Starting a podcast: the complete guide

If you want to know how to start a company podcast, you’re in the right place. My podcast is the single best way I attract customers. A few past guests have even worked on projects and have become customers. I’ve also worked with a few companies on their own podcasts.

I’ve made mistakes and achieved success I’m proud of in podcasting and this is the most complete podcasting guide I’ve ever written—I’ll make sure to update it often. If you are more of a hobbyist, I’d recommend reading my quick guide on how to start a podcast, but if you want to create one for your company, let’s go. Here’s the full outline if you’ve been here before.

My brief background

I’ve been on the iTunes New & Noteworthy list, found myself in iHeart’s top %1 of podcasts, and have interviewed some of the most incredible guests on earth like Howard Schultz, Andrew Yang, Francesca Gino, Paul Allen, Ryan Smith, and Laura Vanderkam.

My show started as The Creativity Cultivator Podcast, and today is simply The Justin Brady Show. I also had a 3-year run on radio, where I interviewed Senator John Hickenlooper, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Pauly Shore, Mike Rowe, and others. Plus, I’ve written for many major newspapers and publications. Here’s my full bio.

How to start a company podcast

I started teaching myself podcasting over 5 years ago after briefly cohosting on a since discontinued podcast called The Denim Rivet with Gregory Bailey. It was about insure-tech (and no, I have no experience in that area, I was there to ask stupid questions.) The incredible podcasting tools available today didn’t exist back then. I had no corporate backing, no sponsors, and no existing marketing channels, huge social following, or mailing list.

If there’s anyone that can answer how to start a company podcast, I’m your guy. Podcasts are just getting started, and this is the perfect place to get you going.

Know Your Deliverables

If you want to learn how to start a company podcast, you need to first answer why you a show in the first place. Due to the seemingly innocuous nature of this question, most skip over it entirely—that’s stupid.

Do you want to use your podcast as a channel for new business? Do you want to sell advertising? Do you want to educate your employees? Do you want to educate your customers? Depending on your answer here, that changes the podcast format entirely.

The best company podcasts have specific deliverables outlined before they begin. Knowing your deliverables impacts the audience you are targeting. And because the best podcasts treat their audience as if they are in the room alongside the host(s), you cannot afford to skip this part.

Audience Identification for your podcast

If your deliverable is to use the podcast as a sales channel, for example, that means your audience is prospects. And if your audience is prospects, this means your podcast content should be focused on what prospects naturally care about as it relates to your business.

The easiest way to do this is to survey or get to know your current customers. What questions did they ask you, or your sales staff before they became a customer? What did/do they care about? What search terms do they type into search engines that lead them to your page? If you have the budget you can get a valuegraphics profile built on them. If budget is an issue, simply email them some survey questions asking how they found you, why they stay, and what problem led them to you initially?

My trick for this is to use the notebook method. Put simply, keep a notebook with you during every prospect interaction and every time they ask you a question, write it down. You can also ask your sales team to forward you answers they have previously emailed to prospect questions. There is a lot of value in the “sent” folder of a salesperson’s email.

Tailor content for your podcast

If your content isn’t tailored for your target audience, your podcast will be dead before it starts. To start a company podcast the right way, try writing out a road map of topics—an outline of your first 12 shows will be helpful. Do this before you spend a single dime on podcast equipment, host space, or anything else. If you can’t outline your first 12 shows, you have no business starting a podcast for your company.

Prepare to “catch” your deliverables

You can make the most brilliant company podcast on earth, but if you forget to create a channel to accomplish your goal, it’s a waste. A podcast designed to attract new business or customers should have a way to capture leads on every podcast page. Never rely on people reaching out on their own. Starting a company podcast to get new business, requires a simple way to reach out or get on an email list.

Get some lead capture methods

There should be capture methods all over your website to collect contact information, email addresses, and possibly phone numbers and forms. Contacting you should also be a breeze. To start a company podcast that captures leads, you need to actually do some capturing!

10 Day Press Guide

Give a sign-up incentive

Simply putting a contact form isn’t good enough. Listeners and visitors must have a concrete incentive to give up their precious email addresses. In my case, I offer to send a free PDF guide to get entrepreneurs, founders, and communicators more earned media in as little as 10 days. I also include exclusive tips from John Jantsch, and Soulaima Gourani on how to get more referrals, and how to give referrals the right way. Want it? Sign up at the form.


 

Have a promotion strategy

Creating a great podcast with unique and compelling content isn’t good enough. No one cares about the idea guy, and no one will ever discover your podcast. It’s up to you to create a strategy to get the word out and interest people to download your show. Many folks who start a company podcast for business purposes, never consider that it also must be promoted, just like anything else.

Physical contact is the best way to promote your podcast

Scheduling opportunities to speak to various groups is perhaps the most effective way to increase your podcast subscriber base quickly. When speaking to a business group, college, school, or organization, I ask everyone to subscribe to my show, by asking them to pull out their phones, search for the show, and subscribe. Because they are introduced to my show via a personal relationship, they tend to stay subscribed long term.

Ask guests to promote

It might surprise you, but many guests will not promote your interview with them. Sometimes they don’t want to toot their own horn, other times they assume you will do the promoting. Or perhaps if they are a big-named guest, they are accustomed to interviews and simply don’t share them anymore. Whatever the case, you need to ask your guest to promote. (But NEVER make this conditional.)

The easiest way to get guests to promote is to simply send them resources to help. I send a DropBox of images for them to use, the direct link to promote the show, and at times, send show clips with video resources. I also send my social handles and tell them to tag me so I can promote to my network.

Interestingly, the smaller-name guests tend to draw bigger crowds as they are a bit more active in trying to grow their reach and more likely to promote or send to their email list. A big name isn’t as likely, BUT there is one way to get the bigger-name guests to promote. Do an incredible interview and ask questions that are unique. Andrew Yang, and Howard Schultz, both large names, actively promoted my podcast because, in their words, “wow, you really did your research.”

Give guests tools to promote

Another effective method to encourage guests to promote is to give them tools and resources for their social media accounts. I give every guest images, embed codes, and allow them to use any audio clips. I also send short 60-second video clips, using a highlight from the show. I tell them this content is exclusive to them, and don’t use it.

Adobe Premiere Rush can be used to quickly create square videos by dragging and dropping audio and images. You can use almost any video editor, including tools like iMovie. Obviously, this can get complicated, but I keep things simple.

The key is to keep the file size low and make sure you follow Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn media requirements.

Front-load your show

Competition is fierce, and many podcasters cheat their download numbers, so it’s important to be organized from the beginning. Front-loading your show before launch can be helpful. To the best of my knowledge, this still works. Podcast platforms highlight shows in their feature sections by downloads within an unspecified period (many believe it’s 30 days.)

This means getting more downloads can be achieved by launching more shows. I pre-recorded six shows at the beginning and launched them at the same time. This means if only your mom listens, 6 shows = 6 listens. 100 listeners = 600 listens. Get it?

Promote your show on other podcasts or media

If you have a great guest or have some unique content on your podcast, it’s a great idea to promote that content on other podcasts and platforms. I ended up writing an article for The Harvard Business Review on a few patterns my podcast guests fell into, which was educational, but also allowed me to link to my podcast from hbr.org.

I’ve also appeared on other podcasts including the Finding Brave Podcast, Matter Leadership Podcast, and The Bright Spot podcast.

Plan your company podcast

Many PR or marketing people who ask me how to start a company podcast, give me a blank stare when I ask one simple question: What are your first twelve shows about? Who will host it? Where will it be recorded? Will it be guest-driven, or solo host-driven? Do you have staff that will devote time and focus on getting it done? Do you have the technological prowess to get this done?

Podcasts take a crap-load of planning and an incredible amount of time. If you want to start a company podcast, it starts with hosts, unique content, entertainment, and great writing.

Getting buy-in for your podcast

Before you start a podcast for your company, it’s imperative to get buy-in from company leadership. Leadership will make or break the show. They can make the show by giving you resources, support, and helping you with content ideas. They can break your show if they become concerned you will say something to make them look foolish. For both of these reasons, get buy-in first.

Justin Brady Show Cover Art
Subscribe to my show, The Justin Brady Show

Any leader will want to understand the overall value as you start a company podcast. Bring data, show them clear goals you are aiming to accomplish, and discuss in terms of a trial period—perhaps 6 months. If the goal is to educate customers, your data should focus on that objective. If the goal is to win new customers, fully explain how you will accomplish this. This is a great time to explain how you plan to capture new leads (we discussed this above.)

If leadership is concerned, it might be wise to do a few pilot or test shows first, so they understand your plan and strategy. Make sure to understand their concerns fully. If you anticipate pushback, I’d recommend listening to Alexandra Carter’s negotiation tips to overcome any objections.

Picking the right podcasts host(s)

While I do believe anyone can be a podcast host with enough work, it is a skill that comes more naturally to some over others. Finding someone who can talk, with a great voice, isn’t necessarily what you need. Instead, look for someone who has a strong desire to educate others and great energy (more on that in the performing section below). Great company podcast hosts care about other people and want to see them succeed. A host’s curiosity is the foundation of great questions and great content.

Many polished voices in podcasts and radio are actually the product of vocal training and technology, not nature. Making your voice sound great for podcasting can be achieved by almost anyone. Sure there are some people with amazing voices, but that can work against you if a person sounds less “real.” Remember, the best hosts form a kind of relationship with their listeners—if your host is too polished, that could pose a problem.

If you’re going with multiple hosts to take the pressure off a single person, voice quality matters. If it’s two male voices that are similar, listeners can get a bit lost. This is why you see so many male / female pairs on traditional radio. This is also why popular shows like Elvis Duran and The Morning Show, who utilize multiple hosts, all have very different vocal qualities.

Plan out content that FARTs

Planning content takes far more time than recording the show. During my radio days, I put 2-3 hours of research into a normal 1 hour of showtime, and I found the most success by making sure all of my content followed the FART Method. Briefly, FART stands for Fresh, Accessible, Relevant, and Timely. When you start a company podcast, the content must follow this method. I’ll briefly go into this.

Fresh content is truly unique and it’s likely listeners haven’t heard it before. Fresh content does not include “new hot takes” on older news. That’s a really tough sell for listeners. (Believe me, I’ve tried) Accessible content is within reach of your listeners, and easy to grasp. Relevant content means you have to kill some great ideas, in favor of great ideas that matter to your target listener. Timely content means not discussing outdoor grilling in Minnesota in December. (Unless you have some killer winter outdoor grilling idea.)

Should podcasters publish seasons or weekly? Think routine

There is no solid answer on the season VS weekly debate. The most important thing is doing right by your listeners.

People typically match podcasts with various daily routines. For example, I listen to daily 1 hr news commentary shows when working-out, because my workout is about 1 hr per day. At night, I listen to theological or motivational podcasts about 30 min in length to wind down from my day. At lunch, I listen to 15-min news podcast as I eat.

I can safely say, consistency is non-negotiable. The producers and creators for the EntreLeadership Podcast shared with me if you produce daily, weekly, or seasons, keep your schedule consistent. Consistency is critical, and if you make any fast changes, your numbers will suffer.

Great writing and great podcasting go together.

If your idea of a company podcast is to record, upload, and pat yourself on the back, you’re wrong. If you want to know how to start a company podcast and make an impact, you need great writing. Adding a few sentences in the podcast “details” section isn’t sufficient. You need to write show notes and a summary for every guest and show at a minimum. This ensures your podcast will be found online via search engines (more on that later) but it also gives listeners a way to interact with you and your show directly on your website. Every show notes page should be a minimum of 300 words for SEO reasons.

How to be a podcast host

Actually performing the show is the shortest part of starting a company podcast. It’s also the most fun part. My advice in this area is highly subjective, so take all of it with a grain of salt. I say this because Joe Rogan does everything trained radio people tell you not to do, but does quite well. His shows are three hours, he’s extremely casual, there’s a lot of topical wandering, and he put all his ads at the beginning (or at least he used to). Despite breaking all the rules, he’s the #1 podcast.

Your company podcast must be entertaining

Content is king, but if it’s not entertaining no one will listen. Your show must have energy, and it might be a good idea to use sound effects and have fun segments to break up the show. I first started out my show only thinking of good content, and it was tough to get listeners. Only after a friend told me I was boring did I make a change and see listener numbers go up.

When you start a company podcast, it might be important to instruct your host to increase his or her energy beyond their in-person level. Much of communication is non-verbal, and it’s stunning how much a host is robbed of energy when the platform is audio-only.

During my first radio stint, I thought I was quite energetic, but when I reviewed the show later I sounded asleep! I increased my energy next time, and it still felt flat. That’s when I really went for it: I waved my arms, used strong inflection, and projected my non-verbals through my voice. My co-host thought I had lost it, but when listening later it finally sounded like me!

Your hosts shouldn’t sound unnatural, they should sound like themselves and sound approachable.

How many podcast hosts are ideal?

The more hosts you add, the more difficult it is to produce a show. It’s also more difficult for listeners to keep the hosts straight in their heads. Because you want to create a relationship with your listeners, as stated earlier, make sure the voices are as different as possible and try to be consistent with hosts. Outside of these facts, however, it’s a personal choice.

Should you script a company podcast or wing it?

Should you create a highly scripted show, or just sit down and wing it? If you’re actually performing a kind of scripted show with voice actors, it might be best to have lines—that’s not my thing. But if it’s a company podcast, using a script is a bad idea. It should be a natural exchange and feel like a conversation, even though the listener isn’t talking. This doesn’t mean you should “just wing it” either.

All hosts must put in the time to research the topic of each show. No exceptions. You will be surprised how easy it is to have a more natural-sounding conversation when the hosts put the necessary research in. Many will say podcasting (or radio) is just like having a conversation. There is some truth to this, but it’s also spectacularly misleading. If you were to listen in on the typical conversation, it would be boring.

Podcasts are performative conversation. You want a little banter to humanize the hosts and make it real, but also you don’t want to waste everyone’s time. Mastering it takes years, so don’t assume your host will be perfect at the start. Because I’ve co-hosted, done 3-hour radio solo shows, and done co-hosted shows, I’ll briefly break out some best practices on all of them.

How to co-host a podcast

Depending on how many hosts you utilize, managing a conversation can be hard so it may be helpful to designate one person to “drive” the show. The primary host is responsible for bringing up new topics, keeping the conversation moving, and managing discussion.

The primary host will often point to specific hosts to get them on the air, or even call on them audibly in the show. “Kathleen, I know you have thoughts on this.” If you don’t designate a primary, there can be a lot of awkward moments. These moments are fine for a real conversation, but not for a podcast where listeners are participants.

To manage flow, it’s wise for co-hosts to share their general topic lists ahead of time. I’d come with a list of topics and present them to my co-host or email her one day in advance just so she wasn’t caught flat-footed. It’s not necessary to share everything that will be discussed, keeping natural curiosity intact.

How to interview guests for your podcast (preparation is key)

If you consider how to start a company podcast, and the time commitment associated, some assume a guest format is less of a time commitment. It’s not true. The best interviewers spend significant time researching their guests. I’ve done over 500 hundred interviews (probably more) and I’m rarely surprised how my guests answer. Sometimes specific answers are surprising or unexpected, but the general direction is always predictable.

In a few cases that stick out, the guests actually commented on how thorough my research was. One case was Andrew Yang (you can watch his reaction at the 18:47 timestamp on this video) and the other was Howard Schultz.

Listening is important as well. This sounds odd, but I find many hosts are too focused on the next question and their notes, they miss golden opportunities to ask follow-up questions or request clarification. Preparation is key to make yourself a better listener.

In one case, I truly did wing it because I thought I knew enough about the guest to get me through. The show was with Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman and it was a major embarrassment for me. He was more-than-kind and thought the show was fine, but it didn’t meet my standards. Sadly, we haven’t been able to reschedule as of writing this. (I may share that interview in the near future as a reminder to myself to always put in the work. If I do, I will only send it to my email list.)

Confidence matters too. If you’re confident, kind, and prepared, your guest will be more at ease.

How to do a solo podcast

Solo podcasts eliminate quite a few variables and are predictable, but having a conversation with yourself can be difficult for some. I’ve done solo podcasts and live radio. In all cases, I created an outline to help guide me. The outline had facts, figures, and high-priority points in it, but no dialogue written out or script. Because I did the research, talking naturally about my topics was effortless.

I did meet a few guests in the past who read their shows verbatim, and it was obvious. It sounded canned, inauthentic, and boring. It’s ok to read segments, or quotes when necessary, but try to avoid reading the entire show.

With a solo podcast, it’s vital to use inflection, leverage the volume of your voice, and even leave silence when necessary. In my shows, I’d even shout from time to time (while leaning away from the microphone of course!) If you use compression, all of these audio-antics balance out.

The studio and podcast equipment

Most folks who start a company podcast jump right to the equipment, microphones, and studio. Before you go drop $5,000 or $10,000 however, it’s wise to go through a test run on a limited budget. The cost of starting a professional-sounding company podcast can start for as little as $100 and a laptop.

Podcasting equipment for beginners

Many podcasters start with a Yeti Blue, Yeti-Nano, or Audio-technica ATR2100x USB microphone. These microphones plug directly into a laptop. XLR microphones require an interface like the Scarlett or a soundboard, so USB is a quicker cheaper method to get you started. If you’re doing a solo show and only virtual interviews this might be all you need for quite some time. It got me by for years.

Regarding your podcasting studio, as long as you aren’t interviewing anyone in a professional setting, you can use a coat closet. Seriously. (If you can fit.) The reason this works is twofold: First, coat closets are generally in windowless interior rooms, meaning they are quiet. Second, coat closets typically have a lot of fabric (coats!) and fabric naturally serves as a sound-absorbing material, meaning there is less echo in the room. I’ll go into more on soundproofing in a second.

I should note, tools like Anchor (more on podcast platforms later) allow you to record and publish all from your phone.

Podcasting equipment for remote interviewers / solo shows

If you’re a professional podcaster, but don’t have a need for a sexy in-studio presence you can still produce a polished show without the cost. I’m currently in this category. You can splurge on your microphone and get a Heil PR40, Electrovoice RE320, or the Shure SM7B, popularized by podcast king Joe Rogan. Microphones are like scotch or wine to a degree; personal preference plays a major role and sound people disagree on which ones are best.

Cardioid Polar Pattern of Heil PR 40 (Image Credit: Heil Sound)

I currently use the Heil PR40, which has great audio, but even with a pop filter is very sensitive to plosives. I’ve used the little brother of the aforementioned Electrovoice, the RE20, during my radio days. I liked the integrated pop filter. Important note, all of these are XLR microphones meaning you’ll need an interface or soundboard.

The PR40, RE320, and SM7B microphones also have a cardiod polar pattern. (pictured). Without boring you, the image is showing the “active” areas of my PR40. Zero is in front of the microphone, and 180 is behind it. The purple outlined area shows where it will pick up sound. If you are behind or even too far away from the mic audio doesn’t register. These are great microphones to use to cut down on background noise or chatter from other hosts/guests.

If you’re planning on using multiple microphones or inputs like CD players, phones, or anything else, you may need a soundboard. The most popular podcasting soundboard today is the Rodecaster Pro because of its ease of use, simple setup, and ability to do Twitter Spaces, Clubhouse, Callin or live audio. You can even use your phone to do phone interviews or plug in your computer for Zoom interviews. And you can do this all without learning how to do a mix-minus or risk feedback.

I use the Yamaha MG XU 12 with USB Out, and because of some odd bugs, I can’t recommend it. I do love it’s onboard compression, but had the Rodecaster Pro been available when I bought my equipment, I would have chosen the Rodecaster.

Podcasting for studio professionals

Although the microphone hardware may be similar for professional studios, the room is certainly not. I’ll go into light detail here because I’m a podcaster, not a pro audio guy. Ultimately if you want to know how to start a company podcast studio that is highly professional, you should consult a professional.

Unless you like a little bit of that “live” sound, you will want a room that’s completely soundproof, ideally in an interior room. If you do have a window, you may have to install a specially designed plexiglass installed on a downward angle to deflect sound away from the microphones.

The perfect room will be soundproofed on the outside, not letting sound leak into the room. It will also have walls coated with fabric or sound-absorbing material to cut down sound echo or reverberation. Echo and reverberation make editing extremely difficult, so it’s vital to create conditions where it can’t exist.

Depending on your budget, you can drop some serious cash on pro microphones too. For example, a nice, Neumann microphone can cost you from $700 to $30,000 or more.

Soundproofing and audio quality

It’s easy to overthink how to start a company podcast. Many rookies think they need foam panels placed randomly on the wall, but this doesn’t accomplish as much as you may believe. The real goal is to eliminate hard surfaces that sound is likely to bounce off of. To oversimply this, you only remove the percentage of sound bounce, corresponding to how many hard surfaces you cover. So, if you cover 10% of your walls with sound foam, you will reduce sound bounce by 10% if you’re lucky. (This is general, go talk to a sound pro if you’re concerned.)

The cheapest, most effective way (and the method I use) is to simply hang sound blankets around the designated studio space. I clamped sound blankets to the ceiling, surrounding me. It’s not necessary to purchase expensive sound blankets, you can just buy moving blankets—it’s the same thing. If you can’t clamp to the ceiling, it may be necessary to purchase some C stands.

Recording your podcast

Recording your show sounds straightforward but it isn’t. You can record using a handheld recorder plugged into your board, record directly into your computer using a USB interface, or utilize soundboards like the Rodecaster Pro that allow you to record directly onto an SD Card reader.

Websites like Cast or Cleanfeed can record both sides of the interview for you, eliminating the need for equipment almost entirely. Alternatively, tools like Skype and Zoom have recording options, although the audio quality seems to suffer in these options and bandwidth can be an issue.

Regarding volume, I find many podcasts are too quiet and require me to increase my volume to a large degree. I set my audio level between -6 db and -3 db, and this seems perfect. It may seem tricky because waveforms have peaks and valleys, but if you properly treat your room and compress your audio, it’s easy to set your levels.

A look at audio levels for The Justin Brady Show, between -6 and -3 db
A look at audio levels for The Justin Brady Show

Remote recording or on-location recording

Remote podcast interviews are extremely difficult. You never realize how loud the world is until you’re outside recording in it. A slight breeze can ruin large parts of your audio, making it unusable. Just a bit of echo inside can also make the audio sound terrible as well. There are ways to combat unwanted noise, but it can be quite pesky.

Power is an issue as well. Generally speaking, if you need to be on location for some reason it’s best just to record short interviews on a cell phone. This actually works well for 30-second question / responses. You can also use a Rode clip-on mic that will connect to your phone. The sound isn’t as perfect as a studio mic, but for the price and size, it’s incredible.

How long should a podcast be?

The length of a podcast depends on the kind of content you’re producing and depends on the audience listening. For example, if your targeted listener is a busy person who wants to be informed on critical information they care about, a 15-min daily podcast might be sufficient. If your podcast is an interview show to extract key information from an expert, perhaps 30-min is best. If you’re exploring a guest’s backstory, perhaps 1-hr or more is necessary. There’s no correct answer.

The most important question when considering how long your podcast should be, is this: how much time do you need to accomplish the goal of your show? The second most important thing to consider is this: can consistently produce podcasts on a routine basis at your selected length. Routine drives podcast listening.

Record your show like it’s LIVE

One big hack you must implement before you start a company podcast is recording as if your show is live. Relying on editing, which is the next topic, is a foolish decision for many reasons. First, it’s extremely difficult to edit later if you make multiple mistakes. Second, the natural flow of conversation is ruined and it’s uncomfortable for audiences to listen to. Third, unless you’re in a treated room and are a superb editor, your audio will sound choppy and unprofessional.

Learning how to do your show in “one take” is part skill, but mostly hard work. You don’t have to be perfect, mistakes or misspeaking is fine, but it’s important to come prepared. It’s also important to listen to every podcast you record with a notepad in hand. To this very day, I still do this exercise. It’s incredible the amount of “umms” and lazy words I rely on, and how many follow-ups I missed.

Do your show as if people are listening live, and your podcasting life will be so much easier.

Editing, polishing, and music

If you do your show as if it’s live, editing can be a breeze. Depending on the complexity of your show, editing may require sound effects, fading music, or even editing audio interviews to condense them and save time. Editing is where all the music, sounds, and interviews become an actual show!

How to edit a podcast

If you’ve spent any time with AV folks, there’s a phrase: we’ll fix it in post. What it means is that any screw-ups can simply be fixed later in editing. But be careful, removing a few words in post is easy, but if you become heavily reliant on fixing things later, your podcasting life quickly becomes a nightmare.

Audacity and Garage Band (Apple) are probably the most popular free editing tools, but I’d recommend springing for Adobe Audition. I started on Garage Band; it was clunky, slow, and obnoxious on day one. Oddly, Adobe Audition was far easier to learn, despite it being designed for pro audio engineers.

Audition is far easier when erasing and cutting audio too. Erasing coughs, or background sounds is as simple as highlighting the waveform and hitting the delete key; the software automatically stitches the audio back together. It’s a brilliant timesaver!

Sound wave shows compression next to uncompressed audio
Sound wave shows compression next to uncompressed audio

Regarding Audition, be careful to record in the multi-track view, not waveform view. This automatically protects your files in case of a computer or software crash. I learned this lesson the hard way after recording a great 30 min interview about cryptocurrency, which was lost entirely.

Polishing your company podcast to sound professional

Even if you perform your show as if it’s live, editing is necessary, especially if you’re adding clips, music, or previous interviews. Editing can also remove breathing, fix clipping problems, increase audio that’s too quiet, adjust EQ settings to make audio clear, and easily cut confusing portions of the show, clumsy speech, or inaccurate information. I’ve removed sirens, bird squawks, and even noisy kids from parents who had to do their interview at home.

I find it easy to create a standard multi-track file with my intro song and exit song with the fades and simply drop in my interview later. (The file is called an .sesx file in Audition) Because I’ve done lots of live shows in the past, and rarely edit my shows, I’m able to publish a fully produced show less than 10 minutes after I complete an interview.

For the complete guide on making your voice sound amazing in your podcast, I strongly encourage you to read my guide titled how do I make my voice sound good for podcasting? It’s an entire article on adjusting your microphone, voice, and settings to sound polished.

How do I legally use copyrighted music for my podcast?

Using professional music from a favorite artist and professional bump music for different segments seems out of reach for the beginner. Not true! I’m surprised people think this costs tens of thousands of dollars. There are several paths to get pro music for your show without breaking the bank.

The cheapest route is to use the free music that comes with Garage Band or similar editing tools. The music in these systems is royalty-free and there are no caps. If you’re not a Garage Band user and want a bit more customization you can acquire various songs for around $10 from websites like Audio Jungle (now part of EnvatoMarkets).

If you want to use copyrighted music or a new hot Dua Lipa hook like one of my clients wanted, you may need to acquire an ASCAP or BMI license. Acquiring a license, allows you to use any music in their repertoire. I went with ASCAP because their selection was huge and had the music I wanted. Also, their customer service was fantastic. I had no idea what I was doing, and they guided me through the options. The price is dependent on use, but if your show is just starting out you might be able to get an annual license for somewhere around $280 per year.

My podcast intro song is Brad Paisley’s American Saturday Night and my closing song is Typical by Mute Math.

Hiring a Professional To Edit and Produce Your Podcast

If mixing, editing, and producing sounds intimidating, you may choose to hire a company to do it for you. Gretchen Rubin uses a producer to mix and help record her Happier podcast, while others send out their audio files for professional editing. There is no limit to what a professional production company will do for you. They can do everything, just edit, or even upload and add show notes to your pages. It all depends on your level of comfort.

I do my own editing because when I started my show 5 years ago, there were minimal options. Like I wrote a few paragraphs ago, today, I can fully edit and produce a recorded show in under 10 minutes.

Scheduling guests and/or content ideas

Scheduling guests can be time-consuming. It’s not as simple as inviting a guest that’s a great fit. They might not feel comfortable, might not be great interviewee, or their companies might not let them do interviews.

Try to take an empathetic approach when reaching out to guests. They don’t know you, so you need to be very clear about what you want, and why they should consider.

Over time, if your podcast gains popularity you may find people start requesting, or pitching, to be on your show. I get about 20-30 requests per day to come on The Justin Brady Show.

How do I get great podcast guests?

This is a question I get often because my guest list includes some of the most loved CEOs, authors, leaders, and even high-profile politicians. First, it’s important to know I had a unique position. I started my podcast because I was writing frequently for The Washington Post at the time, and had access to some incredible guests. Because all the wise advice from these guests didn’t make the final cut, I asked many of these folks to come on my show. Surprisingly, many agreed.

The first step to getting great guests is to build your own brand and credibility to separate yourself from every other podcast. You don’t necessarily need to get published in a high-profile publication, just make sure your brand is visible, and you aren’t a mystery. Do your best to build a public brand, and make sure when people search your name, the correct information pops up. If you’d like to understand how to get your content to rank better on search engines, consider signing up for my email list—I send out helpful tactics all the time.


 

Reaching out to podcast guests

Having the status, however, isn’t good enough by itself. During my radio days, one of the iHeart Radio executives asked me how I was getting better guests for my show than shows that had larger budgets and bigger names. It was simple: I assumed nothing and gave potential guests data.

Most hosts would simply reach out, assuming the radio station’s (WHO Radio) reputation was enough to get the guest they wanted. Sadly, they didn’t consider most national guests, and even many local guests weren’t aware of the station. Because of this, guests declined bigger shows but came on my show.

I would explain the station’s reach, influence, and impact when I reached out, and was clear on the time commitment, how the show worked, and previous interview examples they could listen to. I removed mystery, and it worked. When you reach out to a guest, be clear on all details, be concise, and be polite. Interview opportunities should be mutually beneficial in a personal podcast, but also for those wanting to start a company podcast.

How to publish your podcast into podcasting platforms

After recording, planning, hosting, and editing, distribution is the next step. I currently distribute through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Amazon Music, and Stitcher. (Pandora had bizarre demands, so I didn’t go that route.)

After everything is set up, uploading new podcasts is a breeze. The entire process starts with finding a podcast host.

Finding A Podcast Host

In the same way you need a web host like GoDaddy to store your website on a server with 24/7 access, you also need a host for your podcast. After uploading your podcast episodes to one of these hosts, and filling in necessary show details, your podcast host will generate an RSS feed. When you give this RSS feed to platforms like Spotify or Apple Podcasts, they auto-update their platforms and push new episodes to the consumer.

Hosting options are plentiful and include Anchor, Megaphone, Libysn, Podbean, and many others. (Don’t use SoundCloud. I used them for years, and they’re terrible.) Each of these hosts vary slightly, so make sure to compare and do your research. Anchor (owned by Spotify) focuses on ease of recording and publishing, even allowing you to start a podcast from your phone. It also allows you to sell advertising with no listening minimums. Megaphone (also owned by Spotify) focuses on granulator advertising targeting. Some hosts will even submit to various platforms for you.

Publishing Your Podcast To All Platforms

Some platforms require you to manually submit your podcast when you first set up your show. In this case, you will need to create a free podcaster account for each platform and submit your podcast RSS feed for approval. This can take up to a few weeks in some cases. For Apple Podcasts, you will need to acquire a managed Apple ID to create an Apple Podcasts Connect account. This is likely something you’ll need to ask your IT department about. (Apple makes this difficult for some reason.)

The alternative is using someone’s personal Apple ID but be warned. Upon my last inquiry, Apple won’t allow you to transfer ownership of your podcast linked to a particular Apple ID. Therefore, if the employee who created the podcast leaves, or is fired, they will take the podcast with them.

Uploading is the easy part. After you export the correct file from Audition, GarageBand, or another recording/editing tool into a format your hosting platform requests, most likely an MP3. This MP3 is uploaded and after it is published, all platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and the rest are automatically updated. Some are almost instant, and others take up to 10 minutes or more.

Understanding podcast analytics

Podcast connect listener data
A look at how many of Justin Brady Show listens are subscribed. This is viewable on Apple Podcasts “connect” dashboard.

You’d think it would be easy to find out how many subscribers a podcast has, but it’s not. Many podcasters whether intentional or just uninformed, tend to conflate their overall “listens” with their “subscribers.” In truth, your total listens are shown in your podcast host, like Libsyn or Podbean. Historically, it’s been impossible to determine actual subscribers because “subscribing” is a software feature on the app itself. It simply tells your app to look for and download episodes.

Google and Apple have been making it easier to determine an actual subscriber number on their podcast management platforms as of late, so I look forward to advances here. If you notice almost half of the listens I get through Apple Podcasts aren’t actually subscribed, they are most likely searching for specific guest names through the app.

This is why it’s important to remind people to subscribe to the show. You might think if they’re listening, they’re already subscribed. This isn’t true. Every day is a new opportunity to hook new listeners!

One thing to know is this: the world of podcast analytics is rife with manipulation. Many podcasters even use click farms with the purpose of gaming the ranking systems. Check out my deep dive into the world of podcast analytics and subscriber manipulation.

How to embed podcast episodes on your website

Don’t start a company podcast and fail to make your episodes easy to find on your website. I see many companies get this wrong and force the customers or potential audience to hunt for the podcast. Each episode must live on a webpage with show notes and photos. There also should be a special podcast page with a orderly list of previous episodes. Make this easy for people.

Many hosts have easy tools to embed individual episodes on your website. Some even have plugins for various CMS websites like WordPress, and APIs to use for a more custom experience. The first version of my website used a simple embed tool. My second version used an API to seamlessly integrate the listening experience into my website user interface (it was slick). My current version uses a tool called FuseBox.

Because I host on Libsyn, I could use their embed feature but I wanted more functionality so I use FuseBox for its timestamp feature. The timestamping feature allows me to create various “chapters” allowing visitors to jump to highlights throughout the podcast. Below, you can see the Libsyn embed. Check out the full interview with Joe Keohane, to understand how the chapter feature works.

Create a web page for every guest and target SEO.

The most effective way to get traffic to your podcast is through search engines. As discussed earlier, by making sure every single show, guest, or interview has a real web page to live on you can get a lot of organic traffic. Never share Apple Podcast or Spotify links to promote your podcast or get people to listen. Instead promote your page, that has those links on it.

If you interview Tim Cook, for example, make sure the interview goes up on an easily accessible web page devoted to that interview exclusively. It should have it’s own stand-alone page on your website. You can use an SEO tool like Yoast to help it rank for relevant keywords. Some CMS tools have SEO tools built-in.

Obviously, trying to get your web page to pop up for the phrase “Tim Cook” is difficult. But perhaps “Tim Cook leadership advice” or “What is Tim Cook’s background” might be a bit easier to win. By considering the unique content your audience wants, you would be in a better position to target accordingly.

Much of my new podcast traffic comes from people searching various key phrases on search engines. If your guests are sharing information your listeners would find valuable, you should target that! If you correctly write show notes and focus on those potential inquiries, this is an extremely effective promotional strategy that doesn’t cost much.

Final thoughts on how to start a company podcast

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Special thanks to Jay Ly, Brian Jewell, Veronica Rutilant, Kati Hyer, Isaiah Marshall, and Scott Lake for asking some great questions to kick this off.

Thank you for contacting me!