I’ve done quite well in the podcasting space, so I am asked frequently how to start a podcast. With all the sophisticated easy-to-use web tools, you’d think there’s a single platform that does it all, but it’s a bit more complicated than you might think.
First, some background on my two podcasts. My Cultcast (starting under the name Creativity Cultivator Podcast) began out of my spare bedroom in June of 2016, quickly making it to iTunes New & Noteworthy list and in 2019 it became one of the top %1 of podcasts in iHeart Radio app’s entire 250,000 podcast catalog.
My more current event focused Justin Brady Show podcast and corresponding live radio show, have seen continuous ratings increases as well, and my first ever live radio show, Saturday Morning Live, led the state in digital before it was cancelled in a programming change.
I’ve interviewed Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks; Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy; Paul Allen, founder of Ancestry.com, Presidential candidates like Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang, plus a giant list of others.
Instead of replying directly to a listeners questions about how to start a podcast, I asked her permission to share our Q&A publicly. She agreed, sending me 11 questions.
(Thank you, Keerthana for these thought-provoking questions on how to start a podcast.)
How To Start A Podcast
Q1. Is it possible to start a podcast using only a phone?
The short answer to this is yes. Yes, it’s possible to start a podcast using only a phone. Tools like Anchor combine many typical podcasting steps into a slick easy-to-use mobile app. But these tools also suffer when you want to use external professional microphones or customize your podcasts in ways that the app doesn’t allow. The more professional your podcast sounds, the more it grows, but most people can’t afford a great setup anyway, making this a good tool if you’re starting out.
Q2. Is there any particular app that I need to use to make a podcast?
Anchor is only one app and one solution. If you want more flexibility to use your own tools, you need a podcast host. In the same way a website needs a host or server, podcasts do too and this is the critical first step on how to start a podcast. Many believe that you simply record a file and upload to Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts, but they are just platform creators and require you to submit an RSS feed that contains your audio.
Q3. How much do podcast creation apps cost?
While some tools/services offer limited functionality or features and offer free plans, some hosting plans can cost around $16 per month as long as you use the service. Keep in mind however, there are also costs associated with any production tools to refine and make your podcast sound professional. I use Adobe Audition to put my podcasts together. Although I don’t generally edit podcasts outside of coughing or odd sounds, I also use this tool to do editing at guest request.
Q4. What preparation goes in before interviewing a podcast guest?
A more prepared interviewer makes a far better podcast. Especially if you’re interviewing higher profile people, they tend to get the same questions all the time. Even professional journalists fail to do the work researching because they think they’re too busy. Don’t make this mistake. Your guest’s network can bring in a substantial amount of new listeners, but only if they feel you asked good questions.
If they have a book, read the entire book or skim it and make notes. Think of intriguing questions they haven’t been asked yet. Do web searches on them and their past accomplishments. Truly try to connect them to your audience. One of the easiest tools is to ask them “what are 5 fascinating things most people don’t know about you.”
Q5. Can I start a podcast while having a full-time job?
Yes, you can start a podcast while holding down a full-time job. Obviously, you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t conflict with your job, or subjects you to unnecessary criticism or exposure. A podcast about your bizarre workplace for example, might be really funny but if it’s discovered by people on your company, that could end your job there.
As far as time, a podcast can certainly be a hobby. Many guests have no problem with interviewing later in the day or after work hours. Just make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew because a podcast can very well take over your life. Start out simple.
Q6. How do I market my podcast to gain more visibility?
This is the #1 question every podcaster wants to know about how to start a podcast. Certainly, someone could write a book on how to market your podcast. There are a few tricks however that can help you right out of the gate. Although we can’t know for sure how podcast tools filter results, many podcasting services like iTunes feature certain podcasts and if you can get on one of these lists more listeners can find you. The rumored way to get on iTunes New & Noteworthy list is simply to get more listens, fast.
Instead of launching one podcast on launch day, many podcasters will launch five, or an entire “season.” More podcasts episodes, simply mean more listens. Consider one person listening to one podcast is one total listen. But one listener listening to five podcasts is five listens. Higher numbers increase your likelihood of hitting coveted lists.
The other trick is to post on social media often, make sure each unique podcast has a unique web page that people can actually find online, and to make sure guests have the proper links to promote their own interview. Creating a web page for each podcast also means, people can find your webpage when doing a web search for your guest. Creating a web page per guest is also crucial for one reason everyone forgets about. Sharing.
Wait… why do I need to create a web page to share my podcasts?
If you don’t have a webpage you will have a hard time sharing your podcast on social media like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn because the only links you will have to share will be individual podcasting tools. One big key on how to start a podcast is to make sure people can find it.
If you share an Apple Podcast link, Android users can’t listen to it and vice versa. If you share a Stitcher or Google Podcast link, Apple users likely can’t listen. It’s for this reason you need a web page link to post everywhere. Ideally, one that has great photos of your guest or topic.
Q7. Once I start a podcast should the frequency of posting be the same?
It’s generally recommended to keep a set schedule of posting your podcast. For one it keeps your listener numbers up, which in turn attracts new listeners. But also, why wouldn’t you want to give subscribers what they don’t want?
That being said, I only update my Cultcast when great opportunities present themselves. Would I see more listeners if I posted more regularly, sure. Would my listeners like it if I posted more often, probably. But as I’ve produced more content elsewhere, I have decreased my posting frequency.
All that being said, it depends on what your goals are. If you are simply using a podcast to document great interviews, like me, post whenever the heck you want to!
Q8. If the podcast guest being interviewed does not open up, any specific tips to make them open up?
A critical component of how to start a podcast is to understand your guest’s performance depends on your comfort level and your preparedness. If you have prepared and done your homework on your guest, they are more likely to open up and provide great answers to your questions. If questions are odd, or they don’t know how to answer them, they may shut down making it even harder on you.
Offer A Kill Switch
One method I use on my Cultcast to help guests open up is the offer to not publish the audio if they don’t like how it turns out. I tell some up front if they don’t like the interview, I’ll delete it.
It’s rare that anyone has asked for this, but it has happened a few times. There are several guests that I interviewed and prepped for, and they bombed, or they didn’t answer my questions. Some have even lied about their experience and crumpled when I pressed them.
Another guest was nervous about an upcoming meeting and choked during the entire interview. For this person, I offered to redo the podcast. They agreed.
Give Them A Heads Up
Another easy way to make sure guests open up is to give them an idea of which questions you will be asking ahead of time so they can think about answers. Oddly, having people more prepared for their conversation with you makes it sound more natural. Keep in mind, in a natural conversation there is lots of silence. On a podcast this sounds awkward, so you need to keep things moving and help them plan for their interview as well.
Q9. Should my podcast be specific to a target audience?
Yes. When considering how to start a podcast, your podcast should be for a specific target audience. In fact, the more niche you make your podcast, the largest your audience. Some people worry that because their idea for a podcast is currently not represented, that must mean there is no need, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I tell people often, the chances your podcast content is so unique no one else would be interested is extremely unlikely. Although you are unique as a person, your ideas aren’t as unique as you think they are. There are likely 5,000 people or more that are ready for your unique niche no matter how bizarre.
Podcasts focused solely on car tires, urban home gardening, loneliness or social awkwardness probably have massive untapped potential listeners. Go try it out!
Q10. Do I need to be in the same room as the person being interviewed or can I record a phone conversation and publish a podcast.
Your podcast guests don’t have to be in the same room as you. Many of my guests have been on the other side of the world. For in studio-guests you will need a quiet room, and ideally two microphones. For guests at a distance, I typically recommend Skype because it’s free, and it can call landlines and cell phones if needed.
While Skype can record calls for you, making it fairly easy, the call quality is terrible. Recording higher quality, at least on your end, can be tricky. In my case it required the use of LineIn to control my audio source, and Soundflower to split up applications as separate audio sources. It was a nightmare to set up especially if you want all your audio in separate tracks. (This is NOT WORTH IT, Trust me.)
The technical side of how to start a podcast is the most irritating, but don’t worry it’s also the most written about. The web is littered with tips on how to set up your podcasting equipment.
Today, I just rent a studio that can record 4 microphones, a phone line, and Skype all into Adobe Audition.
Q11. Are there any free podcast editing apps?
Outside of Anchor, I don’t know of any, but that’s where you come in. If you are aware of any great podcasting tools, please let me know by tweeting to me at @JustinBrady You can also hit the menu button at the bottom of your screen, then “contact” to message my phone directly. (Yes, it really works)
Last Things To Know On How To Start A Podcast
Outside of these tips, it’s vital for your podcast’s ultimate success, for you to have fun and have a genuine interest in what you do, but also make sure it’s entertaining. People want information, but they also want to have fun. Make sure to constantly refine your podcast by listening to your own shows, critiquing them, asking others for critiques as well.
Do not hold back your personality and true self. People can smell fake a mile away. Be yourself.
I realize I’ve only scratched the surface, so please reach out if you have more questions, or as experience problems creating your own podcast. I’d even love to be your first guest. (and watch the “ummmm” and “uhhhhh” words, ok?)