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What is a podcast?

Although “Podcast” might sound strange, it is actually quite simple. Podcasts are simply audio programs, such as talk shows or audio dramatizations, that are uploaded to an RSS feed.

Although the concept is similar to radio programs, there’s one big difference. Podcasts can be listened online. The podcast is recorded and uploaded to a hosting site. The show can be listened to on any device, including your smartphone or computer.

Podcasts can be downloaded to free feeds so you can listen in any app that can open those feeds. You only need the link to the podcast feed. Podcasts are now much easier to access than streaming music or video services. Some podcasts are “exclusives” that are only available on certain platforms, such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Podcasts are now more common than audio-on-demand shows. Podcasts can be recorded live or have video versions. Some podcasts only are available in video. Podcasts are a new genre of entertainment that is essentially a modern form of talk shows.

A podcast with a few hosts will have a few people who discuss a particular topic. The episodes are typically between 30-60 minutes long and released weekly. Podcast topics include rewatching old TV programs, recapping sports teams’ games, politics, technology, and almost anything else you can think of.

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There are many reasons to start a podcast

There are many great reasons to start your podcast.

  • You need to grow an audience. Podcasts that are successful reach millions of listeners. Podcasts are a cost-effective way to grow your audience.
  • You want credibility in your industry or niche.
  • You are looking for another source of income or revenue. Podcasts can be an effective way to market your product or services. Even if you don’t want to sell a product or service, it’s possible to make money from your podcast through sponsored ads.
  • You want your network to grow. Podcasting can help you meet people interested in your topic and can help you advance your career.
  • You just want to have some fun. A podcast doesn’t need to be about a specific business or monetization goal. A podcast can be recorded for your enjoyment.

Common Misconceptions about Podcasts

No matter what previous experience or work history, anyone can start a podcast. These common misconceptions shouldn’t stop you from starting your own podcast.

  • You need a specific skill set. Talking about or discussing something is all you need. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an expert in everything, as long as you’re passionate about the topic. Passion is more important than expertise.
  • Not all podcasts require expensive equipment. It is possible to start a podcast using the equipment that you already have. There is no need to buy expensive software or additional gear. Many resources and tools are free to help you get started.
  • Podcasts are a dying medium. Podcasts are not going away, and they aren’t getting any less popular. Podcasting is so lucrative and active that media companies like Spotify and Apple invest large amounts of money to attract listeners (and revenue).
  • A large following is necessary to launch a podcast. If you create great content that resonates with people, you can build a following.
  • Podcast Episodes Must Be Long. Podcast episodes don’t have to be a certain length. Your podcast can be as short or long as you like, depending on your audience.

How to Start a Podcast in 5 Steps

The following steps will help you succeed if you are interested in starting your own podcast.

1. Define your niche or topic

Although it may seem restrictive, narrowing down a niche or topic will allow you to better target your content and build a following over time. This will help you establish trust and your authority as a subject matter expert.

Choose a broad topic that you can talk about in multiple episodes, seasons, or other media, but that is specific enough to appeal to a particular type of person, or demographic.

Check out the Podcasts Available

It’s smart to research similar podcasts before you start recording your first episode.

It is possible that you find very few podcasts about your topic or that the market is saturated. You can still do your research to determine how to position your podcast so it stands out.

Select Your Format and Cadence

You can host your podcast as a solo or group show. You will need to coordinate the way you host your podcast with others. Similar to the above, you might need to initiate outreach if you plan to interview guests for your podcast.

Your cadence refers to your publishing schedule. It is the frequency at which you will release new episodes. Podcasts may release new episodes daily, others every other week. The best cadence will depend on your schedule. Your future audience will be more comfortable and trust you if you stick to the cadence that you have established.

Define Your Audience

The most important question to ask before you start a podcast is “Who is it for?” It will be easier to create relevant and valuable content if you have an ideal listener in your mind. You can find basic information about your ideal listener by:

  • What age are they?
  • They are where they belong.
  • What are they doing for work?
  • Which media types do they currently consume?
  • Are they listening to podcasts already?
  • What are they doing in their spare time?
  • What are their most common problems?
  • What would they like to know more about?

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2. Create your brand and online presence

It is crucial to name your podcast. Your podcast’s name should be related to your topic matter or likeness. It also needs to be memorable and clever. Avoid the use of “Podcast” as a name for your podcast. It’s unnecessary and takes up too much character space.

When calculating character space, consider how long your title is. A longer title doesn’t always mean better. A study conducted by Pacific Content showed that the majority of podcast titles have 29 characters or less.

You will need to create your branding elements in addition to the title. Your show’s branding elements include the cover art, color palette, and any audio or custom design.

You can either design your cover art using a free tool like Canva or hire a professional designer to capture the look you want.

You can hire a professional musician to create custom sounds such as intro and outro music. You can also find royalty-free sounds that suit your style and vibe in a music library.

Make a website or subscribe to an RSS feed for your podcast

Once you have a few episodes of your podcast recorded, it’s time to make them accessible. Create a Website for Your Podcast. There are many free and paid options for building a website. However, we recommend paying for the paid option if you need more customization options and a professional look. You can embed your episodes or host download links on your website so others can enjoy them.

An alternative option is to create an RSS feed with a podcast-specific host site such as Anchor or BuzzsSprout instead of a regular web host like WordPress or Wix. If you were a blogger in the early days of the iInternet, the term “RSS feed” may ring a bell. The modern podcast distribution software relies solely on RSS feeds. However, you don’t have to have a website to submit your podcasts to Apple, Spotify or other directories.

Many companies will host your podcast for free or for a small fee and also create an RSS feed. You will need to upload your podcast episodes and some basic information. The RSS feed can be used to submit to podcast directories.

Create social media profiles

If you are starting a podcast, you will need to create social media profiles that include the name of the podcast. Although it may be tempting to have a profile on all the platforms, it is important to focus on what your audience uses most. Social media can be a powerful marketing tool, but only if you use it.

Register with a Podcast Platform (i.e. Spotify)

Although this step is optional, it is highly recommended if your podcast wants to reach as many people as possible. You can submit your podcast to directories to make it more searchable. Major directories will rely on the RSS feed of your podcast to verify legitimacy and ownership. This is why it’s important to have one.

These are some of the most popular podcast directories that you should submit to:

  • Apple (formerly iTunes).
  • Spotify
  • Stitcher
  • Audible
  • Google Podcasts
  • iHeartRadio

Once your podcast has been successfully uploaded to a directory anyone can search for your podcast by title or keywords.

3. Source Recording Equipment and Editing software

You can probably record audio with the phone, tablet or computer you already own. Podcasters often recommend purchasing a separate microphone for better sound quality. A podcast microphone can be as inexpensive as $20 or as expensive as $10,000.

If you don’t wish to use podcast editing software, or are unable to do so, there is no need to pay. GarageBand, available for free on Apple devices, is an excellent option. Audacity is also free on all Apple devices. You can also invest in premium, more advanced software like Adobe Audition, Logic Pro X, or Hindenburg Journalist.

You can outsource your podcast editing to freelancers if you are not comfortable with the process or don’t have the time. Sites like Fiverr, Upwork and Craigslist can help you find a freelance editor for your podcast.

4. Make your first podcast and edit it

Once you have your equipment set up, it’s time to start recording. Podcasters may prepare scripts in advance so they can plan what to say. Others wing it. You have the freedom to choose.

Even if you have a script to write, you will need to take breaks, pause and re-record your audio in order to create a polished final version. Like all things, you will improve your skills the more you practice it. Podcasting takes practice and time.

Name your Episode Titles

Every episode that you record should be unique. Episode titles should be descriptive of the topic and the guest speaker.

Although it is tempting to come up with clever and funny names for your episodes it is more strategic to name them accurately and appropriately. This will improve your podcast’s SEO. It will make it easier for listeners and search engines to find your podcast.

Create a compelling show description and episode descriptions

A general synopsis and descriptions of each episode are necessary to explain what your show is about to potential listeners. Make sure you are as concise and clear as possible, while answering the following basic questions.

  • What’s your podcast about?
  • Who are you podcasting for?
  • What can listeners reasonably expect to hear?
  • Your podcast is worth listening to. Listening to your podcast will give you something.
  • When and how often do you release new episodes of your series?
  • What other way can people connect to you than listening to your podcast?

You should keep your episode descriptions short and to the point. However, you will have the option to include relevant links to products, resources or other information.

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Send Your Episode to Directories

After your podcast is ready to go, you can submit it (or upload it) to the podcast platforms of your choice.

5. Promote Your Podcast

Once your podcast is downloaded and discovered, you can spread the word. You have the option to go grassroots and send direct links to your family members, or you can create a paid social media campaign.

Social media channels like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are a popular way to promote your podcast. You can promote your podcast using existing social media accounts if you have a following. You can also create new accounts to promote the podcast and connect with your community.

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How to Make Money with a Podcast

Podcasts can make you money in many different ways. Some methods can be leveraged without having a large audience, while others require a high level of demand and viewers to make it work. It doesn’t matter what avenue you choose, having more than one source of income is important for a podcaster. A single source of income can put you at greater risk.

Sponsored Ads or Episodes

You’ve probably heard a podcaster read a sponsored ad. You may be paid by companies to promote their products through a short script.

Although ads can be an easy way to make money but require more listeners and demographic data, they are often easier than other methods. Your podcast’s listens and downloads will be used to determine if it is the right fit for your ad.

Affiliate codes or links

Brands that you advertise for may offer you a discount code to use with your listeners as an extra bonus. To encourage more use, you can earn a small commission every time someone enters your discount coupon code at checkout.

Affiliate links can also be used to earn commission. You’ll get a small commission every time someone clicks your link and purchases. You can join Skillshare, LTK, and Amazon Associates to be an affiliate.

Promotion of your products or services

Talking about products and services on your podcast can help you increase sales. Listening to you explain your products and why they are beneficial to your listeners is a great way to educate them and get them closer to buying.

Coaching or consulting

Your industry expertise may be more valuable than the information you provide on your podcast. Your podcast can be used to book coaching or consulting clients. This is a way to help people learn more from you.

Accepting donations or tips

Podcasting takes effort and time. You can ask your listeners for money or tips to help offset the cost of each episode. Donations can be collected via platforms like Patreon, Venmo and GoFundMe.

When soliciting donations or tips, be specific about where the money is going. For example, purchasing a better microphone, hiring interns to increase production, etc.

Members or Gated Content

Podcasts can be downloaded or listened to for free. However, you can make additional episodes behind a paywall to earn an income. To access additional content, listeners will need to pay either a one-time fee or subscribe to a premium subscription.

Popular platforms for hosting subscribers-exclusive content include Patreon, Buy Me a Coffee and Patreon.

Advertising Networks

Podcast advertising networks act as agents for your podcast. Advertiser networks can connect you with brands and help you find opportunities that you might not have found on your own. Some networks allow you to reach out directly to advertisers once you have joined. Other premium networks can also pitch advertisers to you.

AdvertiseCast and PodcastOne are some examples of podcast advertising networks. You may have to meet certain requirements to join an advertising network.

Selling Merchandise

You could sell branded merchandise using your logo, iconography, or signature phrases depending on your audience and branding. If you are a podcast about organizing, selling planners with your logo and phrasing could be a great way to make income.


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