How To Start A Podcast Show And Get Your Voice Heard

How to start a podcastPodcasts are in demand!

Back in the day podcasts were about offline listening. You had to download audio files and sync them to your device. This didn’t help them break through to the mainstream audience.

Today, with everyone being connected to the internet thanks to their smart phones and WiFi, podcasts have become Internet on-demand radio that can be consumed at anytime the listener chooses to. Young people don’t own radios, they listen to shows about a great variety of niche topics via headphones on their smart devices instead.

Podcasts are hands-free unlike text and video content, so are a perfect entertainment for your daily commute, your work out, the morning jog, while you’re cooking, cleaning the house or doing other chores.

Podcasts are very diverse, highly personalized and have a high level of intimacy. Are you missing out on this chance to reach out to a new audience and build a direct one-on-one relationship with listeners?

This post is a simple road map you should follow in order to create a podcast show that helps you get your voice heard.

Steps to a podcast show that’s done well

  • Figure out the topic and concept for the show: What topic do you cover? Are you focused on a specific industry? What is the concept? Are you a comedian telling jokes? Are you an educator teaching people new things? Are you doing interviews with industry insiders who have amazing stories to tell in captivating ways? Are you curating news? Are you reviewing products? Are you telling stories? Sum up your show in a brief, one line tagline. For more help on this process see my topic discovering guide here.
  • What is your unique selling point? Spend some time listening to other shows both those that cover your own topic and those that you find interesting. Start from some of the shows that I’ll link to in this article. Think how can you put a personal stamp on your show in order to differentiate yourself from everyone else. How can you keep it new, fresh and interesting? How can you be authentic? Why should someone listen to your show and not listen to something else?
  • Format, frequency and length of your show. How often and when can people expect to hear you? You have complete freedom here. Are you short form or long form? Are you twice monthly or twice weekly show? Decide on this and keep it consistent.
  • A catchy and memorable name. How can you put your show topic and concept into one brief and punchy name? Try and be descriptive but do not be generic. My guide on finding a great name is here.
  • A domain name and website for your show. You need a page where you put everything together and use as a home base. On the page you will allow people to learn about you and the show, subscribe, listen to the show and get involved with your brand deeper. This will also help you get discovered by a new audience that’s searching for content on Google. To register the domain name and to host your website I recommend Bluehost. The domain name is free and the webspace is affordable. Here’s my guide on how you can install WordPress and build a website.

Serial podcast website

To-dos before hitting the record button

The most popular podcasts today are very frequently full-scale professional productions with big budgets, multiple staff, high-end equipment and post-production polish.

Still many smaller scale productions, that carved out their own niche by keeping it simple, are popular too. You can do it too.

Here are my recommendations ans the things you need to create great and compelling audio content:

  • Don’t spend tons of money at first. Recording a podcast can be done simply with help from the latest technology that you already own. Don’t start an expensive production by buying professional equipment and building a studio in your home. Not in the start of your project at least. Try it out first, see how you feel and what results you’re getting, before deciding on the big investments.
  • You need a microphone. Use your smart mobile phone to record your podcasts. Mobiles phones, such as the latest iPhone or the Samsung devices, can record better audio quality than computers, which is more than enough for a new podcaster. What if you don’t have a smartphone or you’d like to feel more like a pro and also improve the quality of your recordings? Consider getting a microphone such as this Audio-Technica which is not too expensive but is among the best reviewed.
  • A copy of sound editing software in order to do some post-production plus mix your voice recording with music and other sound effects if you fancy that. Audacity is recommended. It is not the prettiest software but it is simple to use, free, open-source and works cross platforms. Mac users could also use GarageBand which comes with the Mac and is available for iOS too. Or you could go even more simple and just use one of the mobile podcast editing apps such as Opinion for iOS.
  • The introduction to the show. Think how you want to introduce your show? Do you get to the point and go straight into the content? Do you want to have a short intro clip with music and a voice over? Don’t overdo it though. People are impatient and you need to grab their attention straight away before they go somewhere else.
  • Want to use some music in your show? Creative commons is your friend for music as it is for the imagery. Some artists choose to release their work and allow others to use it for free. Couple of popular options to search for music and sounds that you can use for free are this one from SoundCloud and this one from CC Search.
  • A high resolution and eye catching show artwork. These are important for branding and to get discovered and clicked on in iTunes and other apps. You need one 1400×1400 pixels image.
  • A space to host your finished media files. It is advisable not to upload your audio onto the same server where you also host your website. This is because audio files can be large and if your podcast becomes popular it would put too much strain on the server which can affect the speed and the uptime of your website and podcast too. There are several specialized companies that provide media hosting, but SoundCloud is a perfect starting point for new podcasters.
  • Create your SoundCloud account. It is one of the most popular audio sites which can help you spread your content to more people. This will be your server on where you will host your files and from where you can embed your shows onto your own website or syndicate them through an RSS feed to directories such as iTunes and other apps. SoundCloud makes the whole process of uploading, tagging, embedding and sharing a show very simple. It also allows you to redirect your subscribers to a new location in case you eventually decide to move your files to a different service.
  • Optimize your account profile. When creating your SoundCloud account the name you want to display on the profile should be the name of your podcast. On the settings page you can upload the profile image for your podcast, add the description and the links. Follow the process as described here. This will automatically set up your RSS feed that you need when submitting your shows to apps that I will go into later in the article.

Time to rock’n’roll

Got everything ready? It’s time for some rock’n’roll.

  • Get into a quiet room and record your show. Do it in the way that makes you feel comfortable. Do you want to script it? Could you use a rough outline to help you? Do you just want to talk about whatever comes to your mind? Make sure to show passion for the topic. Do several takes. Delete them and redo them again and again. Practice even more. Ask for opinion. It’s very difficult to listen to your own voice, but have patience and know that you will get better and more comfortable the more you do this.
  • Do some post-production. When you’re done, load your recoding into Audacity and do some post-production. Add the intro, add music and other sound effects if you want, edit out any awkward pauses or any mistakes. When you’re happy with your product you can export the finished episode.
  • Upload your show episode into SoundCloud. Tag the file by providing more information about the specific file such as show title, the description and tags.
  • Publish a post about your new episode on your website. This is the main URL that you will be promoting to your audience. On the page tell people what’s in the show for them. Add any other information that you believe is valuable such as providing advice in the text form too or doing a transcription. Embed the show itself into the post. SoundCloud has a WordPress plugin which helps you embed your podcast shows into your website. Get it here.

Now it’s the time to get your show into the most popular podcasting apps.

Get your voice heard: Places to share and promote your show

Interestingly enough not many podcasts are shared in social media compared to images and video. This is why you need to work extra hard on promoting your show and gaining an audience.

You can easily distribute and syndicate your shows to the different podcasting app thanks to the Soundcloud RSS feed. Note the URL of your feed as you will need it when submitting to the services below.

Podcasts on iTunes

  • Stitcher is one of the most popular podcasting apps for mobile phones. Submit your podcast here.
  • TuneIn is another popular app. You can add your podcast by contacting them manually here.
  • Do a collaboration with an influential site or podcast. How can you work together with an influential user in order to get the word out about your show? Can you reach out and try to do an interview on another popular podcast? Can you get an already established and popular podcast to promote your own podcast by syndicating a part of it?
  • Word of mouth. It’s very important to get your listeners and loyal fans involved into your podcast. Ask them to share it. Ask them to review it. Ask them to subscribe. All of these will help you get more attention to your podcast and acquire new listeners.
  • Share your show. The process of promoting your show is similar to when you’re promoting a blog post. You need to work to get it out to as many people that may find it useful as possible. Here is a list of places where I share my content.
  • Create a mobile app. For some podcasters this option works as it gets them into the different app stores and spread their word out to more people. Consider if it makes sense for you to do too.

How to make money podcasting

At first make sure to put all your efforts into producing quality content and building a loyal audience. When you succeed with that you will discover that podcasting gives you several interesting options for monetization. These are some of the popular and effective ways you can make money with your show:

  • Sponsorships and native ads: If you’ve listened to a podcast before you most probably have come across sponsored messages where hosts drop mentions of different products and services at some point within the show. Most times they also describe their personal relationship and experience with the product and personally recommend you try it too by using a promo code. This is not an easy way to make money as more than a third of top downloaded iTunes podcasts don’t have any ads, but it is worth a try.
  • How do you find sponsors? Podcasts are interesting to advertisers as they provide an opportunity to tell their stories to an attentive audience interested in a niche topic. This makes them one of the most expensive ways to advertise online. The cost for MailChimp to advertise on the popular Serial show was between $25 and $40 CPM (cost per thousand). Try to contact relevant companies directly or let other companies, such as this one, try to find sponsors for you.
  • Crowdfunding: Similar to donations, several podcasters were successful in running crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter. Some of the biggest successes are Planet Money and 99% Invisible. Take a look at the pages I linked to for some ideas on what you could be doing.
  • Live shows: Some shows, such as Take it With You, choose to go on the road like real rock stars and record new episodes in front of a live, paying audience. This might not be the way you could do it for your first ever podcast episode, but it is something that could be a great opportunity if everything goes very well down the line.
  • Merchandise: Many podcasts also sell variety of merchandise branded with the podcast logos, colors and other imagery and quotes.
  • Premium memberships: These can be manifested in many ways such as pay per download, pay to access the back catalog, and pay for exclusive content. Some podcasters even have mobile apps only for premium members. WTF with Marc Maron is one of the shows that does this very well with 10% of listeners paying for a premium membership of up to $8.99.
  • Donations: There are several donation funded shows. If you have a loyal audience and have a show that they believe is worth paying for, it is a perfect option as the audience will reward you. People such as Dan Carlin and also the No Agenda show have done this well. No Agenda have special donation program where for example by donating a certain amount of money will get you a special mention on the show or you could be listed as executive producer and similar.


How to track the success of your show

Traditionally podcasts were difficult to track in great detail. The only number available was the number of file downloads. This was inadequate metric as it didn’t really tell who downloaded the file or if they actually listened and engaged to it at all.

It’s still difficult to get the very deep data on podcasting that we expect being able to do on websites, but you will have access to more data by doing this:

  • Embed the show on your own website so people can come and listen to it from there. This will allow you to use your Google Analytics to track data such as geographical location of visitors, time spent on page and referral sources.
  • By using SoundCloud to host your podcast you will also get access to their stats platform which includes metrics such as number of views, number of likes, comments, reposts, downloads, top countries and cities, and websites that embedded your player.

Successful shows for your inspiration

I’ve already mentioned several impressive shows throughout this post so do have a scan around the article and check them all out. For even more exploration and research, do check out the following shows too:

  • StartUp: When someone that knows nothing about business starts one.
  • Love + Radio: Interviews with an eclectic range of subjects.

Start me up

After more than 2,700 words, you are now more inspired and ready to get your own show started and get your voice heard by people in the audience that you are targeting. Recording and listening to your own voice gets some time to get used to but it is definitely worth putting some effort in it as you may well be able to discover a new audience that you never would have with text only content. Give it a try and see how you get on. Good luck!

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