Welcome to the ‘How to Start your Podcast’ course!
I’m J, 30-something blogger at millennialboss.com, Boston native living in the Pacific Northwest, and co-host of the FIRE Drill Podcast.
I started my podcast exactly one year ago and just hit ~500,000 downloads and nearly $10,000 in podcast revenue.
Update 2020: I am a six figure podcaster and blogger with over 1.5M downloads!
My podcast is about financial independence and escaping the cubicle in your thirties.
So I hear you’re interested in starting your own podcast too?
I’m so excited for you because starting a podcast changed my life!
In this course, we’ll share with you the 7-steps you need to take to start your own podcast. If you want this information emailed to you too so you have it saved, enter your email address below.
Also, before we go into the step-by-step instructions, here is the full-list of all the gear and software referenced in the course.
- I have the Shure MV5 microphone and that is what works best in my apartment and in my price range (less than $100).
- I also have the Blue Yeti mic, boom, and this pop filter, but I don’t like this setup as much.
- My podcast is hosted with Blubrry and with the 500MB plan because I release 4-8 long episodes per month.
- My podcast website is hosted with Bluehost on the cheapest plan.
- My podcast website’s theme was purchased through Studiopress.
- I use Canva for all of my website images and social media graphics.
- I use ConvertKit to collect email addresses and send emails to listeners.
- I use Calendly to schedule guest interviews the easy way and I’m still on the free plan.
- I record our episodes with Ecamm’s Call Recorder for Skype.
- T-shirts for our podcast were made with Printful.
DAY 1 – Pick your podcast theme
Whether your podcast is about travel or fitness or wellness or personal finance or entrepreneurship or family, I encourage you to pick just one theme.
You can always cover multiple topics but it’s a lot easier to get an audience from the beginning when you are niched down.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are you trying to help with this podcast?
- How are you different from the other podcasts out there in this category?
Don’t be afraid to enter a niche that is already saturated with podcasts. A saturated niche means that there is demand for that topic. That is good.
You just need to come up with a little bit of a different spin so your podcast stands out.
What could be different about your podcast:
- Maybe you have a different ‘angle’ to the subject
- You are a solo-show and the others are interview shows
- You yourself are different (for example: we were the only financial independence podcast with two young, female hosts at the time)
Be different and you’ll attract listeners.
DAY 2 – Pick your podcast name
Ready to commit to a podcast name?
Here are three tips you need to know:
- Pick a name that makes it clear what your podcast is about.
- Don’t use your own name (unless you use it as a subtitle) because someone searching in iTunes and landing on your podcast won’t know who you are.
- Don’t stress out about picking the name.
You don’t want to let a name stop you from taking action and starting this podcast. TAKING ACTION IS KEY. You can always change the name later.
Let’s talk about how listeners discover podcasts and I think it will help you decide on a name.
Jenny Smith is a fitness lover who already listens to 2 fitness podcasts but she’s looking for a new one. She types ‘fitness’ into the iTunes search bar on her mobile app and three podcasts show up.
- The first podcast returned in the search results is called the “John Daly Show” and she has no idea who John Daly is. SKIP.
- The second one is called “Alabama Hustle” and it doesn’t sound like a fitness podcast. SKIP.
- The third is called “Wine & Barbells” and it’s clear that this is a fitness podcast or at least a podcast with some fitness element. The image looks cool too and relevant to what she is looking for. She clicks the image and subscribes.
Think about how a listener would search for and find your podcast in a directory such as iTunes. Does the name make it clear what your podcast is about (or at least what niche it is in)?
Where to buy your podcast website
I hope that thought exercise helps you commit to your name!
If you’re ready to commit to your name, you can buy the website through Bluehost before someone else snags it. We bought firedrillpodcast.com through them.
You’ll need to buy a domain name & hosting for your podcast website AS WELL AS hosting for your podcast media files. We use Blubrry to host our podcast media files but more to come on that!
Once you have the name, get your artwork ready!
I personally made my artwork using the online photoshop-esque software, Canva. You can also get someone to make it for you with Fiverr if you are not comfortable.
Remember that the art should convey what your podcast is about, be easy to read, and be bright enough to attract a listener’s attention.
Also try to make it under 500kb in size so that it loads fast enough. If you have a huge file size, it may take forever to load.
Questions to ask yourself when starting a podcast:
- How many times per month do I want to release episodes? My recommendation is no more than 1 per week starting out.
- Will I use an editor or edit myself? Expect to pay $1 per minute minimum if you outsource.
- Will my format be interview or narrative? Solo or guest?
- Will my content be explicit or clean?
DAY 3 – Setup your Podcast Hosting Accounts
Today is the day where you really “BUILD” your podcast.
There are two steps here.
Step 1 – Buy your podcast hosting account
You have to host the podcast media files (which are massive files) somewhere. I use Blubrry to host my podcast and they may give you a discount or a free month if you sign up with my link: http://create.blubrry.com/resources/podcast-media-…
I also get stats from Blubrry too.
I have the 500 MB per month plan because I publish two shows per week at a length of at least 45 minutes each.
If your show will only be once a week, you probably only need the 250MB plan. I wouldn’t advise getting the 100 MB plan because that seems so short to really get an audience hooked on your show.
I also wouldn’t advise getting the 1,000MB a month plan since producing more than two hour-long episodes per week sounds exhausting. If that is what you want though, then go for it!
Once you create an account for your podcast with Blubrry, you will have to let them know how you will publish the content.
As you can see from the above picture, I publish the content from my podcast website using Blubrry’s PowerPress plugin. This is my preferred way to publish my episodes. I just type them up like I’m writing a blog post, select the episode file and publish.
This is why you need Step 2 though…
Step 2 – Get the podcast website up and running
If you haven’t already, snag the domain name and hosting account for your podcast website.
Every podcast needs a corresponding website where listeners can go to after the episode to see the episode show notes, get on your email list and learn more about you.
I bought our domain name (firedrillpodcast.com) and website hosting from Bluehost.
It is the cheapest website hosting service that I could find and I’ve been happy with it so far. Website hosting is different from Blubrry media hosting, so this is an additional expense.
Once you buy your domain name (should cost around $15 per year) and hosting (should cost $5 per month or less), then you can build out the website.
To do that: I downloaded WordPress through the 1-click Install in the Bluehost dashboard.
Then I purchased a paid theme through Studiopress so my website looked pretty and uploaded that zip file to the themes section in WordPress.
You can use a WordPress default theme for FREE if you prefer but it was important for me that my website looked professional. Studiopress has a bunch of theme options so you can find one you like the look of.
Getting the website up and running can be tricky. YouTube is your friend here.
DAY 4 – Picking your mic and getting the room setup
Yay! Buying the mic is an exciting but maybe nerve wracking step in the process.
My personal recommendation is to buy something mid-range or cheaper to start. Once you figure out what you need and what works best with your room, then you can upgrade.
I have the Shure MV5 and that is what works best in my apartment and in my price range (less than $100).
If I had a 1-bedroom or a studio, then the Blue Yeti would be the better mic.
Make sure to consider your setup before investing in a mic.
What is your setup in the room?
Have you thought about how you plan to setup your mic and equipment while recording?
I have a standing desk because I like moving around when I record. It helps me up the energy which turns into a better and more fun episode for listeners.
I had to move the standing desk though because I originally had it under our stairs and the sound quality was poor. I think tried another spot in the room and that didn’t work either.
I found the third spot that sounds just right.
Don’t be afraid to move around until you have a spot that works.
Sound Quality Tips:
- People say that recording in closets sound excellent but I knew that if I recorded in the closet I wouldn’t be able to bring my best self to the episode.
- Shut the windows, take the collar off the family pet, turn off any fans or AC that might be humming in the background.
- Have water and a pen and pencil near you but don’t fiddle with it!
- Use earbuds or headphones.
- Recommend that the guest use a mic too. If they think they’ll be on other podcasts, it’s a great investment.
- If they don’t have a mic, then they can use their iPhone or another smartphone.
- They should always have earbuds in.
- They should never use a laptop mic on speaker. AAHHH the worst!
You’re so close to getting started!
DAY 5 – Scheduling guest interviews
Do you plan to include interviews on your podcast?
If so, start reaching out to the guests a few weeks in advance to schedule.
I use Calendly which is a free scheduling software. I have set my availability on Calendly for a few nights every week from 6-8PM and then when I ask a guest to be on the podcast, I send them the link to my Calendly event to schedule.
This avoids tons of back and forth with the guest and makes it easy for them to pick a time.
I record all episodes on Skype using Ecamm Recording Software. My co-host, the guest, and myself are usually on the call and we are able to record all of us in three different locations just fine.
I get the guest’s Skype handle from when they filled out the form in Calendly. I don’t ask them any other questions beyond that. It’s my personal pet peeve when I get asked on someone’s podcast and they make me fill out 100 different forms and questions and send links and bios and pictures.
Please don’t make your guest jump through hoops. Especially when you are a brand new podcast. When you become a massive podcast (which you will be!) then you can make the guests do a bunch of stuff.
If you want info on the guest (which you should already have because you asked them on?) then you can likely find them on other podcasts, their blog, etc. It’s totally OK to ask them to suggest a few topics they want to cover.
You should also ask them if they want to promote anything on the podcast (and let them know that you’ll give them time to do so at the end).
Listeners don’t like to hear the sales plug up front. The guest will have a better conversion and you’ll have happier listeners if you know up front what they are promoting and help them plug it naturally at the end.
Last tip – let the guest know that audio quality is important to you! If they have a mic, great. If not, they should use an iPhone or another smartphone with ear buds. Never should they use a laptop mic and speaker.
Good luck! Meeting amazing guests and forging relationships is one of the top benefits of starting a podcast!
I now have a network of entrepreneurs and other amazing people through my podcast. So grateful for it and so excited for you to have it too!
DAY 6 – Building a community of listeners
How do you plan to grow your audience?
I don’t just mean downloads. I mean truly connecting with your audience.
The first thing, is that you have to know who they are and give them a place to hang out.
I recommend making a Facebook group for the podcast and letting people know about it during the episode.
You should also link to your Facebook group on your website. A Facebook group is different than a Facebook page since users have to request access to a Facebook group.
Super Secret Expert Tips on building community:
- Add ‘questions’ group members have to answer when joining the Facebook group. This is a Facebook setting We have two. One, did you know we have a podcast – how did you find out about it? and Two, would you like to join our email list (totally optional)? Drop your email below. With these questions, we learn how they found our podcast, we let anyone who discovered the Facebook group before the podcast know we have a podcast, and third – we get them on our email list if they want to.
- Create an account with ConvertKit (around $30 per month) to start collecting email addresses on your website and start sending them emails. We send about one email a week with information about our latest episodes, information about meet ups, behind the scenes info, etc.
Other ideas on building community
- Host Facebook lives
- Make t-shirts or other products they can buy. I recommend making them on Printful. (It’s print on demand so you don’t have to commit to inventory or worry about shipping)
- Create a YouTube channel. We have our Youtube channel here.
- Create accounts on Twitter, Instagram, possibly Reddit (if that is where your ideal listeners are).
Encourage your listeners to email you and connect with you!
I think our listeners are amazing, inspiring people and know that you will feel the same way when you meet your listeners too.
DAY 7 – How to launch your podcast
It’s launch time, baby! You have your first episode ready to go.
I would recommend that you do the following before launch:
- You work on building your email list so you can send them a launch email when it’s live. As mentioned in yesterday’s email, I use ConvertKit for my email list.
- You have a rough idea of when you want to go live and have light plans for the day or two after.
- You have friends & family ready to hit ‘subscribe’ and leave you a review when the episode.
- You have 3 or 4 episodes ready to go at once. You want your first listeners to have a few episodes to pick through and download. It will also help you get ranked in iTunes faster to have more downloads & subscribes at the launch.
When you’re ready to go, submit to iTunes!! You need an iCloud account to submit to iTunes (usually it’s the same account that you use for all of your Apple devices including computer, phone, etc). If you don’t have an iCloud account, make one.
It may take 24 hours or more for your podcast to get approved in iTunes.
When it does, send out the launch announcements and ask everyone you know to listen and subscribe. You want to take advantage of those first 24 and 48 hours to get on the iTunes lists.
While you don’t need to be ranked in iTunes to be successful, you might as well try!
Don’t forget to submit your podcast to Google, Spotify and the other podcast platforms using Blubrry’s Powerpress plugin.
When you hit launch, be sure to let me know! I’d love to check it out.
GOOD LUCK! & welcome to the Podcasting World!
Ready to dive right in? Check out Podcourse
Update June 2020: My friend Pete McPherson just launched a gamechanging podcasting course called Podcourse. I am so excited about this course that I had to update this post! Check out Podcourse and how Pete can help you here.
Do you have any tips or questions on launching a podcast?
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