Have you ever asked, how do you start a podcast? You’d be surprised how often people ask me this exact question. I built this complete guide to help you get started.
Let’s start with a 10-step guide on the basics. This will show you, in the simplest way, how to start a podcast.
After that, we’ll dive into more specific advice on recording and editing your first show. My article on how to podcast also covers my history and why I’m uniquely qualified to give advice on how to start a podcast.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the specifics.
The 10-Step How to Start a Podcast Guide
I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. That’s why this guide focuses on the most important 10 steps you must complete to start a podcast. I laid them out in order, so go through one step at a time to get the best results.
Disclosure: This article is supported by affiliate partners. When you make a purchase through any of the links on my site, I may be compensated at no extra charge to you. Thanks for reading!
1. Choose a Podcast Theme and Style
To get started, think about what you want to accomplish. That’s the best way to start any project, including a podcast.
- Do you want to teach your audience about something you love?
- Do you want to convince people about a specific subject?
- Do you want to entertain?
Understand your goal and audience. That’s the first step in how to start a podcast.
Next, consider the style. Most successful podcast producers understand the importance of passion. Cover what you love and the rest of this turns out to be pretty easy.
Those who choose to cover topics they don’t enjoy tend to find the rest of this process boring, repetitive, or confusing.
Decide how you’ll talk and what your episodes will be like. Do you want to have casual chats, give useful info, or tell exciting stories? This sets the mood for your podcast.
This is important because you’ll also want to keep things the same as you record each episode.
Listeners expect it.
Use the same style, voice, and look so people recognize it. Consistency helps your podcast become familiar to listeners.
So, choosing a theme and style for your podcast is like devising a new adventure. When you mix your passion with what your listeners like, add your unique touch, and keep things interesting, you’ve taken your first step in how to make a podcast.
2. Choose a Format for the Show
Format differs from style. It’s the structure of your show. When you ask how to make a podcast people enjoy, it also makes sense to consider the kind of formats do people usually listen to.
Think about your favorite shows. Consider your audience expectations.
To determine a format when you’re just getting started with a new podcast, consider the following questions.
- Does your favorite podcast have one host? Two? A panel of hosts? No host at all?
- Should your podcast start in the middle of a story, narration, music, or something else?
- Would your audience expect high production quality, or would they expect a two-people-talking style show?
- What do you want people to remember after they listen to an episode?
These questions are important to ask when you want to know how to start a podcast. They help you organize your thoughts before you get started and, as mentioned earlier, the format allows you to duplicate the experience with every episode.
Let’s discuss an example.
Planet Money, a popular economics podcast by NPR, usually starts with an ad. (That’s called a pre-roll ad, and it’s a subject for another article).
After that, listeners hear an audio logo. It’s a coin dropping and a voice saying, “This is Planet Money. . . from NPR.”
All of that happens in the first 30 seconds.
Then, you get some change. Often, the duo of hosts come in with an introduction. They introduce themselves, and they introduce the episode.
And that’s just the start.
Your show will have its own structure, just like this. Figure it out early, and it will make editing so much easier.
3. Choose a Podcast Host (or Don’t)
You’ve got your topic. You’ve got your format. Now, you need a host. Let’s talk about why your main voice is such an important part of how to start a podcast.
Please consider this: Most beginner podcasters use themselves as the host of their show. . . and most beginner podcasts aren’t very good.
Are these two things connected?
I know you want to know how to start a podcast. That might mean you’re especially well organized, that you want to start a new project, and that you already know you’re in for a bunch of behind-the-scenes work.
If that’s the case, you’re already doing better than most first timers.
If you want to know how to start a podcast because you want to be in the limelight, you’re also a good candidate for being the host of your show.
Unfortunately, that means you may not already know the depths of despair that await a podcast producer who doesn’t like working with audio.
Later in this guide on how to start a podcast, I’ll let you know a few tricks to minimize the time you spend editing and mastering audio files. Until then, consider your role in the podcast organization.
In short: Do you want to host, or do you know someone who would be a better host for your show?
4. Set a Podcast Publishing Schedule
When someone asks how to start a podcast, they also want to know common mistakes for first-time podcasters. I can answer that.
One of the most common mistakes for first-time podcasters is not setting a schedule for episode releases. (Or not setting a specific number of episodes to test before committing to a long-term podcasting project–burnout is a real thing).
Podcast listeners expect at least one podcast episode per week.
Plan to commit to releasing weekly (or daily) episodes during your first season.
If you can’t commit to that kind of editing schedule, just build up a reserve of podcast episodes and wait to release them until you have enough to build a starter season.
Some first-time podcasters prefer to record episodes in front of a live audience.
That doesn’t mean you have to immediately release the raw recording. Take those raw audio files and move to the next step.
5. Find an Audio Editor
I built a list of the best AI podcasting tools for one reason: To save time. Podcasters trust these tools help with audio editing and transcribing.
Audio editing takes enormous amounts of time. When you do it well, you can expect to spend about four hours editing a single hour of multi-track audio.
You’re not alone. Many podcast producers hire someone to help with this part of the process. If you can afford it, that’s helpful.
What if you want to do it yourself?
Fear not! You don’t need an audio engineering degree to get started. In fact, if you want to know how to make a podcast, you might actually be asking how to edit audio files.
There are strong tutorials on editing audio on YouTube. The key is to find a digital audio workstation (DAW) you like.
I’ve used a bunch of them.
For those working with a limited budget, the best DAW is still audacity. You can download it here.
Those with corporate budgets should consider industry standards as well. I recommend Adobe Audition for mixing and mastering.
Looking for a discount? Sometimes Amazon offers deals on Adobe Audition.
6. Start a Podcast with AI Mastering
Audio quality makes a major difference for podcast listeners. I don’t usually listen to shows with significant audio issues, even if those podcasts are my favorites.
Audio mastering sometimes fixes glaring audio issues.
Sometimes it just helps a good audio file sound like a studio-quality audio file.
Not sure how to master a podcast? You’re not alone. It’s one of those things a bunch of practice would help with.
Better yet, use an AI mastering service to do it for you.
Unlike automated audio editors, which really benefit from a human looking at the files and listening for conversational pauses and content, AI services like Auphonic take care of mastering in seconds.
I can’t overstate the importance of this step in how to make a podcast.
Automate it. Don’t skip it.
7. Build an RSS Feed
Creating an RSS feed for your podcast is essential for distributing your episodes to various podcast platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more.
That’s absolutely necessary when you want to know how to start a podcast.
The RSS feed acts as a way for these platforms to know when you’ve released a new episode and to display your content to your listeners.
It’s the first step to publishing your audio, and it isn’t hard.
First, store your podcast files.
That means keeping your podcast episodes (the audio stuff you want people to hear) in one place, like a podcast hosting service or your own website. Make sure each episode has a name, description, release date, and a link to the audio file.
These are usually MP3s.
Next, get your RSS feed. Most hosting services will give you a special link called an RSS feed. This link is like a signal that tells podcast platforms when you have a new episode.
Make sure this feed has all your important information. A podcast’s RSS feed should have the podcast’s name, description, who made it, a picture, and where to find it.
Double check to make sure you haven’t made any typos.
Then, tell everyone.
By everyone, I mean podcast platforms. Every podcast distributor has a place to enter an RSS feed. They provide this because they’re happy to freely distribute your content. It drives more users to their platforms, and they monetize those users.
For a deeper dive, check out my advice on how to get more podcast listeners.
Finally, make sure your new episodes show up in the RSS feed. As long as you use the same format, you don’t have to log into every podcast platform to release a new show. Just publish to your RSS feed and every podcast platform updates automatically.
8. Market Your Podcast
Unfortunately, showing up on Apple Podcasts or Spotify doesn’t automatically generate listeners. You need to market your show.
Whether you prefer SEO for podcasts or old-fashioned word of mouth, here are several ways to market a podcast. Here are a few of the most effective ways to get started.
- Optimize Your Podcast Title and Description: Write a compelling podcast title that reflects the essence of your content. Write a concise and captivating podcast description that clearly explains what listeners can expect from your show. Include relevant keywords for better discoverability.
- Design Eye-Catching Cover Art: Your podcast cover art is the first thing potential listeners will see. Design a visually appealing cover that represents your podcast’s theme and catches the eye.
- Leverage Social Media: Utilize platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok to share teaser clips, behind-the-scenes content, episode highlights, and engage with your audience. Use relevant hashtags to increase your content’s visibility.
- Collaborate with Influencers and Guests: Collaborate with influencers or individuals who have a relevant audience. Guest appearances on other podcasts can also help you tap into new listener bases.
- Consider Email Marketing: Collect email addresses from your listeners and send regular updates about new episodes, upcoming topics, and special events. Email newsletters can foster a closer connection with your audience.
- Start a Website or Blog: Create a website or blog for your podcast. This serves as a central hub where listeners can learn more about your podcast, find episode show notes, and access additional resources.
These are pretty standard ways to get started with online advertising for a podcast. You can also consider more organic methods. For example, just engaging with your audience can lead to surprising results.
Respond to comments, messages, and feedback from your listeners. Building a community around your podcast fosters loyalty and encourages word-of-mouth marketing.
You can also test paid advertising, but this is usually best reserved for existing podcasts with existing methods for monetization.
9. Connect with Other Podcasters
How do you start a successful podcast? Once you’re live with your first episode, connect with other podcasters.
This is a valuable way to learn, collaborate, and grow your podcast network. You can find existing communities on Reddit, Facebook, and other social platforms.
But it’s better to connect in person.
Attend podcasting events, conferences, and webinars, where you can meet fellow podcasters and share experiences. Reach out through emails or direct messages to express interest in their work and propose collaborations, guest appearances, or cross-promotion.
This might seem simple, but don’t forget to listen to their podcasts.
First-time podcasters (and even seasoned audio professionals) value genuine feedback and support.
By building these relationships, you can tap into a supportive community that offers insights, opportunities, and a sense of camaraderie in the podcasting landscape.
10. Analyze, Optimize, and Improve
Analyzing and optimizing podcast performance is crucial for achieving sustained growth and audience engagement.
Regularly reviewing metrics like download numbers, listener demographics, and engagement patterns provides insights into what’s working and what needs improvement, and it’s an important part of how to start a podcast.
Pay attention to listener feedback, reviews, and social media interactions to understand audience preferences. By identifying popular topics, formats, and episode lengths, you can tailor your content to meet listener expectations.
Experiment with different promotional strategies, such as social media campaigns or collaborations, and track their impact on listener engagement. Continuously refine your podcast based on data-driven insights to ensure that your content remains relevant, resonates with your audience, and ultimately elevates your podcast’s impact and reach.
How Do I Know How to Start a Podcast?
I have years of experience as a professional podcast producer. This includes every step of the process.
When I got started, I worked with friends as a co-host on a trivia podcast. We took turns editing and publishing our podcast episodes. This was almost 20 years ago!
After that, I co-created a successful podcast for writers. I designed the episode structure, the style, and all the smallest details. It was my choice where to host a podcast, what to call it, and how to promote it.
Finally, I pitched a podcast to my job. I created the format, laid out the seasons, organized interviews, recorded, edited, mastered, uploaded, and marketed it. If that sounds like a full-time job, you might be surprised I did this in addition to my regular duties.
Only after a year of production did I move into full-time podcast production.
So I’ve done it all. That’s why I created this guide called “how do you start a podcast?”.
Ready to get started? I also have a guide on podcast mics.
I hope you enjoyed this 10-step guide on how to start a podcast. It covers all of the most important considerations when building a new show.
Please let me know if it helped you get started. I love hearing new podcasters get started, and I’d love to hear your first episode!