If you want to grow your brand and get heard in a cluttered market, creating your own podcast can be gold. Learn how to start a podcast, from how to choose your podcast theme to planning your episodes and free tools to get you started with our step-by-step guide.
Australian podcast audiences growing like wildfire
Podcasting is one of those ‘trends’ that’s become mainstream. A source of news, inspiration, brand equity and revenue, a podcast can be a vital tool to attract and engage new audiences, promote your services and expand your brand personality. Getting your voice into your customers’ ears is a perfect way to let them know who you are, what you stand for, and the must-have value you bring to their day. More than a third of Aussies listen to podcasts, and that number is growing. Even better, research found that us younger Australians are willing to pay for content. We want to niche down into specific subject areas (hello true crime, entrepreneurship and crypto trading!) and we’re sick of traditional news formats, fake news and those commercial current affairs shows that roll out the same old scandals every few months.
The Step by Step Guide to Starting a Podcast
Podcasting revenue was tipped to hit almost $50 million in Australia last year. If you want a piece of the pie, you need to start a podcast. But how can you make sure yours is a ‘hit’ rather than a ‘miss’? We spoke to Sarah Davidson, of @spoonful_of_sarah and super-successful podcast, Seize the Yay. Ditching a corporate career for a ‘funtrepreneur life’, Sarah interviews the world’s most inspiring people including Olympian Morgan Mitchell, Julia Stone and Wim Hoff. Sarah gives us the lowdown on launching your podcast in this step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Why do you want to podcast?
Sounds like a stupid question, right? But dig deep. What’s your real reason for starting a podcast? Audiences need to feel they are getting new content, a new perspective, or insights and hacks they can’t get elsewhere. Just because you have a burning desire to hit the mic doesn’t mean anyone will want to listen. So dig into your why – what is your podcast going to deliver that no one else does? And why should anyone care? Sarah’s advice: “I had found a topic that I was passionate and excited about and was looking for a platform to host the kinds of conversations I wanted to start. Podcasting wasn’t something I was very familiar with, I wasn’t really even a regular listener myself – it was more that I sought an audience with a longer and deeper attention span than social media and podcasting popped up as a great solution. I don’t think I had even considered whether my Seize the Yay philosophy fit within a niche or overlapped with other podcasts in the category before starting (which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend). It was helpful though that when I started, podcasting was much less saturated so there weren’t too many other voices in the happiness space at the time.”
Step 2: How will you stand out?
There are over 2 million podcasts out there, with over 48 million episodes. Does this mean starting your own podcast is pointless? NO! But it does mean you need to stand out. Sarah’s tips: “I definitely agree the market has become a lot more crowded than it was when I started, but I also think even if you were covering the exact same topics or themes as someone else, your unique voice or manner of delivery will always give you a point of difference. So don’t take it as a deterrent that someone else is already covering your topic – I always remind myself of the quote “someone else is looking for exactly what you have” and you might express things in a way that resonates strongly with someone who wasn’t previously interested in your topic. “The big issue is communicating to potential listeners what it is about your particular voice that’s unique, which can be hard to capture. I find that makes choosing audio snippets or teasers for my episodes really important because that’s some people’s first preview of the show – you want to make sure it represents you and what you’re trying to do well.”
- What’s your style? Conversational or news-reader? Interview guests or fly solo? Scripted or winging it?
- What’s your take? Are you rebellious or unconventional? Warm and cheerleading? Educational?
- How can you get super specific? Trying to catch a broad audience with a large net will dilute your podcast. Get specific. Don’t just be a podcast for entrepreneurs. Be a podcast for female entrepreneurs under 30 in the ecommerce space. Or a 7-minute daily podcast for digital marketers on social media hacks. Go niche.
Step 3: Get the best podcast equipment for beginners
You don’t need a complete sound studio to start your own podcast. You don’t need a pro-level recording deck. But you do need a great mic and headphones. Why? Your sound quality is a representation of your brand, and you’ll sound like an amateur hack with scratchy, echo-y, breathy audio. Headphones matter, even if you’re recording solo – they help you to be aware of your pitch, tone, and if you unconsciously move away from your mic or project your voice too loud. Here's our Podcasting For Beginners Starter Kit:
- Microphone: Audio Technica 2100x is a consistent high performer. Affordable, USB, easy to get started.
- Headphones: Any basic headphones will do, just turn the volume UP so you catch any weird breaths, clicking or screeches on your audio.
- Pop filter: This goes over your microphone for better sound quality. From $4 online.
- Recording software: GarageBand or Audacity are both free, while Adobe Audition comes as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
- Audio interface: If you’re got some cash to splash and you’re interviewing guests or have a co-host, an audio interface protects the sound quality of both mics, and ensures one mic doesn’t sound louder than the other. Try Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Zoom H6 or go luxe with Rodecaster Pro if you’re totally cashed up.
- Editing software: GarageBand and Audacity are good free options, while Hindenburg lets you upload your podcast and publish with a single click.
Step 4: Map out your launch plan
Don’t record one podcast, publish it and then scramble to get the next podcast live. Consistency is KING in content creation. Make sure you’ve got a few banked before you launch, so that you can seamlessly drop new eps every week or day. To do this, you need to map out your launch plan:
- Who will you interview / what will your episode themes be?
- How will you structure your episodes? Music bed? Intro and outro? Hook through to your website or socials in your call to action?
- What day of the week will you publish and how will you promote your new episodes?
You might not plan your entire first season, but at least nail your structure, says Sarah. “People are forgiving when you’re starting out but only to an extent, so I’d say the biggest thing is plan out your first episode and [how] it will set the show [up] for your listeners. What will the title be? The intro music? Your signature catch phrases or segments?”
Step 5: But don’t be afraid to ditch the plan when opportunities knock
We asked Sarah if she plans out each season and episode in advance: I would love to say it’s all strategic but I’m pretty haphazard! It’s a lot easier for me than for some podcasters because of the nature and structure of Seize the Yay – each episode is a free-standing interview and there’s no theme per season or anything like that so it’s easier to be flexible. There is definitely a clear strategy in terms of what kind of guests I feature but the particular order in which they appear is less planned. I generally start the year with a list of people I’d like to have on as well as checking in every few weeks to make sure the line up is balanced i.e. not too many people from similar industries in a row to keep things diverse and interesting. It also really heavily depends on when you can lock in each guest as their schedules are usually pretty full too, so I tend to be a bit more last minute (although I’d love to say otherwise).”
Step 6: Don’t forget to make it fun
You’re creating your own voice and carving your unique niche in the media landscape. While that might seem overwhelming and a heeeeeaaaaappppp of work, it’s also meant to be fun. This is the stuff that should light you up, not become a grind. Sarah says, “I love that I started as a complete newbie and learnt things along the way. That allowed me to start without putting too much pressure on myself to ‘succeed’ or achieve any particular result – I genuinely started by having conversations I thoroughly enjoyed and was curious about myself, and it’s remained that way ever since. Part of me would be tempted to try to reverse engineer what kind of show would ‘go viral’ or get the most downloads, but I really love that I didn’t go down that path. So if anything, I’d remind myself to ENJOY the process.
“I’m such a proponent of starting before you’re ready and just winging it, but I also think you have to have done at least enough preparation that people will still want to tune in again after they listen to your first episode,” says Sarah.