Podcasting can be one of the most rewarding ways to create content and share your creative voice with the world. Whether you’re into interview shows, narrative documentaries, talk radio, or ‘edutainment’, the medium has a level of intimacy that is hard to replicate.
Listeners can choose to engage with the content on their own terms; be it in deep focus with headphones on and a coffee in hand, or while multitasking with something that can’t be done with video or the written word, such as exercising, cooking or cleaning.
From being a fan to creating a podcast
I’ve been an avid listener of podcasts since 2008, when – by accident – I stumbled across a graphic design podcast in iTunes. I soon fell in love with being able to listen to other people’s conversations around topics I’m passionate about.
Over the years, I’ve broadened my horizons, subscribing to sports, politics, news, technology, marketing, design and many other podcasts. Some, I follow with extreme loyalty, others I just sample.
For years, the barrier to entry was great; however, the growth of technology, information and educational resources (ahem, YouTube University) have made it easier than ever to start a podcast. If you’re interested in starting a show of your own, here are some quick tips for creating a podcast that will get you moving.
1. Choose a topic
You can’t be everything to everyone. In order to gain traction in the podcasting space, I suggest you choose a niche you are either passionate about or want to learn more about when creating a podcast.
As a graphic designer in the sports industry since 2005, I’d always been looking for a podcast about design in sports. Since there wasn’t one at the time, I started Makers of Sport® in 2014 and it has allowed me to become a recognized expert on the subject matter of design in sport.
2. Appealing to an audience
Once you’ve determined your topic, it’s time to create a name, logo and visuals for your show. How will your show’s cover art look in a category on Apple Podcasts or Spotify?
When you’re starting a show, consider how to appeal to an audience seeking that kind of content from a brand perspective. Also think about the fact that there are niches within niches. Just taking one theoretical example: perhaps a coaching show is for educating volunteer parent coaches. How would the name, visuals and tone-of-voice differ from a resource for already-experienced, competitive coaches?
Determine how your show will manifest itself visually and personality-wise and be sure to keep those consistent across every interaction it will have with a potential audience.
3. Gear up
Podcasting can be very expensive, and gear can get complicated depending on how professional you’d like your show to sound. The easiest show to start is an interview podcast. That will require, at minimum, a quality microphone, headphones and something to record into.
I recommend getting a USB mic to start with, since there are many affordable options that plug directly into your computer without needing a mixing board, and sound good for the price point. Mics are like sneakers, some fit and feel better to you and some are chosen based on personal style and taste.
In addition to a mic and headphones, you’ll also need an audio software to record into and a platform to connect to your guests. I use Adobe Audition for recording and editing and Skype for speaking to my guests. My setup – having been podcasting 6 years now – is a bit more complicated and uses a compressor mic and a mixer.
If I were to start today; however, I’d use Zencastr as it takes care of recording, call-ins and editing all at once making it easier on yourself and for your guests.
4. Be ready to write
I’ve found that creating a podcast requires much more writing than I originally expected. From show notes and outlines, to emails and social media posts; there is no shortage of written content accompanying a podcast.
I discovered very early on that the key to quality podcasting is simply not pressing record and having a conversation, it’s preparation.
In addition to the outline, show notes are essential. They provide potential listeners with a description of what they’ll be listening to and are a selling tool for the episode. Don’t simply write one sentence about your guest and expect it to go far with potential listeners. Describe why they should listen to that particular episode. These show notes also double as search engine optimization (SEO) content that will help to increase organic traffic to your page.
5. Provide an experience to your guest
When reaching out to potential guests, make it as easy as possible for them to join your show. Provide details on what you’ll discuss, the duration of the show, what they’ll need to do as far as having headphones or recording (if you’re having them record their own track), and anything else you can think of to make the process easy.
Be prepared to work around their schedule if you’re not a livestreamed show. Think of it as if you’re providing a brand experience for them, because you are. This could lead to a good reference or an agreement to return in the future.
I also make sure to let my guests know that we are not recording live and that they are free to reword and/or re-record answers if they trip up over words out of nervousness. I have found this strategy takes some of the pressure off of them and helps them to open up more making them more comfortable around the mic.
6. Launch your show
Once your show is recorded, edited, and the show notes are written, it’s time to post your show online. There are many podcast hosts out there. Libsyn; Simplecast; SoundCloud; and Anchor are a few of the more popular platforms at this time. Choose the one that is best for your budget and recording setup.
Once that host is chosen, you’ll need to set up your show in Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Fortunately, some of the aforementioned platforms will do that for you but if not, you can find resources at Apple and Spotify’s podcast informational landing pages. Apple Podcasts is still the top platform people download podcasts. Spotify is gaining traction though, so you’ll want to make sure you’re on both platforms making your show available to anyone that wants to listen regardless of device. Many podcasters are even posting their shows to YouTube now as well.
This consistency builds trust with an audience and they will begin to expect your content.
7. Promote your show
No one will know about your show if you don’t promote it. I recommend setting up separate social media accounts for your show and posting clips and quick insights into what you’ll be discussing. Images also help to catch people’s attention.
Creating a podcast requires a lot of work but can be a truly enjoyable experience when it comes to building relationships in your industry. If you’re a curious person and want to learn more about a particular subject or meet new people, the chances of getting someone to come on your podcast is higher than getting someone to jump on a one-hour phone call for you to ‘pick their brain’.
Whichever direction you choose to go in, be it weekly episodes, seasonal content, audio narratives or livestreams, be ready to work hard, but be mindful of the experiences – both personally and professionally – podcasting will provide to those that stick with it.