It has been a decade since we started this blog, and nearly four years since we started our podcast. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a successful podcast. With more than 50 million downloads and 6,000 listener reviews, The Minimalists Podcast is often the #1 Health podcast on Apple Podcasts in eight countries, and it occasionally charts in the Top 10 of all shows.
Because we receive countless emails about how to start a podcast, we decided to collect all our knowledge in this blog post. We worked with our producer, Podcast Shawn, to create the following step-by-step instructions for how to start a podcast, followed by an in-depth pre-production, production, and post-production analysis for exactly how we record and release our podcast.
How to Start a Podcast in 5 Steps:
- Purchase a quality microphone
- Select the right recording equipment
- Choose an editing program
- Find an inexpensive hosting platform
- Record and upload your first episode
We will expand on all five steps in the following section, including the exact equipment and software we use today, as well as examples of equipment we’ve used in the past.
Start a Podcast: 5 Detailed Steps
Here’s a step-by-step overview of how we started our podcast. This is how to become a podcaster in five simple steps.
Step 1: Purchase a quality microphone
When you think of podcasting, the first thing you probably think of is the microphone. It is the symbol of the broadcast. But what microphone should you use? How important is your microphone selection? What are the best microphones for a new podcast?
Yes, it’s important to have a high-quality microphone. But a good mic isn’t as expensive as you might think. When we started The Minimalists Podcast, we used two different microphones (because there are two of us):
Although both microphones are inexpensive, they’re both powerful. And they certainly don’t sound like “starter” mics. Although we found the Rode Podcaster to be slightly richer, either option will give you studio-quality audio on a minimalist budget. Because both mics are USB (and they arrive with the necessary USB cables), they can plug directly into your computer without the need for additional external recording equipment (we’ll discuss equipment in step 2 below).
After a few years of successful podcast recordings using the Blue Yeti and Rode Podcaster, we upgraded to the industry-standard professional microphone, the Shure SM7B, which you’ll find at thousands of radio stations, recording studios, and podcasts around the world. This is the microphone we still use today.
Step 2: Select the right recording equipment
Once you’ve chosen the microphone that’s most appropriate for your needs, it’s time to determine what equipment you may or may not need to get started.
Because we favor a minimalist podcast set-up, we want to keep it as simple as possible. Here’s a list of the additional equipment we started our podcast with:
- Boom Arm. A boom arm attaches to any desk so you can use your Rode Podcaster or Blue Yeti microphone hands-free, which radically reduces any noise you would get from handling the microphone. Options: Rode Podcaster or Blue Yeti.
- Pop Filter. You want to avoid plosives and other unnecessary wind noise from your vocals, and a good pop filter is the best way to accomplish this. Options: Rode Podcaster or Blue Yeti.
- Sound Panels. There’s nothing more annoying than an echoey podcast. If the room in which you record has a noticeable echo, then you’ll want some sound panels to deaden the reverberation. We started recording our podcast in a small office and used these inexpensive basic foam panels to reduce background echo. You might also consider a soundbox like this. It’s worth noting that carpeted rooms, window drapery, and soft furniture also help further dampen sound.
- Recording Program. This isn’t physical equipment—it’s software—but the least expensive and most effective solution for new podcasters is a free program called GarageBand for Mac, which is what we used to record our podcast for the first few years. If you don’t have an Apple computer, Audacity is the closest free equivalent for PC or Linux.
After a few years of using the basic equipment mentioned above, we upgraded to a dedicated studio space (video) and added the following professional recording equipment:
- Professional Boom Arm. After upgrading to the Shure SM7B microphones, which include a professional pop filter, we started using the RODE PSA 1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm, which works great with those microphones. In time, we upgraded again to the Yellowtec Mikarm and Clamp, which are the highest quality on the market.
- Cloudlifter. With the professional XLR mics we use, it’s important to also use a Cloudlifter to boost the microphone’s audio signal, which provides the richest audio quality for our podcast. You’ll need one Cloudlifter for each microphone (e.g., if you have three mics, you’ll need three Cloudlifters.)
- Recording Device. To achieve the highest-quality recording without the complexities of a giant recording studio, we use a simple Zoom H6 six-track portable recorder in our studio. This piece of equipment is lightweight, which makes it easy to take it on the road to record podcast episodes remotely. The Zoom H6 runs off six AA batteries when you’re traveling, but it’s best to purchase an AC adapter to avoid batteries running out mid-recording.
- Memory Cards. The Zoom H6 requires an SD memory card to store recordings. We’ve used both the SanDisk 128 GB SD card and the PNY 128 GB SD card, and we’ve found both reliable. It’s a good idea to have at least two in the event that one of them fails. We also have a third SD card where we store the raw audio files until the respective podcast episodes are released.
- External Drive. In addition to the storage on the SD memory cards, we also store our files on a WD 4TB external drive. Although you can store a secondary copy of your podcast episode files on your computer, it’s a good idea to store them on an external drive instead in the event your computer fails. And, if possible, keep the SD card with the original files in one location and the external drive with the secondary copies in a separate location for redundancy. We also have a case to protect the external drive and the SD cards.
- Microphone Cables. For each Shure SM7B microphone, we use two LyxPro Balanced XLR cables (one cable from the mic to the Cloudlifter, one from the Cloudlifter to the Zoom H6). The fifteen-foot option works for most people, but be sure to measure and select the length that works best for your room.
- Velcro Wrap. Although the microphone cables typically come with some form of binding to secure them to table legs or posts (and to keep them tidy when storing them), we’ve found the Velcro One-Wrap roll works best.
- Equipment Case. To store our equipment while traveling, we use a top-of-the-line Pelican 1535 Case. We want to protect our equipment so we don’t have to worry about breaking it.
- Professional Sound Paneling. Depending on the room, you might be able to get away with a professional soundbox, or you can use professional sound panels like we use in our studio space (our sound panels are from a company called LA Sound Panels, which are similar to these professional sound panels on Amazon).
- Headphones. Because of their superior sound quality and relative affordability, Podcast Shawn uses the Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones, while Joshua prefers the Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones.
- Video Cameras. Most podcasts are audio-only, but if you plan on recording a video version of your podcast, we use a Canon c100 with this lens. (Note: the first 135 episodes of our podcast were audio-only; we didn’t add a video component until episode 136.)
Step 3: Choose an editing program
Now that you have the right microphone and recording equipment for your needs, you’ll want to edit your podcast using the best editing program. Personally, we still use GarageBand to edit every podcast episode we record on the Zoom H6, but here’s a list of the most popular podcast editing software:
- GarageBand. Price: free. Description: “GarageBand is a fully equipped music creation studio right inside your Mac—with a complete sound library that includes instruments, presets for guitar and voice. With Touch Bar features for MacBook Pro and an intuitive, modern design, it’s easy to learn, play, record, create, and share your hits worldwide. Now you’re ready to make music like a pro.”
- Audacity. Price: free. Description: “Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. The interface is translated into many languages. You can use Audacity to: record live audio; record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine; convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs; edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files; cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together; numerous effects including change the speed or pitch of a recording, and more.”
- Adobe Audition. Price: $20.99/mo. Description: “Meet the industry’s best audio cleanup, restoration, and precision editing tool for video, podcasting, and sound effect design.”
- Final Cut Pro. Price: $299.99. Description: “Final Cut Pro combines revolutionary video editing with powerful media organization and incredible performance to let you create at the speed of thought.”
Step 4: Find an inexpensive hosting platform
Okay, you now have a microphone, the basic equipment, and an editing program, and you’re ready to record and release your podcast to the world. But how do you get your podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and all the other popular podcast apps? Simple: you find an inexpensive place to “host” your podcast.
Personally, we use Libsyn to host our podcast, which is the hosting company we’ve used since our first episode. We pay for the $75 per month “Advanced 1500” plan, but their $20 “Advanced 400” plan works for most podcasts. No matter which plan you choose, Libsyn doesn’t require a contract, and they will give you the first month free with our promo code:
First Month Free: Because The Minimalists are an affiliate partner, Libsyn will give you your first month free if you use our code SIMPLE when you sign up for any of their plans.
Besides getting your podcast onto every podcast app, Libsyn provides advanced statistics so you know exactly how each podcast episode performs. Plus, the Libsyn custom smartphone app for podcasters engages audiences beyond your regular audio or video episodes. With four different kinds of content accepted by the app (audio, video, PDF, and text), you can offer your audience extras, blog posts, transcripts, and more, all in one place.
Sure, you can post your podcast on SoundCloud for free, which is a great option for people who want to have a public podcast without any hosting costs. But if you want your podcast to be available on the most popular apps like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Podcast Addict, Castbox, ScoutFM, and all the others, you’ll need a place like Libsyn to host your podcast.
Step 5: Record and upload your first episode
This is where the fun begins. You have everything you need to get started—microphone, equipment, editing software, and hosting platform—and all you need to do now is release your first podcast episode.
We’re going to spend the rest of this blog post detailing exactly how to record, publish, and promote your podcast, using our own experience and recommendations coupled with real-world examples of other successful podcasts. This advice will be split into three distinct sections:
- Pre-Production. What should you do before you launch your podcast?
- Production. What should you do during your podcast?
- Post-Production. What should you do after you’ve recorded your podcast?
Then, we’ll end this blog post with a series of frequently asked questions. By the time you get to the end, you’ll understand exactly what it takes to start a successful podcast.
What is a podcast?
A podcast is essentially the modern evolution of a radio show, distributed via the Internet. Unlike radio shows, though, podcasts can be distributed without advertisements, without sponsorships, and without permission since a podcast has no gatekeepers: there’s no one stopping you from creating a podcast. Anyone with a small budget and a modicum of tech savvy can launch a podcast.
And now is an ideal time to establish a listenership while podcasts are still in their relative infancy. Although they’ve been around since the early 2000s, the popularity of podcasts has exploded over the past few years (according to Podcast Insights, there are currently more than 750,000 podcasts and 30 million podcast episodes!)—yet fewer than half the population currently listens to podcasts. But that will surely increase over the years, so now’s the perfect time to start!
3 Reasons You Should Start a Podcast
Before investing any time, money, or effort into creating a podcast, you need to determine why you want to do it. You must ensure you have what it takes to create something meaningful, impactful, and engaging.
Your ‘why’ should include:
- Value. Adding value to others’ lives should be your primary goal in any endeavor in life. If you’re good at what you do and people appreciate the value that you add through what you do, you’ll build a loyal, engaged, grateful audience.
- Experience. Podcasting will give you invaluable experience in several areas: writing; speaking; performing; audio recording, editing, and distribution; website development; graphic design; and promotion, just to name a few. And all of these skills and knowledge are directly transferable to countless other professional pursuits—so even if podcasting doesn’t work out for you for some reason, you’ll still reap the benefits of your new skills and knowledge.
- Connection. Podcasting will not only allow you to share your unique perspective with a worldwide audience, but it will also give you the opportunity to share the diverse viewpoints of your contemporaries. In your own small way, you’ll be helping to create a more educated, empathetic global community.
3 Reasons You Should NOT Start a Podcast
Your ‘why’ should NOT include:
- Money. If money is your primary driver for starting a podcast, you’ll likely find yourself horribly disappointed. When we produce creations based on “chasing the dragon” of money, the creations are often hollow, and they fail to resonate deeply with a wide, loyal audience. That said, there’s nothing wrong with earning money from your podcast; we just don’t want the almighty dollar to be the reason we create.
- Fame. Fame, like money, is an incredibly elusive, and often empty, “reward.” You’re more likely to find your creativity, and your pursuits, starved to death if you’re planting seeds in this barren field. Instead, aim to provide value to an audience—a much more noble pursuit.
- Promotion. Creating a podcast simply to promote a product or service will often have the opposite effect: people have an acute radar for detecting inauthenticity, and, once they have, they avoid the offending source like the plague. Focus instead on helping people solve problems and they’ll sing the praises of you and your creations far and wide.
What is your differentiator?
Why should listeners tune into your podcast instead of the plethora of similar podcasts out there? What makes you different? What makes you unique? What makes you more interesting than everyone else?
Education? Expertise? Credentials? Personality? Delivery? A Barry White Voice?
It’s important to get clear on these now so you can capitalize on them—these are your differentiators. They’re what sets you apart from the pack. They’re what attracts an audience. They’re what gives you credibility and confidence. They’re invaluable to your growth as a professional—focus on them and refine them.
What is the best podcast formula?
Let’s talk about modeling for a moment. No, we’re not training anyone to strut the catwalk. Modeling, in this sense, means observing and adopting the behaviors of others to accomplish the same things that they’ve accomplished. If you want to do something successfully, you observe others who are already doing it successfully, and then you do what they do.
So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to listen to some of the best-crafted podcasts. If you want to create a successful podcast, it’s best to listen to, and to study, successful podcasts.
Here’s a brief list of podcasts that we believe have winning formulas (in no particular order):
- The Joe Rogan Experience
- SuperSoul Conversations
- The Tim Ferriss Show
- Here’s the Thing
- Magic Lessons
- 99% Invisible
- Culture Gabfest
- On Being
- Brilliant Idiots
- The RobCast
- The Portal
And dare we shamelessly mention The Minimalists Podcast? We dare.
Certainly, listen to them and enjoy them, but then analyze them with a critical eye and ear to determine what elements set them apart. These are the elements you want to focus on developing in your own podcast, and these trailblazers have already provided some proven templates for you.
- What in the podcast title and the episode titles grabs you?
- What makes the artwork attractive?
- What format do they follow; e.g., introduction, body, conclusion, or something else?
- What nuances, special segments, do they throw into the mix?
- Is it a single host? A host and a co-host? A host, or hosts, with guests?
- Does it have a pleasant pace?
- Does it seem too long, too short, or just right?
What makes a great podcast title?
Titles grab our attention. They tease us about what we will find within.
Think of the titles that have hooked you. What was it about those titles? Their brevity? Their cleverness? Their mystique?
Create a list of titles you’re considering. (If you’re having difficulty coming up with a title for your podcast, you may consider using a site that auto-generates titles, like Wordoid.) Once you have a list of titles, try them out on family, friends, colleagues. Note the titles that garner a positive reaction. Cross out the ones that don’t.
Cull the final list to your favorite five. Which one best captures the spirit of your podcast?
Once you’ve selected a unique, intriguing title, you’ll want to create a logo to really make it pop on your website, in your newsletter, and in your podcast artwork. You can design it yourself using InDesign, Photoshop, or a text editor (Joshua used Apple’s Pages application with some free vector art to create The Minimalists’ logo), or you can hire someone to design it for you from a site like 99designs or Fiverr.
How do I create compelling podcast cover art?
Just like your title, the artwork for your podcast should be attractive, intriguing, simple, and beautiful.
Take a look at the artwork for the most popular podcasts. What makes their artwork stand out? How can you incorporate those elements in your artwork?
Similar to the logo for your title that we discussed above, you can either design it yourself using InDesign, Photoshop, or a text editor, or you can hire someone to design it for you from a site like 99designs or Fiverr.
You can even use a photo of yourself and any co-hosts you may have, an appropriate image you already have, or a high-quality stock photo or image: Paul Jarvis (free), Unsplash (free), Library of Congress (free), iStock (fee-based), Shutterstock (fee-based).
When you create your artwork, you will want to create it in two sizes: one for Libsyn and one for YouTube (we’ll expand on distribution on both a little later).
- Libsyn. For Libsyn, you’ll need an image that is 2000 x 2000. This image will appear as a static image when people play your podcast on their podcast app.
- YouTube. For YouTube, you’ll need an image that is 1280 x 720. This image will appear as a static image on YouTube when you create an MP4 file with your audio in Camtasia (we’ll discuss this in the YouTube section).
Do I need a podcast co-host?
Lennon and McCartney. Simon and Garfunkel. Statler and Waldorf. Millburn and Nicodemus.
Some of the greatest creations of all time have been the result of collaborations.
You’ll certainly find quite a few podcasts out there with single operators, but the vast majority have at least two: a host and a co-host. Or a host that relies heavily on guests (more on that in our Guests section).
There are a few good reasons to run duo rather than solo:
- Variety. Most films, TV shows, plays—and, well, life in general—consist of dialogue. Sure, you’ll get the occasional monologue thrown in to spotlight a specific insight, but a spirited dialogue between characters who each have distinct viewpoints drives the drama that captivates us. Dialogue shows us not only the different viewpoints of different characters, but it also helps clarify and refine those viewpoints further through challenges to those viewpoints. So add variety, and challenge yourself and your audience, by balancing your presence with a co-host, or co-hosts, that don’t look and sound like you, but still share a mutual respect.
- Expertise. Credibility is key, and expertise is paramount in securing and maintaining credibility. Ideally, find a co-host, or co-hosts, with expertise in areas related to the topics you intend on covering. Do your due diligence, of course, to ensure their background is legitimate: nothing will sink a show faster than the revelation that one of the participants has been masquerading as a faux professional. Ensure they have the education, licenses, credentials, experience that they claim.
- Rapport. It’s enjoyable and engaging to listen to people talking who obviously enjoy one another’s company and respect one another, so finding a co-host who you like and respect, who you share key values with, is crucial. Although it can be interesting and engaging to listen to a highly spirited argument occasionally, a plethora of ceaseless arguments will become mentally exhausting for both yourself and your audience.
Should I have guests on my podcast?
Guests are a great way to add variety and credibility to your podcast. We’re confident you’re interesting and engaging on your own, as is your co-host, but guests will augment these elements immeasurably.
Not only do guests bring their expertise and personality with them, they also bring their audience. Bringing a guest on is a great way to communicate your message with an even wider group of people. And then those people, in turn, will pass that message on to even more people. Value begets value.
- Vet. Make sure the guests you’re considering for your podcast have the experience, credentials, licensure, education, reputation they claim. Nothing will sink your credibility faster—or alienate your audience quicker—than a guest who’s a novice parading as an expert.
- Contact. We know you’d love to start out by having A-list celebrities on your podcast, but, unless you’re already rubbing elbows with them or people in their inner circle, you may need to build up a bit of an audience first. So start by reaching out to experts and professionals that you already know within the fields of topics you want to cover. Social media can be a great tool to contact potential guests (try to keep it to private messages, though, where possible: pinging a popular individual for a guest spot in their public feed could lead to something akin to chum in the water—sharks will start circling and scare the potential guest off). LinkedIn can also be a great tool—most experts and professionals have LinkedIn accounts, and you can send them a private message.
- Reputation. It’s not a deal-killer to have a guest on your podcast that is a contentious public figure—in fact, it can increase your audience exponentially, and it can provide a unique opportunity to challenge the assumptions of yourself and your audience—but it’s ill-advised to host guests that are actively alienating the public with inflexible ideologies. You don’t want to give a megaphone to individuals who are possibly, or who are actually, endangering other people.
- 90/10 split. Once the guest is on your podcast, keep the spotlight on them: the guest should be talking 90% to your 10%. Your job is to ask probing questions to guide the conversation and expand on interesting points. If you have a guest on your podcast, the audience members are tuning in to hear the guest’s take on the topic, given their expertise. Joe Rogan on The Joe Rogan Experience does a particularly good job in this aspect—he keeps the focus on the guest (he’s essentially the modern-day Johnny Carson—another excellent example).
- Appreciation. In the course of recording the episode, be sure to mention the guest’s works, website, social media—essentially, any links that the guest feels are best for your audience to connect with them (and include these in the show notes when you post the episode). And don’t forget to not only thank them on-air at the conclusion of the episode, but follow up with a personal thank-you within a week of the recording session (a handwritten note or card will go a long way—it’s a physical representation of genuine appreciation, and people that receive such thanks are sure to let others know). And follow up with them again when the episode airs to provide them all the relevant links to the episode, and take that opportunity to thank them once again.
How do I research topics for my podcast?
Providing statistics and other facts to support your viewpoint in your podcast is a great way to boost credibility and confidence with your audience. Ensure, however, that your research is culled from objective, reliable, respected resources: safe bets are usually academic journals; medical journals; and high-profile, reputable news outlets. Avoid resources that are opinion-based, subjective, and those that are easily manipulated/edited by the public (we’re looking at you, Wikipedia). Be sure to also provide links to your research in your show notes so your audience can verify the information and explore the topics further. The more transparent you are in this process, the more your audience will trust you.
As you’re conducting your research, be certain you know how to properly pronounce any unfamiliar terms (including the guest’s name—it’s best to ask them how they pronounce it!). To ensure you don’t forget these pronunciations in the heat of recording, it’s not a bad idea to include phonetic pronunciations in parentheses next to the actual words in your production notes.
What is the format of my podcast?
Once you’ve decided on a title for your podcast, a logo and artwork for your podcast, a co-host, guests, and you’ve conducted thorough research on some topics for future episodes, it’s time to choose a format and create some show notes as outlines for the production of the episodes. Most podcasts have a format similar to that of a simple essay: introduction, body, and conclusion, so it’s a good idea to start there.
Following is a simple, similar format to use as a foundation. Of course, once you’re familiar with this floor plan, you can certainly renovate the structure wherever it’s appropriate for you.
- Introduce yourself, your co-host, the topic, and the guest
- Overview the discussion (be brief—no one likes long intros)
- Interview the guest
- Answer audience questions
- Thank the guest
- Provide the guest’s links
- Provide your show’s links
- Sign off
Although recording in a studio is not required, you will need to create a similarly suitable space that is relatively quiet and comfortable.
- Table. Especially if you’re hosting a podcast with at least a co-host and the occasional guest, you’ll want a waist-high table with a flat edge. This will give you the option to sit or stand, and the flat edge will allow you to secure the boom arms for the microphones.
- Chairs. Make sure you have comfortable chairs with solid padding and back support; it’s easy to lose your focus when your butt, back, and legs are in pain.
- Climate. Check to ensure everyone is comfortable with the room temperature. You want everyone focused on giving their best performance, not their discomfort due to the temperature.
- Quiet. Lock the door to your recording space and place a sign on it with the text, “Quiet, Please. Recording In Progress.” And remind everyone present in the recording session to place their mobile phones in Airplane mode. (This not only silences the mobile phones, it also cuts off their communication with mobile phone towers, Wi-Fi routers, and Bluetooth devices that would otherwise cause audible interference in the audio feed. If the mobile phones remained on, you’d hear this interference as a periodic tick-tick-tick sound in the audio feed.)
- Sound baffling. Be sure to take every measure possible to reduce echo in the recording location. See our entry above in the Equipment section regarding sound baffling.
Podcast Session Supplies
- Notes. Be sure to bring your production show notes—your outline—to your recording session so you stay on course. It’s tempting to explore every tangent and detour if you don’t have your charted course in front of you. Don’t stifle creativity, of course, but stay on point.
- Water. Stay hydrated. Whenever you stop talking, take a sip; it’s easy to get cottonmouth.
- Pens and Paper. As you’re recording, you may come up with a new question or idea for the discussion, so it’s a good idea to have pens and paper handy. And you may decide on the fly that a particular question or idea listed in your outline isn’t appropriate for the discussion, so you can easily cross it out.
Just as an athlete wouldn’t run a marathon without warming up, it’s also in your best interest to perform some rudimentary warm-ups prior to recording. Not only will a few simple exercises loosen you up, but they will also help relieve stress from pre-show jitters.
Don’t overdo it with these. You’re just trying to loosen up and relax.
- Reach as high as you can in the air for 10-15 seconds, wiggling your fingers, breathing deeply.
- Bending at the waist, reach down as low as you can toward your toes for 10-15 seconds, wiggling your fingers, breathing deeply.
Alternate between these two until you feel loose and comfortable.
With these exercises, you’re just trying to loosen up your articulators (i.e., those bits in your mouth that form words), so, again, easy does it. Repeat each of the following until you can say them both quickly and clearly.
- The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue
- The hard palate, the soft palate, and where the hard and soft palates meet
- Rubber baby buggy bumpers
Between each one, take a few long, deep breaths as well, breathing in through the nose, and then exhaling through the mouth. It’s also a good idea to read through your production show notes aloud to ensure you’re not tripping up on the pronunciation of any words, especially the guest’s name.
Pro tip: Freeing the Natural Voice by Kristin Linklater is a great book on how to fully use your entire body to improve your vocals. It helped me improve my articulation, breathing, and projection immeasurably when I first started out in broadcasting at WYSO.
How to Record and Edit Your Podcast
Thankfully, it’s no longer necessary to spend months in an audio engineering program to learn how to record and edit audio: nearly everything you need to know about audio recording and editing is available on the Internet in video tutorials, user guides, and support groups, free of charge.
- GarageBand. To record your podcast episodes using GarageBand, which is what we used for the first two years of our podcast (we still use GarageBand to edit our podcast today), you can get the basics from a great video tutorial here. This will give you a solid foundation for the process. If you need additional clarification, you’ll find a user guide from Apple here.
- Zoom H6. To record your podcast episodes using the Zoom H6, which is what we use today, you can get the basics from a great video tutorial here. If you need additional clarification, you’ll find a user guide from Zoom here.
- Audacity. We don’t personally use Audacity, but we have friends who recommend it to record and edit their podcasts. To record your podcast episodes using Audacity, you can get the basics from a great video tutorial here. If you need additional clarification, you’ll find a user guide from Audacity here.
Back Up Your Recordings
Redundancy is important. Redundancy is important. (We won’t belabor this point. Wait—yes we will: Redundancy is important!) Once you’re finished recording your podcast episode, be sure to make copies of your audio files on one of your spare SD cards and on your external drive. If possible, keep the spare SD card and the external drive in two separate locations.
Editing Your Podcast
Just like the recording process, nearly everything you need to know about audio editing is available on the Internet in video tutorials, user guides, and support groups, free of charge. See the above How to Record and Edit Your Podcast section for links to the software we use.
Pro tip: Throughout the editing process, stop occasionally and save your files—especially after a particularly time-consuming edit. It’s best to save not only on the computer you’re working on, but also to your external drive, which you should eject and disconnect from the computer after the save is complete. This will protect the back-up file if the computer should fail.
Distributing Your Podcast
Once you’ve edited your first podcast episode, distribution will be how you get it out to the world via the Internet. Here we’ll focus on SoundCloud, Libsyn, and YouTube.
SoundCloud is easiest and least expensive way to publish your podcast. SoundCloud offers a few different monthly plans depending on how many hours of audio you want to upload each month, but the free option will work for most beginners (and includes up to three hours of audio uploads each month). However, if you publish your podcast on SoundCloud alone, it won’t be available on all of the most popular podcast apps. That’s why we distribute our podcast on SoundCloud, but also via Libsyn and YouTube, which we’ll cover below.
Libsyn will get your podcast on the major podcast platforms: Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, among many others.
First Month Free: Because The Minimalists are an affiliate partner, Libsyn will give you your first month free if you use our code SIMPLE when you sign up for any of their plans.
Libsyn offers a few different plans depending on how many megabytes of audio files you want to upload each month. While The Minimalists use the Advanced 1500 plan for $75 per month, the Advanced 400 plan for $20 a month is adequate for most beginning podcasters (it allows you to upload up to 400 MB of audio files each month).
- Starting a new Libsyn account
- Setting up a podcast show in Libsyn
- Publishing a podcast episode in Libsyn
YouTube is yet another great platform for publishing podcasts, especially since your podcast episodes can show up as recommended viewing when people are watching other videos related to the topics of your episodes.
When we first uploaded our podcast episodes to YouTube, we uploaded the audio with just a static image in an MP4 file using the software Camtasia. It wasn’t until much later—episode 136—that we added an actual video component. So you needn’t wait until you have a video version of your podcast to upload your podcast to YouTube.
How to Release and Promote Your Podcast
Once your first episode of your podcast is uploaded, you’ll want to tell the world through your website, email list, and social media accounts.
A website will give you several ways to let your audience know about your podcast: You’ll be able to use it to publish blog posts that coincide with topics you discuss on your podcast, to publish blog posts announcing the release of new podcast episodes that include the episode’s show notes, and to provide your audience with a place where they can sign up for your newsletter to be notified whenever you’ve produced a new creation.
Fortunately, we already have all the step-by-step information ready for you in our guide, How to Start a Successful Blog.
Once you’ve created your website, you’ll want to create an email list so you can send email notices to your audience whenever you release a new podcast episode or other creation. For the most effective email communication with your audience, we recommend using Constant Contact. The rates are reasonable, and they offer user-friendly tools so you can easily tweak your emails.
Pro-tip: Always respect the inbox of your audience members; they get just as annoyed as you do with an overflowing inbox. One of the quickest ways to lose your audience’s trust is to send them junk, spam, or other emails that don’t add value to their daily lives.
Social media is another great way to let audience members know about new podcast episodes, to engage with audience members, and to solicit audience members for future episode topics and questions.
If possible, you’ll want to find identical social media handles related to your title for the Big Three: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Take, for example, The Minimalists: on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you’ll find us “@TheMinimalists” on all three. It’s the same for each platform so it makes it easy for everyone to find us.
If you can’t find the same spelling for each social media platform, you can certainly do a variation of your title. For instance, if “TheMinimalists” was not available on Twitter, we could have gone with “TheMins” or something similar. However, this can cause confusion and make it more difficult for everyone to find you, so you may consider going back and choosing a different title that is available on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
You’ve shared your first podcast episode with the world. And now, after a quick pat on the back, it’s time to get started on the next one!
If you found value in this blog post, please share it with others via email and on social media.
Q: Why do I hear interference in the recording feed?
A: If you’re hearing buzzing in your headphones, it could be attributable to a few different causes.
- Electricity. Check to ensure your microphone cables are not too close to any live electrical cords. If they are, either move the microphone cables away from the electrical cords or unplug the live electrical cords.
- Mobile phones. Make sure everyone present in the studio has their mobile phones set to Airplane mode. Mobile phone communication with local wireless towers will cause interference, even if the phone isn’t currently being used.
- Phantom power. If you’re using the Zoom H6 to record, make sure the phantom power option is turned off unless you’re using a Cloudlifter. Phantom power provides power to devices that lack power for their working internals, such as the Cloudlifter, but it can cause interference otherwise—particularly when you’re recording a feed from a soundboard.
Q: Should I ever accept advertising?
A: It’s unlikely you’ll have any advertising offers until you build a significant listenership, so it’s not a concern to get too worked up over. However, when the time comes, it’s a personal choice to make: if the product or service aligns with your values, then an advertising agreement could make sense. Be aware, though, that many products and services will then have some degree of say regarding the content of your podcast. There are always other options to fund your podcast, like Patreon or other crowdfunding.
Q: How often should I release podcast episodes?
A: Consistency is key. A majority of podcasts typically release one episode a week, but bi-weekly or monthly may also work. Just find the schedule that works best for you and stick with it.
Q: Is it okay to include profanity?
A: Hell, yeah! (Sorry.) If it’s part of your natural delivery and your audience accepts it, then use it. But be aware it may alienate new listeners, it may limit the sharing of your show, and you must use profanity warnings on your show on some platforms (particularly Apple Podcasts).
Q: How can I track the statistics for my podcast to see how it’s doing?
A: There are a few different places you can check. Libsyn has a “Stats” section where you can check your download numbers. Both SoundCloud and YouTube clearly display the number of views on each episode that you publish. And, finally, there is itunescharts.net, which will show you how your podcast stacks up against all the current podcasts. You can see a sample of our podcast’s performance here.
FYI: Some of the above links are affiliate links, which means The Minimalists earn a tiny bit of money, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and buy a piece of recording equipment. But that’s obviously not why we’re recommending these products; we’re recommending them because we use them, they’ve added value to our podcast, and we hope they add value to your podcast, too. (If we earn enough money to buy a cup of coffee along the way, that’s nice, too.)