How to Start a Podcast in 2020: A Step-By-Step Guide

how to start a podcast in 2020 - the complete guide

Now more than ever, people are asking how to start a podcast. Believe it or not, it’s still considered a relatively new platform. 

In his video released on March 4, 2020, well-known podcaster Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income fame revealed 52% of the population is listening to podcasts and people are subscribed to an average of 7 podcasts! 

Why are statistics like this such a big deal? 

Simply put, podcasting is currently not a crowded market. Not yet, anyway. What this means is there is no time like the present to jump on the podcasting bandwagon and create a loyal following!

If you too have been wondering how to start a podcast, then this is the post for you. We’re doing a deep dive into everything you need to know to create and launch your own show. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.

How to Start a Podcast - A Quick Overview

Below is everything we’ll be covering in this post. Click on the headings below to expand the accordion menu to find the topics you need help with, and then click the links to jump to that specific section in the guide.

Before we go into each of these steps, we recommend bookmarking this page for future reference

After all, we created this guide to be a resource you can continue to reference as you start your podcast – that’s why we’re not holding anything back. There are actionable tips and insight in this guide you can continue coming back to long after you launch.

Now that you’ve had an opportunity to review the list of steps required to launch a podcast, let’s break down each element so you can get your show online.

Decide You Want to Launch a Podcast

The most important step in your journey of how to start a podcast is to decide you want to launch one in the first place.

This goes beyond deciding you want a show, however. You also need to determine why you want to launch. A few reasons people decide to start a podcast are as a hobby, to build their current brand, or to create a new business.

1. It’s a fun hobby: You don’t plan to make any money from it. At least not in the beginning. You just have a topic you’re interested in exploring further.

Perhaps you love antique cars. You could talk about the makes and models you love. Another idea could be to chat about the restoration and storage of antique cars or where to attend the best car shows. Maybe you have car enthusiasts that would make great guests on your show.

Using podcasting as a hobby can help you connect with like-minded people that are interested in the same subject you are.

2. Your show could help you build your current brand: A lot of entrepreneurs are looking for ways to set themselves apart from their competitors, while at the same time expanding their reach online. Podcasting is an exciting medium to explore the topics, directly and indirectly, related to your brand.

Let’s say you’re a virtual assistant (VA). Your show could be all about the life of a VA, what they can do for clients, and the steps to becoming a VA as well. A more indirect way to use a podcast to build your current brand would be to create a show about being more efficient in your business. Then, you can highlight the ways a VA can help business owners make more money and take back control of their schedules.

3. Your podcast could be a business in and of itself: Maybe you don’t currently have a business of your own right now. You might be looking into how to start a podcast because you want it to be the basis of your business. Your show is the product, and you can give it away for free while monetizing it in a variety of ways.

We’ll touch more on monetization later in this post, but launching a podcast can prove to be quite a fruitful endeavor. We’ve heard of popular hosts making as much as six and seven figures annually as a direct result of their shows.

woman working on her podcast on a laptop

Why do you want to launch? Does having a goal in mind matter?

We’re going to be honest with you. Creating a podcast can get frustrating at times.

They can be a lot of work. That’s why you need to get clear on why you’re starting, and what your goal is for your show before you do anything else. Imagine how devastating it would be to shell out loads of cash, effort, and time only to realize you actually don’t want to launch a podcast at all.

How to determine if launching a podcast is right for you

Do you …

    • Get bored easily?
    • Hope to instantly get rich and famous?
    • Never complete the projects you start?
    • Hate the sound of your own voice? (spoiler alert: lots of people do!)
    • Cringe at the thought of putting $200 into a new venture?
    • Struggle with creativity?

If you answered yes to one of more of these questions, podcasting might not be the best idea for you. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it anyway. Graham Brown may have said it best when he posted on LinkedIn:

Podcasting is a long game ... podcasting takes months, if not years, to come through. Many podcasters give up after four or five episodes ... Why? Because they expect quick results, look for hacks, or approach it like other media.

- Graham Brown

The unfiltered truth is that podcasting requires a lot of energy and the start up costs aren’t exactly cheap. 

It can cost as much as $250 in your first year to get it started, and you won’t be catapulted to online fame just for developing a show. You will have to flex your idea muscles and get really comfortable with learning curves, hearing your own voice, and putting yourself out there.

To get their feet wet, some people try becoming a guest on multiple podcasts or apply to be assistants to established hosts with their current shows long before trying to launch their own. 

Doing things like this can help you get more familiar with the format, and give you an opportunity to ask folks who are already podcasters for their tips and ideas on developing a show. And, becoming a guest on other shows can help you create a fanbase before you record a single episode.

The good news is, that for as much effort as it can take to start a podcast, the rewards can be plentiful. In fact, if you meet any or all of the criteria below, podcasting could be a wonderful outlet for you:

    • You crave new, exciting, time-consuming projects
    • The thought of building a following and a real community is appealing
    • You want to build your current brand and set yourself up as an expert in your field
    • Connecting with industry experts by interviewing them on your own show would help you take your business to the next level
    • You have a passion for a subject that you want to explore more intimately
    • There’s a story or message inside you that needs to be shared with the world

Let’s be clear – we would never want to discourage anyone from launching a podcast. After all, we’re in the podcasting business! However, we also want you to have all the facts, and prepare yourself for the reality that podcasting is a marathon, not a sprint.

Once you decide that you want to move forward, and you’re ready to commit, keep reading!

nasa rocket

Gather Your Supplies and Prepare for Launch

Perhaps the most common question we get here at RSS is “how much does it cost to start a podcast?”

While we cover this in our post of the same name, right off the bat, we’ll tell you that it will cost you at least $120 in your first year.

If you don’t already have a computer, you’ll have to add that cost to your podcasting budget as well.

What equipment will you need to start a podcast?

At the bare minimum you need:

    • A Mac or PC computer
    • Some kind of external microphone
    • Software to edit your podcast
    • Headphones
    • Podcast artwork 
    • A podcast host for hosting your episode files

How to launch on a budget (for $200 or less)

Can you launch a show for less than $200? Yes, but your audio and quality could suffer if you try to be “too cheap” in your initial equipment setup. 

To give you an idea of the breakdown in costs, here’s the most cost-effective setup we have seen from an RSS subscriber:

  • Recording equipment: $0
    • They used the smartphone they already owned to record the audio with an app that came on their device
    • Rather than buying a microphone and headphones, they used their cell phone’s headset
  • Software to edit the episodes: $0
    • With a free download of Audacity, they were able to edit their episodes for free on the computer they already owned
  • Website: $0
    • They didn’t launch a website, and instead used a free Facebook page, and profiles on Instagram and Twitter to promote their show
  • Podcast art: $0
    • Using a free account on Canva, they developed a simple graphic to get their show launched
  • Podcast hosting: $120 for one year
    • They considered free hosting, but decided against it because of the size and storage limits. For just under $10 a month they could upload as many episodes as they wanted to without worrying about these kinds of restrictions.
    • Read our post “5 Reasons Free Podcast Hosting is a Bad Idea” to learn why it’s better to pay for hosting.

You can launch a show on the cheap. But is it worth it?

There are some important things to note with the cheap setup above we described. First, the client had to spend significantly more time editing their audio.

Why?

The sound quality using their cell phone and headset wasn’t the greatest. From background noise to echoes, dips in sound levels to stereo issues, there was a lot of time spent adjusting the audio to sound more professional and clean.

By not having a website, they missed out on some great opportunities to build their audience and grow their following. For starters, they could have been building an email list. With nowhere for fans to go except for their social media pages, all the branding was being done on borrowed platforms.

We’ve seen social media accounts get hacked, Instagram pages deleted without warning, Twitter accounts shadowbanned, and more. You don’t own any of these platforms

An email list is something you do own, however. If your social media accounts get deleted or hacked, you can easily reach out to your list and let them know what has happened. In other words, you can bring your fans with you wherever you go!

Another thing you miss out on without a website? SEO opportunities that could yield new listeners, sponsors, and advertisers. One of the smartest things some of our more successful clients do is create show notes and/or transcription posts on their websites for each of the episodes they release. These keyword-rich posts are yielding new visitors who could become listeners or potential brand partners every single day. 

As a result, their websites act as marketing tools for their businesses and podcasts 24/7/365.

How to start a podcast with a larger budget of $250-$500

How to start a podcast with a larger budget of $250-$500

Assuming you already own a Mac or PC computer, here’s what a startup budget of $250-$500 might look like:
  • Upgraded external microphone: $80-$100
  • Headphones: $80-$100
  • Software to edit the episodes: $0
  • Website: $50-$100
    • You can purchase a domain and hosting for a year for about $50 depending on the provider you choose.
    • Buyer beware: We must interject to let you know that though hosting and a domain for the first year might be as cheap as $50, this rate can as much as double with some hosts. Therefore, be sure to carefully read the terms and conditions from any hosting provider you sign up with.
  • Podcast art: $0-$99
    • Using a free account on Canva, you can create as many graphics as you like. However, if you choose to, you could pay an independent contractor on a site like Fiverr or Upwork to create custom art for you.
    • Again, buyer beware: Make sure you check the reviews of people before buying art, logos, etc… Unfortunately, there have been several cases of creators stealing designs that could get your new show in legal hot water!
  • Podcast hosting: $120 for one year

Launching a podcast with a budget of $500 and up

If you have the funds for it, you could purchase a more expensive microphone for upwards of $500 to $1000. You could also purchase high-quality headphones that are in the same $500 to $1000 range. We’ve seen people spend thousands of dollars on full studio setups, boom microphone stands, soundboards, logos, custom websites, and more. The reality is it’s easy to spend a lot on launching a podcast.

Here’s an example of what a $500-$1000 budget might look like. Once again, this budget will assume that you already own a computer:

  • Upgraded external microphone: $129
  • Headphones: $150
  • Software to edit the episodes: $300
    • For $300 you can get a one year subscription of Adobe Audition. You might wonder why anyone would pay for editing software when there are free options out there. The truth is the free software is wonderful, and is still used by many podcasters, including ones that make 6 and 7 figures a year. What prompts the pros to use Adobe Audition, however, is the desire for a crisper sound, the ability to eliminate unwanted audio elements more easily, and access to more controls to manipulate your audio.
  • Website: $100
    • Until you’re in a position to pay for a website designer to develop a website from scratch, we’ll just assume you’re going to be DIYing most of this on your own.
    • If you purchase a theme and paid plugins, instead of spending the $50 on the lower end we mentioned earlier, you’re probably looking at between $100-$150 for your website costs.
    • However, according to WebFx, when you’re ready to shell out the cost to a designer, “On average, the upfront cost of a site, which includes launching and designing it, is $12,000 to $150,000, while routine website maintenance ranges from $35 to $5000 per month — or $400 to $60,000 per year.”
  • Podcast art: $300
    • Using a service like 99Designs, or by hiring an independent contractor, you can expect to pay between $300 and $1300 for a logo. Your logo can be used as your podcast art as long as it fits the specs of 1400X1400 px, is a square shape and is in a JPG or PNG format
  • Podcast hosting: $120 for one year
    • Imagine being able to set up your new podcast and RSS feed in less time than it takes to order your favorite cup of coffee. RSS.com makes it easy, and you don’t need any technical skills to do it. Get started for free today.

Hobby podcasters may opt to go as cheap as possible, whereas brands that are already in business may choose a much larger budget. While buying more expensive equipment and accessories and equipment can improve sound quality, you may still need to spend a significant amount of time on editing and working on the various moving parts of your show. 

Keep in mind that whichever budget you choose, you can always upgrade as you go along. That being said, let’s continue exploring the other elements of how to start a podcast, shall we?

person working on choosing a name for their podcast on a laptop

How to Choose a Topic for Your Podcast

As you explore how to start a podcast, inevitably you’ll have to ask yourself these questions as you explore potential topics for your podcast: 

    • What you are going to talk about? 
    • How can you narrow your decision? 
    • Do you have to narrow down at all?

Your podcast needs to have a topic behind it so that you can classify its category, and define your ideal audience. This is especially true if you hope to monetize and grow a large following. The best shows have one solid topic that all the episodes revolve around.

Many podcast hosts decide to start with what they know as their topic – makes sense right? For example, if it’s a hobby podcast, they’ll choose a topic they actually have an interest in and can talk knowledgeably about. 

Plus, it’s much easier to come up with subtopics that will make for episode material when you already have some information about what you’ll be discussing.

The riches are in the niches

This is more than a statement thrown around in the world of marketing. It’s the key to getting your truest, and most loyal, fans. 

Let’s explore how much you should niche down for the best chances of success with an example.

  • General topic - Sports
This topic will have a large potential audience. The trouble is, only the people who have any interest in the sport they like will listen to the episodes about that particular sport. A guy who loves golf but hates baseball will likely avoid any episodes related to baseball for instance. So, let’s get more specific.
  • Niched down - Contact Sports
We’ve removed a lot of sports from the mix. Baseball, golf, bowling, swimming, and pretty much any sport where players don’t really touch each other won’t be discussed, so potential listeners who don’t care for contact sports won’t even bother showing up. This is good, but we can do better.
  • Finding that sweet spot, but could still be niched down - Mixed Martial Arts
It’s a full contact sport, and there’s quite a lot that can be discussed about this topic. Believe it or not though, we can niche down even more to get you to your ideal listeners.
  • An even better niche - UFC Fighting
Eureka! You may have just struck gold.

This is a subsector of a subsector. You technically could stop here if you wanted to, or you could get even more niche

Here are a few examples of even more specific niches that could make for some really interesting podcasts:

    • The fighters of the UFC
      • Each episode could feature a different UFC fighter and their backstory
    • Training for UFC Fighting
      • Equipment needed for training
      • Best tips for nutrition and exercise
      • How to go pro
      • Attire
    • Best fights of the UFC
      • A breakdown, or play-by-play if you will, of the most popular UFC fight events – who fought them, who won, what could have been done differently?
      • Could be an opportunity to chat with the winners/losers, promoters of the fights, and even fight sponsors
picture of a podcast interview between two people

Why niche down exactly? It helps you determine who your audience is

Because this is where your money’s at. If you choose to monetize your show, you want a very specific listener in mind to sell to. It’s much easier to sell to someone who is passionate about UFC than it is to sell to a general sports fan.

Put another way, marketing a niche is also much easier than promoting a general topic. Take targeted advertising for example. It will be far less expensive to target ads to this passionate UFC fan. You can even create a persona of an ideal listener and get pretty clear on things like:

    • Their age
    • Where they are most likely to live
    • Their gender
    • Their socioeconomic status and so much more

As you get clear on who your ideal listener is, creating your show material becomes simplified. Instead of creating a show for the masses, you just have to please your one, true, fan. Don’t worry, there are plenty of them out there most likely.

Some successful podcasters have even been known to give this persona a name. This way, when they are creating their podcast calendar of upcoming material they just ask themselves, “What would Johnny (or Suzie or Bill) want to hear?”

If this true fan wouldn’t care about it, they dismiss the show idea. However, the things this ideal listener would get excited about can become the theme for seasons, and translates into individual subtopics for each upcoming episode. Should the podcast host ever decide to develop a product, this ideal listener can even develop the basis for product development!

At the risk of becoming a broken record, hopefully this section has convinced you to niche down. Now, let’s move onto branding your show. Which, by the way, also becomes easier with an ideal listener in mind.

Branding Your Show

What does branding your show mean? 

Well, if your show is being created for your business, it will simply be an extension of your current brand. You’ll likely want to use the same fonts, colors, and perhaps even similar logo designs for the sake of continuity.

The American Marketing Association defines branding as, “A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”

B2B review platform G2 says that there are 8 elements of a brand identity. These are:

      • Name
      • Logo
      • Color
      • Slogan
      • Image
      • Shape
      • Graphics
      • Typography

Think of your favorite brands. What comes to mind when you think of them?? Odds are you can picture their logo, you can repeat their slogan, and you can even tell when something is “on-brand” for them. 

These are the types of things you should be thinking about to brand your podcast. What does your show look and feel like?

picture of person writing down names for their podcast

Picking a name

For many beginning podcasters, their branding journey will begin with a name. In fact, for podcasters that are not starting with a business behind/backing them, it’s not uncommon for things like logo designs, colors, graphics, etc… to be an afterthought that comes later.

If you fall into this category, that’s perfectly fine. At the very least, however, you need a name for your show. How can you choose your name though?

Will your show be related to an existing brand or business? If so, your podcast name selection just became very easy. For example, suppose your business name is Coaching with Jenny. Your show could be called something as simple as The Coaching with Jenny Show.

Some podcasters choose to use their name as their company name, and subsequent podcast name. Multi-passionate entrepreneur Marie Forleo is known for her YouTube show MarieTV. When she launched her podcast, she simply called it The Marie Forleo Podcast. It was an extension of her already known brand.

Then there’s fitness and health guru Chalene Johnson. Calling her show The Chalene Show made sense because it fit with her brand that was already established.

You don’t have to use your brand’s name, however, to have a “branded” show. Here are just a few examples of branded podcasts that have completely different names:

start here image

Where to start

If you choose not to use your first name or your business’s name, where do you go from here? We recommend starting with a blank piece of paper and a pen, or opening a new document on your computer. Jot down all the keywords related to your topic. Consider what your show is about, and what would make sense to refer to it as.

The best podcast names are:

      • Short
      • Relevant
      • Descriptive 
      • Unique

To help you choose the perfect name for your show, we’ve have a full post with more guidance on how to choose your name for your podcast.

Still lost for what to call your show? Try the Instant Podcast Name Generator!

instant podcast name generator
Instant Podcast Name Generator

Do you need a website for your podcast?

Yes and no. It’s really up to you whether or not to put up the cash to purchase a website. We do recommend it though for a few reasons:

    • Like we mentioned earlier, you can use a website to reach new potential listeners
    • It’s great for branding 
    • If you mention any products that you could sell (either your own products or affiliate offers) your website is the perfect place to share the links for listeners to click and buy

A quick word on free websites

We don’t recommend using free websites. 

Similar to the ideas we shared in our post about why free podcast hosting is a bad idea, if you use a free website to promote your show, you risk losing the control and rights to your content.

If you are going to choose to have a website for your show, do yourself a favor and spring for the domain name and hosting costs. The last thing you want is for someone to have to remember something like https://myfreewebsite.hostedbythiscompany.com. 

Or worse, one with weird characters and numbers like www.user4xJ12.hostedbythiscompany.com that is hard to remember and confusing for anyone trying to navigate to your website by typing your website’s URL directly into their browser.

Pro Tip

When creating your website, use WordPress.org not WordPress.com. Read all about why in this post from iThemes.

Should you secure social media handles for your podcast?

If you can, it’s not a bad idea to go ahead and grab them. In the event you already have branded handles and will be using a branded podcast name, feel free to use your current social media profiles to promote your branded show.

On the other hand, if you’re creating a new name from scratch, securing your handles as soon as possible is a good idea to ensure you can have them when you are ready for them. 

Try to grab a handle that is the same on every platform as well. If you can use the same handle across the board, it helps your audience to be sure it’s you sharing status updates. If for some reason you can’t get the same handle on each platform, at least make sure that in your name or bio you state your show name.

A word of caution: Once you secure your chosen handles, you’ll want to use them to avoid losing them. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have all been known to delete stagnant accounts. Therefore, even if it’s just a quick status update sharing a new episode, it’s a good idea to log into each account and say something on your profiles once a week or at the very least every other week to ensure you can keep the handles.

How to Choose a Format for Your Podcast

There are several podcasting formats to choose from. These include:

    • Solo shows: Just you and a microphone
    • Interview series: You interviewing others
    • Co-hosted shows: Two or more people working on the show together – Think “The View,” “Kelly and Ryan,” or “The Doctors.” There is not one star, but instead there are multiple people sharing the spotlight. These types of shows are great for friends that want to start a show together.
    • Fiction/non-fiction: Yes, you can have a show that is complete fiction. Just make sure your audience is in the loop as to whether or not what you’re sharing is fact or fiction. It’s better to be honest about your intentions up front.
    • Education series: Your show can be filled with how-to guides and lessons on your topic. Think documentary series or tutorial shows.

Not sure which format to choose? That’s okay. The great thing about podcasting is you can try things out until you find what works best for you. You might record a few solo episodes and decide you would rather do interviews. Or maybe you get tired of being alone and want some cohosts to share the workload and air time with.

Though it’s best to have these kinds of decisions made before you launch, there’s no rule that says you can’t pivot after your podcast goes live. It’s your show after all. You can make the rules. Just do yourself and your audience a favor and refrain from altering format frequently. Audiences like consistency, and want to know what they are showing up for. If you keep making changes, you might lose listeners.

How to Start a Podcast with Friends

While we’re discussing a podcasting format, we have to mention the popular trend of podcasting with friends. What makes this a popular choice is that not only does it give you something fun to do with like-minded people, but it allows you to split things like the costs and the workload. 

People who run shows on their own, even if they have guests on their shows, they have to do everything. That is at least until they can afford to hire a team for tasks like editing, uploading the show to the host, writing show notes, etc…

Before you jump into starting a show together, you may want to decide a few things up front including:

    • Who’s in charge of each task?
    • Who will be responsible for the equipment? Will you each buy your own microphone and headphones or will one person own it all and everyone borrows it? Speaking of which –
    • Where will the recording setup be located? Will you record online via a platform like Zoom or does everyone need to come to one person’s house/office to record?
    • Is everyone going to be listed as a host of the show? Or will there be one host with rotating guest hosts?
    • What’s the plan for the costs associated with the show? Outside of equipment you already know you will need podcast hosting. But what about the costs of a domain, website hosting, advertising, etc.?
    • If the show starts making money – who gets paid? What’s the split?
    • What happens if one of you moves or loses interest in the show?

No one likes to think about the potential for arguments when they are considering starting a show together, but the reality is a show can become a business, and it’s better to have agreements in writing for the protection of everyone before you launch your show. 

After all, if your show becomes a huge success, you don’t want it to end abruptly, ruining both your show and friendship because important things like those mentioned above weren’t discussed and agreed to ahead of time. The more you can plan ahead for how to start a podcast with friends, the better .

two women during a podcast

Finding Guests to Interview

Let’s say you decide to do an interview series for your show. Where can you find guests to talk to? There are matchmaking websites that pair guests and hosts, but most people that are just starting out will be looking to do so on a shoestring budget. Because of this, in no particular order, here are our top 10 choices for where to find potential podcast guests for your show:

    • Your own network of friends, family, coworkers
    • YouTube
    • Other Podcasts
    • Blogs
    • Social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
    • Podcasting groups
    • LinkedIn
    • Past guests
    • Conferences such as Podcast Movement or Podfest
    • Help a Reporter Out (HARO) – This website allows you to sign up as a publisher and post queries for experts on a wide variety of subjects.
    • Other platforms like PodcastGuest.com or MatchMaker.fm
How To Start A Podcast Calendar

How to Create a Podcast Editorial Calendar

We’ve reached the point in our how to start a podcast guide where you need to start planning your individual episodes. You might be thinking, “Can’t I just start recording already? There’s already been so many decisions I’ve had to make! I just want to launch!”

It’s a lot, we know. But the more you can prepare and plan ahead of time, the more smoothly things will run when you actually begin recording. Creating a podcasting editorial calendar ensures that you have things to talk about each week, or multiple times a week depending on how many episodes you plan to release in a given time period.

A podcasting editorial calendar is similar to one for blogging. Only instead of blog post titles, your titles will be your podcast episode titles. Other than that, they are the same. When creating your calendar, you’ll need to know ahead of time what your publishing schedule will look like. Again, audiences like consistency. So if you promise them new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday, it’s best to deliver.

How to choose your episode subjects

To start filling out your editorial calendar, you’ll want to begin with a brainstorming session. Start thinking about all of the subtopics related to your chosen niche. If you will be doing an interview series, write down a full list of everyone you would like to interview on your show. You’ll need to start scheduling interviews and adding those dates into your calendar so you have plenty of time to record and edit your shows before they go live.

Related 

Reading

Check out our posts about batching and scheduling, and managing your podcast workflow for maximizing efficiency.

To assist our readers, we’ve created a podcast editorial calendar that you can use for your own show. To get started, simply access using the link below the calendar and make your own copy.

Looking for more ideas? Here’s a useful guide from Hubspot on how to create an editorial calendar in Google Calendar. There are plenty of options for creating your own editorial calendar. You can use a paper calendar that you physically write information into, an Excel spreadsheet, even a word processor. Try out a few things and see what works best for you. The point is you want to have an overview of 3-6 months ahead of time so you can get a bird’s eye view of what the coming days will look like content wise.

If your show is fiction, you’ll know exactly how much time you have to write new content for your upcoming episodes. Non-fiction shows on the other hand will need significant research and planning. One thing that might help is to consider what will be happening at the time you will release an episode.

For example, for the month of Thanksgiving you could implement Thanksgiving related content into your shows that will drop during that time. Consider the holidays, national events, and anniversaries that might make sense to mention as you fill out your content ideas. 

How to name your podcast episodes

Many episodes will inevitably name themselves. If your show is an interview series and you will be chatting with Dr. Smith about the health implications of smoking, for example, your episode title could be something like “Dr. Smith Explores Why Smoking is Bad for Your Health,” or “Smoking and Your Health With Dr. Smith,” or even “A Conversation with Dr. Smith On Smoking”

The goal of each podcast episode name should be to focus on what the episode is about. For best results, you want to stick to 60 characters or less, and 12 words or less – just like a blog post title. You want your episode titles to be eye-catching, again like a blog title. And, bonus points if you can include a keyword or keyword phrase in there somewhere.

how to name your podcast episodes
Naming a Podcast Episode on RSS.com

Recording Your First Podcast Episode

It’s now time to record your first episode. Open up a recording application and just start talking, right? Well, you could do that, but we wouldn’t recommend it. For the best quality and to deliver optimal content there are a few things you should know before you jump in and hit record.

Options for recording

You can record your podcast with an application such as Zoom or a video camera, and extract the audio. You can also use a smartphone application or one on your computer to record as you talk.

For sound quality, recording your audio directly in Garageband or Audacity will likely yield the best results. However, if you choose to use an application in lieu of recording software, you just might have to spend a little longer importing and editing your show.

Production tips - how to get the best sound quality

    • Record your show in a quiet room
      • Believe it or not, some podcasters record in their closets when they are first starting out to mute outside noises
    • Use headphones to monitor the recording
      • You can test audio by recording, and then playing back your sound to test the quality and adjust as needed
    • Be cognisant of popping sounds that can occur with words that start with the letter “P” or “B”
      • If you have the funds in your budget, use a pop filter to lessen those pops
    • You might not want the microphone too close to your mouth
      • Many podcasters say the sweet spot is to keep your microphone three to five inches away from your mouth
    • Stand up to record your audio
    • Practice with test recordings before recording an entire show
    • Slow down!
      • Some podcasters get so nervous they speed through their shows and are hard to understand as a result
    • Try not to touch the surface your microphone is sitting on
      • If your budget allows, purchase a boom mic stand (also called a boom arm) as these can help reduce shock noise and keeps the microphone out of your way as you talk
    • Don’t fret if you have long pauses or excessive use of “ums” and “ahs” as you can edit those out. However, it’s best to try and practice avoiding “ums” and “ahs” if you can.
      • As you record additional episodes and get comfortable with being on the mic, this should come more naturally
    • Never sit down and start recording without a plan
      • It’s best to have an outline to work from so you can stay on track with the episode’s focus
    • If more than one person will be on your show, you should have a separate microphone for each of them

What about intro and outro music?

Using intro and outro music can make your podcast feel more professional. And, if you use custom music, it can help you brand your show as well. For example, an intro announcing your show name and the name of the host or hosts can aid your audience in becoming familiar with who you are. And it signals to them that this is the beginning of the episode.

An outro signals to the audience the show is coming to a close. It provides an auditory clue that either another track is about to come on, or that they can turn off their music player. An outro is also the perfect place to include a call to action, replug your show name, and mention your website or social media handles.

Where can you get music for your show?

While you can certainly look for royalty free music, it’s important to keep in mind that just because it says royalty-free, doesn’t mean it’s free to use. Some music requires paying a licensing fee, and this fee may only cover a specific number of downloads. For example, there are licenses for up to 250,000 downloads. That means if your show suddenly goes viral and hits a million or more downloads, you might have to shell out extra cash for the appropriate licensing.

Pro Tip 

Many podcasters choose to hire composers on Fiverr or Upwork to create custom music for their podcast.

Some podcasters choose to hire composers on Fiverr or Upwork to create custom music as a result. Just make sure if you go this route you do your homework. The last thing you want is to hire someone who does shoddy work using copyrighted music that results in you getting sued.

Here are some Creative Commons music resources that you can use for free:

The website The Podcast Host has a great article on how to find the best podcast music for your show. We recommend reading it, and doing plenty of research on whatever music route you choose.

As with all things, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Unfortunately, “I didn’t know it was copyrighted” won’t work as a defense if you end up in court.

Podcast Intro Music Example

Here’s an example of some intro music from The Bloggy Friends Show hosted right here on RSS.com!

picture of podcaster editing their podcast using editing software

Editing Your Show

Once you have some episodes recorded, it’s time to start editing them so you can load them to your podcast host and launch your show.

What is the best podcast editing software?

The two best free options are:

Additional free options include:

The best paid options are:

Related 

Reading

Where to find tutorials on editing

The easiest way to find a tutorial on your editing software of choice is to type the name of the software and “tutorial” into your favorite search engine. For a video tutorial we recommend going directly to YouTube and typing in your search. Here are some of the best tutorials we found on YouTube for each of the software options we mentioned above:

picture of space x rocket
Houston, we have a podcast.

How to Launch Your First Podcast Episode

At this point, you’re minutes away from launching your first podcast episode. In order to get to that step, let’s set up your hosting account with RSS.com.

Step 1. Visit the RSS.com homepage.

Step 2. Create your account 

Step 3. Once you confirm your email address, you will be redirected back to RSS.com. Click “New Podcast” and enter your podcast’s details including your title, description, and RSS feed address. Click “Next” and add your author details, podcast art, and categories.
how to start a podcast - enter your podcast's details

Step 4. Click the “New Episode” button and enter your episode’s title, and description. You can also choose the season number if applicable, and add an episode number.

how to enter your podcast details

Step 5. Next, you’ll choose what date to publish the episode, add any relevant keywords, and upload your podcast audio file. Then, click “Publish.”

If you didn’t want the episode to go live just yet, instead of clicking “Now” under Publish, you would have clicked “Schedule.” Doing so would have allowed you to choose the time and date the episode goes live.

schedule your podcast episode for a later date
Schedule your episode to be published at a later date.

How to Find Your Podcast's RSS Feed

Once you’ve added a few episodes to your podcast hosting account, you’ll want to submit your show to all the major podcast directories. To do this, you’ll need a podcast RSS feed.

On your RSS.com dashboard, you’ll see a button that says “RSS Feed.” Simply click that button to copy your RSS feed  – easy right?

how to find your podcast's RSS feed

Below is a quick video that walks you through each step in creating an RSS feed for your podcast.

Pro Tip 

You will need at least one episode loaded before you can add your RSS feed to most podcasting platforms.

How to Submit Your Podcast to the Most Popular Directories

Rather than reinvent the wheel, here are some links to articles either we have created or ones by the platforms themselves that tell you everything you need to know to get your podcast on various directories:

Sharing Your Podcast on Your Website

We touched on this briefly in the tools and branding sections of this guide on how to start a podcast, but we highly recommend creating a website for your podcast. If not a full website, at least a dedicated podcast page on your existing brand website. One of the elements of your podcast that should be highlighted on your website is your show notes.

Why show notes are a good idea

Effectively, show notes are a written post dedicated to each of your podcast episodes. You can include your main highlights and the minute listeners can skip to for each of the highlights you mention, transcripts of your show, affiliate and product links, sponsor shoutouts, relevant links to your podcast guests, and more.

Not only do show notes encourage people to visit your website, they give your listeners another space to engage with you. Most podcast platforms allow user reviews, but dedicated show notes pages allow your listeners to comment on individual episodes and give feedback on the specific content of the day/week/month.

Show notes also increase your authority and allow you to continue establishing yourself as an expert on your podcast topic. If you ever do decide to sell anything, show notes pages increase your “know, like and trust factor” that might make listeners more likely to buy products and services you recommend.

SEO tips for your episode titles and show notes

We mentioned earlier that your podcast titles should include relevant keywords, and mimic blog post titles. But there’s more to SEO than a good title. Additional SEO tips include:

    • Mention your relevant keywords a few times throughout your show so they are present in transcripts and highlights
    • Break up your show notes with images that are optimized – add alt text and keywords to your image names
    • Create pinnable images to easily add posts to relevant Pinterest boards
    • If you have videos associated with your show notes, embed them into your post
    • Add a summary to the top of your show notes that includes an overview of the episode, and include your relevant keywords there too
    • Be sure to add your relevant keywords to your meta description of your show notes page as well

To make the process of creating your show notes posts easier on you, develop a template that you can simply copy and paste to make quick work of writing your post. If you are using WordPress, which you should be, you can even add a plugin that allows you to create post templates to take out the step of copy/paste.

A faster way to create transcriptions of your podcast is to use software or to hire a transcriptionist. Some software such as TEMI begins at just $0.25/minute. Then again, if you would prefer to have a human do it, there are transcriptionists that charge about $1/minute.

Always do your research on any personnel hires or software purchases.

turn your podcast into a money making machine

Turn Your Podcast Into a Money-Making Machine

Many people who search for how to start a podcast hope to turn it into a profitable venture. It’s understandable considering they are a significant amount of work. But, you might be wondering, “Won’t it be awhile before you can really make money from podcasting?” The answer is far more complicated than you might like, but here’s what we know for sure:

We have seen people make money from their very first episode, and we’ve seen podcasters who have been in the game for years that still aren’t making any money. If you create a monetization plan from the outset, you could earn money as soon as you want to. Then, as your listenership grows, you can tweak your plan to increase your income accordingly.

Ways to monetize your show include, but isn’t limited to:

    • Selling products and/or services – You would sell these offerings either as an affiliate or developing something for yourself or your business. For example, if you sell photography services, you could mention your business in every episode and share how people can hire you to take pictures and buy prints.
    • Advertising – This is usually in the form of an ad placed somewhere in the show. These can be as short as 15 seconds or as long as a minute. It’s up to you how you handle advertising, but keep in touch with your listeners to make sure you aren’t using too many ads per episode. The last thing you want is for your audience to abandon ship because they’re tired of hearing ads.
    • Sponsorships – Some podcasters have worked out deals to get a large brand to sponsor an episode, a season, or even their entire show. You can begin your show with a statement about the show being brought to listeners by the brand, and include sponsor information on your show notes pages.
    • Crowdfunding – It’s become commonplace to set up a GoFundMe or Kickstarter account to get the “seed money” to launch a show. While it may take a significant amount of work in promoting your crowdfunding campaign, it can be a great way to start your show in the black.
    • Membership model – Using a platform such as Patreon, show creators can charge a monthly fee that allows their fans to contribute to the production of the show. Listeners can pay varying amounts to have early access to shows, private Q and A sessions with hosts, extra content, and more
    • Charging guest fees – This is probably not a good business model if your show is brand new, but for shows that are known to get millions of downloads, some hosts are now charging guests for the chance to appear on their program.

Here are some additional resources we recommend to learn about monetizing your podcast:

How to Market You Show and Grow Your Fanbase

Can you believe we’re nearing the end of the how to start a podcast guide?!? We’ve covered so much, but we can’t end this post without talking a little about marketing. Even before you launch your show, you need to be thinking about promoting your show.

Here are some ideas we recommend adding to your marketing plan. This is far from an exhaustive list, but our hope is that it at least gets the wheels in your head turning.

Marketing your podcast before you launch

Before the first episode goes live, secure your website and social media handles so you can start putting out teasers. Create graphics announcing the release date, and the name of the show.

If you already have a fanbase, hopefully this will yield your first listeners. If not, we recommend trying to get on as many podcasts as a guest as you possibly can before your first show goes live. Direct these listeners to your website and an email signup page to get notified when the first episode launches.

It may also be beneficial to start blogging and vlogging about your experience preparing for launch. Start a narrative with your audience detailing who you’re interviewing, equipment you’re buying, and even your recording setup.

We’ve seen some podcasters create countdown posts on their pages and social media profiles as well. Countdowns generate buzz and build excitement.

Once your first episode is live

Share it everywhere! Post it on social media, on your website, to your email list, etc… write a blog post about it announcing that it’s live and what you plan for the future of your show. This can either be combined with your first episode’s show notes, or can be a separate post.

Write a press release and send it to your local media outlets. Who knows? It could get you on radio stations and local news.

Create graphics with quotes from the show. Develop mini videos with images and sound bytes to share on social media.

Ask people to share that first episode and subscribe. If you haven’t already made it onto the various podcasting directories, continue applying and registering your show.

After a few episodes drop

Continue trying to become a guest on other people’s shows to grow your audience. Write guest posts for blogs, Medium.com, and news outlets to promote your brand and show. Keep growing your email list and sharing on social media.

As you hit milestones, announce it to everyone. For example, “We just hit 10 episodes!” or “We’re celebrating 2,000 downloads.”

When reviews come in – share them! Post them to your website. Create graphics of them and share them on social media. Ask people to write reviews.

With every episode you release, make sure that you are stating in the episode that . Invite them to your website and email list, and ask them to follow you on social.

Once you hit 10 or 20 episodes, release a post on your blog such as “10 Lessons Learned From Releasing 10 Episodes,” or “5 Truths Revealed From Our First Guests.”

Add your podcast link to your email signature too.

Have you secured a really prominent guest? Send out a press release announcing the show and why it’s such a big deal.

Host an event celebrating the one year anniversary of your show. Or host meet and greets with fans. These can be digital or in person.

Keep releasing episodes. The more quality content you release, the more opportunities you have to get found. Basically, never stop promoting. Get on shows, invite guests to be on your show, and keep telling the world about what you’re up to.

That's a Wrap

Did you like this guide? If so, share it, bookmark it, or feel free to link back to it if you feel it it was useful. And, if it inspired you to start a podcast of your own, let us know! We look forward to hearing about your upcoming show!

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