By Blake Foley
Podcasting can be daunting when you look at all of the moving parts and technology involved, but in 2020 it is easier than ever to start your very own podcast. You don’t need to break the bank to get started, and there are many tools out there to help you. If you’re wondering what podcasting can do for your business, be sure to check out our blog on How Podcasting Can Help Your Small Business.
Below is a guide for getting started with minimal investment. If you’ve already got the basics covered or you’re ready to upgrade your show, keep an eye out for our upcoming blog on taking your podcast to the next level.
Part 1: “What should my podcast be about?”
What is your hook? When planning your podcast, it is important to define what will separate yours from the rest. According to PodcastInsights.com, there are over 1.5 million podcasts available covering a myriad of topics. But don’t let this be a daunting statistic. Let it be an inspiring one. People around the globe are podcasting about their passions, and you can too. Depending on your business, there are all kinds of directions you can take your show.
Consider your business, your expertise, and, most importantly, what makes YOU unique. Emphasizing something as simple as your region, state, city, or town can be all you need to find an audience. Maybe you have access to special guests and experts that can help set your show apart. A podcast can be almost anything you want it to be. Use your imagination and find ways you can set yourself apart. Don’t be afraid to aim for a niche audience. In the world of content creation, trying to appease the largest audience can limit your potential for discovery and put you in competition with more established shows.
But there is one last part to this you should keep in mind. The concept of your podcast WILL change. Once you start recording, you’ll discover that some of your ideas work and some don’t. You’ll also likely find accidental successes along the way that leads to new inspiration. Don’t let your original idea be a hindrance.
Part 2: “What do I need to start recording my podcast?”
If you start searching for recommended podcast equipment on the web, you’ll quickly discover that you can easily spend a couple hundred dollars or more on microphones, mixers, and software. Even looking past the cost, setting up all of that equipment can be a daunting and time-consuming task. That kind of equipment isn’t without merit, but it shouldn’t be your priority. Besides, many of us don’t have a space dedicated to podcasting, and having an elaborate system that you need to set up every time you want to record can quickly become an excuse not to. Keep it simple and start recording as soon as possible. The fancy equipment can come later.
You probably actually already have everything you need. Most laptops are up to the task of recording your podcast. Or, with the help of some apps, modern smartphones can handle everything from recording your podcast to publishing it to the web for others to hear! If you own a hands-free headset, you may want to use that. But if you only have your phone’s microphone, you may be surprised by the results you can get with the right setup.
Right about now, you might be looking down at your laptop or smartphone and thinking to yourself, “Ok, but how do I do it with this?” The Google and Apple app stores have a wealth of tools available for the aspiring podcaster, including some all-in-one solutions like Spotify’s Anchor that not only lets you listen to podcasts but also record your own. Anchor even helps you get your podcast syndicated out to popular podcast services like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts (more on that later). Anchor isn’t your only option, though; there are also a variety of other audio recording apps available that you can use to start recording right now. Even the built-in memo recorder on your phone can be enough to get you started. If you’re pretty tech-savvy, there is a free powerful open-source program called Audacity that runs on both PC and Mac computers used by casual podcasters and pros.
A Recording Space
Choosing the right place to record your podcast is a huge factor in the quality of your recording. Even the best microphone can give bad results if your recording space isn’t good.
Some things to consider:
- Limit background noise as much as possible. The hum of a fan, street noise coming through an open window, or a creaky chair can all be picked up by your microphone. Some of it can be removed later with software, but it is best to limit it while recording.
- Consider your recording room’s acoustics. It is best to record in a room with many soft materials that can absorb bouncing sounds and limit echoes. Some podcasters actually record their shows in their closets to achieve the best sound quality without investing in expensive/ugly baffling.
- Pick a space where you won’t be interrupted. So much of podcasting can be about flow, and interruptions can not only disrupt that flow, they can also add unnecessary steps to your process as you try and edit around interruptions.
Part 3: “Where can I upload my podcast?”
You’ve recorded your podcast, and now you need a place for it to live. If you manage your own website, it might be tempting to upload your podcast file directly to your site and put a “Listen to our podcast!” link on your homepage. I strongly caution against this. Podcast files are large, and most third party web hosting solutions are not up to the task of streaming the episode, and some will even shut you down for hosting podcast files on your site server. You also can’t go to Apple and upload your new podcast to Apple Podcasts. You instead need to find a podcast hosting service that will store your episodes and distribute them as a feed. There are many options available, like Anchor, Buzzsprout, Podbean, or Spreaker. Some are free, and some are paid. I’d recommend going with a free option like Anchor as you get started and only look to paid options when you start running into limitations of the service you choose. In addition to hosting your podcast files, many of these sites can also help you syndicate your podcast to popular podcast platforms like Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
Part 4: “Is there anything else I should know?”
There will always be more to learn, but here are a few more things to consider as you get started.
- Practice and experiment. It is important to start recording with a simple setup now. Even if you’re not ready to publish that first episode, practice speaking into your microphone in different locations and situations. Your speaking cadence and tone will improve as you get more comfortable.
- Listen to what you record. Many of us have trouble listening to recordings of ourselves. If you want to improve your show’s quality, it is important to get over this hurdle and start listening to what you record. You’ll learn a lot, and you can apply what you’ve learned to future recordings.
- Have an outline for your episode. It is important to have a plan before you start recording to stay on topic and not get into too many digressions.
I hope this all helps you get out there and create a podcast for your independent business today. Keep an eye on IndependenceHappensHere.com for more upcoming stories on podcasting and other ways to get the word out about your independent business!