Fives steps for creating a podcast in 2021:
Buy recording equipment – get a great podcasting mic starting at $60.
Choose your audio editing software – use audio editing software to record and edit your episodes.
Publish your podcast – upload your audio to your podcast hosting provider.
Submit to Apple Podcasts and Spotify – submit your podcast's RSS feed URL to appear in their directory.
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.
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.
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 ($79 USD) – another dynamic microphone with USB and XLR inputs. A great option if the Samson Q2U is sold out.
Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB ($99 USD) – this is the newer version of the much-loved ATR2100 mic. It has both USB and XLR inputs.
New: Shure MV7 ($249 USD) – inspired by their SM7B, Shure created the MV7 specifically for podcasters. It's a pro-level dynamic mic, but (unlike the SM7B) has both USB and XLR outputs.
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).
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."
Now that you have your microphone plugged into your computer, you'll use audio editing software to record and edit your podcast episodes.
There are also some great web-based recording tools that automatically records both sides of the conversation:
Garageband (Free, Mac) – If you have a Mac, this is the easiest way to start recording and editing your podcast.
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.
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.
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.
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:
For more information on how podcast distribution works, read this guide.
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.
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:
Searching the Internet (73%)
Social media posts (67%)
Recommendations from Friends/Family (66%)
To succeed with podcast promotion, you'll want to target those channels!
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!).
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.
Every podcast needs:
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.
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).
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!
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)
Getting advertisers – some of our users also allow companies to sponsor their podcast.
At a minimum, all you need to start podcasting is: