How to start your own podcast: here is a small guide for you!
Find some advice and tools in this small guide to get started!
And see how much that might cost :)
Before we start, keep in mind that it's quite easy to start a podcast. It can even cost you 0 dollar. Find a first guest or prepare your first monologue, press record, publish, and you are done, you have launched your podcast! :)
Okay, it's a bit less simple than that, but that's the idea! Anyway, the real challenge is to keep recording, keep promoting, adding value to the listeners, etc. Everything that happens after your launch! Let's dive deeper into that.
You will find in this small guide:
First things first: what’s a podcast?
A podcast is an audio series that you can listen to anytime and anywhere. There are different formats, from interviews, monologues, stories and it can be about any topic!
The term is a combination of iPod and broadcast and was obviously coined by Apple. Hence, Apple Podcasts is a major podcast platform, along with Spotify and then Google Podcast, Deezer, and many are uploaded on YouTube and Soundcloud.
You can listen to a podcast on the bus, on your bed, while waiting for your friend or having lunch, in the taxi… just need to plug your earphones and enjoy the show. You can even listen to each episode offline — just need to download the episode first!
Like when you are reading a book, you don’t need to finish a podcast episode straight away! You can take your time and listen to each episode in 2 times, 5 times, 10 times, as many times as you need.
Why a podcast? It will take your eyes out of your screen. You can close your eyes and immerse yourself in the conversation, you can cook dinner or clean your house at the same time!
Few guiding questions to ask yourself before you start
Here's your checklist:
Why do you want to start a podcast?
What format is the best for your podcast? (Interviews vs. Monologues? Short vs. Long? 1 Host vs. Multiple hosts?)
Who is your ideal listener? What would they get from listening to your podcast?
How much time do you want to and can commit?
Let me answer for Life Line Podcast:
1. I wanted to start Life Line for 3 reasons. My friend Yama Saraj (Episode 3 - "I always wanted to fight for my community") is really, really inspiring and I was wondering how to share his story with my friends and as many people as possible. At the same time, I do meet a lot of incredible changemakers, from all around the world, and I wanted to provide a platform for them to share their journey, challenges and victories. Finally, I know that podcasts and audio in general are becoming more and more trendy!
2. I learned a lot from listening to podcasts, specifically long interviews (with episodes from 1 to 3 hours). I find them very intimate and it feels like you are having a coffee with the host and the guest! Also, I noticed that when youth have the opportunity to speak, they usually have anything between 5 and 20 minutes - I'm always a bit frustrated that I don't get to know more about their stories and all the steps that shaped who they are today. So for me, it was quite clear: long interviews, where I would let my guests speak as long as they want to!
3. My ideal listeners are changemakers or aspiring changemakers interested in listening to the life stories of young people who've had a great impact. I hope the listeners can end an episode with a dose of inspiration and encouragement as well as actionable insights to overcome their challenges.
4. I wondered if I would have enough time to run the podcast and have episodes every week. At first, it took me around 10 hours to have 1 episode ready:
1 hour of preparation
1-2 hours of interview
6 hours of editing & recording intro and conclusion
1 hour of publishing, designing visuals and promoting
From episode 8 onwards, I stopped editing the audio and it now takes me around 3-4 hours in total, so half a day per week! From episode 12 onwards, I'm less strict with having weekly episodes and just focus on having new episodes going :D
What do you need to launch and run your podcast?
Preparation: what's next to be best prepared?
After you figured out the questions above, you can do these things:
Have your basics: name, elevator pitch, logo & colours, jingle. I personally designed everything and created templates on Google Slides and my 2 amazing musician friends Mathieu & Ayman recorded the jingle for me! (I'm not the one whispering Life Line :P).
Start "planning" for your first episodes: draft a list of potential guests, brainstorm topics if you do monologues, have the storyline if you make a story! I knew who would be my first 5 guests (start with your friends, if you can!).
And record your first episode as soon as possible, and test it among your ideal listeners! For Life Line, I arranged the first 2 interviews (with Valentine, Episode #2 - Everyone should be able to speak up and Yama) one week after I got the podcast idea and thought about all the questions above.
Hardware: which equipment do you need?
I was super confused when I first searched on Google what equipment I was supposed to have. So here's a shortcut :D If you are ready to invest in a good quality sound, you will need:
A recorder (a device to record the sound). I have a Zoom H4N (good for 2 people - Zoom H6 for up to 4 people - Zoom H1N for 1 person).
As many microphones as people speaking. I use 2 Prodipe TT1 Lanen Pro (many people use a Shure SM58).
Cables to plug recorder and mics together (it's called an "XLR Cable").
A good SD card and batteries for the recorder.
If you are not sure yet, you can always start with your smartphone and earphones.
Optional stuff that I use are:
Software: which software do you need?
Podcast Hosting: one "ah-ah" moment was when I understood that you don't need to upload each episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, etc., one-by-one. A software will actually do it for you! That's called a Podcast Host. You basically upload your episode on the Podcast Host and then it will send everything to all podcast platforms. I started with Anchor and now use a paid plan of Acast.
Podcast Editing & Post-Production: you will need to edit your audio, by adding an intro and conclusion or by making the audio smoother (For Episodes 1-7, I was removing all the "uh"!!!!). You might also need to remove background noise and to equalize the sound (to have a constant audio level - in case one speaker is louder than the other one, for example). I use Descript, an AI-based software that transcribes the audio, which makes the editing quite easy!
Promotion: how will you promote your podcast?
Basically, how will you reach your ideal listeners and tease them? :D For Life Line, I obviously started with my friends and my networks, progressively trying to reach listeners who don't know me via my guests' networks and also Life Line's social media profiles (follow Life Line on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn if you haven't yet! :D)
I have 2 kinds of promotional content: quotes and short video teasers.
I'm designing everything on Google Slides and just created templates that I can re-use each time.
For the video teasers, I take 1-2m from the episode and turn it into a sexy audiogram, with Headliner.app.
I recently did the first live episode, I've been invited to speak as Founder of Life Line, I'm trying to send a regular newsletter, I've put it everywhere on my LinkedIn profile... basically, I'm constantly promoting Life Line, whenever and wherever I can ;).
I'm still trying to figure out the best way and still learning, but here's what I've been doing to promote my podcast! Hope it can help :)
How much does it cost?
Good news: launching and running a podcast is not that expensive.
If you want to have a very good audio quality, you would need to invest approximately 300-400 US$ and for the software, it's flexible depending on your needs. Keep in mind that you can always re-sell your equipment (cause it's very good quality!) (and podcasts are becoming trendy!).
Have a look at the table below, which compares what I use with the "0$ option", to show you that you could actually run a podcast on a 0-dollar budget.
For the hardware, I managed to buy most of the things second hand. On the software side, I started with free options and then progressively upgraded to save time and energy:
Podcast hosting: I was happy with Anchor as podcast host but wanted better analytics and an easy way to upload on YouTube (important to upload on YouTube in Asia-Pacific!).
Audio editing & post-production: I tried Audacity and hated it. I discovered Descript (only works for English language) and it just made my life 10000x easier. And Descript also does some post-production.
Website: Wavve's website was enough in the beginning, then I wanted a more comprehensive website (to have a specific page for each episode, control the SEO, write posts like this one, have a newsletter, etc.).
Free stuff to run your podcast
I keep saying that you can run your podcast on a 0-dollar budget. So here are all the free tools I spoke about, they are more than enough to launch and run your podcast for a while!
Headliner.app to make video teasers of your episodes (10 free videos / month).
Audacity for audio editing.
Auphonics for easy post-production (2h free / month).
Zencastr (free these days) for good quality remote interviews.
Canva for designing visuals!
Further resources to level up your podcast game
For my episode #15, I interviewed Regina Larko, the amazing founder and host of Hashtag Impact and she has recorded hundreds of episodes interviewing changemakers! If you like Life Line, you'll love Hashtag Impact too! In this episode, we discuss her journey starting and growing her podcast from scratch and how she managed to turn it into a proper social enterprise. A lot of learnings for aspiring podcasters! You can listen here or right below.
The Google Podcast creator program has a lot of resources.
Of course, feel free to contact me, happy to help! :)
I hope that this small guide was useful! ❤️ Good luck on your podcasting journey!