So, you want to start a podcast … your friends think you’re crazy and, truth be told, you are a little. Guess what? It’s always a little crazy to chase your dreams, to make that decision that life’s too short and to put your voice out there. So, if it helps, I’m proud of you!
But, what now?
There is countless information out there about how to get started. I, myself, spent hours browsing Google, looking for that one magical article that was going to tell me everything I needed to know. And honestly, I don’t think that “unicorn” article exists. The reason I say this, is because everyone is different, and every podcast is different. Keeping that in mind … here is at least a starting point for how to get any type of podcast started on a budget.
Theme & Why Are You Podcasting
With any project comes planning, and a podcast is no different. Between episodes ideas, editing ideas, and sponsorship, etc. … you will need to be planning throughout the entirety of your podcast. Where do you start? Well, that’s actually the easy part. Why do you want to podcast? Are you an expert on a subject and want to create an informative podcast for learning purposes? How about a movie buff with a love of writing reviews? Maybe you’re a parent that needs an outlet to talk about life unfiltered? Whatever your passion is, you’ll need to pick a centralized theme for your podcast. Even Seinfeld had the “The show about nothing” tag. Not only does having a firm foundation for your podcast help in future planning, it also helps others search for and find your work.
Naming anything can be totally nerve wracking. Because of the vast amounts of content out there, finding a unique and catchy name can be difficult. This can be a problem when wanting to find a website and/or social media accounts. When I started my podcast, I literally went with the first thing that came to mind. I was lucky enough to get almost all the social media platforms with the podcast name, but did run into some problems. My co-host and I, however, later found out that another similar themed podcast, in our area, had a very close name as well (there was even some playful rivalry in a couple episodes). That approach worked for me. My podcast is a hobby/creative outlet. Other ideas would include coming up with a few ideas and holding a focus group with your friends or colleagues, practicing recording an episode and getting feedback/ideas, and it also helps to remember that names can always change. You are not stuck with your initial idea. So, don’t stress too much.
Do you have a dedicated space for podcasting? Remember that most good quality microphones are going to pick up noises that you might not even notice. My first recording of my podcast was in a dining room. My co-host’s house was quiet, so we thought we were in the clear. But, when we played it back we could hear the hum of the refrigerator. Luckily, some of this can be edited out. So again, don’t stress. One of my favorite tweets, when I was just getting started, talked about how he had recorded the opening for his podcast while in a closet, with a blanket over his head for soundproofing. Now, I record in a basement level bedroom and use my recording software to edit out any white noise. If you are wanting something more professional, there are many great articles out there about soundproofing a studio space.
Recording and Editing Software
- This is when it starts to feel a little more real. Because I was starting my podcast by the seat of my pants, I ended up going with Audacity to record and edit with. It’s a wonderful beginner software and free open source audio editor. There are still buttons that I don’t know how to use and I’ve been using it for about 3 months. But, that’s not because it’s difficult to figure out. It came with an online user manual with a prompt when you open the program asking if you need it. I just haven’t really needed to use any of the other options and that’s what I love so much about it. I can basically hit record and after some minor editing in the same program, I’ve got a completed episode.
- For the more professional setup, Adobe Audition is wonderful. Although I do not have personal experience with it, I have friends in the audio recording industry that swear by it. If you are already an Adobe user this would be a perfect one to try since it’s a part of the Adobe Creative Cloud plan. Adobe Audition is a full-featured digital audio workstation, meaning you’ve got it all. With all Adobe products, there is definitely a learning curve, but you’ve got Adobe’s vast library of how-to’s at the ready. And, truth be told, that can also be said about any new software.
- This is why the first question is important. Why are you podcasting? The answer to that question will help you to pick out what software is best for you. Many offer a free trial, and the only risk there is falling too much in love with it and needing to eventually pay. Which is one of the reasons I chose not to try Pro Tools by Avid. This is a monthly subscription full service audio software. Anyone that has worked in the audio industry, whether it be a podcast, movie, or even gaming, has heard of Pro Tools. That alone makes it worth learning if you’ve got the time and resources.
Just be sure to do your research into potential software to find the one that best fits into your budget and your project.
Pretty much any PC or MAC is going to be just fine for recording and editing your podcast. You’ll need some good speakers or, even better, some great headphones. All of these items are based on your personal preference. My laptop is probably 6 years old, the speakers I use are just ancient, and my co-host and I aren’t at the stage of wearing headphones while recording quite yet. The nice part about using headphones while recording is you can actually hear how your voice sounds without having to record, playback, and then edit, which can be very tedious. Regardless, you are sure to figure out a setup that works for you, but wait, you still need a microphone.
I ended up going with a $30 microphone I found on Amazon that had great reviews. It made sense for me at the time because I had no idea what my podcast would turn into. And now, after having guests resulting in 4 people sharing one microphone, I have been on the hunt again. This led me to a wonderful article, on the Shure website, that gave easy-to-understand bullet points on what to look for in a microphone. It also points out the importance of sound quality for your podcast. Your podcast is your product, and your voice is your salesperson.
And of course, I am only just touching on these points because this is just the beginning of your awesome journey and sometimes it helps to just take baby steps. Once you’ve got your basic equipment gathered, you can sit down and record.
Time To Share It With The Masses
- Your next step is to figure out where you want to post your podcast. A very easy first choice, in my opinion, would be SoundCloud. It’s well known, it’s easy enough to access, and you get detailed stats with a membership to Pro. This data is more than useful when it comes to knowing your audience and marketing your podcast.
- There are a ton of podcasting hosting sites to choose from, though. So, this is another area where research will come in handy. Some will go the free trial route, where you can upload a certain amount of hours for free before having to then purchase a membership. Some of these hosting sites can get expensive, but for the most part, with anything, you get what you pay for.
- Sites like BlogTalkRadio and Spreaker, cost upwards of around $250 dollars per month, while most others range between $0 – $80. So, starting off small is okay here. It again, depends on what your podcast dreams are. With building up your brand, comes sponsors and affiliates, and then upgrading is easier.
- Once you’ve picked your site and finished any last minute editing, hit that upload button. It might be a little scary at first, but remember that no one is perfect when they’re just starting out. I assure you … it gets easier as you go.
I could go on for hours about the next fun steps of marketing yourself and building a platform for your brand, but that is best saved for another article. For now, get your setup, give it a few test runs, and then take it for a spin. You never know what you’ve got if you don’t start.
You can follow Jessica on her podcast, Not So Minnesota Nice Podcast, where she co-hosts!
Featured image credit: Adobe Stock