How to Start a Podcast the Right Way

How do I start my own podcast? This is among the most common question a podcaster hears and one of the hardest to answer. The question of how to start a podcast is a tough one because there aren’t a lot of shortcuts. Especially if you’re doing it the right way. What most new podcasters find out quickly is how much time it can take to launch and run their show.

A podcast is not as simple as creating a blog or putting up a basic website. If you want to know how to start a podcast you will need to do a bit of research up front. One big difference is the blogging and website industries have evolved with products like WordPress, Blogger, Medium, Wix and more to bring you easy to use, all-in-one type solutions. These products give you a big head start letting you publish your website or blog in a matter of hours with just a mouse and keyboard.

That’s not the only difference, far from it, but many people think it’s just as simple, or only slightly harder to create a podcast. That’s not the case. Not including the added requirements of audio software and equipment, something most people don’t already have, there is a bigger learning curve for podcasting. Acquiring the knowledge of how to starting a podcast channel and take steps to launch your own show requires a larger time investment. It’s a longer process that includes a fair amount of integration you have to do yourself to connect all the different parts. Let’s take a look at what exactly that process is and how many parts there are so we can get a feel for the challenges faced by a new podcaster just getting started.

Things to Consider

Before tackling the job of launching a podcast you’ll want to have these questions answered:

  • Why do you want to start a podcast?
  • Who is your listener and what do they want to hear?
  • What is the name of your podcast?
  • How long will each podcast episode be?
  • How often will you release new episodes?
  • What is the show format: Just you (solo), co-hosted, interview style?

We briefly mentioned it before, but you’ll also need things like a microphone, audio recording software and a computer. That might be a bit too basic but at least we didn’t say you need an internet connection. These topics and the questions above will be discussed in future posts but for right now we are going to focus on what happens after your local setup is completed and you are ready to start publishing and managing your podcast online.

Getting Online and Uploading Your Media

We can start with uploading your podcast audio files. They need to be saved somewhere to make them available online, but where? Do you put them on your own website or pay for an audio hosting service? Some people want full control over the audio and choose to host it with their website. This can require a bit more work for you and it’s important to ensure your account is setup properly so you don’t have issues with bandwidth or server performance. Alternatively, if you choose an audio hosting service it could lock you into a platform you don’t want to use in the future. You’ll have to make a choice and do one or the other because nobody can listen to a podcast that’s not online.

Publishing on iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud, etc…

You need to connect and configure your podcast feed to appear on iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play and other major services. Not every listener likes to use the same method of consuming podcasts so this step is important to make sure your podcast is available on the major providers. Once you set up an account with each service and register your RSS feed you will be all set. This is a one time thing but it is very necessary. Look for future articles where we will discuss the different providers in detail.

Reach More Listeners with Your Website

To expand your reach and attract more listeners you’ll need a website for your podcast. Just being on the major podcasting services isn’t enough to attract new listeners and grow quickly.

A common solution for many podcasters setting up their website is to use WordPress. If you don’t already have hosting for your website, that’s no problem. Do a quick search for “wordpress website hosting” and you are going to get a nearly endless list of resources. Select the host you prefer and sign up for an account.

Once you have a hosting account you can use the auto-install feature available with most hosts to setup and install WordPress. Most hosts will have a 1-click install tool like this or they can do the WordPress installation for you at no cost.

After your website is setup you can search for a theme that has the style you want for your site. This could be a free theme or one you purchase. After you find the theme it’s a simple install, just upload the ZIP file or click the “install” button for free themes. Now the website is done. Or is it?

Integrating Your Podcast with Your Website

Once WordPress and your theme are both installed you’ll need to configure the site to have your name, logo, description, colors and other settings you choose. But now that you have a website with your branding and content, how do you add the podcast episodes your record to the site? How about a plugin?

There are plugins for everything, at least that’s what people say. Do a quick search for a WordPress plugin that can add your podcast episodes to the site. Select and install a plugin you can configure to add podcast episodes in an audio player on your website. It’s important to have each podcast episode published to a unique page on the site with either show notes or a transcript of the episode. This is a key to getting the best SEO (search engine optimization) so that people can find your episodes when searching on Google and other search engines. This is an important part of how new listeners will find your podcast. That means you’ll need to add a new post or page to the site for each podcast episode. On the page you will need to include the plugin to play that specific podcast episode. Then you can add the show notes or a transcript and publish the page. Remember to do this for every new episode you release. It really is important.

Add a Newsletter

Now that you can publish podcasts and have a website the next step is to start building an email list. Email marketing is a must to form a strong relationship with listeners and a key metric in gaining sponsors. It isn’t possible to do this through iTunes, Google Play or SoundCloud and that’s another reason creating a website is very important for your podcast.

Adding a newsletter sign up form on your website is pretty easy. First you’ll want to create an account with a newsletter service like Mailchimp, Emma or Mad Mimi where the list will be stored. Most of these services also have plugins or a code snippet you can use to add their form on your website. This is how your visitors will join the newsletter so make sure it’s easy to find in a sidebar on the footer or both places.

You can greatly increase your downloads count for each podcast episode by remembering to send a message your list after each new release. This brings subscribers back to your website and provides a great reminder for active listeners.

Connect to Social Accounts

The next thing to do is setup accounts on social networks for your new podcast. You will probably want to have at least a Twitter and Facebook account as a minimum. Sign up with your new podcast name or use a variation of the name if it isn’t available. Try and be consistent across all social accounts if you can. Once that’s done be sure to include links to the social accounts on your website’s header or footer so visitors can find them. You can engage social media followers by making a quick post to the accounts when new episodes are published. Making small posts about show preparation and teasing the upcoming topics before being published are another great way to build interest and increase your listeners.

Releasing New Episodes

Great, it’s all done. The only thing left to do is record a new podcast episode, edit the audio, upload it, create a new page on the website, add the podcast to the page, write your show notes, publish the new page, create an email to send your newsletter subscribers and post a link to your social network followers on each service. And don’t forget to do this for every new podcast you publish. That’s not so bad. 😉

That’s a pretty good overview of the things you should be doing but most podcasters probably aren’t. A lot of podcasts are missing at least a few of these steps and it’s easy to understand why. Creating a podcast is hard work and with so many different distribution channels it takes a lot of time. Making it even harder, most podcasts are run by one person with plenty of other things they have to do as well. When you finally have everything ready to record and upload, it’s easy to stop there without finishing the other parts. Skipping over important aspects of your podcast infrastructure can greatly detract from the success of your podcast and slow down your growth. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure you do your podcast right. You’ll be glad you did.