You’ve finally come to the most important decision a 21st-century resident of the Planet Earth can make: “do I want to be a podcaster?” And you’ve decided that the answer is yes.
Well done. Excellent choice. Just follow me, and I’ll take you into the next room. You can pick out your set of a huge coffee mug, a battered notebook, excellent headphones, and an inexplicable piece of expensive recording gear. You’ll have to grow your own tousled hair and/or interesting beard. Scribble in your notebook, sip from your cup contemplatively. People won’t even have to ask what you do. They’ll know at a glance that you’re someone who’s experienced amazing things and survived to tell the tale: a podcaster.
Wait. That’s not what you wanted? Oh! My mistake. You want to make a podcast, not simply “be a podcaster.” Right. Exactly. Well. In that case, let me re-frame this a bit.
You’ve come to the right place. No matter your age, creed, gender, budget, or style choices, Alitu can help you record, edit, polish and publish your episodes, but we also have a 7-Day Podcast Launch Bootcamp that can help you cultivate the skills you need to launch your podcast.
Alitu doesn’t do everything for you, though. Your own wit, wisdom, skills, and experience are the core of what’s going to make your podcast sink or swim. So, let’s get started on what you need to start a podcast.
I might have been kidding about a few things in that first paragraph, but I’m not kidding about the notebook. The best podcasts have a plan behind them. Here, you’ll make notes you’ll return to over the course of your project, so make sure that this is a notebook you like and will use.
It doesn’t have to be a paper notebook, but they do reduce distractions. Personally, I really like The Podcast Host Planning Journal, and not just because I helped proofread it. The questions and templates in there help you focus on the “why” of your podcast, which is going to fuel the “how.” It helps you stay motivated while reducing distractions. If you’re starting from scratch with a blank notebook, then ask yourself:
Again, you’re constructing the mission statement that will inform much of your work ahead, so don’t be shy about this.
Once you’ve finished this, here are a few short questions to answer. These questions are going to inform your workflow as you move forward, so, again, be honest with yourself.
No two podcasts are alike, and everyone has different ways of working. Once you’ve written all of this out, consider the following Things That Tend To Be True.
Thing #1: It’s very difficult to sustain a podcast if the only time you have to work on it is when you’re tired, and/or in a space that’s shared or cluttered.
Thing #2: Podcasting in seasons, with a pre-planned number of episodes, can help people sustain their podcast over the long haul. When you know where the goalposts are, it’s easier to reach them. But, not everyone does this. Some podcasters happily make episodes to infinity and beyond.
Thing #3: Your episode length and publication frequency go hand-in-hand. Again, if you know where the finish line is, it’s easier to reach it.
Thing #4: Audience engagement is what podcasting is really all about. The easier it is for your audience to contact you, the greater the likelihood that they will.
If you’re making your podcast to promote a brand, it’s likely that you have contact options set up already (such as a website or social media). You might use your podcast to direct traffic to your company’s website or shop location, or to a social media handle. If you want to use a website for engagement, think about PodPage, a service that helps you build a simple podcast website without any technical knowledge.
Finally, write down ten ideas or episode topics, as succinctly as possible. For example, if you know your podcast is about fly fishing, you might want to have an episode about bait, another about tackle, another one about places to fish, another one where you interview the world fly fishing champion, and so on.
Once you’ve written all of these things down, you have a better sense of the work that lies ahead. You know why and how you’re going to make a podcast. Now that you’ve got your motivation and your path, let’s think about tools.
It doesn’t take a ton of expensive recording gear to make a good podcast, provided you know how to use it. We assume that you already have a reasonably good computer. Our 7-Day Podcast Launch Bootcamp gives you details about what kind of gear you need and why. At the very least, you’ll need:
If you’re planning to record away from your computer, you can invest in a digital handheld recorder. Zoom makes excellent ones, from the H5 and H6 to the PodTrak 4. They all cost about the same amount, but vary with features and complexity. But, if you plan to use Alitu from your desktop computer, you don’t have to buy a digital recorder or an interface. Just plug your USB mic into the computer, and follow the instructions to set it up. Alitu does the rest.
“Headphones? Why do I need them?” you might say. Yes, you can make a podcast without them. Remember, the better you can hear details in your audio recordings, the easier it is to make it sound great. And headphones help block out echo and background noise.
Or, you can save the audio file and upload it to the media host of your choice. The media hosts that partner with us, though, are there for a reason. Experience has shown us that they’re excellent and genuinely help podcasters succeed.
You don’t have to write out everything that you plan to say in each episode word for word. However, it’s not a great idea to just hit record and say whatever springs to mind. Remember that notebook we talked about, earlier? Grab those notes, because now all that work is going to help you.
Pick four of the episode ideas that you wrote down. For each one, take a page and write out five important bullet points. Why five? Miller’s Law states that the human memory can hold about seven chunks of information, give or take two. What this means is that at best, the human memory can hold and work with five to nine things at a time. If you have five talking points, this gives you time to go into greater detail with each one.
Again, you just want talking points, not a carefully worded essay. The more you focus on the points you’ll want to make, the easier it will be to get to the point. Plus, speaking freely about your topic lets you sound natural, instead of robotic. We’ve got more information about creating an invisible podcast script, if you want more information about preparing your notes. If you want to have a particular format, now’s the time to write it down.
Do a few tongue twisters to wake up your mouth, breathe naturally, and hit record. If you make a mistake, don’t stop. Instead, clap your hands or snap your fingers three times, and then pick up where you left off. This makes three strong vertical lines on your recording waveform. After you’ve finished, it’ll be easier for you to find that mistake, and edit it out.
Pro tip: Some people use a dog training clicker instead of clapping or snapping. It makes the same mark on the audio waveform, but it saves your hands from getting tired.
Afterward, listen to your raw audio. If it’s your first time recording, you might feel awful about the sound of your own voice. Don’t. Everyone feels weird about the sound of their own voice. It’s just one of those things. Pat yourself on the back for finishing the recording of your first episode.
Now that you’re feeling confident, you should take a moment to write down and record your podcast introduction and your podcast ending, or your intro and outro. These are the parts of each podcast episode where you hook your listeners, and get them to come back for more. So, you want to do them when you’re warmed up and confident. Revisit the section of your notes where you thought about how you want to engage with your audience. This is where you mention it.
For example, you can say something like, “if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard today, you can get in touch with us via…” and then mention whichever social media platform, website, etc. you prefer. Ask them to tell a friend about your show: word of mouth is a potent advertising tool.
If you feel like you’re on a roll, I’d recommend recording the other few episodes that you wrote down. Batch processing, or making your episodes in batches at different stages, can be a podcaster’s secret weapon. For now, let’s assume that you’re ready to move on to the next step, which is…
Like I said, Alitu does a lot of the work for you. But you still have to make the aesthetic choices. Here’s what you need to do.
Listen to your raw audio and cut out all the parts you don’t want. This might be “um” & “uh”, mistakes, or digressions. Remember what you first wrote in your podcasting notebook, the “why” of your podcast project.
Pick out some music from the Alitu sound library for your intro and/or outro. Some podcasts have no music at all, but there’s no denying that music creates mood and enhances the audience’s experience.
Once you're finished editing, listen to the episode and make sure it sounds the way you want it to. Alitu has resources like video tutorials and, of course, our 7-Day Podcast Launch Bootcamp, to help you understand how to put it together. But, Alitu can take care of leveling, noise reduction, and more of the details.
Once your episode sounds exactly the way you want, upload it to your favorite media host. Again, Alitu integrates with many, but you can use whichever works best for you.
Each episode needs show notes. Good show notes are like the envelope on nice mail. They can motivate your audience to pay attention to you, and share your podcast with others. Revisit the invisible script you wrote for each episode, and your why from the very beginning because these will help.
Your media host assigns your podcast an RSS feed. This feed is how your show gets from your media host to directories like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You only have to submit the RSS feed and podcast information to each directory once. Then, your podcast episodes will move between the media host and the directories on their own.
Submitting your podcast to different directories might feel like a pain, but once it’s done, it’s done. So, it’s worth your while to make sure your podcast is available in as many directories as possible. That way, it’s easier for the people you’re making this podcast for, to find you.
Here it is, the big moment when you’re showered with applause and rose petals! Actually, no. I regret that there is neither literal applause nor rose petals. But, this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where you revisit how you want to engage with your audience.
Remember how you wrote down what you want to use for audience engagement? Time to use that to best advantage. When people choose to get in touch with you about your podcast, be open to it. And be sure to thank the folks who engage with you in your next episode recording.
Promoting your show is challenging enough that we wrote a whole book about it. Podcast Growth- A Book About Growing your Audience is a book of strategies, focused on simple tasks you can use to engage with your audience, generate word of mouth, and grow your podcast’s audience.
This might seem like an awful lot. That’s why Colin created the 7-Day Podcast Launch Boot Camp that I mentioned earlier. It’s a series of short videos with useful steps, which fit together to help you bring your podcast to life. Plus, Alitu has more detailed courses, if you want to learn more about any aspect of making a podcast.
Most people remember the quote as “fortune favors the bold.” I prefer Emily Dickinson’s version. Making a successful podcast doesn’t depend on luck. You can make a good podcast, as long as you follow some simple steps and stay consistent. Then, once you have a good podcast, good fortune tends to come along for the ride.