How to Start a Podcast (2019 Step-by-Step Guide)

Last updated on October 11th, 2019

Have you ever wondered how to start a podcast? You’re in the right place! In this article, we’ll walk you through the 13 critical steps (we’re skipping the fluff here) to get your show off the ground.

How to Start a Podcast in 13 Easy Steps

Go step-by-step or click on a section below to go right to the tutorial you need. Each step has everything you’ll need to successfully get your show live and a TL:DR summary if you’re just here for a refresher. Let’s get started!

  1. Choose a Topic, Name, and Design Your Cover Art
  2. Choose a Format and a Co-Host
  3. Define Your Ideal Listener
  4. Get Podcasting Equipment and Achieve Great Mic Technique
  5. Create an Intro and Outro
  6. Record Your First Episode
  7. Edit Your First Episode
  8. ID3 Tag Your Audio File
  9. Setting Up Your Podcast Hosting Service
  10. Build a Website and Publish Your First Episode
  11. The Importance of Show Notes and Transcriptions
  12. Submitting Your Podcast To The Biggest Directories
  13. Launch Your Podcast Like A Pro and Grow Your Audience

Step 1: Choose a Topic, Name, and Cover Art

Choosing your show’s topic is an important decision, so it give it some serious thought. It will define everything you do going forward.

It’s easy to get paralyzed on this step but, ultimately choosing a topic is an intimate decision we can’t make for you. So if you’re unsure if your topic is the one, check out our comprehensive guide, Podcast Topics: How to Choose the One That’s Right For You, to help make your decision.

Naming Your Podcast

When choosing a name, you have a lot of freedom but here’s some handy tips to keep in mind as you brainstorm:

  1. Relate it to your topic, at least a little bit: Allude to your topic to help draw in potential listeners. If you want to start a fishing podcast, “Fishing with Brian” may be too obvious but “River Adventures” highlights the aquatic nature while grabbing a listener’s interest.
  2. Choose a name that’s broader than your topic: Things change. Give yourself some leeway in case you decide to host an episode slightly outside your topic. “River Adventures” could have an episode about rafting or boating and still be on theme.
  3. Secure similar domain name and social media handles: You’ll want these assets to mirror your podcast name as closely as possible.
  4. Don’t get too clever: If you have to explain your name’s meaning to potential listeners, move on. This isn’t the place to drum up your quirkiest pun, keep it simple. And don’t forget that you’ll be saying this name aloud just as often as writing it, so make sure it comes out clearly for listeners.

Create Eye-Catching Cover Art

Cover art is one of the first things potential listeners see when evaluating if your show is worth their time so don’t skimp on this step.

Have the perfect podcast voice but zero design chops? Here’s how to Compliment Your Podcast With Quality Cover Art.

TL:DR There’s no clear process for choosing a topic so it’s helpful to explore a few options before making your decision. As a rule of thumb, there are 4 key factors to consider as you start the process: the purpose of the podcast, eventual monetization, your differentiator, and personal interest in the topic. Cover art should compliment your podcast’s topic and name to help communicate its subject and tone. Don’t be afraid to use your company’s logo, avoid hard to read fonts, and stick to high-resolution imagery. The final asset should be a square ratio and 3000x3000px in JPG or PNG format.

Step 2: Choose a Format and Co-Host

You’ll want a consistent format to build an audience–if you’re constantly changing the formula, you’ll confuse listeners and struggle to keep them engaged. There’s a lot of flexibility when it come to form so take a minute to dive into the pros and cons of seven different styles inside Which Podcast Format is Right for Your Show?

While this step is optional, veteran podcasters often suggest bringing on a good co-host as the best piece of advice to get your show started. Your partner can split the heavy lifting tasks, help promote the show, lend ideas, provide feedback, and hold you responsible to avoid “podfading”.

Co-hosts also help you create more engaging content. A podcast conversation is far more organic than a lecture. This is why most podcasts bring on guests. With a co-host, you can have that same natural feel even when you don’t have guests.

But of course, there are downsides.

First, you won’t be able to make all the decisions. You’ll undoubtedly have to compromise on some things.

Second, there’s a possibility your co-host will drop out at some point. This could lead you with more work than you can handle, or force you to scramble to replace him or her. It might even cost you some fans.

Third, if you ever plan to monetize the podcast (perhaps with sponsors), you will have to split the profits with your co-host.

Not using a co-host doesn’t mean you’ll always work alone, however. There are plenty of content creators who hire people to help them as they grow. Podcasting doesn’t have to be lonely!

TL:DR Finding the right form for your podcast is an important decision because it’ll stick with you through the life of your show. Create your own unique format or consider one of the five most popular styles: monologue, co-hosted, interview based, roundtable, and story-telling. Bringing on a co-host can add a lot of positives to your show (like sharing the heavy-lifting and bringing fresh ideas to the table) but don’t forget to consider the cons.

Step 3: Define Your Ideal Listener

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding who it is that you’re podcasting for.

Are you trying to appeal to a certain age group or location?

Are you targeting people with a specific interest or perspective?

Will your content address your audience’s troubles and pains or aspirations and dreams?

The best way to address these questions is to put your answers down on paper–head over to Define Your Ideal Listener and download our Listener Avatar worksheet to organize your thoughts.

TL:DR This is a core step so we recommend putting every unique characteristic of your ideal listener down on paper. While this is step isn’t as sexy as recording your first episode, it’s where great content creators differentiate themselves and beat the competition. So spend the extra time now and you’ll thank us later. To get started, check out our how-to guide for a simplified downloadable worksheet.

Step 4: Podcasting Equipment and Achieve Great Microphone Technique

Technically you could record a podcast with just an iPhone, but we don’t recommend it. The audio won’t be professional sounding. But fortunately, podcasting gear doesn’t cost a lot.

When it comes to recording great sounding audio, you need to consider the physical location of your microphone, recording settings, volume metering, and certain environmental considerations. For no BS gear suggestions and our favorite mic techniques, peruse 21 Podcast Recording Tips for Polished, Professional Episodes.

We’ll save you some time and headache here on which podcasting microphone you should choose. Get either:

  • Audio Technica ATR2100
  • Rode Podcaster
  • Shure SM7b with a Scarlet Focusrite Preamp

We cover these podcasting gear recommendations and a few other accessories that you should have in your podcasting rig.

TL:DR Investing in a solid microphone, pop filter, and set of headphones will cover your bases and bring your podcast from good to great. But you need to know how to use them. For mic technique, consider the physical location of the microphone in relation to your body, recording settings and volume metering. Be aware of the environmental conditions in your recording room and the opportunities for reverberation. No one wants to listen to a podcast full of feedback, sirens sounding, or a barely audible host.

Step 5: Create an Intro and Outro

Intros and outros are easy ways to add polish and personality to your podcast. They’re not absolutely required, but they’ll help you compete with other podcasts who grapple for your audience’s attention. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite samples with a few available free and paid resources to get you started.

Especially when you’re just starting out we VERY MUCH recommend you have a standardized intro and outro segment that you reuse on every episode. Don’t create extra work for yourself by choosing to record a custom intro segment for each episode. You can add this later when you’ve got a few dozen episodes under your belt.

TL:DR Intros are short voice overs used to introduce the podcast and host while the outro is usually a simple “thanks for listening” message. Each can include background music, just be sure to avoid copyrighted music unless you intend to pay for it.

Step 6: Record Your First Episode

Now that you have everything you need to record your first podcast episode, it’s time to get down to business!

You’ll likely do some local and remote recording so you’ll want to have software on hand for both situations. For local recordings, go with Audacity as it’s a great tool for first-timers. For remote interviews we very much like both Zencastr and Squadcast. Both perform local recordings of both you and your guest, which takes internet connectivity issues out of the equation.

To feel confident going into your first audio recording, check out our How To Record Your First Podcast Episode comprehensive guide. We cover the in’s and out’s of popular recording software, a video tutorial on how to use Audacity, and highlight the importance of writing a script. And don’t worry, we all hate the sound of our voice at first.

TL:DR You’ll need a software that will work for both local and remote recording situations but for local recordings we highly recommend Audacity as it’s free, functional, and well established. For your first recording, remember to try for a conversational tone to sound more natural, you can adjust and edit the audio in post-production, and don’t forget you can always just re-record!

Step 7: Edit Your First Episode

Editing: where you splice in your intro and outro, remove gaps of dead air, cut out your mistakes, and eliminate background noises and those impossible-to-ignore pops. Since it’s easier to show than tell you how to editor audio, we put a video together showing you the basics plus more tips inside Podcast Editing: How Much is Really Needed?

TL:DR Solid preparation (read script writing and improving your presentation skills), leveraging the 3-click technique, and finding your balance between minimum effective and macro content editing will help you produce a successful show. Editing should enhance your show rather than used as a crutch–investing resources in planning each episode allows you to spend less time editing and more time creating captivating content.

Step 8: ID3 Tag Your Audio File

ID3 tags tell your audience things like the title of the episode, the author, and the name, description, and cover image for the show. Craig, Castos CEO and podcast host, put together a video tutorial detailing how to simply add the metadata using iTunes in 4 steps:

  1. Upload your completed episodes into iTunes
  2. Right click the file and select Get Info
  3. Under Options, change the Media Kind field to Podcast
  4. Under Details, complete the title, author, description, and podcast name fields and upload your cover art

Step 9: Setting Up Your Podcast Hosting Service

Your episodes need to be hosted somewhere online so podcast directories know where to pull from. There are a few services to choose from but full disclosure, we’re a little biased here.

Built for and by real podcasters, Castos is a hosting provider designed for new and seasoned creators in mind! We help thousands of customers publish their content across Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, expand their show’s reach by supporting YouTube republishing, and generate best-in-class podcast analytics.

Get started with Castos today

AND SEE JUST HOW EASY PODCASTING CAN BE

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When you’re ready to upload your first episode, head to your new podcast hosting service’s documentation for their specific upload instructions. For Castos’ users, this step is a breeze–simply navigate to Episodes and click “Add New Episode” then enter your show’s title and description details, and upload the audio file.

TL:DR Choose a podcast hosting service that has the features you need to properly publish your episodes across the web. While you have a few options to choose from, we’re biased and think Castos is the perfect tool for podcasters who are just starting out. Start your 14-day free trial to see for yourself.

Step 10: Build a Website and Publish Your First Episode

A website will serve as your podcast’s “home base” for your content and is a platform for your brand. We recommend building a website on WordPress since it’s cheap, easy, and you maintain complete control. Follow our 6 Steps to Build a Podcast Website to get your site up and running in just a few hours.

All WordPress users can install our plugin, Seriously Simple Podcasting, to manage your episodes right from the WordPress dashboard. This means embedding your player in each new post is incredibly easy without the hassle of toggling between multiple platforms.

TL:DR To get your website off the ground, first open an account with a web host, buy your domain name, then customize your site using WordPress and its plugins. Create separate posts for each new episode, making sure to feature the player at the top of the page as users are there to listen to your show!

Step 11: The Importance of Show Notes and Transcriptions

It’s important to have written content on your website to increase its SEO value (how easy it is for Google and other search engines to understand what your website is about), making it more likely users will find it.

Show notes are the perfect way to include text on your website. They can be a few bullet points about the episode’s main topic or a detailed summary of the entire show but they should always live below the podcast player. If you’re thinking “I don’t want to write! That’s why I’m a podcaster”, our How to Write Engaging and SEO-Friendly Podcast Show Notes guide is filled with best practices and examples to get your creative juices flowing.

Alongside your notes, we recommend including a complete transcription of the episode on every post to make your content accessible to people who don’t want to listen to the entire episode, or for those in your audience who are hearing impaired. If you host your podcast with Castos, you can use our automated transcription service to generate a transcript of every episode you upload. If you use another podcast host, you’ll have to pay someone to transcribe each episode. There are plenty of quality transcribers on Fiverr.

TL:DR Including written content like show notes and episode transcriptions on your website will improve its SEO ranking and make your content available to users who can’t listen to a full episode. Castos users can use our automated transcription feature to quickly transcribe each episode, otherwise hiring a transcriber is the next best route.

Step 12: Submitting Your Podcast To The Most Important Directories

There’s probably nothing as misunderstood in podcasting as the RSS feed. This is THE THING that controls the content of your feed, and without it you literally wouldn’t have a podcast. It’s important to remember that your feed has 2 main components: the channel information which is meta information about your podcast as a whole, and episode specific information which is unique to each episode you publish. We demystify the RSS feed, explain the components, and steps to take to ensure everything is set up correctly inside Your Podcast RSS Feed & Why It’s So Important.

Next, it’s critical to submit your podcast to as many podcast directories as possible to make it accessible to everyone, no matter which platforms they prefer to use. All you need to do is make an account with each directory and submit your RSS link. The major players are Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, Podcasher, and TuneIn. We also recommend submitting to doubleTwist, iPodder, and Castbox. Get the skinny on each directory and how to submit your show inside The Top Podcast Directories To List Your Show.

TL:DR Setting up your RSS feed correctly is a crucial component when submitting your show to each podcast directory. These directories are the way to spread the word about your podcast and let your audience find your podcast wherever they already are looking for new shows.

Step 13: Launch Your Podcast Like a Pro and Grow Your Audience

Congratulations! You’ve done a TON of hard work to get to this point and now it’s time to launch your new podcast. We see far too many people get started with their new show, and just publish an episode or two…don’t let this be you by watching Castos CEO, Craig, walk through how to make a splash on launch day. From building a group of supporters, crafting the perfect call to action, to how to keep the momentum going, this is a complete guide. Some of them will be a great fit for you and your show, and others might not, but the goal here is to give you a few ideas you can run with, and implement for your podcast.

As you continue to publish episodes on a consistent basis, you’ll want to start growing your audience so even more people will hear your message. The best growth strategy is specific to each podcast but the main tactics include:

  • Start a Facebook Group
  • Guest appear on other podcasts
  • Start an email list
  • Launch a Giveaway for listeners only
  • Partner with other shows to cross-promote
  • Republish your content to Facebook Live and YouTube
  • Paid advertising for your podcast

TL:DR Putting a launch strategy in place can help your show make a splash on day 1. Consider your calls to action to attract new listeners and try a variety of growth strategies to find the right mix for your podcast. As you grow an audience, start connecting with them to better serve their needs and keep your show’s momentum going.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how to start a podcast, continue publishing episodes on a consistent basis. Use a podcast editorial calendar to keep yourself on track. Focus on producing the best product possible you can.

Once you become comfortable producing episodes, turn your attention toward promoting your podcast. Follow the strategies we explain in our full guide: How to Promote a Podcast: 2019 Ultimate Guide.

Get started with Castos today

AND SEE JUST HOW EASY PODCASTING CAN BE

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