I have written and spoken a lot lately about how to grow your podcast and build an audience, but I realized, after participating on a panel about podcasting technology hosted by The Nice Guys on Business Podcast, how much I still have to learn from other podcasters about how to produce one. So I wanted to backtrack a bit and share the steps we took to start our podcasts.
So what do you *actually* need?
In another article, I wrote, in more detail, about each of these items and *why* they are crucial to your podcast’s success, but now I’m going to focus less on the why and more on what you need to get started.
Here we go, the new podcaster’s To-Do list:
Come up with a concept.
It might be as simple as, I want to interview successful entrepreneurs to uncover how they did it. Or it could be something like, I’d like to resurrect an old radio format and use it as a framework to report a murder investigation.
Whatever concept you choose, you need to identify what category the show falls into. Then, listen to a TON of podcasts in that category. The point of this is to ensure that your concept is unique and will fill a need within that category.
Once you know you’ve got something different, go out and workshop it. Take your family and friends out for pizza and talk to them about your concept. This tip actually came from an article by one of my favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia, about how he became a successful comedian, but I feel like it applies perfectly here.
Feedback is the key to revision. And your concept needs as many eyes on it as possible to become the best it can be.
A big, ALTHOUGH, here. Although revision is going to help fine-tune your concept, not all feedback is created equal, and you have to pick and choose which advice you listen to and which advice you set aside.
Now, you have your concept that fulfills a need in your category, and you’ve adjusted it according to the feedback you’ve received from your pizza-filled loved ones. What’s next?
Before you even type “Amazon” into that search bar:
Stop and assess your resources.
Ask yourself, “Do I have the time and money to start a podcast?”
Podcasters will tell you that podcasting is a labor of love. If you’re doing it 100 percent from scratch, you’ll have to balance your day job with scheduling guests for the show, recording and editing episodes, and then publishing and promoting them.
Getting setup and learning how to use these pieces of equipment takes time. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you can start delegating and automating recurring tasks like scheduling, recording, editing, and promotion. But when you’re just starting out, you need to focus on “handcrafting your users’ experience” as Reid Hoffman highlights in the first episode of his killer podcast Masters of Scale.
And money. Sigh. Yes, buying the proper tools to start a podcast can be costly, but it doesn’t have to brake the bank in the beginning. I’m not saying it won’t cost anything, but work your way up to the 12 channel mixer.
Here are your equipment essentials for the broke-ass podcaster, which let’s face it, is most of us:
- Hardware: Blue Yeti. This is a great starter mic that will capture quality audio if you’re in a quiet space. You can add a little extra noise cancellation by buying one of these foam soundproofing boxes to go around the mic while you speak or you can DIY it with some foam and a storage bin – I just learned that from Nicole Holland on that podcast panel.
- Software: If you’re just doing an interview with one other person, Skype works fine. You can even adjust the settings to record you and your guest on separate tracks – this makes the editing process easier because you only have to worry about raising the volume of one person per track. If you have more than one guest and you’re doing remote recording, we recommend using Zoom. You can set your own conference room with a private link that you can email to guests prior to recording, and they also allow you to split the tracks – Nicole taught me this as well. She’s awesome.
For editing: GarageBand. It’s free. It comes with your Mac. It’s a great place to learn how to edit audio because its user-friendly and most other audio editing software incorporate similar features and tools.
For hosting: Libsyn $15 a month for 250MB plan. This is a great starting price for the new podcaster because it allows you enough storage to release one 45 to 60 minute long episode per week. The “per week” is key there because you want to release your podcast on a frequent and consistent basis to build trust with your audience.
If you’re hosting a show with guests, I also recommend setting up an account on a scheduling website like Calendly or Acuity. Each of these websites has free account options or you can go with the paid options depending on your needs, but this eliminates time from your schedule spent emailing back and forth with your guests about recording dates. All you have to do is send them the link and they can choose a date that works for them that will automatically sync to your calendar.
Now, you’ve got your revised concept, you’ve decided that you have time to start and maintain a podcast, and you’ve invested in your basic equipment.
Congratulations, you are now ready to start a podcast! Woo!
What are your next steps? “Building the Machine” as Jeff would call it. That means setting up your accounts, scheduling guests, recording and editing episodes, and publishing and promoting them. I’m going to have to save the setup process for another article to come soon, but I don’t expect ya’ll to wait for me if you made it this far, so here are some awesome articles and tutorials about the how to set up those systems that I’ll break down by task:
- Scheduling: How to use Calendly to schedule interviews
- Recording: How I Podcast by Jason Snell
- Editing: How to Easily Edit a Podcast in Garageband 10 by Chris Bumeter
- Publishing: Getting Started with Libsyn
Okay, that’s all folks. I hope this To-Do list serves as a useful tool for all of you new podcasters out there. Relying on the advice and support of other podcasters really helped me through the hurdles of starting a podcast. If you take nothing away from this article, remember this: podcasting is a tight-knit community. We all joke that it’s really one big networking ploy. But seriously, podcasters want to help you, so reach out and make connections early on.
Also, if you’d like to hear more about the hardware and software mentioned in this article, in about a month the panel I mentioned will air on The Nice Guys on Business Podcast and also on Shareable. I’ll make sure to update this article with a link to that once it’s been published.
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If you’d like to chat more with about podcasting with me, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @CarolineTesone. I’m obsessed with the medium and always willing to share what I’ve learned with this community.
True Voice Media is now offering a Podcast-In-A-Box service where you bring the talent and we bring all the professional production value.
And if you’re local to Philadelphia and just looking to do it yourself, we also have time slots available at our recording studio. Click to here to inquire about booking.
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