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How to Start a Podcast

The flexibility of listening to podcasts has played a vital role in listenership growth. Listeners have been tuning into podcasts while commuting, doing chores, or performing various other activities throughout the day. 

Listeners, all over the world, have also been seeing podcasts as a source to reduce their stress and to educate themselves on opinions, experiences, perspectives, and cultures that might differ from their own. 

As the audience for podcasts continues to grow, there has never been a better time to start a podcast for your business, brand, or personal hobby.

If you follow this guide, it will prime you to launch your own podcast and take advantage of this exciting new medium.

What makes podcasts different?

Podcasts are a great way to build a genuine connection with your audience.

Instead of the fractured connection, you make through social media, podcasts allow you to engage your audience with unique long-form content. Podcasts are more convenient than blog posts; people can listen to podcasts while driving, working out, or just doing chores around the house.

There is a lot of unexplored space in the podcasting industry. There are at least 600 million blogs, 23 million YouTube channels, but only 800,000 podcasts in Apple Podcasts.

A: Planning Your Podcast

1. What’s Your Podcast For?

So firstly, why do you want to make a podcast?

Are you a freelancer?  A business? Or a marketing manager? If so, you might have identified podcasting as a great way to build authority, and provide your customers and target audience with valuable and entertaining content.

Or are you looking at podcasting from a hobbyist perspective? This might mean you’ll be creating a show in your spare time. And the subject will be something that you’re passionate about.

In either case, you can identify your “why” here. That’s important to keep in mind so that you can stay motivated, even when you’re finding it difficult to get a show out.

2. Who is Your Podcast For?

So first up, let’s get the big question in: Who are you making this podcast for?

The thing is, unless you know exactly who you’re making your show for, and why you’re doing it, you’ve got no chance of growing an audience.

If you’re coming at it from a business point of view, and you’re (for example) a personal trainer who wants to make a health and fitness podcast, then your target audience might be people who are interested in healthy eating, weight loss, exercise, or bodybuilding.

If you’re creating a hobby show – let’s say it’s based around your love of zombies and post-apocalyptic fiction – then your target audience would simply be folks with the same passion. They might be fans of TV shows like The Walking Dead, video games like Resident Evil, books like World War Z, and films like Night of the Living Dead.

A lot of smart people talk about creating listener personas or avatars. It’s a good idea, sketching out exactly who it is that you’d like to listen to your content. That persona is something to keep in mind every time you plan an episode: “Would John, our listener persona, like this? Is this focused on what he likes, what he’s interested in?”

That persona and those questions help you to keep your show focused and on track, both of which make for more engaging content.

So once you know who you want to reach, how do you reach them?

You need to give people a reason to listen.

This means creating content that they will get something out of when they hit play. We’ll talk about that just shortly, but first up, here are some resources for you to bookmark for future reading.

Do I Need an Audience to Start a Podcast?

This is a frequently asked question, and a good one to tackle before we move on.

Some folks already have a bit of an audience in place when they start a podcast. This could be anything from a business or brand, to a musician, former athlete, or author.

If you already have an audience built around something other than your podcast, then it’s a good opportunity for laying the foundations of the show’s fanbase. This assumes, of course, that your podcast is relevant to that audience.

During the planning stages, you may opt to survey your audience. Here, you can ask them things like “what’s your biggest pain point?” and “what are you struggling with right now?”. This could help you shape your content, going forward.

You might even choose to find out a bit more about them. This could be anything from demographics and location, to what other podcasts (if any) they enjoy listening to.

Just don’t let this become a source of procrastination or “design by committee” – sooner or later (preferably sooner) you should start to make some decisions and move forward.

3. Give Them a Reason to Listen

Whether you’re providing information that will help someone to lose weight (in the case of our personal trainer), or doing a really entertaining interview with one of your favorite authors (in the case of our zombie podcaster) you’re providing value for your listener.

Not only have you given them a reason to listen, but you’ve also given them a reason to come back for more. It’s important to think about this in the planning stages. Can you write down 10-15 potential episodes that you think your target audience would love to listen to?

4. Naming Your Podcast

No “how to start a podcast” guide is complete without answering this most common of questions – what do I call the thing?

There are three main camps when it comes to naming your show.

Option 1 – The Clever Name

You might think of a really clever name for your show. But remember that people need to be able to find it when they’re searching for information about your topic. If you have a clever/catchy name for your show, then try to also incorporate a description into the title. There’s no point putting out great content if nobody can find it.

For example, one of our shows is called Path of Most Resistance. It probably falls into the ‘clever name’ category, even though we’re not that clever… So, to give a bit of description, we also use the tagline: The Uncommon Leader’s Guide.

Option 2 – The Descriptive Name

The searchable (but some might say boring) choice is to simply call your podcast what your target audience is searching for. If our personal trainer called her to show The Fitness Podcast then there’s absolutely no doubt as to what it’s about. It’s a good idea, although possibly reduces how memorable it is, just a bit.

Avoid getting too long and wordy if you go down this route. Remember you’ll need to say the podcast name quite a lot when recording your episodes, so make sure it rolls off the tongue.

Use keywords, without stuffing

You don’t want to stuff your title with keywords, but you do want to make it easy for people to find your podcast. If you have a one or two-word podcast name, add a brief description in the title tag to help search results.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin.
    Most people searching for this podcast will probably search for Seth Godin. So it’s important to include his name in the title.
  • Syntax – Tasty Web Development Treats.
    There probably aren’t many people searching for “Syntax” in Apple Podcasts (unless they’ve already heard of this show). By adding “tasty web development treats,” the podcast can show up if someone searches for “Web Development,” which will significantly increase the odds of being found by potential listeners.

Don’t create podcast artwork, yet

Even though we’re doing all the prep work, we suggest holding off on creating artwork right now.

Your podcast is in its infancy, and as a result, the concept of your show will probably change a little as you record your first few episodes. It’s totally fine if this happens. It’s easy to change the title of your podcast, but it’s a real pain to change your artwork, especially if you already paid for it once.

We recommend waiting until after you record a few episodes before you create your show’s official artwork.

Optimal podcast length

Don’t let people tell you there is an optimal length for a podcast episode.

You’ll find shows like The Daily that are 20 – 30 minutes long, Accidental Tech Podcast that averages 2 hours per episode, and Hardcore History with episodes as long as audiobooks.

Your podcast should be as long as it needs to be, without being any longer.

Every podcast can benefit from editing, so get comfortable cutting out rambling segments, boring questions, and parts of the episode that don’t add much value to the listener.

And remember: if you’re producing quality, engaging content, be confident people will keep listening.

Optimal podcast length

Don’t let people tell you there is an optimal length for a podcast episode.

You’ll find shows like The Daily that are 20 – 30 minutes long, Accidental Tech Podcast that averages 2 hours per episode, and Hardcore History with episodes as long as audiobooks.

Your podcast should be as long as it needs to be, without being any longer.

Every podcast can benefit from editing, so get comfortable cutting out rambling segments, boring questions, and parts of the episode that don’t add much value to the listener.

And remember: if you’re producing quality, engaging content, be confident people will keep listening.

Podcast publishing schedule

Podcasting can be a full-time job or something you do on the side. If it’s the latter, you can have a more relaxed publishing schedule.

You might decide to publish every day like the Daily or publish a podcast series every two years like Serial.

If you have the bandwidth, we recommend publishing once a week to:

  • Develop a connection with your listeners. If you publish every day, eventually, your listeners will start to schedule your podcast into their day. A weekly schedule allows you to build this more profound connection with your listeners.
  • Create a habit for yourself. Releasing consistent episodes can keep you podcasting even when you lose your excitement for it. You want to build up the habit so you can continue to grow your show and avoid podfade.

Once you have your podcast format, approximate show length, and publishing schedule, you’re ready to invest in podcast equipment.

Podcast recording equipment and software

Podcasts have a low barrier to entry; if you want to start a podcast, it’s relatively easy to begin the process with little overhead or experience. You can start recording a podcast with just your iPhone and a pair of headphones. Remember, your content is the most crucial part.

Nobody listens to a podcast because it has superior sound quality. But people will put up with less-than-optimal sound quality if the content of your show is excellent.

Podcast equipment

Picking the best podcasting setup can get confusing, especially if you don’t have a background in audio recording. To make it easy, we put together three podcast equipment packages based on the number of people you’re recording.

Disclosure: Some of these product links are Amazon affiliate links, which means Buzzsprout might receive a small commission if you decide to purchase them.

Podcast software

Once you’ve recorded your podcast, it’s time to make edits and adjustments to get the best sound quality possible.

While there are options to edit your podcast on your Android or iPhone, their small screens aren’t optimal for sound editing.

The great news is podcast editing software is surprisingly affordable.

Best podcast recording and editing software


Audacity is a free and open-source audio editor. Open source editors allow users to make changes to the original code easily. You can customize your user experience and make improvements where you deem necessary.

Audacity also comes with pro-level features, so your podcast software won’t hold you back. We think the only downside to Audacity is its steep learning curve, but tons of videos and online tutorials are available to help new users navigate the platform.


GarageBand comes pre-installed on most Apple computers. If you don’t have it, you can easily download it for free. We think GarageBand is a more intuitive interface than Audacity. There are versions for macOS and iOS, but it is not available on Windows computers or Android phones.


Hindenburg is a pro-level audio editing software for radio and podcasts. It isn’t as cheap as Audacity, but it offers a lot of built-in podcasting features. We recommend starting with a 30-day trial on the Hindenburg Journalist version.

Additional options for podcast editing software:

Alitu: The Quick & Easy way to Make your Podcast. $28/month.

Adobe Audition: Digital audio workstation software. $20/month.

Descript: Edit your audio by editing your transcript. Free – $15/month.

Marketing your podcast

By this point, you’ve put in some real effort. Even if you don’t have many downloads yet, it’s important to remember that even one download is one real person listening to your show.

The average podcast gets a little over 100 listeners, so if you can get to 100, you’re already better than half of all podcasters.

You probably don’t have a community that’s waiting for your podcast when you first launch, so it’s essential to leverage existing communities.

This means finding groups of people who should be interested in your podcast and then telling them about your podcast. Remember when we’re doing this, we need to add value to the communities you engage. If you just spam links on the web, people are going to be turned off.

You can do this by finding groups of people who should be interested in your podcast and telling them about your show. Remember: your aim is to add value to each community you engage.

If you use shady promotional tactics, it will turn people off. You want to honestly engage the community and offer your podcast as a solution to their problems (as long as it will help them).

Let’s run through 6 marketing tactics we believe have the best chance to direct listeners to a new podcast:

  1. Share your podcast with friends and family. If your podcast would be entertaining to personal friends and family, make sure you share it with them directly. Ask for feedback in the form of reviews on Apple Podcasts, and ask them to share your show with friends. Sharing your podcast with friends and family is the easiest way to get your first 5-10 listeners.
  2. Post episodes on social media. Sharing your show on social media doesn’t mean just posting your episodes to your page. Sharing useful content on your social channels is about quality, consistency, and interaction with listeners across several platforms. Create some Visual Soundbites for Facebook and Instagram accounts, boost tweets that do well on Twitter, and share your content on your LinkedIn.

    You likely already have friends on these platforms who would be interested in what you’re doing, and this is a great way to let them know about your podcast.

    If you do this right (sharing engaging clips and not spamming), you could pick up ten podcast listeners over your first few episodes.
  3. Contact relevant Facebook Group admins. There are lots of great groups on Facebook, and, likely, some already exist that discuss the same subject matter as your show. If you’ve got a podcast on coffee, find some coffee podcast groups and leverage them for all they’re worth. Join these groups and ask the admin’s permission to share your podcast. If you share your show or promote it in any way, you are likely to get booted within a few minutes. If you’re lucky, the admins might post the link for you, but you need to get permission to post anything.
  4. Post on Reddit/Quora as an answer. Search Quora or Reddit for people asking questions about your podcast’s subject matter. Find relevant, recent questions for which you can confidently answer. Post your answer to the question in full-don’t make readers have to leave the page to get the full answer. Within your post, mention that you discuss the topic more fully in the “XYZ podcast,” and link to the relevant episode. By engaging questions on Quora, you establish a presence, however small, that can lead people listening to your podcast for years. Aim to post one or two answers like this for each episode you post. You can take this same approach on Reddit. However, you need to be even more focused on providing value on this platform. If you spam your content, Reddit will eat you alive. Make sure you’re helping people and linking to your podcast.
  5. Contact relevant blogs. Find an established blog that already has a following in your show’s genre and reach out to the owner of the blog to see if they’d be interested in partnering with you. You can promote their podcast on your show, and they can share your podcast on their blog. Win-win! This approach worked well for the First Mondays podcast-one of the most popular podcasts covering the Supreme Court. They partnered a popular blog that covers the Supreme Court (SCOTUSblog), and now SCOTUSblog creates a post for every episode of First Mondays, and First Mondays promotes SCOTUSblog in return. Do some research to see if there is a blog or Youtube channel you can partner with to cross-promote your podcast.
  6. Overcast Ads. Overcast is an excellent podcasting app, and instead of posting a bunch of annoying ads, the founder decided to run ads for podcasts. For a few hundred dollars, you can run an add to your podcast for a full month. Buzzsprout has run Overcast Ads, and generally, we get 100 new subscribers each ad cycle. If you have the money, this is a great (and easy) way to get your first 100 subscribers.

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