How to start a podcast

Fives steps for creating a podcast:

  1. Buy recording equipment – get a great podcasting mic starting at $60.

  2. Choose your audio editing software – use audio editing software to record and edit your episodes.

  3. Publish your podcast – upload your audio to your podcast hosting provider.

  4. Submit to Apple Podcasts and Spotify – submit your podcast's RSS feed URL to appear in their directory.

  5. Promote your podcast – to get more listeners, use search engines, social media, and word of mouth.

We also have a section for frequently asked questions at the bottom.


What equipment do you need for a podcast?

Generally, to start podcasting you'll only need a USB microphone, a pop filter, headphones, and a computer.

More advanced users may want to buy an XLR microphone, audio interface, mixer, and a microphone stand.

Podcast equipment packages

Starter podcast kit – $75
Samson Q2U

Microphone - $60
Samson Q2U – dynamic USB microphone. Amazon | Walmart

Pop filter

Pop filter – $10-$15
Neewer – windscreen for your microphone. Amazon | Walmart

Editing software

Audio editing – free
SoftwareGarageBand (Mac or iPad) | Audacity (PC)

Professional podcast kit – $1,100
SM7B microphone

Microphone - $400
Shure SM7B – XLR cardioid dynamic microphone. Amazon | B&H

Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 Mic Activator

Mic activator – $150
Cloudlifter – boost the output of your microphone. Amazon | B&H

PreSonus Studio

Audio interface – $160
PreSonus Studio – plug your mic into your PC. Amazon | B&H

Mic boom arm

Microphone boom arm – $100
Blue Compass – mount your mic to your desk. Amazon | B&H

Professional editing software

Audio editing – $280
SoftwareLogic Pro (Mac) | Adobe Audition (PC)

Best podcasting microphones

Many folks use the Blue Yeti USB microphone, but we don't recommend it. This condenser microphone picks up a lot of room noises (especially any thumps or bumps you make while recording).

Here are some better microphone options (from least expensive, to most costly):

  • Samson Technologies Q2U ($60 USD) – this dynamic microphone can plug into your computer via USB or you can use an XLR cable.

  • Audio-Technica ATR2005-USB ($65 USD) – another dynamic microphone with USB and XLR inputs (comparable to the now-retired ATR2100).

  • Shure SM7B ($399 USD) – consistently ranked as one of the best podcast microphones by professionals. You'll also need a USB interface for this mic.

  • Heil PR 40 ($399 USD) – another classic microphone for voiceover work, also highly rated. (An additional USB interface/preamp is also required).

Best podcasting preamps and USB audio interfaces

If you're using an XLR microphone, you'll need to connect it to your computer via a USB interface. Most of these have two (or more) inputs, which will allow you to record multiple microphones at the same time.

  • BEHRINGER UMC202HD ($99 USD) – I've been using this little preamp + USB interface for the past year, and really like it. It's the most affordable USB interface I've found and is comparable in quality to the Scarlett (below).

  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 ($160 USD) – used by thousands of podcasters, the Scarlett is a popular USB interface.

  • DBX 286S Preamplifier ($219 USD) – my friends Sean McCabe and Matt Giovanisci swear by this preamp. Matt says: "I don’t need a lot of soundproofing in my room with the DBX. It has a very effective gate that cuts the room noise out." Sean recommends setting the DBX input gain at 50–55, and output gain at 0–5db. "To be clear," he says, "you still need an audio interface with the DBX 286s. It's a pre-amp, not an interface. You can’t connect it to your computer without something like the Scarlett."


How to record and edit your podcast

Now that you have your microphone plugged into your computer, you'll use audio editing software to record and edit your podcast episodes.

How to record a podcast with remote guests

For recording remote guests, Skype has a built-in call recording feature (as does Zoom).

There are also some great web-based recording tools that automatically records both sides of the conversation:

Best podcasting editing software

  • Garageband (Free, Mac) – If you have a Mac, this is the easiest way to start recording and editing your podcast.

  • Audacity (Free, PC) – for PC users, Audacity is a good free choice for recording and editing podcasts. Emily Prokop has a good video tutorial on using Audacity.

  • Descript (Web) – a unique way to record and edit your podcast. Descript automatically transcribes your spoken word and allows you to edit audio by editing the text transcription.

  • ScreenFlow ($99 USD, Mac) – this is technically video editing software, but I've been using it lately for quick podcast editing projects. It works really well for recording audio as well.

  • Alitu (Web) – with Alitu, you upload all of the clips for your episode and it cleans them up, adds intro music, and exports a finished audio file.


How to publish your podcast audio

Once you've created your audio, it's time to upload it to a hosting provider and generate your podcast feed. Every podcast needs:

  • A webserver to host MP3 files,

  • A way to create new episodes, and add show notes,

  • A way to publish new episodes, and update the podcast's RSS feed,

  • And a way to generate a valid RSS feed.

This is where a podcast hosting company comes in.

Best podcast hosting and analytics platform

/assets/podcast-uploader.gif
  • Transistor ($19 / month) – we started Transistor for professionals who are serious about their podcast. We provide a website for your podcast, a place to store your MP3 files, an iTunes-ready RSS feed, and detailed analytics.

  • Anchor (free) – if you're starting a hobby podcast, Anchor is a nice way to get started.

  • Soundcloud (free) – is another popular place for folks looking for a free hosting solution.

Try podcasting on Transistor for free

Start a 14-day trial

How to get your podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google

Your hosting provider should give you a valid RSS feed for your podcast.

Now, you can submit that RSS feed to different podcast players (like Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts) so that listeners can easily find your show, and play your audio.

Podcast distribution works like this:

/assets/how-podcast-publishing-works.jpg

For more information on how podcast distribution works, read this guide.

Most popular podcast listening apps

Make sure you submit your RSS feed to these podcast players. (I recommend submitting in this order)

  • Apple Podcasts (iTunes) – nearly every podcast directory (Podchaser, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Breaker, Castro, Listen Notes ) uses Apple’s directory as their “master copy.” If your show is on Apple Podcasts, it will automatically show up on most of the other directories.

  • Spotify – Spotify has quickly become a major player in the podcast space. Note: they re-host your audio files and show notes on their server.

  • Google Podcasts – Google now has a built-in podcast player on Android. There's nowhere to "submit" your show, however. Instead, you'll need to have a website for your podcast with a <link> element that points to your RSS feed. (Transistor websites do this automatically)

  • Pocket Casts – Pocket Casts is a popular player, now owned by WNYC, NPR, WBEZ and This American Life.

  • Stitcher – Stitcher used to be a popular player, but isn't as important these days. Like Spotify, they re-host your audio (which some folks don't like).

Like I mentioned, apps like Overcast and Castbox scrape the Apple Podcasts directory, so if you submit first to Apple, you'll eventually show up there too.


How to promote your podcast

The foundation has been set! You have recording equipment, you've uploaded your first episodes, you've submitted your feed to various players; now you'll want listeners.

According to Edison Research (2019), here are the top three ways listeners find podcasts:

  1. Searching the Internet (73%)

  2. Social media posts (67%)

  3. Recommendations from Friends/Family (66%)

To succeed with podcast promotion, you'll want to target those channels!

Best ways to market your podcast

Marketing a podcast is a big topic, but here are some quick tips:

  • Build anticipation before you launch – one big opportunity many folks miss is building up anticipation before they launch. Create a "coming soon" web page for your show, and get folks to sign up for a waiting list. Send out teasers and samples, and create momentum for your official launch day.

  • Use keywords to your advantage – when folks look for the best podcasts about farming, they search "best farming podcasts." If your podcast is called "The Farming Podcast," you're more likely to get found, as opposed to calling your show: "Steve Smith – the modern agrarian."

  • Start an email newsletter – one of our customers, Josh, sent an email to his list about his podcast and did 3x the listens in one day. For my show, I use MailChimp to send out an automated email every time we publish a new show (here's how).

  • Cross-promote on similar podcasts – find influential shows that have a similar audience to you, reach out and ask if they're interested in some sort of cross-promotion. Sometimes, this means doing an episode exchange (you post one of their sample episodes in your feed, and they do the same for you).

  • Engage in communities where your audience hangs out – don't spam, but building up a reputation Facebook Groups, on forums, and in comments, threads is a good strategy. Then, when appropriate, link out to specific shows (but only if they're related to the current topic of conversation!).

  • Create a video teaser – create a video teaser for your latest episode using Headliner, and post it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. (Here's a good example).

  • Use direct mail – send your fans stickers, postcards, or a letter the old-fashioned way. Trust me, they'll tell people about it!

  • Go to events – spread the word in-person. Go to tradeshows, conferences, and meetups that relate to your audience. People will ask you, "so, what do you do?" That's a great time to tell folks about your show.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is needed to start a podcast?

Every podcast needs:

  • A web server to host MP3 files,
  • A way to create new episodes, and add show notes,
  • A way to publish new episodes, and update the podcast's RSS feed,
  • And a way to generate a valid RSS feed.

Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts are podcast players but they're not hosting platforms. When you click "download" or "subscribe" in these apps, the request gets sent to whichever host your favorite podcast is using (like Transistor.fm!). The podcast player will then download the MP3 file from that server.

How much does it cost to start a podcast?

If you're just starting out, you can experiment by hosting your podcast for free on Anchor or Soundcloud. You could even record your podcast using your built-in mic on your phone, tablet, or computer (although that's not recommended if you're seriously trying to build an audience).

If you'd like to up your game, you can buy a good quality microphone for as little as $60, and create as many podcasts as you'd like on Transistor, starting at $19 / month.

It's incredible that in 2020, we can essentially run our own talk radio station, and reach thousands of listeners, all for under $20 a month!

How much money do you make from podcasts?

The Build your SaaS podcast, which has a tech audience, earns roughly:

  • $300/month on Patreon

  • $600/month from podcast sponsors

  • Total monthly revenue: $900 / month

Keep in mind, it can take years to build an audience big enough for monetization.

At Transistor, many of our users earn revenue for their podcasts by:

  • Getting listeners to support them on Patreon – Patreon is a 3rd-party platform that allows your listeners to support you monthly. Their website describes it best: "Fans pay you a subscription amount of their choice in exchange for exclusive content." (Example)

  • Creating a membership site – using tools like Podia, Memberful, or PodFan, you can create a private membership site for your listeners, and charge them a subscription.

  • Getting advertisers – some of our users also allow companies to sponsor their podcast.

What equipment do I need for a podcast?

At a minimum, all you need to start podcasting is:

  1. USB microphone (we recommend the ATR2100 or the Samson Q2U).
  2. A pop filter.
  3. A computer, phone, or tablet (so you can plug in your microphone and record your audio).

Try podcasting on Transistor for free

Start a 14-day trial
Published on September 9th, 2020
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