Podcasts have quickly become one of the most popular forms of content to consume, with their portability being the leading factor. They can be listened to while commuting to the office, doing cardio at the gym, or doing tasks around the house.
Entrepreneurs and brands alike have started using podcasts to connect with their audiences. Soon podcasts may become as common as having an Instagram account or a YouTube channel.
Now is the perfect time to start a podcast to further engage with your existing audience as well as attract more attention to your personal brand and business ventures.
There are many reasons to start a podcast — you might want to share information and insight, influence people, promote your business or even create an additional income source. But no matter the reason, use this seven-step process to launch a new podcast at no cost.
1. Establish your category and focus on staying on-brand
You need to pick a podcast category and narrow down a topic. This needs to be something that you have experience in and won't get sick of talking about, as well as something with unlimited content potential. Also, determine whether or not you are going to do a solo podcast or one with a co-host.
You don't want to start a business podcast and then randomly slide in an episode about entertainment gossip. Your audience will disconnect and likely not remain loyal to your show. There are a lot of options, so the more laser-focused you can be topic-wise, the better.
2. Pick an available and brandable podcast name
You'll want to pick a strong name for your podcast that is both brandable and available, meaning there are no other podcasts with the same or similar name. It's also a good idea to pick a name that you can register as a dot-com domain.
If your podcast snowballs, you're going to want a central hub to link out to all of the platforms it can be heard on, as well as include data and contact information that potential advertisers might be looking for.
Some podcasts are a simple name of the host or some feature a more descriptive name related to the topic. You can also get clever and use keywords you want to rank for on iTunes.
3. Write an attention-grabbing podcast description
It's a good idea to write your description specifically for iTunes, as the platform will most likely show up at the top of Google's search results for your show.
You are allowed up to 4,000 characters to describe your podcast, so it's a good idea to write your description in a way that explains what your podcast is about while also targeting the main keywords you want your podcast to rank for.
If you optimize your podcast description correctly, potential listeners will be able to find it organically. This can contribute to quick growth, especially if your podcast is focused on a large industry or broad topic.
4. Create podcast cover art that pops
Even if someone subscribes to your podcast, that doesn't necessarily guarantee they are going to listen. Great cover art can help draw attention to your podcast while potential listeners are surfing through their preferred podcast listening app.
You can hire a designer from Upwork or Fiverr, but if you want to start your podcast for free, Canva is an excellent tool for creating images.
Here are a few things to take into consideration:
Make your podcast cover art 3000 x 3000 pixels. Most platforms require this size.
Avoid a lot of text. When your artwork is reduced to fit small devices text becomes very difficult to read.
Avoid stock images. If you are the main host consider using a picture of yourself, and if you want to capture attention use a shocked or surprised facial expression. Images with the person's mouth open also command more attention.
If you need some inspiration, look at the top podcasts in your particular niche and see what kind of artwork they use. You never want to copy another podcast's cover art, but you can get some ideas by seeing what works.
5. Record your first episode
Now it's time to record your first podcast episode, and there are two simple ways to do this. You can use Audacity, which is a free open source solution, or you can use Anchor, which is a very simple to use podcasting platform that is both feature-packed and free.
Anchor also has an app that you can record from, as well as conduct interviews on, so there aren't any excuses to stop you from recording your first episode.
Don't worry too much about intros, outros, or soundbites — those can come down the line. Instead, focus on interesting topics and the quality of your content. You could have fancy intros and outros, but if the meat of your podcast is low quality, you aren't going to attract nor retain listeners.
6. Edit your podcast
I mentioned Audacity as being good free recording software, but it's also great for editing audio as well. If you record using it, then editing is a seamless process. Even if you use other platforms like Anchor to record, you can still export the recording and edit it using Audacity.
You don't have to spend a lot of time doing this in the beginning. Simply removing background noise and adding a simple intro and outro will provide a better listening experience than just the original raw audio.
There are also a couple of great resources like Pixabay and YouTube's Audio Library that give you access to a wide variety of royalty-free music. This can be incorporated into your intro and outro, and down the line, you can create sponsor plug segments that incorporate music as well.
7. Distribute your podcast
There are many different podcast hosting options available, and Anchor is a great choice because it allows for unlimited storage. It's free, and they'll distribute your podcast with a single click.
The anchor was recently acquired by Spotify, but it will remain a free service and continues to offer distribution to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, as well their feed.
While this distribution covers most of the large podcast platforms, you can still submit your podcast RSS feed to any other networks you want it to be available on.
Bonus: Monetize your podcast
This is something you may want to look at down the line, as a brand new podcast isn't going to have many if any, monetization options. Once you have a consistently large number of listeners, you can create an additional revenue stream by monetizing one of these ways:
Ad Reads: If you use Anchor, you can enable monetization and they will automatically place ads on your podcast. It's a simple way to earn revenue without having to field or negotiate advertising inquiries and rates.
Donor Levels: Patreon is a popular platform to use if you want to ask for donations to support your podcast.
Affiliate Offers: Depending on your niche, there might be some affiliate offers you can promote that pay well.
Services or Products: Many podcast hosts have a product or service they offer that they can introduce to their audience and sell directly.
While monetization is great, focus on creating a quality podcast and building up a loyal group of listeners. A high-quality podcast that grows organically will have plenty of monetization opportunities once your content is solid.