As of April 2021, there are over 2,000,000 active podcasts and more than 48 million episodes (Podcast Insights, 2021). This is an amazing growth, considering there were just 850,000 active podcasts (and 30 million episodes) from just a year ago in January 2020.
It proves that podcasting is going mainstream. In 2019, Spotify acquired podcast publisher Gimlet Media, the mobile podcasting platform Anchor, and Parcast. Spotify paid almost $400 million for these acquisitions and become the second largest podcast platform after Apple.
Adverstising is another reason for the growth in podcasting. Popular podcasts can charge advertisers two or three times the ad rate for radio, that’s between $10 to $50 for every 1,000 listeners. According to Oberlo, ad revenue is expected to reach over $1 billion by 2021.
Starting your own podcast isn’t something you should overlook as it can bring many clear benefits and advantages to your business. With its unhindered reach, podcasting can magnify your marketing and expand your online presence and personal brand.
Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links for products I use and love. This means if you click on such a link and take action (like subscribe, or make a purchase), I may receive some coffee money at no extra cost to you. This helps me creating more content free of charge to you. And, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for your support!
What is a podcast?
A podcast is an online audio broadcast. People usually listen to podcasts while multitasking such as commuting to work or home, doing chores, and even working out or running. A podcast is much easier to consume compared to a video or a blog post because there's no visual content, only audio content.
Should I start podcasting?
Definitely! Even though there are many options for people consuming content online like YouTube, social networks, or blogs, podcasting is probably the easiest way to reach your audience and grow your personal brand.
Can I start podcasting without any technical skills?
A short answer is yes, because with Anchor.fm, you can literally run your whole podcasting studio right from your smartphone and with their sponsorship program, you can even make money!
A bit longer answer is that it depends on how much audio quality you want to offer to your listeners. In this article, we will discuss different equipment, software and settings so you'll get the most from your investment.
Can I earn some decent money with podcasting?
As I mentioned earlier, there are some programs that will allow you make money with podcasting, but don't expect an overnight success and quick riches. This is a long road as Joe Rogan would tell you.
How much does it cost to start podcasting?
If you're happy with the audio output of your smartphone, you don't have to pay anything and just use Anchor app which is available on both App Store and Google Play.
However, if you want your own studio with the latest equipment, you easily can spend thousands of dollars for such setup. In this article, I will recommend some great yet affordable options for you consideration, so keep reading!
Here’s my detailed step-by-step guide to the whole process of building a podcast from scratch. It will take you from planning through post-production to publishing. Let’s get started!
How to Start Podcasting in 2021 (Step-by-step Guide to Your First Episode)
Find a topic that you would love to talk about for months or years to come. It’s the best to start with your hobbies or things you like to discuss with your friends and colleagues.
Make sure that there’s an audience for that topic by using keyword research tools like KWFinder or SEMrush. These tools are aimed for websites, but works well for podcasts too.
If you want to earn money by podcasting, make sure that there’s enough products or services for your topic so you can take advantage of different forms of business partnerships.
There are many different topics and genres you can pick to podcast about. It all depends on the audience and the potential customers you want to attract. Some articles claim that “no podcast can cater to universal wants and needs”, but that’s not true. Take the aforementioned Joe Rogan Experience podcast as an example. Joe talks about anything he’s interested in and invites people from all walks of life to discuss whatever they want without any predetermined list of topics.
This means that you can build your podcast around yourself if you really struggle with specifying your target audience. However, it might make it easier for you to be clear about the content you want to provide.
To target the right audience, you need to provide the content they are looking for. Let’s say you want to target the users of Apple products, in such case, you can talk about your opinions on the latest Keynote presentation, discuss the features of new iPhones or share your experience with AirPods Pro.
In a nutshell, your primary goal is to engage the listeners by continually offering the content they search for.
2. Name your podcast
Naming your podcast correctly can make a huge difference regarding its popularity. The internet is full of tips and ideas for naming your podcast and here are some of them:
1. Make it unique
There are so many podcasts these days that it’s quite probable that your name will overlap with another one. This can cause two problems:
it will divert your listeners to the podcast with similar name
it will confuse your potential audience when trying to search for your podcast
2. Make it descriptive
The title of your podcast should describe what your talk about, the main topics or theme of your whole show. If the title isn’t straight-forward, it might hurt its reach because it will be hard to search for it with a specific keyword.
3. Make it self-titled
This is a legitimate option if you struggle with the above two tips. Just use your name as many famous podcasters. In such case, you can easily pivot from your current topic to something completely different without being confusing or misleading.
However, if you don’t already have a following, it will be more difficult to start with a self-titled podcast because people won’t be aware of you.
Great name doesn’t make a great podcast
Some people that give advice about naming your podcast still believe that the right name will somehow (magically) make your podcast automatically more popular.
Actually, it’s quite similar to websites. I don’t even remember the names of most websites I randomly visit via Google and I would never say: “Oh, that headline looks promising, but I’ll move on because the name of this web is weird”.
The funny part about this whole artifically created problem is that the biggest advocates of carefully researched podcast name actually use their own personal names. Either because they weren’t able themselves to come up with something more sophisicated and simply gave up, or because they just don’t believe in what they’re preaching.
With that said, there is one valid aspect you should consider when choosing the name for your new podcast and that’s the niche you’ll be focusing on. That’s why it’s far better to start with choosing your audience (as we do in this article) and decide on your podcast’s name later because by that time, you’ll have answers to most of your questions.
Many successful podcasters just take their first and last name, put them together and add the “show” to it. This means if you’re John Smith, your podcast name would be The John Smith Show. Depending on the popularity of your name, this name might be already taken by another podcast, so you need to make sure it isn’t. Nobody will force you to use a different name, but it might hurt your reach as mentioned above and even divert your potential audience to that other (more popular) podcast.
Here’s why using your personal name is a good idea:
it’s very unique in most cases: unless you have a very popular combination of first name and last name
it’s very broad regarding your future content: if you decide to change your niche later down the road, your personal name won’t stay in the way
Choosing a brand name is a bit more complicated and you have two options:
create a brand name which includes keywords from your niche
go wild and use anything that comes to your mind
Here’s why using a brand name is a good idea:
it immediatelly communicates what your podcast is about: your brand gives your listeners a hint about the content of your podcast,
it’s not connected with you as your personal brand: when you decide later to sell your podcast as a business, your brand name isn’t an issue as personal name would be
How to choose the domain?
Even though it’s not necessary, it might prove useful to have a domain name with simple static website to welcome your listeners and provide them with links to different platforms where they can listen to your podcast.
Ideally, the name of your podcast and the name of your domain should correspond to each other, but lots of domains are already taken, so this task might prove to be quite challenging.
Unless you want to take advantage of free domain offer that comes with some web hosting plans, it’s time to check, that your domain is available for registration. The whole process is pretty straightforward. All you need is to pick a registrar of your choice (like Porkbun or Namecheap.com for example) and write the domain name you wish to buy in the search form. If it’s available for purchase, you just fill out your information and payment method and you’re good to go.
3. Create a cover art
Great cover art is another important aspect that you should focus on when starting podcasting.
The right cover art will help you get more listeners while bad cover will put you among unsuccessful and forgotten attempts.
Here are some tips and ideas you should consider:
1. Make sure it works with Apple Podcasts and Spotify
These are two biggest podcasting platforms so your cover art should definitely meet their requirements. It’s really easy to create a podcast cover with Canva or Figma, just make sure that you follow these recommendations:
The easiest way is to create one artwork in either Canva or Figma and reuse it for all podcasting platforms you want to use. It’s just a matter of changing the dimensions while exporting your artwork as you can see in this example from Figma:
2. Make it apt and communicative
Your cover art should correspond with your podcast’s title. Make sure it’s memorable by using less than 6 words. Also, an image is worth a thousand words so you should be able to communicate with your audience via your cover image. It should tell your new listeners what they can expect from your podcast.
Here are some examples of popular podcasts, notice their cover arts:
If you need more help with creating your cover art, you can always check Fiverr marketplace and get your designs completed by professionals.
4. Determine the right length of episodes
If you’re familiar with YouTube content, you might know that the most popular videos are 10 minutes long on average. When it comes to podcasting, the right length of episodes strongly depends on the content you offer.
Most people agree that it’s for the best to keep your episodes rather short, but Joe Rogan prove them wrong with his three-hours-long episodes that made him the most popular podcasting behemoth out there.
If you’re new to podcasting, you probably won’t enjoy the same attention span as Joe, so if you get your audience to listen to your content for 20 minutes, you might consider it a success.
According to We Edit Podcasts, the average length of a podcast episode should be 37 minutes and 30 seconds, give or take. But it depends on how strongly you can get your audience hooked on your content.
5. Find the most effective publishing frequency
This is another aspect of your podcasting endevor that strongly depends on the content. Let’s say you want to start weekly reviews of consumer goods. In such case, your listeners will expect a new episode each week.
Most of the time, the publishing frequency will be set for you by your other activities and errands. When I started my YouTube channel for my fellow countrymen, I was very excited and aimed to publish a new episode every day. After a month, I ran out of topics and most importantly, I didn’t have much spare time for my other activities. These days, I publish one episode per week and I believe it’s an ideal sweetspot.
Also, there’s an aspect of quality. If you get too repetitive and run out of fresh ideas, it won’t help you to publish new episode every day. Take your time to prepare quality content and give your audience some space so they will gladly return back to your next episode.
6. Choose the right format for your podcast
Your podcast should be consistent when it comes to format, but you can pivot to different topics and try different strategies to get your listeners hooked.
Here are some of the popular format you can consider:
Most podcasters start with solo voice because they don’t have a lot of people to talk to. As a solo podcaster, you might consider reviews, education and storytelling. If you can get people to your desk or make them participate in a Skype call, you can try conversations and interviews.
Both solo and discussion works great if you have something interesting to offer to your audience. However, once you decide on your format, you should ideally stick with it and not confuse your listeners with frequent format changes.
7. What equipment and software should you use?
I bet that you already have a smartphone and that’s literally all you need to start. Download the Anchor app from Google Store or App Store, follow the onboarding and you’ll be ready to record and publish your first episodes in a matter of minutes.
Anchor also offers a selection of background music and interludes to spice up your content. It’s available for free and it’s a great choice for anyone who isn’t ready just yet to invest into some expensive equipment and software.
Once you’re ready to make a next step, you might want to buy some quality microphone along with a pop filter as a sound is the only and thus the most important medium in podcasting.
When it comes to equipment, I can recommend stuff from Audio-Technica which I’ve been using for many years now. However, there are some other great products you can consider.
This aspect of podcasting is quite controversial, because some podcasters swear by writing down their episode to the last detail, while others simply let it all flow naturally.
This really depends on your personal preference and the style you’ll be using. Obviously, when reviewing people, you can’t have the content of your episode written in advance. You might be able to write down few talking points or the main topic of the discussion, but that’s about it as you can’t anticipate the response of your guests.
If you’re recording your podcasts as a single narrator, having a script can make a huge difference in your tone and overall impression. Since you’re not recording yourself on camera, it doesn’t matter that you’re reading the script because, guess what - nobody can tell.
In any case, here are some aspects you should consider whichever approach you will take with you podcast:
Speaking or reading?
Natural speach sounds, well, more natural. If you decide to read from the script, make sure that you don’t sound stiff and upright. Try to relax and image that you’re sitting with your friend in a coffeeshop and describing your day or explaining something.
Avoid being boring. Try to get to the nuts & bolts of the problem and don’t beat around the bush, don’t omit the main points of the topic.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, reading your script will still sound to be too perfect to be real. In such case, try pivoting a bit by improvising or by developing the main idea a bit. You can also spice things up with a story of yours or somebody you know.
Before you start your episode, make sure to read about the topic you want to discuss and be prepared to try different angles. You should write down the main points, but if you come up with something new in the process of recording the podcast, don’t be afraid to be flexible and add a new angle. It’s all just a matter of practice, the more episode you record and publish, the better the outcome will be over period of time.
9. Learn how to speak into a microphone
Speaking to microphone can be pretty tricky, especially when you’re just starting out with your podcasting career. Make sure to avoid these mistakes.
Don’t speak too quickly
If you have no previous experience with podcasting, you can be nervous and you might want to get over with your episode as soon as possible to limit the time of this nervous state to minimum. As a result, you will probably speak to quickly.
Take a deep breath, calm down, pause properly in your speach, talk clearly and slowly, so everything you have to say is easy to understand.
Learn how to make a pause
Pausing correctly is truly important. By pausing, you’ll have the opportunity to emphasize what’s important, but also to gather your thoughts. Most importantly, proper pausing allow your audience to reflect and get ready for what’s coming next.
Focus on correct speaking volume
You don’t want to shout or whisper, try to speak naturally as you would in any other regular situation. You can always adjust the volume later, but it’s better to use the correct speaking volume so you don’t have to spend too much time with post-production phase of your podcast.
10. Select a music for podcast intro
Good music, jingle or sound effects can work well for the intro and even for the outro of your podcast. Over time it will become synonymous with your podcasts and help it stand out.
11. Choose a music background
Even though it’s not a necessity, a music create a mood for your content. Conversational podcasts are usually best without any music, while story-based podcasts can greatly benefit from a well-selected background music. So it depends on your content.
When you hunt for the best music for your podcast, make sure it’s not copyrighted as a part of the intellectual property. I recommend Melodyloops.com for a wide selection of royalty-free background music.
These services usually offer intuitive and easy to use websites along with mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Shared hosting is another way to publish your podcast, but I don’t recommend it, because you can’t control things like server downtimes and crashes.
To avoid this you will need a high bandwidth and a very good customer support. This alone will cost you a great deal of money, probably far more than you would spent on any paid podcasting platform.
13. Promote and grow your podcast
1. Stay consistent
You need to publish new episodes on regular basis, or your audience will lose interest. Stick to your routine. You can for example release a new episode every week at a specific time, so your listeners can implement it into their own schedule. Don’t confuse your audience by changing things up too often. Stick with your routine.
2. Use social media
The best way to promote your podcast is through social media. According Oberlo.com, almost 3.8 billion people are daily active on social media channels. That’s roughly about 48% of the population. Social media marketing, mainly via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has a positive impact on the businesses. So it makes sense to invest your time and effort to engage with your audience on social media platforms.
3. Ask for reviews
During your show, ask your listeners for reviews and to subscribe. It’s proven that raising your subscriptions will raise the overall number of listeners.
4. Offer contests and gifts
If you have a budget for it, offer your listeners different contests and gifts as an exciting promotion.
14. Make money from your podcast
Finally, here are some tips for monetizing your podcast:
1. Take sponsors
Read out product details and advertisements on air to earn money, but make sure to be honest and only recommend products and services you have a personal experience with. Don’t overdo it and make it content-related.
2. Use affiliate programs
Affiliate programs allow you to earn a commission when you refer a product or a service to your audience, so you can direct your listeners to a specific affiliate links.
3. Promote your own products and services
In case you have your own products and services, like books or online courses, you can also promote them and make money by sending your audience to them.