In this how-to guide to starting a podcast, you’ll learn:
- How to decide what kind of podcast you want to have
- What equipment and software is needed for podcasting
- How to get a new podcast added to a hosting service (and why it’s important)
Right now, there are more than two million podcasts in existence – and that number will most likely have increased considerably by the time you’ve finished reading this. That equals out to over 48 million podcast episodes and counting.
If you’re someone that wants to start a podcast, those numbers might be intimidating. After all, with that many podcasts already up and running, you might be wondering, “Why would I try to break into the industry now?” But actually, what you should be asking yourself is, “Why wouldn’t I try?”
We’ve already done all the research on what you need to know to start a podcast, breaking down each step from planning your first podcast episode to finding a podcast hosting service. Let’s jump right in!
How to Create a Podcast: Four Simple Steps
1. Choose a podcast format and content focus area.
Long before you start experimenting with recording equipment and trying to launch your first episode, it’s important to have a clear and organized plan. You’ll need to figure out what type of podcast you want to have, as well as the kind of content you’ll be covering.
There are many different kinds of podcast formats you can choose from, and you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself to just one. Many successful podcasts use a hybrid approach, mixing elements from two or more types to create something totally unique.
There are generally four formats you can use when starting your own podcast:
- Interview: Interview podcasts are one of the most common types and typically feature one main host that interviews various podcast guests. An interview-style podcast might stick to one-on-one discussions or use a panel or roundtable format for a more conversational technique.
- Monologue: A monologue, or commentary-style podcast, is centered on a single voice (host) or point of view. With this solo format, it’s just you and the microphone – and, of course, your audience.
- Multiple hosts: For this type, two or more podcast hosts share the mike. This format often provides a listening experience that makes you feel as if you are participating in a casual conversation, one that just so happens to center on a topic you find interesting.
- Narrative: Narrative-style podcasting has become increasingly common, especially as many new, popular podcasts incorporate an element of storytelling to their presentation. These podcasts can be fictional or nonfiction; the defining characteristic is a focus on the “how” of the content delivery.
Along with choosing a format, you’ll also need to decide on your topic. For example, are you going to be chatting about the latest episode of your favorite streaming series, current events in politics, or paranormal events? There’s virtually no limit to what you can cover, as long as you can find podcast listeners that are interested in what you have to say.
2. Get set up with quality podcasting equipment and software.
Thanks to ongoing technological innovation, making a podcast has become easier and less expensive than ever before. And even better, you don’t have to sacrifice audio quality just because you’re working with a conservative budget.
Every podcaster has their own dream podcast set-up because the essentials depend largely on your personal preferences. You can use the list below to get a good idea of what you’ll need to put together your own “podcast starter kit”:
If you can afford to invest in anything, make it a high-quality microphone. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking for the best podcast microphones for you:
- Dynamic vs. condenser microphone: There are two main microphone types for podcasters, and choosing the right fit is up to you. A dynamic microphone can be useful for hiding unwanted ambient noise, but the sound quality isn’t going to be quite as high. Conversely, condenser mics are usually suited to the quiet recording environment in a studio because they can pick up a lot of background noise.
- USB vs. XLR microphone: A USB microphone is an inexpensive option that’s a solid choice for a beginner host, while XLR mics come in a much wider range of models with a variety of appealing features.
You can spend anywhere from $20 to $2,000 or more on headphones, so shop wisely. Headphones for podcasting have different requirements than those you’d simply use to casually listen to music.
You’ll want to consider:
- Type and design
- Wireless options
- Noise-canceling features
PCs, mixing boards, & audio interfaces
Again, your specific needs and wants are going to play a big part when you’re selecting favorites from the following gear:
- A desktop computer or laptop: You can record, edit, and produce a podcast with just about any laptop or desktop. So, select one that’s compatible with your preferences (and software).
- An audio interface and mixing boards: Unless you’re utilizing a USB mic, an audio interface is required to convert an XLR mic’s analog audio signal into a digital one. A mixing board is also good to have on hand, especially if you’re going to have co-hosts or guests.
- Accessories: Even seemingly small items like mic stands and pop filters can make a big difference in quality. Soundproofing is also extremely useful, and you can find ways to DIY a soundproofed set-up that doesn’t require a big budget.
Finally, you’ll need some basic software (or apps) for audio recording and editing. If you’re just getting started, there are several free apps that set you up for recording, editing, audio cleanup, and other essential tasks. On the other hand, you can also invest in professional-quality software and podcast platforms to get the job done.
3. Consider which podcast hosting services are right for you.
Even the best podcast episodes are useless if listeners can’t access them. Once you have completed audio files for your first few episodes, it’s time to transfer them to a podcast hosting account.
This will generate a podcast RSS feed, which is a vital factor in attracting listeners. It will also earn you a spot in various podcast directories, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and others.
There are many options for free podcast hosting, with well-known free services including SoundCloud, Libsyn, and BuzzSprout.
Break Into the Podcast Industry with an Education in Media
If you’re dreaming of having your own show on a major podcast network – or maybe you’re just ready to start exploring creative careers – a media-focused education can be an excellent first step.
At the Media Schools of Chicago, Miami, Colorado, and Ohio, our students can choose their own path to the media career of their dreams. Whether you want to become an all-star podcast host or hope to establish yourself as a master of audio editing, we can help you learn the skills you need to get your foot in the door. You’ll spend time in the classroom and in the studio, blending course content with hands-on experiences to prepare you for your future real-world job.
With a variety of programs to choose from, the Media Schools in Chicago, Miami, Colorado, and Ohio can help you learn how to turn your passion into a lifelong career. For more information about how to become a professional podcaster, contact us today!
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