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Starting a Podcast 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Set Up

Podcasting has become increasingly popular in recent years, providing individuals with a platform to share their thoughts, stories, and expertise with a global audience. If you’re a beginner looking to dive into the world of podcasting, this guide will walk you through the essential steps to get started. From choosing a podcast topic to marketing your podcast, we’ve got you covered. 

Podcasting has exploded into a massively popular audio medium, providing an accessible platform for any niche interest or expertise. For aspiring hosts just getting started, beginning a podcast can feel daunting given the technical considerations involved. However, following a methodical setup process makes launching a professional-quality podcast achievable even for complete beginners.

By taking the right foundational steps—outlining your concept, acquiring basic equipment, handling recording/editing/uploading, launching across multiple platforms—you can get a podcast up and running smoothly. Here is an in-depth guide to starting a podcast for the very first time:

Developing Your Podcast Concept

Before any equipment or technical considerations, the place to start is determining the purpose and topic of your show:

Identify Your Niche

What specific subject matter, category or industry do you want to focus on? Get as niche as possible to stand out.

Outline the Format

Will you host solo or with co-hosts? Structure segments or free-flowing? Scripted or off-the-cuff conversational?

Establish Your Goals

Set goals like educate, entertain, discuss topical issues, conduct interviews, tell stories, etc to drive your format.

Research Your Audience

Who is your target listener demographic? What problems can your podcast help solve for them? Listen to competitors.

Map Long-Term Vision

Look beyond the initial phase. How do you want the podcast and your role as host to evolve over time? Brainstorm future ideas.

Name and Brand Your Show

Choose a title and design visual branding assets like logo, colors, fonts that intuitively capture the identity.

Setting Up Your Recording Hardware

Quality audio hardware enables producing professional recordings:

Select Your Microphone(s)

Dynamic or condenser; USB or XLR interface; handheld or lavalier style. Choose mics adequate for your recording environment and guests.

Microphone Accessories

Pop filters reduce plosives and sibilance. Boom arms position mics optimally. Windscreens decrease ambient noise when recording outdoors.

Audio Interface

If using XLR mics, connect them to a compact external audio interface with phantom power like the Focusrite Scarlett Solo.

Headphones

Invest in quality over-ear studio headphones to monitor audio and conduct interviews without sound bleeding into mics.

Microphone Stand/Mount

Position handheld mics optimally and eliminate handling noise. Place lavalier mics consistently using mounts.

Acoustic Treatment

Sound panels and foam absorb echoes, reverb, and ambient noise if recording in an untreated room. Isolate noise sources like computer fans.

Tabletop Mic Shields

Portable collapsible sound shields surround mics to minimize crosstalk and isolate host/guest audio.

Optimizing Your Recording Space

Along with equipment, optimize the recording environment:

Reduce Ambient Noise

Turn off all unnecessary electronics and HVAC systems during recording to minimize faint hums. Close windows and doors to avoid outside noises.

Choose a Small Space

Pick a smaller enclosed room with less reverb over a completely open area. Carpet and furnishings absorb sound better than bare floors and walls.

Position Strategically

Avoid sitting directly against walls. Face the mic from a diagonal corner to reduce unwanted reflections. Place absorbers behind mics.

Hang Absorbers

Mount portable absorbers like blankets on walls behind and beside recording positions to dampen reverberations.

Maintain Consistency

Record in the same space and mic positioning consistently for better editing flow between episodes rather than radically changing environments.

Handling Recording Sessions

Once your hardware and environment are set up, time to produce episodes:

Set Levels and Gain Staging

Use gain knobs to get microphone levels peaking around -12dB on your recording device without clipping. Leave headroom.

Reduce Crosstalk

Position multiple mics intelligently further apart, use individual tracks/headphones, and potentially utilize an audio mixer with independent level controls per mic.

Record Backup Copies

Capture redundant backups to external devices in case of hardware failure or corrupted files. Safely eject drives after transferring files.

Use Scripts and Outlines

Whether fully scripted verbatim or loose outline, have direction prepped for each episode to reference throughout the recording.

Monitor Quality Continuously

Keep headphones on to catch any issues immediately like levels peaking, mics rustling, guests moving off-axis. Stop to re-record bad takes.

Capture Room Tone

Record 30 secs of “room tone” silence in the space to use when editing to smooth transitions and fill gaps between cuts.

Record Intros & Outros

Always capture 10-15 seconds of a clean intro and outro with no mistakes that can be inserted in post if opening or closing has flaws.

Editing Flawless Episodes

Post-processing recordings into polished episodes involves:

Noise Removal

Use noise reduction tools to isolate consistent background noise like HVAC systems or street sounds and selectively subtract from vocal tracks.

Cut Flubs & Dead Air

Edit out any ums, long pauses, mistakes, coughs, needless tangents using simple cuts to keep episodes concise, flowing and professional.

Balance Levels

Normalize volume levels across multiple tracks/hosts so everyone sounds equally loud. Compress dynamic spikes.

Add Leaders & Beds

Insert a 2-3 second musical lead-in intro before hosts begin speaking. Fade under conversation occasionally with beds.

Layer Sound Effects

Use subtle sound effects like light laughs or rimshots very selectively to smooth transitions or highlight humor. Don’t go overboard.

Apply Compression

Gentle multiband compression evens out volume variability helping vocal clarity for listeners using devices in noisy environments.

Include Chapters

Adding chapter markers at logical intervals during editing enables listeners to easily jump to sections.

Export High Quality Audio

Export the master file at a high bitrate like 320kbps MP3 or lossless for clarity. Normalize loudness.

Aim for perfection but know when to stop over-editing. Streamline your post workflow to avoid getting stuck mixing.

Distributing Your Podcast Everywhere

To build listenership, make episodes available across platforms:

Host on Dedicated Service

Use reliable podcast hosts like Libsyn, Sounder, Buzzsprout, Omny Studio, Captivate for publishing, distribution, stats. They optimize feeds.

Submit to Apple Podcasts

Getting listed in Apple Podcasts/iTunes is vital for discovery. Submit via RSS feed for approval after 3 episodes are edited.

Share to Spotify

Spotify has become a top podcast platform. Submit your feed to Spotify for Developers dashboard for inclusion.

Post on YouTube

Upload video versions with album art visuals to garner views and subscribers. Link to audio feeds in descriptions.

Syndicate Across Services

Post episodes to as many aggregators like Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, Podchaser, Podcast Index. Widespread visibility.

Promote on Social Media

Share episodes as they go live across your personal social accounts, host profiles and show handles using best practices like images/clips.

Build Email Newsletter

Send email updates when new episodes release to engage listeners directly and drive them to apps. Offer value beyond episodes alone.

Growing Your Audience

With the foundation built, focus on attracting more listeners:

Initially Leverage Existing Contacts

Ask colleagues, friends and family to subscribe early on. Tap into your existing networks first before expanding wider. Seed with support.

Guest on Related Shows

Appear as a subject matter expert guest on podcasts in your niche. Introduce yourself and your show. Cross-promote episodes.

Run Giveaways & Contests

Reward listeners who engage and promote your show on social media. Offer prizes relevant to your niche like free products.

Pitch Press Outlets

Pitch your unique show idea and credentials to journalists at industry publications and local media for earned media coverage. Land profiles.

Build SEO Elements

Research keywords related to your niche and incorporate naturally into show notes and episode descriptions to improve search discoverability.

Join Relevant Communities

Engage regularly in groups focused around your topic on Reddit, Discord, Facebook, etc. Avoid overly promotional behavior. Provide value.

Collaborate with Complementary Shows

Team up on crossover episodes or shared events with shows who have similar audiences but aren’t direct competitors. Unite communities.

Invest in Targeted Ads

Run temporary social media or search ads promoting your podcast targeted to people interested in your niche. Test performance and optimize.

1. How to Start a Podcast

Before diving into the technicalities of podcasting, it’s crucial to establish your podcast’s foundation. Here are three key steps to get you started:

1.1 Choosing a Podcast Topic

The first step in starting a podcast is choosing a compelling and relevant topic. Consider your interests, expertise, and what you believe would resonate well with your target audience. It’s important to select a niche that you’re passionate about to ensure consistency and longevity for your podcast.

1.2 Selecting a Podcast Name

Once you have identified your podcast topic, it’s time to come up with a catchy and memorable name. Your podcast name should reflect your content and resonate with your target audience. It’s advisable to choose a name that is unique, easy to spell, and professional.

1.3 Finding Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience is crucial for creating content that resonates with them. Conduct market research to understand your potential listeners’ demographics, interests, and preferences. This knowledge will help you tailor your podcast episodes to cater to their needs and interests.

2. Essential Podcasting Equipment for Beginners

Now that you have established the foundation of your podcast, it’s time to dive into the technical aspects. Here are some essential podcasting equipment and steps to help you get started:

2.1 Microphones for Podcasting

Investing in a quality microphone is essential for producing professional-sounding podcasts. Choose a microphone that suits your budget and recording environment. USB microphones are a popular choice for beginners as they are easy to set up and produce excellent sound quality.

2.2 Recording Your First Podcast Episode

Once you have your microphone, it’s time to start recording your podcast episode. Find a quiet space with minimal background noise to ensure clear audio quality. Use recording software or platforms such as Audacity or GarageBand to record your audio file.

2.3 Editing Your Podcast

Edit your podcast to polish the audio quality and remove any mistakes or inconsistencies. Use audio editing software such as Adobe Audition or Reaper to trim the audio, adjust volume levels, and add any necessary effects. Editing is an important step in delivering a professional podcast experience to your listeners.

3. Podcast Hosting and Distribution

Once your podcast episode is recorded and edited, it’s time to showcase your podcast to the world. Here are the steps to host and distribute your podcast:

3.1 Selecting a Podcast Host

Choose a podcast hosting service that fits your needs and budget. Popular podcast hosting platforms include Libsyn, Anchor, and Podbean. These platforms provide storage for your podcast episodes and generate an RSS feed, which is required for podcast distribution.

3.2 Uploading and Submitting Your Podcast

Upload your podcast episodes to your chosen hosting platform. Fill in the necessary details such as title, description, and episode artwork. Once your podcast is ready, submit it to podcast directories such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts to expand your reach.

3.3 Promoting Your Podcast

Marketing plays a crucial role in growing your podcast audience. Utilize social media platforms to promote your podcast episodes, engage with your listeners, and reach potential new subscribers. Collaborate with other podcasters and guest appearances to expand your listenership and increase your podcast’s visibility.

4. Creating Engaging Podcast Episodes

Now that you’re familiar with the technical aspects of podcasting and have set up your podcast, it’s time to focus on creating engaging and captivating episodes. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

4.1 Structuring Your Podcast

Plan the structure of your podcast episodes to keep your content organized and engaging. Consider including an introduction, main topic discussion, and a conclusion. Create a rough script or outline to guide your episode’s flow and ensure that you cover all the necessary points.

4.2 Adding Music and Sound Effects

Elevate your podcast episodes by incorporating background music and sound effects. Royalty-free music platforms such as Epidemic Sound and Artlist offer a wide range of tracks that can enhance the overall listening experience. Use sound effects strategically to add emphasis and create a dynamic atmosphere.

4.3 Writing Compelling Podcast Scripts

While some podcasters prefer a more conversational approach, having a script or outline can help keep your episode focused and ensure that you deliver the content effectively. Consider writing engaging and informative scripts that capture your listeners’ attention and provide value.

5. Marketing Your Podcast

Marketing is a crucial aspect of growing your podcast audience. Here are some effective strategies to promote your podcast:

5.1 Optimizing Your Podcast Description

Write a compelling podcast description that highlights your podcast’s unique selling points and attracts potential listeners. Use relevant keywords in your description to optimize its discoverability in podcast directories and search engines.

5.2 Promoting Your Podcast on Social Media

Leverage social media platforms to promote your podcast episodes to a wider audience. Create engaging social media posts, share snippets of your episodes, and encourage listeners to share your content with their network. Engage with your followers and respond to their comments to foster a sense of community.

5.3 Collaborating with Other Podcasters

Collaborating with other podcasters can help you tap into their existing audience and expand your reach. Consider guest appearances on other podcasts or inviting guests to your show. This cross-promotion benefits both parties involved and introduces your podcast to new listeners.

Now that you have a comprehensive guide to starting a podcast, it’s time to put your plans into action. Remember, consistency and quality are key to building a successful podcast. Enjoy the journey and happy podcasting!

Conclusion

Launching a professional podcast from scratch requires coordinating many moving parts—from distilling your concept, acquiring capable gear, nailing workflows, distributing everywhere, and growing an audience. But breaking down the process into discrete steps makes getting started feasible for any motivated beginner.

Define your niche, format, gear needs, and goals upfront. Master recording practices through repetition. Edit diligently. Distribute across major platforms. And prom

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By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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