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January 2023 | by Sam Shinkle
If it feels like everyone is starting a podcast these days, that’s because they are. You can find a podcast for just about any topic. But don’t let their rising popularity fool you – making a good podcast is hard work.
Want to know exactly how hard? Here’s a look at what you’ll need – and need to know – before recording a single episode.
You want to start “a podcast about politics”?
Congratulations, you’re now competing against thousands of others!
There are over 2 million podcasts streaming today and nearly half the U.S. population listens to podcasts on a monthly basis. Think about what will set you apart from the rest and make listeners want to subscribe to your show over the pages upon pages of options. To cut through the noise and stand out, you need to find a unique niche and capitalize on that. “Politics” is really broad, so think about how can you drill down and find an untapped market for eager listeners.
Think you are all set and ready to hit record once you find that bespoke topic? Think again.
Like building a company from the ground up, creating your podcast brand is about a lot more than simply picking a niche. You will need to develop cover art, select music for intros and outros, choose a recording style, and so much more.
Think about how each of these items helps weave the story of your overarching theme so your brand feels authentic.
Now that you’ve got the brand details narrowed down, it’s time to outfit your podcast studio. And while you think that recording voice memos on your phone at home will help add to the authenticity of your podcast, it’s just not going to cut it.
To compete with the thousands upon thousands of podcasters out there, you will need a few basic pieces of equipment:
The Space: We understand that most beginner podcasters may not have access to a perfectly soundproof studio. You can make do in a room with lots of soft surfaces – think carpeting, cloth furniture, or pillows and blankets. These soft surfaces help absorb excess noise instead of bouncing it around the room.
Also steer clear of reflective surfaces like windows. If you don’t have a windowless room, be sure to pull the drapes.
The Sound: An all-in-one recording station is the gold standard for recording podcasts, but if you can’t fit one in your budget, a high-quality microphone is an absolute must and won’t cost you a fortune. We recommend Blue Yeti USB, Rode NT-USB, and Shure SM7B.
You will also need a desktop mic mount, a pop filter, a pair of good headphones, and a USB audio interface to finish out your toolkit.
The Software: Even with all the best equipment in the world, you probably aren’t going to get the full podcast perfect on the first recording. That’s where editing software comes in. A few of our favorite options are Audacity, GarageBand, Descript, and Adobe Audition.
Now that you’ve built your brand, outfitted your studio, recorded your first episode, and edited the recording to perfection, you need to share it with the world. The only question is where?
There are dozens upon dozens of different podcast hosting platforms today, so picking one may be overwhelming. Here are two important things to keep in mind when you are deciding on a hosting platform:
Cost: Cost is probably the single most prohibitive factor in selecting a hosting platform. Prices can vary significantly, so do your research before settling on one. There are some free options, but you may get better ROI from a paid subscription option since they typically offer a wider reach and more tools.
Distribution: After putting in that much hard work, you want to make sure your podcast is going to reach a decent audience. See if the service offers automatic distribution to podcast directories like Apple Podcasts and Spotify in addition to their central hosting location.
Not sure where to start? We recommend using Anchor.fm. It checks both the cost and distribution boxes, plus Anchor.fm also has a mobile app that allows the host and the guest to record the audio directly from your phone.
Too many people get excited about starting a podcast, then give up after their first wave of recordings. You need to dedicate yourself to regularly creating content because that’s how you will build and maintain an audience.
Before you jump in, consider making an editorial calendar, outlining episode topics and guest speakers ahead of time. This will help you realistically map out your season and ensure you not only have enough content for a season but that it’s all consistent, quality content that isn’t thrown together because you ran out of ideas.
At the end of every season, it’s also a good idea to take a long look at the data and see what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can set yourself up for success in season two – if you decide to have a second season.
Don’t want to start your podcasting journey alone? Reach out to IMGE. We’ve helped clients launch top-notch podcasts and would love to team up with you.
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