Want to launch your own podcast (or a podcast for your company) but don’t know where to start? I’ve got you – starting a podcast is simpler than it seems.
I was an avid podcast listener for years before deciding to start my own show in 2018. I took my podcast from idea to launch in 10 days with no audio experience — and if I can do it, you can too. In fact, starting a podcast is easier than ever as the medium has increased in popularity and profitability.
Podcasting is a fast-growing medium with 62% of people aged 12 and over listening. Having a podcast is a great way to get in front of your audience to build connections, and grow your business.
Here’s the ultimate checklist to help you start a successful podcast.
1. Determine your niche.
First, you’ll want to decide which genre your podcast falls under. This is important so platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify can properly categorize your podcast, and it helps those who are interested in the topics you’re covering find your show.
According to Edison Research, the top 10 podcast genres with the most weekly listeners in 2022 are:
- Society & Culture
- True Crime
- TV & Film
- Religion & Spirituality
Determine which genre best describes the podcast you’d like to create or the industry you’re in, and keep this topic in mind as you plan out your content and prepare for launch.
2. Identify your ideal listener.
Now that you know what your podcast is going to be about, you’ll want to identify who your ideal listener is. Much like creating a buyer persona, take time to get clear on who you want to reach with your show.
Here are some characteristics to consider when identifying your ideal listener:
- Education Level
- Geographic Location
As you craft your ideal listener persona consider the following questions: What is this listener interested in? If you were having a conversation with this listener, what questions would they ask? What other podcasts is this person listening to, and what does that tell you about what they want to hear? How often do they listen to podcasts? Where do they learn about new podcasts?
The answers to these questions can help you create content your potential audience is looking for. You may want to survey a small group of people to get their feedback on your podcast idea and to learn more about their media consumption habits.
3. Name your podcast and determine the launch date.
At this point, you know what your podcast is about and you’ve identified your ideal listener – now it’s time to choose a name. Whether your podcast name is related to your business or is something entirely new, perform an extensive search to make sure the name you want is available and is not associated with any other podcasts, brands, or registered trademarks.
This would also be a great time to determine your launch date. Aim to give yourself plenty of time to launch, factoring in the time it takes to get approved by podcasting platforms (more on this below).
4. Decide which format and publishing schedule you’d like to follow.
Next, you’ll want to determine the format you’ll follow for your podcast. Will it be an interview podcast? A scripted show? Documentary-style? Or will the host(s) be speaking on their own?
At this point, you should consider the publishing cadence you’d like to follow. The most common podcast publishing schedules are weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly. When it comes to podcasting, consistency is more important than frequency, so aim to choose a schedule you’ll be able to maintain.
5. Select a podcast hosting service.
Now it’s time to get this show off the ground! To create a podcast you’ll need to sign up for a podcast hosting service. This is an online service that stores your audio files in an RSS feeds and distributes the audio to platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
If you know you’ll want to eventually monetize your podcast with advertisements, consider using a platform that offers monetization options.
6. Create podcast artwork.
Your podcast artwork gives listeners a first impression of your show before they press play, so you want it to be good. You can outsource the creation of your artwork to a graphic designer or you can use a tool such as Canva to create your own.
Go through your podcast directory of choice to check out what elements the top-rated shows in your niche have to inspire your artwork, and make sure it’s true to your brand.
When creating your artwork, make sure it:
- Is a clear image that doesn’t appear blurry
- Doesn’t contain any copyrighted images or logos of non-affiliated companies
- Is easy to read in smaller sizes
- Is consistent with your branding
It’s also imperative that your podcast artwork is the correct size. Apple suggests using a 3000x3000 pixel image. Incorrect sizing can impact your podcast’s ability to publish and display in directories correctly, so you’ll want to make sure your artwork is the right size.
When your artwork is complete, you’ll upload it to your podcast hosting service to ensure it shows up correctly across platforms.
7. Get your podcasting equipment.
Your podcast recording setup can be as complex or as simple as you’d like. If you’re opting to record at a local studio, this would be the perfect point in the process to research options near you and book time to record.
If you plan to record at home and are looking for a straightforward setup, all you’ll need is:
- A laptop or computer
- A USB or XLR microphone (if you use an XLR microphone, make sure you get a mixer to connect the mic to your computer)
- Recording software such as Squadcast, Zencastr, Zoom, or Riverside
- Editing software such as GarageBand, Audacity, Adobe Audition, or Descript
You can check out the full list of podcast tools we recommend here. Once you have what you need, find a quiet place at home to get set up and you’re ready to record.
8. Create your podcast trailer.
A trailer is a short audio clip that introduces your podcast to new listeners and gets them excited to tune in. In your podcast trailer you’ll want to include:
- An introduction to your podcast and what it’s about
- A teaser of what’s to come, or highlights so the audience knows what to expect
- When listeners can expect new episodes
- A call-to-action inviting the listener to come back
Most podcast trailers are around one to two minutes in length. Once your trailer is ready, you can upload it to your podcast hosting service.
9. Submit your podcast to online podcast directories.
In step five you set up your podcast in your podcast hosting service. Your platform will provide an RSS feed you can submit to podcast directories so listeners can tune in to your show. Here are the top two platforms you’ll want to submit your podcast:
- Apple Podcasts — Apple pioneered the podcasting medium and is where 39% of people listen to podcasts. Learn how to submit your podcast to Apple Podcasts Connect here. Note that it can take up to two weeks for Apple to approve your podcast, so you’ll want to factor this into your launch plan.
- Spotify — Spotify is the second most popular podcast streaming app, used by 26% of podcast listeners. You can submit your podcast to Spotify by providing your RSS feed to their website for podcasters.
10. Prepare your first three episodes.
When you launch your podcast to your audience, you’ll want to have a few episodes available so they can get as much value from your show as possible and feel more inclined to listen in the future.
Launching with a few episodes also gives your show a chance to earn more downloads, ratings, and reviews in a shorter period of time, which can be helpful for discoverability and ranking on the charts. When you launch, aim to have your trailer and first three episodes available.
I like to create a script for each podcast episode outlining the points I want to make if recording solo, or the questions I’d like to ask the guest I’m interviewing. Creating a solid script or outline is especially helpful when you’re a new podcaster getting used to the medium. Read through and edit the script, and practice reading it out loud to hear how it sounds.
Once your scripts are ready, record your launch episodes in your recording software of choice. From there you can edit them yourself or hire an editor to edit them for you. When editing, be mindful of any background noise and filler words that could distract the listener.
11. Write the show notes for your launch episodes.
Now that your first few episodes are recorded, it’s time to write the show notes. Show notes are essentially short blog posts that accompany each podcast episode. The show notes are a great place to put a general description of the episode along with links to any resources mentioned, or products you’d like to bring attention to.
While it can be tempting to gloss over show notes, it’s worth putting in a bit of effort. Not only are podcast show notes helpful for SEO which can bring new listeners to your show, but they can keep your audience engaged and ready to follow your content on other platforms.
12. Secure your podcast social media handles.
If you haven’t already, make sure you’ve saved the social media handles related to your podcast. Some podcasters create social media accounts dedicated to their podcasts, while others use their existing personal or business accounts to promote their shows.
Whichever you decide, you’ll still want to make sure you own the name and identity of your show across socials and online, so make sure you’ve saved related social media handles and web domains.
13. Upload and schedule your launch episodes.
Once your episodes are edited and your show notes are written, you’re ready to publish. Upload your audio files and show notes to your podcast host and schedule your episodes to publish on your desired launch date. Your launch date should fall on the day of the week you plan to publish moving forward.
Research by Megaphone found podcast episodes published on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays around 5 am EST resulted in higher downloads than those published at other dates and times.
14. Market your podcast and celebrate your launch.
Congratulations, you just launched your first podcast! Now it’s time to get the word out by marketing your show to your ideal listeners and celebrating your hard work. In 2022, short-form video has become a popular medium for promoting podcasts, with podcasters sharing short videos or audiograms of each episode on platforms such as Reels, TikTok, and YouTube.
Starting a podcast can be a rewarding creative endeavor that allows you to serve your audience in a new way. Bookmark this post to serve as your checklist as you navigate your launch.