With podcasts on the rise and Google investing in doubling the amount of listeners worldwide, it’s a pretty great time to invest in starting a podcast. But, how to start a podcast? It comes in handy when you have something to say about your niche, but that’s something you have to figure out for yourself.
Starting a podcast is actually quite simple. Costs are relatively low – so low anyone could start recording podcasts at home – but doing it the right way might take some time to find out. We have gathered the best tools to start your own podcast and develop an audio-content strategy that will keep your audience coming back for more.
- Podcasts are on the rise, and it’s the best moment to start creating one
- You don’t need much to start, try Anchor to get set up quickly
- We’ve created a free podcast content doc for you to get you started
- Make sure your podcasts can be found by Google by implementing Google’s Podcast requirements
First things first: what is a podcast exactly?
The word ‘podcast’ was first mentioned in an article on the Guardian about online radio, where the combination of iPods, cheap audio software and weblogs (it’s from 2004) were said to be responsible for an audio revolution. “But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?”, questioned the author back then. Now, 14 years later, it’s clear that podcast is the term that stuck around. Podcast being pod from iPod’s and cast from broadcasting. Not all that complicated, luckily. But what are they exactly?
Podcasts can be many things. Some would define it as ‘on demand radio’, whereas Wikipedia defines podcasts as “podcast, or generically netcast, is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to. It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.” This definition shows some important characteristic of podcasts:
- Podcasts are episodes
- You can download and listen to them (or stream, which makes more sense nowadays)
- It’s often subscription based
To me, this is what makes a podcast a podcast; I would consider it an audio-Netflix show with different seasons that users can subscribe to. Without the fiction though, that’d be audiobooks.
Nowadays, you can find podcasts pretty much anywhere, but mostly on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play Music. You can even find them on YouTube. But, dedicated podcasting apps like Overcast are on the rise, making it extremely simple to listen to podcasts and even speed up podcasts so you can listen to them faster. Really.
Why start a podcast?
The numbers don’t lie. According to Nielsen, over 44% of US households have listened to a podcast – half of them at home and 22% while driving. Podcast listeners are very loyal, 80% listens to the whole episode and listen to more than 5 podcasts a week. Podcast listeners are educated, interested and will listen to the advice they hear in a podcast.
It’s an extremely effective channel that does not require visual attention. Therefore, cars and offices can become places where you can reach people who you normally can’t reach at that time.
If you’re not convinced by these numbers, read the piece Pacific Content did on Google’s mission to make everyone an ‘audio citizen’. By integrating podcasts into their products, podcast discovery will be much more widespread and effective than it is now.
And that’s noticable too by interest in “how to start a podcast”, if you look at the Google Trends interest over the past five years:
Before you get started: Time and perseverance
Now it’s clear what defines a podcast, it’s essential to understand that starting one is easy, but getting an audience is hard. Even with Google making it much easier to discover podcasts.
As with anything that involves creating content, time and perseverance are of the utmost importance. Creating takes time, and results are never instant. You might publish, and publish, and publish and publish until you finally get some listeners. It’s like any form of content marketing, you invest time and energy to create something others would enjoy ‘consuming’. In blogging, for example, this is where most people fail: regularity. Once you feel like your content is not getting the traction you think it deserves, it’s likely you stop producing. But where 99% stops, 1% keeps going and growing.
If you’re dedicated to starting a podcast and really put time in, you’ll see the results when they’re there. Luckily, if you plan ahead and keep in mind that podcasts are episodes, you’re more likely to continue producing and less likely to quit.
Things you’ll need to start a podcast
As you can imagine, you’ll need a couple of things to get started.
Concept/theme and episode(s)
This is a major key, if the most important one: You’ll need to think of a topic for your podcast. Let’s take NicheHunt as an example:
Creating a theme and episodes within the theme really help you to organize stuff, and result in a better outcome due to preparation. Plus, it makes you think of some basics: Do I want a weekly podcast? Of monthly? And do I want guests or just talk to myself? It’s the basics of how to start a podcast. We have made the outline as pictured above available on Google Sheets (for free).
Even though your standard Apple earbuds will do fine to record your voice, we would suggest you start by using what you already have laying around, like the standard microphone on your laptop or your earphones. If you enjoy what you’re doing and looking for more professional podcasting setup, you might want to invest in better audio.
And that’s relatively cheap as well. The Neewer NW-800 is a microphone under $20 bucks that does great noise-free recording, as does the Fifine USB microphone that’s only $21,99 – our favorite. If you’re a bit more serious, the Audio Technica AT2020 is an absolute steal at $108 dollar. The Amazon bestseller list is a good reference:
Anchor is a New York based company that launched a platform to enable people to podcast in the easiest way possible. And it works really well. Within Anchor you have the possibility to easily start you own podcast by either uploading your existing audio or recording and editing new audio:
Anchor has an app available making it possible to easily record on your phone instead of your laptop.
Besides publishing your podcast content on Anchor, the tool automatically makes the connection for you to publish content on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Overcast and Pocket Casts.
Not interested in an all-in-one solution? Check out some other tools:
Audacity is probably the best and free audio recording + editing tool out there. It’s easily usable and available for Windows and Mac
Garageband is free Mac software, and really works well to record and edit audio quickly. Garageband is not available for Windows.
Adobe Audition is ideal if you have an Adobe Cloud subscription. Similar to Garageband, but also available for Windows.
Distributing your podcast
There are a couple of different ways to distribute your podcasts:
- iTunes, you should start there, or
- Anchor, automatically distributes your podcasts
- Google Play
If you’re just starting out, start with iTunes or Anchor – you can focus on other platforms later or use Anchor to reach them all.
Podcasting as part of your content marketing strategy
Now you’re all ready to start a podcast, how does it fit into you content marketing strategy? To some, podcasting may sound like something people could only do from a personal branding point of view. But, with Google integrating podcasts into their search results and Google assistant, think of the possibilities companies have to create good podcasts.
My approach on fitting podcasts into your content marketing strategy would be: What are people looking for and can I create a valuable answer to their question? Approach it as you would any form of content marketing. Now the format of your answer can always be different, being blog posts, video or – yes – a podcast.
You could even try using other popular podcasts to advertise your own product or service. From this angle you can approach other podcasters and try to have them talking about you.
And, as with any form of content, try filling out our podcast calendar overview to see if podcasting really works for you or your brand. It’s an easy start.
How to have your podcasts indexed in Google
If you want to make your podcast appear in the Google Search results, you can. It works on the Google Search app for now, or on Google home, but Chrome and Android will follow soon.
To get these results, you’ll have to:
- Expose a valid RSS feed describing the podcast
- The feed must contain at least one episode
- The podcast must have a dedicated homepage
- The homepage, the RSS feed, and any non-blocked audio files must be crawlable by a Googlebot
Read the full source on how to have your podcasts indexed in Google in the Google Podcast Guidelines.
The future is podcasting?
You can take our word for it: Podcasting will be bigger than ever in the years to come. Look at all the signs: Anchor apps, Google investing in podcasts, assistance-devices that need to understand language.
Starting a podcast now is an ideal moment, you’ll be right before the hype.