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Podcasts are growing at a massive scale. Apple Podcasts alone has over 2.5 million podcasts and over 80 million episodes available, according to Podcast Industry Insights.

But why are so many people jumping on the podcast bandwagon?

Some want to establish themself as an authority. Others want to promote a product or service.

Whatever the reason, starting a podcast may seem intimidating at first. The process involves plenty of things you’ll do for the first time.

We’ve created this extensive guide to make the process easier for you. If you’re trying to learn more about how to start a podcast, you’ll find everything you need to know here.

Why you should start a podcast

Podcasting is an excellent way to reach a target audience.

Think about it: only 22% of Americans 12 and older knew about podcasts in 2006 versus 79% in 2022. And 53% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 54 listen to a podcast at least once a month.

You can speak to a big chunk of the population with this increasingly popular medium.

Five reasons to start a podcast.

Here are some more reasons to make a podcast:

  • Build an online audience:With podcasting, you can build an audience around a niche subject without having to appear on video.
  • Position yourself as an authority:You can speak to your audience about a specific subject and establish yourself as an authority.
  • Promote your product/service:You can discuss topics related to your product or service to educate people about its use cases and benefits.
  • Make money:As a content creator, you can offer value through insightful conversations and make money through brand sponsorships and ads. There are other monetization options, which we’ll discuss in a later section.
  • Take advantage of low setup costs:Setting up a podcast is far less expensive than starting most types of businesses.

How to start a podcast

  1. Develop a podcast concept.
  2. Choose a podcast format.
  3. Select your podcasting equipment and software.
  4. Plan your first podcast episode.
  5. Record your first episode.
  6. Create an intro and outro.
  7. Edit your podcast.
  8. Upload episodes to a podcast host.
  9. Get listed in podcast directories.
  10. Create a podcast website.
  11. Generate some buzz.
  12. Monetize your podcast.

Step 1. Develop a podcast concept

Choosing the right podcast concept is critical to connecting with your target audience. As part of this process, you need to:

  • Think about your goals. Do you want to generate leads, become a thought leader in your industry or earn money from the podcast?
  • Pick a podcast theme that actually interests you. Remember, you’ll need to discuss the topics in your theme in-depth and from various complex angles.
  • Choose a niche within your theme.Speaking to a niche audience reduces competition and helps generate more value for listeners.

Of course, you also need to stand out in a sea of podcasters. Listen to a couple of episodes that talk about similar podcast topics. Get a sense of the ideas they share and the subjects they cover.

This will help you determine how you can create better content for potentially hundreds of podcast episodes.

To establish yourself as a thought leader, you’ll need to provide fresh perspectives. And you need to be passionate about the subject.

If you don’t enjoy talking about the topic, you might experience podfade, which is when a podcast stops producing after a few episodes.

Step 2. Choose a podcast format

You have several decisions to make when choosing a podcast format.

Do you want to bring guests or a co-host on your show, or do you want to fly solo?

There are no rules here. Pick what suits you best.

Include guests if you like speaking to industry leaders and picking their brains. If you add a co-host, make sure they’re passionate about your niche and you two have good on-air chemistry.

But keep in mind that when you involve others, you may face a few extra challenges. For example, guests might cancel on you, or your co-host might suddenly not have enough time to devote to production.

You’ll also need to decide on the style of podcast to make. For example, you could make a news recap, informational, scripted fiction, scripted non-fiction, video or interview podcast.

Finally, you’ll need to select the episode length. A third of the podcast episodes on Buzzsprout are 20–40 minutes long, and 55% of video podcasts are at least 30 minutes long.

Step 3. Select your podcasting equipment and software

You don’t need expensive recording equipment to make a podcast. As a beginner, here are the basics you need:

Must have: A good microphone

If the audio quality’s poor, there’s little chance people will want to listen. A decent podcast microphone will help you record polished audio and minimize editing work.

Here’s what you need for recording:

  • Dynamic or condenser mic: A dynamic mic is idealbecause it registers low frequencies and isn’t as sensitive as a condenser mic. This helps reduce background noise.
  • Universal serial bus (USB) or external line return (XLR) connection: The best mics typically have an XLR or USB connection. USB microphones are more beginner-friendlybecause you can directly plug them into your computer. Plus, they cost less. XLR mics are slightly better because they’re more durable. You get more options if you select an XLR mic. But it requires a mixer, so you’ll end up spending more.

As a last resort, you can record podcasts on a cellphone. But remember, you’ll end up spending more time editing and still won’t achieve the same audio quality as with a dynamic mic.

Must have: Mic accessories

Here are the mic accessories you could invest in:

  • Pop filter:This helps polish your audio. For example, it will eliminate any noise coming out of your mouth while recording (like plosives) except for spoken words.
  • Shock mount: Most mics come with a shock mount, which helps prevent vibrations.

Must have: Podcast recording and editing software

After connecting your mic or audio interface to the computer, you’ll need audio recording software. Zencastr is an excellent recording tool that works on both PC and Mac, and it’s free to start.

Once you’ve recorded an episode, you’ll want to trim out silences. For this, you’ll need podcast editing software.

Many software solutions work well for recording and editing. Audacity is a popular choice. It’s free and has everything you’ll need to produce and edit audio files.

If you’re looking for something more powerful (and paid), consider Adobe Audition (individual accounts start at $20.99/month). Adobe’s audio editing solution has an extensive feature set and offers everything you need to create high-quality podcast content.

If you’re on a Mac, GarageBand is a great free tool with everything you need to edit your new podcast.

Step 4. Plan your first podcast episode

An outline helps you plan your content and gives you confidence when you’re recording. It also helps prevent rambling, which can result in a poor listener experience. If you’re working with a co-host, give them the outline, as well.

An outline is not a script, though. Not all podcasts need a script. Your outline can just include the key points you want to touch on.

Start by determining the episode’s goal. Do you want to explain something, present an argument or pitch a transformative idea? Think of the one thing you want your audience to take away from the podcast.

That will give you a starting point.

The outline for your first podcast episode should include these elements.

Next, add the following elements to your outline:

  • A hook (get straight to the value proposition of the episode and dazzle your listeners).
  • Introduction for guests, if any.
  • Key points (or interview questions if you have a guest).
  • Call to action (CTA).

Step 5. Record your first episode

Once you have an outline, you’re ready to start recording. To record, you’ll need a quiet room that’s not empty. It should ideally be covered in furniture, carpets, and other objects so your voice doesn’t bounce off of hard surfaces.

Checklist of tasks for recording your first podcast episode.

Here’s a quick podcast recording checklist:

  • Set up your recording equipment:Connect your mic to the computer. If you’re using multiple mics, connect them to an interface and then connect the interface to the computer.
  • Position your mic:About 3 inches away from your mouth is ideal, but the best distance differs for each microphone. Placing the mic too close results in plosives and sibilance. Remember to adjust the distance if you notice these problems after the trial run.
  • Set up the recording system:Set the recording level to -20 dB. It’s best to set the recording level lower to avoid distortion. Set the recording software to export audio files in high-quality formats, like WAV or AIFF.
  • Do a trial run: Record trial audio and play it to check the quality. Make notes because you’ll need to fix the audio before you actually record the podcast.
  • Record your first episode:Record the podcast when you’re satisfied with the audio quality. Don’t stop recording if you stammer, make mistakes or have moments of silence — you can edit these out with podcast editing software.

Step 6. Create an intro and outro

Next, create an engaging intro and outro for your podcast. An intro generally is a voiceover with music to introduce yourself and the podcast.

Try to highlight your podcast’s value proposition and make a great first impression. Your goal with the intro is to hook the reader and make them want to stick around. And you must do it quickly — make sure the intro isn’t longer than 30 seconds.

If you don’t want to pay for the intro music, you can download royalty-free music from sources like Pixabay.

Thank podcast listeners and include your CTA in the outro. The CTA could be to sign up for your weekly newsletter or give the podcast episode a thumbs-up.

Feel free to show your style and personality in the intro and outro.

Step 7. Edit your podcast

The next step in making a podcast is to edit your podcast.

Editing software will let you do all sorts of things — remove gasps of air, control the volume and add the intro and outro.

But those are the easy parts of editing. The real challenge lies in cutting out parts that aren’t as engaging or don’t provide much value. You’ll need to listen to the entire recording multiple times to make sure you’re not leaving any fluffy content in there.

Another important factor to consider is the background music. Don’t make it too loud. That’ll cover your voice.

Make it just loud enough that it’s audible but doesn’t make it hard to listen to the spoken word.

Once you’re done editing, export the podcast as an MP3 file, ideally with a 44.1 kHz sample rate and 128 kbps bitrate.

Step 8. Upload episodes to a podcast host

Podcasts aren’t directly uploaded to platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. They’re hosted on a podcast hosting company’s server.

Here are some examples of popular podcast hosting services:

  • Alitu: Uploading a podcast to Alitu is pretty simple. It’s one of the best podcast hosting platforms out there, though a little expensive ($38/month). The reason it costs more is that it offers AI audio cleanup tools, unlimited audio recording and editing tools. However, you could get just the hosting features for $12/month.
  • Libsyn: Libsyn is a low-cost service. It doesn’t offer built-in audio editing or AI-powered tools. Plans start at $5/month, and you can upload your first episode in minutes.
  • Blubrry: Blubrry offers various built-in tools for podcast marketing. All plans include a podcast media kit, listener demographic survey and advanced statistics. Plans start at $12/month. Like with the previous two services, uploading podcasts to Blubrry is simple.

Step 9. Get listed in podcast directories

The next step is to submit your podcast to directories.

The next step is submitting your podcast to podcast directories like Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Amazon Music.

If your podcast has video, YouTube is your best bet — it’s the most popular way to access podcasts in the U.S. In fact, a third of Americans used YouTube to access podcasts in October 2022.

When creating your listing, you’ll first add your podcast’s name. Then, summarize your theme in the podcast description. Tell new listeners exactly what you talk about and include relevant keywords to help with search engine optimization (SEO).

You’ll also need to add episode descriptions for each episode.

Finally, you’ll need podcast cover art. This is the first thing listeners will see, so make sure it’s top-notch. You can use a free tool like Canva or hire a designer.

Step 10. Create a podcast website

The next step in making a podcast is to build a website.

Every podcast needs a website, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. You just need a place where you can upload your show notes and add a media player for people to stream your podcast.

However, you do need a website that loads fast. That’s important for a good user experience and your website’s SEO.

Search engines like a fast website. And impressing search engines could bring in some extra podcast listeners.

You can also add a signup form that allows potential listeners to stay updated about new episodes. If they see a podcast title they like, they may tune in.

Some podcasting hosting platforms offer a website. But it’s best to build a WordPress website for your podcast with a reliable host like Bluehost to ensure excellent performance. You can also pick a domain name for your website using Bluehost.

Step 11. Generate some buzz

Make sure the launch is anticipated among your target audience. Most podcasts pick a launch date a few weeks away. In the meantime, run ads or reach out to publications for publicity.

You can market a podcast much like any other digital business via social media with groups, forums, collaborations and ads.

Step 12. Monetize your podcast

Five common ways to monetize a podcast.

Here are some common ways to monetize your podcast:

  • Sponsorship deals:Brands are willing to pay top dollar to podcasters with a large niche audience.
  • Advertising networks:Ad networks pay podcasters to run ads during episodes. The average cost per mille (CPM) for 30-second ads is $18, while the average for 60-second ads is $25.
  • Affiliate marketing:You can market another brand’s products on your podcast and earn a commission on sales.
  • Selling merchandise:You can sell your merchandise to listeners. This helps develop a sense of community and helps you monetize your podcast.
  • Offering paid content:If you’re confident that your audience will pay to listen to your podcast, you can gate your best content.

Final thoughts: How to start a podcast — a complete guide

Starting a podcast takes effort, planning and resources you can rely on.

For example, if your website keeps running into problems, your audience will have trouble accessing your podcast content. This adds even more challenges to your journey.

If you’re looking for a reliable web hosting provider, look no further than Bluehost. Our speedy and secure WordPress hosting plans include a free domain name for the first year and automatic WordPress updates. Contact us today to learn more.

FAQs about starting a podcast

Do podcasts make money?

Yes, podcasts can make money. You can monetize a podcast with sponsorship deals, ads, affiliate marketing, merchandise sales and paid content.

How much does it cost to start and run a podcast?

The cost of starting a podcast varies greatly based on the equipment. The other startup costs are typically minimal.
The cost of running a podcast is greatly variable, too. For example, you need to pay for a podcast hosting service. You might also need to carry your setup around if you want to interview experts in person, especially people who aren’t in the same town.

How long should a podcast be?

Most video podcasts are 30–45 minutes long, and 53% of episodes on Buzzsprout are 20-60 minutes long. That’s enough to dive deep into any topic. However, there’s no definitive answer here. Episodes can be as long as the topic warrants, but you do need to stay in a certain range, like 30–40 minutes.

Should I start a podcast with no audience?

A podcast is a great method for building an audience, so you don’t need one beforehand. Many podcasters start with no audience and build it over time.

  • Tiffani Anderson

    Tiffani is a Content and SEO Manager for the Bluehost brand. With over 10 years experience across all facets of content and brand marketing, she strives to combine concepts from brand marketing with engaging content through the lens of SEO.

    Education
    University of North Texas
    Previous Experience
    Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media
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1 Comment

  1. Nancy Koutsos carreon Reply

    Will be starting my podcast at the begining of the year. Grateful for the valuable content you provide.

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