Whether you want to start a podcast to help market your business, or to simply share your ideas with the world, this guide is the perfect starting point. By the end you’ll know how to plan, record, edit, publish, distribute, and promote your own show in the quickest possible way with minimal hassle.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got much technical know-how or budget to work with. The guidance that follows is completely jargon-free and will show you how to podcast like the pros, without breaking the bank.
Use the chapter markers to jump between sections and bookmark this page for easy access during every stage of production.
Great podcasts often sound effortless. The audio is crystal clear, the hosts sound like they are having fun, and the show seems to flow naturally from one topic to the next. But that doesn’t happen by magic. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to make it all come together. And it all starts with a solid show idea and good planning.
Think of launching your podcast like building a house. If you don’t lay a solid foundation, your house (or in this case, podcast) probably won’t be around for very long. Taking time to nail down exactly what your show is about and who it’s for is one of the best ways to give your podcast real staying power.
So let's break it down step-by-step and explore how to refine your podcast idea and develop an action plan to bring it to life.
Before considering artwork, intro jingles, and microphones you need to have a clear vision of what your podcast will look (and sound) like, as well as what you’re trying to achieve with it.
We always recommend starting out with 6 basic questions:
Your answers to these will help create a basic roadmap that will help guide the rest of the creative decisions you make throughout the process.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you already have a good idea of what you’d like to talk about. But whatever the topic is, you need to make sure you’re very knowledgeable about it. If you aren’t, it’ll become painfully apparent to your listeners fairly quickly.
Ask yourself, are you genuinely excited by this topic? Could you talk about it for hours? Do you already keep up with the latest news and developments in your spare time? And are you happy to build your entire podcast brand around this subject? If the answer to all these is “yes”, then your chosen topic is a good fit.
Don’t worry about picking a very niche topic. There are millions of regular podcast listeners all over the world, so you can be sure there is an audience and appetite for it. You just need to reach the right people. Check out the video below where experienced podcast producers Amy & Nick Thomson outline how to your podcast a unique selling point (USP):
If you try to make a podcast that pleases everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one. So think carefully about who your target audience is, and speak exclusively to them during your episodes. Ask yourself, what part of your chosen topic matters most to them? What do they struggle with? What makes them laugh? As long as your content resonates with those individuals, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks.
When we spoke to Colin Gray, Founder of Alitu & The Podcast Host, he said one of the biggest mistakes beginners make is failing to spend enough time thinking about their audience:
“You need to know who you’re speaking to so you can deliver content that really strikes a chord. People should come away from your episode thinking, “This show is a perfect fit for me, I’ve found my tribe!”
Podcasts come in lots of different styles and formats. So should you go with a solo podcast, an interview podcast, a co-hosted one or something else entirely?
That all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. But generally, our advice is as follows:
If you want to build your professional network, become an authority in your industry, generate leads, and eventually sell a product or service, we’d recommend an interview-based podcast. It’s the quickest way to build new relationships and position yourself next to the leading experts in your space.
If you want to build a loyal community of listeners, sell subscriptions for bonus content, and eventually get sponsors, we’d recommend a solo or co-hosted podcast. That way your listeners will be entirely invested in you and your personal brand. They won’t just be tuning in to hear from a big-name guest. Over time, you’ll become a voice they trust and the person they want to spend their listening time with.
For more on the nuances of these different formats, check out the guides below:
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to episode length. It’s really up to you to decide what will work best. However, it’s worth keeping in mind if you keep your episodes relatively short (<30mins), new listeners will be more likely to give you a try. Whatever length you choose, it will have an impact on how much content / information you can squeeze into each episode.
Once you’ve started publishing try and fairly remain consistent with your episode lengths. Listeners will know what to expect, making it easier for them to fit your show into their routine. Having some episodes come in at 15 mins and others exceed the hour mark isn’t a good idea.
Tip: Less is more. If in doubt, start with shorter episodes. You can then increase the length later based on feedback and demand from listeners.
You need to decide early on whether you’re going to record audio-only or video episodes. Because if you want to record in video, it’ll affect the equipment and software you need.
The advantage of publishing audio-only episodes is they’re easier to record and much quicker to edit. You (or your guest) don’t have to worry about cameras and lighting setups. And you don’t have to get to grips with video editing and animations. For that reason, it’s usually the recommended starting point for beginners.
Recording video episodes requires quite a bit more time and effort. But it has a big advantage. Because of its recommendation algorithm, it’s much easier to reach new listeners on YouTube than it is to reach them on Apple Podcasts. Having access to video clips from your episodes also makes it easier to promote your show on social media in an engaging way.
Note: More information on the hardware and software required to record both audio-only and video episodes can be found in the equipment section below.
If you’re just starting out, we strongly recommend producing audio-only episodes first. It’ll keep the production process more manageable while you get to grips with the basics. Once you feel confident producing audio-only episodes, you can then transition to video to increase the discoverability of your show on YouTube and social media.
If you’re serious about podcasting, a consistent release schedule is essential.
Fans like to know when they can expect new content. So don’t keep them guessing. If you do, you’ll lose a lot of listeners along the way. Decide on a release schedule and stick to it. Are you going to publish weekly? Bi-monthly? Monthly?
The frequency doesn’t really matter, you just need to make sure you can sustain it. Be clear about your publishing schedule, whether it’s every Wednesday, or the 15th of every month.
If you can’t commit to publishing new content all year round, you might want to consider releasing your show in seasons. It lifts the constant pressure to release new episodes every week. And it also gives you time to reflect and plan upcoming content. However, it inevitably slows down the rate at which you can grow your audience. So it’s a tradeoff to weigh up.
Colin Gray is also a big advocate for podcasting in seasons. And he explained why:
“Usually when people start podcasting, they have lots of enthusiasm. But that tends to change after a few months. There will inevitably be points when you wake up and think ‘I don’t want to record a podcast this week’. The relentless tedium of having to do anything every week will eventually get to you. Nobody can do it for an entire year and not get sick of it at some point.”
Once you’ve answered the 5 questions from the previous section and defined your “podcast roadmap” it’s time to start making some creative design decisions.
Take some time to consider your podcast name carefully. Along with your artwork, it’s the first impression new potential listeners will have of your show. So it plays a role in determining whether they hit “play” or not.
The name you choose should be something that entices listeners, while also giving them enough information to know what your podcast is about. It should be unique, creative, and descriptive. All that, in just a few words! Easier said than done. So here’s a few tips to help you get it right:
For more on this, check out the in-depth guide below:
Your podcast artwork (aka cover art) is responsible for people’s first impression of your show. In a split second of seeing it, they’re going to decide whether to click or keep scrolling. So making it look enticing and professional is important.
There’s an awful lot of truly terrible podcast artwork out there. So by taking the time, and if needed, investment to get it right will give you an automatic leg up on much of the competition. Just like your podcast name, you want it to communicate what your podcast is about quickly and have it stand out from all the others on directories like Apple Podcasts.
Before we get into the creative aspects, let's cover the basic file requirements first. You artwork needs to meet these criteria to be accepted by directories:
If you'd like to see a preview of how your artwork will display on platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, you can use this free preview tool from OnlyPod. If it isn't displaying quite how you'd like it to, then it's time to go back and make some adjustments.
So with the technicalities out of the way, here are some tips when it comes to creating unique and distinctive podcast artwork:
Make it relevant - Your artwork should convey two things: what your podcast is about, and what kind of podcast it is i.e. what tone it has. Is it a comedy, a mystery, a serious business advice podcast? Your target audience should be able to guess whether your show is right for them just by glancing at your artwork.
Less is more - Simple podcast artwork is more memorable and impactful. Don’t add unnecessary pictures or design elements and try not to pack your logo with words. Your show title should be enough text. Use the middle part of the square as the focal point, don’t put design elements off to the edges as they may get clipped.
NPR have long been industry-leaders in creating clean, simple, and memorable podcast artwork. Check out some of their classic minimalist designs below for inspiration:
Don’t use your headshot (unless you're a celebrity) - Again, unless you have a large existing audience and a recognisable face, don’t put your headshot on your podcast artwork. Focus on conveying the content and themes of your show, not you as a person.
Don’t use intricate fonts - The text on your artwork should be easy to read. If viewers have to squint or pause to work out what the words say, that’s a problem. It needs to be legible even when it’s shrunk down to a small square icon on a phone screen.
You can change it - You aren’t forever tied to the first iteration of your artwork. As your show grows and matures over time, you might want to update your branding. So don’t agonize trying to get it “perfect” the first time round.
If you don’t have any graphic design experience, we strongly recommend using Canva to create your podcast artwork. It’s completely free to use and has lots of preset templates you can use as a starting point. Simply search “podcast” in the templates section and browse the available options. Once you’ve found one you like, you can modify it to make it your own. The interface is far more intuitive and user-friendly than photoshop, so making changes is easy.
The downside of using Canva is it can be restrictive. If you have a clear vision of what you want your artwork to look like, you may not be able to recreate it exactly how you want on Canva. You may have to settle for something that’s ‘close enough’.
If you have a very clear vision of what you’d like your artwork to look like, but you haven’t got the design skills to create it yourself, it’s worth hiring a freelancer to do it for you.
Be very clear with your brief and do everything you can to help them understand exactly what you want. A quick sketch can go a long way. Many freelance designers charge for revisions so it pays to be very clear from the start.
So where is the best place to find freelance designers? We’d recommend using either:
These platforms allow you to see people’s portfolios and read their reviews, to make sure you’re spending your money wisely. Designers set their own prices, but we’d recommend a minimum spend of at least $50 to avoid being stung by low-quality work that isn’t fit for purpose.
For more on this, check out:
If you’re a podcast fan, chances are you can instantly recognise the opening jingles from your favorite shows. But where do you go when it’s time to find your own?
The music you choose will play a key role in shaping your overall podcast brand. So again you need to be sure it fits the vibe of your podcast and is likely to appeal to your ideal listeners. You probably don’t need us to tell you that a Black Metal intro on a childcare podcast is a no no.
Unfortunately, you can’t use any song you want in your podcast. You need to be careful or you could land yourself in legal hot water.
Using copyrighted music without permission can get your show kicked off platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. So it’s not worth the risk. Automated copyright infringement detection systems are getting more sophisticated by the day. They can catch you out even if you’ve only used seconds of a track.
In short, this means no Beyoncé, no Jay-Z, and no to every other artist or band you’ve ever heard of. So with most songs off limits, where can you find music for your podcast?
The answer - royalty-free music libraries. Some are completely free and others require a subscription or payment.
For music that is completely free to use, we recommend:
You can also find free music from the additional sources below, provided you credit the producer in your episode descriptions:
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on any other sources above, you’ll need to pay to get access to a larger (and higher-quality) library. For podcast music that requires a subscription or one-off payment, we recommend:
To learn more about each of these platforms and the legalities of using music in your podcast, check out this guide:
Once you’ve got your podcast name, artwork, and music it’s time to think about how you’ll structure your episodes themselves. It’s important to have clarity here before hitting record. Otherwise you run the risk of your first episode sounding disorganized and meandering.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is stumbling across your show for the first time. Is the content easy to follow? Have you quickly introduced yourself and the concept of your show? Is the information accurate and presented in an engaging way? Could you use jingles or audio transitions to break up long periods of talking? How long will your intro and outro segments be?
There are lots of things to consider here. So the best approach is to learn from the masters when planning your own episode structure. Listen to some of the top-performing podcasts in your category with a critical ear. Are there any common trends or themes they all tend to use? What things do they do to create an optimal listening experience that flows seamlessly from one segment to the next?
It helps to keep your episode structure fairly simple and straightforward when you’re just starting out. If you have to spend hours in post-production every week just to piece episodes together, your podcast won’t be sustainable beyond the first month. You can always update your episode structure in future as your audience grows.
Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or technical know-how to get your podcast up and running. For most people, it does take a bit of money upfront, but once you’ve made the initial investment, you don’t need much else. And if you look after it properly, quality equipment will last forever. To get started, all you really need is:
Below we’ve featured a list of products we use day in and day out at Podcast.co to produce our own podcasts and YouTube content. Where possible we’ve included equipment recommendations for those on a tight budget, so if you need to keep cost to a minimum you should still be able to put together a decent recording setup.
We aren’t going to make any specific product recommendations here. But there are a few points that are worth noting. Firstly, ensure whatever device you’re using has enough storage space and processing power to store large WAV audio files and run editing software. If your laptop is already on its last legs, it's probably not going to cope very well.
Note: Keep in mind if you’re planning to record video for your podcast, you’ll need a lot more storage space and processing power than if you’re recording audio-only episodes.
Unfortunately, your laptop’s inbuilt microphone isn’t going to cut it. So we’ve listed our top recommendations for all budgets below. But before we get to those, it helps to understand the difference between a USB mic and an XLR mic, and why you need an audio interface for the latter.
USB Microphone - These plug straight into a USB port on your laptop or computer. No additional equipment is needed. They’re ideal for beginners as they are incredibly convenient. However the sound quality won’t be as good as XLR mics.
XLR Microphone - Usually podcasters progress on to an XLR mic after they’ve outgrown their USB mic. XLR is the standard connection used in the professional audio world. It has a 3 pronged connector that needs to be plugged into some kind of audio interface like a mixer (not directly into your computer).
Audio Interface - A piece of hardware that expands and improves the audio capabilities of your computer by allowing you to connect a professional XLR mic.
With that short lesson in audio production over, here are our top beginner podcast mics:
Samson Q2U (USB & XLR - £50 / $70)
With both USB and XLR connectors the Q2U is very versatile. The sound quality is great for its price. And if you want a boost down the line you can upgrade from USB to XLR by purchasing an audio interface. As a bonus, the Q2U also comes with its own headphones and other recording accessories.
Rode NT-USB Mini (USB - £99 / $120)
The NT-USB Mini offers the same studio-quality sound as its bigger brother, but in a much smaller and lighter design. Rode have been leaders in the field of podcast microphones for years now, and the Mini is one of their most affordable beginner options.
Blue Yeti (USB - £119 / $125)
A favorite among YouTubers and podcasters alike, the Yeti is a flexible all-purpose USB mic. It has multiple settings so you can record you and your guest at the same time on one mic. Or if you need to, you can place it in the middle of a circle of people and set it to “omnidirectional” for roundtable podcasts.
For more in-depth information on each of these mics, check out our guide:
Top 9 Best Podcast Microphones (Budget & Pro)
Wearing headphones helps refine your podcast production. By hearing what’s being recorded as it’s happening, it gives you complete control over the sound so you can make adjustments on the fly (e.g. moving closer to or further away from the mic). Your headphones will also let you know if you’re picking up any ambient background noise.
If you aren’t ready to invest in dedicated headphones, you can use normal earbuds. The sound quality won’t be as good, and you’ll need to double check noise isn’t bleeding out and being picked up by your mic during recording.
Tip: Apple AirPods have particularly bad sound bleed, so avoid them if possible!
If you’re interested in purchasing dedicated podcast headphones, comfort is something to look for across the board. Padded cushions and big headphone ear pads are a must for longer recording sessions.
We recommend the RØDE NTH-100 ($149). They even come with their own in-buult cooling pads to prevent your ears from becoming uncomfortably warm during recordings. You can watch our video review of the headphones below:
For more headphone recommendations, check out our guide:
If you want to go the extra mile and you’ve got the budget to spare, you might want to consider investing in the following bits of accessory recording equipment. These aren’t essential, but each will help give a little boost in sound quality.
Microphone Stand or Boom Arm - A microphone stand sits on the floor, and a boom arm attaches to your desk. They make positioning your mic easy, so you’ll be able to find the most comfortable position to record optimal sound (whether you’re sitting or standing) without ever having to hunch over.
Shock Mount - You’ll only need one of these if you’ve purchased a mic stand or boom arm. Without a shock mount if you move or accidentally knock your stand or arm, a loud rumble will be heard in the audio. A shock mount prevents these annoying noises from being picked up.
Pop Filter - These help eliminate the hard plosive sounds “p’s” and “b’s” make when spoken into a mic. They create a smoother, softer sound overall with minimal abrupt “pops”.
Reflection Filter - A reflection filter allows you to eliminate echo and reverb without having to sound-treat an entire room. It sits behind your mic and absorbs stray audio waves. Reflection filters are usually quite big and bulky though, meaning they’ll block your face from view. Because of this, they’re unsuitable for video podcasts.
You need some recording software to turn your podcast into a reality. The type you need depends on the format of your show. If you’re recording solo or interviewing a guest in-person, any basic recording tool will do the job. But if you’re recording interviews with guests remotely, you need software that will record both sides of the conversation (audio & video) for you.
Here are the free and paid options we routinely use and recommend to others:
Podcastle - Podcastle is a great tool for recording solo, or remote video interviews straight from your laptop or even iPhone. Thanks to its intuitive interface you can create publication-ready content without switching between tabs.
Audacity. Free, simple, and easy to use from the get go. Audacity is probably the best free audio program for newcomers to record and edit shows on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.
GarageBand - Free and Exclusively for Mac computers, GarageBand is good enough for most of your audio recording needs. It’s more flexible and has a more modern user interface than audacity.
Note: Audacity and GarageBand are also perfect for recording your podcast intros and outros.
Zoom - Thanks to in-built recording functionality, Zoom is perfect for remote podcast interviews. All you need to do is click the “Record” button on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Keep in mind the audio and video files will be automatically compressed so the quality will be noticeably reduced. But as it's free and easy to use, it’s the most popular tool among beginner podcasters.
Riverside.fm - ($19 per month) Riverside.fm allows you to record much higher quality audio and video in comparison to Zoom. The audio is recorded locally which means it doesn’t undergo compression, and it also prevents poor wifi connections from causing audio dropouts and glitches.
SquadCast - ($40 per month) SquadCast offers similar functionality to Riverside.fm, with lossless audio and video recording quality. Its interface is cleaner and easier to navigate, and it also has a “Green Room” feature which allows you to organize and manage everything with your guest before proceeding to the interview. But it’s significantly more expensive if you want to record both audio and video.
To learn more about recording podcasts remotely, check out our guide:
Once you’ve got all your equipment together you need to set it up in the right space. The best recording equipment in the world will still pick up ambient sounds from a busy open-plan office or a noisy cafe. You don’t need to soundproof entire rooms. But make sure you choose a nice quiet space where you’re unlikely to pick up pesky background noises. Here are a few other tips to help achieve the best sound quality during your recording sessions:
You can edit your episodes for free using Audacity or GarageBand. But these tools are general purpose. They weren’t specifically built with podcast editing in mind. As a result they can make parts of the process quite tedious and time consuming. Many beginners find them quite frustrating to work with.
In the interest of saving time and effort, we strongly advise using a paid editing tool specifically designed for podcast post-production. The two platforms we use and recommend are:
Alitu - ($32 per month). With a simple and easy-to-use interface, Alitu automates much of the editing process for you. Simply drag and drop your recorded files into the correct slots, add your music, fade it out at the right time, and you’re done. Once your episode is ready to go, you can publish it straight to all the podcast directories with a single click. The subscription fee more than pays for itself in terms of time saved. As an added bonus, you can also use it for recording too, but keep in mind it doesn’t have video recording functionality (yet).
Descript - ($12 per month). Descript turns your audio into text, broken up by who’s speaking, and it then lets you manipulate those audio files as if you were editing a text version of the script in a word processor. Delete a sentence or two, and Descript will automatically shorten the file to make the recording sound smooth and natural. It won’t automatically build and publish your episodes for you like Alitu, but if you need to do fine-tuned editing, it gives a greater degree of control and flexibility.
If you’ve recorded video via Zoom, Riverside, or Squadcast you’ll need to use a video editing tool rather than the audio ones mentioned above.
For editing video podcasts, we recommend Adobe Premiere Pro - ($19 per month)
It’s basically photoshop for videos, so it will take a bit of getting used to at first. But it’s the most popular video editor for a reason. You’ll be able to create your full length videos, and create shorter highlight videos for promoting your episodes on social media too. Check out the guide below to learn the basics:
Once you’re happy with the final edit of your video episode, you can export the file from Premiere Pro in both audio and video formats to save time. Upload the video file to YouTube, and the audio version to directories like Apple and Spotifty.
You can trial Premiere Pro free for 7 days before committing to a subscription.
For many entrepreneurs and businesses, launching and editing a weekly podcast just isn’t feasible given their time constraints. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an option.
By working with a podcast production agency, you can outsource the entire production process. All you have to do is get behind the mic and talk, and they’ll handle everything else - from editing and branding through to distribution and marketing.
Through our production arm Cue Podcasts, we offer complete done-for-you podcast production packages. If you want to tap into the power of podcasts without the hassle, outsourcing to a team of experts allows you to skip the awkward years and launch a great show right away.
Check out some of our work in our showreel below:
Visit our website - Cue Podcasts
Whatever your requirements, we can handle everything for you including:
If you want to create an incredible show that resonates with the right listeners, get in touch for a free proposal to see how podcasting can help support your broader business goals.
Once you’ve nailed down your podcast roadmap, structure, and equipment it’s time to hit record. In this section, we’ll cover everything you need to do get your show ready for launch.
Podcast trailers are becoming increasingly important for winning new listeners and giving your show the best possible chance of success.
A trailer is a short audio (or video) clip that serves as an elevator pitch for your show. The goal is to entice potential listeners without them having to read a description. It gives people a taster of what to expect and encourages them to tune in and subscribe.
In addition, publishing a trailer can give your podcast a presence on directories like Spotify and Apple Podcasts before your first episodes go live. You can then promote your show and generate interest and subscribers in advance of the official launch date.
Your podcast trailer can also be used for cross-promotion, provided it’s not too long. It can be inserted into the ads segment of other podcasts, letting those audiences know about your show (more on this in the podcast marketing marketing section below).
Brevity is key to a good podcast trailer:
Your trailer should answer the each of following questions:
They don’t need to be answered in that order. The important thing is that each point is addressed. As there’s a limited time window, it’s best to script your trailer and edit it till you’re happy with it. Once you’ve recorded yourself reading your script you’ll be able to add music using your editing software to get it ready for publishing
If you’ve recorded video via Zoom, Riverside, or Squadcast you’ll need to use a video editing tool rather than the audio ones mentioned above
If you’re not planning on interviewing guests on your show, feel free to skip this section.
But if you need to source guests to record your episodes, it’s important to create an effective outreach and onboarding strategy. Guests value their time just as much as you value yours. So the more efficient and organised you can be, the better.
Basically, your guest onboarding process is everything that happens before the recording itself. Your initial outreach, your booking system or calendar tool, any emails or material you send over to guests in advance, your pre-interview warm up before you hit record.
Little details and touch-points during the pre interview phase can have a big impact when it comes to creating an enjoyable interview experience.
Often one of the most time consuming parts of the onboarding process is identifying the right guests in the first place. Ideally you want to find individuals with the right background and credentials, who also have plenty of experience recording interviews.
This is where MatchMaker.fm can make a big difference. It’s a free online platform that connects podcasters with great guests. So if you’re looking to find the right experts for your show quickly, all it takes is a few clicks.
The first stepzis to create a profile for your podcast. Simply upload your artwork, podcast description, and tagline.
Once you’ve created your podcast profile you can then browse a database of more than 30,000 potential guests. The quickest way to narrow down your search is to use filters. You can filter guests by topic category, location, language, and more.
If you spot any guests that look like a good fit, you can quickly add them to your favourites by clicking the heart icon on their profile. We recommend building up a list of 10 -15 suitable guests to begin with (not everyone will say yes!). Once you’ve got your favourites list, you can then reach out to them directly via MatchMaker and invite them on your show.
Not all guests you pitch to will agree to be interviewed. And that’s ok - you can’t win them all. Remember, the most in-demand podcasts guests likely receive multiple interview requests every day. So your initial pitch has to be high quality to stand out.
That’s why it is really important to understand what kind of guest you are looking for, why you are looking for them, and what you want to achieve by having them on your show. This all needs to be communicated in a concise and well-written outreach message.
This is especially important when outreaching to your very first guests. Because you don’t yet have any episodes available for potential guests to listen to, they’ll be less likely to accept your invite. So to overcome this initial-stage problem you need to give enough information in your pitch to show the guest the interview will be worth their time.
Try to avoid sending the same blanket pitch to all guests. Cut and paste generic messages are easy to spot and you’ll be much less likely to get a response. Use the template below from MediaEquipt as a starting point. But a little personalisation goes a long way here.
Subject: Interview request: [Your podcast name]
My name is [your name], and I host [your podcast name], a podcast about [your topic (ideally summed up in one sentence]. I’ve listened to you on [Other Podcast, Social Media, Platform, etc.], and I’d like to invite you to the show.
I believe our audience would get great value from your appearance. We loved your [show/books/product] and the work you have done in [their work, field].
We could help [benefit to them: promote book, product, show, etc]. I’d love to feature you on an upcoming episode and want to check your availability.
Interviews typically take about [x] minutes and are done via [Zoom, Phone, etc.].
Would this interest you?
It's great to hear back. But I know you’re likely very busy, so I understand if you have to decline.
See available dates here: [Link to booking calendar]
[your name and title]
We’re going to assume you’ve sent a carefully crafted pitch and your guest has agreed to come on your show. So what’s your next step?
If you’re not careful, this part can be a major time suck. Sometimes it can take a lot of emails back and forth just to get a time nailed down to record. That can be pretty frustrating for both you and your guest, and doesn’t create a great first impression.
If you aren’t already, start using a scheduler like Calendly or ScheduleOnce to avoid this problem. They show your availability clearly and allow your guests to pick a time slot and instantly book in their interview. No more email ping pong.
Sending an email over to your guest a day or two before the recording is scheduled to take place is a great way to minimise the risk of technical problems. It should provide simple instructions and reminders to help ensure they’re all set up and ready to go when they join the call.
At Podcast.co we regularly record with guests remotely using Riverside.fm. When we do, we send everyone the following list of reminders 48hrs before the recording takes place:
If you have any questions or need a hand getting set up just let me know!
This usually helps recordings run much smoother. Just tweak the messaging above to make sure it's applicable to the recording software you’re using - whether it's Zoom, Skype, Squadcast, or Zencastr.
Beginners often struggle with editing and post-production. It’s the most labour intensive step in the process. But getting it right makes a big difference to the final product. It’s what gives your episodes that crisp, clean, and polished feel.
When you’ve finished recording your first podcast, you probably won’t want to sit back down and listen to it all over again. But if you’re running a one man operation, that’s what you need to do.
Nobody likes listening to the sound of their own voice at first (there’s even a scientific explanation for why that is). So don’t worry, it’s something you’ll get over pretty quickly.
So what content needs to be edited? Well, you’ll probably want to remove:
And you might want to add:
How you go about making these edits depends on the editing software you’re using (you can find our top recommendations below). But to save time, you should always aim to set up preset editing templates for your episodes, which will be automatically applied each time you start post-production.
Once you’re happy with your final edit, you need to make sure you export the audio in the correct file type and bitrate for distribution to podcast directories like Apple Podcasts.
File Type: Always export your episodes as MP3 files to avoid compatibility issues.
Bit rate: Use 64 kbps (mono) for speech-driven podcasts. But use 128 or 192 kbps (stereo) for podcasts featuring many sound design elements.
Note: This section is esstentially a step bystep guide on getting setup on our platform podcast.co
Once you’ve recorded and edited your trailer and first episode, you need to upload the files and get them on the internet. And this is where a podcast host comes in. On Podcast.co you can upload unlimited episodes and distribute your show to all major podcast platforms (including Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, and more) in a single click!
There are lots of podcast hosting providers out there. And the cheapest options aren’t always the best. Many lack the additional features and tools needed to maximize growth.
Podcast.co was designed to help creators of all levels succeed - from solo podcasters to established media networks. For just $19 per month you can get access to a whole host of professional tools for gaining more listeners, including:
Try Podcast.co Free For 7 Days
This is the fun part. It’s time to officially create your podcast by uploading your artwork, trailer, and first episode to Podcast.co. Once logged in, you’ll be prompted to create a new podcast or import existing episodes from another host.
After clicking “Create a new podcast”, you’ll need to enter general information, such as your podcast description and categories (e.g. Business, Music etc). Check out the guide below for a full list of available podcast categories so you can choose the right ones for your show:
The whole setup process is fully-guided to ensure everything is filled out correctly from day one. Once complete, you can then start publishing individual episodes with unique descriptions that will display on podcast directories to let listeners know what content is covered. The process is simple:
And you’re done. You’re now officially a podcaster - congrats! 🎉
Any previously uploaded episodes can be easily accessed and edited from the main dashboard.
Simply click the 3 dots next to the episode and then “Edit” to tweak the title or description.
Or click “Replace Media” to swap your original MP3 file for a new one.
After creating your show, Podcast.co will automatically generate an RSS feed for it. This is what you’ll need to submit to get your show listed on directories like Apple Podcasts.
You can access your RSS Feed by going to Share & Publish > RSS & Publishing
Then click the green Copy Code button to quickly copy the link ready for use.
You can submit the code manually to each directory yourself if you’d like. But we can handle the process for you. After uploading your first episode, simply click Distribute my podcast!
Our support team will then do all the admin work to get your podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Breaker, Stitcher, and more.
You (or in this case, we) only need to submit to each directory once. As soon as your podcast is approved, the relevant platform icon will light up and listeners will automatically get every new episode each time you publish.
Note: The submissions process isn’t instantaneous. It can take up to a few days for your podcast to be available across all platforms. So make sure you leave at least a week between distributing your show and your official launch date.
Once your podcast is live and available on all directories, it’s time to let the world know about it.
Setting a launch date at least a couple of weeks in advance is important because it takes time to coordinate and execute a plan to give your show the best possible start.
To figure out what date to launch your show and post episodes, determine this one factor first: Keep your audience in mind. When, where, and how will they be listening to your show?
Writing on this topic for Pacific Content, Elizabeth Hames, Podcaster & Audience Development Specialist, said:
“If your podcast is a daily news show, think about how your listeners build your show into their daily routine. Do they listen to their smart speaker while they’re making breakfast for their family? Do they listen on the commute to work, or on the way home? How might this affect the time of day you publish?"
“If you’ve created a binge-worthy narrative podcast, your listeners might be more inclined to listen on the weekend or summer vacation when they have more time to really dig into, say, a serialized podcast. One of my favourite examples of a podcaster being mindful of their listeners’ habits is The Longest Shortest Time. It’s a parenting show. The original creator, Hillary Frank, started posting episodes in the middle of the night when she knew parents would be up with crying babies and sick kids."
Once you’ve got a date in mind, don’t forget to factor in the timing of your marketing plan (see below).
A good roll out is the perfect way to build up momentum and get people interested in your podcast before your first episodes drop.
If you’ve gone to the trouble of creating a podcast trailer, you should use it in a way that will benefit and support your launch. You should ideally drop your trailer about a week before your podcast release date. That gives you time to build up a bit of interest and get people ready for the first episode (or episodes) to drop.
Releasing more than one episode to begin with can give your podcast an early boost. Rankings for new shows on Apple’s charts are based on the number of downloads they get within the first two weeks. So following this approach will help you perform better in the relevant charts, as it should increase the amount of initial downloads you get.
Pat Flynn, podcasting Veteran and founder of The Smart Passive Income Blog, recommends posting at least two episodes at launch. He explains:
‘I actually received negative reviews from people who had only listened to the first episode and were upset that there was only one.’
Ratings and reviews no longer help with Apple’s chart rankings anymore. But they’re a nice thing to encourage at this point, as they’ll help entice new listeners to give your podcast a go. So make sure to ask listeners to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts in your intros and outros.
Getting those crucial early reviews in quickly will help set you up for success later. Most podcasts out there don’t actually have any reviews at all, so even if you only get a few, you’ll already be ahead of the crowd.
Your early listeners can be a powerful tool to bring new people in. You’ve just got to give them a little nudge. You can do this with a short, memorable call to action in your intro and outro.
Note: Word of mouth referrals are crucial for sustaining audience growth over time.
The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish offers a good example of this. Here’s how he typically closes the last few seconds of each episode:
“Can you do me a small favour? Go online right now and share this episode with one friend, who you think will love it.”
Following these 4 steps should help get your show off to a strong start. But don’t get too disheartened if you don’t bring in hundreds of listeners right away. If your first episode gets 50 listeners, you’re doing relatively well.
To quickly put things in context, it often takes 6 - 12 months of consistent publishing to reach 1,000 downloads per episode. Podcasting is a long-term game. Not a get rich quick scheme.
Keep in mind that every single download represents a real person who has taken time out of their day to give your show a chance. Don’t take that for granted! Focus on delivering as much value as you can to your early listeners and your show will grow naturally as a result.
So what comes next after you’ve finished your launch phase? How do you keep the momentum up? And how can you keep growing your audience month over month?
Here’s a harsh reality:
The vast majority of people who start podcasts don’t make it past episode 10.
Those podcasters who don’t last are said to have fallen victim to “podfade”. Podfade is basically when someone starts a new podcast and, after a handful of episodes, slowly or suddenly stops. Recording ends and the feed gets stale. And it's incredibly common.
So by simply staying consistent and sticking to your plan, you’ll automatically be ahead of most of the competition. Here are 3 strategies to implement to help give your show longevity:
In the initial planning phases of this article, we covered the importance of sticking to a regular publishing schedule. And it’s worth repeating here. Whatever you decide, whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, commit to it 100%. Don’t be flaky.
The most important factor is showing up when you say you will. Of course, there is some wiggle room. Your listeners understand that you’re a human and things happen, whether you need to skip a week or change the publishing date completely. Just communicate clearly and be transparent. Occasional changes are perfectly fine, but don’t make it a habit.
Podcasts thrive on reliability, consistency and routine. Failure to properly communicate with your listeners risks losing them altogether and you’ll have to fight to win them back.
A podcast editorial calendar is a list of planned upcoming podcast topics to cover or episode ideas. It means you don’t have to think of what to record at the beginning of every week, which can slow you down. Having the basic details of your future episode mapped out makes it much easier to stick to your schedule.
On your calendar, each episode idea should include dates for each part of the production process as well as the name of the person responsible. Here’s an example:
Topic: How John Smith Built a $20K/Month Personal Training Business
Start planning: October 8th
Record: October 12th
Sending to editor: October 15th – Megan
Schedule on site with page content: October 22nd
Publish date: October 29th
We recommend using the simplest tool that fits your needs. For most podcasters, that means something basic like Google Calendar.
A good rule of thumb is to add at least one new topic to the end of your podcast editorial calendar for every episode you publish. This ensures you never run out of content.
Though if you’re like most podcasters, you probably have an endless stream of ideas. Write them down as soon as they come to you. You can always remove them later if you decide they aren’t worth your time.
Podcast editorial calendars are especially important if you rely on external people, like guest contributors or interviewees. Coordinating with outside people can be complicated, so you’ll need a calendar to get the timing right.
Keep in mind that just because you have a podcast editorial calendar doesn’t mean you’re bound to it. If something interesting or timely comes up, slot it in earlier. If a pre-planned topic no longer makes sense or doesn’t add a lot of value, slice it out.
3. Batch Record Episodes
Batch recording is a method of podcasting that makes the whole process more efficient, and less stressful. Instead of recording each episode in an individual session, you plan lots of episodes all at once and record them all in a single day during one long session.
Having a backlog of content takes the pressure off to record every single week. If you can get 4 episodes done at the beginning of each month, it’ll free up a lot of cognitive bandwidth so you can stay focused on your business the rest of the time.
Accuracy and consistency in your podcast analytics is crucial to gauging growth, however small it may seem. Podcast.co offers all podcasters easy-to-understand analytics, giving you a reliable picture of how your show is performing along with other helpful metrics:
As you get more listeners, these insights will inform where you need to focus your marketing efforts, as well as what kind of content is and isn't working.
The Feed, published by Libsyn, gives regular information on how the podcast industry is doing, including download stats. You can check out the latest episode for up to date info, but here’s the numbers for September 2021, which should give you a good benchmark.
The metric that matters most to podcast advertisers is the number of downloads new episodes get within the first 30 days, so that’s the metric we’re using below.
If your episodes get more than 124 downloads in 30 days, you’re in the top 50% of podcasts.
If your episodes get more than 1,000 downloads, you’re in the top 20%.
If your episodes get more than 2,900 downloads, you’re in the top 10%.
If your episodes get more than 6,700 downloads you’re in the top 3%.
Naturally you might be a bit disappointed if you aren’t getting at least 124 downloads per episode. But you shouldn't be. We spoke to podcasting veteran and author of Podcasting For Dummies, Evo Terra, and he offered a helpful analogy which helps put things in perspective.
“It's basically the chance to get on stage and speak to 100 people every week or every other week. Forget about podcasting for a minute. If you knew that every Wednesday at 3pm, you could walk down to the town square and get on stage in front of 100 people, that would be awesome. Most businesses and speakers I know would love to have that opportunity."
“In that situation, you'd work out the best way to talk to those people. You'd find ways to encourage them to interact with your business. And you’d find ways to track whether what you're saying matters to the people that turn up every week.”
Just because the interaction is happening digitally doesn’t detract from its value. Having a regular audience of any size is an achievement you shouldn’t take for granted.
It’s important to make sure the people you already have in your audience are highly engaged with what you’re communicating. So the thing to focus on isn’t how many people are listening, but who is listening.
It’d be great if listeners simply came flooding in after you publish your podcast.
But unless you’re already a celebrity or someone with a large online following, that isn’t going to happen. You’re going to need to put in work to get your show in front of the right people.
There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there all competing for a finite number of ears. So what can you do to make yours stand out? Below we’ve outlined X strategies you can use to expand the reach of each episode you publish.
If you’re not repurposing your content into other formats, you’re missing a trick. here are the main things you can turn your podcast episodes into:
Videos: You can make whole episodes into videos, or short teasers to share on social media and pique people’s attention.
Video Podcasts: Pros, Cons & How to Get Started
Audiograms: Video content usually does much better than anything else on social media. Making an audiogram is a great way to take advantage of this. You can use Podcast.co’s built in audiogram tool to create these for free.
How to Create Podcast Audiograms
Social media posts: This is especially useful for if you’ve got guests on your podcast. You can create posts for them to share with their audiences, reaching a whole new group of people.
Convert transcripts to blogs: Once you’ve got an episode laid out in front of you in written form, it’ll be easy to turn it into a blog post. You can’t simply upload raw transcripts though. We don’t write the way we speak, so you need to adapt the content to a format that works when it’s written down. You can use Podcast.co to create full transcripts of your episodes in seconds.
How to Automatically Transcribe Podcasts
Free downloads: Give your audience a chance to get in on some bonus content if they sign up to your email list. This could be anything from free downloads of infographics showing stuff you talked about in your podcast episode, to exclusive behind-the-scenes content.
How to Create Downloadable Content From a Podcast
Go back to past episodes: You don’t have to forget about each episode as soon as it’s out. Refer to your back catalog every time you mention something you’ve already talked about in depth before. Promoting older episode is a great way to fill up your social feeds with more content.
Cross-promoting your show with other, like-minded podcasters is a great way to extend your reach.
If you’re not sure what cross-promotion is, it basically means partnering up with other podcast hosts to promote each other's shows. There are two ways of going about it - ad swaps and content collaborations.
Create a free account on MatchMaker.fm to quickly connect with other podcasters looking for ad swaps and content collaborations.
You run an ad for their show on your podcast. And they do the same for you. Given the format, ads are best kept to 30 - 60 seconds in length. You can either prepare a script for the other host to read on their show, or let them ad lib a promotion for your show - it’s up to you.
Ad swaps provide a guarantee that the person listening is already a podcast fan. Plus, you’ll know that they’re already on their preferred platform, and they know how to use it. The less effort it takes to find your show, the better.
Make sure that the person who you choose to collaborate with is relevant to your podcast too. If you’re a show that talks about sports, your audience probably isn’t going to be interested in hearing about linguistics. Drawing a link between your show and theirs is vital.
Content collaboration is a bit different. It’s more involved than ad swapping is, but the reward tends to be bigger. This is where you interview another podcaster on your show, and they interview you on theirs. It gives audiences a chance to get to know you better - if they like what they hear, they might be willing to subscribe.
You’ll need to be a bit more selective with who you partner up with for this. Consider which audiences are likely to be interested in your show, and focus your aim there. If you get it right, it’s an opportunity to grow your brand. Here are a few other things to think about when choosing your partner:
The only way to get your podcast episodes to rank on Google is to convert them into blog posts, or to publish detailed show notes around 400-500 words long to your website. The written content you create to supplement each of your episodes should be targeted to a particular keyword.
The Google search algorithm can't 'hear' your episodes. So it needs to be able to 'read' them instead. And that means creating written content.
First figure out which keywords you’d like your episode to rank for on Google. Use a keyword planner like Google’s to help if you want some inspiration. This will tell you monthly impressions for specific keywords - that’s how many people you could reach if you target those keywords.
Once you’ve found a keyword will work well, scatter it throughout your blog post or show notes. Put it in headlines, subheadings, and throughout the text. But don’t go overboard - there’s no need to crowbar in your keyword where it doesn’t fit.
For more detail on this check out the post below:
If you’re still a little lost, have a look at this blog post we made to help one of our episodes of Meet The Podcasters rank better on Google. This is a great example of how a podcast can be converted into something else that can actually show up on Google search results.
Go to conferences, meet-ups, local events related to your podcast topic – anything where you can chat to people and bring up your podcast. You could even get some feedback and ideas, if you ask what kinds of topics or guests would interest them.
Here’s the pro tip - bring business cards (or beer coasters) with a QR code for your podcast to any in-person events. You can hand these out to anyone you speak to, and leave a few for others to pick up. QR codes are free to make and you can get them printed for a nominal fee.
Check out the generator tool below to get started:
As a further example of this strategy in action, check out the London underground billboard below for We Were Always Here by Broccoli Productions. The show’s cover art was accompanied by a QR code. All people had to do was scan it on their smartphones as they walked past. Genius.
There are loads of virtual communities on Facebook, Quora, Reddit, Twitter and Instagram, to name a few. Find where discussions about your niche are happening online, and see if you can add value to their forums.
Promote your podcast tactfully. Don’t spam.
Be careful with your approach in online communities – you can’t just swoop in and promote your podcast immediately (if you do, you’ll probably get banned). It’s better to focus on engaging with others and building trust with the community first, before you try and sell something to people who have no loyalty to you yet.
There will never be a “perfect” moment to start your podcast. So stop waiting for one. Today is as good a day as any. Even if you can only dedicate 10 minutes each day for now, that adds up to more than an hour a week. An hour a week is infinitely better than nothing at all.
The trick is to start off small. Pick one of the initial tasks from the guide above and tackle that first - whether that’s choosing your podcast name, brainstorming episode ideas, or drafting a list of potential guests to interview. Your momentum will start to build once you get going.
Once you’ve got yourself a microphone, make a quick test recording introducing yourself and your podcast idea. Get comfortable talking into the mic for an extended period and then listen to yourself afterward. You don’t have to upload this test episode, but it’s good to get some practice and familiarity with the process.
Lastly, it’s important not to feel guilty or beat yourself up if you happen to procrastinate on your podcast. Everyone does it in the beginning. The key thing is being able to catch yourself sooner rather than later. A day of procrastination doesn’t matter all that much. But an entire month does.
You can also find additional free support and resources via the links below:
And remember, the Podcast.co support team is here to help at any stage of the process. Once you’ve created an account, you can contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
The perfect compliment to our comprehensive podcast guide