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How to start a podcast: Everything you need to know to succeed

How to Start a Podcast

“Be loud about the things that are important to you,” author and activist Karen Walrond once stated. And what’s a better way to voice your opinion and share your knowledge than by starting a podcast?

By building trust, proving authority and entertaining listeners, a podcast is an effective way to get your name and brand out there. When you create a website, for example, displaying your show with a Podcast Player is a great way to drive more traffic to your site and attract new customers.

In this complete guide, we’ll walk you through how to start a podcast. We’ll begin with helping you choose your topic and podcast format, then move into equipment, recording and the publishing process. Lastly, we’re going to dive into the best ways to market and monetize your podcast.

The popularity of podcasts

In the last decade podcast listeners have doubled and 57% of U.S. consumers listen to podcasts regularly. This significant increase can be explained by the podcast's convenient ability to be listened to on the go. Because of this enjoyable benefit, once people find a show they're connected to, they’re likely to become loyal listeners.

Nonetheless, there's still a lot of untapped territory in this growing media outlet. While there are 600 million blogs and 37 million YouTube channels on the web, there are only about 2 million podcasts. So, if you're considering starting a podcast, now's the time to take a piece of the pie—before the competition increases.

How to start a podcast

Planning a podcast

Preparing for podcasting

Recording and editing your podcast

Launching your podcast

Marketing and growing your podcast

map of all the steps it takes to start a podcast

Planning your podcast

01. Know what makes a good podcast

As you begin preparing for your podcasting journey, beyond knowing the basic elements of what is a podcast it's essential to develop a podcast concept and pick a topic that will set you up for success. To do this, first take a look at what the best podcasters have in common:

  • They are passionate about their subject

  • They stick to a specific topic or theme

  • They keep their listeners in mind and always aim to provide them with value

  • They are consistent in their format and publishing schedule

  • They add a personal touch to differentiate themselves

Let’s take a look at a real life example. The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the most popular podcasts that exist today, with an estimated 11 million listeners per episode. But why is his podcast so successful? Listeners are attracted to Rogan’s advice because they believe he is extremely relatable, personable and, without a doubt, entertaining.

02. Set your goals

Once you know why you want to start a podcast, the rest will be much easier. Your purpose might be to inform, persuade or entertain. For example, these motivational podcasts have the clear goal of inspiring listeners.

When working with a partner or co-host, it’s essential you define your roles and expectations early on. For example, decide that one of you is in charge of editing the audio, and the other is responsible for managing the social media accounts. The earlier you set these goals for everyone involved, the better.

03. Choose your podcast topic

Do you find yourself circling back and discussing the same topics at parties, dinners and other social events? Whether it's Bitcoin, Keto dieting or politics, you likely have a few subjects you’re both passionate about and have the expertise or knowledge to discuss them. Try to pinpoint something you can speak about for 50+ episodes, and ideally, you can progress in that topic with subtopics. For example, business podcasts can break up their content into subtopics like entrepreneurship, starting a business and productivity tips.

If you wish to choose a podcast topic based on demand, Statista found that comedy (22%) is the leading podcast genre in the U.S. After comedy, the top podcast genres are news (21%), true crime (18%), and sports (17%).

Remember, you don't need to have a Ph.D. in this area, nor do you have to be involved with it professionally. It’s more common than you think to start a podcast related to hobbies and interests. Check out these creative podcast topics to help you come up with your idea.

Graph of podcast genres. how to start a podcast using the most popular genres.

04. Define your target audience

They say that if your audience is everyone, then your audience is no one. This is why it's critical to align an end audience with the topic you choose to start a podcast about. By outlining your ideal listener and answering the questions below, you can create relevant content that keeps people engaged in your show:

  • Who is your demographic?

  • Which problems do they face concerning your topic?

  • What do they want to learn?

  • How will your podcast help them?

  • Where are they spending their time online?

  • How can you keep them engaged?

We encourage anyone starting a podcast to write these answers down. Castos has created this helpful template that allows you to define your ideal listener.

05. Name your podcast

Your podcast name can play a significant factor in its success. With a good and descriptive podcast name, you can more easily get discovered, stand out and most importantly—be remembered.

There are several ways to come up with a podcast name. One approach is to plug keywords related to your topic into a podcast name generator tool. Alternatively, you can use these same keywords and experiment with different naming formulas.

Make sure you choose a name that is somewhat broader than your topic. This way, you’re not boxed in and can expand beyond your niche if you decide to.

business name generator tool to help you pick a podcast name

Sometimes, the best podcast names are a bit out-of-the-box, so give yourself creative freedom. Wix recently started a leadership podcast called Now What?—whose name stems from the need for entrepreneurs and creative leaders to constantly evolve and look out for what's coming next.

Once you've chosen your name, check that it's not already used on podcast directories like Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Next, see if the domain name is still available, this will be important when you create a website for your podcast later on.

06. Pick your show format

You can choose from varying podcast formats for your show. The important thing is to keep it consistent, so your listeners know what to expect as they continue to tune in. Here are five of the most popular formats:

  • Interview: The host of an interview podcast will consistently invite relevant guests to their show and facilitate a conversation with them. This is the most popular podcast format and is useful for getting new listeners as guests can bring in new audiences and exposure. Not to mention, it’s also a great way to talk to interesting people you admire. However, take into account that you need to do some outreach and planning to set up your interviews.

  • Solo show: A solo or monologue style podcast is one in which a single host speaks for the duration of the show. The benefit is that you can work independently, while the potential challenge is that you’re the only one talking for the duration of the show.

  • Co-hosted: A conversational podcast in which two or more hosts can bounce ideas off each other. This format is excellent for debating, good banter and improv.

  • Panel: This podcast format is a roundtable discussion in which several speakers offer their input and opinions on a subject. A benefit for the listener is that they can hear many diverse perspectives on a single episode.

  • Scripted story-telling podcasts: These can either be fiction or nonfiction shows that have a single theme and several stories within that topic. Here you will often find documentary-style shows, including docu-dramas.

07. Determine your average episode length

After you’ve decided which podcast format you’re planning to work with, give some thought to your episode length. With a consistent length, you’ll have a more professional show that listeners are familiar with, and they can find the best time to fit your podcast into their schedule.

Podcasts can range anywhere from five minutes to six hours. While there is no perfect podcast length, many people aim for 20-40 minute episodes to align with average commute times. In fact, Buzzsprout found that 20-40 minutes is the most common episode length, with 31% falling into this range. The second most popular podcast length is 40-60 minutes which applies to 22% of podcast episodes.

graph of average podcast episode length to help you pick a length when you start a podcast

Preparing for podcasting

08. Script your show

With a solid show outline and general script in hand, you'll be able to record with ease and save time planning each episode. We don't mean writing a full essay and reading it word-for-word— instead, use bullet points and a consistent order for key elements such as introducing the show’s topic, the interviewer (if applicable) and having a summary at the end.

Here is an example of a show outline:

  • Intro music: Start your podcast with a theme song to kick off the episode.

  • Episode introduction: Introduce yourself, your podcast name and what your show is about. Then give a brief summary of what listeners will get out of today’s episodes. Remember, the first 5 minutes are crucial for making a good first impression as 20-35% of listeners tend to drop off if they do not see value by then.

  • Guest intro (if applicable): Share your guest’s name and add some context regarding their background and expertise. Make it clear to listeners why this guest is on your show and what they can learn from that individual.

  • Episode main content: Discuss the episode's topics in detail. Whether it's an interview, story, news update or monologue—this is the episode’s meat. Feel free to include an ad slot here at the start, middle or end.

  • Wrap up: Summarize the key takeaways from today and thank any guests you might have had on the show. Also, thank your listeners for tuning in. This can also be a great time for announcing upcoming events, episodes or seasons.

  • Call-to-action: This is your chance to ask listeners to subscribe, review or share your podcast. Don't skip this part, as those actions can significantly improve your number of listeners.

  • Outro music: Play an ending song to symbolize your episode has finished.

09. Get equipped with a microphone

When you start a podcast, you don’t need to invest in extensive equipment, but one highly recommended item is a quality microphone. USB microphones are the most popular to use and can come in a wide range of prices. We’ve researched the market and found these are the top-recommended microphones for podcasting:

  • Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Microphone

  • Samson Q2U Microphone

  • Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone

On top of your mic, you might also want to get soundproof headphones, a mic arm and a shock mount (these prevent unwanted movement of your microphone and let you place the microphone in a perfect position).

10. Select your podcast music

It’s common practice to open your episodes with a theme song and end with an outro song. You can find a song that fits your show using royalty-free music on sites like Bensound, Premium Beat, and Audio Jungle. Once you’ve chosen your theme, download it to your computer. In the editing and recording stage, you will upload it into your software.

Example of finding podcast music from Premium Beat's website

11. Design your show’s cover art

Creating a visually appealing art cover is an essential step in knowing how to start a podcast. Cover art is the small square image seen next to your podcast name on places like Spotify or your website. This visual should communicate the subject of your podcast.

Generally, specifications require a cover image to be a JPG or PNG file that is 3000 x 3000 pixels and has a resolution of 72 dpi. If you need help with this, you can use an image resizer tool.

Try not to clutter your image since it will be relatively small. Also, consider creating a logo for the cover to make it easily recognizable. To further help with your design, you can use stock images or hire a professional from Fiverr. Check out some of the best podcast logos for inspiration to help you get started.

Example of cover art for your podcast

12. Invite podcast guests

Inviting guests to your podcast can make your show more conversational, allowing an outside voice to be heard. Guests can offer unique perspectives and showcase knowledge that can be highly valuable to your podcast's subject. People to include as guests can be friends, family, co-workers or leaders in your industry.

To invite guests to your show, you can reach out to them directly. Social media sites, including LinkedIn, can be a great place to find or message high-profile guests. Otherwise, check on a candidate’s resume website for a phone number or email to contact them.

Recording and editing your podcast

13. Find a place to record

Not all podcasting spaces are created equally. The best setting to record a podcast is a quiet place, ideally with materials that can absorb sound. Examples of such items you want nearby are: bookcases, clothes, couches and carpets. If you happen to have a walk-in closet, that could be an ideal location to record. Once you’re ready, you can work up to a recording studio with soundproofing materials like foam panels for the best quality sound.

14. Use the right microphone techniques

To save time when editing your content, ensure that you record yourself in the best way possible by implementing good microphone techniques from the start. Follow these best practices when using a microphone for your podcast:

  • Position your microphone five to six inches (or five fingers) away from your mouth.

  • Tilt your mic at 45 degrees for your voice to get captured in the highest quality.

  • Move away from the microphone when you’re not speaking to avoid unnecessary recording noises.

15. Record remote guests or co-hosts

To record remote guests, you can use software such as Skype, Zoom, SquadCast, Alitu and Zencastr. Additionally, Anchor is a great free tool that can connect you with up to ten people so that you can record together from anywhere. With this tool, people can record themselves directly from their phones, so you won’t need to ask your guests to invest in a microphone. There is even a capability called “Anchor Co-hosts” that pairs you up with a stranger interested in discussing similar topics. Nonetheless, once you save the file from your interview, you can edit it all in one place.

16. Work with editing software

Podcast recording and editing software allow you to clean up your audio from noises, cut segments, layer on music and move around different sections. Some of the best known editing software are: Alitu, Anchor, Audacity and Adobe Audition. However, there are many more to choose from.

Editing tips:

  • Create a template in which your intros, outros and ad slots are locked in, so you just need to add in your voice for that day’s episode.

  • First edit for content, then distractions. Focusing on one at a time will make the process quicker.

  • In your settings, add compressions to make your voice sound more soothing and let technology automate noise removal.

  • Use sound fades between tracks for smooth-sounding transitions.

  • When exporting, consider adding ID3 tags so that your media player has the correct information about your episode.

  • If only your voice is recorded, set the bitrate to 96 kbps, and if you also have music, set it to 192 kbps. This will polish the sound of your voice and make it more soothing.

Launching your podcast

17. Choose a podcast hosting site

Not everyone is aware of this, but podcast directories such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify don’t allow you to upload episodes to their platform directly. Instead, you must choose a podcast hosting site that stores and broadcasts your audio files. This site then generates an RSS feed for you that gets shared with directories.

When you start a podcast, review the best podcast hosting sites to pick the platform you need. We gathered 15 platforms based on features, price, storage, podcast analytics and distribution integrations. Here are the top five:

18. Create a website for your podcast

On top of showcasing your podcast episodes, creating a website allows you to share background information about yourself and the other hosts. A site also provides a seamless way to gain new business opportunities, since potential collaborators can easily get in touch.

No matter which podcasting host you have, the Wix Podcast Player uploads your content onto your website by pulling its RSS feed URL. To help you launch, we’ve created free podcast website templates that already have the podcast player built-in and are designed with listening in mind. Girl, You're Hired: Job Interview Tips is one of many podcast website examples built on Wix. The creator also used the Wix Logo Maker for the podcast icon.

In addition, by adding a free blog and placing your podcast side-by-side, you can gain SEO traffic and monetize your show, which we’ll discuss later. You can also learn more about SEO for podcasts in our guide. You can also add a contact form to collect subscribers’ email addresses for future email marketing campaigns and inform them to tune in for new episodes, events and share other exciting news.

podcast website to use when you learn how to start a podcast plus a link to templates

19. Write a description for your podcast

Just like we read the back of a book cover before deciding to purchase it, listeners most often judge a podcast by its description. Therefore, make sure your summary is very enticing and descriptive. To do this, cover the following points:

  • Who you are

  • Who this podcast is for

  • What the listener will get out of the podcast

For instance, Karin Ronin’s podcast description successfully articulates that her podcast is for leaders who want to build their visibility and influence. Karin also introduces her name and lets people know that they can expect her to share strategies, insights, and Q&A episodes around leadership development each week.

The leadership pod - podcast description example

20. Title your episodes

Podcast directories work similarly to search engines as they display relevant shows based on keywords entered. Therefore, your episode titles should be descriptive and searchable. Do keyword research to understand which categories you want your podcast to fall under and which phrases match the searcher's intent.

Moreover, aim to write titles that highlight the episode’s value and what the listeners will get from it, such as “X Tips For...” or “How to…”

Take a look at how Pete Mockaitis uses an episode title format that both identifies a focus question and addresses the value of listening. Here are simple examples: “How to Make Your Point and Communicate like a Leader” and “How to Grow Your Career Faster through Reading.”

Podcast title examples from How To Be Awesome at Your Job podcast

21. Submit your show to podcast directories

Once you have three to five episodes recorded, edited and uploaded to your podcast hosting site, it’s time to publish and share it with the world. You will be able to submit your show with your RSS feed URL, which is found in the dashboard of your podcast hosting site. There's a high chance your podcast hosting service has a direct link to submit your podcast using their tool, so try that option before going the manual route outlined below.

The most common podcast directories to start submitting to are Spotify and Apple Podcasts. However, there are over 40 podcast directories you should consider expanding to in order to maximize reach.

  1. Log in to Spotify for Podcasters with your Spotify account, or choose SIGN UP to create one.

  2. Click get started

  3. Paste in the link to your podcast's RSS feed.

  4. Spotify will send a verification email. Copy the code from that email and paste in the submit form.

  5. Add your podcast info like the category, language, and country and hit submit.

  1. In Apple Podcasts Connect, click the Add button and select New Show.

  2. Choose “Add a show with an RSS feed, enter the RSS feed URL and click Save.

  3. Review your show details on the Show Information page to ensure everything looks correct.

  4. Provide contact information for the show.

  5. Set the Content Rights and confirm that your show has rights to any third-party content it may contain and submit your show for review.

Marketing and growing your podcast

22. Implement a podcast marketing strategy

The average podcast gets around 27 listens per episode. In contrast, the top 1% of podcasts get around 3,200 listens per episode. Where on this spectrum do you hope to fall? If you’re looking to grow your audience to a massive scale, it’s crucial to increase the ways in which people can find your podcast.

The most common ways podcasts are discovered are via charts and recommendations on listening apps and word of mouth. However, there are many other marketing strategies to include in your podcast growth strategy:

  • Share on social media: Share your episodes across different social media channels used by your target audience. Create teaser videos, transcriptions or other strong social media graphics to give sneak peeks of your show that can generate interest. Additionally, join relevant forums and groups around your topic to become part of the podcasting community. Tip: You can use a link in bio tool like Hopp by Wix in order to direct users from your social media channels to your podcast, website and other online assets from one designated URL.

when you start a podcast for free share it on social media - example of a post

  • Run email marketing campaigns: Build email lists and send email marketing campaigns informing users to listen to your newest episodes. You can even run promotions and ask for users to submit questions or become guests on your show. Also, this type of communication ensures you’re not forgotten and reminds your audience to check in on your show.

email marketing campaign to market your podcast

  • Maximize reviews and testimonials: Let your fans talk you up. Then share their amazing reviews with others. Once people hear great feedback, they’ll be more curious to give your show a try. Remember to ask for this feedback during your episodes.

  • Bring on guests and be a guest: Expose yourself and your show to new audiences by going onto other podcasts or bringing important people to act as guests on yours. This way, you can cross-market yourselves and expand your reach.

  • Write blog posts: Summarize what your episode is about and use blogging SEO optimizations so that you’ll be found high up on search engines.

  • Dabble with paid ads: Choose from different types of advertising campaigns that target your audience. This can be sponsored social media posts or even paid search ads.

  • Network with other podcasters: It’s not always what you know, but who you know that matters. Go to events, build connections and befriend other podcasters who you can learn from. You can always ask them for advice on how to start a podcast.

  • Contact brands and people you mention: If you give a shoutout to a person or a product, it’s also in their best interest for as many people as possible to hear it. Send the episode their way with a friendly note, and hopefully, they'll be glad to share it.

Podcast analytics and tracking

Tracking your podcast analytics is an important of understanding how well your distribution and marketing strategies are working. To measure the success of these efforts you'll need to identify and track the following podcast metrics -

  • Downloads: The number of times your podcast episodes have been downloaded or streamed. It's a primary indicator of overall reach and popularity.

  • Unique listeners: The number of individual listeners who have accessed your podcast. It provides a more accurate representation of your actual audience size, as it eliminates duplicate downloads from the same listener.

  • Listener demographics: Understanding the demographics of your podcast audience is crucial for tailoring content and attracting sponsors. Demographic metrics include age, gender, location, and interests. This information can be gathered through listener surveys or through podcast hosting platforms and advertising networks.

  • Listener engagement: Engagement metrics help gauge how actively your audience interacts with your podcast. These can include metrics like average listen-through rate (the percentage of an episode listened to), average duration of listening, or the number of episodes subscribed to.

  • Reviews and ratings: Monitoring reviews and ratings on podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts can provide insights into audience sentiment and satisfaction. Positive reviews and high ratings can indicate a strong connection with your audience.

  • Referral sources: Tracking referral sources helps identify how listeners are discovering your podcast. This information helps optimize your promotional efforts and focus on distribution and marketing channels that yield the best results.

  • Subscriber growth: Monitoring the growth of your subscriber base over time provides an indication of your podcast's popularity and retention rate. Consistent growth signifies that your content resonates with your audience, while declines may indicate the need to reassess your content.

  • Episode popularity: Analyzing episode-specific data helps identify which episodes resonate most with your audience. Look at download numbers, listener engagement, or social media shares to determine which topics or guests are particularly popular.

  • Geo reach: Understanding the geographic distribution of your listeners can inform content localization efforts or potential regional advertising opportunities. Analytics platforms may provide data on the countries or regions where your podcast has the most listeners.

  • Conversion and monetization: If you have specific conversion goals, such as driving website visits or promoting products, track metrics related to those goals. For monetization, you can measure metrics like ad impressions, click-through rates, or revenue generated through sponsorships or advertisements.

To accurately track podcast metrics, consider using podcast hosting platforms lsuch Libsyn, Podbean, or Blubrry. Additionally, some analytics tools, such as Chartable or Podtrac, provide more detailed insights into your podcast's performance and audience engagement.

23. Keep people listening

First and foremost, a proven way to keep people coming back is by asking them to subscribe to your podcast. This way, they’ll be alerted when you release new content.

Secondly, focus on continually adding value and engaging with listeners. You will organically lead people to enjoy your show so much that they’ll want to hear more from you.

Lastly, to build audience engagement and to create a sense of community, you can do things like take voice messages from listeners, record a segment with a lucky subscriber or simply host Q&As and take questions from your listeners. Imagine sending a question to your favorite podcast host. Wouldn't you want to listen to the next episode to find out if they answered it and what they said?

24. Monetize your podcast

After your podcast is up and running, you can start thinking about how to monetize your podcast. Now you can begin to monetize it. Most people make money podcasting by running ads, charging paid subscriptions or asking for donations through platforms like Patreon or PayPal.

25. Publish new content regularly

The secret to podcast success is consistency. Make a schedule for your show and aim to release at least a few new episodes a month. If it’s easier for you to bulk record, you can record a full season at one time, buying yourself time until you record and publish the next one. As long as your listeners know when to expect more content, they'll likely come back for more.

How much does it cost to start a podcast

When it comes to starting a podcast, your first initial outlay will be equipment. You should expect to pay several hundred dollars in order to set yourself up with a microphone, headphones and your recording software. This is assuming you already have the computer to start recording on. Looking for courses on how to start and make impact with a podcast? So these will probably run to another couple hundred dollars on top.

Starting a podcast on an actual platform is generally free - with the Wix podcast player, you'll first need to create a website. On Spotify you can create a podcast for free, while to start one on Apple will cost from US$19.99 a year.

What is the bare minimum to start a podcast?

To start a podcast, you need a few essential pieces of equipment and software:

  • Microphone: A good quality microphone is essential for capturing clear audio. You can use a USB microphone or a dedicated XLR microphone with an audio interface.

  • Recording software: Recording software allows you to record and edit your podcast episodes.

  • Editing software: Editing software allows you to refine your audio, remove unwanted noise and add music or sound effects.

  • Hosting platform: A podcast hosting platform stores your podcast episodes and distributes them to podcast directories like Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

How to start a podcast FAQ

What are the most effective ways to monetize a podcast?

The most effective ways to monetize a podcast will depend very much on your specific niche and audience. However some of the most common ways to make money from a podcast include - sponsorships and ads, affiliate marketing, donations, premium content and sponsorship.

Can I start a podcast for free?

How do I start a podcast as a beginner?

What are some tips for being a good podcast host?

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