Unlike other forms of entertainment media, the podcasting realm maintains a low barrier of entry. Anyone – with adequate equipment and an interesting-enough topic – can produce content and launch a show. There are podcast shows on every topic, from finance to psychology, business strategies to just about any “ology.”
But starting a podcast is not easy, and it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. With the right tools and the right knowledge, however, it is possible to find space for your voice. Below are five things you need to know before starting your own podcast.
Pick Your Topic
Picking a topic for a podcast is an artform in and of itself.
On one hand, it is important to identify your niche. You likely will not be building a platform to talk about “stuff,” unless of course, you are already a well-established celebrity and people will already enjoy hearing you talk about “stuff.” On the other hand, picking a topic can feel like being pigeon-holed into just one focus or area of expertise. They key is to find a subject that is broad enough to create several hours’ worth of content, but not so vast that your voice is lost among all the other competing podcasts.
One way to do this is by combining genres. Take, for example, the true crime-comedy podcast subgenre that is tremendously popular. Then there are comedy-news shows, like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah or Bananas. There are numerous podcasts that focus on the history of science and technology, while other podcasts focus on the intersection of fiction and science, like The Biology of Superheroes Podcast.
Another way to establish your niche is by working within a genre but adding a component that would appeal to the audience. Consider the “bite-sized” world of podcasts, which provide short, 5- to 15-minute capsules of content (like a “bite-sized” news show, or “bite-sized” psychology podcasts).
Identify Your Audience
In some ways, starting a podcast and starting a business are similar. Just like you need to know the product you are creating, you also need to know who your audience is. Nearly 6 in 10 consumers over the age of 12 in the U.S. have listened to at least one podcast (Statista, 2021). More importantly, nearly 104 million people in the U.S. alone listen to a podcast at least once a month.
If you are creating content for a political show, do you imagine your audience to be more left-wing, right-wing, or centrist? Is your content aimed at people who previously had no interest in politics? Or is your content aimed at people who are immensely informed about politics? What perspective would your show offer that your audience is not able to find elsewhere? Is your audience younger, generally comprised of Gen Z and Millennials? Or is your audience older and closer to retirement?
Knowing your audience can help you maintain your focus when it comes to deciding on subject matter, the structure of your episodes and of the show in general, and what kind of platform you provide for your podcast.
Invest in Editing Software (and Equipment!)
After establishing your topic and audience, it is critically important to consider, and invest, in the appropriate podcast recording software and equipment. While you do not need to start out with top-of-the-line equipment at the outset of your podcast, a quality microphone can ensure that your voice is clear and that your content sounds professional. An audio mixer can also help with provide a crisp sound and enhances the quality of your podcast recording. Headphones are another necessary equipment cost to avoid feedback loops or echoes.
Research and consider other tools that can help elevate the production quality of your podcast recording, like with Boomcaster. Boomcaster records studio-quality audio and video for each participant separately, allowing you to compile the tracks in editing for a complete high-definition experience for your audience. Being able to capture high-quality audio and video for your podcast conveys professionalism and encourages your audience to take you, and your podcast, seriously. It can also help maintain the flow of a conversational podcast so that the listeners are not distracted by network interruptions or variations in the sound between the guests.
Structure is another critical component to consider before starting a podcast: it is about deciding how you are going to run your show.
Will your podcast provide “bite-sized” content to your audience? Or is your podcast set up in a more narrative style to suit storytelling? Perhaps your heart is set on launching a live video podcast interviewing new guests every week – but will you be asking everyone the same ten questions? Just like with a good book, TV show, or movie, a well-structured podcast will always encourage more engagement from the audience than a chaotic podcast with no format.
When it comes to structure, podcasting parallels TV shows in several ways. Not only is it important for each episode to have a clear structure or format (and ad breaks!), but the entire season should also have a structure. How frequently will you release episodes – all at once for bingeable content, or weekly to continue drawing engagement from listeners week after week?
Provide a Platform for your Podcast
Finally, before you start your podcast, consider how you are going to provide a platform for your podcast.
For example, if you have a website for your podcast, you may be able to upload your episodes and provide transcripts for people who are interested in a topic or your perspective on a subject but are hard of hearing or otherwise unable to listen to your show. In this case, a website can be used to reach a greater audience.
If you create social media platforms for your podcast, this can be a way for listeners to engage with you directly. In turn, this becomes a valuable resource for feedback, new content ideas, and more. Different social media channels providing multiple ways to promote new episodes and offers audience members opportunities to engage with you and the content you create. It can also help you glean more information from your audience to better serve them content they are interested in and advertisements that suit their values.
What are Your Thoughts?
If you have already started a podcast – what did you wish you knew before you started? If you are interested in starting your own podcast, what has been holding you back?