Podcasting has become an increasingly popular form of content creation in recent years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. There are already over 420 million podcast listeners worldwide, accounting for 20.3% of all internet users. Plus, according to Insider Intelligence’s Podcast Industry Report, podcasting is expected to be a $94.88 billion industry by 2028.
And it’s no wonder why! For listeners, podcasting is an engaging and time-saving way to expand their knowledge and get more information on specialized topics, allowing for ever-increasing personal and professional growth. Meanwhile, for creators like us, it’s an excellent opportunity to grow and engage with their audience, share their expertise, and even make a living. (Just don’t tell Mom. She might start charging us rent for using her basement!)
You might think you’re ready to launch your own podcast. Perhaps you have already jotted down some subjects for discussion and chosen an intriguing name. But before hitting the “record” button and taking the plunge into podcasting, you should consider a few essential things.
This article explores what you need to know before starting a podcast in 2023 – including choosing the right platform, getting the right equipment, creating compelling content, and marketing your show. After heeding our advice, you’ll be well-equipped to launch a successful podcast. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot here? Arming our potential competition with a wealth of knowledge. We trust you, Stacker. Do the right thing! The least you could do is join our group of podcast friends!
Most podcasting articles will tell you to start with equipment, with platform, or with other technical stuff. None of that matters unless you have a great idea which can withstand the constant grind of doing something over and over. We’ve published over 1300 episodes of Stacking Benjamins mostly because we thought through how we’d continually have something to talk about.
Philosophically, we believe that a podcast is like a mullet: business in front and party in the back. Most inexperienced podcasters sell at the top of the show or spend lots of time messing around with small talk, thinking that it’ll make the audience like them more. Nothing could be further from the truth. New listeners want you to get to whatever you listed in the title or description. They also don’t want to buy your product yet, because you’ve shown them no value!
However, at the end of the podcast, you’ve shown people what you can do to help them. They’re much more likely to purchase, and they’re also more likely to want to just hang out with your community. Building a community is one of the most enjoyable parts of podcasting. Create a Facebook group, a newsletter, and ways for your audience to participate.
To organize your thoughts, we prefer PodcastStudio Pro, which recently went to a free model. It’ll help you avoid another rookie mistake: thinking a podcast is about turning on the microphone and just talking extemporaneously. Don’t worry about how long your podcast should be…there’s no such thing as too long but MANY podcasts are far too boring.
Next up: choosing the right host. We waited a year to podcast because I couldn’t imagine just how hard it would be to get my show to your ears. Turns out, companies have made it super easy.
Avoid any advice that tells you to host sound files on your website. This will end up costing you lots of money because the file size can be huge and the platform your end user will use to listen to your show (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc.), will often be accessing your site to grab any updated files. It’s a mess. Don’t do it to save a buck.
I also don’t like using the free platform called Anchor. There are many reasons for this, but let’s just boil it down to this: anytime there’s a free platform on this level, you’re the product.
There are many different podcast hosting platforms out there, and each has its own set of features and benefits. Consequently, determining which is right for you can take time and effort. Some of the most popular podcast hosting platforms include Libsyn, PodBean, Spreaker, and Buzzsprout (not affiliate links).
When choosing a podcast hosting platform, consider your budget, the features you need, and ease of use. For example, you may want to go all in and choose PodBean. The platform provides easy-to-read analytics on listener demographics and user retention.
On the other hand, if you start with a lower budget, Libsyn is a popular podcast hosting platform considered the best for new creators, as it is best suited for small audiences.
The next thing you need to do before starting a podcast is to get professional equipment. It includes a microphone, headphones, a digital recorder, a quiet place to record, and a pop filter to ensure no explosive sounds mess with your recording. Well, you may not be able to buy a quiet place to record online. You’re on your own there!
Headphones are also an essential piece of equipment for podcasting. They help you hear your voice clearly and allow you to edit your podcast more easily. Plus, when you’re recording, without headphones your sound will bleed through and will appear on the finished product, making you sound unprofessional.
For instance, noise-canceling headphones are a popular option for podcasters since they help you focus on your conversation and block out distractions. However, bear in mind that they can be more expensive than other types of headphones. Don’t tell Mom about the cost; she might cut us off! Seriously, though, we don’t use full-on noise-canceling headphones ourselves. We use a choice that is popular in many radio studios, the Sony MDR-7506 headphones.
Once you have your platform and equipment set up, it’s time to start creating compelling shows for your podcast. To make your podcast stand out from the crowd, you must ensure your episodes are well-researched and well-written — educating yet engaging. Nobody likes flashbacks to college lectures about boring topics!
Let’s be clear here…knowing what you’re talking about and sharing tips on that subject are the table stakes of a good podcast. You don’t walk into a good restaurant and wonder, “Does the chef know how to cook?” Of course, she does. Your goal has to be to entertain and perform a show in a way that’s distinguishable from all of the others out there. If you’re just serving “food” at your podcast “restaurant” you’re dead.
We use a five-week production schedule to help us create good shows. This also helps us avoid the tendency many podcasters have, which is to turn on the mics and “wing it.” Here’s how it works:
FIVE WEEKS OUT: Come up with a relevant topic that’s different than those you’ve talked about recently. Target suitable guests to speak on that topic.
FOUR WEEKS OUT: Reach out to guests and schedule recording sessions. Prep for these interviews.
THREE WEEKS OUT: Creative meeting: script the show to outline the flow, storylines, and anything else which will be discussed. Write the show.
TWO WEEKS OUT: Table read. Rehearse the show to smooth out rough edges and make sure everyone knows what we’re trying to achieve each episode.
ONE WEEK OUT: Perform show.
WEEK OF RELEASE: Create marketing materials, thank you notes to guests and contributors, edit the podcast, design graphics and come up with a catchy title.
We love a tool called PodcastStudioPro to organize our episodes. It’s free and a great tool that we highly recommend.
In all aspects of show creation, focus on fascinating storytelling techniques to ensure your episodes are engaging. It might include using cliffhangers, sound effects, and music to keep listeners hooked.
Now is the time to start marketing your show. This step includes promoting your podcast on social media, creating a website for it, and submitting it to directories.
Social media is a powerful tool to promote your podcast and reach a larger audience. Create social media accounts for your podcast, regularly post about your episodes, and use hashtags to make the most out of this opportunity. You can also share additional, exclusive bits of information on your social media to keep the audience engaged.
The podcast website is another critical tool for promoting it. Your website should include information about the episodes of your podcast, such as the topics you discuss, the guests you invite, and the areas of their expertise.
Think of your website as a knowledge base for your listeners — include blog posts on the topics you discuss, provide episode summaries, and, of course, links to podcast directories your show is available on.
Submitting your podcast to directories is also a great way to promote your show and reach wider audiences. Podcast directories are websites that list podcasts so people can easily find them. Some of the most popular podcast directories include Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Audible.
We’ve found that setting up a YouTube channel is an awesome way to reach a broader audience, too. You can create a closer connection with your existing audience, grow your audience, and interact with your audience in ways that you can’t do if you’re only producing a podcast.
And don’t forget — guest appearances on other podcasts are an excellent way to get exposure for your own show. And vice versa, by inviting guests to your podcast, you can count on their audiences tuning into the episode and, perhaps, becoming your regular listeners.
The Bottom Line
Starting a podcast in 2023 can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Nevertheless, ensuring that you’re adequately prepared before launching your show is essential. Besides choosing the right platform and getting professional equipment, you should also put work into developing compelling, insightful content and marketing your podcast via the most appropriate channels.
Launching your own podcast is about as easy as three-peating in mom’s annual bridge tournament (doubly hard if Gertrude buys in)…especially now that the industry is maturing and becoming more saturated. You have to come prepared to stand out from the crowd. Do that, and you might just make it. Happy podcasting! Welcome to the Big Leagues, kid.