How to Start a Podcast: The Beginner’s Guide to Studio Setup, Hosting, and Everything Between
So, you want to start a podcast. You’re a long time listener and see how popular podcasts have become. You’ve tossed around themes and pitched your first episode to a friend. But there’s that reluctant voice in the back of your head asking, “where do I even start and who would listen anyway?”…so, you go on with your life and never record that first episode.
Well, we’re not here to tell you that starting a podcast is easy. But if you dream of starting a podcast, we are here to tell you how. You don’t have to work for a big media conglomerate or offer high production value to gain an audience. Podcasting is a unique medium where the average person competes with established entertainment sources.
In this beginner’s guide to starting a podcast, we’ve teamed up with experts from all walks of the podcasting industry to get you started. Our hope is that with a little bit of savvy and this resource on hand, you’ll feel more prepared and less reluctant to press record and join the podosphere.
Contributors to this guide, “How to Start a Podcast: The Beginner’s Guide to Studio Setup, Hosting, and Everything Between”, include:
- Podbean, Jennifer Crawford
- Podcast Engineering School, Chris Curran
- Resonate Recordings, Jacob Bozarth
- Rev, Erin Myers
- Samson, Ira Blanco
- Social Media Rescue, Jennifer Crawford
What’s in this guide?
1) Intro to Podcasting
- Podcasting facts
- Glossary of podcasting terms
- Why podcast?
- Benefits of podcasting for a brand
2) Developing Podcast Content
- Choosing a theme, finding your audience, naming the baby
- Booking guests for your podcast
- Podcast interview questions
3) Podcast Studio Setup
- Equipment basics — everything you need from software to gear
- Setting up a recording studio 101
- Choosing the right microphone
- Your Recording Environment
4) Podcast Post Production
- Basic sound and editing tips
- Advanced sound and editing tips
- Details — logos, graphics, music
- Piecing it all together — mixing, MP3 creation, tagging
5) Podcast Hosting
- What Is a Podcast Hosting Company?
- Reasons to Use a Podcast Hosting Company
6) Podcast Promotion and Audience Engagement
- Find Your Fans On Social Media
- Set Your Podcast up for Social Media Success
- Scheduling and Content Creation Tools
7) Make Money With Your Podcast
- Finding sponsors
- Listener support (crowdfunding)
- Premium and subscription content
- Live shows
1) Intro to Podcasting
- Today, there are 525,000 active podcasts with more than 18.5 million episodes.
- The first podcast was Christopher Lydon’s Open Source, released as a series of audio files in 2003 from Cambridge University.
- On average, people listen to seven podcasts per week.
- About half of podcast listening (49%) is done at home. Nearly a quarter (22%) is done while driving.
- Since 2014, the number of people listening to podcasts on a mobile device has increased by 157 percent.
- Nineteen percent of people increase the speed of their podcasts for a speed-listening experience.
- While podcast listening among men stayed the same from 2017 to 2018, women listeners grew by 14 percent.
- Podcast listeners follow through. Four out of five people who start a podcast, finish it.
Glossary of podcasting terms
- Audio File: The format of your recording. The most common types are .mp3 or .wav files.
- Bit Rates: Measured in kilobits per second (kbps), the bit rate lets you know how many kilobits make up each second of audio on your podcast. The higher the bit rate, the higher the file size.
- Clipping: In your waveform, there will be spikes where people are louder during the broadcast. If these spikes touch the bottom (floor) or top (ceiling) of your recording, your audio has clipped. Excessive clipping detracts from your audio recording. Solutions include lowering the gain or input level on your microphone, or asking guests to speak more quietly.
- Condenser Microphone: A microphone that requires its own power through a battery, outlet or a mixer. Condenser microphones are typically more sensitive than dynamic mics.
- Dynamic Microphone: A microphone that doesn’t require its own power source. Dynamic microphones are typically less sensitive than condenser mics.
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW): Where you record your podcast. Examples include GarageBand, Audacity, and LogicPro.
- Hosting Service: Where your podcast lives. A podcast host simplifies and automates the RSS feed, file hosting, and delivery of episodes to your subscribers. Sites like PodBean, Blubrry, Libsyn, SoundCloud offer hosting capabilities.
- Levels: Measured in decibels (db), this is how loud your podcast (or each speaker) is. Anything above 0 db will result in clipping; an ideal audio ceiling is about -3db to -6db.
- Metadata: Information embedded in your episodes. Metadata can consist of the episode and podcast name, artwork, the year of recording, and any featured music.
- Mixer: A device that allows you to mix different elements into your show during your recording, as opposed to doing so in post-production. Use a mixer to add things like music, sound effects, and audio clips. You can also individually adjust the volume levels of each host or guest.
- Podcast Directory: Places where your audience can listen to your show. Examples include Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and TuneIn.
- Post-Production: The act of editing, tweaking, or otherwise enhancing your podcast after recording. This includes adding ads or music.
- Pre-Roll: An announcement or advertisement that plays before the start of your episode.
- RSS Feed: A unique link given to you by your media host when you create your podcast series. Use your RSS feed to submit your show to podcast directories.
- USB Microphone: A microphone that plugs into your computer or mixing device via USB.
- Waveform: The box or window that contains your recording. This shapes corresponding to the volume of the person speaking. Keep an eye out for spikes that result in clipping.
- XLR: This most often references the cable that connects your microphone to a mixer, amp, or recorder. The most common variation is a male-to-female cable or cord.
Accessible Medium, Increasing Popularity
Podcasts are rapidly growing in popularity, with record numbers of listeners tuning in on a regular basis. They appeal to the masses because there is a range of content readily available on any given topic.
Is true crime your thing? There are 31 related podcasts featured on iTunes. Trying to learn a new language? To cook? To manage your money? There are countless podcasts covering those topics, too, and so many more.
There is something for everyone in the podcast world. And most people don’t stick with just one genre in their podcast consumption. On any given day you probably flip between multiple podcasts to gain broad exposure to content that helps you learn, grow and be entertained. Our culture is always looking for something new, exciting and worthy of our time.
Podcasts are growing in popularity because they are a unique blend of traditional radio, television, and audiobooks. And while these mediums will continue to have some relevant role in our entertainment culture, the advantage of podcasts is their accessibility for both listeners and creators.
Podcasting is like a YouTube channel in the sense that the barrier of entry to start one is low and the potential reach is high. Really high.
3 Reasons to Podcast
It doesn’t take much to get started in podcasting. An idea, some basic hardware, a song and some artwork. Get those tackled and you’re on your way. That’s really about it! The average person can begin the journey with limited investment and user-friendly equipment. You don’t have to be an audio engineer. You don’t have to have the expertise of a creative director. These few simple things are really all it takes to get started./li>
- The Future is Bright
Looking at the history of where podcasts have come from over the last decade and knowing that it is still in its infancy is pretty incredible. The depth of podcasting’s current and future impact is overwhelming, yet also not fully known. You have the opportunity to be a part of a medium that has and will continue to grow.
- It Builds Community
When is the last time you picked up an encyclopedia or referenced your college textbooks? As education becomes increasingly digital, it’s no wonder that podcasts are beginning to play a pivotal role in America’s future. Podcasting is unique because it is achievable by the average person. A person writing their doctoral thesis and a person with a high-school education have the same opportunity to have their voice heard. We were created for community, not to live in solitude. A community is where ideas are heard, where changes take place and voices are made public.
Benefits of podcasting for a brand
A podcast can be the perfect complement to your brand – if you do it the right way. It requires a long-term strategy, sound planning, and a willingness to work hard and communicate with your network. But if you can manage that, you’ll see some amazing results, like:
- Greater Thought Leadership: Your podcast shouldn’t be all about you and your brand. Rather, it should serve to educate and inform your listeners, providing insights into your audience’s interests. The more often you create great content, the more you’ll be recognized as a thought leader
- Improved SEO: Particularly if you transcribe audio to text from your podcasts, you’ll see improved SEO results. Your episode’s topics will appear in more searches, making it easy for people to quote and link to your content.
- Enhanced Network: Chances are your brand’s podcast will feature outside guests. Guess what? You now have that network available to you, too. When your guests share the episode they appeared on, it results in hundreds of potential new listeners. That new listener base can convert into customers and advocates for your brand.
- Increased Knowledge: Do some prep work before each podcast to learn about each of your guests and their areas of expertise. You may never be the world’s top expert in, say, clean energy, but featuring an episode on it will make you more in tune with the industry than most. That can offer big benefits when communicating with future clients and customers.
2) Developing Podcast Content
Choosing a theme, finding your audience, naming the baby
To have listen-worthy content, there has to be some forethought given to your idea. Just like gold is the end-result of a refinement process, your podcasting idea will probably need a little bit of work before it becomes valuable to others. With a little critical thinking, you probably can find something worth talking about.
Avoid the Extremes
As we unpack this, there are two extremes you need to avoid. One extreme is the thought that rambling on about anything makes good content for your listener. That’s simply not true. If that if that’s the approach you take, you’ll likely not have many downloads. It takes time to develop quality podcast content.
The other extreme is thinking that there is nothing worth podcasting about, so why even bother. This mindset can be just as unhelpful. There are things worth talking about. There are things worth listening to. You don’t have to offer something brand new or ground-breaking in order to have something worth sharing. We all have an opinion. We all have an approach. Others might care to hear what you have to say. You don’t have to be the expert just to be a voice.
In a lot of ways, the options are endless. There are so many ideas to choose from and no doubt some ideas that haven’t been thought of yet. Just scroll through the categories on your favorite podcast directory and you’ll see the mind-boggling numbers of growing categories.
You’ve got, comedy, nutrition/fitness, news, true-crime, sports, religion and music. But even under those umbrellas there are very specific sub-genres and topics that people are dedicating entire podcasts to. If you can think of an idea or topic, there’s nearly guaranteed to be a podcast that covers it. But that doesn’t answer the question of what you should podcast about.
So where do you start? Let’s boil it down to three basic questions:
- What’s your passion?
You’ve probably already considered this. It may seem obvious, but if you’re not passionate about something (or don’t feel like you could be), then there’s no realistic way to podcast about it. If a topic doesn’t intrigue you, there’s no way you are going to engage others about it. What do you find yourself thinking about? What are your dreams or goals? What do you spend your time doing? What do you spend your money on? Whatever your mind gravitates toward is probably a good indicator of what you could talk about.
- What do you know?
While this may or may not go hand-in-hand with the previous thought, think about what you already know. Maybe what you know isn’t what you’re passionate about. But if you already know something, or are in the process of learning about it, there’s probably going to be someone out there who knows even less than you. So maybe you should be the one to talk about it!Now again, you don’t have to have an MD or Ph.D. to be a credible (or at the least, entertaining) source for a conversation, but it does help to know what you’re talking about. Or maybe you’re not all that knowledgeable (yet), but you’re learning. Plenty of podcasters are merely talking about their own process of self-improvement or self-discovery for others to hear.The reality is, most people are drawn to learn from and listen to other people who are open about their own limitations or weaknesses. Just because you haven’t mastered your topic doesn’t mean you can’t be a commentator on it. Everyone has a unique set of experiences worth sharing. It’s just a matter of honing in on the right one.
- What do others care about?
Maybe you’re really passionate about something and even know enough to have something to say. But if that topic is something obscure that nobody else cares about, it might be best to keep thinking. Sometimes a little feedback is a necessity. If you have something that you think is podcast-worthy, ask someone you trust if they think it’s something that could engage other people. While it’s true that many podcasters are driven to talk about something that is interesting to themselves, they are also putting it out there for others to consume because they think it’s valuable. Be willing to get some honest feedback about your idea from people who know you and see if they think others might be willing to invest their time in listening to it. If those closest to you think it’s a bust, maybe you need a new idea.
Don’t worry about the critics
It requires a lot of vulnerability to talk about anything in front of an audience. Podcasts are interesting because you’re not able to have a back-and-forth dialogue with listeners to clarify what you said, meant to say, or answer their questions.
While you’re busy trying to make your episodes perfect, others might not be so quick to receive it as gospel truth. So just a word of caution: not everyone thinks the same way you do. If we did, the world would be a boring place. But maybe there’s something that can be gained from the critics. Perhaps they’re showing you a way to improve something you didn’t see before. Or, identifying a blind spot in your approach or argument that needs to be sured up. Be willing to dig through the hate to sift out the constructive criticism.
Naming your podcast baby
When parents get ready to welcome a new bundle of joy into the world, they put a lot of effort into naming their new addition. This name will be with them for the rest of their life so they want it to be appropriate and impactful. A name should be meaningful and communicate something specific. While podcasts are much more forgiving than a new baby, the idea here is the same.
Once you finalize your topic or idea, you have to come up with a name. But make sure you give due diligence to naming your podcast because it will need to communicate something to the listener. The name you come up with will help shape the brand and the people you draw in.
A podcast’s name should:
- Be clear and effective
- Compliment the tone of your theme
- Be creative and thoughtful
- Engage your audience and draw them in
Booking guests for your podcast
How do you find podcast guests? It’s easy – if you know where to look. Here are five places to discover podcast guests.
- Your Network
Think about the number of interactions you have during a given day or connections you’ve made from school, work, and other activities. Your network is probably a lot larger than you imagine. Your network is full of interesting people, and maybe you haven’t been in touch in years. But a quick message to catch up could lead to a great interview on your podcast.
- BuzzSumo and HARO
BuzzSumo is a tool to analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor. You can search by a keyword or phrase, or browse the trending topics section. Once you’ve narrowed your search to the appropriate areas of focus, you can reach out to influencers within the space.
Meanwhile, HARO (formerly Help a Reporter Out) is a tool journalists use to find sources for their stories. However, as podcasts rise in popularity, more brands are using HARO to locate the perfect guest for their next episode. It’s a pretty nifty tool – simply sign up, post what you’re looking for, and people will email you. While not foolproof, you’re likely to find at least one person that fits the bill on HARO, and the tool can lead to a steady stream of engaging personalities.
- Twitter and LinkedIn
Chances are you already spend time on Twitter. You might as well make some connections for your podcast while you’re browsing. Search hashtags for relevant topics or look at who your competitors are following for some good ideas of people and brands to contact.
Twitter chats are another source of potential guests. Once you find a chat related to your topic, everyone who tweets using the chat’s hashtag will be someone that can contribute.
Similarly, LinkedIn is an excellent place to source guests. You can find them via LinkedIn Groups, read featured articles from the LinkedIn newsletter, or by checking the comments on updates from previous guests or other thought leaders in your industry.
- Your Guests
Picture this: you’ve just had a fantastic, engaging, hour-long conversation with a podcast guest. You thank them for joining the show, have them plug their social handles or website, and let them walk out the door. Unfortunately, you missed out on a significant opportunity.
Your guest is hardly the only person with great insights to share. For example, if your podcast is all about thriving in business and your guest is a business consultant, they have business owners in their network who can talk about the challenges and successes of starting their own company. They’re connected with event planners who can speak to the potential pitfalls of hosting an event and how to avoid them. Your guest also knows some social media wizards who can dive into that ever-changing world to ensure you and your listeners are up to speed on all platforms.
It’s a simple ask when the episode finishes recording. Tell them you enjoyed the conversation and ask if there’s anyone else they’d recommend as a guest. They’ll likely have a few names you can reach out to, and they’re usually happy to make an introduction.
- Reach Out to People and Brands You Admire
If all else fails, there’s no harm in going for the gusto. Are you a fan of a brand’s design work? Do you think a company crushes every marketing campaign it attempts? Does a CEO inspire you? Tell them about it.
People love hearing that they’re doing great work — and most of them like talking about it. Put the two together, and you have a terrific podcast guest. You can share a recent article or piece of news that you think is relevant to your potential guest (even something they may have written themselves) and share that you have a podcast that covers those types of topics. Ask if they’d like to appear on an episode and give them a rough overview of what you’d discuss. You’ll find that the majority of people you contact will be receptive to the idea.
Podcast interview questions
Podcast interviews aren’t so different from any other kind of interview. The long-form nature of a podcast gives your guests a chance to offer in-depth, insightful responses. As a host, you can set them up for success — and provide an entertaining listen for your audience — by researching them well, asking engaging podcast interview questions and follow-ups, and letting your guests share their stories without interjecting too frequently.
Take NPR’s Terry Gross, for example. She’s been the host of Fresh Air on NPR for 42 years. Part of the reason for her long-lasting success? Asking intelligent, engaging questions and then getting the heck out of the way.
“People think when you interview that you talk a lot,” she said in a recent interview. “Actually, I listen a lot. I talk very little.”
Podcast interviews also allow you to build relationships with your audience. You’re providing an outside view, an expert on a topic, and offering new stories to your listeners. But an interview can stop dead in its tracks if you don’t do your homework and only ask dry, boring questions.
Not sure where to start with your questions? These five are good guides to get the ball rolling. They’ll provide some pretty wonderful answers, to boot.
- “What’s your go-to order at your favorite hometown restaurant?”
Objective: Put your guest at ease and get some insight into their background.
Your interview questions should be open-ended so guests can expand on their answers. Having them reminisce about their childhood is a good way to both warm them up for the rest of the episode while also getting a glimpse into how they developed into the person they are today.
Your guest may like a deli because they serve a killer pastrami sandwich. Or they might prefer a quirky diner filled with kitschy charm. You’ll get them more comfortable for the rest of the episode while giving them a chance to showcase their personality and interests – which audience members always like to hear.
- “What do you wish you had known when you started out?”
Objective: Showcase the value of learning on the job.
Think back to your first day of school. You were probably a mix of excited and terrified, ready to enter a new environment while being acutely aware there was plenty of education you had yet to master.
It’s highly unlikely your guest was an expert in their current field from the get-go. Rather, they needed to learn along the way, improving their skills and knowledge.
Simran Preeti Sethi hosts The Slow Melt, a podcast about chocolate, and asked this question to every single guest she had during her series on makers. “The answers surprised me,” she said, “And I got a lot of feedback that they were extremely useful to those who were actually embarking on their careers.”
- “What are you curious about right now?”
Objective: Let your guest speak about their passions.
This is a favorite question of Derek Loudermilk, host of The Art of Adventure podcast. Derek is a big fan of letting his guests reflect on their experiences. Having them share their curiosities is a great way to do just that.
This question has an added benefit of ramping up the energy of your podcast. Some guests may be more timid than others, but just about everyone perks up when they’re speaking about their passions. You’ll notice a more enthusiastic, engaging tone coming from your guest.
- “What’s something you’ve failed at?”
Objective: Demonstrate how your audience can overcome challenges.
This isn’t supposed to be a “gotcha” question; instead, the goal is to get your guest to think of a roadblock or obstacle and how they fought through it on the road to success. Though it’s tough to admit, everyone fails throughout their life. Your guest can establish credibility by speaking candidly about those failures and offering advice that your audience can apply to their own situations.
- “Is there anything I should have asked, but didn’t?”
Objective: Dig up an interesting story you haven’t yet uncovered.
This is a wrap-up interview question learned from David Hochman, founder of Upod, a group of writers across the world who share advice, sources, and success stories. Some interviewees are more than happy to go into detail about projects they’re working on. Others need an additional push.
You very well may get a “no, you’ve covered it all” as a reply (in which case, good job!) but this question can also lead down an entirely unexpected and entertaining road. And when it does, your interview is that much stronger.
3) Podcast Studio Setup
Equipment basics — everything you need from software to gear
There are many options with regards to audio gear and software, but the first step is to decide on and describe your recording scenario. We’ve listed some general recording scenarios below.
Once you’re clear on this, you’re ready to decide what gear and software you’ll need. Plan on spending less money to get OK/good gear, or more money for better/best gear.
- A single host conducting guest interviews over the internet.
- The simplest setup. The host can easily record the conversation locally and/or in the cloud.
- Multiple remote hosts conducting guest interviews over the internet.
- All participants connecting remotely.
- Two or more people in person with no internet guests.
- All participants in the same room. Audio can be recorded on a computer or a portable digital recorder.
- Two or more people in person with one or more internet guests.
- Remote guests and participants in the “studio” can all hear each o
- XLR (needs an audio interfact)
- Microphone accessories
- Pop filter / windscreen
- Mic stand
- Mic cable
- USB Headsets
- Audio interfaces
- *Audio interfaces that are also portable recorders
- Sound Devices MixPre-3 and MixPre-6
- Portable Recorders
- Post-Production — Mixing and Editing
- LUFS Leveling
- MP3 Tagging
Setting up a studio 101
Plan your production workflow, get the equipment you need and set it up.
Take lots of time to test all your equipment and record some test sessions. Make adjustments to optimize your mic levels and recording levels. If you’ll be recording with remote guests, do several test sessions using your chosen software and connection method. After recording each test recording, open up the audio files in your editing software and visually confirm that the recording levels are good (not too soft or too loud).
Unfortunately what happens to many beginners is that they buy equipment and set it up really quickly and then try to record an episode and it’s a tragedy – the sound is bad, the levels are bad, capturing wrong microphones, or worse, not recording the participants at all!
Choosing the right microphone
Capturing sound in the digital studio requires three components. The first is a microphone to change sound into an electrical audio signal. Second, an Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) to change this electrical audio signal into digital data. Finally, an interface is required to feed this digital data into the computer. A microphone is the first electronic device in the path of getting sound into your computer and ultimately in to your podcast feed. Mics come in many shapes and sizes, and there are a few things that differentiate them. In this section we’ll go over a few of the choices you can make when selecting your first microphone.
Connection Types: XLR vs. USB
Traditionally for most of history of the electric microphone, the most common connector utilized was a male XLR jack. XLR microphones are found on stages and in professional studios around the world. The output of an XLR microphone is an analog signal that will eventually need to be converted into a digital stream in order for the computer to use it. A separate digital interface or a mixer with an interface built-in usually handles the job of A to D conversion. XLR microphones start off inexpensive and can go up to thousands of dollars. Microphone price is not necessarily the most important thing to determine if it’s right for your application. Also, multiple XLR mics can be plugged in a mixer so several people can be mic’d and have their levels adjusted individually.
It wasn’t until USB gained large consumer popularity in 1998 with Apple’s introduction of the first iMac that included USB jacks that manufacturers started producing USB microphones. For the first few years of USB, most of the microphones produced were cheap, low-quality headset mics. Then in 2005, Samson introduced the first USB studio condenser mic, the C01U. This was the first time a consumer was able to plug a microphone directly into their computer and get a high-quality reproduction of their voice.
An important thing to look for in a USB mic is a Zero-Latency Headphone Jack. Normally, to monitor the signal as you record, it would need to go through the Mic to the computer and back which would cause a slight delay that could be distracting. By adding a headphone jack directly to the USB microphone, you can monitor the input signal before it reaches the computer.
Microphone Types: Dynamic vs. Condenser
There are two major types of microphone capsules available, Dynamic and Condenser. Each of these types of capsules has their own sound characteristics and traits, so in choosing the one that’s right for your podcasting workflow, you’re going to want to be aware of the differences between them.
Dynamic microphones are self-powered and transform vibrations in the air into an audio signal by passing an electrical coil through a set of permanent magnets. Because the entire coil is in motion, dynamic microphones are less able to respond to abrupt dynamic changes, and the frequency response may be curtailed at the extreme ranges. However, this also allows the dynamic microphone to withstand a greater SPL (Sound Pressure Level) and to easily accommodate the vocal range of nearly any performer.
These mics do not require any external (phantom) power and are most often associated with handheld microphones live performers use on stage when singing. However, Dynamic mics are also found in many radio studios around the world. Dynamic mics have a “warmer” less trebly sound than condenser mics and excel at capturing sounds that are close to the capsule, minimizing ambient noise.
Condenser microphones rely on an external power source to “energize” the microphone circuitry. In the pro audio world, this source is referred to as phantom power and is usually provided by a mixer. In the world of USB microphones, a small voltage is delivered to the microphone from the computer via the USB cable. Many USB microphones are of the condenser variety; they provide a smoother response over a larger frequency range (when compared to Dynamic mics), and in general deliver a more accurate signal in a studio setting.
Condenser mics tend to sound brighter than dynamic mics and have a higher sensitivity. These mics often pick up sounds evenly that are both close and far from the mic capsule.
For well sound isolated podcasting studios, a condenser mic may be the best choice, non-dedicated (no sound isolation) podcast environments, a dynamic mic will help to capture only the speaker’s voice and not anything from the surrounding environment.
Pickup patterns Cardioid, Bidirectional, and Omnidirectional
In addition to mic capsule type, there are also microphone pickup (often called “polar”) patterns to consider. A microphone’s polar pattern is an indication of its directivity. There are three major types of patterns Cardioid, Bidirectional, and Omnidirectional in this section, keep in mind that there are more pickup patterns than outlined below, these are the ones you’re likely to encounter most often.
The Omnidirectional pattern is the easiest to describe. An Omnidirectional pattern picks up sound equally, 360° around the mic. This would be the ideal pattern for picking up subjects seated around a table, simply placing an “omni” mic in the middle of the table will capture everything evenly.
Next up is Bidirectional which also goes by the name “Figure–8”. A bidirectional mic will pick up sound in front and in back of where it’s located, but sounds on the sides will be rejected. The most often used application for a bidirectional mic is an interview with the mic set up between the interviewer and the subject, this will allow both voices to be picked up evenly but sounds on the sides will be avoided.
Finally, we come to the Cardioid family of pickup patterns. Cardioid mics (sometimes referred to as unidirectional) excel at picking up sound directly in front of the mic, some sound to the sides, and very little sound behind the microphone. Supercardioid and Hypercardioid mics are more extreme versions of cardioid patterns that offer more side rejection at the cost of picking up slightly more sound from the rear. These mics are great for a single speaker that wants pick up only their voice, and avoid sounds coming from other places.
What’s right for you?
If you’re just starting out and don’t have a dedicated studio setup, you’ll probably want to go for a Dynamic microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern. If you don’t have an audio interface to convert analog sound from XLR to digital audio for your computer, a USB mic is going to be the best choice. Samson’s Q2U podcasting package a great starting solution that will grow with you, it features the Q2U Dynamic mic with both XLR and USB connections as well as a built-in headphone jack, windscreen, tripod mic stand with extender tube and a USB cable.
If you’ve got a sound isolated studio and are interested in trying a condenser mic with a few different pickup patterns Samson’s G Track Pro is a large diaphragm Studio Condenser Mic with selectable pickup patterns, USB connectivity along with a headphone jack and an external input in case you want to plug in a musical instrument or other sound sources as well.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a dedicated XLR mic for podcasting, and like the sound that a dynamic capsule adds to your voice, look no further than Samson’s Q8 handheld microphone.
Your Recording Environment
Recording at home
Choose a space with as little extraneous noise as possible. It’s best to avoid or minimize noise at all costs. That includes noise from air vents, traffic, appliances, the TV or people in another room, everything.
It’s helpful to have carpeting and furniture in the room to absorb reflections and minimize any reverberations or echo on your voice.
Act like you’re in a recording studio because you are! Be quiet. Every noise you make will be picked up by the microphone. Don’t make fidgety sounds like clicking a pen, tapping on the table, sliding things across the table, sniffling, or bumping into your mic.
Use good microphone technique
When you’re speaking, be close to the mic. Note that moving around will make your level go up and down significantly, which is not good. Leaning back away from the mic or turning your head when you’re speaking will affect the recording level a lot.
When you’re not speaking you can back off a bit. You don’t want to continually breathe right into the mic.
Recording on the go (Mobile Podcasting)
Not every podcast needs to start in a home or professional studio. You may need or even want to do a remote recording. A simple handheld recorder from Roland or Tascam can get the recording job done quickly, but with today’s ultralight laptops, small tablets and powerful smartphones, recording and producing a podcast on-the-go doesn’t have to be a difficult task.
If recording on the go, a USB mic will be your go-to choice. By directly connecting a mic to a laptop, smartphone or tablet, you’ll eliminate having to carry things like A to D converters and mixers and simplify your workflow. Using a mic with a built-in headphone jack is a necessity for self-monitoring while remote recording. Samson’s Go Mic is the ultimate portable USB Mic that can clip on to any of the above listed portable devices and it offers Cardioid as well as Omnidirectional pickup patterns to allow for one or many subjects, it also offers a headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring.
Another great option is Samson’s Meteor Mic, this retro looking condenser mic has the most needed features and easily fits into any small recording bag
USB Mic Connections
Connecting a USB mic to an iOS device requires an adapter from Apple.
Lightning Connector devices
Apple has two adapters that allow you to connect a USB mic to an iOS device.
Samson maintains a support page for USB Mic iPhone/iPad Compatibility.
In order to connect a USB microphone to an Android device, you will probably need a USB OTG cable. Extreme SD has a great resource about the selections and use of a USB host OTG cable.
Samson also maintains a support page for using Samson USB Products with Android Devices.
Mobile Recording Software
This section will focus on mobile recording software recommendations for iOS and Android as desktop apps are covered in a previous section.
Apple’s built-in voice recorder app will be just enough to get you started, but you’ll probably want a more full-featured app to get the most out of your recording needs.
- GarageBand (iOS) — This app is free from Apple, is extremely powerful and capable of handling your remote recording, but its main focus is recording music.
- Bossjock Studio — This app is dedicated to podcasting on iOS and has most of the features you’ll need to record and produce a podcast on your iPhone or iPad.
- Ferrite Recording Studio — Another dedicated podcasting application for iOS, this feature-rich application is graphically rich and has powerful time-saving features.
USB Audio Player Pro-App — this app allows many of the most popular Android devices to record and playback audio via USB.
Wireless Multi-Subject Podcasts
One last thing that’s an option for mobile podcasting doing a wireless recording. Samson’s Go Mic Mobile System offer the ability to record two microphones (handheld or tie clip) wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet. This will allow you to close mic two subjects in a noisy environment like a coffee shop, or do on the spot interviews at events or conferences.
4) Podcast Post Production
Basic Sound and Editing Tips
Podcast editing can be a tedious task, especially if you or your guests are not comfortable as public speakers. Getting tongue-tied, taking long pauses, stuttering, and false starts are just a few of the things that cause distractions and interruptions to the listener. Some people prefer to not edit their podcast because they prefer a more “authentic” feeling podcast, but it could mean listening to the podcast is really hard — if not painful — for the listener. However, when editing is done carefully and correctly, you won’t even notice that a podcast has been edited. The goal of editing is to remove anything that may be distracting for your listeners in a way that creates a naturally flowing conversation.
Podcast Editing Tip 1: Watch Your Tone
One of the biggest editing mistakes is when there is a sudden shift in tone of the voice. Editing together two different segments of audio or merging different sentences together can be tricky. Not only can there be a change in the tone of the voice, but also a change in volume and a change in background noise or room tone. Another thing to listen for is room reverberation and echo. Sudden cuts at the end of phrases can prevent the natural room reverberation, so it’s best to listen for the end of the room decay before making an edit or cut.
Podcast Editing Tip 2: Spatial Awareness
By this, we mean the pace of the dialogue. Pacing and space are crucial for the overall feel of a podcast. Too much space can sound awkward and unnatural, which can easily disengage the listener. Too little space can make the dialogue sound too choppy and confusing to follow.
Finding a natural flow and feel to the conversation is extremely important in creating a well-edited podcast. Space can be utilized to create a pause between different segments to help the listener digest what they just heard or to give a pause for dramatic effect. Adding space or a breath between edit points can be beneficial to making a smoother edit and transition.
Podcast Editing Tip 3: Just Breathe
Another common mistake is cutting off breaths too abruptly or missing breaths altogether when making an edit. Cut off breaths occur when a breath is chopped off or incomplete. Missing breaths occur when a breath is edited out due to two different segments being put together.
Double breaths can also be a problem when editing. This happens when there are two breaths back to back. All of these errors cause the dialogue to sound unnatural and choppy.
When looking at audio waveforms, breaths can be difficult to spot because they are sometimes much lower in volume compared to other parts of the dialogue. To make it easier to spot breaths we recommend zooming in to increase the size of the waveforms in your editing software.
Podcast Editing Tip 4: Mind Your F’s and H’s
In addition to clipped breaths, cutting off consonants can be an audio editing mistake. Common consonants include ‘S’ ‘F’ and ‘H.’ ‘S’ consonants on a waveform can be easy to spot because they look like little footballs. However, the consonants ‘F’ and ‘H’ can be more difficult to see and are often more subtle.
When editing different takes together, a consonant can be a great place to make your edit because there is typically minimal tonal differences between consonants.
Podcast Editing Tip 5: Music to One’s Ears
Even though dialogue makes up over 90 percent of podcast content, it is also important to pay attention to editing music. Music in podcasts typically serves as an intro/outro and as a transitional element within the episode to give the listeners a break. However, bad music edits can be very noticeable and distracting.
One of the most common mistakes in music editing is not paying attention to the rhythm or tempo of the music. When there is a bad edit that is not in time to the tempo of the track the music will sound incohesive and the flow of the music will fluctuate. This can be avoided by finding a good loop point in the music where the elements are fairly static and lining up two transient points in the waveform.
The best transient points to use in music are often percussive elements such as kick drum and snare. Also, pay attention to the arrangement of the music. Be careful not to cut musical phrases short like guitar parts, piano, synth, vocals, cymbal swells, etc. Long fades can also be useful for music transitions to give the listener a heads up as to what is about to come.
Podcast Editing Tip 6: Use Headphones
One of the most useful tips when editing is to use quality headphones. Over the ear, closed headphones work great to help isolate you from your editing environment. Listening on headphones will help you hear all of the details and nuances of the voice much better than listening on computer speakers or even on higher quality near-field monitors. This makes hearing subtle details such as breaths and mouth noise much easier.
Podcast Editing Tip 7: Listen Back to Your Edit
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to listen back to your edit. Don’t sacrifice quality for speed. It takes more time to go back and listen, but it will potentially help you catch even more editing mistakes. Listen without looking at your screen, and see if you can detect any of the common mistakes mentioned.
Remember, the best edit is the one that is unnoticeable. If you can’t hear it, then you know it won’t be distracting for the listener. We also recommend taking breaks every hour or so while you are editing. Get up out of your chair and grab some water or a cup of coffee. This will help minimize ear fatigue especially if you are wearing headphones. When you get back to your computer, listen back to the last five edits you made to make sure everything is seamless. Editing can be monotonous, so you might be surprised how tired your ears (or brain) get after a long editing session!
Advanced Sound and Editing Tips
If you do decide to edit your recordings and are looking for some more advanced editing techniques, here is a list of things to review. Remember that editing is a process that is simply that — a process!
It takes time to increase your efficiency in editing, but with some practice, it can be done and done well. As you grow in your editing capabilities, consider adding these techniques into your editing process to improve the overall quality of your edits.
Advanced Editing Tip 1: Try Various Editing Modes
There are different editing modes within certain audio editing platforms that can be useful to help you save time. For example, in Pro Tools, the shuffle mode can be used to quickly splice and move two different edit points together. Additionally, the spot mode can be used to move an audio region to a specific timestamp within the timeline.
Take some time to learn and try out the various editing modes assigned to your platform. It will boost your editing productivity.
Advanced Editing Tip 2: Copy/Paste Quality Consonants and Breaths
Sometimes there are certain consonants and breaths that are problematic or don’t sound good. A quick way to fix this is to copy and paste a good sounding consonant or breath from another part of the recording.
For example, a popped plosive (‘P’ sound) is caused by moving too much air through the diaphragm of the microphone by being too close to the mic. An effective fix to this problem is to copy and paste another ‘P’ sound that isn’t popped and sounds more natural over the problematic area.
This is very tedious, but it makes a huge difference in the overall quality of the finished product.
Advanced Editing Tip 3: Remove Lip Smacks/Clicks
Do you ever get annoyed by hearing a continuous barrage of lip smacks? Nothing can be more annoying than hearing a lip smack every other sentence. Editing out lip smacks and mouth clicks will make your podcast a more pleasant listen. Your audience will thank you!
Advanced Editing Tip 4: Group Your Tracks
If you have more than one dialogue track to edit, grouping tracks together, or multi-track editing, can save you time and help keep your session organized. This also keeps the tracks in phase and in line with each other.
Advanced Editing Tip 5: Checkerboard Editing
While recording multiple people on their own microphone may bring clarity to each individual, it also creates more noise and editing problems in the post-production process. For example, if you have a two-person conversation the host may be breathing, sneezing, or typing on a keyboard while the guest is answering their question. This can be very distracting and annoying to listen to.
To fix this, simply mute the host’s track while the guest is talking and vice versa. You will be amazed by how much this cleans up the audio. Be careful to fade in and out each person appropriately so you don’t hear a change in room tone and pay special attention to when they are talking over each other.
Advanced Editing Tip 6: Use Crossfades
Do you ever hear quick clips or pops in a recording due to an edit? This is usually caused by not using a crossfade while editing. A crossfade is an editing technique where the audio is faded in and out in between two separate clips to create a smooth sounding edit. Crossfades can be very short or very long depending on how the audio clips overlap, so play around with the length of the crossfade to make the best edit possible.
Another Option: Outsourcing Editing & Post Production
Due to the time it can take to edit and mix your podcast with excellence, many podcasters choose to outsource the editing and post-production for their podcast to a professional. If you decide to go this route, here are a few options:
- Best Podcast Editing & Production Services (For Every Budget)
- Get your first 2 episodes professionally edited and mixed for FREE!
Other Details — Logos, Graphics, Music
First appearances matter. The old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” only exists because it’s natural for us to judge things, even podcasts, by their cover. As you plan your podcast, one goal you likely have is to reach as many listeners as you possibly can.
Your cover art and intro music can help you reach these listeners by giving a great first impression that will draw them in. And while artwork and music alone will not make your show great, they can promote (or limit) the success of your show in many ways.
When you are thinking about creating cover art and the intro/outro music for your podcast, we recommend you take the extra time to make it as good as you possibly can with the resources you have. People will learn to recognize your podcast by your artwork and music. The extra time and resources you put into creating these integral elements will pay off big in the long haul.
Creating Podcast Cover Art
Before going over tips for creating your cover art, let’s review the requirements that iTunes has for uploading it to their directory. These are non-negotiables and if you do not meet these requirements, your show will not be accepted by iTunes.
iTunes Podcast Submission Requirements:
- A minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels, 72 dpi
- JPEG or PNG format with appropriate file extensions (.jpg, .png)
- RGB colorspace
- To optimize images for mobile devices, Apple recommends compressing your image files
- Podcast artwork must be original
Additionally your podcast cover art should not contain any of the following:
- Explicit language without setting the tag to yes, explicit, or true
- Content that could be construed as racist, misogynist, or homophobic
- Explicit or self-censored explicit language in titles, subtitles, or descriptions
- References to illegal drugs, profanity, or violence
- Content depicting graphic sex, violence, gore, illegal drugs, or hate themes
- Third-party content or trademarks without legal authorization or usage rights
- The words Apple Music, iTunes Store, iTunes, or Apple Inc.
- iTunes Store logo, Apple logo, or the term Exclusive without prior authorization from Apple
- Any visual representation of iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or any other Apple hardware
- Pixelation, artifacts, high-contrast background art, blurry or hard crops, or other style issues
3 Tips for Creating Podcast Cover Art
What does it actually take to have great and effective artwork for your podcast? Consider these guidelines:
- Keep it simple
Your artwork should contain the name of your show and any relevant images or logos. Avoid the temptation to add extra words or flashy images that may not be needed. Keep in mind that many listeners will be previewing your podcast on small screens, so the cleaner the overall design, the more easily it will be readable at thumbnail size.
- Keep it relevant
Your artwork should reflect the overall theme or ethos of your show. Use contrasting colors that will help your show pop and which reflect the emotion you hope your show will communicate.
- Make it big
Be creative to make the title text fit but make it as large as possible. This American Life is an example of creatively making the title fit on their cover. Many of your potential listeners will be viewing your cover art on the small screen of their mobile device in iTunes, so you want your artwork to be legible and stand out at this small size.
4 Tips for Creating a Great Podcast Intro
- Use relevant music
Use music that fits your theme and communicates the feel you want your podcast to have.
- Make it clear
Include the podcast name, name of host(s), sponsors, episode number and title, guest name(s), and any other relevant info for each episode.
- Set the tone
Include the theme or tagline of the podcast, and give a short summary and purpose for the show. Use this as an opportunity to hook listeners and draw them in.
- Keep it professional
You want your intro to grab the attention of listeners and set the tone for your podcast. Go the extra mile to make it sound great so you don’t lose listeners because your intro sucks.
Piecing It All Together — Mixing, MP3 Creation, Tagging
Mixing is the production step where you mix all the elements of your podcast episode together (hosts, guests music, commercials, etc.) to make the final presentation sound good. When you do this properly, you provide a good listening experience for the listener, and when you do this wrong you provide a terrible listening experience for the listener. Poorly mixed podcasts are difficult to listen to, and many people just turn them off out of frustration.
Examples of Poor Mixing:
- One voice is loud and the other is soft, requiring the listener to “ride the volume knob”
- The intro music is loud and the host’s voice is way too low (or vice versa)
- One of more voices are muffled and not clear enough
- One of more voices are harsh and painful
When mixing is done properly, the listener won’t even notice the sound of the production — which is the best result you can hope for. Proper mixing allows the listener to focus on the content of the discussion instead of struggling to make out what’s being said.
The final audio file that you share with the world should be an MP3 file, so when you’re done with all your production the last step is to turn your episode into an MP3.
Note: It’s best to do all your production in uncompressed file formats like .WAV, .AIFF, etc., and then only compress (or “degrade”) the audio quality at the very last step when creating your final episode MP3.
Mono vs. Stereo
Stereo is where the left and right channels are different. Most music is in stereo and that’s how you can hear different instruments on the left and right, etc.
Mono is one channel, collapsing all the audio into one channel which comes out of both the left and right.
Stereo files are twice the size of Mono files. This is why some podcasters prefer Mono because it cuts their file sizes in half, but at the same time collapses any stereo music into Mono and makes the music sound flat and dimensionless. Other podcasters publish their episodes in stereo to retain the stereo spectrum of music elements in their show and they don’t really worry about the larger file size.
There are different quality options for MP3’s. Here are the standard file specs and file sizes:
- Mono, 64kbps, 44.1kHz (for reference, a one-hour episode will be approximately a 29.5 Megabyte file)
- Stereo, 128 kbps, 44.1kHz (for reference, a one-hour episode will be approximately a 59 Megabyte file)
Tagging MP3 Files
Tagging an MP3 file (episode) is simply adding various handy information (called metadata) which will be saved as part of the MP3 file itself, so that when someone plays that MP3 file (episode) in their podcast player app, the app will display your show name, episode title, copyright statement, URL, year, genre, etc.
If you don’t tag your final episode MP3 files, your episodes will appear very plain and not have all that handy information in the listeners podcasting app or computer.
5) Podcast Hosting
What Is a Podcast Hosting Company?
A podcast hosting company is a media platform specifically suited to the needs of podcasters. Reputable hosting companies provide podcasters a reliable platform where they can upload and store their audio and/or video files, and publish their podcast. A podcast hosting company will also provide you with your RSS feed, robust statistics, and a variety of tools to help you distribute and even monetize your show.
Pricing and features vary between hosts, but you will want to pay attention to how bandwidth and storage limits relate to pricing structure. It is tempting to choose a free hosting plan when starting out, but that often means very limited file storage, or even uncontrollable ad insertion into your show which can pollute your content, and drive away listeners.
Take the time to review the various features offered. Some features may align more strongly with the needs of your podcast than others.
10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Podcast Host:
- How much bandwidth and storage do I get for the price?
- Are IAB consistent statistics included?
- What tools do they provide to help me promote and distribute my show?
- What monetization tools do they provide? Dynamic ad insertion? Crowdfunding? Premium content options?
- Do they have a Spotify partnership?
- Are they active in the podcast community?
- Are they integrated with smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home?
- Do I get an attractive site for my podcast?
- Can I map my podcast hosting site to my own domain?
- Do they have an embeddable player that I can put on my website or blog?
Reasons to Use a Podcast Hosting Company
Reliable File Storage and Delivery
Podcasters need a reliable place to store their media files. As a podcaster, you will be producing audio files that will need a lot of storage space. This will place a burden on your website hosting provider which can lead to hefty storage and backup fees. You also need these files delivered efficiently to your listeners. Most websites are not suited to serve your RSS feed quickly and reliably due to the bandwidth needed to do so.
Distribution and Publishing
A podcast hosting company will provide you with an RSS Feed which you can distribute to podcast directories in order to increase the potential that your show will be discovered and available to podcast listeners.
Since many podcasters pull from the iTunes public API, we recommend starting with Apple Podcasts. Your podcast will automatically show up in other podcast players without you having to lift a finger!
Although there are dozens of podcast directories which you can find by doing a simple Google search, here are five of the big ones:
Spotify is another critical place for your podcast to be, but unlike the other directories/players where you can simply submit your RSS Feed, with Spotify, you must be hosted by one of their podcast hosting partners, and meet that host’s individual requirements for submission.
According to Edison Research: The Podcast Consumer 2018, 30 percent of podcast listeners own an Amazon Alexa or Google Home smart speaker. That’s a 19 percent increase since 2017. Clearly, smart speakers are expanding the way we will be listening to podcasts and reacting to ads.
Your podcast hosting company will also make it easy to publish your media files with show notes (complementary text) for each of your episodes as well as include any image files and links to enrich your content. Show notes or podcast transcripts are extremely important because they act as corresponding text to your podcast which will help your show’s search engine optimization since Google indexes text, but not audio.
Marketing and Monetization
You are probably realizing by now that podcast hosting companies offer podcasters much more than storage space. Their focus on the specific needs of podcasters is particularly significant when it comes to providing podcasters with the tools they need to successfully market and monetize their show.
Now that your RSS Feed is distributed, you need to get the word out about your show. You can expect your podcast hosting platform to provide you with social media integration so that you can auto-publish your show to multiple social media profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.
6) Podcast Promotion and Audience Engagement
Find Your Fans On Social Media
Another important finding in the Edison Research: The Podcast Consumer 2018 report is that 93 percent of podcast listeners use one or more social media platforms. This is yet another indication that podcast consumers are active online, and social media savvy. As a podcaster, social media gives you an opportunity to meet and engage with your audience where they are hanging out online.
The last thing you want to do is waste your time on social media. Social media becomes a waste of time when your posts generate zero engagement.
Building a relationship with your fan base takes time and attention. Relationships online aren’t that different from offline relationships. Your audience needs to get to know you, trust you, and finally, become a loyal fan of your podcast.
Share Great Content
Share a variety of content with your listeners in mind. Your listeners will want to get to know you better and feel more a part of the show through the things you share with them on social media. Here are some ideas:
- Behind the scenes photos
- Informative and/or fun quotes pulled from your most recent episode.
- A feedback question–give your listeners the power to vote on show decisions, or any subject covered in your podcast. Facebook and Twitter have polling features built-in to their posting options which makes this super easy.
- Share live video. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram give you the availability to share your thoughts, news, promos, and special announcements in real time. Links and/or photos to anything mentioned in your podcast.
- Teasers. Let your audience know what they can look forward to in the next episode. You can create and share a snippet of your podcast by using a tool like waave.
- Share and tag podcasts similar to yours. It’s a great way to demonstrate care and goodwill to your listeners, and podcasts in your community.
- Share links to your show from the various places they can find it. Not everyone listens to podcasts on iTunes.
As mentioned, social media takes a lot of time. It is tempting to get lazy and turn on cross-posting tools. Cross-posting tools will take something you post on one platform and automatically post it to another platform. Unfortunately, the format of these posts is typically not ideal for the other platform(s). It’s a lot like sending a cardboard cutout of yourself to a party.
That’s not to say you can’t use social media management tools to schedule content in advance so that you can have more control of your social media time. When you do use a social media management tool, be sure to monitor mentions, comments, shares, and replies so that you can respond to engagement. Most people can’t be responding to social media all day, but you can set up an hour a day that you respond and engage in real-time on your social media platforms.
Pay attention to your fans and followers. Respond to every comment. Thank them for retweets and shares. Take the time to looks at their profile and craft a personal tweet mentioning them. This is an often overlooked opportunity on social media because it takes a little more time and effort.
Seek Out Your Audience
This is where it all begins. Who exactly will love your show? The answer is never everybody. The more you know about your specific audience, the easier it is to find, attract, and connect with them online.
Once you intimately know your audience, you will also be guided in what they want and need from you as a content producer. This will only make your show better.
Questions to Identify Your Podcast Audience:
- How old are your listeners?
- What are their interests and habits?
- Where do they live and work?
- What do they eat?
- What do they watch on TV? Do they even watch TV?
- What do they read?
- What big purchases do they make?
- What regular purchases do they make?
- What do they do for fun?
- Where do they hang out offline and online?
- Did they go to college?
- Do they have pets? Do they have kids?
- What causes do they care about?
List everything you know about your audience:
Follow other podcasts in your genre, as well as any relevant hashtags, and be social. Respond to posts, and join their conversations so that they and their audience can get to know you, and get curious about your podcast.
It may seem counterintuitive to approach your podcast competition, but you have to remember that if a listener loves true crime, they will listen to multiple true crime podcasts. That is true for any genre. By connecting to other podcasts in your genre, you can help each other expand your audience by introducing your shows to each other’s listeners.
The more you engage and contribute, the more visible you are online, and the probability that someone will discover your show increases.
Set Your Podcast up for Social Media Success
Choose Your Social Media Handle
Your podcast should have its own online identity, separate and distinct from its hosts. To establish your show’s online existence, you first need to choose a handle which is how you are identified and tagged on each platform. Selecting your podcast’s social media handle will take some time because you want to choose a handle that is available across all your social media platforms. If you already have mismatched handles, you can still change them by editing your profile. This is a recommended best practice because it makes it much easier for your fans to find you if your handle is the same on every platform. It also makes it much easier for you to quickly tell people how to find you online if it’s @podcastx wherever they look for you.
List similar podcasts and their social media handles in your niche, genre, or industry as well as popular hashtags:
Choose Your Platforms
You don’t need to be on every social media platform, especially if you don’t have the time or resources to maintain a robust presence on all of them. If you only have time for one platform, that is fine, just do that one platform extremely well.
Choose the platforms that fit your audience. If your audience is composed of Gen Xers, you will definitely want to be on Facebook. If your audience is in their twenties, you might want to consider Snapchat. If your content is highly visual, such as a show about food, fashion, or travel, you will want to be on Instagram. Twitter is great for fast-paced content and mini conversations. If you are producing a political, journalistic, or social justice podcast, Twitter will be a great fit for your content.
Even if you don’t plan to post to a platform, go ahead and set up a profile with your chosen social media handle. This secures your “real estate” in case you decide to join that social media platform in the future.
Set a Social Media Schedule
Consistency is the key ingredient to building a following as it builds trust with your audience and sets expectations. Post and engage on your social platforms on a regular basis. This includes creating content on a consistent, predictable schedule. If you decide to use Facebook Live as part of your content strategy, then schedule your Facebook Lives on a predictable schedule so that your growing fan base knows they can count on you to show up with something new to share at a regular day and time.
Based on a 2018 compilation of data provided by Social Report, here are the ideal posting frequencies for the following platforms:
- Facebook: 1-2 posts per day. 1 post a day if you have less than 10,000 followers. If you exceed 10,000 followers data supports a benefit to posting twice a day. 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm being the best times to post content.
- Twitter: 3-5 tweets per day. The best times to tweet are 2 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, and 6 pm. The best day to tweet is Wednesday.
- Instagram: 1-2 posts per day. The best times for Instagram are 2 am, 8-9 am, and 5 pm. Users are more likely to be engaged with this platform during non-work hours.
- LinkedIn: 1 post per day, M-F only. The ideal times to post are 7-8 am, 12 pm, and 5-6 pm.
- Pinterest: 3 pins per day. The best days to pin are Saturday and Sunday and the best times are 2 pm, 9 pm, and 2 am.
Keep in mind that social media is by no means a science. These are simply guidelines. You may find that your audience behaves differently so it pays to experiment and use the insights provided by your social media platforms or social media management tool to enlighten you on the behavior of your audience with your content.
Social Media Scheduling and Content Creation Tools
Social Media Management
- Adobe Spark
- Ripl (custom animated posts)
- Repost (for Instagram)
- Canva (graphic design for non-designers)
- PicMonkey (desktop photo editor and app)
7) Make Money With Your Podcast
Many podcasters want to generate revenue with their podcasts. A good podcast host will have some monetization tools built-in so that you can explore them when/if monetization is right for your show.
There are several ways to monetize your show, so you can choose the one that best fits the spirit of your show.
A sponsor is a business or brand that wants to pay you a fee to run an ad spot on your show. If this is an attractive option for you, you’ll want to consider a podcast hosting company that offers services or tools that support your goal of getting sponsorship revenue.
Some hosting companies offer dynamic ad insertion tools so that you can easily insert ads into your show. Dynamic ad insertion allows you, or in some cases, the podcast hosting company, to insert a digital ad in the preroll (beginning), midroll (middle), or post-roll (end) of your show. Dynamic ads can be programmed for specific date ranges, episodes, and even geographic targets.
Expect to pay fees to use a dynamic ad insertion tool. If your podcast host is matching your show with sponsors, and dynamically inserting those ads for you, be sure that you have the option to opt out of any ads that aren’t a proper fit for your show.
Podcasters can also approach their own sponsors, and avoid dynamic ad insertion fees and revenue share models. A traditional measurement of online advertising rates is CPM (cost per mille) which translates from Latin as “Cost Per Thousand”. This means a sponsor will pay X per 1,000 downloads of your podcast. You can also include other platforms associated with your podcast such as Facebook impressions, video views, and impressions on Instagram and Twitter. The X is open for you to negotiate with your sponsor. Your podcast host will still be of value to you in this scenario as they will be able to provide you with the statistics to back up the download number you use to calculate your CPM.
Another unit of measurement that can be particularly attractive to niche podcasts with a highly engaged audience is CPA: Cost Per Acquisition. With this metric, we are measuring the number of sales or sign-ups that occur as a direct result of your ad. The focus is on results rather than downloads. For example, a podcast about cigars with 1000 listeners who are passionate about cigars will be likely to get their fans to respond to a host read ad promoting a new cigar subscription service. If 10 listeners sign up for a subscription and the podcast is paid $30 per new subscriber, that is $300. Not bad for a small show!
Need help calculating CPM or CPA? Use this handy calculator.
Shows with enthusiastic audiences often find that their listeners are eager to financially support the podcast. Crowdfunding is a widely accepted means to generate recurring revenue. Supporters pledge a monthly amount in exchange for various rewards outlined on a crowdfunding page. Podcasters can get wildly creative with their reward levels and engage their audience in a new way.
For example, The Rex Factor Podcast offers the following reward to anyone who pledges $2 a month on their PodBean Patron page: Not only will you have that warm fuzzy glow, an on-air mention and access to the Privy Chamber bonus podcasts, you will also have the chance to have a comment or question read out on air.
Premium and subscription content
Another option to monetize your content is to place it behind a paywall. Many podcast hosting companies offer the option for you to produce premium content. This allows you to make your content subscription-based, or to put bonus content behind a paywall. You can even combine premium content with your crowdfunding, and have bonus content unlocked at a certain support level. Expect to pay a revenue share percentage to your hosting company for the use of this feature.
Podcasts with a solid fan base are having success performing their podcasts in front of live audiences, and generating income from ticket sales and merchandise. The podcast My Favorite Murder tours around the world to sold out shows, and has a high demand for MFM merchandise with their fans known affectionately as “Muderinos”. If you think your show is suitable for a live audience, finding a podcast host that supports live streaming, and video files will be important to you.
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