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How to start a podcast

Since the term ‘podcast’ was first used in the early noughties, millions of podcasts opens in new window have been produced covering a wide range of topics, including true crime, business, politics, comedy, fitness, and health.

The popularity of podcasts has been increasing, and it’s estimated that there will be over 28 million listeners by 2026 opens in new window in the UK.

While many podcasts are hosted by well-known celebrities and can attract millions of listeners, anyone can start a podcast about a subject that interests them.

Many entrepreneurs have monetised their podcasts and run them as businesses in their own right.

 

What is a podcast?

The word ‘podcast’ is a mixture of ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’.

Podcasts as we know them today can be one-off shows but they are usually a series of audio or video files that users can subscribe to and download or stream online and smartphones opens in new window are the most common device used to listen to them.

They’re a platform for sharing ideas, opinions, conversations, and discussions, typically covering anything from news and sports to comedy and film reviews.

The shows inform or entertain listeners and can help build communities around a particular topic.

 

What do I need to start a podcast?

You don’t need to run an established brand opens in new window or be a famous personality to start a podcast.

Here are key things to do to get your show off the ground.

 

Picking the right topic

When deciding on a topic for your podcast, consider your interests.

It’s important to have a passion for the subject so the show comes across as authentic.

You should also consider your target audience opens in new window and what they might like to listen to – do they want to be entertained or educated, or would they prefer lively discussions and reviews?

If you already have a business selling products or services, you could start a podcast about a relevant topic so you can use it to engage your customers – and attract potential new ones.

 

Choosing the right format

Think about the format of your podcast and consider:

  • will you be hosting it?
  • will there be co-hosts and discussions?
  • will you be interviewing people – and how will you find the interviewees?
  • will your podcast be to entertain, inform, a mix of both – or something else?
  • how long will each episode be? 20 minutes, 30, 45 or longer?

Consider your potential audience and how they might listen to your podcast – while driving, travelling or relaxing opens in new window, for instance.

 

Finding the right Podcast name

Potential listeners have many shows to choose from, so choose a catchy name opens in new window that encourages them to engage with your episodes.

Consider making the name of your podcast relate to the subject matter or your brand so it’s easy for people to understand what it’s about.

 

Making the most of branding

Your podcast branding opens in new window will be the first thing people see when browsing lists of shows, so it needs to stand out.

New listeners could be more likely to listen if your podcast’s cover art is eye-catching.

Use images that clearly communicate the subject of your show, and think about how it will look as a small image on a smartphone.

If you are creating a brand podcast, you could use the same brand colours and fonts to tie everything together.

Your artwork must comply with specific requirements opens in new window to appear on Apple Podcasts, one of the more popular directories.

 

Other things to consider when starting a podcast

You could consider creating a business plan opens in new window for your podcast to help you organise your finances and goals.

You could also register your podcast as a business opens in new window.

Remember legal considerations, such as obtaining proper permissions for any copyrighted music opens in new window or content used in your podcast.

 

Equipment you need to record a podcast

To produce a high-quality podcast, here’s the equipment you’ll need:

  • device – a laptop is best for recording a podcast, but you can also use a smartphone
  • microphone – a dedicated external microphone usually provides better quality audio than a computer’s built-in microphone
  • headphones –using headphones improves audio quality, helps to block out background noise, and allows you to closely monitor audio levels so you can make adjustments
  • recording equipment – you can hire a studio to record your podcasts, but a cheaper option is to use podcast recording software such as Adobe Audition opens in new window, Riverside opens in new window, Zencastr opens in new window, and Audacity opens in new window. If you’re planning to create a video for YouTube, for example, you’ll need equipment to do this
  • editing – you can pay a professional editor to edit your podcasts or do it yourself using software – most podcast recording services include editing features.

 

Get listed in a podcast directory

To maximise the number of people who listen to your podcast, it needs to be listed on podcast directories such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Amazon Music.

You can do it yourself by submitting your podcast to each directory, but the quickest method is using a podcast hosting service, which will automatically distribute your episodes to multiple directories.

Podcast hosting platforms include:

When selecting a podcast host, consider these factors:

You can also create video podcasts on YouTube. opens in new window

 

How to make money from a podcast

 

There are various ways you can monetise a podcast:

 

Promote your products

If you have another business, use your podcast to generate sales opens in new window by recording relevant content.

For example, an entrepreneur running a sportswear brand could start a podcast discussing health and fitness opens in new window.

Mention your products or services during the episodes and include your website and social media links in the episode description so listeners can easily make a purchase.

Sponsors pay for mentions in your shows, in podcast descriptions, and on social media opens in new window.

You could start by working with small organisations and switch to larger sponsors with bigger budgets as the number of listeners grows.

You can also join an advertising network that features ads during podcasts from which you earn money.

 

Affiliate links

You can use your podcast to promote products or services and earn money by sharing affiliate links during your podcast recordings and in the episode descriptions.

Affiliate marketing opens in new window involves a business paying third parties a fee in return for promoting their products or services and achieving particular actions such as driving traffic to a website or generating sales.

You can use affiliate networks, which act as intermediaries between you and businesses that want to promote their products or services.

To ensure you’re operating within advertising guidelines, you’ll need to clearly state whether a link is paid for or if you get paid a commission if someone clicks it.

 

Tips

Encourage listeners to send you a small financial tip to support your show.

Use services like Buy Me a Coffee opens in new window and Kofi opens in new window.

 

Subscriptions

By charging a subscription opens in new window, you can create content that only subscribers can access.

This could be a special podcast, an early release of a show or merchandise.

Services you can use to sign up subscribers include Patreon opens in new window and BrandArmy opens in new window.

 

Sell merchandise

If you build a strong fanbase, you could sell branded merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs, and baseball caps.

Services such as Printful opens in new window, Printify opens in new window, and Spreadshirt opens in new window allow you to create customised products and send them to listeners.

 

How to make your podcast successful

Here are some tips for making a success of your podcast.

 

Consistency

Releasing consistent recordings at regular times is important as it helps to build listener loyalty opens in new window.

 

Reviews and subscriptions

Reviews help your podcasts to move up the charts – encourage listeners to give you a review and subscribe to your show on podcast directories.

 

Try cross-promotion

Some podcasters leverage guest appearances on other podcasts to reach new audiences – cross-promotion with other podcasters is also popular.

 

Promote on social media

Use social media opens in new window to promote your podcasts.

A popular method is sharing short clips with a link to the full show.

If you feature guests, encourage them to share on social media, too.

If you have the budget, you can pay for social media advertising opens in new window to promote your podcasts.

Ensure your podcast descriptions are optimised for internet search engines opens in new window so they appear when people are searching for related topics.

Write blog posts about each podcast and embed the episode.

Ensure blog posts are also optimised for search engines.

 

Learn with Start Up Loans and help get your business off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.

Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window  include:

Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, and leadership.

 

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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