Launch a Podcast the Right Way – Step by Step Guide to Start a Podcast
There are tons of great reasons to start a podcast here in 2019. The proverbial train has definitely not left the station yet if you’ve not already started your own show.
In this post, we’re going to cover everything, step-by-step with all you need to take to launch a podcast successfully.
- Choosing the right gear
- Planning and executing a thoughtful content plan
- Preparing your hosting platform and RSS feed
- Submitting your podcast to all the popular podcasting directories
- Launching your show with a bang
Choosing the right podcasting gear
When you’re planning to launch a podcast the first question on everyone’s mind is “what microphone should I get?”. Understandably because as opposed to blogging the one piece of hardware that you need outside of a regular computer for podcasting is a high quality, easy to use, and dependable microphone.
We’ve helped dozens of our customers launch podcasts. We can tell you first hand that this question isn’t as complicated as many people make it. There are really 2 good options when it comes down to choosing a podcasting microphone for your new show:
- Audio Technica ATR2100
- Shure SM7b
What? Only two mics on the list?
That’s right. Sure we could opine on and on about the differences between condenser mics and dynamic ones, XLR vs. USB, but when it comes down to it you don’t really care about that, do you? You just want a microphone that will make you sound good, and fits your budget.
Audio Technica ATR2100
The Audio Technica ATR2100 is a USB microphone, meaning it will plug directly into your computer. No extra interfaces, settings, or cabling necessary. This is huge for folks who are just getting started, but even for seasoned podcasters.
The ATR2100 is about $65 on Amazon and is a fantastic value for podcasters of all levels.
The SM7b is an XLR mic, which means you will need an audio interface to plug it into which will sit (literally and physically) in between the microphone and your computer or recording device.
This interface powers the mic as well as gives you extra controls over the sound that is recorded through it.
If you’re a real gear junkie and feel that you just “need” to have a higher end, more expensive mic then you can’t go wrong with the Shure SM7b. It’s an industry standard in the recording studio environment. This makes it a solid choice for podcasting too if your recording environment is set up properly.
An audio interface we really like is the Scarlet Focusrite. It’s simple, easy to use, and very robust, and is about $150 on Amazon.
Additional hardware that’s nice to have
In addition to the podcasting mic you select you’ll want to get a couple of things just to make your podcasting rig a touch more professional. Namely these are:
- a Pop filter to cut out the harsh P and T sounds when you speak
- a good set of headphones to eliminate reverb and cross talk with your guests
- a boom arm to get your microphone off your desk and at the same level as your mouth
Planning your content strategy
Now that we’ve got our audio gear all picked out it’s time to start focusing on what will really set your podcast apart from others…the content you’re creating.
Make no mistake, podcasting is becoming a very competitive content medium, with new shows entering the market every day. For your show to stand apart you need to have a unique topic that you’ll podcast about, a unique angle on that topic, or unique people that you’ll be interviewing.
To start out on this path we like to first identify what your ideal listener will look like.
Your target audience
Close your eyes and imagine this person in your head. Start framing exactly what your listener avatar looks like:
- What gender are they?
- Where do they live?
- Do they all have a shared interest?
- What keeps them up at night?
- What are their hopes and dreams?
Write all of these attributes down, along with any others that come to mind when picturing what your ideal listener will be like. I like to call my idea listener Penny.
This is now the litmus test when deciding virtually everything else about your podcast. The question is simple:
Will Penny the podcast listener like this, or not?
If Penny would dig what you’re putting out, then keep putting more of that out. But if you don’t think it will resonate with her, then scrap it and go back to the drawing board.
After you have your ideal listener solidly identified it’s time to start planning out your first dozen or so episodes.
In these dozen episodes, you’ll not only be making that vital first impression on your new listeners, but you’ll also be setting the scene for what your podcast will look, feel, and sound like for many episodes to come.
Of course, you can pivot and change directions after you launch, but if you really want to start a long term audience growth path for your show then getting this positioning right at the beginning is really important. Fortunately there’s one question to answer that will set the dominos for all the other content strategy decisions:
What will make my podcast different than others in my space?
As we mentioned before this can be anything from the format of your podcast, to how often you release episodes, to the type of guests you have on to talk about your topic, to a totally different spin on your topic altogether. Giving your show an opinionated, defined stance that’s slightly different than all the others out there will do wonders for setting your new podcast apart from all the others in iTunes. The last step in this process is to create a list of the first dozen episodes that you’ll plan to do. What topics will you cover, who will you have on as a guest, why will you have that guest on or be talking about that topic?
It may seem silly but just writing this information will help creating a cohesive content strategy for these launch episodes.
Preparing your hosting platform and RSS feed
With your gear set up and your content planned for the first few episodes, it’s time to start putting those pieces together. With those snazzy new first episodes for your podcast, you’re ready to set up your media hosting platform and your podcast RSS feed. You may ask “I’m using WordPress for my podcast website, why do I need a media hosting platform?”.
A very good question indeed. In fact, you ‘can’ host your podcast media files on the same server as your website is hosted on. But, the performance of both your website speed and your podcast download/streaming will suffer because of it. Website servers are optimized for delivering your website contents to visitors. Podcast hosting platforms are optimized to deliver these large audio files to your listeners. And separating these two resources onto dedicated platforms that are optimized just for their respective purposes will give your audience the best experiences for both worlds.
We’re of course fond of the Castos platform because of it’s easy to use integration into WordPress via our Seriously Simple Podcasting WordPress plugin. With this you can manage your podcast RSS feed and all of your episode resources from your WordPress site, but your audio/video files are hosted on our dedicated media hosting platform.
So it’s ones less platform to manage independently, one less place to log in and schedule the episode. You just create a post right in WordPress, upload the file right from WP to our platform, and schedule or publish the post as you would normally anything else in WordPress.
Of course there are other platforms out there, and if you’re looking for one that doesn’t integrate with WordPress we’re particularly fond of the folks at Simplecast and the platform they’ve built.
Your RSS feed
The entire concept of podcasting is built around the RSS feed. You may know this piece of technology from blog readers, and really for podcasting, the idea is the same.
At its core, an RSS feed is a unique URL that contains information about both your show as a whole (the Meta information) as well as information about each individual episode (the Episode information).Here’s a really in-depth explanation of podcast RSS feeds if you want to get into the details.
When you see a podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcasting app, it’s just a representation of an RSS feed.
Things like the title, description, category, cover image, etc. are all from the Meta area of the feed, and each new episode that is published for that podcast is updated in the Episode area of the feed.
Submitting your podcast to the right directories
When someone says “I’m going to publish my podcast to iTunes” what they really mean is they’re going to submit their podcast RSS feed to iTunes so that every time they make any changes to it (be that Meta or Episode info) iTunes will automagically update their listing of that show. This includes when you publish a new episode…your RSS feed is updated with info about that new episode (things like the Title of the episode, its Description, the media file URL, etc.) and places like iTunes show that new information in their directory.
If you’re using WordPress and Seriously Simple Podcasting we give you an added advantage of allowing you to base your RSS feed right from your WordPress site. This is nice in that your WP site is typically where you control the rest of the content for your brand, but it also has some SEO benefits in that all the podcasting apps and directories are pointing their listing of your show back to your website.
If you’re not using SSP and WordPress, you’ll set up your feed and get that URL from your hosting platform. This RSS feed URL is the ‘thing’ that you submit to podcasting directories like iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.
Growing your audience
Now that you’ve done all the hard work of planning out your content strategy, creating that content, and submitting it to the podcasting directories it’s time to spread the message and share your podcast with the world. To launch a podcast effectively it’s extremely important to come up with a plan for how you’re going to let your existing audience know about your new show.
Don’t think you have an existing audience? I beg to differ.
Everyone has a core group of friends, families, and colleagues. These are the initial brand ambassadors for your new podcast. These are the people that are going to tell 10 of their friends about your new show, help share each new episode on social media and in their social circles, and in general, be the ones who can help get the word out about your new show.
So before you launch your new podcast identify who those 5 or 10 people are going to be. Aside from having a launch group in place the one huge driver of success in any podcast is publishing consistently. Every week, every other week, whatever your release cadence is stick to it. Your audience will come to expect that podcast from you every Thursday morning at 7:00 am. If you fall down on the job one week and don’t publish on time they’ll let you know about it.
What to do to start creating your podcast?
The biggest and most important thing you can do to launch your podcast is to “just do it”. That’s right, stealing a page from the Nike handbook. Honestly just getting started, putting something out there and learning from your early experience is the absolute best way to start a podcast.
You might not get everything 100% right the first time, and that’s OK. Your old episodes would become less relevant although you would gain important experience.
Congrats in advance on starting your new podcast. You’re taking a fantastic step in the direction of better, more engaging content for your audience. We promise you that your life as a content creator will never be the same.