A Guide to Podcasting in 2021
So it's 2021 you want to start a podcast? There are a few things you should know before kicking things off that could support or sway your decision. Here is a no-nonsense guide for getting off to a great start.
Decide and commit
One of the hardest parts of podcasting isn't getting started but rather the act of staying consistent. You can buy fancy gear and have great topics but if you aren't consistent with publishing, your content will fall upon deaf ears.
Before even considering purchasing equipment or hitting record you need to decide and commit to giving podcasting a true try.
Choose your niche
Your niche is important in podcasting because it defines how listeners discover you. Most podcast listeners identify with a similar interest or form of entertainment when deciding on what podcasts to listen to. Your choice in the niche should reflect your interests. Because you will be podcasting within this category you need to be in love with whatever it is you are talking about. Trying to podcast about topics that don't interest you is never going to end well.
If you can get a listener to subscribe and listen weekly this is the ultimate goal. Having a niche makes this process easier and also lends a hand in discoverability across popular listening apps like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more.
Apple pioneered podcast distribution. With that said they defined what we commonly use today for categorizations. There are primary and secondary categories. Below is a screenshot of each. Which category does your podcast fall under? Note: A secondary category is optional.
Get your recording setup ready
You've decided and committed to podcasting on a niche you truly resonate with. Next up is to prepare to hit record. In 2021, you need virtually no equipment to podcast professionally. Even your smartphone would work if you aren't a stickler for sound quality.
If you want to sound like a professional out of the gate consider acquiring the following:
- A dynamic podcasting microphone (like this, this, or this)
- Noise cancellation (if the room you record in is loud or echo prone). I like hanging these or something similar on walls inside rooms that are echo prone.
- Some form of audio editing sofware. (Apple Garageband - free, Reaper - free, Davinci Resolve - free - great for video too, Descript - free/paid)
- Professional podcast hosting (like PodMob 🎤)
Start small and work your way up. You want to invest in your podcast if it deems worthy. Too many people buy fancy gear from the start and then lose interest in podcasting.
Hit record (as practice)
If you have never recorded yourself before I highly recommend doing a few trial runs before publishing something to the public. After recording a test podcast (even just a few minutes), be sure to listen back so you can get a feel for how you sound or if you're saying "um" and similar words a lot.
Most people aren't used to being recorded. After a while it will become second nature and your voice and composure will sound more relaxed. Practice makes perfect as they always say.
If you hate how you sound that is normal. At the end of the day, you can't change what you sound like so I wouldn't sweat it. What you can evolve is how you speak and communicate. Story-driven approaches tend to resonate more with people as opposed to listing facts and talking more mundanely. This all takes time to perfect so don't sweat the details in the beginning. Simply being aware of what could use some work is all you need to focus on.
If you think of a musician in a similar light it's very similar. A singer might hit a wrong note and realize the next time around they need to tweak something to compensate.
Hit record again
After some practice now comes the time to officially hit record. To publish your first podcast episode I recommend starting with what is known as a trailer. This is a trend that is useful for folks previewing podcasts before subscribing and committing for the long run.
A trailer is your chance to cast your elevator pitch (summary) of what your podcast is, who it's for, and why that audience should care.
Often there are lulls in audio recordings. Maybe a phone rang, a dog barked, a child cried, or you sneezed. These all probably don't need to make the final cut of the podcast episode you publish in public. Doing some after-production editing will sound more professional and provide a way to make each episode more consistent in the long run.
If you are first starting and have some knowledge of how to edit audio be sure to jot down the adjustments you make so you can apply those going forward in future content. Everything from compression, equalization and noise cancellation play a big part in sounding professional. A lot of modern software has nearly one-click solutions for this. It might take some trial and error but it shouldn't be the biggest feat to get something edited and ready for prime time.
If you don't feel comfortable editing your audio and have the extra funds to hire out an editor you could consider that. Tools like Descript make editing quite easy these days as well. While you'd need a premium plan for the software it might just be worthwhile.
Upload your content
After your trailer and possibly the first few episodes have been recorded and edited it's now time to host them. Hosting your podcast can be as simple as uploading it to a file-sharing platform and sharing a link with your friends. This method works but it's quite manual, cumbersome, and doesn't distribute your podcast to the places you'd probably like to see it (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, etc…).
A professional hosting platform (much like PodMob) is designed to make this process easy. Drag and drop your audio, input some data about your episode and upload it all in a few clicks. From there, an RSS feed is typically updated and cast out to your favorite podcast catchers for instant distribution. The host often provides useful metrics designed to give you insight into how many people might be listening to your content and where they reside.
A podcast host (like PodMob) often takes care of the distribution component of podcasting. This can be tedious because there are a large number of platforms you can submit your podcast to. Doing so can sometimes be automatic and other times more manual. The good news is you usually only need to configure your distribution channels one-time thanks to the RSS feed behind the scenes. I'll discuss RSS feeds in another article as to not go down any rabbit holes. Just know that an RSS feed will update as you add episodes. The feed is the source of truth for podcasting and is responsible for delivering content to each platform you distribute to.
Being social is important to spread the word about your podcast. Doing so often leads to referrals and referrals of referrals. Compound that over time and a popular podcast is born!
Most podcasters we talk to leverage social media as their core marketing channel. While this gets a lot of eyes on your podcast content, it doesn't create a loyal following communities often have.
What about building communities around your podcast? Facebook has groups. There is also community software out there like Circle. These are great platforms but aren't necessarily designed to offer a great place for podcasters to connect and network with their listeners.
This very problem is the inspiration behind PodMob. While we host podcasts, we also bring new community features to podcasters and podcast listeners.
Our community features provide:
- commenting directly on episode audio timestamps
- mentioning other users
- podcast feedback tools
- rating systems per episode and podcast
- the ability to ask questions and receive answers
- and a lot more
Instead of leveraging only social media, you can now build a community made specifically for podcasting.
Rinse and repeat
Exhausted yet? Podcasting is no walk in the park. It's no wonder that more popular podcasts have teams behind them doing everything from marketing to editing and post-production. When starting remember to start small and increment over time. Most popular podcasts took years to grow successfully. It's never an overnight success.
I'll leave you with a bullet list summary of this post to reflect on and keep in mind:
- Stay consistent or get out. Seriously.
- Podcast because you enjoy it and the topics you are discussing.
- Share often and create community. Communities are loyal and keep coming back for more.
- If you see success invest in good equipment, hosting, and community software.
- Be real and be yourself. Trying to be someone you are not will be obvious to the end listener.
Tags:podcast hosting, beginner, community, 2021
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I write about my journey as an anonymous entrepreneur, podcasting, business, and more. Get these articles in your inbox when they are published.