Zilker Media

So you want to start a podcast…

According to Apple at WWDC in June 2018 a record 550,000 podcasts had been launched.

It’s estimated 44% (124 million) of the US population has listened to a podcast – up from 40% in 2017. (Infinite Dial 2018)

And while that number may seem overwhelming, there are over 400 MILLION blogs, so podcasting is still considered in the early stages of its development.

I myself launched my very first podcast, The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, earlier this year. There are quite a few lessons I’ve learned along the way and if you’re interested in starting your own podcast, it may make sense to think through a few things before deciding to go live with your project.


1. Know your intention

First ask yourself: why do you want to start a podcast?

For some individuals, they’re looking to grow a following. Some simply want a vehicle to share their thoughts. Others, like myself, use it as a way to build meaningful relationships. The intent of your podcast plays a role in what to expect, your equipment, your format, who you bring on as guests etc.

Write out the top 3 things you hope to accomplish with your podcast because this now becomes your north star when gauging success.

2. Time

Podcasting, like everything else in life, requires time and energy. If your goal is grow a following quickly, your best bet is going to be putting out short-form content (15-30 minute episodes)  at a high frequency (at least two times a week). This is going to drive the quickest number of downloads and increase the likelihood of someone stumbling across your content.

**One trick I’ve seen by some individuals is to segment an hour-long interview into a 3-part series that gets shared throughout the week. I’m not a a huge fan of this approach since I prefer having all content in one place, but I’ve seen it be effective in growing an early listenership.**

My podcast is typically 30-45 minutes and gets launched on a weekly basis. There’s editorial work and music scoring involved which is why it takes more time to release each episode. It should also be noted that growing a following is not my primary goal. My focus is building meaningful relationships with my guests and putting out a high-quality piece of creative work. Each episode probably takes me 2-4 hours a week to research, record, edit, and release. I’ve built out a team who helps with a lot of the logistical matters but at the end of the day I’m still very nitpicky about everything that gets released and have final say on everything that goes out.

3. Format

What’s the format of your podcast?

There are few formats in which someone can create a podcast. The easiest format to launch tends to be the raw interview style, where the host interviews a guest. Sometimes these interviews are as short as 15 minutes but can run as long as 2-2.5 hours (ex: Joe Rogan Experience).

The other common format involves more storytelling and utilizes a more extensive level of production (ex: This American Life).

Depending on your format, you may need time to fully work on the episodes. Many storytelling podcasts are batched into seasons with “off times” that’s used for journalism and reporting.

At the end of the day, FREQUENCY IS KEY. If you’re inconsistent with your episodes, you’ll have a very difficult time growing a loyal listenership.

One piece of advice I would give before starting your podcast is to commit to completing X number of episodes. This may be one season, 50 episodes, etc. If you’ve never podcasted before, it will take time to find your voice, understand your audience, and tweak the message to where you like it.

When I launched The EnTRUEprenuership Podcast, my goal was to finish out the remainder of the year with a weekly podcast, this equated to 34 episodes. At the end of the year I would reevaluate if it was worth continuing in the future. The first few episodes were rough because I wasn’t sure about my message, the format, how to ask good questions, and a whole slew of other issues. It wasn’t until episode 15-20 that I really began to feel comfortable with what I was putting out.

4. Infrastructure

A podcast requires more than just having a mic to record. How will listeners find out about your show?

You’ll need a few things to get it up a running.

a) A hosting site — You’ll need a place to upload your podcasts. The two most popular podcast hosting platforms are Libsyn and Blubrry. I’ve only used Libsyn, but I like that it’s easy to upload an episode to one place that can push it out across the various platforms (iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, Google Play, etc.) Both services also provide analytics to better understand who’s listening.
b) iTunes registration — You’ll need to get your podcast approved by iTunes before people can start listening to it through iTunes podcast. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to get your podcast registered with iTunes. The entire process took less than 72 hours and was rather seamless.
c) A website — a website isn’t mandatory but having one with a URL for your podcast will allow people to find your podcast online and learn more. You can easily set up a website using a company like WordPress.comSquarespace.com or Wix.com.

I personally used Squarespace to create the website for the EnTRUEpreneurship website.

5. Equipment

The last component to starting a podcast is equipment. What do you use to record? There are a few ways this breaks down that all depend on your podcast format and how you conduct your interviews.

If your format involves speaking with another individual face to face, you’ll need a set up where you have one mic for each person. The key here is you want to isolate each individual’s audio for the highest quality sound. Otherwise, using only one mic may result in uneven audio — where one individual’s audio is too loud while the other sounds distant in the background.

The setup I use for my in-person interviews include:

Recording device: Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder (~$350)
Microphones: Shure SM48-LC Vocal Dynamic Microphone, Cardioid (~$50) x2
Cables: Standard XLR cables — to connect the mics to your recording device (I use AmazonBasics 6ft. $7/ea)
Accessories: Microphone windscreen — to cut out some of the harshness when speaking directly into the microphone. ($7)

Most individuals conduct their podcast over the internet, which tends to be easier and more cost effective. I’ve also used this method for interviews outside Austin where I can easily call them on their phone. The quality isn’t as high as an in-person interview, but is still very listenable.

The setup I use for my online interviews include:

Microphone: Blue Yeti USB Microphone – Blackout (~$100) — this is a very good entry-level, easy to use mic, that plugs straight into your computer and involves little to no setup.

Software:

Skype premium ($3/mo) — I pay Skype premium service, meaning I can call any phone in the US from my Skype app. This allows me to reach a guest without requiring them to dial into a conference room, set up their own audio, etc. For busy entrepreneurs, who are the guests on my show, this is a very convenient route.

Call Recorder for Skype ($40) — I also bought a software that allows me to record my Skype calls. It runs in the background whenever my Skype call connects and automatically records the conversation. The great thing about this software is that it allows me to export the call into separate tracks, which makes it easier to edit audio.

Getting a podcast setup can be done with as little as $100 or run you up over $1000. It’s completely up to you on what best suits your needs and your attention to quality. Once you have the audio, you’ll still need an audio editing software to put everything together with an intro, outro, any sponsors you may have, etc. I typically outsource this work, but many podcasters use programs like:

Audacity (free) – free open source audio software platform

Garageband (free) – default program for macs

Adobe Audition ($21/mo) – A more robust audio editing tool. Typically used by creatives who work with audio for a living (bands, audio engineers, etc.)

There you have it! You’re on your way to getting your podcast up and going. Now it’s all about executing and making it happen.

Going live in 3…2…