How to Start a Podcast: A Step-by-Step Guide

Table of Contents

Learning how to start a podcast that stands out from the crowd is an essential skill for content creators and anyone with a message to share. You doubtless talk to others about your passions and expertise, but translating that into an engaging audio format requires strategic planning and execution. Even if you’re already an avid podcast listener, you’ll need to get a few ducks in a row before you start one yourself.

So why start a podcast? Isn’t something like blogging lower-tech and lower-maintenance?

Well, there are over 600 million blogs and about 4 million podcasts out on the worldwide web. Podcasting offers lower competition and increasing demand, creating enormous potential for this content marketing tool. Many listeners even listen to 20+ hours of podcasts per week! 2023 is shaping up to be the most popular year yet for podcasts, so it’s time to take advantage of this channel for your own projects.

Learning how to start a podcast comes with challenges, so we created this toolkit to help you navigate them. We aim to equip you with a comprehensive step-by-step guide that covers how to start a podcast with lasting impact.

Here are the simple steps to start your own podcast:

  1. Choose your niche
  2. Set goals for your podcast
  3. Differentiate yourself
  4. Name your podcast
  5. Compose a description
  6. Design your cover art
  7. Gather podcast recording equipment
  8. Set up your podcast recording space
  9. Edit your podcast episodes
  10. Select a hosting service
  11. Upload your audio files
  12. Create an RSS feed
  13. Promote your show on social media
  14. Collaborate with other creators
  15. Monetize your podcast

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!

Basics of Podcasting

Let’s cover some basics. Podcasts are digital audio or audio + video files available for streaming or downloading from the internet. They are generally published in an episodic format that allows listeners to subscribe to future installments.

Cool, you’ve got the general idea of podcasting down. You need to determine a few more things before you develop your game plan.

Choose your Niche

Once you decide to take the plunge into podcasting, the first order of business is choosing your niche. Your niche is your corner of the market: the topic and target audience around which your podcast revolves. Your niche should lie at the convergence of your interest and expertise so you can consistently deliver credible content.

Alongside picking a topic you must identify your target audience. Focusing on the needs of one audience will help you captivate listeners and market your podcast effectively. Long-term, if you monetize your podcast with partner advertisements, a refined target audience will help you pick collaborators that you know your listeners want to hear about.

Set Goals

At this stage of the journey, you should set a few goals for your podcast. Whether it’s amplifying personal brand awareness, educating on specific subjects, or entertaining with your hot takes on current events, well-defined objectives provide direction for your podcast even if your goals pivot down the road. Establish few key metrics such as listener growth and a publishing schedule so you can evaluate your progress every month, quarter, and year.

With your niche and goals in hand, you can start creating a serious business strategy for your podcast.

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Planning Your Podcast

Now comes the fun part. How will your podcast be different? How will it attract listeners? Here are a few action items that will help you shoot to the top of the charts.

Differentiating yourself

Your chosen format will set your show’s rhythm. It could be a series of interviews, solo commentary, co-hosting with partners, or a mix of both. Your choice doesn’t determine the podcast formats for all future episodes, but it should remain relatively consistent at the beginning. You can also alternate between formats on a regular schedule, e.g. every other week you invite a guest.

For inspiration you can check out The Speaker Lab’s podcast, where top tier professional speakers, TSL coaches, and our program alumni share their speaking experience and insights. While today it takes the interview format, the earliest episodes feature solo commentary from our founder Grant Baldwin. Listen and subscribe here!

Naming Your Podcast

A name can ignite curiosity in potential listeners even before they hit play. It should stand out while giving an inkling about what to expect from your show. It could be an inside joke within your niche, a play on words, something straight and to the point…brainstorm different ideas and bounce them off of friends and family within your target audience.

Composing a Description

Your podcast description is key to drawing listeners in. A compelling description can turn casual browsers into loyal followers. Use evocative language to provide a clear idea about the value your podcast provides.

Designing cover art

Podcast artwork acts as branding across various platforms where podcasts are discovered. A well-designed cover draws attention by conveying professionalism, quality, and the character of your podcast. Create (or pay someone to create) something in line with your personal brand–whether that means popping colors and silly fonts or simple high-contrast text. Click to Tweet

Recording and Editing

The next phase of launching a podcast takes some trial and error, so give yourself a break if your first few takes are less than publishing-worthy.

Gathering the Necessary Recording Equipment

Before you hit record, you should secure appropriate equipment. If you plan to podcast long-term, it’s worth investing in the right tools from the beginning. Choosing the right microphone should be first on your list; our friends at Podcast Movement have a handy guide for that process here.

Dependable audio editing software is another non-negotiable. Some programs focus purely on editing, while others offer all the tools you need to host, edit, and publish. Choose one with an interface that you can navigate easily.

If you have the means, you can invest in additional podcast equipment. Pop filters, professional headphones, and a good backdrop for video content can enhance the audio quality of your podcast. You can do a lot with a $100 microphone and a decent podcast editing tool, so don’t hesitate if you can’t afford fancy equipment. So long as your sound quality meets basic standards (i.e. people can hear you!), you’re good to go!

Setting Up Your Podcast Recording Space

Once you’ve got your gear, it’s time to set up and start recording. A quiet environment that absorbs sound is essential for clear audio. Start with what you have on hand and consider future investments in foam panels and other soundproofing supplies.

Editing Your Podcast Episodes

With the software of your choice, you have to transform raw recordings into polished episodes. This entails trimming unnecessary fluff, correcting errors, ensuring smooth transitions between segments, and reviewing for overall cohesiveness. You can also add (sparingly) podcast music, sound effects, and other icing on the cake to enhance listener engagement.

Hosting and Publishing

After perfecting those recordings you can host and publish your podcast. A podcast hosting service will help get your podcast audio onto platforms like Apple podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, or wherever else you want people to find you. Hosting services are akin to your show’s command center – they store your audio files and generate an RSS feed for distribution.

Selecting a Podcast Hosting Service

Whether you use a separate editing and hosting software or put it all into the same tool is up to you. Podcastle, Buzzsprout, Simplecast and Transistor are all great podcast hosting platforms. Many of these programs will walk you through how to start a podcast so you can keep everything in one place. There’s no point in paying for extra features that you won’t use, so choose whatever works for your budget and podcasting goals.

Uploading Your Audio Files

Once you have edited your recording, it’s time to upload your content onto the chosen platform via the software of your choice. Here you will add episode titles, descriptions, artwork and anything else that that provides context for listeners.

Creating an RSS Feed

Your hosting service does more than just storing files; it also creates an automatic RSS feed once you start uploading podcast episodes. This URL becomes the lifeline between you the podcast directory, updating  every new release from your show.

Submitting Your Show to Podcast Directories

To maximize reach, most creators submit podcasts to multiple podcast directories. By the numbers, Spotify is the most popular podcast app overall, but Apple wins out for downloads. Google podcasts is not as popular, but still a player in the game. Getting onto those two platforms will get you off to a running start, but look into niche platforms that may be popular with your target audience.

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Content Creation

Whether you interview different guests, offer solo commentary, or co-host, every episode should have an outline if not a script. Having something to keep you on track will save you hours of editing time. Maintaining a conversational vibe will help engage your listeners, so avoid reading your script verbatim at the risk of sounding wooden. Maintain a regular podcast format for every episode with elements like consistent episode length, a familiar podcast intro, and posing the same final question to every guest.

Interviews vs. Solo Episodes

Interview-based episodes are particularly engaging, especially in an industry where experts can offer different perspectives on the same podcast topics. Dynamic dialogues keep audiences hooked, especially if you prepare (and share in advance) a thought-provoking set of questions for your guest. Juggling schedules can be challenging, so invest in a reliable online scheduling tool to managing appointments.

Episodes where you record alone or with the same set of  co-hosts allow deeper dives into specific themes and provide opportunities to share unique insights with listeners. These require even more thorough preparation since maintaining listener interest throughout is solely your responsibility.

Incorporating Listener Interaction

A great podcast isn’t just about delivering great content, but also about fostering strong connections with your audience. Involve your audience with your content through feedback sessions, Q&A episode structure, or calling in like a radio show.  Since ratings and reviews will help your podcast reach even more listeners, consider offering periodic raffles or prizes for those who leave a review and/or sign up for your email list.

Building & Engaging Audience

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink–and you can upload a podcast to Spotify, but you can’t force anybody to listen. A strong marketing strategy is a non-negotiable part of how to start a podcast.

Promoting Your Show on Social Media Platforms

Promoting your show on social media will gain exposure and form community around your show. While you can and should reference your podcast on your personal or business pages to bolster your brand, it should have its own social media accounts. This way, you can collect feedback and data more efficiently and really get to know your podcast audience. In addition to updating followers whenever a new episode drops, you can share sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes action, or bloopers to keep things interesting.

Leveraging Email Marketing

Building an email list is an incredible tool for your personal brand. Directing podcast listeners to your email list and email subscribers to your podcast will help you build a consistent and cohesive fanbase. Interacting with these followers builds loyalty and gives you an easy avenue for feedback and customer research.

Being “plugged in” to your audience through email and social media allows you to tailor your podcast topic or develop new products to meet their needs. And when those new products launch, your email list subscribers will be the first to know!

Collaboration with other Creators

Collaborating with other podcast hosts can help you tap into different audiences while offering them something fresh. It’s a win-win situation that allows cross-promotion and shared growth. Invite other podcasters in your niche to guest star with you, and you might get a few invites back in return.

Monetizing Your Show

Podcasting has barely been around for 20 years. That means that monetization is a fast-growing way for podcast hosts to gain incredible return on investment as they pour more time and recording software into improving their shows.

Turning your podcast into a money-making machine

There are many paths to generating income from your show. Just like your content, your monetization strategy should stand out from the crowd while being informed by time-tested strategies.

There is no definitive rulebook for podcast monetization. Successful podcast hosts tend to employ certain tactics more often than others, so we’ll run through them for you. Treat this list as inspiration–explore and innovate your own monetization strategy as you get to know your target market.

  1. Secure sponsorships or advertising deals. Invite businesses that meet a core need of your audience to sponsor your podcast or run ads.
  2. Offer paid subscriptions. Paid content should enhance the free option you already offer and add enough extra value that it keeps subscribers coming back for more.
  3. Crowdfund donations using creator-oriented platforms such as Patreon or Buymeacoffee. You can invite contributions toward initiatives, ofter premium content to different tiers of donors, and communicate with a core group of fans.
  4. Sell merch or products related to the theme of your podcast. This can be as simple as a T-shirt or as complex as scaling your podcast into books, courses, or speaking engagements.

Adaptability is key when it comes to making money off of your podcast. Diversifying your income streams will help generate enough cash to launch other business ventures around your podcast.

Maintaining Momentum

There are a few key strategies that determine the long-term success of your podcast. We’ll focus on consistent publishing, community engagement, SEO, and data analytics.

Consistent Publishing

Your audience is eagerly awaiting fresh content; don’t let them down. Try to maintain a regular schedule–whether that’s every 3 days, weekly, or twice a month. Feel free to plan, announce, and enjoy a sabbatical–many podcasters divide their podcast into “seasons” to integrate time away from the microphone. So long as you announce it in advance, taking a break will just leave your listeners excited for more!

Community Engagement

Don’t just post about your show–participate in online communities within your niche. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field and commit to learning and adapting as new information and new trends inform your industry of interest. If you find that you lack key information related to your show, take your audience on a learning journey with you! Acting authentic and humble will attract a greater community around you than acting like a know-it-all.


Crafting SEO-friendly titles and episode descriptions will help you rank higher on the results pages of search engines. To rank higher on Google as well as podcasting pages, you can create a podcast website with show notes, highlights, and a feed of each episode. You can read more about SEO for podcasts here.

Data Analytics

To ensure you’re moving forward effectively, you can use analytical tools like Spotify’s Podcast Dashboard to glean invaluable data-driven insights. Use this data to see how you measure up to your goals and make strategic adjustments based on what really resonates with listeners


Starting a good podcast requires careful planning and execution. Starting a great podcast requires even more. Once you have chosen a niche, you have to carefully plan the tech specs and logistics of your show before you record, edit, and publish. Creating content that engages your audience and leaves them dying to hear more takes time and experimentation. Monetizing your podcast and maintaining business momentum require consistency and diligence as you scale your podcast into something that works for you.

Becoming a professional speaker aligns nicely with the skillset and business model of podcasting. If speaking is something you’ve considered, you can learn more about our programs for launching a speaking business here.


What is required to start a podcast?

Really, all you need is a great idea and a microphone. With audio editors and podcast hosting software to streamline the process, your podcast can go from your home office to apple podcasts in the matter of a few days.

How much does it cost to start a podcast?

Costs significantly depending on the gear and platforms in which you invest. A microphone will probably put you out $100 – $300, while software programs will have ongoing monthly costs of around $12.

How do I start a podcast with no experience?

Start by learning about podcasts: listen to creators you admire and find a niche where you see a gap in the market. Then, invest in some gear, record a few practice episodes, and launch!

Can you make money podcasting?

Podcasts can generate income through sponsorships, ads, subscriptions, and listener support. Your revenue will depend on your audience, the types of businesses you collaborate with, and how often you ask for money. If you want to learn how to start a podcast to make money, it won’t come automatically–it takes time, effort, and investment!


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3 Things You Should Know About Starting a Podcast from John Ball
"Podcasts are a slow burn, so you really do have to manage your expectations and know that there are so many good reasons for doing it."

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