One of the questions I get asked most often is how to start a podcast from scratch. It is no secret that I love podcasting. I first launched the podcast How to Speak Like a CEO with my colleague Lena Carlson back in 2018. More recently, I launched a second podcast called #TheUnignorablePodcast to celebrate the launch of my new book, Unignorable (out on 13 October 2020).
Podcasting as a whole has experienced a substantial rise in interest in recent years. It is estimated that one in five Germans listens to podcasts regularly, and in the United States, the number of weekly listeners is over 50 million.
The benefits of podcasting are clear. It is a modern way of building a community, of reaching an audience and communicating your message. It is also incredibly intimate and gives the listener access to an informed and interesting conversation for an extended period of time.
So how do you start your own podcast? On a recent episode of #TheUnignorablePodcast, I sat down with Jill Beytin & Julia Joubert from Bear Radio, Berlin’s English-speaking podcasting network, to discuss the art of podcasting, getting started and how to tell a great story.
The most important question before starting a podcasting is: “Why do you want to do this and who are you doing this for?” If you can’t answer these two questions, then you need to go back to the drawing board. Everyone wants to start a podcast, but if you’re not clear about the reason you’re doing this, then you will find yourself lacking motivation and clarity down the road. Podcasting is a long-term project, so you need to be ready to commit to it. This starts with the WHY.
Consistency is key. Before you start recording, you should have a pretty clear idea of the format of the series. What’s the topic? How long will each episode last? How often will you publish the podcast? Will the tone be casual, humorous, serious? Will you have guests on the show? All of these elements are important to make your podcast cohesive and engaging. Save yourself the struggle and map out the format before you start recording. Of course, things might change, but having a plan will make it easier in the beginning.
Sound quality is perhaps the most important element of podcasting. As Jill and Julia reminded me: “You can have the most amazing story, but if it’s inaudible, no one is going to listen.” The good news is you don’t need to spend a lot of money, you just need to pick the right set up and equipment. In an ideal world, we would all have access to a studio to record, but this is often not the case. What I recommend is finding as small and quiet a space as possible. In terms of microphones, I use the Blue Yeti with a pop shield. This is very convenient because it is light, portable and easy to set up no matter where you are. However, if you are looking to take your recording set up to the next level, I recommend getting in touch with Jill and Julia who not only run workshops on the topic, but have a tonne of advice on picking the best equipment and recording space. Remember: you want to respect your audience for their time, so treat them with audio worth listening to.
There is a plethora of software out there for recording and editing. Personally, I record on GarageBand when I do interviews in person or via Zencastr for online recordings. For editing, GarageBand, Audacity or Ableton are a few favourites of mine. To distribute the podcast to services such as Spotify or Apple Podcasts, I use Anchor. Overall, it doesn’t really matter which software you choose so long as it works for you. Instead, what you want to really pay attention to is recording clean audio and nice editing. You don’t want the podcast to sound choppy or over-edited. However, you also want to cut out anything that is unnecessary or detracts from the overall conversation. If you’re struggling with what to cut out, I recommend asking a trusted friend or colleague to give you some honest and proper feedback. As Jill and Julia said: “You want to be critical of what you keep and careful of what you cut out.”
To build a highly engaged audience and fan base for your podcast, you need to be crystal clear about who this podcast is for. What topics are they interested in? What are they looking for when it comes to audio content? Does your podcast meet their needs and demands? If not, then you need to back to step one. Once you have started to build up your fan base, it’s important to talk to your audience, listen to them and engage with them.
The future of podcasting is bright. If you are looking to build your personal brand and become unignorable, then starting a podcasting could potentially be very beneficial for you. That being said, make sure you are getting into it for the right reasons. Because you have a great story to tell, because you want to connect more intimately with your audience. Not just because you want to make money. Podcasting is a long-term game, so it is important to commit to it. As Jill and Julia told me, they know podcasters who have been at it for over ten years and are only just starting to make money now. If you choose quality of quantity, then you will most definitely reap the benefits of podcasting.
I hope this has inspired you to get out there and maybe start a podcast of your own. If you have further questions on getting started, I would definitely recommend listening to the full episode of #TheUnignorablePodcast with Jill and Julia or don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.