So You Want to Start a Podcast…. 5 Steps to Get You Started
Podcasting is amazing. No, seriously it is. If you are reading this you are probably a podcaster or want to be a podcaster. I started my podcast journey in 2006 as a listener on a solo cross-country drive. This was back before the iPhone when you downloaded all the episodes from iTunes onto your iPod. A lot has changed since then.
According to Podcast Insights, 44% of the US population has listened to a podcast. With 44% of the listener’s women and 56% of the listener’s men.
It wasn’t until 10 years later that I myself jumped into the world of being a podcast creator. I loved the idea of taking Dirt in Your Skirt, from written profiles of amazing women into the more intimate form of the spoken word. So I asked around a few friends and did a lot of Google searching before launching my own podcast.
One of the biggest questions that kept coming up were costs and how to host your podcast. It can be daunting with all the equipment that is out there and honestly overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to get started podcasting. All you need is a computer or even a phone that can record, some software and a host. Below I have outlined the costs to get going on your own podcast.
Step 1 – Have an Idea
Before jumping into the world of podcasts, first, you have to have an idea. It doesn’t matter what your idea for a podcast is, just take some time and write down what you want your podcast to be.
Create a theme for your podcast.
Seek out other podcasts similar to your idea.
Make a list of dream guests or topics you want to discuss.
Before starting my podcast I was a podcast junkie and took about 3-6 months of mental notes from podcasts I liked when cultivating my own podcast. I took cues from the hosts, listened to various formats, and then adapted it for my own podcast. I knew from the beginning I wanted an interview-style podcast and took a notebook writing down over 50 dream guests I wanted to interview.
I already had a brand, name, and identity but spent some time thinking about what I wanted to the podcast to highlight. Don’t box yourself in when in the creative process, you can always change your podcast as you go but think about what you might want to still be doing 2 or 5 years down the road.
Step 2 – Equipment
On a Budget
If you are on an extreme budget but are dying to podcast all you need to get started are a few simple things.
Hard Goods Needed
Computer – Cost Varies
Headset with microphone
(you probably have one sitting around)
Skype – (for interview shows) – Free
Host – Libsyn is as cheap as $7.00 a month
Editing Program – Audacity – Free
Canva.com – Create logos and Graphics – Free
So for less than $50.00 you can get started in podcasting. If you wanted to record with someone in person you can on the cheap do this with the recording app on basically any Smartphone out in the market today.
Want to Start a Professional Sounding Podcast
Like any hobby, if you want to get serious about it you need to invest some money. How much you invest is totally up to you. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of start a professional sounding podcast but there are a few items you will want to spend some time researching and purchasing.
Hard Goods Needed
I have a mixer and if you are planning to do in-person interviews with multiple people look into one, here are a variety to choose from – 10 Reasons You Should Get a Mixer. I have podcasted for two years and have yet to actually use my mixer, however most interviews are conducted via Skype.
My Macbook Pro is my life as a journalist, writer, and author so this was already covered for me. Just make sure you have a computer that can support recording.
When you are recording you are going to want to use headphones, especially if you are recording over Skype of one of the various apps online. I use the same cheapo Skull Candy ones I picked up in an airport years ago. If you can hear through them than they are a-okay to start out with.
Host – $20.00 a month
As mentioned above you need somewhere to host your podcast. I recommend hosting on a third party and then keeping original files of your finished episodes on an external hard drive or your cloud. I use Libsyn and use the $20.00 a month level which lets me put out about 5 episodes a month all over an hour long. Libsyn packages are based on the amount of data you use a month.
Libsyn is not the only host out there but it is one of the best. When looking for a host be sure that you can share your podcast across many platforms through the host. For example Dirt in Your Skirt Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Overcast, iHeartRadio (rip), and a host of smaller players. When I produce the show and publish it Libsyn automatically sends it to all the various platforms with one push of a button. Simple.
Recording Software – $40.00 one time
As mentioned above I record the majority of my episodes via Skype. It’s free and universal. I find most people know how to use Skype and already have a username and login. While there are a ton of other call recording platforms Skype seems to be the one most are familiar with and it’s about making your guests feel comfortable as much as you.
With Skype, you are going to need a way to record the conversation. I use ECAMM Call Recorder (for MAC). For a one time fee of $39.95 you can record video and audio or just audio on all your calls. This was a slam dunk for me and I use the Call Recorder for both the podcast and work interviews I do. Well worth the price.
Editing Software – Free
If you have all the money in the world or you are really short on time and need help editing podcasts you can always hire someone to do your editing. You send them the raw files and they put it all together. But if you are starting out, YOU DO NOT NEED THIS. Repeat, you can edit your own podcasts. All you need is a little bit of time, and no fear.
Check out Audacity. It is a free program with a ton of editing features. Once you play around with the software you will find the best tools to take your podcast to the next level and start sounding professional from your first episode.
Branding – Free or Paid
If you don’t already have a logo set for your company or podcast you will need to create one. Hiring a graphic designer can be expensive, however, websites like Canva.com make it easy to create your own graphics. If you really need help making that logo, check out Fiverr.com a collective of designers who offer services for every budget. I used Fiverr.com to create some branded intros and entros for videos I produce for under $10.00.
Step 3 – Where to Record
In a perfect world, every podcaster would have a professional recording studio. However, due to costs and logistics that isn’t always an option. While you might be able to rent time in a studio, you don’t need to have that extra expense.
All you need is space in your house or office. Ideally, you want a quiet place where you will not get distracted. Do a couple sound checks if the sound isn’t as intimate as you like to consider making a podcasting fort. Yes, you heard right, create a fort with blankets or try recording in a closet. I have heard of people setting up small camping tents in there house and putting a bunch of pillows in it to create a professional sounding recording studio without the cost.
While if you plan to do in person interview a fort might not be that inviting, you can always do like I have done in the past and set up a mic at the kitchen table. Again it doesn’t have to be fancy when you get started. You just have to record.
Step 4 – Get Started
The hardest part of podcasting is starting out. Pushing the record button for the first time is daunting. If you have an interview show, consider recording with a friend or someone you know first. If you are already comfortable speaking with each other the listener will feel it when they listen. But just hit record and start talking.
Know that over time you will develop your voice and style but you have to jump in and learn from doing before you start perfecting your voice. You will look back at the original episodes years later and cringe, but we all started somewhere and the key is to get going.
Step 5 – Get it Out There
So at this point, you have your equipment, recorded and edited an episode or two. Now it’s time to get it out there into the universe. While some websites will say for download reasons put out several episodes at once. There are no hard and fast rules in the podcasting world, which is why I love it.
If you are starting from scratch, think about creating a social presence for your podcast. However, if you don’t have the time or energy to share on multiple accounts just start with sharing your episodes on your own social media accounts. Ask friends and family to share the episodes this is the beginning of a fanbase.
Want to reach more people, consider joining some online podcasting groups. Most groups have a day of the week where you can share your latest episode. These groups are also great for learning more about podcasting and answering your questions. I am currently in a number of groups including regional ones like Podcast Salt Lake City where we have in-person meetups and online discussion as well as large groups like She Podcasts a community for female podcasters. Additionally, if you have the time and want to take podcasting to the next level consider attending a podcast conference. I will be speaking at two this year – Utah Podcast Summit 2018 and Outlier Podcast Festival.
Hopefully, this little guide helps you enter the world of podcasting. It is an incredible space in new media where all voices can be heard. Don’t be afraid. The best rule is when starting don’t get obsessed with the numbers and just enjoy the creative process of having your voice heard.