How to build a profitable podcast.
Podcasting has snowballed in recent years, and now more than 380 million people worldwide listen to podcasts monthly.
The sweet part about podcasting is that it has grown so much that there are people who are willing and ready to give you a listening ear.
Who doesn’t want a piece of that pie?
However, starting a podcast can be a journey, tedious for most people, and easy depending on how committed you are.
You might have been considering starting your podcast and feel like it will be an effortless thing to do, right?
Just go out, record some audio, and put it on the internet, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works! Podcasting takes time and effort, and more importantly, it takes an audience!
Regardless of your commitment, you might feel nervous about trying to grow an audience in such a favoured medium.
Well, don’t worry! The good news is that it’s not as hard as you might think to start your podcast with no listeners or following at all.
With the right mindset and some good advice, you can be up and running in no time!
This guide will walk you through the basic knowledge needed and suggestions on how to monetise your show to keep producing it even when you don’t have any listeners.
It may take some time, but with enough dedication, you should be able to attract at least one person before long!
One of my favourite things about podcasting is that anyone can do it.
Many people tell me I have an excellent idea for a podcast... but I have no listeners. Then they walk away in defeat.
If you want to start a podcast, then just create one!
Stop worrying about how to start a podcast with no audience and just do it.
Don’t worry about what other people are doing or how big their podcasts are. You don’t need an existing audience to create a successful podcast.
Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to others; instead, focus on creating something unique and valuable that will attract an audience over time.
The best way to learn how to start a podcast is by doing it! Get started today!
Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right either way.
As Henry Ford said, Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, either way, you're right!
Do your research and take action towards creating your brand (or business). Eventually, these actions will translate into results that become positive results as well.
Knowing your target audience is vital because your podcast should appeal to them. However, keep in mind that podcasts are gaining popularity with different people worldwide.
If there’s any interest, they will make a podcast about it.
So, while niche targeting can work for some podcasters, others may find success by trying something broader. It’s up to you!
The only way to know what works best is to try it. After all, even big networks such as NPR started small and built their audiences.
When starting a podcast, it’s also helpful to remember that you don’t need an audience when you start; you need material. Then the audience will come.
In other words, focus on creating great content first—then worry about promoting yourself later (though doing both at once can help).
Before getting started, take time to decide what kind of podcast makes sense for your situation and goals—that way, you won’t waste any time once things get going.
Choosing a topic you’re passionate about is key to keeping your audience engaged, but it’s also essential to choose a niche where people show interest.
Try looking for podcasting groups and Facebook groups on social media and joining these groups.
Ask them what topics they would be interested in hearing about on a podcast.
Once you have an idea of some potential topics, do some research on those subjects and see if there are any other podcasts already covering those subjects.
If so, try doing something different or going into more depth than others who have covered similar subject matter. You want to make sure your show stands out from everyone else’s.
Remember, though: while choosing a unique topic can help you stand out among your competition, it’s also vital to know how to promote yourself.
That means finding ways to get your name and brand in front of as many eyes as possible—even if they don’t care yet!
It may seem counterintuitive, but getting yourself known early can help build anticipation when listeners hear your content.
You also need to connect with podcasters in your industry: The best way to get started is by making connections with other podcasters.
Reach out to established podcasters in your industry and ask them questions about their shows, how they got started, etc.
These interviews are great because you will learn a lot from them (and they might even mention you!), but their audiences will likely find value in listening.
You also need to be consistent and produce high-quality episodes. Consistency is critical for building an audience.
It doesn’t mean you need to release new episodes every week, but rather that your episodes should be released regularly—ideally once per month at minimum. More on that later.
At first, it may seem obvious to name your podcast after yourself or something related to you (i.e., YourNamePodcast).
It may be a good idea, as people will want to identify with you and click on your show’s name every time they see it pop up in their social media feed.
But don’t stop there—make sure that it also describes what you do so that potential listeners can easily understand what kind of content they can expect from your show.
For example, if I were starting a podcast about fitness tips for busy moms, I might name my show Busy Mom Fitness Tips.
If I were starting a podcast about marketing strategies for entrepreneurs, I might call my show Entrepreneur Marketing Strategies.
The point is to make it easy for people to know exactly what your podcast is about before listening to one episode.
Don’t get too hung up on coming up with a perfect name right away; chances are you won’t use whatever comes to mind when you first think of your podcast.
Instead, take some time to brainstorm and play around with different names until you find one that works well.
You can always change it later.
There are many ways to start a podcast, but you should choose what format works best.
If you’re going to do it regularly, setting up a regular schedule will help build your audience.
If not, drop in with new episodes now and then.
Whatever you decide, give yourself enough time each week to record and edit your podcast—and don’t forget about promotion!
You can find more information on how to promote your show on bCast. Also, check out how to start a podcast guide.
Remember that as a beginner, you may need to start small and work your way up; think of it as an investment in building your brand.
If you’re planning to make a show a regular thing, pick a day of the week and time that will fit your schedule and your target audience.
Try out different days at first, then choose which one works best for you—and them.
It’s worth taking some time to consider it.
Set a schedule: Find something that works for you, whether it’s just once a week or every other day. Then stick with it!
As we earlier said, consistency is vital when building an audience.
Decide on how long each episode will be: This can vary from 10 minutes to over an hour, depending on what you want to do with your podcast.
For most people starting, 30-45 minutes is probably plenty of time per episode—but if you have a lot to say, feel free to go longer!
Create a website and social media accounts: You don’t need anything fancy here.
Think about where you want the show to appear (it could be Spotify, YouTube, or another platform), where you want to share links (your website? Twitter? Facebook?), and any other platforms you might use in conjunction with your podcast (e.g., Instagram).
Make sure all of these are set up before moving forward so that everything looks cohesive once you start sharing.
Based on my experience, it's essential to host your podcast on a third-party service like bCast; you’ll need to pay for hosting and storage.
You can also use bCast to host your podcasts online. It's seamless, easy, and affordable depending on what you want and how much success you want for your show.
bCast is a great choice; they have ridiculously cheap hosting and bandwidth pricing (and a freemium package), but they also give away free tools that make it easy to get started.
For example, their hosting platform makes adding an audio player as simple as uploading an audio file of your recording to the platform.
Just head over to bCast.fm and sign up for an account. Then fill in the necessary information about your podcast and upload your audio file(s) by clicking Upload Your Audio File in the top right corner of your dashboard (you can also upload via drag-and-drop).
Once you’ve got a couple of ideas, it’s time to plan your first episode.
Write out what you want to talk about, who you want to speak with, and all of your research/experts that you plan on interviewing.
Think through how long each segment will be and decide which social media platforms to promote your podcast once it’s live.
Finally, practice and edit (and practice some more) until you feel comfortable moving forward.
It’s important to note that planning is critical here; even if you have a fantastic idea for a podcast, no one will listen if you don’t properly plan it out!
Also, don’t underestimate just how difficult creating an actual episode can be—so much so that most new podcasters don’t get past their second or third episodes.
Hosting a podcast means you’ll need guests; it's an exciting way to gain a new audience.
It’s impossible to get anywhere without having someone on your show first.
So, find a local business that aligns with your content and ask them if they want to be on your show.
They don’t have to say yes, but it never hurts to ask.
The worst they can do is say no.
You may also want to consider asking a friend or family member to be your first guest—but make sure you tell them upfront what they’re getting into.
If you plan on recording multiple episodes, let them know how often you expect to record (weekly? or monthly?) and for how long (10 minutes? or 30 minutes?).
It will help prevent any surprises down the road.
Also, tell them ahead of time what kind of questions you plan on asking during their episode so they can prepare answers in advance.
Most importantly, remember to thank them for being on your show!
Even if it’s just a quick tweet or Instagram post after each episode goes live.
People love recognition and appreciation!
The best place to record your podcast can depend on a number of factors.
Especially if it's a video podcast, a good location can be a factor as to why both old and new audiences will look forward to listening to seeing you again.
First, you’ll want to consider whether or not you will be doing each episode solo or with someone else.
Perhaps recording your podcast at home is fine if it's a solo endeavour.
However, if you decide to bring someone on as a co-host or guest, finding a quiet space that won’t disturb others is ideal.
Additionally, some podcasters choose to use professional studios for their podcasts.
This option may be more expensive but can often provide better sound quality and simplify editing.
If you go with a studio, check out local options in your area first before looking online.
You might even find free spaces available in exchange for promotion on your show.
Once you’ve settled on a location, don’t forget to pick up any necessary equipment—headphones, microphones, etc.—and test them out before starting your first recording session.
This way, you can troubleshoot any issues before they happen. Also, keep in mind that these items will most likely need replacing, so factor that into your budgeting when planning future episodes.
Starting with an excellent intro to your podcast is crucial for your success.
You might think you can do it yourself, but anyone who has listened to more than one podcast knows that many of them have poor audio quality and are very hard to listen to because of poor audio production.
If you’re serious about starting a podcast, take some time and get an intro done professionally, it will help you gain a new audience.
It will be worth every penny.
There are plenty of services, such as Fiverr, that offer professional intros for only $5.
Another option is to go on YouTube and look up podcast intros and find someone offering their services for free.
Just make sure they include a website address so you can reach out to them if needed in the future.
Also, don’t forget to have a professional handle your artwork and create show notes!
Both are critical components of getting found by listeners when searching for podcasts on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.
Remember, people need to know what your podcast is called and what each episode is about before deciding whether to download it.
Before launching, do everything you can to ensure that search engines pick up on your content quickly and that new listeners will easily understand what your podcast is all about.
There are two basic types of podcasting software: those that run on your computers, such as Audacity, GarageBand, and Adobe Spark Post, and those that allow you to publish from within a browser.
It can be easier for beginning podcasters with no target audience or a clear idea of their show’s structure to get started with free browser-based podcasting platforms.
These apps require less technical know-how, limiting what you can do once you start getting serious about your podcast.
Some of our favourites are here if you decide to go down that route. Although we generally recommend starting with a browser-based editing app before investing in extra equipment, we also understand that many people have existing audio recording equipment (such as microphones) or editing programs (such as Final Cut Pro).
For these users, there are still plenty of options—including some paid services—that offer more control over how your podcasts sound.
Before you start recording, you should have a plan.
It’s a good thing that we already know who your podcast will appeal to and how you will reach them.
You also know what type of equipment is necessary, where to host your podcast and what sort of content you want to create.
Having these things planned will make it easier for you once you begin recording your podcast.
If you don’t know what to say, or if you do but aren’t sure how to get started, write down some talking points before hitting record.
When it comes time to speak into your microphone, you can talk about something specific that relates to those points without worrying about coming up with ideas on-the-fly.
It will help keep your podcast focused and professional from its very first episode.
This focus and professionalism will create an interest in a new audience.
Once you feel comfortable doing so, allow yourself to stray from your list of talking points as you become more familiar with podcasting and gain more confidence in your improvisation ability.
But be careful not to stray too far—you don’t want every episode of your podcast sounding different.
When creating your podcast, remember that it is essential to be genuine.
Do not try to fake an accent if you are American because people will notice right away.
Just try to find ways of expressing yourself through words and speech rather than physical action because people love listening to podcasts over driving or exercising, which requires more movement than most forms of entertainment.
The first step to starting a podcast is—surprise, surprise—to talk into a microphone.
Sure, you could have someone else interview you, but that has its hurdles. Instead, set up your phone’s recording app and talk away!
Create an audio file between three and 10 minutes long, depending on how much information you want to cover in your podcast.
Once you’ve recorded your episode, upload it to bCast or another hosting site. If you don’t have any content yet, just say something like I will be back with more content soon!
Then follow up with another episode as soon as possible so people know what they can expect from your podcast.
Include a call-to-action: Now that you have some content under your belt, it’s time to start promoting yourself and growing an audience around your show.
To do so, include a call-to-action at the end of each episode.
For example, if you want people to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or both), tell them what they need to do to find your podcast there—and then give them a link!
Write a live script and record your podcast.
Practice each script until you are comfortable talking to your listeners with confidence.
Editing is essential here, so it’s recommended that you read a little bit about how to edit sound files on your PC or Mac before recording and uploading audio files to be published.
If desired, use software like Audacity, Adobe Audition, or GarageBand to create a professional track with opening and closing music.
One other tip: consistency is key in podcasting!
Once you have a few episodes, keep them coming at regular intervals (once every week or two weeks).
It will help build up your audience over time.
Find social media communities relevant to your podcast’s theme and share your episodes with them.
You may find some listeners in these communities—hopefully, many listeners!
If you don’t find an audience, keep looking until you do.
Some places to look:
As you get more experienced as a podcaster, you can use tools like Audiograph or Acast to host your podcast online and manage it.
It will let you manage multiple podcasts from one place and automatically release new episodes at specified times.
It also makes it easy for people to subscribe and never miss any episodes.
More specialised software is available too, but I’d only consider those if you know that podcasting will be a severe part of your professional life over the long term.
Just because you have a podcast doesn’t mean anyone will ever listen to it.
There’s no such thing as free content on podcasts—someone has to pay for them, and someone has to decide they want to listen.
Getting people to subscribe and listen isn’t easy, but with some promotional strategies, you can grow your audience in no time at all with some promotional strategy.
Try these tips -
Create an email list: One of the best ways to get listeners is by asking them directly.
You can create an email list that lets people sign up for updates about new episodes or other news related to your show.
Not only does having an email list help you build a community around your show, but it also gives you valuable insight into who is listening and what they like about your show.
Email marketing is one of the most effective forms of advertising today, so take advantage!
Do guest spots: Guest appearances are great opportunities to share your expertise with a broader audience and attract new listeners.
Find podcasts related to yours and contact their hosts if you’d be interested in doing a guest spot.
Be sure to send them links to your work to know how relevant you are!
Don’t forget to include social media buttons in your bio so listeners can connect with you there too.
If possible, link back to your website and let people know where else they can find you online.
Keep publishing: The more often you publish, the more likely someone will stumble upon your podcast and become a fan.
Since you’re starting a podcast from scratch, let your listeners know it’s coming.
Consider partnering with another podcaster to cross-promote each other’s podcasts or create a show that combines both of your content strategies into one format.
If you have an email list, share your podcast idea and include links to pre-release episodes on social media.
These tactics allow new audiences to hear about your podcast and get excited when it launches.
Also, consider offering a free giveaway or free course in exchange for people’s emails; you can then use those subscribers as lead magnets for future offers.
And remember: You don’t need hundreds of thousands of downloads to make money from your podcast—even if only 10% of your audience buys something from you, that still represents thousands of dollars in revenue per month!
Simply asking people to subscribe to Apple/Google Podcasts etc., for your podcast is one of the best ways to get started with little to no following.
If you have a decent number of friends and family, you can also ask them to listen and leave a review if they enjoyed it.
If you don’t have many connections, try reaching out to strangers on Twitter or Facebook who might be interested in your topic and ask them if they would be willing to give it a listen.
You never know what kind of audience you may find!
The other benefit of doing this is that even if only a few people subscribe, you will start getting reviews which will help build up your profile over time.
As long as those few subscribers continue listening and leaving reviews, those reviews will show up on Apple/Google Podcasts, etc., bringing more listeners into your feed!
When you’re starting with a podcast, it can be disheartening to find out that your audience isn’t growing as fast as you hoped or that no one is interested in what you have to say.
However, don’t give up!
Don’t start asking yourself if your podcast is worth doing because it is.
Keep going if you’ve got something to say and are passionate about sharing it with others.
The more time and effort you put into your podcast, whether recording episodes regularly or networking and reaching out to new listeners, will pay off in spades. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day—so neither was your audience.
It takes time to build up a following for any endeavour, so stick with it, and eventually, you’ll see results.
Regardless of how large or small your audience is, if you want to start a podcast, there are some things you should know.
If you’re looking for an intro to podcasting, what it takes to start a podcast, and some of my favourite equipment, I hope you found something useful here.
We hope you find this piece helping and a push to start your podcast.
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 ;)
Take care, and we’ll catch up with you again soon!