How to Start a Podcast
I recently wrote about how I changed direction in my work this year – from being a full-time travel writer to starting a podcast. It’s fun and it’s satisfying, but does it all sound a bit too technical?
Do you think you need a recording studio or that you should have the talents of an actor or a public speaker? Well, none of that matters.
Unlike YouTube, podcasting is not an overcrowded market. You can make a podcast on absolutely any subject, and your market can be small and personal just for family and friends. Alternatively, you could find a niche or be more general – both of which could potentially attract a huge following.
Podcast subjects range from politics and news to gardening, from mental health to fashion or cooking, from interviews with celebrities to advice for new mothers.
I have put together my top tips for anyone who’s thought about starting their own.
Find a hosting platform
This is the first thing to do and there are a lot of different ones out there. I use Buzzsprout, which is free for 90 days – a good long time for trying it out. The paid-for membership is from $12 per month for up to 3 hours of podcasting, which I think is ample for one episode per week.
The price includes full podcast statistics (that’s how I know how many people listen and where in the world they are), a mini website, custom embed player for your own website, and getting you into the main podcast directories like Apple and Spotify.
Buzzsprout has its own podcast and YouTube channel, both of which will help you get started. They also have amazing customer service that responds really quickly, even though they are based in Florida.
Buy editing software
We use Hindenburg which is user-friendly for non-tech people like me and gives you a 30-day free trial. It then costs from £78 per year. You can interview people on Zoom for free, but you’ll probably need to opt for the Zoom Pro (£119.90 per year).
Just remember to click on the ‘record’ button and download onto Hindenburg at the end. Don’t get distracted half way through editing, which we once did, and lose hours of work.
Choose the intro music with care
You don’t need music, you can easily do a podcast without. But if you like the idea then do not be tempted to pinch music, even the tiniest bit. It all belongs to someone and you could be in for a very large fine for infringing copyright.
Google royalty-free music and soundbites and you’ll find something free or almost free. We’ve managed to find everything from free elephant roars to trains pulling out of stations.
What to use
I have a MacBook Air, which I use with a microphone plugged in for each host. We use a Samson condenser mic (£89.99 each).
If you don’t have a laptop, you can do the whole thing on a decent mobile like an iPhone. No, you don’t need a mixing table and you don’t need a studio. Any small room with soft surfaces like carpet and curtains will do. Some people have even recorded successfully in walk-in cupboards and under duvets!
Commission the artwork
Make a transcription
If you want your podcast to have its own website, or even using the mini website provided by Buzzsprout, you will want a transcription. We use Sonix.ai (US$15 per month) which provides a full transcription by AI, which then has to be edited by me and loaded onto my ActionPackedTravel.com website.
How long is an episode?
Listeners expect their favourite podcasts to appear on a regular basis. Once a week is ideal. The average length of a podcast is around 30 minutes, although they range between five minutes and two hours!
Podcasts can be solo with one host, two hosts (like my own), a group (more tricky for people to listen to), or you may want a guest to join you. Some podcasts are published daily, but these are usually the short five- or ten-minute episodes.
What are the best resources?
Start by listening to some good podcasts to see how they’re done. My favourite podcasts about podcasting are Buzzsprout’s Q&A Podcasting, The Proffitt Podcast, and the Poddy Report.
I became interested in podcasting a couple of years ago, and these are my favourites: Dan Snow’s History Hit, The Creative Penn, and How To Fail, but there are lots of other excellent ones. If, for example, you subscribe to a podcast on Apple, it will be uploaded every time a new episode is released.
Podcasting is fun, so don’t delay – start one today!
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