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Podcasting 101: The Definitive Guide to Start a Podcast

podcasting 101: the definitive guide to start a podcast

The podcast industry is growing massively.

However, it’s not as crowded as the blogging space, which means one thing: if you want to start a podcast business, now is the perfect time to do it!

A podcast is one of the best platforms you can have to deliver quality content that brings value to people. 

It allows you to reach out to your audience more intimately, meaning that your messages will have a great impact on them.

Creating a successful podcast, whether you want it to make money or just spread knowledge about particular subjects, is not simple.

And that’s exactly why I decided to put up this podcast guide.

It’s divided into different sections that’ll walk you through the entire process of creating a solid podcast, from picking your niche to publishing podcast episodes and promoting them.

Before we start, it’s important to note that building a successful podcast business doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes time and effort.

Remember, Rome was not built in a day.

If you’re willing to put in the work then you’re already one step ahead than the vast majority of people.

And, after you read this guide, I bet you’re gonna be more than prepared to start your journey as a successful podcaster.

Now, without further ado, let’s dive into the step-by-step process.

Choose your niche/topic

itunes podcast niches

Podcast categories on iTunes

Choosing the right niche is one of the most important -yet overlooked– aspects for your podcast success.

It’s important to choose a topic that you feel comfortable talking about for hours.

It also needs to have enough content so you can speak about it for hundreds if not thousands of episodes.

In other words, you need to find the perfect balance between passion and potential when it comes to choosing a podcast niche.

In addition, avoid being too broad.

When producing content, it’s better to be more specific so you can market your podcast better.

Let’s say you have a podcast about fitness.

Fitness is a huge niche full of different sub-niches (nutrition, vegans, paleo, bodybuilding, powerlifters, obesity, etc.). And each sub-niche has a different demographic.

If you create a podcast around fitness without being a little more specific, you will find a hard time appealing to one demographic in particular.

That’s why you should focus on one segment of your niche when producing content for your podcast.

For instance, for the fitness example, you will be better off building a podcast for powerlifters, or bodybuilders, or overweight people… you get the point.

strength training podcastPick a name for your podcast

This section is pretty straightforward and there are many ways you can go about this.

On one hand, you can choose a descriptive name for your podcast.

So, if you have a podcast about politics, you would choose a name like this: The Humanist Show – Politics and Society

On the other hand, you can use your name. Using the politics example earlier, you would choose a name like: The Nicolas Show – Politics and Society

the dana show

It’s basic but it works. 

However, make sure you also precise what your podcast talks about.

That’s because, unless you’re already popular and have an audience, people will never know what your podcast is about.

Finally, and this is my preferred method, you can go for a more creative and fun approach.

People will remember your show more easily if you have a cool name.

So, for a politics podcast, you can go for a name like “Left, Right & Center

democracy-ish

It’s fun and people like fun things (at least I do)

A tip I can give you is to take your time to choose a good name and make sure it suits your podcast “vibe“. 

Establish a plan

planning

You picked your niche and you already have a name for your new podcast.

It’s time to make a game plan.

You’re surely asking yourself: “But Nicolas, why do I need a plan? I just need to produce content and publish it”

I have a great quote for that: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

I’m no philosopher (even though I have a quote for pretty much every situation in life). However, I know from first-hand the importance of establishing a plan before starting to produce.

It will save you TONS of time and help you be more productive.

You will need to spend a good time on this because it represents the foundation for your podcast business. 

Let’s get started!

Podcast style

podcast style

Beforehand, you need to define what kind of podcast style you want to go for.

You have many options. You can even alternate multiple podcast formats in your show

Podcast formats:

  • Interviews: Interviews are amazing. If you get to interview reputed people in your niche, it can bring a lot of listeners to your podcast. It’s a great way to deliver good value and the best part is that you don’t need to do much of the talking! Now, don’t get it twisted. Being a good interviewer can be hard for certain people. I recommend you to prepare some questions beforehand instead of trying to improvise the entire interview. That way, you will be seen as a true professional and the whole interview will go smoothly!
  • Roundtables: If you want your listeners to learn about something, roundtables are the crème de la crème. Roundtables are when you bring several guests to your show to talk about a particular subject. You can even go as far as creating debates and letting your guests express themselves with freedom. It’s a very interesting podcast format because, again, listeners enjoy discussion and even more if they get some knowledge out of it.
  • Solo: This is your classical podcast where you discuss about different topics and directly interact with your audience.
  • Co-hosted: Co-hosted shows are great because you get to interact with someone else which gives to the show a little more variety of opinions and things to talk about. Its extremely important to have good chemistry between the presenters, though. It will make the podcast even more interesting and engaging.
  • Fiction or non-fiction storytelling: Telling a good story is an art. And, if you think you’re talented at it or just enjoy doing it then setting up a fiction (or non-fiction) storytelling podcast is the path to follow.

Length

podcast lengthWhen it comes to the length of a podcast, there is no one-fits-all approach.

You need to test different lengths and see what works for you and your type of content.

If you’re interviewing someone, for example, you wouldn’t do it for just 5 minutes. You will most certainly do it for half an hour or even more.

If you can, try to have a consistent episode length so your listeners know what to expect.

In addition to that, try to get straight to the point on every single podcast episode.

And, I know, if you’re a talkative person, it can be hard. 

The problem is that once you start talking about things that don’t really contribute to anything, your listeners will get bored and leave

Keep that in mind when recording your episodes!

How often to publish

Just like the podcast length, the perfect posting frequency doesn’t exist.

You should pick a podcast schedule that fits you.

So, if you can release a new podcast episode every week, stick to that.

If you’re a little busier and you just can do it every month then perfect, stick to that.

Commitment is the number one factor when choosing a right frequency for your podcast.

To keep it short, stick to a frequency that you know you can commit to in the long term.

Prepare your guests

guest list

If you’re thinking about bringing people to your show, it’s important to start contacting them as soon as possible.

That way you can prepare everything in advance so everything runs smoothly.

Remember, preparation is key and a big component of success.

Record your intro and outro

If you listen to podcasts you have certainly noticed that they always have an intro (and, in many cases, an outro too).

But, why do they have that? It shows professionalism and makes your show seem more joyful and interesting.

To create some intro/outro music there is no need to overcomplicate things.

You can hire someone on Fiverr to do it for you.

It’s inexpensive, simple and effective.

fiverr-podcast-intro

Where can you find music for your podcast?

Now, if you want to create your own music for your show, here’s a list of the best places to find amazing royalty-free music (all of them are free):

Remember to avoid using copyrighted music

If you do, you can get penalized and even get your show shut down.

Define your artwork 

Having a solid visual presence is crucial if you want people to take your show seriously.

You’ve certainly heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, right?

Well, everyone, including you and me, actually judge a book by its cover.

Design plays a huge role in how you’re perceived by your target audience and your cover art is the first thing they see.

top podcast buddhism

Make sure it’s crisp and congruent with the content you provide.

It will help differentiate your show from the crowd.

If you don’t have the time or the skill to create your own artwork, you can hire a graphic designer on Fiverr for as little as $5.

podcast covert art gigTechnical aspects + some tips

If you’re serious about podcasting, you want your podcast to be on all major podcast directories such as iTunes or Google Podcast

That’s because they offer great visibility and reach

These platforms have technical requirements regarding the cover art you use and, lucky for us, they seem to be consistent across them.

iTunes and Google Podcasts require a minimum size of 1400×1400 px for your artwork. You need to be sure that it looks good on every device, especially on mobile

fantasy sports podcasts

You can go as high as 3000×3000 px and actually that’s what I recommend. 

It will ensure that your artwork supports every high-resolution media player that’s out there.

Your files need to be in a PNG or JPEG format.

One big tip I can give you is to use contrasting colors.

high contrast

Remember, your cover picture should help you attract listeners to your podcast.

So, when people see your podcast on the iTunes podcast listing they are like “That looks interesting, let’s check it”

Also, if you decide to add text to your cover art, make sure it’s minimal and readable

IMAGEN POCO TEXTO VS IMAGEN MUCHO TEXTO

As we discussed earlier, your cover art will be seen on all kinds of different screens, including very little ones from smartphones.

So, as a general rule of thumb, avoid using more than 5 characters.

A final tip I can give you to attract listeners is to tell a story through the visuals you use.

Just like clickbait titles, you want to generate curiosity and make people want to click on your podcast just by looking at your cover art.

Try to use meaningful or controversial images that spike people’s interest.

If you want more information and specifications about the cover art for your podcast, check out this article.

Get the right equipment

The quality of your productions is crucial if you want to be seen as a erious podcast.

Nobody likes a podcast where you can barely listen to the host.

It looks sloppy and can negatively impact your reputation.

Before you start recording and producing content, keep in mind that you will need to invest some money to get the right type of equipment.

If you’re just starting, there’s no need to buy the most expensive microphones or producing softwares.

However, getting decent equipment will help you to take your podcast to a whole new dimension.

Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to produce kickass content:

Get a decent computer

laptopAs obvious as it may sound, you will need to get a decent computer. Recording, editing and publishing podcasts require good specs.

It doesn’t mean that you need to get the last Macbook Pro on the market. However, make sure that you have a bare minimum.

Losing time solving technical problems because your computer sucks is a nightmare.

The more time you lose because of your computer, the less time you have to produce content and grow your podcast business.

If you don’t want to spend on a microphone, make sure that the computer you decide to work with has a built-in high-quality microphone. Remember, audio quality is key for a podcast. 

I recommend you to get a Macbook Air. It’s a solid machine that will handle all the softwares you will ever need to grow your podcast.

Podcast Microphone

Now, if you’re willing to invest a little bit more on your podcast, make sure you get a good microphone

This is by far, besides your computer, the most important piece of equipment you can get.

A high-quality microphone will ensure that people listen to you crystal clear.

My all-time favourite microphone that works for both beginners and advanced podcasters is the Blue YETI

It’s an easy-to-use USB Condenser microphone with multiple pattern selection which allows you to deliver an impeccable audio experience to your listeners.

blue yeti microphone

If you want to see more options, check out this article by Podcast Insights

Audio recording software

There are many softwares in the market that allow you to record and edit your podcasts.

I personally use and recommend Audacity.

audacityIt’s free and easy to use, perfect for beginners who don’t want to spend money on fancy podcast editing softwares.

Audacity is packed with all the features you need when starting your podcast venture.

audacity

For a useful Audacity tutorial, check out this article by Buzzsprout.

Other well-known softwares that I also recommend are Garageband, Adobe Audition and Alitu.

Podcast hosting

Before uploading your episodes to podcast directories, they need to be hosted on a podcast hosting platform.

To put it simply, podcast hosting companies serve as a middleman between you and your listeners.

And, we all know that giving to your listeners the best experience possible is our main priority as podcasters

Hence, choosing a solid podcast hosting platform is crucial. 

It will guarantee stability and high-performance

 

I have a full review of the best podcast hosting platforms in the market here.

how podcast hosting works

To keep it short, my preferred podcast hosting company is Buzzsprout for many reasons.

First of all, their platform is the most intuitive in the market right now. 

You won’t find any problems uploading new podcast episodes and learning how to use all their features.

Besides that, they offer very affordable plans that suit pretty much every wallet.

These hosting plans are based on how many hours you upload per month.

buzzsprout plans

And, If you don’t want to pay for a podcast hosting, they even offer a free plan that lets you upload up to 2hr upload limit per month, which is pretty solid.

On the other hand, another great thing about Buzzsprout is that they give you a free and decent-looking website for your podcast once you sign up with them.

buzzsprout website featureThis is especially important if you want to promote your podcast and bring traffic to it.

If you already have a website, though, Buzzsprout allows you to easily embed your podcast episodes.

Record your first episode

Ok, now that you have all the essential tools, you’re ready to record your first podcast episode!

Before we kick off this section let me tell you something: Congratulations!

You’re taking a big step towards your objectives.

Now, we’re going to get into the most important part of this guide: creating content.

And, before we get into the technical part of actually plugging in your microphone and opening your podcast editing software, we’re going to discuss some strategic aspects that people often overlook and some useful tips (because I’m the tip guy).

Generate ideas

brainstormIn any creation process, there’s always a time dedicated to coming up with topic ideas.

A podcast is not different.

So, before you start recording your first episode, you should take some time to brainstorm and come up with at least 10 topic ideas that will serve as the base for future podcast episodes.

And, please, DO not skip this part.

It will save you enormous amounts of time.

Having a list of dozens of topics to talk about will boost your productivity by 200%, I guarantee you.

Script

scriptYou have your topic for the day.

Now you need to make the script for it.

It doesn’t mean that you need to write down every single word.

You just need to have some notes written down with key points so you don’t forget anything when recording the episode.

It’s more a guide than anything else.

This part is important because improvising is not for everyone.

And, especially if you’re starting out, you will find a hard time talking to a microphone let alone remembering everything you wanted to talk about.

Plus, having some notes will help you talk more naturally and listeners will appreciate that.

Keep your script light and concise so you don’t run out of things to say.

If you want some tips to write a good podcast script, check out this amazing guide here

Time to record: Focus on quality

recordThe time has come: it’s time to record an amazing podcast episode.

Recording an episode is probably the most difficult part of this process.

However, I can guarantee you that it becomes easier with time.

Being a good host is a skill that can be learned and mastered.

So, don’t worry if you feel awkward or don’t like listening to your voice at the beginning, you will get used to it.

Also, podcast recordings don’t always go as planned. If you make mistakes along the road don’t restart the whole recording, you can edit that later.

Depending on your publishing schedule, you can record multiple podcast episodes in one sitting.

Again, this will help you stick to your schedule.

Get a transcription (optional)

If you can, get a transcription for your podcast.

It will boost your SEO rankings thus help you reach more people.

You don’t necessarily need one but it’s a nice plus to have.

Edit your recorded episode

Editing your freshly recorded episode is by far the most time-consuming part of this process.

But, just like recording, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

The first thing you need to do is to go through the record and cut off the parts that don’t contribute anything to the episode (dead airs, awkward silences, etc.)

After that, you need to stabilize your audio to make it as clear  as possible for your audience. 

Keep in mind that these two steps that we’ve just talked about are just the foundation for your podcast editing. 

There exist other aspects that you could edit to improve your podcast quality. 

However, I’m not going to make a full tutorial on how to edit your podcast because every software is different and each podcaster has different needs.

If you’re using Audacity, here you have an amazing tutorial that covers everything you need to know.

On another note, if you don’t want to do the editing yourself you can hire someone on Fiverr

podcast editing gig on fiverr

At this point, you may be asking why I recommend outsourcing so many tasks.

Let me tell you why.

In my eyes, time is money. And, if we follow the Pareto principle, 20% of your actions will get you 80% of your results.

So, outsourcing some tasks can free you valuable time that you can then invest in more important aspects of your podcast such as plannng content and recording it.

Time management is key for any business!

Choose a great name for your episode

We’ve already discussed the importance of first impressions in the podcasting space.

And that same principle applies to the name you decide to use for your podcast episode.

Make sure you choose an explicit name that communicates what your episode is going to be about.

This is important because people won’t take the time to click on your podcast hoping that the content will interest them.

Upload your episode to a podcast hosting

As we discussed earlier, a podcast hosting is a must-have for every serious podcaster.

You may be asking “why do I need a podcast hosting if I can upload my podcast episodes directly into my website?”

In theory, you don’t necessarily need a podcast hosting.

You can directly host your podcast episodes on your website.

However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Hosting a podcast on your website is a bad decision with many downsides.

The biggest ones being loss of audio quality and not having access to advanced analytics that really come in handy.

If you want to learn more about podcast hostings, check out this article here.

Now, how to upload an episode into your podcast hosting platform?

If you’re using Buzzsprout, it’s extremely easy to do:

upload podcast episode in buzzsprout

You then need to fill all the required fields about your show such as title, description, artist, etc

One big tip I can give you is to upload more than one podcast at a time.

That way, you will have enough content for people to listen.

If you only have one podcast episode, they will quickly leave your podcast once they’re finished with it.

Submit your episode to podcast directories

podcast directories

Famous podcast directories

This section is pretty straightforward.

If you want your show to be discovered by as many people as possible, make sure you submit your episodes to the main podcast directories, formerly iTunes and Google Podcasts.

Podcast hostings usually come with a feature that lets you easily distribute your hosted content into the podcast directories of your choice.

buzzsprout feature to list podcast episodes in podcast directoriesTypically, you just need to do it once.

In the future, once you upload a new episode into your podcast hosting, podcast directories have the capacity to automatically detect it and upload it to their platforms.

Promote your podcast 

You may think that after publishing your podcast episode there’s nothing more that you can other than sitting back, relax, and wait for listeners to discover your new podcast episode magically.

Well, unfortunately, things are not that easy.

You need to spread the word about your show.

In fact, it’s one of the most crucial aspects of building a succesful podcast business.

We’re going to review the best strategies you can utilize to promote your episodes and bring people to your show.

Social media

Having a strong social media presence can do wonders for your podcast.

If you’ve already built a solid community on any platform (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tiktok,… ), don’t hesitate to promote your podcast there.

instagram post promoting a podcast

Social media is the best way to let people know that your show is live.

And, since they already follow you and your content, they will be more than happy to discover your podcast.

Additionally, if you have some money to invest, consider setting up paid advertising campaigns (Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads,…) to promote your podcast efficiently and reach a larger audience.

podcast facebook ad

Having a blog

In the same token, having a blog with awesome content (such as this one) and decent traffic coming in regularly is an asset that you can exploit to communicate about the existance of an equally awesome podcast.

blog podcast promotionHowever, make sure that your podcast is in the same niche of your blog so your audience will benefit from both platforms.

If you don’t have a blog yet, then launching yourself in a blogging venture is an excellent strategy if you want to increase your podcast traffic and, of course, make money online.

Have a Youtube Channel

Youtube is also classified as a social media but I decided to make a dedicated section for this platform.

It’s an incredebily powerful tool that is often overlooked by podcasters.

Having a decent-sized Youtube channel and a great community behind it can take your podcast to a whole new level 

Take a look at Joe Rogan’s Experience podcast.

Besides having a classic audio podcast where he interviews people, he also has a Youtube channel with the video version of each interview he does.

joe rogan youtube channelNeedless to say that his Youtube channel is a success with nearly 7 million subscribers!

Because of his success, a ton of people has discovered his podcast because of his Youtube channel, including me. 

Monetize your podcast

Ok, we got into the juicy part of this guide.

Podcasting is extremely profitable is you set up a solid strategy.

There are multiple ways to monetize your podcast and I made an entire article dedicated to this topic.

Check it out here

If you don’t want to read the entire article, though, here’s a quick list of the better ways to monetize your podcast in 2019:

  • Sponsorships and Ads: Get in touch with different brands and start selling ads that you will place into your podcast periodically. Make sure you decide to work with brands that may actually interest your audience.
  • Sell premium content: You can create bonus content that you will then sell. Premium content can consist of the second part of an interview, behind-the-scenes content, ad-free episodes, etc.
  • Make money with Youtube: Youtube is the second largest search engine on the planet. You can leverage their power by creating a Youtube channel dedicated to your podcast and building a community around it. Once you have a decent amount of followers and views on your channel, you can start monetizing it. 
  • Sell your coaching services: Having a podcast is a great way to share your knowledge and position yourself as an expert in a particular field. If people trust you and your knowledge then you can start selling your expertise by offering coaching services. But first, you need to make sure that you provide enough value and content to your audience so they start seeing you as a reference and a knowledgeable individual.
  • Affiliate marketing: This is by far my preferred method of making money online without question. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it consists of promoting other people’s products (or services) and getting a commission for it. It’s a performance-based business. It means that the more people you refer, the more money you make. For podcasters, this is the perfect way of making money and especially if it’s your first time monetizing your podcast. It’s simple, reliable and very profitable. But, remember, just like sponsorships and selling ads, you need to promote things that you genuinely believe in. Otherwise, if you happen to promote crappy products then your reputation as a reliable source will take a big hit.
  • Sell your products (Merch, ebooks): If you want to maximize profit margins then selling your own products, whether they are physical (t-shirts, hoodies, mugs,…) or digital (online courses, ebooks, training,…), is the way to go. Podcasts with already built communities usually take advantage of their influence to sell their own products and make serious money with it. A downside to this strategy is that you will need to deal with customer service, and that’s a big pain in the butt.
  • Crowdfunding: Producing amazing content takes time and effort. You can ask your listeners to support you by donating money. People who like and enjoy your content won’t think twice to support your podcast so you can continue to produce amazing content.
  • Transition to public speaking: Once you feel comfortable talking to an audience you can transition to public speaking. You can then make money per ticket sold. This strategy is more of a long term one. However, it is extremely interesting and passionate if you like talking and discussing with entire crowds.

If you’re just starting, I suggest you to focus and master ONE money-making strategy before trying to make money doing many several things at the same time.

Bonus: Must-have softwares for podcasters

Web hosting

We discussed the importance of having a dedicated website for your podcast.

It’s a great presentation card to get people to listen to your show.

Pretty much every big podcaster in the game has a website or landing page for their podcast shows.

the blog millionaire If you want to create a website then you will need a solid web hosting.

If you know me, my go-to hosting is and will always be Bluehost.

bluehost hostingYou won’t find anything better in the market, period.

They offer top-notch quality hosting services, with reliable and fast servers as well as very affordable plans.

Click here to get their monthly hosting services for as low as $2.65/month 

bluehost plans

Domain name

namecheap logoJust like web hosting, you will also need a domain name to launch a website.

I personally recommend Namecheap to get your domain.

For obvious reasons, you want to buy a domain name that corresponds to your podcast name.

So, if your podcast called The Money Making Show, you would normally buy a domain name like themoneymakingshow.com 

Email marketing software

I can’t stress enough the importance of building an email list.

Email marketing is extremely powerful and often overlooked by not only podcasters but online marketers in general.

If you manage to build a big and qualified email list, you can then set up email marketing campaigns to make extra money.

One amazing thing about email marketing is that it is nearly free.

Over the years, I’ve always used Getresponse to set up efficient email marketing campaigns.

get response logo

Getresponse has all the features you need to take advantage of email marketing in the best way possible.

get response features

Some of Get Response features

Final words

If you’ve read this far then kudos to you! You are now prepared to start your own podcasting business!

Now, it’s time to get your hands dirty and take action.

Just like any other business or project, podcasting requires a lot of time and effort.

You NEED to love the process and produce the best content you can!

If you have any tips that you would like to share with the community, don’t hesitate to write them in the comments section!

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Nicolas Olaya

Nicolas Olaya is a digital marketing student, founder of The Practical Money Land. Making money online, blogging and helping others reach their goals are his main passions. With his content, he hopes he will help you excel at your business or, at least, motivate you to start your own online business!

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