Podcasts are a new look on an old medium. Internet radio is in many ways preferable to video as it’s on the go and has a far bigger convenience factor than TV and film. With hits like Serial and S-Town, people are quickly catching onto the new(ish) platform and diving in head first.
But what if YOU want to start a podcast? Podcasts are a great tool but unfortunately, many of the die out because they lack commitment and don’t have a lot of direction. In this post, I am going to give you a series of tips that will help you (1) start a podcast, (2) sustain it, and (3) grow your listener base. If you’re serious about dropping pods, then I’d keep reading:
To start a podcast, you'll need a few things:
- Decent Mic
- Recording Software
Let's look at these one at a time. For microphones you are going to want quality and that involves a little bit of money. The average cost over one year to start a good podcast is about $500, unless you have the laptop covered, then it's $200. I recommend two microphones: The Blue Yeti ($100) and the Blue Snowball ($50). Both mics are USB and plug-and-play. The laptop is straightforward, you can get fancy with a MacBook ($1,000) or a basic Windows Machine ($300), regardless you want something that handle recording and editing, some of the netbooks and cheap $100 laptops won't cut it.
As you look at recording software there are two that I recommend: Audacity and Garageband. Audacity is freeee, while Garageband is included with Apple devices. Audacity is great, it's what I use for RTM, it's very powerful and I've probably used 5% of it's functionality. Audacity works with Windows and Mac and has a ton of extra plugins you can get from the open market.
A podcast host is something many people differ on and honestly, it's preference. I've tried three platforms but I've settled on one (Podbean). There is a ton of variety in the market, so I'll mention a few and their prices. Podbean ($10/mo) gives you unlimited audio uploads, statistics, and also a free website. They hook to iTunes and social media platforms quite well and are a good option if you want everything. Soundcloud ($16/mo) is extremely popular and had I not gone all in with Podbean, it's where I would move to. They, like Podbean, do everything and offer a solid option. S3 - Amazon (variable) is a tiered pricing program. You could pay $5 or $500, just depends on traffic and how the account is set up. This is a premium service but it is reputable and worth a look as well. Bottom line: you need a host that plugs into iTunes and gives you some analytics on the backend so you know how well you're doing.
The content makes the podcast. How well you edit, transition, and discuss your subject will determine how many listeners you get and how quick people are to share you podcast. My first podcast had 20,000 downloads in the first year and was catching a lot of traction before I ran out of material. I picked a good subject, but I couldn't expand and add more content because of how difficult the subject matter was.
This new podcast I started (Rob Talks Money) is growing slower, but nonetheless is still growing every week. You want to pick a subject you could talk about for the next 50 years and never run out of content. OR if you're doing to do a series (like S-Town) pick a theme and reuse that theme, but swap out new content. You want something that will catch people's attention and help them or provide them value in some way.
Lastly, pick a schedule and try and stick to it. Most pods flame out before 15 episodes, so set that as a goal (15 episodes, one per week) and see how your growth is. Don't judge the numbers until 15 weeks, and even then, keep pressing forward. Sometimes it takes one year for a show to pop. You'll want to make sure your audio is clear and that you've got a good rhythm. Record an episode (or six) before you drop one to the public to make sure you have a good cadence down.
What I did was:
- Got a Blue Yeti Mic
- Used my Macbook
- Downloaded Audacity
- Bought a Podbean subscription (plugged into iTunes)
- Talked about money
- (as a bonus) became patient
Anyone can start a podcast, but you have to be practical, informative, and captivating. Hope that helps you in your journey to starting a pod.
Got more questions? Drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org