The impact of Covid-19 has accelerated the transition toward the digital age where we seek news and interaction on our smartphones and social platforms. Considering, it seems while we are at home and quarantined, we are able to learn and explore new things that we may not have had time for while constantly on the go. As Americans explore new mediums for news, entertainment, and engagement, podcasts have become increasingly popular. In fact, as podcast awareness and consumption in the US continue to rise, podcasts now reach over 100 million Americans every month, which is up 32% from 2019, according to 2020 podcast research statistics from Edison Research and Triton Digital published in The Infinite Dial annual report. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, now is a great time.
I launched my podcast, Ask Myj The Podcast, back in January as an outlet to explore pop culture trends in music, movies and TV that influence our relationships, lifestyles and attitudes. Since the launch of my podcast, I have learned so much about podcasting and where it fits in media, news and entertainment consumption. The podcast market is booming and several of my friends have reached out to me to share their podcast ideas and inquire about how to get started. In this article, I compiled 6 essential steps to launch a podcast that I learned from my personal podcast journey. It is my hope that the information is helpful and effective and inspires you to launch your podcast. So, if you’re thinking about starting a podcast, keep reading.
1. Do your podcast research.
Start with researching what you need to get started, i.e. equipment and/or producers, if you choose to go that route. If you’re anything like me, then I know you a have a million questions about how to get started. Use your questions to guide your initial research. Figure out what equipment you need to get started. If you are recording this on your own, you’ll need a mic, mic stand, and a digital audio workstation such as GarageBand or Logic Pro to record. If you plan to work with a producer, you’ll need to research producers in your area that have experience with podcasts. Once you have a few options for producers, research their portfolio of work to assess the quality and style of their work. Next, dive into market research. This is essentially the who, what, where, when, and why of podcasts. Research who listens to podcast, what type of podcasts people listen to, what devices and platforms people use to listen to podcasts, where people listen to podcasts, when people listen to podcasts and why people listen to podcasts. Market research is how you can gage if people are listening on their iPhone on Apple Podcasts in their car on their way to work, or if people are listening on their computer on Spotify at home while cooking dinner, and so on. Another essential part of market research is exploring other popular podcasts that you are interested and are similar to yours so that you can explore different podcast strategies and formats.
2. Create a Marketing strategy.
I’m going to assume you already have an idea or vision for your podcast in terms of a name, description, genre, and maybe even format. Build your marketing strategy from your podcast market research. This is where you compile all of your findings from your research into a living marketing strategy, which is a strategy that you will continually edit and make changes when appropriate. As you develop your marketing strategy, you will gain a clearer direction for your podcast brand and niche in the market. The most important thing about your marketing strategy is identifying your audience and how you will reach and engage them. Again, this is where extensive market research plays an essential role. From your market research, you should be able to nail down your intended audiences and where and how to effectively reach them. The success of your podcast will be heavily dependent on how effectively you reach and engage your audience.
3. Choose your hosting and distribution platform.
Hosting platforms are where you upload your podcast audio to create an RSS feed that you can then distribute to podcast directories, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. A distribution platform is a platform that distributes your RSS feed to podcast directories. You have the option to manually distribute your podcast RSS feed or you can use a platform that will distribute it automatically. I personally use anchor as my hosting and distributing platform because it is easy to use, and it doesn’t cost. Although I do not record my podcast on Anchor, it does have the feature for podcasters to record directly on the platform. There are many other podcast hosting sites to choose from such as BuzzSprout, Simplecast and PodBean. Some platforms are free and some are not. It is important to research and choose the best distribution platform that works for you and your podcast needs and is able to reach your intended audience. Note, once you upload your first episode, it can take up to a week to be approved to be distributed on podcast directories. Be mindful of this if you have a hard launch date. I know that people typically shoot to distribute their podcast to popular directories like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, but I encourage you to also consider smaller podcast networks to distribute your podcast. Apple Podcasts and Spotify have thousands and thousands of podcasts that people have to sift through so it may be a challenge to reach your audience in the beginning stages. Smaller podcast networks typically host a smaller number of podcasts, which makes it easier for listeners to find your podcast without having to sift through thousands of others.
4. Create and plan your content.
Time to get creative! This is the fun part of podcasting, content planning and creation. This is where you choose topics and guests, write your scripts and format your episodes. Content creation and planning also includes promotional content and scheduling. Get creative with how you promote your podcast. While you plan out your content, choose which days you will record, edit, publish and promote. Based on your marketing research and strategy, identify what platforms you will use to promote your podcast, i.e. your website or social platforms, and create a consistent schedule to promote your podcast. As I stated previously, follow other popular podcasts that may be similar to yours to learn different podcast formats and marketing strategies. Stay abreast to news and trends that are relevant and can help shape your podcast content.
5. Record and edit your podcast.
Time to record. This process will differ based on if you’re doing it by yourself or if you have a producer. If you’re doing it by yourself, make sure that you schedule your recording days, editing days, launch days and promotional days while you are planning out content. If you have a producer, make sure that you and your producer establish a consistent schedule that works for both of you. Also, I definitely suggest that even if you have a producer, make sure that you have creative control of your show as it is a representation of your brand. Be a part of the editing and reviewing process so that the podcast format and quality is exactly how you want it.
6. Launch, learn and grow.
This is my favorite step. Podcasts are so much fun, especially if it’s something you are passionate about. I am an artist in my own right and I absolutely love recording and editing my podcast with my producer, listening to the final product, and engaging with my listeners on how they feel about the content. Launching and building my podcast brand has been a trial and error experience. I am always learning and experimenting with new things. It’s completely okay to change things up as you go, as long as you are aligning with your goals and catering to your intended audience, as outlined in your marketing strategy. As I stated before, your marketing strategy should be a living document so that you are able to change and edit things with time. Be sure you are in tune with relevant news and trends that can help shape your podcast content and format. Use conversations and experiences to help fuel your content. Ask friends, families, strangers, and your listeners for feedback throughout your podcast journey. Lastly, do it because you love it, not because you are looking to get anything out of it.