Answer These 5 Questions to Start Your Podcast Right Now

image-from-rawpixel-id-1225475-jpeg.jpg

To quote two of my favorite podcasters Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, “Everyone should start a podcast!” But truly, even if you’ve been thinking about it just a little bit, it’s time to start a podcast.

If you have the itch to get creative, your brain is filled with ideas for great content, and you want to provide value whether it be free trainings or inspiring interviews or true crime investigations or straight up comedy… Start a podcast.

Maybe you’ve been sitting on the podcast idea for a while but you’re hitting a wall in the creative process. Or maybe you think you need to learn the technical side first, and THEN you can start a podcast.

If you find yourself waiting for perfection to happen, or waiting until you know EVERYTHING before you start, you’ll be waiting forever. Instead, take action right now (however imperfect) and get this thing rolling before you get in your own way.

You can start your podcast right now -- You just need to decide, do, and learn these things through answering five questions.

What’s the Concept?

Take out a sheet of paper and write down your first ideas for the concept of your show. Will it be episodic, interview-based, current events commentary, niche topic discussions? What does the CONTENT look like for you? Which of the Apple Podcast categories best fits your show?

Your instinct might be to self-edit even before writing down your ideas. Now is not the time to criticize yourself. What was the very first idea that caught your attention? Write that down and flesh it out.

When I was dreaming up my podcast, Little Stories, I knew three things: I wanted the show to focus on storytelling. I did not want to cover pop culture or current events (at least, not as the sole focus). And I wanted to leave enough open doors and keep the concept broad so I never felt limited content-wise. Something I realize now, is that last part actually gave my co-host Kristen and I room to evolve in ways that felt right as we learned our own strengths and what our listeners enjoyed.

That’s important to remember when dreaming up your concept -- Whatever idea you develop is absolutely fluid and can change as you figure it all out. Again, don’t let the concern of having it all figured out from the beginning prevent you from even reaching the starting line.

Who will host?

If you want to start a solo show, then this is an easy question to answer. YOU are the host. But if you want to start a show with a co-host for conversation and commentary, or welcome guest hosts and interviews, think about where you will find these other voices.

Starting Little Stories Podcast and finding a co-host was a journey for me. I wanted to start a podcast since I left my morning radio post in Portland because I loved the format of unscripted conversation and playing off my co-hosts. When I moved to New York City, I’m sure I annoyed all my friends (both local to NYC and far away) by pitching my podcast ideas to them and asking if they’d be my co-host.

Here’s the short answer to the question, “How do I find a co-host?” Look for someone who complements your skill set, not someone who is strong in all the same ways you are.

Ask your potential co-host why they want to start a podcast, and analyze how that fits with your “why”. Your reasons for wanting to start a podcast don’t have to match. In fact, differing motivations can be a great balance.

For example, you want to start a podcast to create value for an audience and have an outlet for your creativity. While your potential co-host is interested in the possibility for advertising income down the line.

This balance could evolve into a wonderful partnership, where YOU lean into a content producer role, while your co-host keeps a business mindset to eventually profit from the work you’re both doing.

What’s the title?

Oh, the pressure to come up with a clever, descriptive, and original name for your podcast is probably as difficult as thinking of a baby name. Not entirely sure though… I have exactly zero human children.

That said, your podcast name only has to be two of those things: descriptive and original. Start with a handwritten mind map of terms related to your show topic and content.

For Little Stories, the mind map included storytelling, listener submitted, true stories, crowdsourced, emails, secrets, true crime, and New York City.

The last three terms (secrets, true crime, New York City) felt too specific. While we do cover those topics, a title featuring those words or synonyms for those terms would’ve pigeonholed us.

However, we both love storytelling, and knew the word “story” had to be part of the title given our content so we worked from there.

The very first title we loved was “Tell Me a Story” but after saying it outloud, bouncing it off friends, and discovering that it was used for another show on Apple Podcasts already (albeit, a dormant show) it just didn’t feel like the final draft of our show name. It evoked childlike vibes, and our should would not be something for moms to play while kids are in the back seat.

Little Stories evolved from a phrase I caught myself using when prefacing a tale I was about to tell in general conversation with pals. “Well, I have a little story about that…”

Workshop your title and research what’s already out there on Apple Podcasts. Ask people what they *think* your show is about with the working title you’ve chosen. Pay attention to how you describe your podcast to friends. Which words keep coming up?

It deserves mention that shows with an educational goal, with a niche or even broad focus on providing some sort of new knowledge or skill to the audience, would absolutely benefit from a title rich in SEO keywords.

Amy Porterfield’s podcast is a great example, “Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield”. There’s no confusion about what the host will cover or what the listener stands to gain by pressing play.

Don’t get caught up in clever play-on-word titles. Make it super easy for your listeners to find you and very clear what you’ll cover, even if they never, ever read your show description.

How will you record?

Do not let the technical skills required to produce a podcast stop you from starting. I’ll break it down in the simplest terms depending on the format of the show you intend to produce. Regardless of format, however, you need two things: Microphone(s) and audio recording software.

Is your podcast a solo hosted show? Great! Dig out your old wired iPhone headphones (or any old standard headphone jack headphones that have a microphone attached). Wired is key -- You’ll get the best quality audio if it doesn’t have to travel via Bluetooth to your recording software.

There’s no need to buy an external microphone when you’re just starting a solo show. However, if you want to invest in gear for better audio quality, keep reading.

Will you have a co-host? You’ll need two microphones and a mixer compatible with a USB port on your laptop or computer.

Don’t spend hours Googling the right setup, what kind of cables, who makes the best USB microphones, or anything else. I shared my exact gear kit in this podcast gear starter kit post.

Yes, it IS an investment. I hate using the comparison of “it’s equal to THIS many morning coffees at Starbucks”, as if I’d ever encourage you to give up coffee in the morning. So instead, it’s equal to the amount of produce you threw out last month. Just stop buying vegetables and get a podcast setup instead. I’m a little kidding.

Want to record interviews with guests? Use Zencastr. The free membership includes 8 hours of recording per month. Plenty for a weekly show!

Finally, all of these show formats need editing software. Audacity is a great free option with all the necessary features to record, edit, and “sweeten” your audio to sound it’s best.

How will you distribute?

You need a “host” AKA a service that will store your audio, give you an RSS feed, and deliver your content to major podcasting platforms.

You don’t need to worry about selecting a podcast host until you’ve started recording and producing content. I actually encourage you to not think about your host until you’ve worried about the content creation part of the process and have 3-4 solid episodes in the can.

Why? Researching a host can feel like you’re doing productive work -- scouring the internet for reviews, learning about RSS feeds, comparing who has the best stats reporting and which platform offers the most for the least amount of money.

In reality, this “research” is sucking up a lot of time that you could be spending creating. It makes you feel like you’re taking steps forward, but you’re really just stalling on the more important work (you know, talking into a mic so you actually have something to upload to your future host)!

I’ve worked with several different hosts, and I’ve done the time-consuming research. In my experience, Podbean is the best place for brand new shows to start and grow.

The FREE level of hosting includes 5 hours of storage per month (a little over an hour per episode for a weekly show), a basic customizable website with a few themes to choose from, and basic stats to track your show’s growth.

Once you’re ready for a little more, the $9/month hosting level includes unlimited audio, upgraded stats, access to advertising opportunities, and more.

Yes, hosting with PodBean will allow you to get on Apple Podcasts and other major platforms.

Start Right Now

So you skimmed this post and you’re thinking it might not actually be that hard to get your podcast off the ground and into the air(waves). Next step: Start right now.

Get a blank sheet of paper, a pencil, and write the five questions asked in the post on the page with space beneath it. Start an unfiltered conversation with yourself on that paper.

Use that sheet of paper as your dream sheet. This is your first intentional ACT. You’ll feel the real momentum behind you as you start filling up the page with your answers, even if those answers are just notes to yourself on what you need to decide, do, and learn next.

Do you have more questions about starting a podcast? Email me. Let me know what you need to finally make it happen. I’ll help you get there!