A Beginner’s Guide to Podcasting

by Danielle Young | Feb 20, 2024 | Podcasting

Podcasts allow you to engage directly with your target audience and build authority in your industry or niche. With over five million podcasts globally—along with hundreds of millions of podcast listeners—it’s important to start off right so your podcast can achieve success. Read our guide below to learn how to start a podcast!

Planning Your Podcast & Pre-Production

Once you get into the swing of things, you won’t need to focus so much on overall preparation for your podcast, except for immediate concerns like episode content research and reaching out to potential guests. Here’s what to work on for pre-production and plan for your podcast long term.

Develop Goals for Your Podcast

When starting a podcast, it’s essential to define your goals. Are you looking to extend your brand, or provide thought leadership in your industry? Or maybe you’re an influencer looking for another avenue to engage people within your niche. No matter your long-term objectives, it’s important to begin with small, realistic goals so you can concentrate on building an audience to nurture and grow over time.

Pick a Podcast Theme & Niche

When planning your podcast concept, consider your goals and the various topics you’d like to discuss. What are the top shows in your chosen genre discussing? What’s missing—or what aspects are they covering less that your target audience would be interested in? Use your knowledge about the subject to identify those gaps so you can fill them with unique contributions, helping you become a podcast host that stands out from the rest.

Identify Your Audience

Every podcast attracts different listeners, so take time to identify your target audience. Who do you want to appeal to within your niche? What problem or need does your podcast address—and who has that problem? After looking at your future competitors and conducting a content gap analysis, strategize and tailor your first season’s episode topics to your target audience. Then, over time, you can work to grow your podcast audience by improving your marketing efforts or expanding what you discuss.

Decide How Long Your Episodes Will Be

Determining the best episode length for your podcast can be tricky. The average length of a podcast is between 30 and 42 minutes, but this depends on what type of podcast you record and your podcast format. Consider the type of content, your audience’s preferences, and how often you’ll be publishing episodes, then try to balance those with your brand and niche. Once you start uploading, gather listener feedback and tailor your podcast length to make the perfect listening experience.

Choose Your Podcast Format

Will your show have a single host who shares their thoughts? Or maybe the host interviews other industry leaders and guests on relevant topics? Perhaps you’ll have two hosts that banter back and forth about industry trends and current events relevant to the target audience. There are plenty of podcast formats to choose from, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages depending on your goals. Choose the podcast structure that’s best for engaging your audience and delivering high-quality content.

Additionally, keep in mind that podcasts aren’t just limited to the traditional audio-only format. Video podcasting allows content creators to connect with their audience in another way and reuse podcast content creatively. Creating a vodcast will require additional time and equipment, but this extra effort results in video content you can share on video podcast platforms and social media, allowing you to reach a broader audience.

Name Your Show

When choosing a name for your podcast, try to find one that stands out while still representing you and your brand. Consider the theme of your show, what you would find intriguing as a potential listener, and your unique approach to the subject.

Before you finalize the name of your show, research podcasts in your niche through Google, social media, and podcast directories. If your first choice is already in use or too similar to existing media, move on to the next until you find your perfect podcast title.

Purchase Podcasting Equipment

You’ll need some basic equipment to begin podcasting, including microphones, headphones, and a computer. There are lots of podcast mics to choose from, so take some time to research the best podcast microphones and choose the one that’s best for your needs. Prioritize sound quality, then consider additional elements like cost and usability.

For example, USB microphones are popular for beginners because of their simplicity and affordability, while XLR microphones offer a professional touch but require additional equipment for setup. Keep in mind you can always upgrade your equipment as needed once your podcast is more established.

Download Recording & Editing Software

In addition to your equipment, you’ll need the proper software for recording and editing your podcast. Consider what features you’ll need for a polished final product as well as your skill level and podcast budget so you can select the best editing software for your podcast. Some popular options for beginners include:

Depending on your needs, you can opt for something affordable and user-friendly, more pricey and professional, something with video-editing capabilities, or even software that’s ideal for recording remotely.

Settle on a Podcast Hosting Service

While you can easily distribute your episodes on online podcast directories like Google Podcasts, podcast hosting services offer benefits like managing your files and distributing your show.

Conduct research on podcast hosting platforms and note their unique features and advantages, as well as cost, storage and download limits, and available analytic tools. You’ll also want to consider user-friendliness, as well as advertising and other monetization capabilities.

Recording Your Podcast

This is an exciting time for new hosts. After all, it’s what you’ve been waiting for! Before pressing “record” however, however, you’ll still want to be prepared with these steps.

Set Up Your Recording Space

Whether it’s a dedicated podcast studio space or a room in your home, it’s important to decide where you’ll record your podcast. If possible, choose a quiet place that allows little to no background noise. If you have the budget, consider investing in podcast soundproofing equipment. Lining your space with sound absorption materials like acoustic panels, bass traps, and soundproof curtains minimizes background noise, echoing, and other disturbances in your recording space. This makes post-production editing easier and improves the overall sound quality of your show.

Establish Episode Intros & Outros

Your podcast intro is your chance to hook listeners and convince them to stick around. Intros can include a narrative hook, banter between the hosts, or even a pre-recorded song or voice clip. You should also establish what you’ll be covering in the episode.

Your podcast outro is the perfect time to speak to your audience directly. Make general announcements, offer a sneak peek into the next episode, thank them for listening, and present a call-to-action that invites them to subscribe, follow your socials, share your show with a friend, or support your show in other ways.

Try a Test Episode

As a beginner podcast host, it’s a good idea to record a test episode. Test episodes gives beginner podcast hosts a chance to establish a rhythm between each other and iron out any kinks, technical difficulties, or content-related adjustments before the official launching of your podcast. If you’re renting studio time, this test run can help you determine just how much time you need in the studio. It also allows hosts to get most of the jitters out and get used to the idea that what is said will likely be on the published episode.

Record Your First Episode

Creating a podcast outline or script can help you maintain focus and provide a clear direction for the episode. Since the outline is meant to help organize your thoughts and guide you through your topic, it’s recommended to steer clear of word-for-word scripts, which can sound unnatural. Instead, create an outline listing each point you’d like to address.

While recording, check your microphone settings and audio levels, and scan for background noise to ensure everything sounds good. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect! You’ll have another chance to polish things up during post-production edits.

Editing Your Podcast & Post-Production

Unlike pre-production, post-production is consistent with the amount of work you’ll need to do. Unless you take advantage of joining a podcast network, here’s what hosts can expect while editing their podcasts and post-production.

Edit Your Podcast

Editing your podcast audio is a key step in improving the listening experience for your audience. Prepare to spend plenty of time on podcast editing, since the overall quality of your episode may determine if people keep listening. That said, the style of your show will also dictate how much editing is necessary.

When editing, clean up transitions between segments to improve flow, but don’t delete any audio you trim—these audio clips can be used as bloopers or fun hidden gems elsewhere.

This is also when you’ll add any music or sound effects. Be aware of royalties and music licensing, as music licensing for podcasts can be expensive. Consider using royalty-free music, recording your own music and sound effects, or taking advantage of AI podcasting tools for a budget-friendly solution.

Craft a Show Description

Writing a great show description can help promote your podcast, attract your target audience, and boost the likelihood of your show being discovered. Some items your show description should include are:

  • An introduction to your host(s)
  • What your show covers
  • Your upload schedule
  • Contact information
  • Relevant links
  • An effective CTA

This is also a good time to optimize your podcast for search engines. Conduct keyword research and include relevant keywords in your show description (and eventually in each individual episode description).

Create Podcast Artwork & Branding

When creating podcast cover art, start by taking a look at what your competitors are doing so you can set your show apart. The goal is to accurately represent your content and brand identity while piquing people’s interest. While podcasts are an auditory experience, your cover art will likely be the first thing potential listeners see.

You can either hire a graphic designer or create your own podcast cover art. There are several free tools available to help you create your own, including:

You’ll want to use original artwork that represents your podcast’s subject matter and style, along with an easy-to-read font for your podcast title and subheading. You should also include a logo that can be utilized on your website, social media channels, and any other place where you’re promoting your podcast. Keep colors and fonts consistent across these channels as well, so that your brand has a unified feel.

Episode Release & Promotion

Congratulations—you’re in the home stretch! Now that you’re done with post-production, it’s time to finalize the episode and distribute it.

Set a Launch Date

While the official launch of your podcast might feel like a make-or-break situation, that isn’t necessarily the case. There are a couple of different ways you can approach your podcast launch.

A hard launch lets you choose a date and generate excitement for the initial release of your episodes. Whether you’re advertising as an individual or a member of a podcast network, you can utilize podcast teasers, highlights, or even host a live launch to engage with users on social media.

With a soft launch, you’ll release a few episodes to a smaller audience on a set date. This allows you to obtain feedback and make necessary adjustments before releasing it to a broader audience. Whichever option you choose, you may want to record the first few episodes before launching, giving you a buffer as you adjust to your production and publishing schedule.

Publish Your Podcast to Directories

When you have an episode or two ready to publish, add them to podcast directories so listeners can find your show. Your podcast hosting platform can help you with this process, automatically publishing your episodes to a variety of podcasting platforms. Some of the top podcast directories include:

Stick to a Consistent Publishing Schedule

Establishing a consistent podcast publishing frequency lets listeners know when to expect more content and can help foster trust in your brand. Set your podcast schedule around the time you need to work on each podcast episode, whether that’s monthly, biweekly, or weekly.

Make sure your schedule gives you enough time to produce quality episodes, as rushed recordings with poor editing could dissuade new listeners. Additionally, be consistent when publishing your podcast, and let your listeners know ahead of time if you’ll be taking time off or adjusting your publishing schedule, since missing a deadline could disappoint listeners and cost you followers—and overworking yourself can lead to podcast burnout.

Develop a Promotion Strategy

Start by developing a website for your podcast where you can publish additional content, including materials to make your podcast more accessible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or have low vision, and more. In addition to helping you rank in search engines, your site is also a perfect place to upload show notes, share news, and more.

There are several other ways to promote your podcast—and utilizing all of them will help maximize your visibility, grow your audience, and achieve sustained success in the competitive podcasting landscape. Market your show through episode swaps and guest hosting to tap into new audiences. Host a live podcast event for additional opportunities to engage with your podcast’s community. And build a social media strategy that incorporates sharing podcast audiograms, Q&As, polls, and livestreams.

Monetize Your Podcast

You have quite a few options to choose from when it comes to podcast advertising and monetization. One common avenue for monetizing your podcast is reaching out to sponsors, where you can choose from affiliate, cost-per-mille (CPM), or value-based sponsorship for payment. Other possibilities include splitting revenue with a podcast network, taking direct donations on your website or through links in your podcast notes, or offering paid subscriptions on platforms like Patreon where your listeners can pay monthly or per episode for subscriber-only content and other perks.

Need help getting your podcast started? Hurrdat Media can help with hosting, production, advertising, and more. Learn more about our podcast services and our media network today!