Are you planning to start a podcast? Want to know what a perfect podcasting setup looks like (without breaking the bank)?
Then stay tuned as this guide will explain it in-depth from starting a podcast to making money with your podcast – step by step. You will even visualize how it will proceed while reading this article.
Why Should You Start a Podcast NOW?
Gone are the days when audio just means music, now it has grown up just like You. According to Edison Research, 90 million Americans listen to podcasts every month, and data shows that more than 17 million US people started listening to podcasts in 2019 alone.
First, podcasting is too fun and so rewarding (even if you are doing it for money). It lets you chat and make real connections with the great people you admire. These great people can be celebrities, authors, investors who may fund your next startup too. Yes! you heard it right.
Second, let’s look at the numbers:
Active Blogs: ~600+ Million
Active YouTube Channels: ~27 Million
Active Podcasts: 900,000 (aka. NOT EVEN A MILLION)
That means for every podcast, there are 657 blogs and 30 YouTube channels.
Timing is great as there is no competition at all. Do you remember the YouTubers who don’t put out too much content and still managed to get 1 million subscribers? It’s just because they started in the days when YouTube had fewer content creators. Now it is 2020 and it is much more difficult due to fierce competition. A quote just flashed in my mind and here is its remake
So take the opportunity now, jump on the horse of podcasting, and build an audience as much as possible.
Third, an average podcast listener is subscribed to a total of 7 different podcasts only. So competition is negligible. And I am visualizing YOUR PODCAST in the subscription tab of your fans. Maybe it’s beyond your imagination right now, but the only way to get there is to Get Started NOW.
If you’ve made it this far, congrats. That means you’re committed to this. To reward you, I’ve got something that’ll make this process even easier.
Podcasting Myths and Potential Blockers
Myth #1: You Have to Be a Natural-Born Communicator or Speaker
“Practice makes a man perfect”. Every great podcaster once struggled to speak and felt restlessness, nervousness while recording his/her first podcast. But after a few episodes, he learned the art of podcasting. And you can master it too. The only thing that made them a great podcaster was their first step – getting started, other steps just added fuel to the fire of perfection.
Myth #2: You Need a Following to Get Started
Many people think that they should build the following first and start the podcast later but it’s wrong.
Building following with a podcast is easy as compared to without a podcast. Now you will question ‘how?’
Be honest and ask yourself, What was the first time when starting a podcast flashed in your brain? Maybe it’s three months or two years ago. Then ask, had you even tried once to build a following in this timespan?
I am leaving it here as you have got the answer from yourself.
Myth #3: You need expensive equipment and a ton of money to start
You already own the best equipment to start a podcast and it is in your pocket now. Yes, you guessed it. It’s your mobile. Start with your mobile and later on, upgrade to a good microphone when your podcast grows.
Second, you don’t need any money to start. Use Buzzsprout.com to upload your podcast and it’s free for the first three months. Then, its packages start from 12$ per month. (That’s pretty cheap as compared to alternatives.)
Steps for starting a podcast
As we have busted popular myths, now I will guide you through the whole process of starting a podcast.
Step 1: Choose a Niche for Your Podcast
Many people start a podcast without choosing any niche and it’s okay if you are podcasting just for fun. However, if you are doing it for money then you should pick a niche.
What is a niche?
A niche is a selection of topics you are curious to talk about. If you have an already existing business and starting a podcast for brand awareness and getting more customers, then you already have chosen a topic for the podcast.
But if you are starting a podcast as a business then select a topic which you love to talk about and have enough knowledge too.
Pick a small niche in start (but don’t pick a too narrow niche.) Later on, when you build some audience, you can expand it. And the best way to check is your niche broad enough by doing an exercise of writing 25 episode titles before starting the show. If you can come up with 25 titles then this niche is a perfect fit for you.
Step 2: Choose a Name & Write Description
After choosing a niche, it’s the ideal time to name your podcast. If you check the top 100 iTunes podcasts, you can see there is no hard and fast rule to name a podcast. Some created a personal brand like Tim Ferris Show, while others have a relevant keyword in their podcast title. It’s your choice what you pick for your podcast.
A podcast name should have these properties
- Have one relevant keyword to your topic
After you choose a podcast name, it’s the right time for playing with words aka podcast description. Description allows listeners to know what you talk about in your podcast and if you add relevant keywords, you can also rank for these keywords in podcast apps. All you have to do is write for the humans but with a blend of keywords about your niche. (Just give it a try and don’t worry you can change it unlimited times.)
Step 3 Decide on Your Podcast Format
- Is your podcast scripted or not?
- What’s your podcast frequency, daily, weekdays (Mon-Fri), or once per week?
- Which is your episode length? under 10 mins or 1 hour.
- Will you speak alone or plan to interview experts?
If you are in the education category, scripted podcasts are the best but if you are reviewing sports, people love non-scripted.
Choose podcast frequency that you are comfortable with. Most of the podcasts are just weekly shows like Tim Ferris show but many shows publish an episode daily.
Episode length depends on whether the podcast is scripted or not. Scripted podcasts are mostly under 10 minutes whereas others can go up to 6 hours. (Yes! some guys are doing podcast up to 6 hours)
You go off-topic after 15 minutes so choose length wisely.
Some people keep on interviewing other people on podcasts whereas others like me just stick to script, keep it under 7 minutes and speak alone.
Tip: If you’re going to interview people then use MatchMaker.fm (aka Tinder for podcasters) for searching people and the best part, it’s Free.
Step 4 Create Artwork
How many times have you checked someone’s profile due to a stunning profile picture?
The artwork is just like your profile picture on Facebook but it’s for a podcast.
The same rule applies here. Your artwork should make a person click on your podcast link.
Just like Facebook, the artwork has some image guidelines too. These are
- 1400 x 1400 pixels to 3000 x 3000 pixels.
- JPEG or PNG format
- 72 dpi
When viewed in a directory, your cover art will typically be somewhere between 50 and 150 px wide.
When you look at the artwork of the top 100 podcasts, almost all of them will have these properties:
- Easy to read podcast name even if it’s small
- Colored background
- Host’s photo (optional)
How to Create Artwork?
The artwork is the first thing a person notices and gets tempted to click on your podcast. So it’s definitely worth investing in. You can hire a designer from Fiverr (starting from 5$) or try designing one on your own using a free tool like Canva.com
You can also get a professional Intro and Outro too from Fiverr.
Step 5: Pick Your Podcast Hosting Provider
Many people make a mistake and don’t pick a reliable, good quality host which results in trouble downloading or streaming your podcast episodes. And it pisses off your listeners.
To avoid these problems, I use and recommend BuzzSprout which is reliable and affordable too – both at the same time. And we have negotiated a deal with them too for our beloved readers. They will offer a free $20 Amazon gift card to all users that sign-up with below link. (Deal applies automatically when you visit this link)
If you want to see other options, then the Transistor and Podbean are a great choice for larger brands.
Why I Recommend BuzzSprout
- Offers free podcast hosting for 90 days.
- Quality hosting and affordable too.
- Beginner-friendly with an easy to use interface.
- In business since 2009. More than 100k podcasts are hosted on it including popular shows like Ask Pat, who had more than 60 million podcast downloads.
- Great customer support.
- Compatible with all podcasting apps such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher, and Amazon Alexa.
Sign up now and fill all personal details and ‘Pick a category for your podcast’. You can pick up to three categories, but always pick the first one which is most relevant to your show as Apple Podcasts only cares about the first one.
Tip: Instead of picking a general category like News category, pick a sub-category such as News > Politics.
Step 6: Purchase Equipment and Test Your Recording Software
If you are dead broke, start recording your podcast with your iPhone. But if you have some money then invest it in equipment to record the best voice without background noise.
Considering your budget and beginner level, I will highly recommend Samson Q2U microphone. I love it because
- it is under 60$
- plugs directly into the computer via USB
- high-quality sound with no background noise
Being a starter, I don’t recommend buying a high-end microphone like Blue Yeti which is used by top podcasters. You can upgrade later on after your podcast hits 100K downloads. This goal setting will also trigger you to work harder so you can buy it as soon as possible.
Instead of purchasing Blue Yeti now, buy this gear and save money for marketing. It includes (add pictures too)
- Pop-filter ($5-15$) — It serves to reduce or eliminate popping sounds produced especially when speaking ‘p’ and ‘b’
- Neewer Broadcast Studio Mic Boom Arm ($23-25) — allows you to easily adjust the height and distance of the microphone from your mouth.
As we have discussed all the gear required, let’s jump into recording software where the magic happens.
Thanks to the open-source software, we have generous free options. I recommend Garageband for macOS and Audacity for Windows and macOS. Both are completely free. (Usage guideline is mentioned in the editing episodes section.)
For Interviewing in Same Room
On OSX, you can set up an aggregate device in Utilities to combine multiple inputs to record as one.
If you are doing remote interviews then you can use Pamela whose Free version supports up to 15 minutes of recording in one session. Whereas you can purchase a professional version with a one-time $25 fee and record as long as you desire. Another alternative is Zoom.us or MP3 Skype Recorder (free for non-commercial use).
Step 7: Record, Edit, and Export Your Episodes
Just plug in your microphone and make it a default input device for your recording software. After that, click the record button in your software of choice and talk away!
For Garage Band
Here’s a nice seven-minutes video that will easily walk you through the whole recording, editing, and exporting your podcast file.
Here’s an eleven minutes video that will easily walk you through the whole recording, editing, and exporting your podcast file.
Step 8: Publish Your Episodes
As you have exported your episode into MP3 file, it’s the perfect time to show it to the world. And using BuzzSprout for publishing episodes is super fun and easy as you don’t have to mess with things like embedding ID3 tags into your MP3.
As you have signed up BuzzSprout earlier, just go to BuzzSprout. All you need is click the “Upload” button and they will do all processing to your mp3 file.
After the episode is uploaded, just fill out the details like episode title, description, and episode number (optional) then click “Save” and your episode is published now.
Step 9: Submit Your Podcast to Directories (like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more!)
It’s just a one-time effort only. And its benefit is your podcast will be available on all podcast apps. And your listeners can stream your episodes on any podcast app including Spotify.
You can submit your podcast into all major directories (aka podcast apps) directly from your Buzzsprout dashboard.
If you are not using Buzzsprout, then you can do so by finding your RSS Feed Link, which looks like this
Then copy this link and submit it to podcast directories. Your show will be added within 2-3 days. To help you further, I had mentioned all direct links where to submit your podcast feed.
Many podcast apps syndicate content from Apple Podcasts. When you submit your RSS feed link in Apple Podcasts, your podcast is automatically available on other podcasting apps such as Breaker, Castro, and Overcast.
Step 10: Let the world know about your new show!
Just publishing an episode is not enough. You have to market it, especially at the start to get more listeners. You can do so in a variety of ways.
1. Share your podcast enthusiastically with your friends, family, and your social circle. Promote it online as well as offline too. Ask people to leave comments, reviews, and share it with their friends too.
2. Post on one or two social media sites depending upon your audience. If you are speaking about entrepreneurship then twitter and LinkedIn are the places where your audience hangouts. But if your niche is sports or movie reviews then Facebook and Instagram are your companions. Create a relevant Facebook page, twitter, or Instagram handle and start posting content.
3. Make little snippets of your audio in video format (aka audiograms) so it’s more viewable and more interesting too. Then share it on social media including YouTube and TikTok. Buzzsprout offers teaser video generation features for Free. Otherwise, you may have to pay monthly for this service by using other audiograms tools like Waave or Repurpose.io.
4. Post on Quora as an answer. Quora is always underestimated but it has more than 300 million members. All you have to do is find a relevant question with a good following and answer it. At the end of the answer, share your podcast link.
Tip: One good answer can bring 10X more listeners to your podcast than answering 10 questions badly.
5. Paid Marketing. If you have some money, run Overcast Ads by booking an ad slot. Generally, one ad slot brings a minimum of 100 new subscribers. Facebook ads or Instagram ads don’t bring good results.
Step 11: Make Money With Your Podcast
Yes, you can start making money from the first episode but I don’t recommend doing so. At least wait till the 10th episode. Then you can make money by
1. Affiliate Marketing → Amazon Associates program is the best way to make money by affiliate marketing. You get up to 10% commission for every sale generated by your link.
You can also use the BuzzSprout affiliate marketplace too. The commission rate varies from 10% to 30%.
2. Sponsors & Advertising→ When your podcast starts getting good views (minimum 5K listens per month), then you can apply for ad networks such as Midroll, and Authentic. The industry-standard rate for ads is :
- A 15-second Preroll rate is $18 per 1000 CPMs (listens).
- A 60-second Midroll rate is $25 per 1000 CPMs (listens).
- A 30-second Postroll rate is $10 per 1000 CPMs (listens).
CPMs are calculated by the number of downloads your episode gets in 6 weeks from the publish date. And you can insert all types of ads in an episode, even two ads at the start, mid and post-roll just like Tim Ferris. (Currently, Tim Ferris is generating 54K$ per ad as he has a huge audience.)
3. Crowdfunding & Donations → You can collect crowdfunding and donations by using Patreon and many podcasters are making huge money this way.
4. Ad-free & Premium Content → You can use Patreon for sharing Ad-Free and premium content to your Patrons. This brings in additional income but with little effort of creating exclusive content.
5. Selling Merch → Hardcore fans are willing to buy your merchandise (T-shirts, hoodies, etc), and stickers too. A good example of selling merchandise is The Generation Why Podcast. You can also sell your merch by uploading your designs on Teespring and they will handle the rest. A fixed profit will be added to your account after every purchase.
6. Selling Services → You can also sell your services by podcasts such as consultancy, training, etc.
7. Public Speaking → Yes, you can tap into public speaking too. And speaking fees can range from a free hotel to six figures.
8. Selling Courses and Books → This is one of the best ways to make passive money. Just create a course or ebook once and get paid every time it sells. Again I had to quote Tim Ferris as all books he published are New York Times bestsellers and his main marketing channel was podcasting.
Instead of picking one or two methods, use all of them to get maximum revenue for your efforts. Maybe some of your fans are willing to buy merchandise and others love to support the show by Patreon.
And the really cool way to use all these methods at once is by making a website where you can add all of these simultaneously. A shop section for merchandise, a Patreon and other social links, a sponsor contact section, and your courses and ebook section.
Recommended Steps (After Starting A Podcast)
Create A WordPress Website
Almost all podcast hosts provide a website too but it’s too simple and boring. Second, they add their branding too in the website address and your address looks like this yourshow.buzzsprout.com
But if you make a WordPress website, your website address will be yourshow.com
Why I Recommend WordPress Website
Some of the benefits are
- You can publish transcriptions for each episode. These transcriptions can rank in Google Search, and you can get many new visitors on a daily basis. Imagine getting only 1000 new visitors daily, that’s adding up to 365000 visitors. Just think 5% of them subscribe to your show, that’s 18250 subscribers in only one year. And it keeps on increasing as you publish transcripts. You can transcribe your show for Free using Otter.ai (300 minutes/mo in the free version) and it’s pretty accurate too. Just copy the transcript and publish it.
- You can also embed your podcast player on your website. That directly increases your views resulting in more ad money as your views increases. For getting maximum results, you can even add a dynamic podcast player just like adamcarolla.com (by using the compact audio player plugin with custom coding.)
- Make more money by creating a shop section for merchandise, a Patreon and other social links, a sponsor contact section, and your courses and ebook section.
- You can also monetize your site with Google Adsense. In this way, you build another income stream.
I can quote more benefits but I stopped as this article is about starting a podcast.
So coming to the next step, BlueHost is the “Official” WordPress host and many top sites are hosted on it. Generally, domain registrars charge 10-15$ for a domain, and hosting plans start from 7$/month but we have negotiated a deal with them so you will get a Free domain and hosting for 3.95$ per month. (Coupon applies automatically when you click on this link)
If you want step by step guide, then read this awesome guide for creating a website from scratch.
And the best and free theme for creating a podcast website is “Podcast” Theme. It also offers huge functionality. Check the theme documentation to make a stunning website. And It’s easy too.
I Appreciate You!
Thank You for going through this article. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I spent 20 hours putting this tutorial together, and several more keeping it updated for you over time.
So please share this (click here for an easy Twitter share), and please share it with your friends and colleagues who you think could benefit from this, too.
And I am anxiously waiting for your podcast on Apple (and other directories) very soon! (Comment your show link here after starting the podcast)
Lastly, if you still need more guidance about podcasting, then feel free to check this great udemy course for more help!