a static image, you’ll need video editing software. From what I’ve learned most PC users can get away with using Windows Movie Maker and Mac users can use iMovie for this step.
As of 2023, YouTube has been doubling down on featuring podcasts on their platform. The company has even released a best practices guide, to help you get more out of podcasting on YouTube without increasing your workload too much.
If you want to learn more about podcasting for YouTube, the platform has an entire page on their website dedicated to the medium for creators.
Tips for monetizing your podcast
At this point, you might be thinking, “Wow, this is a LOT of work.”
And, the truth is, it is.
The work involved is the biggest thing keeping so many people from launching after learning how to make a podcast. However, it can be rewarding, and yield income over time.
In fact, with a little planning, you could start monetizing from the moment you release your first episode.
Here are some ideas and tips you can use to monetize your podcast:
Patreon sponsors a lot of podcasting conferences, and at a past event the crowdfunding platform provided some interesting insights:
- Have a timeline to launch and a plan for how you will deliver rewards to people who are donating money
- Start your donations at a minimum of $2
- Make it scalable so that you aren’t doing a lot of work
- Limit patrons to make it more exclusive
- Only offer recurring monthly donations instead of one-off donations so that you can continue earning income
Patreon’s advice for the easiest and most scalable rewards were:
- Early access to episodes (24-48 hours prior to it going live for others)
- Livestreams of your podcast
- Special Q&A sessions after the episode is over
- Shoutouts of your donors in episodes
- Check out more of Patreon’s ideas podcasters can offer fans.
Related: Top 20 crowdfunding platforms of 2019
If you have a knack for sales, you could start asking brands to sponsor for your show. In the beginning, you might not be able to command much money, but it could be enough to at least offset your equipment, domain and hosting fees.
I highly recommend reading Entrepreneurs on Fire’s Ultimate Guide to Podcast Sponsorships if you want to go this route.
This is by far the fastest and easiest way some of the podcasters I spoke with have monetized their podcasts.
They write show notes for every episode, and in the notes they include a section for products mentioned with affiliate links to those items. I’ve also seen people add a section at the bottom of their show notes for their favorite podcast tools, equipment and services — all with affiliate links, of course.
If you want to use affiliate marketing for monetization, you have to check out “Pat Flynn’s Epic Guide to Affiliate Marketing,” which you can download for free here.
Related: How to start affiliate marketing on your blog
Pitch your business services at the end of every episode
Let’s say you’re a coach or a photographer, and your podcast is a marketing tool for finding new clients. You could monetize your podcast by delivering a call-to-action in your episodes that you are taking on new clients, with a link to your website.
Charge your guests to appear on your show
While this is certainly not popular amongst podcasters, I did meet and learn of a few in the industry who actually charge appearance fees for their guests. How much to charge is certainly open for debate, but some charge based on how big their following is.
When you’re just starting out, this might not be a good option for you, but in trying to be unbiased in this post, I’m sharing actual strategies I’ve heard people using.
Sell premium content for “after the show”
Some episodes simply aren’t long enough to dive deep into the subject you’re discussing on your podcast.
As a result, you might want to consider creating virtual workshops or extended episodes that you sell for download to your audience.
For example, let’s say you’re discussing how to get more mentions in the media. Your premium content could be a digital workshop you sell on your podcast that breaks down the exact strategies someone can use to get in the press.
How to get more podcast listeners
Once your podcast has finally been launched, how can you get more listeners? Honestly, it’s the same way you would get the word out about any other venture you’re working on — you market and promote like crazy, and then you keep doing that even after you start gaining a large audience.
Essentially, you’re going to have to market your podcast forever to keep growing. Here are some ideas to help you do that without breaking the bank in advertising costs:
- Start by telling friends and family: Tell everyone on your email list and in your circle about your show and ask them to share it.
- Share it on social media: Use relevant hashtags when you can, and share it to all the places.
- Blog about it: You should create a blog for your show, and have a post for every episode complete with show notes so that you can take advantage of SEO.
- Go to podcast conferences and meetups to meet people in the industry: I don’t even have a podcast and I came home with hundreds of business cards to check out and podcasts to look up.
- Get on other podcasts: The best way I’ve learned to grow your podcast is to hijack other people’s audiences. Try to become a guest on other podcasts, and in your call-to-action at the end, tell people how to find your podcast. Guest podcasting is the new guest posting — so many people with and without podcasts are using it to reach new audiences.
- Find a way into the media: If you can set yourself up as an expert in your field, leverage that expertise to become a source for your local media outlets.
Like I said, marketing a podcast is a lot like marketing any other venture, so I highly recommend checking out these GoDaddy posts for further marketing help:
- A beginner’s guide to social media for small business
- What is a media kit and how do you create one?
- 7 marketing ideas for small business
Conclusion and next steps
We’ve covered a lot in this post. From the research I’ve done so far into how to podcast, I know firsthand how overwhelming all of this information can be. Here’s a brief summary of what we’ve discussed here today:
- Get some recording equipment, but don’t pull out the credit card just yet. It’s OK to start with the less expensive equipment and upgrade as you grow your podcast.
- Plan ahead for all aspects of your podcast — like the name, topic, format and content — before recording a single episode.
- Record the podcast, edit it, and get it ready for publication.
- Load it to your podcast host, and share the RSS feed to podcast directories, starting with Apple Podcasts (since it’s still the most popular).
- Use crowdfunding, sponsorships, affiliate marketing, etc. to monetize your show.
- Become friends with other podcasters, collaborate with them, and promote like crazy to grow your show.
There you have it, folks. The down and dirty guide to how to podcast. I hope this has inspired you to consider creating a podcast for yourself or your business.
I know it has personally inspired me to start my own, which I launched on April 1, 2020. Yep! I launched it on April Fool’s Day so that if it sucked, I could say it was a joke.
To close things out, here are some additional tools and resources to consider as you research and prepare to launch your own podcast:
- Podcast Launch: How to create, launch, grow & monetize a Podcast, by John Lee Dumas
- The Podcast Journal: Idea to Launch in 50 Days, by John Lee Dumas
- Big Podcast – Grow Your Podcast Audience, Build Listener Loyalty, and Get Everybody Talking About Your Show by David Hooper
- The Messengers | A Podcast Documentary
- A Step-By-Step Podcasting Tutorial by Pat Flynn
- Free Podcast Course by John Lee Dumas
Interested in checking out Ashley’s own podcast? Catch her on “The Bloggy Friends Show!”