How to Start a Podcast: The Definitive Guide (2021)

Have you considered starting your own podcast and build yourself a solid passive income stream? Here's how to get started in no time.

How to Start a Podcast: The Definitive Guide (2021)

It seems that everyone you know and their mother’s, college roommates, and that guy you friended on Instagram who slid into your DM’s, all started a podcast in 2020.

Why?

Is this because we were so starved for attention, I mean, entertainment that we all suddenly felt like we had a lot to say that everyone not only needed to hear but wanted to hear?

Whether you’ve just started your podcast or plan to begin one this very moment, hold up before you set off to start a podcast of your own.

In order to have a chance at success when you start a podcast (as in, consistent and growing listeners in your audience) there are some steps you first need to follow and boxes you need to check off along the way.

Studies have shown that in the US alone, over 103 million people have reported that they listen to at least one podcast a month, and this number is constantly growing.

I’ve done the research and compiled the perfect step by step guide to start a podcast for you here.

When you’re ready, dive in.


What’s your purpose?

Before you go recording a bunch of random ideas for your new podcast, let me stop you.

What’s your purpose?

No, I’m not talking about in life.

Although, if you have the answer to that question at the ready, it could help if it pertains to your business.

Alright, for example, let’s say you’re life-calling is fitness and you’re so passionate about it you’ve become a personal trainer.

Well, COVID hit, and you lost your in-person clients.

So like many other people (and many other industries) you adapted to an online model.

You see there are fitness people in the podcast world and you want to give it a go.

Great! But, what’s your niche?

This is something that you should already have figured out if you do have an online business, by the way.

Rather than speaking on all kinds of broad fitness topics, maybe your niche is helping women lose weight with a plant-based diet, or helping men bulk up.

Whatever it is, you better know it before you start your podcast.

If this is a hobby, the same rule applies.

Maybe you love books and you want to talk about it.

Great! Pick a genre to discuss, or make it a weekly book club review, or go back and re-read all the classics.

You get what I’m saying, right?

I’ve written a post covering the 7 most profitable blogging niches. They might work for your next podcast too.

Right. Onto the next step.


Who is your podcast for?

Once you have your niche, that will help you hone in on who your podcast is for.

Your niche is your audience.

If you’re talking about weight loss for women using a plant-based diet, then your audience is women who are looking to lose weight and that can include vegans, vegetarians, and those interested in making a nutritional lifestyle change.

If you’re going for something broader, you still need to know who you want listening to it.

If it’s about muscle cars, you want people interested in cars, or those restoring cars, etc.

Get clear on these two before you even think about actually recording an episode.


Why would they listen?

Give your audience a reason to listen.

Podcasts are increasing in popularity and in the amount out there.

You need to know what sets you apart from the crowd and why someone would choose to listen to you over your competitors.

Do you have an added layer of expertise you can lend to your episodes?

Have you personally gone through something you’re speaking about?

Do you offer controversial opinions with guest hosts?

Maybe you’re just giving out a lot of incredible, free information in each episode.

Whatever it is, have a reason for them to listen. This is about them, not you.


Structuring your podcast

Your podcast idea is all worked out, great!

Now you can give it a catchy name, decide how often you want to record and upload episodes, and how long they’re going to be.

Here are a few tips on how to decide all of that when the time comes:

Name

Make it descriptive and clear and use your own name as a “with” tagline or just your name as “The [YOUR NAME] Show” to keep it simple.

Episode length

This depends on your content and your audience.

Short podcasts are around 15min, long ones are an hour, the medium is everything in between. Make sure what you deliver is valuable and that you’re not just rambling on.

When to release

Be consistent with releasing podcasts.

Whether it’s once a week or once a month, make your listeners know when new episodes are out and you will build a reliable audience.

Make sure you can stick to whatever schedule you promise to deliver.


Recording gear

Most equipment you need can be purchased for under $100 on Amazon, you don’t have to break the bank to make a great show.

All you need is a good microphone and a laptop to record on. You can always upgrade later. That’s pretty much what you need to get started.


Formatting your episodes

There are a few basic formatting options to choose from.

Co-Host

Having a consistent co-host to bounce conversation, question, and ideas back and forth with to give your content some variety.

Story based

This is great for true crime podcasts, history podcasts, and creative podcasts. Rather than being an information dump or an interview, these are stories, one per episode, with some interjection from the host throughout.

Monologue

If you plan to host the podcast on your own and go solo, this is the most common route. Have topics with show notes broken down so you know what to talk about for each episode.

Interview

The late-night talk show host route! This is best when you have rotating guests you want to speak to about various topics. A popular example of this is Joe Rogan’s podcast.


Having guests or co-hosts

While we’re still living in socially-distanced times, co-hosts and guests can all be done over Zoom. Make sure you have a good connection for the best possible sound quality.


Editing your podcast

The Podcast Host Academy has a comprehensive course on how to best edit, produce and master your own podcast.

If you have the means and don’t want to learn how to do this yourself, hire someone from a platform like Fiverr to help you out.

Sound quality matters!

Be sure it’s the best it can be. If you’re trying it on your own, Alitu is a great online tool to help you cut your podcast and is super easy to use.


Music

What’s a podcast without some music in the intro and outro?

Before you go picking anything you want, don’t.

Your music needs to be royalty-free, stock, or library music.

Get a subscription to one of the following platforms for endless variety to choose from:


Cover art

Now for the fun part!

Create a cover art design that is unique to your podcast and intended audience.

If you’re not great at creative design, don’t fret!

Just hire someone who is.

There are plenty of freelancers for affordable prices on platforms like Fiverr.


Hosting your podcast

Now that your show is all set up and ready to be delivered to mass audiences around the world, you need to choose a host.

This is similar to having a host for a website. By signing up for a media hosting service you have somewhere to host your audio files.

You can then deliver them to your own site or elsewhere. There’s a host of hosts (pun intended) to choose from.

First, check out Apple’s “How to Upload a Podcast” article for all the details.

Each host has different reviews, features, and costs. Check out a bunch on The Best Podcast Hosting Services link here.


Launch it!

You’ve got all your ducks in a row and you’re officially ready to launch yourself into the podcast universe.

Awesome!

But wait, now what?

How do you get listeners?

How do you build up an audience that will subscribe and return week after week?

Here are a few final steps to ensure you set yourself up for success:

Post your podcast notes

These are the key takeaways and links to anything mentioned in your episode. Tell people where they can go (like your website) to get the show notes. This will also drive traffic to your site and help encourage people to subscribe.

Raise awareness

Promote your podcast on social media and get the word out there. Make sure to gear all your episodes towards your audience. Keep in mind the above steps, who is it for, why should they listen, and what sets you apart?

Have an intro and outro

Have an intro and outro. Record these once and reuse them in every episode. It helps to build consistency and is a great place to ask your audience to subscribe and tune back in.

Mention the next episode

Mention the next episode at the end of your current one. This gives people something to look forward to and an idea of what they’ll get the next time they tune in.


Final note

There you have it. Our official step-by-step guide to start and host a podcast in 2021.

It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

Make sure to have some fun and enjoy the process. Give people some personality and something to connect to.

For more helpful links, check out our toolkit page. Good luck!