How To… Start A Podcast

How To… Start A Podcast

Rewind a decade and setting up a blog made you a pioneer in the digital world. Now, it’s podcasts which are big business, with figures showing people living in the UK are listening to more than 6 million a week. So, whether you simply can’t wait for the latest instalment of The SheerLuxe Podcasts, tune in every week to This American Life or are an avid fan of The High Low, here are the things to think about before you consider a career swap…

Find A Topic You’re Interested In

It’s critical to know whether or not your idea is viable. Start by doing some basic market research: check out podcasts that are already up and running, either on iTunes or Acast. Think about how many of them are doing similar things and what will make your podcast stand out from the rest. Only one or two existing podcasts in your area of interest might not spell opportunity – it might indicate a lack of demand. A lot of listeners tune into podcasts in the hope of expert advice. If you’re confident your idea has legs, start planning.

Think About Branding

The planning process will involve several practical decisions, like choosing a name for the show, composing the theme music and designing a title image to display on podcast apps or websites. “Don’t try to be too clever,” advises Laura Yates from

“Just pick a descriptive name that you think will sound appealing to your audience.” And pick a keyword that clearly describes what your podcast is about. “If you are well-known in your industry, you can put your name in the title,” suggests Yates, but think about whether you plan on appearing in every single episode.

Don’t try to be too clever. Just pick a descriptive name that you think will sound appealing to your audience.
Laura Yates,

Plan Your Content

It’s best to think about episode length early on, as well as the different topics you want to cover. Colin Gray from The Podcast Host suggests thinking about podcasts in ‘seasons’ to ensure the process doesn’t feels like one endless treadmill: “You might create episodes based around a theme or topic for six to 12 episodes, then have a break. After a month or two, you’ll launch a new season and repeat the process.” You might also need to script your show – or at least the introduction – to make it sound slick. If budget allows, you could hire a production company to take some of the hassle away: check out Fresh Air or The Podcast Company for more ideas. 

Find The Right Place To Host

The great thing about podcasts is that, as long as you find a quiet space, they can be recorded pretty much anywhere. Unless you want a seriously professional polish, an audio studio isn’t necessary. Experts agree it’s more important to ensure access to the right equipment and pick the right hosting provider – SoundCloud, Spotify or Acast – so listeners can find and download you easily. As the podcast grows, so can your resources. 

Buy Some Basic Recording Equipment 

A microphone is an absolute must, says Laura. Colin suggests a portable USB mic for first-timers – many of which cost less than £100 each. “That way you can see whether you enjoy it before forking out big sums of money on audio equipment.” You’ll also need access to a computer and editing software (more on that later), although it might surprise you to know that even experienced podcasters consider other items –headphones, microphone stands and complex mixers or audio interfaces – completely optional. 


Learn How To Edit 

The chance of you recording an entire show without a mistake is pretty low – it’s bound to sound unprofessional without a few cuts here and there. Mac users might already be familiar with GarageBand, but other programmes like Audacity or Adobe Audition – which require a monthly subscription – come with a wide range of features and offer more flexibility. Think about adding some show notes too: include them under your podcast’s listing on, for example, Acast and listeners will be able to find everything they want to follow up on.

Get Ready To Promote It

There are some simple steps to ensure your episode reaches as many listeners as possible. First, upload the file to your host provider before making sure your directory – whether that be iTunes or another platform – is tracking your RSS feed to display the latest installment. Then it’s time to get savvy on social media: plug the show with family and friends; even consider a sponsor slot on another popular show to get the word out. If you already have a blog or website, now’s the time to promote it there too. If the marketing machine is something you don’t feel comfortable running yourself, consider turning to a media company like Move Digital, which can help you take control of your vision from start to finish, as well as track your stats afterwards. 

Track The Numbers & The Feedback

Keeping on top of how your podcast performs will inform what happens next. If the numbers aren’t great, it might be a case of poor promotion rather than uninspiring content. Pinpoint the problem by asking listeners for feedback on social media; or consider setting up a dedicated email account for listener queries or questions. Reviews on iTunes will also tell you where you’re tripping up. Take the criticism on the chin and decide whether a change or two might make a better show. Providers like Spotify and Acast offer in-built analytics, but you could try tools from companies like Chartable too. 

Be Realistic About Money

It’s important to consider your long-term goal. Much like building an Instagram following or setting up a YouTube channel, an income isn’t likely in the first few months – or even years. For that reason, it’s best to establish how much you’re willing to spend ahead of time. Turning this side-hustle into a full-time career won’t be an overnight money-maker – we doubt even Dolly or Pandora have paid off the mortgage via the High Low alone, despite an average of 250,000 listeners per episode! But don’t be disheartened. A successful podcast could lead to a host of other life-changing opportunities, like live recordings, book deals or even guest appearances on other shows. Either way, it might be worth tracking down a talent agent to turn yourself into part of the product – just be prepared to hand over 10%...

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