If you’re considering starting a podcast, wondering what goes into podcasting, or just curious about our behind-the-scenes of this show, this episode is for you! I want to be open about the nitty-gritty process of starting a podcast from A to Z and let you in on how you can start one of your own!
I’ll admit, starting a podcast is one of the vaguest things in the world. I spent so many days on google trying to find details on things like “How do I get onto iTunes” or “who makes my intro?” It’s still a relatively new “thing”, so you feel a little lost when starting. How do I pick my topic? Demographic? Show name? How the heck do I get a theme song? How do I record it?
Safe to say there are a million and one questions and today we will be covering how we started this “little” show that’s grown into one of the biggest pieces of my business. It’s crazy to think that this started less than two years ago and we have already cracked the top 5 out of ALL business shows and top 50 of ALL podcasts. For reference there are over a billion subscriptions spread across 250,000 unique podcasts in more than 100 languages, and that more than 8 million episodes have been published in the iTunes Store to date. Like, that’s insane. But in order to thrive, you have to start with a foundation, and today I am going to teach you how to do JUST that!
There are a ton of benefits to podcasts: you can deliver content quickly and easily, you can teach on multiple subjects, you have a platform to invite guests to be on, specifically guests you might not have had access too without a show, you can extend your brand beyond just written words and images, you can establish your credibility and expertise, you can grow a true tribe, and you can share your offers in a unique way. The biggest reason why I wanted to do this show was that podcasts had changed my life, I felt like the hosts I listened too had become trusted friends in my life and I was tired of feeling so alone in the business rat race. I wanted to invite listeners to “come as they are,” to serve freely and in a new way, and to put out the resources I only wish I had when I started my business 8 years ago. I saw a need for good, free education and I stepped up to the plate to fill it. It really started as an experiment and I had no long term plan or goal beyond “let’s just see how this goes!”
THE EARLY STAGES
To be completely honest, I kind of just jumped into the podcasting world and built my wings along the way. I’ll be very frank, the beginning can feel a bit overwhelming because you have to figure out #AllTheThings very quickly, but it is a great opportunity to clarify your vision and hope for your show. I busied myself with everything but actually recording – I was scared, confused, and I wanted it to be PERFECT. (Spoiler alert: nothing is perfect and things have definitely changed since that first show aired!)
I still remember the day I decided to start a podcast. I was in the shower, listening to a show (yes, I listen in the shower) and I jumped out with the water still running and voice texted Caitlyn to tell her that we were going to do a podcast since we had all of this “free time” to fill and within 48 hours I had a website, I had hired someone to help me set it up, and I had polled my audience on a name for the show.
In episode 132 with podcaster Cathy Heller, we discussed how the best first step you can take is to define a really clear mission statement for your show. What do you want it to be focused on? Who will be your audience? What is your end goal? Even if these things change with time, it is so important to be clear in your ambitions, in the beginning, to help you lay a foundation. It might (and probably will!) shift slightly over the years, but that’s okay as long as you are aligned with it in all of its stages! (Tune in to hear my personal mission statement for Goal Digger, as an example!)
There are a lot of logistics that go into podcasting. Before you dive in, it’s important to at least think about these questions and answer them to the best of your ability. This was all foreign to me when I started but I looked at my user habits as a listener and used the shows that I really loved to help me lay the groundwork. Sometimes YOU as a user can be the best determining factor for how you want to move forward in creating your own show. I knew that I listened to about 3 shows a week, I loved hearing the personal stories of entrepreneurs tied into learning moments, I took notes on shows that really walked you through the step-by-step of something and I wanted to create a space that gave my followers and subscribers a chance to know and trust me more.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER:
- How many episodes per week?
- What “category” do you want to be classified under in iTunes?
- What is your show called?
- Who is your ideal guest?
- Who is your ideal listener?
- Will they be solo shows or guest shows?
- What topics will you cover?
- When will you write the script?
- Will you do solo shows?
- When will it go live?
- Will you have advertisers or promote anything?
It’s safe to say that podcasting takes a lot more time than you expect (especially when you are first getting started!). Between planning episodes, coordinating with guests, writing scripts, and shownotes- make sure you have a clear gameplan so you can begin to develop your workflow!
THE NON-GLAMOROUS PARTS
How will you record? Will you do your mixing or will you outsource it? These questions aren’t necessarily fun, but they sure are important! For us, we really valued having good audio so investing in an editor from the very beginning has been worth every penny! When I first started, I made a lot of mistakes when it came to audio. I used my iPhone headphones and recorded episodes outside (bad idea with traffic, wind, animals!) then for the first 6 months I recorded episodes from my car parked in my garage because I was worried the dogs would bark while I was on with a guest. While these weren’t perfect solutions, it was what I had to do to get the show-up and running. Once I started to really focus on good audio, I made some changes. To ensure we did everything possible to have the best audio, we invested in a nice microphone, they don’t have to be super fancy or expensive. I have two I use and recommend, I have a Blue Yeti mic and an Audio Technica mic, I also have a lot of friends who use a Logitech Headset and love it. You’ll want to be in a quiet space that doesn’t have an echo, has a good internet connection, and creates a set-up that is comfortable and conducive to a good recording.
Trust me when I tell you, you don’t need a professional studio, you just need a decent mic and a quiet room! (tune in to hear my top secret DIY device that makes EVERY recording sound like a million bucks!)
Once you record your episode and get the episode mixed (whether you teach yourself how to edit or choose to hire someone), listen in! One of my biggest pieces of advice is to tune in to what you think of your voice, interview style, and show structure! Be a student of your own show and seek to improve every time you step up to the microphone! Do you sound excited? Engaging? Are you asking the right questions? Are you interrupting your guest? I remember it was a giant learning curve because no one ever taught me how to be a host. When I first started my show, I had ONLY interviews and I realized that I wanted to teach too instead of trying to interject my expertise while trying to feature my guests. Solo shows allowed me to teach and establish credibility while also letting me fully feature my guests without feeling like I had something to prove.
PLAN YOUR LAUNCH
When you’re going to launch a podcast, you want to have a plan in place. A few things to do before you launch: you want to start sharing your plans for the podcast and hinting to your audience on what’s coming up for them. Poll them to find out what they want, who they’d love to hear from, and let them be a part of the process. Have 4-5 episodes ready to rock when you launch so that your audience can “binge” and get hooked, have a strategy of how you will share the podcast, and encourage your guests to share their episodes. We used: email marketing, Facebook, Instagram, Facebook ads, and we crowdsourced.
One of the best ways to grow your podcast is having guests share their episode of your show! It invites their followers to become fans of your show and organically grow your reach! Win, win! Encourage people to subscribe right away so that they can enjoy the content that is coming and let them know what to expect in terms of frequency, topics, and what is in it for them!
WHEN YOU START GROWING
Now that you’ve laid the foundation, let’s move forward. Some important factors to focus on:
- Know your numbers! Follow along with your downloads (we do this on our “host” website, libsyn) and see which shows people are loving and most-downloaded. This helps us cater to those topics in the future.
- Follow your ranking! If you are able to see your show ranked on iTunes charts, awesome! Track that number often (we do it almost daily on our team) to see how it ebbs and flows. Of note, iTunes has algorithm changes just like anything else so be aware that your numbers could change in a flash!
- Poll. Your. Audience! Did you hear that? You guys, so many of our show ideas come from questions YOU ASK! Who better to cater an episode to than the people that will download it! Whether it’s on Instagram, in the reviews on iTunes, or on a Facebook group– make sure that you are giving your audience what they want!
- Take on sponsors or partners: I’m not giving away all my secrets on this blog post, silly. Tune in to hear the HOW, the WHY, and different hacks to sponsorships!
- Create a Community: Having a private community is an awesome way to get feedback from your audience, to ask about past episodes, to poll them on future ideas, and to celebrate the successes and wins! I have a Facebook community with almost 20,000 members and I love having the ability to interact with listeners and bring new ideas to them.
- Maximize Your Guests: This is one of the biggest factors of all! Choosing guests, prepping them and getting them to share the show is one of the greatest ways to promote the growth of your show. Not only will having quality guests attract listeners, but gives you the chance to have EXPERTS in a field *and* a chance to be introduced to their audience.
It is with these small choices, every day, that your podcast will grow! It is truly the build of all the hard work that gets the momentum going! Don’t get overwhelmed with the “fluffy” and fun tasks at the beginning, and make sure you invest in building a solid FOUNDATION for your show! Little by little, your show (and mission!) will grow!
But truly, at the end of this, I hope your biggest takeaway is that no matter what you’re chasing down if you’re consistent, present, and intentional, things will unfold. You’ve got this, Goal Digger!