How to build a profitable podcast.
This is the first post in the three-part series. Part two focuses on how to launch a podcast, and part three focuses on how to grow a podcast.
The podcast industry is snowballing.
But don’t worry, the number of listeners is growing faster than the number of podcasts.
All the BIG tech businesses are investing heavily in the podcast space, bringing bigger and better audio tools, which in turn bring more people to podcasts.
We’re talking billions of dollars being spent on enabling more and more people to flood into podcasts… you just have to be there to mop them up :)
Research has shown that over 103 million Americans have at least one podcast they listen to every month in the US – this number will keep growing. Despite this... there are still over 600 blogs for every podcast in the world ;)
A podcast will grow your brand.
Whether that be you as a person or you for your business. There are many reasons why you should start a podcast.
And fortunately, if you want to know the right steps to make to start a successful podcast, you are in the right place.
In this easy-to-understand step-by-step guide, we will break down everything you need to start your podcast for free from developing a plan to securing the right equipment and software to use.
Bookmark this page and keep referring back to as you move through the process of starting your first (or next!) podcast, and when you launch make sure you ping us a link by email to email@example.com - we will subscribe!
Of course... you need a solid plan before starting a podcast.
Your podcast is a result of your thoughts and actions, and this is why you need a plan. You need to be deliberate about what you create. Your podcast gets its uniqueness from you, as you are the creator and director. Your podcast is a result of what you imagine.
You must have a reason for starting your podcast, and this where the “WHY” and “WHAT” questions come in. The answer to these questions will help you create a podcast that is both unique to you but will also be able to add massive value to anyone that subscribes.
There are various reasons for starting a podcast, and it varies per person. This question can have a lot of answers, but your conviction is the most important factor.
How much do you want to start a podcast?
Because if your answer is not a firm yes, then you may have challenges putting in the consistent effort to make it grow.
Why do you want to start a podcast?
There could be various reasons...
Whatever your reason is, you must be convinced.
This conviction will help you create a lasting relationship with your audience as you continue to execute over time when others fail to be consistent.
If you look at all the most popular podcasts... you will see that they have been running for years and even decades. This is what you must be prepared to do to generate a sizeable audience.
It's now time to choose a theme/topic for your podcast.
This is the BIG one. It's make or break.
You MUST consider:
Here at bCast, we are all about podcast profitability. We're not hobbyists. We know you need to get paid if you're going to do this for the long term and build a podcast worth listening to.
Now monetisation can come from advertising... so you don't necessarily need to have products or services in the niche or topic of your podcast... but you will need an intense passion.
Once you have spent a long time sitting in a dark room thinking about this... you then need to understand the #1 thing that will define the success or failure of your podcast:
How are you different or better for a specific group of people?
As if you are not... and you don't have a load of money to spend on Facebook Ads, it's going to be hard to make your podcast grow. Trust me... we know.
Maybe you only ask specific types of questions; perhaps you focus on a particular niche, perhaps you only interview three people at a time… it can be anything as long as it makes you different or better for a specific group of people.
If you are VERY particular about this… you will more than double your chances of succeeding.
Now that you have answered the WHY and WHAT, it is time to answer the WHO question.
Every podcast needs listeners, and in order for your podcast to grow... you must know exactly who your listeners are and where to find them.
You need to find out:
This is why it's normally a great strategy for you to actually BE YOUR PERFECT LISTENER. This is a shortcut through this stage of the process as if this is the case, you should know the answers to all of those questions ;)
Once this is defined you then need to list out a number of places where these people hang out online:
We will need this list later in the process when we move through the launch and grow stages.
There are a number of strategies to follow here...
Succinct podcast names land better as they convey the message most strongly.
If your podcast is about soccer, let the name convey that; this is important in searches, as your podcast name will pop up in searches related to your industry.
You don’t want a twisted name, as you will mention it time and again on your podcast – it should be smooth to say.
You don’t want the stress of explaining your podcast name every time. Embrace simplicity
The best names of anything normally incorporate rhyme and/or alliteration... be on the look out for these opportunities and incorporate them if they arise.
To make this clearer... here are some great examples along with an explanation for why:
Sales Ops Demystified: We include the core key word AND the value proposition of the show. It's clear and concise and succinctly tells the potential listener why they should listen.
Mobile Growth and Pancakes: Keyword conscious and not boring. This podcast name is exciting, and a listener will want to hear what they have to say. It lays a foundation for what to expect, which is discussing mobile growth in a fun and slightly... different way.
Shine: a Podcast by Star: Simple and short. The host already directs the listener's thought from the first word. It also promotes the host, as a name is attached to the podcast and conveys an aspect of the hosts brand: shining through technology.
Be More - a podcast by Peakon: If you want to be more, you have to listen. Everyone wants to be more, and this podcast name exploits that emotional aspect with this name: it's aspirational. The listener wants to know how they can "be more".
Research has shown that your podcast description is the number one factor that new listeners consider when deciding whether to subscribe. When describing your podcast, you must be able to offer value to the listener quickly. You must tell in precise terms, what they stand to gain by listening to your show.
You also have to consider search engines as you construct e your podcast description. Your show description must be able to rank to stand a chance of getting any free exposure from Google. Include relevant keywords in the industry you cover.
When writing your description, you should consider attention span. You need to grab listeners' attention by putting the juicy points first. You also need to make fair use of the description by avoiding repetition.
Be concise, offer value, and grab attention with the first lines.
The primary way podcast listeners discover podcasts is through searching within podcast listening apps. They navigate through different categories and topics and look for the best shows in that category – this is why you need to place your podcast in the right category. It will increase the chance that your perfect listener will discover your podcast.
You get three chances:
I won't share much more on this as I assume you know the category in which your podcast should reside!
There are different formats for podcasts. The good thing is, you have creative control over the structure of your podcast. In most cases, the format you choose depends on the message you are trying to convey to your audience.
There are different types of formats:
That said, there is room for more than one format on your podcast. You could adopt different forms for different episodes, depending on the message you are trying to pass.
So why not start out with one... test, gather feedback and then iterate over time.
The timing of episodes varies per podcast. The length required to pass your message effectively, while still having the attention of the listener, will depend on your message. However, there are studies of the average podcast episode length that can serve as a guide...
Research has shown that the average length of podcast episode is slightly over 34 minutes. However, duration does varies per industry...
You could edit the irrelevant parts from the full podcast length, to keep the message on track. The listener’s attention span is essential, as well as the quality of your message.
The frequency of publishing your show depends on your content. Posting frequency doesn’t have a standard timing you have to follow. It depends on your audience and your podcast length. The topic you speak on is also an essential factor in deciding this.
Your podcast might be one that requires you to put out new episodes daily. It could also be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. For example, a football podcast could quickly get new episodes every day. Not all topics present daily content for you to discuss.
You need to stay in the mind of your audience, without bombarding them. You want listeners' attention, but you don’t want to overfeed, to ensure they don't get bored or tired of your message.
In all you do, maintain the right level of consistency. The frequency with which you publish is what your audience will get used to. The listeners key into the frequency and plan accordingly on how to listen. Once you fail to post on your usual schedule, you increase the risk of losing your audience.
It's 100% more important to remain consistent instead of publishing more frequently... and this if more for you than for your listeners. You need to build up the habit of publishing and the more you form that habit, the more consistent you will become ;)
ALL the big podcasts are BIG because they managed to keep publishing for years (and in some examples... decades). Benefits always accrue to the long term.
Before you pick a publishing frequency – make sure you can stay on schedule.
Like the podcast name, the title of the episode should be known beforehand. It will help if you put in a lot of thought to it as it is essential for your podcast discovery.
You don’t want a complicated name that doesn’t clearly describe what the episode is about. You also want to make it quickly come up in searches.
You don’t want to make it longer than it should be, but it must also be descriptive enough. Like the podcast name, you should avoid names that are hard to explain.
The name of an episode can either increase the value in the eyes of the listener or devalue it. It would be best if you also used keywords that the listener will easily understand.
Make sure that you start with the most relevant words when naming an episode. Some listening apps cut off long names, so you need the most suitable words to come first. We must warn you to avoid keyword stuffing too, as it is unattractive to listeners.
The next step after planning... is to set up equipment for your podcast. You need to have good knowledge of the equipment you need to purchase and how to set it up. There is no particular way to set up your podcast, as it depends on what works for you. The goal is to get the best sound possible out there for your audience.
Let's do this...
The good thing about starting a podcast is that it can be done on a budget. There is affordable podcast gear that will give you great sound for very low prices...
While it is possible to record a podcast with your phone, it is advisable to invest in a microphone, good headphones, and a pop filter. This is the lowest cost, highest impact investment.
To ensure this, you will need the following:
After recording your podcast, you need software to edit and adjust the sound to the best possible quality. There are many options available on mobile that you can use, but we don’t advise you to use them – this is because your phone screen is small and this will affect your ability to edit.
Here are some we recommend for you to try:
This editing software is free and is an open-source editor. The perk of an open-source editor is the freedom to apply changes to the original code without stress. It allows you to customize the user experience and adjust to your satisfaction if you are advanced... if not the main benefit is that it's 100% free ;)
Not as affordable as Audacity, but comes with a host of features. Professionals use it for editing podcasts and radio. There is also a trial version that you can try for 30 days.
This editing software can be found on Apple computers. It is also easy to download, as it is free. However, it is only available on iOS and macOS. Android and Windows users cannot download GarageBand.
It is vital to have a dependable hosting platform for your podcast. A good hosting platform is crucial for audience growth, and it also makes it easy to manage podcast files.
Podcast hosting involves a platform that serves as a store for podcast files. Because podcast files are large, it is best to store and deliver them via a podcast hosting platform rather than a website. Podcast hosting platforms have specialised tools created to handle the media files with ease.
It also puts you in a community where you can easily connect with fellow podcasters with more experience – this will be great for you in the long run.
Having said all that, there are several podcast hosting platforms that you can use. However, they have their advantages and disadvantages. You need a podcast hosting platform that is easy-to-use and has great tools. They also need to offer good support and be flexible enough.
Now of course… We recommend bCast, we do all the necessary things you need but then also a load of extra things to help you get a return on your investment in a podcast. bCast offers everything you can find here, but if you already have another host... then that is fine with us ;)
For a solo podcast that involves only the host, you do not have to worry about remote recording. However, podcast formats that involve interviewing guests or having a co-host might need you to do remote recording; this is because sometimes you might be in a different location to your guest or co-host.
Do not fret; there is a way to record remotely without encountering issues or the risk of disappointing your listeners. There is recording software that is made to help in this situation, and they don’t cost an arm. Some of them are even free to use.
Here are some you can use:
Squadcast – This software is straightforward to use for remote podcast recordings. It is easy to set up, and you can be assured of the best audio quality. Squadcast offers lossless audio recordings, and there are different tracks for all speakers, which means you don’t risk audio overlapping. The separate tracks help the elimination of background noise in post-production. There is also the option of video conferencing.
Zoom – Zoom has grown in popularity among podcasters in recent times. It offers an audio quality that is more than average, and it is easy to use. It also allows you to have each speaker on separate tracks as it doesn’t have lossless audio.
Zencastr – It also allows you to record each speaker on spate tracks, while it has excellent quality recordings. You can drop the files into Google Drive and Dropbox automatically. It is web-based, and it runs within your browser.
Now that you have developed a plan and you have all the necessary things you need for your podcast, you are ready to record your podcast. Recording your podcast requires you to follow specific steps for your ease.
These steps are easy to do, but if you fail to do them, you might lose your way. However, you are permitted to make mistakes, as even the best podcasters made mistakes at the start.
You are likely to ramble in your first recording as a new podcaster. For you to eliminate this, you need to write a script for your show. It takes practice and preparation for you to talk smoothly on your podcast. You do not have to write every word you want to say all the way; you need a script to guide you through the show.
You should write a list of significant points you want to talk about, indicating pauses and where you need to switch tone. You also need to practice this script thoroughly before you start recording. You might not get it right the first time, but with good practice, you will become great at it.
If you are co-hosting, you should share the script with your co-host; this will help chemistry and guide your conversation.
Having the right place to record is essential for your podcast. Not every room in your house is suitable for recording your podcast. You should set up your home studio in a way that will enhance your audio quality.
You need to avoid rooms that are prone to noise, such as your bathroom, which will help your sound. It would help if you also tried to fill up the space to prevent reverberation. You also need to avoid being close to windows, as anyone might make noises near them.
The right space for recording will do your podcast a lot of good before editing. If you don’t record in the right place, there is only so much editing will do. Ample space for recording, with excellent sound production, combined with great editing, will give you the best audio quality.
Firstly, properly connect your microphone to your recording device or computer. If you want to avoid technicalities, it is best to purchase a USB microphone.
USB microphone: Plug the USB microphone directly into your computer through a USB port. Next is to open your editing software to confirm if it has discovered your microphone.
XLR microphone setup: Connect the microphone and the pre-amp via the XLR cable. Then, you connect the pre-amp to your computer via a USB cord. The next step is to open your editing software to make sure it discovers the microphone.
Follow microphone techniques: You want to avoid the "cringy" sound that occurs when you hit a microphone. These sounds happen due to you not know how to use your microphone. Sometimes you can get harsh sounds from your recordings, and this is because you are too close to the mic. You should set up your mic in an angular position to your mouth – this will help you avoid direct air from your mouth getting picked up.
You should try recording in different positions, so you will get the best one before you record your podcast episodes.
For new podcasters, this is often the most challenging part. The technicalities involved will require enough practice for you to get used to. It is likely the first time you will ever use the editing software, and you will need a helping hand to get it right.
We are here to do that for you...
If you get your Intro right, you are likely to get the attention of your listener. Although it is necessary, it is not compulsory.
Here is a script you can use:
The key here is to be VERY clear about why someone should subscribe to your podcast and check out your business. You only have one chance at this to be sure to make it compelling!
This document will also show you how to record this intro with the free recording software: Setting Up & Recording With Audacity.
The #1 way to get your listener emotionally ready for your show… is with your music.
Will your show energize, calm or excite your listeners? Choose the right music to do this…
The best place to find perfect and affordable royalty-free music is Artlist.
Because your listener needs to feel good about your podcast from the start, good music could do the trick for you. There is royalty-free music you can get to use as intro music. However, with royalty music, you might find it on another podcast. If you want uniqueness for your music intro, some platforms offer that at a cheap rate.
Now, to editing. Editing turns the raw file into a finished product. You cut out the mistakes, add the intros, and remove the background noise.
Here are some tips that will help you while editing your podcast
Know the correct settings when exporting the audio file. Failure to do this will make your editing effort go to waste. Know the accurate volume and speaker settings before exporting.
The artwork is the first thing a listener will see when they discover your podcast; this is why you must make a great first impression with good artwork.
Your listeners should immediately think of your show when they see your artwork.
Find a good designer - LOL
Yep, this is the big tip here... Here are some guidelines to give to your designer:
Here are some effective podcast artwork examples:
First we have Mobile Growth & Pancakes... we have taken the brand identity of the business running the show, incorporated the name in a very striking style and then also the logo of the brand:
Again, we take the brand identity of the host business, incorporating the logo and brand colours:
If you are running on a budget or can't find a good designer then here are three tools you can use to creat this yourself, though we don't recommend it ;)
Podcast show notes are the written works attached to each episode that describe everything said on the show in an in-depth manner. They include links to all types of information and critical points mentioned on the show.
Here are things to include in your podcast show notes:
These should be added into the blog post created for each episode and also inserted into the show notes field for that episode, so they appear in podcast directories.
Now that you have everything prepped for your new podcast, it’s time to start warming up groups if your target customers…
And one of the BEST ways to do this is to have them vote on your podcast artwork options. As you get this design, be sure to ask your designer for some different options, 99designs is suitable for this.
When you have three to five options, then you simply go to communities online that have your ideal listeners… and then post your artwork in there and ask for people to vote.
Here is the copy for that post that you can copy and paste:
You can also use the same strategy for the name:
And then you can also use the same approach, but to find your early guests:
Do you see what’s happening here?
You are asking people for their opinion (everyone wants to give their idea), getting engagement… and therefore a shed load of eyeballs for your new podcast.
Be sure to record the social profile links to everyone that engages so you can send them a direct message when you launch, more on that in the next post ;)
And there we go team...
Your complete guide on how to start a podcast.
All that is left... is for you to execute on the strategy.
If you have any questions about this process, feel free to reach out to our resident podcast experts: firstname.lastname@example.org... we would be more than happy to advise ;)
In subsequent posts in this series, we share how to launch and then how to grow a podcast...
Thanks for reading and of course... happy bCasting!