Podcasting is among the most varied and fascinating forms of new media. It also doesn’t require a great deal of expertise or equipment to engage here. It is a hobby you can pursue solo that may bolster your mental health as well as exercise your creativity. You’ll also find it pairs well with other independent pursuits like writing, gaming, and meditation. If you have a subject you want to discuss or explore, a podcast can be an excellent way to do so. In some cases, you can even forge a career path.
Getting started doesn’t need a lot of investment. But you can benefit from some mindful planning. Let’s take a look at what you need to do before you create your first episode.
Choose Your Focus and Name
Almost whatever subject you want to explore, there is potentially a podcast audience for it. However, it’s also important to be clear on exactly what the focus of your show will be. This not only helps you to create more structured content. It also sets audience expectations that attract them to your show.
Once you know what your podcast will be about, it’s time to choose your name. Feel free to be creative. Puns can be a good way to grab attention. But try not to be too obscure. Your name needs to quickly communicate what your show is about when people are scrolling playlists. It’s also important to do your research here to make sure nobody has grabbed your witty new title before you.
Nail Down Your Format
A great format can make or break your podcast. If you take an improvisational approach to this, things can get disorganized and messy relatively quickly. This doesn’t mean you can’t change your format down the road, but it’s worth choosing a structure to get started.
Some options here include
- Straight interviews
- Narrative storytelling
- Investigative journalism
- Panel shows
- Actual play tabletop gaming
Purchase a Domain Name and Build a Website
Building a website isn’t a necessity to start a podcast, but it’s certainly a useful tool. You can use it to host various forms of marketing surrounding your podcast, including blog posts, videos, and creator biographies. Not to mention you can use it as a central hub with links to your previous episodes, social media accounts, and merchandise store.
Whenever possible, purchase a domain name for your podcast with a .com suffix. In some cases, this can be slightly more expensive. But it does give more professional status to your website.
Select a Host
Many new podcasters make the mistake of thinking they can simply record their podcast and upload it to distributor platforms like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as straightforward as this. You need to select a host to store your podcast episodes on their server. You’ll then be able to create accounts with these distributors and connect a link to your host’s RSS feed for each episode.
There are some free options here when you’re just starting out. Soundcloud and Podbean both offer free plans, but these are often limited in terms of your storage capacity and time lengths each month. With paid subscription services you’ll usually find you have greater freedom of uploads and access to dedicated support.
Create Cover Art
Branding is an important aspect of your podcast. Making strong visual choices and keeping them consistent can mean audiences can more easily recognize your show. It also gives you solid materials to bolster your website, merchandise, and social media.
Creating impactful cover art is one of your best tools in this regard. In many cases, this will be the first element people see when scrolling through podcast listings or when offered recommendations on blogs. While you should be creative here, it’s more important to prioritize clarity. Your cover art has to be readable on handheld devices and small screens.
Invest in Equipment
One of the reasons podcasting is so accessible is that it doesn’t require a huge amount of expensive equipment. Nevertheless, it’s worth considering investing in a few items to ensure the quality of your podcast is high.
A laptop or home computer is usually fine as long as you have a decent amount of storage space. It can be smart to invest in an external hard drive. There are also some universal serial bus (USB) microphones on the market that can record high-quality audio without an external mixer. Nevertheless, you still need to be mindful of your options here. If you’re narrating or interviewing, a cardioid microphone is usually best as it picks up sound only from the front. If you’re engaging in a group discussion or performance, an omnidirectional microphone that picks up the whole room may be more appropriate.
Buy Editing Software
While the quality of your sound can come from your hardware, the perfect final shape of the podcast comes from great editing. As such, it’s wise to purchase user-friendly editing software even before you upgrade your hardware. Many packages will give you the option to boost or clean up the noise from lower-quality microphones. Though, if your budget is really stretched, Audacity is an open-source editing platform with a lot of useful features.
Many podcasts are also providing video versions of their shows. This can be a smart move as it allows you to be more creative and can also extend your reach on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. Here, too, it’s vital to select user-friendly video editing software that empowers you to make professional-quality visuals. It’s wise to seek tools to provide you with enhancements like animated transitions and text or image overlays. A little investment of time and study here can help boost your podcast’s value.
Starting a podcast can be a great way to engage with a new hobby and explore your interests. Before recording your first episode, it’s important to gain clarity on subject matter and format. Creating branding and marketing materials early on helps you connect with your audience. Remember, you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment and software immediately, but make choices that improve the quality of your show. With some planning, you can create a fascinating and professional standard of podcast.