On Podcasting

Everything I’ve Learned About Podcasting So Far

by Aaron Dowd

This is a book about podcasting. It’s a work in progress (has been since 2013, really). I’ve written over 100,000 words about podcasting, but they’re all spread out in different places. I’m going to try to gather them all here and organize them neatly. Wish me luck.

To learn more about me and why I’m doing this, click here.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Planning & Pre-Production

Why Do You Want to Start a Podcast?

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Podcasting

The Essentials of Starting a Podcasting

Planning Your Show

Part 2: Recording & Production

Recording Gear

Recording and Editing Software/Apps

Creating Episodes

Part 3: Editing & Post-Production

Editing a Podcast Episode

Choosing a Podcast Hosting Platform for Your Show

Part 4: Launching & Promoting

Getting Ready to Launch Your Show

Getting Your Show into Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Other Podcast Apps

Promoting Your Show

Part 5: Next Steps and Other Useful Tips

Making Money with a Podcast

Connect with Me

Part 1: Pre-Production / Planning the Show

Why do you want to start a podcast?

There are many valid reasons to start a podcast.

It’s a great way to develop your speaking and communication skills. It’s a great excuse to have in-depth conversations with other people. It’s a great way to expand your personal and professional network.

If you’re podcasting about a subject you’re passionate and have some expertise in, you can become known as an authority in your field and grow an audience of people who want to learn from you, which leads to more opportunities and work.

There are so many benefits to podcasting, including personal development, new skills, new friendships and connections, and so much more. It’s absolutely worth the time and investment.

However, there’s something I’d like to caution you about.

Growing an audience and making money with a podcast are the most challenging parts of podcasting, so don’t start podcasting if you’re expecting to get rich and famous from it. It’s not an easy shortcut to fame or fortune.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with making money or becoming known for having a great show, it’s just a lot harder than most people think. I see too many people get frustrated and quit too early when they don’t see progress right away.

Podcasting is not an easy way to make money or get famous. So if those are the two main reasons you’re thinking about starting a podcast, I have some questions I’d like you to consider and answer before you invest a bunch of time and money into starting your show.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Podcasting

Don’t skip this step! Consider and write down answers to these questions before you start your podcast.

Success in podcasting relies on defining your goals for podcasting, deciding what value you’re going to create for your listeners, and then showing up consistently to produce and deliver something great. Your goal should be to create someone’s favorite show, a show so good they’ll want to share it with their friends.

Ask yourself:

  1. What goals do I want to achieve, and how will a podcast help me achieve them?
  2. Who am I making this podcast for?
  3. What kind of person am I trying to reach, what are our common interests, and what am I going to give them? What do I want my show to do for them?
  4. How will I know if my show is successful? How do I define success?
  5. What’s the time-frame I’m willing to commit to in order to see the results I want?

Deciding who you’re going to make a podcast for in advance will make it easier to convince the right people to listen to your show.

The Essentials of Starting a Podcasting

Now that you’ve got clear on why you’re starting your show, let’s take a big-picture look at what you’ll need to start a podcast:

  1. A topic or theme for your show (what’s the show about?)
  2. A plan for the structure/format for your first few episodes (intro, main content, outro, other sections)
  3. A show title, a short description of the show, and square cover art
  4. A microphone and recording and editing software so you can record audio and create MP3 files
  5. Podcast hosting (an online hosting service for your audio files and an RSS feed so you can get your show into Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast apps & directories)
  6. A plan for how you’re going to get the attention of your ideal listeners and convince them to listen to your show

It’s easy to spend hours and hours reading tutorials and listening to other people talk about podcasting, but the best way to get better is to just start doing it yourself.

So let’s get started!

Planning Your Show

The Goal: Come up a title, theme, short description, branding/visual style, and format for your show, and choose a time in your schedule to work on it.

The first step is to decide:

  1. What your show is going to be called (the title)
  2. What it’s going to be about (the theme)
  3. What your branding or visual style is going to be (the look of your artwork)
  4. What your episode format will be (Interviews? Fiction / Story telling?)
  5. When you’re going to work on it (In the mornings before work? In the evenings after work? Weekends?)

The Title

Should be memorable and easy to spell. Check Apple Podcasts and social media to make sure the title you want isn’t already taken.

The Theme/Format

Will you do interviews? Chat with a friend about a new topic every week? Tell a story in a narrative style? Do something weird and bizarre? There’s no rules here, so you have freedom to create the kind of show that you want. I’m guessing you have a few ideas based on shows you already listen to and enjoy. Make a show you’d love to listen to, and have fun!

The Branding/Visual Style

Eventually you’ll need to create or hire someone to create cover art for your show. Your podcast cover art needs to be a square image, 3000x3000 pixels, a JPG or PNG file format.

The Schedule

Decide what your recording and publishing schedule will be. Can you produce and publish new episodes every week? Every two weeks? Want to record a season of 12 episodes all at once and then release them?

You’ll want to block off some time on your calendar to work on producing new episodes, but also make sure you give yourself time to promote your show and episodes and invest in your existing listeners.

Podcasting can take a lot of time, so give yourself more time than you expect when you’re just starting out.

Don’t worry about getting it perfect right away!

Don’t worry about getting everything perfect right away. Make a plan and keep making progress. You can always change things later if you decide you really need to!

For more information about planning a show, check out:

Part 2: Recording & Production

Recording Gear

There are ways to make a podcast using only your smartphone, or you could spend thousands of dollars on professional microphones, cameras, and accessories. There are good options for pretty much every budget.

I recommend starting off with gear on the cheaper or affordable side, and then upgrading later if you decide the extra sound quality or utility is worth it to you. You want to avoid spending $2000 on gear only to decide a few months later that podcasting isn’t for you.

Questions to consider:

  • What is your budget?
  • What gear do you need for the format you’ve chosen?
  • How serious are you about podcasting?

I keep a list of my favorite gear at kit.co/podcastingwithaaron. (Those are affiliate links, so I get a small cut of the sale if you buy something using the link on that site).

Recording and Editing Software/Apps

There’s software and apps for recording and editing audio (Garageband, Audacity, Reaper, Logic Pro, Audition), and also software and apps for recording interviews (Squadcast, Zoom, Zencastr, Descript, Cleanfeed, etc).

I prefer the paid software, but there are plenty of people who record and publish using free software.

For best results, you’ll want to get an individual audio track for each person that’s on the podcast. This is why I like and use Squadcast.

You don’t want to start off with one single audio track that has everyone’s voice on it, it makes editing and balancing the volume levels of each voice much harder.

Practice recording to get comfortable with your gear and software before you start trying to record episodes that you plan to publish.

I recommend doing at least couple of test/practice episodes that you don’t plan to publish, just so you can learn how to use your gear and the software without pressure to get everything right. This is especially important if you plan to do interviews.

Creating Episodes

For each episode, you’ll need:

  1. An episode title/theme
  2. A short description of the episode (What is the episode about? Why should someone listen to it?)
  3. An outline for the episode (What are you going to talk about in the episode?)
  4. Episode notes or a script (You can write this before, or after. It can be as short or long as you like.)
  5. Episode artwork (optional, but can be a nice touch.)

At the very least, you’ll need to have a title for the episode, how you’re going to start the episode, what you’re going to talk about, and then how you’re going to end the episode.

Create / gather all this information, and then start recording! Be sure to save your recording when you’re done.

Additional reading:

Part 3: Editing & Post-Production

Editing a Podcast Episode

Editing a podcast episode is definitely a topic that deserves it’s own episode or video, but the goal is to get all the audio files for the episode together, and then cut out anything you don’t want in the episode. Add music, sound effects, whatever else you want.

I definitely encourage creativity with editing, but be aware that many new podcasters I’ve talked to find editing to be the hardest and most time consuming part of podcasting.

If you’re just starting out, you might want to keep it simple. Only edit out really noticeable/terrible mistakes, and try to get the volume levels of the audio tracks roughly the same (this is known as mixing).

Editing and mixing can take years to master or get good at, so be patient with yourself while you learn! Watching YouTube videos of other people editing will help.

Once you’re done editing your episode, export an MP3 audio file. This is what you’ll upload to your podcast hosting platform.

Choosing a Podcast Hosting Platform for Your Show

You don’t actually upload episodes to Apple Podcasts or Spotify or the other podcast apps people use to listen to podcasts. Instead, you’ll sign up for an account on a podcast hosting platform that will provide you with an easy interface for adding information about your show and episode to an RSS feed.

The RSS feed is essentially a text document that is hosted and updated by your podcast hosting platform. It will contain all of the information about your show, as well as links to where your episode audio files are hosted.

You’ll give the URL or link for your show’s RSS feed to Apple, Spotify, and the other podcast apps and directories. That’s how you get your show listed there.

Once those apps/directories have the link to your show’s RSS feed, they’ll get any updates or new episodes you publish in your podcast hosting platform automatically.

Which hosting platform should I use for my podcast?

There’s more than a few options for podcast hosting platforms.

I really like Simplecast, Buzzsprout, Transistor, Captivate, and Fireside.

There’s a popular free option called Anchor, but I don’t recommend using that unless you’re only planning on podcasting for fun or as a hobby.

If you’re serious about podcasting and growing an audience, sign up for and use one of the hosting platforms I recommended. If you’re just having fun or can’t afford to spend money on podcasting at the moment, give Anchor a try.

The podcast hosting platforms also provide you with a website for your show (important) and analytics so you can see things like how many downloads and plays your episodes get, where your listeners are, and which devices they’re listening on.

Remember: You can always move your show to a different hosting platform any time you want.

Part 4: Launching & Promoting

Getting Ready to Launch Your Show

At this point, you should have your show title, show description, and artwork, and at least one episode ready to be published (I’d recommend having 2-3 full episodes ready to publish before you officially launch).

Create a Short Teaser Trailer Episode for Your Show

I also recommend writing and recording a teaser trailer episode. This is where you introduce yourself and the show, talk a little bit about it and who it’s for, why you’re making it, etc.

I recommend making this trailer shorter than 2 minutes (but you can make it longer if you want).

Getting Your Show into Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Other Podcast Apps

Once you’ve added the information about your show into your podcast hosting platform, and added your trailer or first episode, they’ll provide you with the link/URL to your show’s RSS feed.

You’ll submit the URL/link to your show’s RSS feed to Apple Podcasts and Spotify and the other podcast apps.

Some will take a few days to review and approve your show, some will approve and publish it pretty much right away or within a few hours.

There’s a great help article from Simplecast that has links and instructions about how to submit a show’s RSS feed to every major podcast app or directory.

Visit How to Publish Your Podcast on the Popular Podcast Apps.

Publish Your Trailer Episode First, Then Your Full Episodes Later

I recommend publishing your trailer episode first, then submitting your RSS feed to Apple and the other places, then publishing your first few real episodes a week or two later.

This gives you time to make sure your show is everywhere you want it to be before you publish full episodes, and having a trailer out allows you to begin promoting your show and getting people to subscribe to it before you publish the full episodes.

Promoting Your Show

Basically, you gotta get the word out and convince the right people to listen to your show.

At this point, you may want to create social media accounts for your show if you don’t already have some you plan to use.

You don’t have to be on every social media platform: Focus on the ones where your target audience are the most active.

Tell your friends, family, social media followers, etc.

If you know of any magazines or blogs or publications that might be interested in featuring your show, reach out to them as well.

For more information about promoting a new podcast, check out:

There are lots of other articles online about promoting and marketing a podcast, so plan to spend a few hours reading tips. Mostly it comes down to creating something people will want to listen to, and then convincing them to give you a chance.

Part 5: Next Steps and Other Useful Tips

By now you should know just about everything you need to know to get started, but I have a few more tips to share before you go.

  • Keep creating and publishing new episodes. Keep improving.
  • Experiment. Have fun.
  • There are hundreds of helpful articles, tutorials, videos, books, and online courses about everything related to podcasting and growing an audience. Google search is your friend here!
  • If there’s something you’d like to learn more about, put your question in a search box and start reading or watching.
  • Ask questions if you need help or if you get stuck.

Making Money with a Podcast

Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value. ― Arthur Miller

Coming soon.

Connect with Me

I’m going to keep writing and making YouTube videos and podcast episodes about podcasting, and I’m happy to answer questions. Leave them in the comment section on my YouTube videos, or email me at . Visit https://podcastingwithaaron.com for links and more.

I hope this was helpful. Good luck with your show, and happy podcasting!