Start with an idea
The first step is to brainstorm what you want your show to be about. You probably have a general idea already, since you’re here. But really take the time to sit down and write out how you can turn your idea into a show that lasts, 5, 50, or 500 episodes. Are you looking to podcast as a career, or are you doing this to keep up with friends you’ve lost touch with? How often do you plan to release an episode, and how long do you plan each one to be?
Run your idea though the gauntlet, and make sure it still sounds fun at the end. If it doesn’t, make some tweaks. Now is the easiest time to change everything about your show.
Pick up some beginner hardware
The most important thing to remember when you’re buying your first podcasting equipment is to not go overboard. Many successful podcasters started with a USB microphone and a blanket for noise reduction. If you’re just starting to dabble, we recommend the Blue Snowball iCE microphone. It is under $50 and will sound great.
Regardless of what microphone you get, you will want to pick up a pop filter. This will soften the hard plosive sounds (like a “p” noise) and make your editing much easier. We recommend the Auphonix 6inch pop filter. Though it’s built to clip onto the Blue Yeti, you can clamp it to any desk surface.
That’s it. When you are just getting started, you don’t need anything else! Find out what you like about podcasting, then start to get more toys!
Download some recording software
There’s no need to go crazy with high end recording and editing software when you’re just getting started. There are some terrific free options. For recording, you’ll want to download Audacity here. It’s a terrific free tool that allows you to record audio, edit, and export an MP3. All you need to get your first few episodes ready to publish!
For more information on software, check out our Podcasting Software Guide.
Make a few episodes
You’ve got your hardware and software - it’s time to make a few episodes of your show. A good rule to live by is staying about three episodes ahead of your release cycle. So if you release your show once a week, you’ll want to have three weeks of shows already recorded, just in case you have to miss one or two. Your listeners will get used to seeing your releases at certain times of the week, and if they’re missing, they may get mad.
Starting out with a few episodes already created can also help you rise in the “New and Noteworthy” ranks on iTunes. This is a list of new podcasts that are performing extremely well in the iTunes library. When you have more episodes to start with, people have the opportunity to spend more time listening to your show, and your rank will improve.
Pick a host
Next, you’ll need to find a place to host your audio and show metadata. Remember, a podcast is really an RSS feed with elements that point to audio files that a user downloads.
Not all hosts are created equal, and we happen to think that Shortwave is pretty great (you can even try it for free for two weeks). Shortwave offers unlimited hosting, guided show creation, built-in analytics, and dynamic content stitching. However, if you’d like to look at some more options, we’ve compiled a list of a few other hosts here.
One word of advice - pay for a host. Free hosting sounds great, but remember that free never means free, online. And whether it comes from advertiser-inserted ads, or selling marketing data, you’ll end up losing the value of your show by not paying a few dollars a month in hosting fees.
Distribute your podcast
Once you’ve created a few episodes, picked a hosting service, and built your show’s RSS feed, it’s time to distribute your podcast to the many different libraries available.
The most important are Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, and Spotify, but we have guides for setting up just about every important distributor available. You can see all of those guides on our Getting Listed page.
Grow your audience
The sky’s the limit from here. You’ve got a live podcast! Start promoting it, start having fun with it. You’re a podcaster, now!