10 Steps to Launching a Podcast
Since you start the show, you may have a lot of questions about what it takes to start a podcast and the details that most people may overlook when putting together a show. After receiving several requests for information, I’ve decided to put my thoughts and experiences on paper for everyone looking for information on how to get started.
The first step is often the most obvious. Do you have an idea that should be a podcast? What I mean is this. Is this medium the best place to tell your story? Sometimes, you’ll ask that question and realize it isn’t. Maybe you’re better off with a video series or a short content series on your blog. If you can’t answer that question, then what’s the point? Listeners won’t keep coming back for a show that doesn’t have a consistent message or delivery schedule.
Struggling to figure out the answer? I made sure I had ten guests lined up to appear on the show before I moved on to the next step. Don’t force yourself to scramble. Planning prior to launching will save you tremendous headaches later.
Once you’re sure that you’re in the right medium, you need to decide what format you want your show to be. I decided I wanted to tell other’s stories so I built Our Fractured Minds around ongoing interviews with a variety of weekly guests. Your show may be better suited for a round table discussion or even the musings of a single person. Since its your show, you get to decide.
Face it. You aren’t Beyoncé. Dropping a random podcast whenever you want isn’t likely to have the impact that dropping an album unannounced had for Queen Bey.
You aren’t Beyoncé. Let your listeners plan ahead for your content.
Your listeners want commitment and to know that, if they invest in your show, you’ll be there for them as expected. I publish every Monday and keep myself to a strict 30 minute time limit on episodes, but some podcasts drop every other week or monthly and go from anywhere between five minutes to an 1.5 hours plus. Fair warning though, keeping up with a weekly schedule when you’re the host, producer, editor, web team, social media team, etc, is a lot to keep up with. If I could go back and start over I’d have given myself at least a week between episodes. You’ve been warned.
Once I had a plan in place for what I wanted the show to be I worked to come up with a name and a brand. Trust me. This is important for your show. I can’t provide any evidence but my belief is that the podcast brand, mixed with my podcast host, are the reasons I was accepted to iTunes in less than an hour. Remember, there’s often more than one right answer when developing a brand, and the first answer isn’t often the best one.
So we’re five steps in and we haven’t even pushed record yet. Unfortunately we’re still several spots away from the actual show. In order to publish a podcast you need to find a host. There are a ton of places around the web where you can do this, but I took the advice of Espree Devora, host of the WeAreLATech Podcast, that she gave me when we met at SXSW in 2017. I highly recommend looking at her take on getting a podcast started, as it’s a lot of what I followed including her recommendations for using SimpleCast as a host.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I credit SimpleCast with partial credit for getting my Podcast off the ground and live on iTunes. It also got me live on Google Play Music and Stitcher ridiculously quickly
I know what you may be asking right now, though. “But, what’s a podcast host?” Essentially it is what its name suggests. It’s a place to host your individual episodes and develop them within an RSS Feed that players can use to publish your content. They also provide code to embed a player onto a website of your choosing. Needless to say, your show can die if you fail this step or choose poorly. So choose wisely.
Figure out how you’re going to record your show. What equipment do you need to make it work? That depends on how you plan to record. I made things over complicated for myself when I first got started because I wanted to simplify it for my guests. I used a variety of different software to ultimately allow me to record in two channels (meaning I had a line of recorded audio for myself, and a line of recorded audio for my guest — I hugely recommend this as it incredibly simplifies editing and audio quality in my opinion), and provide the option to use Skype to Skype communication or Skype to Cell (requires a fee). That process went as follows:
Not the easiest set up in the world, right? That’s especially true when you’re an amateur and have other things in life to tend to. Unfortunately, Soundflower no longer works for me so I’ve had to look elsewhere for solutions. Since my setup breakdown my preference has become Zencastr. It provides very simplistic multi channel audio (for a small fee). It’s major drawback is that it doesn’t allow any mobile communication, so, while it’s easy for me, it’s more difficult on my guests. They need to be in front of a laptop or desktop and have either Chrome or Firefox to chat. My backup to Zencastr when mobile is required is Anchor. I just recorded my first episode with it and it was remarkably simple, though I’m still not 100% sold on the audio quality. Still, it’s a solid option if mobile is your only option.
If you use a mobile device you’ll likely only need a headset with two way audio capabilities. For my initial recording, and now through Zencastr, I have a blu Yeti which is an upgraded version of the Snowball Blu that Espree recommended for starters in her blog. It’s a pretty straightforward USB mic that, I believe, helps provide higher quality audio. The choice, ultimately, is up to you.
While winging it is always an option, I like to put some basic ideas I want to talk about on paper. That way, if I get stuck I can look to it for ideas. With my format, my one sheet includes an opening, a closing, and a variety of questions I can ask. Don’t stick ridgedly to it though. A great interviewer can think on the fly to ask good follow ups when opportunity permits. If you can do this, you can host a great podcast.
So you have equipment. You know how you’re going to record. You have a topic and a show outline and, potentially, a guest. Guess what? You’re finally ready to record. Hit that red button and go to town!
Editing can be a soul sucking endeavor. The best advice I can give to any amateur podcaster is to not think the conversation needs to be perfect. In season one I tried to edit out any time my guest was thinking mid sentence or any uhms or ands.
My best advice? Don’t be like Joey. Leave it in.
You know what it did? It made me spend four to six hours in editing with each episode. This season I’m committed to doing less, and you know what? Leaving in those moments has made the cast better and helped it feel more authentic. Feel free to cut for time. Feel free to cut awkward breaks, or points of confusion. But, for the love of God, don’t invest yourself in making edits and cuts every eight seconds. You’ll burn yourself out like I did.
Your Podcast is edited and ready to go. Next, you need to upload it to your host. Since I use Simplecast I’m going to explain the process I use with them.
- Give your episode a title. Don’t be cutesy with it. I did this early on and it didn’t communication anything to potential listeners.Simplecast walks you through the entire process of preparing your episode for publishing. Just fill in the boxes and you’re ready to go.
- Choose a publishing date and time. I always publish at 00:01 on Monday morning so there’s time for the show to download for my subscribers before the morning commute.
- Write a show summary and show description. Give me details on what I’m about to hear and don’t be afraid to go into depth in the description.
- Build your search words so that your episode can be found via search in a podcast player of choice. Not sure what words to use? Try a tool like Moz to understand what people are searching for on your topic.
- Upload the episode
- Press Save
If this is your first time publishing an episode I recommend preloading three episodes for release on your first day. This shows commitment to players that you’re going to continue creating content and to listeners that you’re worth investing in. It can help you get published to content providers so it’s an important step to consider when launching your podcast.
And, that’s it. Simple right? I know, i know. Not so simple. But, if you follow these instructions, you may just be able to get a podcast off the ground. It’ll ultimately mean you can define yourself as a podcaster, and, when answering the question of how you define yourself, there are few things cooler than that.