Taking the leap into the podcast world can be daunting, but luckily, figuring out how to start a podcast is easier than ever before. There are plenty of tips, tricks, and tools at your fingertips, and you can easily find the answer to almost any question you may have about the process online.
There’s never a bad time to start a podcast, and if you’ve been hearing the siren call to get your microphone out and hit record, then chances are you’ve got a great message that’s worth spreading. However, there are always steps you can take to set yourself up for success and ensure your first episode lands with a bang instead of a crash.
Reflecting on your overall values, interests, and aims at both a personal and professional level can help you better understand why you’ve been feeling the pull to enter the world of podcasting in the first place, and what will motivate you to stay consistent moving forward. On a practical level, taking a brief time out to determine how you’ll structure your episodes, the equipment you’ll need and the marketing tactics you’ll favor can also go a long way.
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Before you give yourself the green light to start creating the podcast of your dreams, here are five questions you may want to ask yourself:
1. What’s my overarching goal?
Before you set out on your podcasting adventure, it’s a good idea to take some time and figure out what you’re trying to achieve with your podcast. The answer doesn’t necessarily have to be groundbreaking—in fact, your goal could just be to have some fun, but knowing this before you start doing the work can help you make creative decisions moving forward and keep everything in perspective.
A great way to narrow down your focus is to journal about your goals and values as a person or organization and determine what kind of impact you want to make on the world. Maybe you want to promote world peace or sit down with creative thought leaders, whatever it is, write it down and use it as your guiding light moving forward.
In case you’re still not sold, here are a few examples of underlying goals a podcast can help you achieve:
Starting a podcast is a great opportunity to weave a compelling narrative about your brand or business, and ultimately connect with potential customers.
Given the longer format of most podcast episodes, you’ll have ample time to get into the interesting backstory behind your business and win people over with your wicked storytelling skills.
Connecting with like-minded industry leaders
Each podcast episode presents a new chance to meet and connect with an interesting guest operating in your industry. Starting a podcast could help you build a network of people who are passionate about your subject matter, and even form long-lasting, fulfilling relationships.
Making new friends in the digital age can be tough, which is why using your podcast as a networking tool and a chance to get social is a savvy and worthwhile goal.
Positioning yourself as an expert
Everyone knows that if you record regular podcast episodes about a certain topic, you basically qualify for a Ph.D. on the subject, right? Well, not exactly, but podcasting is still a great way to show off your knowledge and build your personal brand as an expert in your area.
Eventually, this will help you to carve out a niche and position yourself as a leader in your field.
Converting listeners into clients or customers.
Ideally, attracting more customers and revenue to your business won’t be your only goal, but that’s not to say it’s not a worthwhile reason to start a podcast. Podcasts are an excellent marketing tactic, but they’re most effective when the person behind the mic is truly passionate about their subject.
You can definitely use your podcast as a way to increase profits, but remember to stay authentic so it doesn’t start sounding like a sales pitch.
2. What topics will I cover?
While you don’t necessarily have to choose one narrow window of subject matter for your podcast and never stray from it, it can be helpful to choose two to three anchor topics for your show so you have a rough sense of the realm you’d like to play in. This will help you stay focused as your podcast progresses so you can remain consistent and build a following over time.
For example, if your topic is wellness, you might want to choose two to three of your favorite subjects to focus on to start so people will know instantly if they connect with you or not. You may choose to stay within the confines of nutrition and mindset as a start, and then you can slowly start to branch off into more niche topics as you gain a following and people trust that you’ll deliver top-notch content, no matter what you’re talking about.
When planning episodes, try to think outside the box and cover topics that are niche but still relevant to a solid audience base. Think about a topic you’d like to delve into more deeply and see if there’s enough material for an episode—chances are if you’re interested in it, someone else will be too. Here are some examples of general podcast topics you may want to use as a jumping-off point:
- True Crime
- Health and Wellness
- Love and Relationships
- Self Help
- Finance and Business
3. Who is my ideal listener?
Drilling down on the type of audience you’d like to attract for your podcast can help you determine the proper tone, episode flow, and subject matter you cover moving forward. If you know who you’re speaking to and why then it will be a lot easier to keep your end audience in mind and create each episode from their perspective.
Consider demographics like age, location, interests, and values when envisioning your target audience, but also remember that everyone is unique at the end of the day so you never know who will be interested in your subject matter. Keep an open mind and try not to alienate any specific groups by using open-ended and accessible language.
4. Do I have all the equipment I need?
You really can start a podcast with just your laptop, but if you want to make a professional impression from the get-go, you’ll likely want to take stock of the equipment you have on-hand, and what you’ll need to make your first episode sound amazing. To get started, consider investing in a solid microphone and some professional sound editing tools like Adobe Audition.
As you get more comfortable with the basics, you can start looking into more advanced gear like a fully integrated podcast production studio or a fancy-shmancy microphone. Whatever you do, don’t break the bank right away if you’re still learning the ropes—you can always purchase more equipment down the road to celebrate once you reach the top charts.
5. How will I promote my podcast?
If you’re hoping to spread the word about you creating a podcast far and wide, it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about the channels and tactics you’ll use to promote it and draw in new listeners and subscribers. Here are a few ideas for how you can create some buzz around your podcast:
Posting frequently on social media.
Create new accounts on any and all platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to promote your brand. Be sure to stay consistent with your posting cadence, and don’t forget to promote new episodes as soon as they drop.
Creating a website for your podcast with an attached blog.
If you’re starting a podcast, a healthy web presence is key so listeners can learn more about you and the show. You can use your site to post-show notes and descriptions, transcriptions, and a blog which will come in handy for repurposing episodes into long-form written content.
Drafting guest blogs, op-eds, and articles for other platforms and outlets.
Reaching out to other creators operating in a similar space can help you maximize your exposure and gain new followers. Don’t be afraid to start sending out cold pitches to people you admire—you never know, they just might say yes.
Writing a bi-weekly or weekly newsletter to your subscribers.
Building out your email subscriber list is an effective way to connect with your community and gain new audience members. Try sending out a weekly or biweekly email newsletter to keep your followers in the loop and up-to-speed on your brand’s happenings.
Launching a paid digital ad campaign.
When in doubt, throw some money at the wall and see what sticks. In all seriousness, a paid campaign can help boost your followers and spread the word faster than an organic campaign might, so if you have the budget, why not give it a try?
You can also always hire an agency to work with you on more great ideas to grow your audience base and develop a solid following for your channels. Sometimes all it takes is some outside assistance and perspectives to really bring your show to the next level.
Mackenzie Patterson is a Digital Content Strategist at Quill Inc., a corporate podcast production agency working with various enterprise brands. During her free time, Mackenzie likes walking, reading, and discovering new wellness trends.