Nowadays, content creators, whether they are beginners or professionals, are increasingly investing in Podcasts. According to research from Gartner, over 155 million Americans listened to podcasts regularly throughout 2020 (nearly doubling 2018 numbers). Roughly 24% of those were listening every week — statistics that are projected to grow over the coming years. This is a format in high expansion, both in consumption and in production, since it’s a freer and healthier format than videos. Thus, unleashing constant and relevant flow of content creation.
If you’re always cooking up good ideas to stay on top of behaviors and trends and you like to communicate orally, that’s one way to create an even closer connection with your audience (oof!)! However, if you don’t know where to start, this is your guide to learning. We’re happy to empower you to do just that.
About this guide:
This Beginner’s Guide will help you through each step of starting a podcast, from planning, to publishing and growing it steadily.
By the end of this Guide, you’ll feel more confident in starting your project, and ready to make smart decisions to make the most of it.
Let’s make the world hear what you have to share! Enjoy the journey.
Step by Step for Starting a Podcast
We know that starting off a project can feel like a lot, especially creatively. But we’re here to help, to map and guide the way, to show you how simple it can actually be.
Start with the Why. Why do you want to start a podcast? What are your interests/passions/experiences?
When thinking about creating something online, whether that’s a Podcast or other content format, it’s important to understand the specifications of each format and what it implicates in terms of production and results. Podcasts are a good opportunity to create a more personal and intimate experience for each listener of your community. When someone’s listening to what you’re saying, they become part of the storytelling process, being responsible for creating the virtual side of what you are sharing. That creates a notion of intimacy that inspires engagement and loyalty. Like other formats of content, Podcasts have the mission to add value to listeners. That’s what’s gonna make people go for your content for the first time and what will make them come back for more.
That’s why it’s important to really reflect on why and what you’re doing at this stage. We encourage you to sketch out some ideas and themes that not only you master, but that you also really appreciate and that add value to your life. Write it down, let it all out. Now, think about it: What is the thing on this list that you can talk about with a level of knowledge that you believe that listeners will get the most value from it? Will this be enough to create several episodes from it?
In addition, it is important to keep in mind how much time you are willing to invest and how much you will be able to dedicate to the project, because this will impact the next steps.
What topic(s) are you going to focus on? What is your niche?
Think about this rich subject of yours. Let’s go deeper: Think of people who have similar needs and pains. What other interests do they have in common? What other topics can we map it that are related to this theme?
What message do you want to project? What benefits do you want to provide listeners? What makes you and your message unique?
Here, you can choose to entertain, help, motivate, educate, inspire, etc. And the more that you can stress these questions, the better. That will help you move to the next step. Having the subject will lead to the direction of how you’re gonna talk about that and why.
Think about the message you want to spread, that’ll help you have a natural and fluid communication with those who are listening to you.
It’s important to always keep these answers in mind so you can stay motivated, even on those not-so-inspiring days.
The format chosen is a very personal choice and depends on who will be involved in the project. You may be comfortable with a certain format and feel confident to stick to it, or you may prefer a hybrid approach and adapt as you go. It’s up to you. Here are the main formats and the pros and cons on each of them.
Traditional: This can be solo/monologue: Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin (BR: Projeto Humanos: Altamira), co-hosted: Howie Mandel Does Stuff (BR: Mamilos), interviews: The Joe Rogan Experience (BR: Mano a Mano), informative/ journalistic: Land of the Giants (BR: Café da Manhã).
Other formats to explore: documentary: Rabbit Hole (BR: Praia dos Ossos), docudrama: The Magnus Archives (BR: Contador de Histórias), non-fictional storytelling: Foundering (BR: Vida de Jornalista), fictional storytelling (theater podcast format): Welcome to Night Vale (BR: Hotel), and repurposed: you can reuse recorded audio for your podcast such as webinars, live streams, speeches, presentations, zoom calls, etc.
There are no rules that say that you have to use and commit to one of these options we listed above. Yet, they’re popular for a reason – they work! Still, we encourage you to experiment, maybe try one and add your own twist to it.
If you’re unsure or feel indecisive on several ideas, choose the one you’re most excited about working on and that you can see yourself still being excited about it a month or even years from now.
The fundamentals are in place, let’s pick up speed. Now that you know and envision how you’ll explore what you want to say, let’s get specific on subjects ideas. It’s time for a brainstorm.
What subtopics can you talk about that will be interesting for your niche? It’s nice to list more than you need. Go full on creative. Skip first ideas and explore further. What does your audience wants? If you have an audience already, that’s a good time to survey them, and hear from them what can be good topics to explore. The more, the merrier. You don’t need to use all of them, you can always save for later.
With all these topic ideas, it’s time to tie them up all together and name your project. There’re all kinds of podcast names out here. You can get as creative as you want, but we suggest you to start with something related to the topic you’re creating. That way, people can already have an idea of what is going to be about and how it’s going to help them – even before digging in. And yes, you can adjust or change it at any time.
If you’re feeling stuck, you can brainstorm again. Put down the best and worst ideas that you have. Even if it’s incomplete or just keywords, just write it down. Later you can filter through what you like, dislike, and love. Give yourself the best chance of being found online.
It’s time to get structured. There’s no one way of doing this, which is why we’re listing general tips for you to find your way to structure your podcast, before recording starts.
Now, let’s break it down. Here are the 5 essential elements of a podcast episode:
Creative freedom needs to be imperative. Don’t assume that there is a set rule for how long your podcast should be. The length will depend on your preference, genre, and how much time you can commit to producing your podcast.
One suggestion is that you set a time limit for your episodes, so you can have a basic foundation to work with, being able to add segments and structure around each episode. This will be very useful when editing, too.
On average, the duration of currently released podcasts is somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes long. Don’t worry about it, though. Balance it with your freedom to create the idea of content that you have, with the audience that will listen to it.
Regardless of how often you plan to release the episodes, the length of each episode shouldn’t be longer than what is necessary to get your message across. You don’t want to bore your listeners with unnecessary blabbering.
Intro – Structure Your Podcast for Success
Imagine being a listener who doesn’t know you and hasn’t heard of your podcast. Work on an introduction that can be captivating or, at the very least, memorable. Showcase what’s unique about you and your content.
With that in mind, your episodes don’t have to follow a rigid and strict formula. It does, however, need to offer some predictability, which will help hook listeners to your content faster and keep them engaged for longer. This way, you’ll have a clear plan and purpose for your episodes, saving you recording and editing time.
Bear in mind that the purpose of your introduction is to establish a scenario, introduce the characters and their connections and build the world in which they live, even if it’s just you. Try getting them hooked and thinking, “Okay, I want to hear the rest of this.”
Do I Need a Script?
A roadmap or even a guide can help you decide how to divide your segments, how much time to spend on each part, and where to include potential future sponsorship announcements in your podcast. Podcast scripts also allow for a smoother editing process.
Authenticity. Keep that word in mind to develop the most crucial part of your podcast. The body is the place for you to detail and develop your ideas. Use the knowledge you have on the subject, share your research, create hypotheses and new scenarios, build your story and…tell it!
A good tip is to write a list of the issues/things you want to address for each episode, while keeping in mind: how will people benefit from listening to this?
The last few minutes of your episode are very important. It can help you create a lasting impression in your audience’s mind. As with the intro, there are no strict rules.
You may have done a great job with the intro and everything else during the episode, but if the show ends badly, it could end up being the difference between a subscriber and a one-time listener.
The outro is essential to summarize and re-access some crucial points that were discussed. You may also share words of appreciation to the listeners for dedicating time listening to you. This may also help you to guide them to the moment where you can ask for something in return (calling them to action) like a subscription, a like, or a share.
If you’ve produced a final jingle, this is the time to use it, indicating that the episode is coming to an end.
Creating An Episode Title
Make it clear to people what they will get from listening to each episode of your show. You need to make sure that you will fulfill the episode with what you promised in the title.
And What Is The Best Frequency to Post?
The best frequency is the one you can maintain, in a healthy way, based on your reality. When you are set to go, it is important to follow this schedule, as it generates expectation and predictability in people.
The basic equipment needed to record a podcast is a computer with a USB microphone and internet access. Seems simple, right? However, the more limited and lower the cost of setup and equipment, the more limited the sound quality of your show will be.
There’s no discredit that a podcast recorded on a decent quality microphone is extremely more professional than someone blabbering away on a tiny headset mic. But we know that investing with no secure return it’s tricky. So, here are some options to cover all types of budgets (last updated in June 2022):
Electro Voice RE20
Zoom P4 PodTrak
Focusrite Scarlett Solo (usb audio interface)
Sound devices MixPre-6 II
Software (recording and editing):
Audacity (free – if windows), Garageband (free – if Mac)
Rode Rodecaster pro (all in one)
Music (royalty free):
You’re ready to hit the REC, with a few, quick, reminders:
Pro tip: record your intros and outros separately, so you can re-use them throughout all episodes.
Now let’s get to the practical part. Let’s try not to overthink it, but get it done.
Your podcast description should be treated as a business card. You want to sell the podcast to your potential listeners and encourage them to give you a shot. Keep it short, but precise.
In addition to choosing a good description, it’s time to think about what your podcast will look like visually. Having an eye-catching, stand-out cover is vital when your podcast competes with thousands out there. Research on other platforms on what style best fits you, which one best represents who your audience is and what you might be doing for them.
Ideally, we’d recommend creating artwork that’s closer to 3000 x 3000 pixels, in JPG or PNG format, and less than 500kb in size. There are some excellent do-it-yourself options, such as Canva or Fiverr.
It is time to push your Podcast to your listeners, wherever they are. We hope you’re feeling good about it, take a look back at your progress, and be proud of it.
If you are launching your podcast for the first time, we advise you to have at least 3 episodes ready.
Once your podcast is live, it’s time to do one of the most important parts of the whole process: promoting it. You need to put it out there, put it on the map.
We know that creating something new is an act of bravery. Cheers to that! We think you made a good choice on investing your time and efforts on this specific format of content. At its core, podcasts are a simple opportunity for storytelling. To share feelings, needs, knowledge and so much more with others. If you manage to be successful on it, being precise with your content and your audience, you’re in for an adventure. We know that the process to actually do it (plan, record and promote) can be intimidating, sometimes a little painful, but the potential is real and unlimited. We believe that Podcasts will continue to grow and disseminate largely, both for Creators and for listeners. So, now that you’ve had a brief idea of how to start your own Podcast, it’s time to start producing your art and getting your voice on the air. Good luck!