Question: What is the best source of information for someone who has never made a podcast? A step-by-step process would be great.



Podcasts are a fast-growing communication medium and can be a great way for authors to connect with readers, build their platform, and increase their book’s discoverability. According to Statista, there were over 82 million podcast listeners in the US in 2021, and "This number is estimated to rise even further, reaching over 100 million listeners in 2024.”

A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio files that consumers can stream and listen to on demand. The content is typically focused around a specific topic or theme based on the creator’s personal interests or professional expertise. Popular podcast genres include news, true crime, and comedy.

Creating your own podcast does require some skill, special equipment/software, and thoughtful content planning. Here are 5 steps for getting started:

1. Know Your “Why” and “Who”

Just like when you write a book, it’s important to understand why you’re compelled to share and who you hope to reach with your podcast message. The answers to these questions might be straightforward if you plan to expand on the topics or themes related to your written work. If your target audience for your podcast aligns with the target audience for any work you’ve already published, you probably know what kind of content will appeal to them and how you can reach them to spread awareness for your podcast.

If going after a different target audience with something new, you will need to do some homework to understand this audience. What kind of podcast content does this audience currently consume and how can you connect with them? Knowing these details can greatly inform your content, distribution, and marketing strategies.

Listen to comparable podcasts before creating your own.2. Listen to Comparable Podcasts

When starting a new podcast, it’s important to bring a unique voice to the market. It’s also beneficial to know what attracts listeners, especially in your genre. If you’re not already a podcast listener, you should start following a few that cover themes similar to yours or that use a format that you’d like to emulate. Take note of what you like about these podcasts and how they can be improved.

Podcast listeners have come to expect a certain quality, structure, and entertainment level with the content they are accessing. For your podcast to attract listeners, you will need to meet these expectations and consistently create quality content that keeps them coming back.

According to Statista: “In October 2020, it was found that the most popular podcast genre in the United States was comedy, with 22 percent of respondents to a survey stating that they were very interested in podcasts designed to make them laugh. News podcasts and those based on true crime were also popular choices, as well as sport and health and fitness.”

3. Get the Right Equipment and Software

Your laptop or desktop computer might already include equipment and software that can help you get started. At a minimum, you need a quality microphone, software to record audio, and software to edit your recordings.

If you’re starting your podcast on a tight budget, you can purchase an inexpensive USB microphone that plugs directly into your computer. It may not provide top-notch audio quality, but is an acceptable option for beginners. Most computers come with a preinstalled, basic program to record audio. MacOS, for example, comes with QuickTime Player, while Microsoft Windows comes with Voice Recorder. These can be good options for getting started, but offer limited editing and exporting features.

Your computer may include podcast recording software, but you'll likely need third-party software for editing.That’s where third party software options come in. These range from FREE to requiring a small investment for upgrades. Here are three of the more popular options for recording and editing digital audio files:

•  Audacity: FREE – the most popular and widely used, works with most operating systems and is good for beginners. 
•  GarageBand: FREE – comes preinstalled with MacOS or can be downloaded, offers good features for recording and editing on an Apple device. 
•  Adobe Audition: FREE 7-day trial, then $21 per month – works with MacOS or Microsoft Windows, offers advanced recording and editing features.

Adding guest speakers or interviewees to your episodes can make the audio recording more complicated, but you can start by using platforms like Zoom to record an interview.

4. Plan Your Format and Content Strategy

Podcasts allow you to connect with your audience in long-form, and are a convenient way for listeners to consume content. People can listen to podcasts while driving, exercising, or doing household chores. The key to creating good podcast content is to make it authentic, engaging, and entertaining. Revisit your “why” answer in step one – this will help you determine what type of content you should focus on.

How much you script your podcast episodes will depend on if you want everything to follow a fluid plan, or if you would prefer moments of playful improvisation. Think about what will work best for the type of content you are producing. Popular formats for podcasts include talk shows, interviews, lectures, advice, and scripted narrative.

In addition to the actual content, you will need to consider these elements:

•  Title – something catchy that matches the theme. Try to include some keywords that listeners will search for when looking for content like yours.
•  Logo – podcast distributors like iTunes will require this. The logo should include your title and match the theme and tone.
•  Length – each episode of a podcast is typically around 30 to 60 minutes long.
•  Frequency – will you release weekly, monthly, or seasonally? It’s good to have at least a few episodes available when you start distributing.
•  Structure – the typical podcast format includes a theme song, introduction, main content, outro, and theme song repeated.

5. Distribute and Promote Your New Podcast

Before you can make your podcast recordings available to listeners, you need to upload your edited recordings to a host. You can't upload directly to distribution channels like iTunes – they curate their content from hosts. Podcast hosting platforms specialize in storing and delivering large media files, and typically offer free basic plans or upgraded plans for a small, monthly fee. The most popular podcast hosts include Buzzsprout, Podbean, Blubrry, and Libsyn, but you can also host from your own website if you are tech-savvy.

To make your podcast available to consumers, you have to distribute through streaming apps like iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. Some podcast hosts will help make your podcast available to these service providers, but others will require separate set up on your part. Consumers can then stream your content for free or for a small subscription fee, depending on the app.

To promote your podcast, try to get booked to speak on similar podcasts.Once you are up and running, there are two essential places to promote your podcast: your website and social media platforms. Here are other ideas for creating awareness for your podcast:

•  Talk about it in your email newsletter.
•  Do teaser snippets of content on your YouTube channel or in your blog, and point to your podcast for the full episodes.
•  Try to get booked for an interview on popular podcasts in your genre.
•  Purchase ad space on other podcasts or on distribution platforms.

A podcast can be an extremely effective tool for expanding your author platform and reach. Listeners are always eager for new content, providing an amazing opportunity for creators to bring their message to audiences worldwide.

Photo Credits:
mixetto via Getty Images
Pichsakul Promrungsee via Getty Images