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So You Want to Start a Podcast? A Beginner’s Guide to Podcasting

Last week, my business bestie – Victoria Proppe of Imagine Marketing Strategies – and I launched our podcast Take the Leap. The launch was timed to coincide with my attending a podcast industry-focused conference in Los Angeles. Here’s what I learned in the three days I spent in sessions, networking, and connecting with industry professionals at Podcast Movement Evolutions

A photo of a sign that says  Welcome to Evolutions by Podcast Movement Los Angeles

How to choose a topic for your podcast?

Before you even choose the topic for your podcast, you should decide on your podcast niche and audience. What does that audience care about? Who is your audience avatar? And what are your goals for the podcast? 

Once you have a topic chosen and start gaining an audience, you should engage with them and source content ideas from them. Create a simple Google Form where your audience can tell you what they want you to talk about and who they want to hear from, so you can source those folks as guests. 

What equipment should you use to record your podcast? 

There are many podcasts, and one of the key elements for success is having good audio quality. Using a high-quality microphone and investing in soundproofing your recording space will help you compete in a space where many podcasters are recording in studio spaces. In our current setup for the Take the Leap podcast, we use noise-canceling headphones and Logitech’s Blue Yeti USB Microphone. I am personally still rocking these Bose SoundLink® around-ear wireless headphones II that I purchased over a decade ago. 

There was a hot debate at the conference about whether audio-only or video podcasts are where we should be focusing our energy. The Take the Leap podcast showcases both audio and video to maximize our reach through search engine optimization (SEO) on YouTube. If you do choose to have a video podcast, lighting is key. You want a bright, large, diffused light source that matches the color temperature of the room that you are recording in. 

Every speaker at the event agreed, that if you are recording a video podcast, do not use Zoom for your audio or video. Some of the most recommended platforms for recording include: 

  • Squadcast and Descript: This is what we are leveraging for the Take the Leap podcast, it is easy to use and after every episode recording we export each person’s MP4 file for editing in Adobe Premiere Pro

  • Riverside.fm: Similar to Squadcast and Descript, audio and video files are recorded locally and it has a robust set of editing tools to make podcast production easy. 

  • OBS Studio: This is a free and open source software for video recording and live streaming. 

  • StreamYard: A web browser-based live streaming and recording studio, that lets you go live on multiple platforms at the same time, including Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter/X, and Twitch. 

Two photos with gridlines showing how you should position yourself to appear on camera for a video podcast.

How long does it take to edit a podcast? 

Dallas Taylor, host of Twenty Thousand Hertz mentioned they spend 250 to 300 hours to make a single episode and a nine to 12-month lead time per episode. But all podcasts don’t take this long from ideation to publishing. For Take the Leap, we are interviewing guests every Friday and have some weeks off for vacation, rest, or simply taking care of our main business needs. In between our guest recordings, we create multiple solo episodes with what’s top of mind in our entrepreneurial journeys. Editing happens the weekend after the recording, so it is fresh in our brains what the best parts are to include in our marketing and promotions of a given episode. From recording and editing to promotion and publishing, we spend between five and seven hours per episode. 

If you’re curious about what to use for editing your podcast, here are some top recommendations: 

  • Adobe Premier Pro: Part of Adobe’s Creative Suite, it is the industry-leading video editing software, though it does have a somewhat steep learning curve. 

  • DaVinci Resolve: An all-in-one editing software that is free to download and includes tools for editing, color correction, visual effects, motion graphics, and audio post-production. 

  • Descript: Not only an editing software, Descript has a suite of AI features that take your podcast to the next level. 

  • Final Cut Pro: A professional editing software for Mac users, letting you get your video and audio editing done in one powerful platform. 

What are common pitfalls in podcasting? 

Three areas consistently came up as missed opportunities or pitfalls in podcasting. Because it is fairly easy to start a podcast, many people do it. However, pitfall number one is not having a consistent release schedule. Some podcasts rely on seasons, others release weekly, or bi-weekly. Because most of your listeners will not only listen to your podcast, but many others, it is important that you provide content consistently and that you tell them when they can expect those episodes to be released. If you are on hiatus for a break in your season, you should also consider leveraging your past library of episodes. You can either repost an old episode with a new introduction or you can post shorter snippets of episodes to keep your listeners engaged. 

Another common pitfall is not leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) and metadata for your podcast episodes and show notes. Keywords are important for your episodes to be discovered based on what they are about. Since character limitations are common for your episode title, using the space in your show notes is critical. Show notes and SEO should be present in those reposted older episodes or shorter snippets referenced above as well. 

And last, but not least, marketing your show through networking, email newsletters, word of mouth, social media, and merchandise. Alright, I realize this is a long list, however, these are all marketing and promotional tools you should incorporate into your strategy to grow your show’s audience. 

How do podcasts make you money? 

Podcasting has evolved from a hobby into a lucrative business opportunity for content creators. Monetization is not just a hip buzzword that you’ll hear at podcast conferences, it is the main reason podcasts are trying to grow their audiences quickly and start making money from their content. There are often minimum download requirements to access the benefits of monetization, so focusing on high-quality content and growing your audience comes before you can activate these monetization strategies. 

Here are six strategies you can use to monetize your podcast: 

  1. Sponsorships and Advertisements: You can reach out directly to potential sponsors and advertisers. Start by identifying potential brands that are a good fit for your podcast audience. Another method is to work directly with a hosting service or platform that can dynamically insert advertisements into your show. As your audience grows, you’ll have more leverage to negotiate sponsorship deals. Holler is a free service that lets you sell 10-word shoutouts or min ads on your podcast.

  2. Premium Content and Memberships: Incentivize loyal listeners with premium content or exclusive membership programs. For paying subscribers, you can create exclusive episodes, bonus content, behind-the-scenes footage, or ad-free listening experiences.

  3. Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing involves promoting products or services and earning a commission for every sale or referral generated through your unique affiliate link. Make sure that whichever products or services you choose are a good fit for your audience and that you would genuinely recommend. Incorporate affiliate links organically into your podcast episodes, show notes, or accompanying blog posts.

  4. Crowdfunding and Donations: Many crowdfunding platforms like Patreon or Kickstarter let you raise funds directly from your audience for either general support or your show’s production costs. You can offer rewards or perks to anyone who donates like early access to episodes, personalized shout-outs on the podcast, or even exclusive merchandise. Drop Station is another tool that you can use for monetization and to grow your audience through incentives, contests, and giveaways.

  5. Merchandise Sales: You can create branded merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs, stickers, or tote bags featuring your podcast logo or catchphrases. Selling merchandise through an online shop like Bonfire can raise funds for your podcast and fuel word-of-mouth promotion of your show.

  6. Live Events and Online Communities: There is a huge opportunity to convert your loyal listeners into an active community. Hosting live events, workshops, or meetups for your podcast community to connect with other listeners can drive revenue for your podcast. 

Where should you host your podcast? 

Launching a podcast is an exciting endeavor that allows you to share your passion, knowledge, and stories with the world. However, before you hit record on your first episode, you'll need to choose a podcast hosting platform to host and distribute your content. With so many options available, selecting the right hosting platform is crucial for the success of your podcast. 

Here are some factors to consider when choosing where to host your podcast and highlight some of the best hosting platforms available.

  1. Ease of Use: Look for a podcast hosting platform that is user-friendly and intuitive, especially if you're new to podcasting. The hosting platform should make it easy to upload, manage, and publish your episodes without requiring technical expertise. Consider the platform's dashboard interface, episode management tools, and publishing workflow. Look for features such as drag-and-drop episode uploads, episode scheduling, and customizable episode details.

  2. Distribution and Syndication: Choose a hosting platform that offers seamless distribution and syndication of your podcast to popular podcast directories and platforms, such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, or iHeart Radio. Ensure that the hosting platform generates and updates your podcast's RSS feed automatically, making it easy for listeners to subscribe and access your episodes across different podcast apps and platforms.

  3. Analytics and Insights: Opt for a hosting platform that provides comprehensive analytics and insights to track your podcast's performance and audience engagement. Look for metrics such as downloads, listens, audience demographics, and episode popularity. Analyze the platform's reporting capabilities and the level of detail provided in analytics reports. Knowing your analytics will help in the long term as you monetize your podcast.

  4. Customization and Branding: Consider the level of customization and branding options offered by the hosting platform. Look for features that allow you to customize your podcast's branding, including artwork, episode descriptions, and show notes. Evaluate the platform's ability to create a personalized podcast website or landing page where listeners can discover and engage with your content. Look for customization options such as custom domains, branding colors, and layout templates.

  5. Pricing and Scalability: Compare the pricing plans and subscription tiers offered by different hosting platforms to find one that aligns with your budget and podcasting needs. Consider factors such as storage limits, monthly upload quotas, and additional features included in each plan. Look for hosting platforms that offer scalability and flexibility as your podcast grows. Ensure that you can easily upgrade or downgrade your plan to accommodate increased storage or bandwidth requirements without downtime or interruptions.

Here are some of the hosting services that I met at Podcast Movement Evolutions in LA: 

Podcasting Tools I May Start to Use

This trip to LA for Podcast Movement Evolutions was not my first podcast conference. Even before we had the idea of starting the Take the Leap podcast, I attended Podcast Movement in Denver in August 2023. The main reason I was there, was to hang out and record an episode on the School of Moxie podcast with my dear friend, Mary Williams, founder of Sensible Woo. One of the main reasons I recommend attending a conference about the podcast industry is you’ll get to know about so many different tools that you might not otherwise discover. Here are some of the favorites I’m considering using as our podcast starts to grow. 

One speaker recommended using a Trello board to track great ideas for episodes. Trello replicates a Kanban board system that can move your project from the ideation phase to final publishing.  

Need cool music for your podcast? 

  • Musicbed for dramatic music

  • Epidemic Sound for thematic music

  • Soundly for keeping track of sound libraries, so that they become searchable by keyword 

Want to enhance your video podcast? Here are some stock footage websites: 

AI-powered tools for enhancing your podcast: 

  • Opus Clip: Turn one video into 10 viral clips with an AI-powered video clipping tool. 

  • Twinbox: Use this tool to create “your podcast’s digital twin.” Host the experience on your website and it can answer listener’s questions about your content and lets you learn more about their interests.   

  • Vid IQ for YouTube: An extension you add to Google Chrome designed to help you boost your YouTube views and grow your channel. 

So You Want to Start a Podcast? 

Download our checklist of what you need to get started today! 

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