This guide is for beginners. It ensures you have all of the information and resources you need to launch a successful podcast. Open a new Word document on your computer, or take out a pen and paper to follow along.
- Who is your audience
- What is your goal
- Create a podcast outline
- Cover art
- Recording setup
- Audio editing
- Shownotes and your website
- Hosting and your RSS feed
- Social Media
1. Who is your Audience
It’s important to know what audience your podcast is targeting before you start recording. Knowing this will help make the interview run smoothly, and allow you to create more engaging questions and episodes.
The more niche, the better. I know it probably seems counter-intuitive to create a very specific podcast for a very specific person, but attempting to speak to everyone all at once often results in a podcast that resonates with no one.
EXAMPLE: If you were a stay at home mom with two daughters, would you listen to a General Parenting podcast or a Stay At Home Parents podcast?
Write down a description of who your ideal listener is. Get as specific as you can. How old are they? Where do they work? Do they have children? What time of day would they listen? Are they listening on the go or at home? Why are they interested in your podcast?
2. What Is Your Goal?
Whether you want to strengthen your brand, interact with a community or promote your book, it’s important to get clear on why you are creating a podcast. Write this down at the top of the page, beside your description of your audience. Come back to these two points regularly and make sure your podcast is addressing both your goal and your ideal listener.
3. Create a Podcast Outline
How can you create an engaging podcast for your listener? Open a new text document and create a draft of what you think your podcast will sound like minute by minute.
Write out the structure of a single episode of your podcast. Should you have intro music? Should you have outro music? Should you announce your podcast tagline at the beginning of each episode? Should you introduce each episode with a summary? Will you have an ad roll in the middle?
Think about the content that interests your listener. Write it down, and keep it in mind when you’re drafting the podcast outline for an episode. Should it be an interview format? Should you have the same questions each episode, or tailor them to your guest? Should you have a solo storytelling-oriented show, without guests? What content does your listener want to hear? *Don’t worry, you don’t need to create the questions now.
- Length & Release
You don’t want to bore your listener with a lengthy show. Instead, get in the head of your listener and their monthly routine. Think about how much time they will allot to listening to your show! When is your listener listening (while exercising, commuting, cleaning the house) and how long is this time period (30 min run, 40 min bus ride, 1 hour cleaning time)? Does your podcast require intensive and focused listening? If so, what time of day does your listener devote to it?
After you know the length of the episodes, imagine a month in your listener’s shoes. How many days a month will they listen to your show? Is there a specific day of the week that’s best? This will help you determine whether your should release your episodes weekly, biweekly or monthly!
FACT: In podcasting, Tuesday morning has the highest listenership
I remember writing stories in elementary school, and leaving it without a title until the very last second. Today is not that day! The title of your podcast series is one of the first impressions you’ll leave on potential listeners. You want to create something that is engaging and also descriptive.
Remember that each episode will have a title of its own, that can be longer and more specific to the episode content. The title of your podcast series should relate to the topic your podcast addresses. It’s best to keep it short and catchy, ideally between 1–3 words in length.
EXAMPLE: if after your first brainstorm you come up with “How Jazz Songs Were Created” you could shorten it to something like “Jazz Creation” or “How to Jazz”.
If you’re having trouble coming up with a title for your series, reflect back on the description of your ideal listener. Open iTunes, and imagine yourself in their shoes. What are they searching for in the iTunes search engine? What keywords are they using?
Don’t worry, if you feel like your title is catchy, but not descriptive enough, iTunes also needs a tagline from you. It’s best to keep this short too, the length of a tweet is ideal (140 characters).
6. Cover Art
You can judge a podcast by its cover, and your listeners definitely will! Your cover art is VERY important, and you want to get it right from the beginning. Work with a designer to create the perfect, high-resolution image for your podcast series. There are services such as 99Designs, Upwork or Fiverr that allow you to browse portfolios and hire a designer in your budget. Make sure the cover art it includes the title of the show, and that it is 3000 by 3000px.
The less clutter, the better. These images are about the size of a postage stamp on iTunes. Create an image with a minimal and bold-titled design. Basically, you want to never strain your eyes to read the title.
RESEARCH TIP: If you know your podcast will be in the Category “Health” on iTunes, navigate to that New & Noteworthy page. Which podcasts stand out to you? Make note of these and share them with your designer!
It’s important to remember that people look at these on iTunes in a sea of other images, so make yours stand out!
7. Recording Setup
The quality of your audio matters in podcasting the same way the quality of your video matters in a commercial. Having a high quality recording establishes you as an authority in your space, and also decreases the amount of editing you will need to do after. It takes budgeting and time to create a high-quality recording. Decide whether you want to create a recording studio in your home / office, or if you would rather rent a recording studio. Will the guests that you interview come to record at your studio, or will they be remote? Studios usually charge by the hour, whereas creating a home studio would be one payment ranging from $500–2000.
TIP: If you’re in Montreal or Toronto, get in touch about our recording studios!
If you’re looking at creating a home studio, you’ll want to purchase a microphone, pop-filter, microphone stand, audio interface and some soundproofing equipment. If you want advice on which equipment is right for you and your recording space, don’t hesitate to contact me by email at email@example.com !
8. Audio Editing
I want to reiterate how important high-quality audio is. It doesn’t matter how engaging your content is, if the listener can’t hear it properly. If you feel like learning a new skill, there is affordable audio-editing software out there. I recommend using Logic Pro X, they have incredible plugins to help with compression, limiting and noise gates. If you’re on a stricter budget, I recommend using Amadeus (it’s similar to Audacity but with a cleaner, more streamlined user-interface).
That being said, audio editing is time consuming to learn and is necessary for each episode. If you wouldn’t submit your novel to a publishing house without editing it first, then you shouldn’t submit your podcast to the iTunes store without editing it either. In my opinion, it’s almost always better to work with an editor, and invest the time you save into your podcast’s growth and improvement. We can’t be experts at everything!
TIP: if you’re looking for an expert Audio Editor, check out EDITAUDIO
Often people think podcasting is just an interview date and a release date. In reality, there’s a lot more that goes into creating a successful podcast series. I always advise clients to have a 4–6 week runway. That means that you have 4–6 weeks of episodes recorded before you go live with your show.
It may seem crazy right now, and I know that it’s exciting and that you want to show the world what you’ve been working so hard at, but life tends to work on its own timeline, and so do your guests. Scheduling and recording conflicts may arise (Why are they doing construction outside of your window right now? Why is the internet down? etc.) and it’s always best to be prepared and not let your listeners down. Having this runway will also allow you some buffer time to create in-depth shownotes and promote your episodes on social media.
10. Shownotes and Your Website
The vast majority of podcasts are listened to as a compliment to another activity. What I mean by that is that most listeners are tuning in while they’re exercising, cleaning or commuting. It’s one of the reasons I love podcasting, because I can make weekly or daily tasks like cleaning the floors or doing cardio a learning experience.
Audio is a fantastic medium, especially while people are on the go, but few things are as appreciated as text-content. That’s where shownotes come into play. Shownotes are a text summary that is included with each episode of your show. They exist on iTunes in the Information section of each episode, but more importantly, you can redistribute this content on your podcast’s website (or the page of your website dedicated to your podcast) as a way to engage with listeners through another medium.
TIP: If you don’t have a website yet, I recommend Wordpress over Squarespace. It’s more customizable and better for SEO!
Shownotes can range from a few point-form sentences to a long-form blog post. There isn’t a single format that works for all podcasters, that being said, it is important to revisit the top of your page. Who was your ideal listener? What was your podcast’s goal? Your shownotes are a physical and text-based way to further reach your listeners and bring them to your call-to-action (whatever you decide that may be). I’ve found that all successful shownotes include:
- An overall summary of the main topic covered in the episode
- Timestamps of the main points or shareable links
- Links to resources shared in the episode
- A transcript. It’s a great way to come back to the content you’ve created and share it on social media or as part of a blogpost. It’s also a way to engage with a different audience and make your podcast more accessible.
TIP: If you’re looking for transcription services, reach out!
- Call to action. What’s your goal for the episode? Do you want to bring people to your mailing list? Do you want to bring people to your company website? Do you want listeners to sign up for your course? I find that it’s easier to offer something in return for receiving an email (do you or your podcast guest have an e-book or discount code that you can give away?). Whatever your goal is, this is a secondary place to include your call-to-action.
11. Hosting and Your RSS Feed
Once you’re ready to launch your podcast, you need to host it online. Today there are tons of options to navigate through, and decide which is best for you. The three hosts I recommend are:
- Soundcloud — new to the podcasting scene but with a strong support system and great social sharing
- Simplecast — a subscription based host with a great interface, unlimited bandwidth, and clean embeddable audio player
- Libsyn — a pioneer in the industry, with a bit of an outdated interface
Once you have your host set up, you will receive an RSS feed. You’ll want to check your RSS feed for errors. A good tool to do so is FeedValidator. Once you’ve fixed any errors that have come up, you can upload your launch episodes to your hosting platform and then submit your RSS feed to iTunes, Stitcher and the GooglePlay Store. When you submit to these stores, you want to have a new RSS feed, and so I always advise that you wait to sign up for your host until your podcast runway is ready to launch.
TIP: To allow your podcast to perform at its best on iTunes, you should have 3 -5 episodes uploaded before you submit to the iTunes store.
12. Social Media
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn. These days it seems there are a million different social networking platforms. It can be overwhelming to be active on all of them, so research where your listeners are and make sure you are active there. It’s important to share your episodes on these platforms once they are live on iTunes. The audio you have recorded is great for social media sharing. In addition to these full episodes, you may want to create images with the episode’s guest along with a takeaway from the episode. Quotes are always a high-performing alternative to audio.
You want to ensure that this content is also on brand, captivating and shareable. If you’re not great at Photoshop, you may want to ask your designer for help our try out Canva.
Ready to dive in? Download the Episode Checklist.
Looking to monetize your show? Stay tuned for our upcoming guide.