microphone and laptop how to start a podcast

How to Start Your Own Podcast

Wondering how to start your own podcast? With video streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu, and a host of others battling for their share of the viewing audience, you might think the world of podcasters would have a tough time keeping up with all that competition. Think again. Since their inception in 2004, podcasts have grown at a rapid pace with a reported 550,000+ active podcasts worldwide. It’s not surprising when you consider the unlimited possibilities that podcasting provides. It’s true. There are podcasts dedicated to everything from NASCAR and national news, to gaming, cooking, UFO sightings, and everything in between! One 2018 survey found that 76.8% of respondents reported listening to podcasts for more than seven hours a week and 61.2% stated they spent more time listening to podcasts than watching TV. But starting your own podcast requires more than a garage and a microphone if you want to be heard. Fortunately, we’ve put together a road map to help put you on the path to podcasting success!

What’s Your Niche?

First things first – what do you have to say? Or more accurately, what is your podcast going to be about? You should definitely research what is already out there versus what you have to offer. You don’t have to come up with something brand new. A fresh spin on an old topic can be the thing that has your audience tuning in. Don’t get discouraged if the first topic you choose doesn’t take off the way you had hoped. It can take time to develop your voice and find the content that dials in to your target audience.

What’s in a Name?

Naming your podcast is as important as finding the right niche. Like all things digital, being searchable and more importantly, findable, is critical. If your podcast is about the life of cats, naming it Rock Star Rodeo isn’t likely to attract your target audience. Be strategic and choose a name that represents what it’s about in a way that would lure your demographic to tune in.

Tools of the Trade

You’ll actually need more than a garage and a microphone to start your own podcast. But let’s start with a microphone.

USB vs Analog Microphones

Depending on your preference (and budget), you’ll need to choose between a USB or analog (XLR) microphone. A USB microphone is plugged directly into your computer and converts analog sound to digital. This is probably the easiest and most inexpensive option, but it can also deliver a lower quality audio.

An analog microphone requires additional equipment such as an XLR connecter and an XLR recorder. The XLR connecter records and stores your audio, then converts it to digital. An XLR connector connects the microphone to your computer.

Or you can choose to use an audio interface. This allows you to record directly into your computer by plugging in your analog microphone via a USB. More equipment equals more cost but once you have it, you’re good to go. Sound quality matters!

Computer & Audio Editing Software

It may be obvious that you need a computer but what’s less obvious is making sure your computer has the correct ports to support whatever equipment you decide to go with. You’ll also want to invest in good audio editing software. The cost for professional audio editing software can range from $100 to over $900. So, if your budget is meager to start, you may want to try out free, open source apps like Audacity or Wavepad. Finally, consider using a pop filter to improve the sound quality of your podcast.

Script, Record, Edit – Repeat

Once you’ve got the equipment, the name, and the topic – get down to it! Creating great content that you can deliver without sounding like you’re reading out loud to a class of 5th graders, is harder than it seems. So, take the time to develop what each episode will focus on, practice speaking into the microphone, and play it back. Keep in mind who your ideal listener is and craft your podcast persona accordingly. Remember, you’re talking to them. That means keeping it conversational and more importantly engage with your audience. Have fun with it but until you’ve achieved live podcasting status, keep refining, editing, and repeating until the end product hits the mark.

Find a Podcast Hosting Service

There are a number of free hosting services such as SoundCloud, Podomatic, and Podbean. They have paid hosting tiers too for when you need more storage and better features for your podcast. Start with the free options to learn how it all works before shelling out $$. Once you’ve worked out the kinks, submit your podcast to directories where listeners can find you like Miro, Blubrry, and ultimately the Mecca of podcast directories – iTunes. Try to have several podcasts completed before submitting. Most listeners want some kind of binge-ability when they find a podcast they like, and one episode isn’t going to suffice.

It’s a brave new world full of things to talk about so, get out there and start talking! If you’ve got a passion for all things broadcasting check out the programs at International College of Broadcasting (ICB). With associate degree and diploma programs in Multimedia Production & Broadcasting, Video Production / Recording Audio Engineering and Broadcasting, ICB is helping students get the hands-on training they need to launch careers in the broadcasting and multimedia industry. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a campus tour.