Podcasting is poised and all ready to grow into a billion-dollar component of the global media landscape by 2021.
While podcasts have been around for over a decade, they have found unprecedented support and listenership over the past few years or so. And because of this, hosts now have the financial and logistical infrastructure to build a bonafide business for themselves. As a result, revenue streams are projected to grow by nearly 30 percent annually by 2022.
Simply put, no one can deny the fact that there is a revenue boom in the industry.
Are you ready to claim your stake?
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Should I Have A Podcast Of My Own?
The answer is YES!
This holds all the more true if you are considered an expert in your niche or an influencer in your industry.
If you have something to say or if you need a creative outlet but never get the time to write blogs or social media posts, then podcasting is a great way to get the word out.
Get the attention you deserve and build stronger relationships with your clients without investing huge sums of money in video.
A creative and engaging audio podcast will help you get recognition for your cause, as you hone-in on your public speaking skills and become a better marketer.
I am Not Saying Podcasting Will Be Easy, But It Is Worth It
Creating valuable content takes a lot of patience and practice – understand this before you start a podcast.
Many adapters have made the mistake of expecting absolute perfection from their first few episodes – don’t do that.
The primary goal of every podcast should be learning from the process and as such, you can excel at it later. When you approach it with this mindset, the following episodes will be better in both content and delivery.
How to Start a Podcast 2021
A Quick Guide to Setting Up Your First Podcast Like A Pro
It’s time to start planning for your podcast debut – and here is my step-by-step guide to help you do so:
1. Start Your Podcasting Journey By Learning From Others
Podcasters have really stepped into their own recently; you can find a number of popular podcasts on different topics and ideas for people of all ages. In fact, there are more than 1,500,000 podcasts on air currently, with a little over 34 million episodes.
Listen to them and learn the subtle differences that make them unique; in short, you should become familiar with their modus operandi.
To help you with this, I’ve made a list of our favorite popular podcasts from this year. Check them out below:
Hosted by Andrew Verner, each episode of this podcast features a successful entrepreneur. The purpose is to inspire and energize new entrepreneurs and provide them actionable tips for success.
So far, Andrew has interviewed 1129 renowned founders on Mixergy and explored what drove them to success.
Ian and Dan share some unbelievable yet true stories of entrepreneurs who have built their business against all odds. What’s even more exciting is that these budding businesses are in it for more than just the profits.
The T-MBA podcast has been downloaded millions of times in more than 100 countries.
Jason Miller is the senior content marketing manager at LinkedIn and this is his podcast. Every two weeks, he sits down marketing geniuses from across the world to bring you cutting-edge information from the industry.
He tackles new ideas, topics and emerging trends from across the industry; in short, Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast delivers information that matters the most.
New episodes are released on Thursday and each one is about 20 minutes long, making it the perfect way to spend your coffee break.
Hosts John J. Wall and Christopher S. Penn go to their local coffee shop and discuss the hottest trends in marketing over coffee. From digital marketing to “old school” offline marketing campaigns, no topic is off-limits.
Matt Wolfe and Joe Fier bring marking experts and entrepreneurs on to their podcasts where they discuss business growth strategies.
The Hustle and Flowchart podcast is fun and quirky, and the emphasis is on keeping the content easy-to-follow so listeners can incorporate tips and strategies into their own businesses.
By now, you should have a good idea about what topics appeal to you and what you’d like to avoid in your show.
2. Plan Your First Show
Most aspiring podcasters often overlook this stage or rush through it even though it is an essential part of the process.
Make sure you spend a reasonable amount of time on this step before you move on; in fact, keep a notebook by you when planning so you can keep track of everything that needs to be done.
As part of this, you’ll have to decide on the following:
Topic – What’s it about?
Title – what’s your podcast called? Make sure the podcast name is easy to remember.
Target Audience – who is listening to you? Figure out their age and demographics.
Format – Does it have interviews? Or do you tell stories? Or maybe explain some ideas and techniques?
Frequency & Length – Weekly, bi-weekly or daily episodes? Thirty minutes each or an hour long? How long will it take you to explore the topic at hand and how often should you release an episode?
Episode Ideas – Jot down what you’ll discuss in the first ten episodes and figure out right now if you have enough material for a long-term podcast. You can easily interview guests who live far away via Skype, so it’s okay to consider them at this stage of planning.
Artwork – The images, titles, icons, etc. on the cover should be unique and help your podcast stand out. It might be a good idea to outsource cover art design to a professional graphic artist. For this, explore Fiverr and com to find someone who can translate your vision into a breathtaking image or graphics.
Intro & Outro Music – A good starting and finish can tie your presentation together nicely. The good news is that you can find free music on royalty-free sites like 123rf and bensound.
Before you settle on an idea, take some time to brainstorm several different ways to approach the topic. For example, think about how you’ll have to structure the episodes to do justice to the issues at hand.
Also consider the following questions: How can you best ensure that listeners understand the essence of what you are trying to tell them and enjoy it too? And will you need a co-host to make it better?
Lastly, ask yourself if your podcast idea is realistic enough; for instance, if the plan is to travel to famous people and interview them, make sure you’ve figured out the logistics of the video and audio recording, along with your funds. Otherwise, you might only be left with a couple of episodes before your resources run out.
Other than that, as long as your podcast will inform, educate and entertain, you are already off to a good start.
3. Find Your Podcast Hosting
Once you’ve recorded an episode, you are supposed to upload it on a hosting service that allows audiences from far and wide to access it.
So it’s a good idea to start exploring podcast hosts and registering with one before you have the first episode ready to go out.
Remember, the hosting platform will be a home for your podcast, giving you everything you need to be heard. It will also provide you an RSS link to your podcast that you can submit to podcast directories such as iTunes and Spotify so listeners there can also tune in.
These services will also create ID3 tags for your audio file – they store important info about your audio file such as title, artist, album, year published, genre, etc.
But not all hosting platforms are built equal – the right one will not only store your audio files and create an RSS feed, but also give you insights and data on impressions, audience demographics and social interaction.
Top Podcast Hosting Services
Use this link and receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card for free:
Check out my complete guide to the best podcast hosting services (coming soon) where I explore the best free and paid hosts out there.
4. Setup Your Equipment and Do A Test Drive
A good podcast has excellent production quality so your listeners can concentrate on the content instead of the background noise.
That’s why it is crucial to pick up the right equipment and software – but it can be hard to balance the cost of these tools with your needs as a newbie.
David Hooper of the BigPodcast is confident that you can do it in less than $100. Here’s what I think you should invest in at the start:
A quiet space – Whether you are recording a professional podcast or an audio drama, do it in a calm area without outside sounds. Another idea is to soundproof a room in your house for this purpose or if the budget allows for it, hire a professional recording studio for a few hours a day.
A good mic – Most earbuds and headsets have built-in mics, but these will give you the worst possible audio quality. You need a professional-level XLR microphone to do the job right. Get a traditional USB microphone like the Blue Snowball iCE Condenser as this is your best bet at creating a podcast that sounds great.
Also check out the Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone that is made specifically for podcasting.
Reliable headphones – Again, earbuds certainly work, but a quality headphone will help you hear everything during the recording so you can fix even minor mistakes ASAP. For this, check out the LyxPro HAS-10 Closed Back Over-Ear Headphones on Amazon.
Audio editing software – Hooper recommends Audacity as the ultimate podcast recording software and it is pretty amazing. It’s easy-to-use and completely free, making it great for podcasters who are just starting out – it works for both Windows and Mac. GarageBand is another worthy contender, but it’s only available for Mac and iOS.
A pop filter – This is a noise protection filter that can reduce and even eliminate popping sounds caused by moving air, leaving you with a clean audio. You can find several different types of these on Amazon, depending on the type of mic you are using.
Computer (and Internet access) – This is where it’ll all come together – as you record, edit and upload your podcast, be sure that your computer or connection is not sluggish or slow.
5. Start Recording
By now, you have a host lined up and the equipment fired up; it’s time to start recording.
Make sure you have practiced the tone of voice beforehand and that you already have your vocabulary and story down. Keep an eye on the sound quality as you go along, so you can immediately come back and re-record a piece if you don’t like the way it sounds.
Podcasters often do three or four episodes in a row, so they have enough material to work with. A lot of them also take out an entire day to record as many podcasts as possible and edit them the next day. But if you want to record one podcast episode a day, that’s fine too; it’s all good as long as you stick to your publishing schedule.
Here, it’s important to remember that editing can take a lot of time, especially since it’s your first time around. Decide on a format for your podcast before you start editing, so you already know the flow and aren’t guessing your way through the edit.
A popular format is:
Intro > Content > Ad > Content >Ad>Content>Ad> CTA / Subscription Reminder > Outro
The first few times, you’ll find editing to be a time-consuming task as you get used to a complicated editing and recording software such as Adobe Audition.
You can always outsource the editing to a freelancer from Fiverr or a professional editing service like CastUp; their service starts from 40¢ per minute! Also, look into hiring a voiceover artist to do the intro part of your podcast, so you don’t run the risk of monotony.
6. Publish Your Podcast
Once your episode is produced and polished to perfection, it’s time to publish it.
For starters, you’ll have to upload it to your selected podcast hosting service. Then, get the RSS link from the host and post it on as many directories as possible – this is perhaps the best way to ensure that a large number of people get to hear it.
Some important directories include:
Here’s the most definitive list of directories – it’d be a good idea to start uploading your show on as many of them as you can. After all, discoverability remains the biggest challenge for new podcasters, so this is the best way to reach a broader audience. Your show should be available on all leading podcast players so your prospects can easily find and listen to it.
7. Promote Your Podcast To Your Audience
If you are following our guide, your new podcast should already be up on directories – but that’s just the first part of the promotion.
Once you’ve released the podcast to the world, it’s time to let everyone know that it’s life and ready for listening. At this point, it is extremely important to put in work to ensure that as many people as possible find your podcast and identify its cover art as uniquely yours.
For this, promote it online and in-person, and tell everyone where and how they can listen to it. Encourage people to download podcasting apps for Android and Apple, so they can enjoy your podcast on their smartphones.
Don’t forget to create show notes on each of your episodes – this is written content that goes on your website, explaining and enhancing the effectiveness of each podcast – in short, make sure you have show notes for each new episode.
Other steps for promoting your show include:
Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are all great avenues for driving traffic. Create engaging posts, use audio and transcription excerpts to give new listeners an idea of what they can expect from you, and also advertise as much as possible.
Networking – Conferences and events in your niche are a great place to get people interested in what you have to say. The podcasting industry has many networking events every year as well; you can learn a lot from your peers while also driving traffic to your show. Check out these podcasting events and make sure you attend as many as possible.
Podcast Website – Having a dedicated website is a great way to look professional and attract more engagement. Head on over to WordPress to build your site or refer to your podcast host for help. Refer to your website’s address on your podcast, in your social media posts and even during industry events; in fact, put it on your visiting card. And don’t forget to install a podcast plugin on your website so visitors can listen to you directly as well.
8. Measure The Success, Learn, And Optimize For Your Audience
Now I figure out if your own podcast is doing well.
There are a number of powerful analytics tools that can help you track and improve the performance of each new episode. The chances are that your podcast host will give you access to the standard listening metrics from across various directories. You can learn how many downloads occurred, how many times a podcast was started and stopped, whether an ad was listened to completely, etc.
But if you want more in-depth insights, invest in the following tools:
Podtrac – Helps you understand your listeners by providing detailed metrics, including the industry-first ‘unique monthly audience’ data.
Chartable – This one amplifies the results of your marketing and advertising efforts with analytics and attribution tools that can help you monetize your audience more effectively.
Backtracks – While everyone else tells you how many times your episode was downloaded, Backtracks lets you know if the download was played or not.
Castbox – Helps you keep an eye on the streams and users, while also giving you the ability to engage with your audience using social features.
Remember, most podcast listeners remain loyal; if they’ve subscribed to a podcast, 80% of them will listen to each episode for an average of seven shows a week. Use the analytics tools mentioned above to optimize your podcast according to their needs and you’ll experience higher engagement in no time.
How To Get Podcast Sponsorship?
Can you start a podcast on something you are passionate about, work hard to ensure high production quality, spend time creating valuable content, build a large audience and then expect sponsors to court you?
You can wait for these advertisers to come to you or you can go out looking for them at podcasting and networking events, industry conferences, etc.
1. How Do Podcast Sponsorships Work?
The sponsor is usually looking for ways to sell their products/services or to increase brand awareness.
They’ll price your services using CPM (cost per mille) or CPA (cost per acquisition). If you’ve made it big in the industry, you may even quote your price irrespective of these metrics.
CPM: The cost for every 1,000 downloads or listens.
CPA: The number of sign-ups or sales that the sponsor will get as a result of advertising with you.
Pre-Roll, Mid-Roll, & Post-Roll: A pre-roll is the 15 seconds at the start of the podcast where you can speak about the sponsor’s products. The 60 seconds in the middle would be mid-roll and the 15-30 seconds at the end of the podcast are referred to as post-roll.
The ‘industry standard’ charges usually are:15-second Pre-Roll: $15-20 per 1000 listens
30-second Post-Roll: $10-20 per 1000 listens
60-second Mid-Roll: $20-25 per 1000 listens
If yours is a niche podcast with a growing and fiercely loyal audience, CPM is the best measure of your podcast’s effectiveness for advertisers.
2. How Do I Communicate With Prospective Sponsors?
If you are communicating with them on your own, i.e., without a podcast network or hosting service to help you, make sure you get the pitch and ad spots right.
Here is what you should look out for:
This is an email to the sponsor, letting them know of your podcast, statistics and pricing. You can search on Google to find sample pitches and then customize them according to your needs.
This can be a great addition to the pitch – it is usually a PDF that includes visuals about your podcast’s demographics and other statistics.
Create a small demo of what you would say about their product on your show. Send it along as an MP3 file or add a link to the email pitch.
Don’t just send the pitch and forget it; there will likely be a low response rate at the start, but stay consistent by reaching out several times and reminding your potential sponsor that advertising with you will get them great returns.
Finding sponsors is challenging and time-consuming work; it takes a lot of patience and due diligence to find great sponsors that can help your podcast grow and also appeal to your listeners.
Take your time to research them before you include their services or products in your show. Negotiate with them and only include content that gels well with the flow of your show, so you don’t put off your existing listeners.
The ultimate goal here is to offer quality content and grow your listeners – never sacrifice on these aspects to appease a sponsor.
Podcasting is an excellent alternative to video; you can build and engage an audience without investing a lot of money.
While it seems like there’s a lot to think about before you can truly get your podcast started, don’t worry – things will come together automatically once you start planning.
The most important thing is to always provide valuable content to your audience – as part of this, you can ask questions, give answers and keep them engaged in different ways.
Not only will you get more exposure for your business, but you’ll also learn public speaking skills at your own pace as you experiment with what works for your audience.