A Guide to Podcasting: Starting Out
We aren’t writers as you have probably noticed. So, this guide has been a long time coming. People continue to ask about how to get started and some guidance. The purpose of this guide is to do just that, share the knowledge we’ve learned along the way. Hopefully this helps get more people’s voices out there.
Starting a podcast isn’t as difficult as you might believe, if we could figure it out… can’t be that crazy. It does take some time, research, and planning.
Let’s get this started:
There should be plenty of planning, so that you start with a solid focused foundation. It definitely should help in the long term to get all this squared away from the very beginning. The following may and can change over time but they need a starting point.
• Purpose: Start by identifying your “why”. This will be important. Why do you want to create a podcast? This should be fairly simple, or not, but knowing the purpose will help keep you motivated.
• Subject: This part you might already know, your “what”. You probably already have an idea what your podcast will be about. This is where you narrow it down and lock it in. A bunch of guides and how to’s will tell you the best course of action is to narrow it down to a niche your passionate about. That certainly works and is definitely a way to do it. If you’ve listen to our podcast, we shuffle… a lot. You might say we didn’t narrow it down, but in a way we did. We went with more of a point of view (3 chicanos’ pov to be exact) and left the topics more open. Don’t know if there is a wrong answer here as long as your passionate about it and keep it in mind. It might even be easier to pick a topic or topics to start and later expand on them.
• Audience: “Who” is the target audience for your podcast? You might already have in mind who it’s for. Here, it might be a good idea to really narrow it down to a niche, at least in the begin. It should help you build a base to build off. Down the line, you might be surprised who listens and you can expand. It’s important to know your audience. This will help you focus what they might want to listen to and what will provide value to them. If your passionate about your subject/topic, this would be easy to narrow down.
• Schedule: Yup, the “when”… you’re getting the hang of this. Decide on both when you’ll record and when you’ll publish. Set up a schedule that you can commit to long term (unless you’re doing a limited series) and stick to it. Consistency is very important! People will come to expect your episodes but if not, there are plenty of fish in the sea. So, stay consistent.
• Title: Yes, a name for your podcast. Some are catchy, some are descriptive, and some are just a person’s name. They are a bunch of ways to go with this but remember people have to remember it and maybe even spell it. People have to be able to find it without much trouble. You can even add a tagline. We recommend not getting to wordy though… again people have to find it. Also, do your research… check for availability for a domain, social media, and google it.
• Format: You should plan the length and style of podcast. How long will the episodes be? You’ll read a ton of different opinions on how long it should be, do what you feel comfortable with. Remember, you have to fill the time with interesting content and probably for long term. Is it a limited series with a planned number of episodes? Then you need to know how much time and episodes it will take to tell your story or content to plan accordingly. Also, what style of podcast are you doing? Interviews with guests? Stories? Solo? Co-host? A mix? Get this squared away.
While this might not be locked in forever, you need a starting point and then adjust accordingly.
Now that you’ve planned out your podcast and have the what’s, who’s and when’s, it’s time to start doing some prep.
• Cover Art: Let’s be honest, aside from the title of your podcast, this will be one of the the two thing someone sees first. S#*tty cover art isn’t going to do you any favors. If you don’t do graphic design, find someone that does. Talk to friend or a friend of a friend… or use a service like Fiverr at the very least. You need good or at least decent cover art.
• Equipment: Time to start researching and picking up the equipment you’ll be using to record your podcast. We have a guide for that here: https://chicanoshuffle.com/podcast-equipment/
• Intro/Outro: Will you have an intro (or outro)? Will it be a voiceover, music, or both? If so, time to get working on that. Or time to get someone working on that. It can give your podcast that little bit of extra salsa and if done right, make it sounded more professional.
• Interwebs: Start securing your social media accounts (it’s up to you what accounts to create/use). It might be better to lock down your username now even if you don’t plan to use it anytime soon, in case you ever do want to use that service or just to stop someone else from using it. You also want to purchase the domain name for your website, if you plan to have one. We recommend even just a simple one. Of course, if you will have one, now is the time to start building it or having someone build it (preferable with a CMS like WordPress). Or just use a hosting service like WordPress.com, SquareSpace or Wix (not endorsements) that make it easy to build websites. We do recommend a website since it gives you an online home, helps people searching for you, and provides a space to post full show notes with pictures (if any). In other words, lock down your online presence.
• Media Hosting: Where will your podcast files live? Now is a good time to start researching podcast media host. This is where you will upload your episodes to and where they will be served/pulled from for people to listen. While if you are very tech savvy, you might be able to put something together with AWS (Amazon Web Services), we recommend taking the easy way and just getting podcast hosting. We won’t recommend a specific one because everyone’s needs are different, two of the oldest and more reliable are LibSyn and Blubrry. There others we have heard good things about that might work better for some, such as, BuzzSprout, PodBean, and Anchor (recently acquired by Spotify). Do your research as to what works best for your podcast.
• Guests: If you will have guests on your podcast, now is a good time to start building a list of potentials. Once you have a solid list, start making contact and scheduling. Then start prepping your interviews.
• Episodes: If you are doing a scripted or specific topics podcast, start planning out your first few episode.
Now that we have all our ducks in a row… time to get recording. Now, there are quite a few ways to go about this part depending on what set up you go with therefore we won’t go over every way possible (again, our Equipment Guide is HERE). You’ll have to do some research and learn about using your equipment and set up… YouTube is your friend here. So, instead we will give you a few tips or suggestions.
- To start, we recommend recording 3-5 episodes to get the ball rolling. It’s best to have more than a single episode when you launch. If someone listens to your podcast and likes it, you want to give them more to listen to while the iron is hot. Or you can do an accelerated release schedule by releasing them over 2 weeks (or so) before getting to your regular schedule.
- Learn microphone etiquette or how to use a microphone properly. They is in general but also, different mics sometime require you to use them differently. This will help keep you voice sounding clear and professional. It will help by giving you less work later in editing.
- Recording a test run might be a good idea. You can make sure you are setting up everything correct, get a feeling for talking into the mic, and see what everything sounds like.
- We’ll touch on editing in a bit but remember that it’s an option. If you mess up, you can edit around it… no worries. Just set yourself up for it. If you can just cut it out, cool but if it’s something you need, cut/do it again or marker it/do it again.
- If you are recording a solo podcast, instead of talking to the mic or yourself, it might be better to talk to your listener. Think of your ideal listener and talk to them.
While on our podcast we say “we don’t edit”, what we mean is we don’t cut but we do edit the audio in general. We do add some EQ, compression, etc to make the audio better for most devices. While not completely necessary, it will make your podcast sound professional and clear if done correctly. There are various ways to do this and while we won’t go over all the options, we will do a quick overview of the more popular software options. If your not comfortable doing the editing yourself and have the budget, this can also be outsourced. Again, maybe you know someone or someone does or go to a site like Fiverr. If you do it yourself and have no experience, again YouTube is your friend.
- Adobe Audition: This is the most expensive option as it requires you to purchase an Adobe subscription. It is a modern interface and is user friendly plus it even has good stock presets including a podcast preset. This is what we use but we already had the subscription.
- Audacity: This a free open source option… keyword being free. The interface looks like it’s still running on Windows XP and basic but it can still do almost all (if not everything) that Audition can do. It is more than enough for editing (and recording) a podcast. This is a very solid option if you don’t want or need an Adobe subscription.
- Garageband: If you have a Mac, this is probably already on there and is free. For just a podcast, this is more than capable and tons of people just use this. Simple and free, if your on a Mac this might be your best option. If for whatever reason after you work with this you want “more”, check out one of the others.
***Side note here: After you finish editing, don’t forget to tag your mp3 episode file with your info such as podcast title, episode number/title, and maybe cover art. This can usually be done in your editing software but can just as easily be done when uploaded to your media host or with other software.
So, your episodes are recorded and edited, it’s time to get them out in the world and launch your podcast. Again, there quite a few ways to go about doing this including with or without a website. Hopefully in your planning phrase you already made these decisions. Once everything is squared away and you have your RSS feed, then you have to submit to directories such as iTunes. Let’s get publishing.
• Uploading: You’ll be uploading your episodes to your media host. To clarify, your files/episodes don’t get upload to like iTunes. Your media host stores and delivers your files while iTunes is just a directory that points to your files. You can publish with just a media host as they usually provide a very basic website (if you want it) but more importantly, they can provide you with an RSS feed. This feed is what you submit to iTunes and most directories then they pull this feed to list and provide your podcast information. Most options, will have you uploading your episodes to your media host through their interface.
- With a website, Option A: If your using a WordPress site you can use the PowerPress plugin (works with any host). This will provide you with more control over your RSS feed and podcast info right from your site interface. Plus if your host is also Blubrry (creator of plugin), you can upload your file from the same interface as your post.
- With a website, Option B: If your using SquareSpace, they can also host your files and provide an RSS feed without a media host. This is much more limiting but some people have used this are doing okay.
- With a website, Option C: Media hosts also usually provide a media player. So, you can easily have just about any website, WordPress or SquareSpace or whatever, and add this media player to your episode posts.
- Without a website: As mentioned above, you can just publish using your media host and the RSS feed they provide.
• Submitting: Once everything is ready to go it’s time to submit your podcast to the directories. Most pull their info from iTunes so, submitting there is key as other directories will pick it up from there without you needing to submit it. To submit to any directory, you will need to find or know your RSS feed. So, first things, first get that ready. Now let’s go over the big ones.
- iTunes Apple Podcasts: By far the largest and most important… this should be the first. You can almost just submit here and do okay, it’s that big. You’ll need your RSS feed and an AppleID (so go create one if you don’t have one. Then go here, log in, and start the process: https://itunesconnect.apple.com/login?module=PodcastsConnect
- Google Podcasts: They were late to the game but it’s Google. As the podcast game grows, remember that most people have android phones. Since it’s Google things are also a bit weird as they have Google Podcasts and Google Play. Both have podcast and both work differently for adding yours. Google Podcast should automatic add your podcast feed when it’s bot crawls your website. So, if they have indexed your site for search, it will be add. Google Play on the other hand, you have to manually submit here: https://play.google.com/music/podcasts/publish Submitting here will also index your feed in case it’s not automatically added to Google Podcasts.
- Spotify: This probably now the second largest directory. They have gotten very serious about podcast including purchasing a media host and working on original podcasts. It used to be difficult to get into Spotify but it’s now easier to submit although it’s slower to add you. They recommend you submit via their recommended host which includes all the big ones. This is the easiest way to submit, find the button in your media host. They also now have this portal to submit: https://podcasters.spotify.com/
- Stitcher: It’s a smaller source of listeners but doesn’t hurt. Start the process here: https://www.stitcher.com/content-providers.php
- TuneIn: Another of the smaller source but again, doesn’t hurt. Submit here: https://help.tunein.com/contact/add-podcast-S19TR3Sdf **Small bias note on this one: We were/are on here but after a couple issues where our podcast doesn’t update anymore over some nonsense… we gave up on this one.
Once your podcast is submitted, you wait a few days to get approved (Spotify might be longer)… and… your podcast should be live and official! Don’t forget it’s best to have 3-5 episodes ready or at least recorded and ready to upload.
We hope this guide hopes you get started and get your voice out there but this is only the start. Now it’s time to get out there an spread the word. Promoting your podcast and growing your audience is a long game. Blast those social media accounts and stay consist. Marketing is probably a whole other guide but we wouldn’t be the best candidates to write it. Google and YouTube might be your best friend for that. Down the line, if you have great content and a large enough audience, you can probably look into monetizing your podcast.
GO FOR IT
We truly hope this guide helps at least get people pointed in the right direction. Podcasting is great platform to get your voices out there. A great method to spread your message or information or stories. It can also be a cathartic release for some. Of course not everyone will blow up into a Joe Rogan but you don’t have to. If you’re passionate about your subject, a small audience might be enough. If you’ve thought about starting a podcast, go for it. Start planning it out, see how far you get. If you’ve got the will, it really isn’t as hard as it might seem. Go for it!