Creating, launching, and consistently recording new episodes for a podcast is a relatively inexpensive marketing endeavor if you’ve got the time and skills to DIY. But just because you can, does that mean you should? Before we get to the how, it’s important to uncover the why.
Is it worth it?
There are plenty of articles out there detailing the exact steps you need to accomplish to start a podcast. But most of them leave out an important piece that every potential podcaster needs to consider:
Do you have a message that fills a hole in the market, and do you have enough quality information to provide that can fill the hole?
If you’re unsure about the answer to that question, you may want to go back and reconsider whether your ROI for a podcast is worth it. Because even (and especially) if you’re not planning on spending a significant amount of money on your show, you’ll definitely be spending a significant amount of time. And since Time=Money, it’s still a hefty investment no matter what way you look at it.
Do you have what it takes?
After you’ve decided that you’ve got a successful idea that will help people by providing valuable information, you’ll need to determine how much time do you have to spend and what you’re willing to add to the production process.
You can’t just hit record, start talking, and then *poof* a podcast appears. There’s a LOT of work that goes into each episode’s production process. In fact, for your run-of-the-mill 30-minute interview podcast, we generally estimate 3-5 hours per episode just for the audio production and the creation of promotional materials by an experienced podcast producer. That doesn’t factor in securing and booking guests, recording the raw audio, or accounting for the learning curve to production if you’re new to this and planning on executing yourself.
Now that we’ve got the foundation in place and it’s clear to you that:
- You’ve got a great idea that needs to be shared, and
- You’ve got the time and knowledge to do the work (or the money to pay someone who does)
…you’re ready to begin the steps to launch a successful podcast.
1. Choose Your Structure
The first logistical step is to decide on the length of each show, the frequency for publishing, and what type of show you want to do.
How long will your episodes be? 30 minutes? Shorter? Longer?
Additionally, think about frequency. Does it make the most sense for you to start with a bi-monthly show, are you ready to publish weekly, twice weekly, or even DAILY? Is this show something you want to publish ongoing throughout the year, or would you rather break it up into seasons with a hiatus in between?
You also need to decide if it’s just going to be your voice talking at the mic for an entire episode, whether you’ll feature guests, or if you’ll have a regular co-host to debate topics with. Is it going to be interview-style? Will you have segments with transitions? What about space for advertisements or sponsors?
You need to carefully consider and make decisions on all of these logistics before jumping any further down the podcasting rabbit hole.
2. Gather Your Assets
Now that you have your structure in place, it’s time to create and gather the elements of the show that will remain consistent (at least until you decide to change them) so that beginning production will be a smooth process. To present a professional podcast, you’ll likely need the following:
- Podcast name
- Podcast logo
- Cover art graphic
- Featured episode image graphic template
- Introduction audio clip
- Closing audio clip
- At least one music clip to overlay under the intro file, outro file, and transitions (it will need to be free use music or you’ll need to buy a licensed track)
Sure, you can skimp by without a few of these, but if you’re going to be taken seriously by your audience then image really is everything. Invest in these items up front so that you can capitalize on them when you launch.
3. Collect Your Content
A podcast is not a podcast without the meat of the episode, right? It can’t be all intros and music and ads, or no one would listen. And, really, what would be the point? So, now it’s time to grab yourself some recording gear, get in the virtual “studio”, and lay down the tracks. If it’s just you, it should be pretty easy to get a clean recording using a free tool like Audacity or even GarageBand.
But, if you’re recording a conversation with multiple people, we suggest using Zencastr (not sponsored) to all of our clients. It records each person’s track locally, so a perfect internet connection is not required. Of course, the tool is browser-based so you’ll need more than the coffee shop’s WiFi (and we HOPE you’re not planning on recording a podcast in a coffee shop!), but your home’s internet should get the job done just fine. And, if there’s a problem with one person’s track like a siren or a dog barking in the background, you (or your producer) can easily isolate the issue and not have to cut a whole section of the show.
After the audio for your first few episodes is recorded (we always recommend starting with at least 3-5 shows under your belt before launching) you’re ready to start producing the show and getting all of the assets ready for launch.
4. Do the Work
The first step here is to start with an organized system. Don’t create a bunch of content and then lose half of it in the depths of your drive. Choose either Google Drive or Dropbox (or Box, or OneDrive… whatever!) and make that the home for your podcast folder. Within that folder, create an assets folder that will hold all of your templates. Then, create a folder for each of your episodes. Every single thing you create for this episode specifically—from the raw files to the social media images—should go in this folder.
Then, create a production calendar. Some people prefer a spreadsheet, others want a tool like CoSchedule or Trello or Asana to track each episode. Don’t Panic usually does both, because we’re nothing if not thorough. This production calendar should hold information like launch date, each episode’s publish date, a link to the storage file for the episode’s assets, and the episode number, name, and guest (if applicable).
After you’ve got things organized, you’re ready to move into production. Without going too much in depth on audio and image editing here (TL;DR: if you don’t already know how, pay someone else to do it), this part is really just about using the tools you’ve already set up for yourself and getting head down on the work. Because you’re so organized, it should be easy as pie!
In addition to the audio, you’ll likely want to write show notes to tease out the content of your episode. We suggest 1-3 short paragraphs that pull out the main concepts of the show and then a bulleted list of key takeaways. At the bottom of the show notes, you should always include links to resources you mentioned in the episode. You can easily help yourself out on this part by ordering transcriptions of your show. We use Rev.com for every one of the podcasts we produce.
After you’ve got all the creative pieces lined up, it’s time to pay for a hosting account (like Libsyn), set up a website (that’s another beast, but hopefully you already have one of those!), and start loading the information into each platform to schedule them for release.
There are a lot of little details here (and how you execute on those details often depends on which hosting tool you choose) that need to be completed, like setting up an iTunes Podcast Connect account and getting connected to the Google Play store, Stitcher, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc. You’ll also want to spend some time loading in show description information and details to your hosting account (who will then push it to iTunes and others) at this point. There are much more detailed guides on the internet that can walk you through this part step-by-step if you’re DIY’ing it. But like I’ve suggested before, if you don’t know what you’re doing here then I’d suggest just paying someone who does know. It’ll probably save you from a headache later.
6. Promote (and Celebrate!)
Using the graphics you’ve created, write a little paragraph (or just a sentence!) to tell your followers about the show, and schedule your promotional messages on the various social platforms that you frequent. Some people say that you need to be pushing your podcast on every platform, but I am not inclined to make that blanket statement. There are certain industries where that may be true, but it’s certainly not true for every industry. You’ve got to start somewhere, test a lot, and find which platforms give you the best ROI for your time.
And, of course, once you’ve gotten the hard part out of the way (which is no easy feat!) it’s time to celebrate! Pop a bottle of bubbly on launch day. And while you’re at it, make a Boomerang of that popped bottle for Instagram stories as another form of promotion!
7. Keep Doing the Work
Once the launch is complete, you’ve got to keep the momentum going. The hard work doesn’t stop. You’ve still got to create content and stay on schedule to see the views and subscribers start pouring in. Consistency is key in podcasting!
Now, go forth and podcast your little heart out. We’re rooting for you!
If you’d like to start a podcast but found yourself lost in the details here, we can help! We have our hands in some of the best (and award-winning!) podcasts across various industries. Even better? We’ve executed on all parts of this process: From show set-up, to guest management, to recording assistance, to full production; we’ve got the chops to handle it all. Send us a message to start the conversation!