Updated: Jun 11, 2020
This is a simple step-by-step guide for beginner’s on how to start a podcast on a budget or for free.
I started The Casey Digital podcast in February 2019 with no budget and there are now thousands of people tuning in to listen to my content. In this post I have listed the steps you need to follow in order to create and grow your own podcast from the ground up.
Let’s get into the step-by-step process!
Step 1: Position your podcast to appeal to your target audience
Step 2: Ensure you have the right podcasting equipment and software
Step 3: Plan your podcast in advance and have a great script
Step 4: Find amazing guests to enrich your podcast for your audience
Step 5: Enjoy recording your podcast, it shouldn’t be a chore
Step 6: Spend time editing your podcast (but not too much time)
Step 7: Promote your podcast effectively through your channels
Step 1: Positioning your podcast
Why do you want to start a podcast?
It’s really important to know why you are starting your podcast and what the motivation is for you. If you aren’t clear about your ‘why’, you run the risk of losing interest and direction further down the line.
Are you looking to market your business? Give people advice? Entertain people? Or are you looking to build your personal brand?
All of the above are potential motivations and outcomes of the process but if you don’t have a clear drive and motivation that doesn’t go beyond jumping on the bandwagon of a popular trend, you might very well be doing it for the wrong reason.
**Why did I start the Casey Digital Podcast?**
I started my podcast in January 2019 because I love podcasts and I believe that there is a lot of value in the conversations that I was having with some e-commerce clients in London. I wanted to share these valuable insights and dialogues with people that couldn’t afford big agency fees.
Also, I have been working on my personal brand since 2018 with a view to launching my own agency into the market. My thought process was that if I could establish a reputation in my field, then I would be able to get a big job or grow my agency faster.
Target audience for your podcast, don’t try and make it for everyone
Now you need to know who you are aiming your podcast at. If you don’t clearly define your demographic from the start, you won’t be able to target your audience effectively.
Podcasting is like growing a following on YouTube - you need to talk specifically to a segment in the market and connect with them to build this following. If you water it down or you try to appeal to everyone, it becomes very difficult to maintain or expand your audience.
I’m used to mapping personas from my time working in UX and marketing so I know how important it is to use some of those methodologies to map the personas that you will appeal to. This will also help shape the content you create in the future.
I always find it useful to listen to other podcasts too.
**Podcast persona targeting tips**
Below is a table of the persona map for the Casey Digital Podcast and I find that it helps me plan in advance what my content is going to be, what language I use when I’m recording and also the types of guests that I will have on my show.
What are the goals of your podcast?
Establishing clear goals for your podcast is really important because it gives you clarity of what success looks like to you or your business. If you don’t have any goals you won’t feel a true sense of achievement and this may make the creative process feel too fluid, with a lack of focus.
Here are some examples of podcast goals to help you start thinking about how you want to finetune your focus:
Building your reputation in the industry as an expert
Generating sales for your brand or business
Bring a community together to discuss a subject or topic
To talk about something you are passionate about
To use your platform for a good cause
If your goal is to get millions of listens and get a sponsorship deal with Spotify like Joe Rogan, you have a pretty big task ahead of you but hey, there’s nothing wrong with lofty ambitions.
**My Podcast Goals**
My goal is simple: to be recognised in the digital industry as a leader and to meet interesting new people to learn from.
How to pick your podcast name
The name of your podcast is vital but you can’t make it spammy. Think of it like your SEO strategy, where it needs to be relevant to the interest of your audience without coming across as spam or clickbait.
There are a few different approaches when it comes to naming your podcast:
The branded approach: Foundr Magazine Podcast, this is the name of the brand across all channels including podcasting.
All about the name: For example the Joe Rogan Experience, most people are looking for Joe Rogan.
Witty / Random: For example My dad wrote a porno, is funny and intriguing for people to read and it’s got a good chance of being shared
The descriptive approach: For example The Property Podcast, it does exactly what it says on the tin.
Apple have a Podcasts Best Practice which gives you an insight into how they rank podcasts, and it states:
Pay close attention to the title, author, and description tags at the <channel> and <item> level of your podcast. Apple Podcasts uses title, author, and description fields for search. The metadata for your podcast, along with your podcast artwork, is your product packaging and can affect whether your podcast shows up in relevant searches, and how likely users are to subscribe to it.
Make your title specific. A podcast named Our Community Bulletin is too vague to attract many subscribers, no matter how compelling the content.
**How I named my podcast**
My name is Paul Casey + I’m a Digital Strategist = The Casey Digital Podcast
I like things to be simple :-)
What topics and subjects to cover on your podcast
It’s okay for your content and subject matter to touch on different areas as long as it stays true to you and your audience. Not everything needs to be rigid in the podcasts but you do need to know what you are talking about.
If you don’t it might have an adverse affect and lead people to switch off.
Podcasting is like any form of content marketing, it isn’t easy so you need to set out a clear plan and be in it for the long run (not just the short-term glory).
**How to pick podcast topics**
I always draw inspiration from the content I consume in my market, the conversations I have with clients and the guests that I interview.
Step 2: Ensure you have the right podcasting equipment and software
Software options for podcasting
There is becoming a lot of competition in the market when it comes to podcasting software and there are a few out there that are quite specific, so picking the right one can be tricky.
In my opinion, the best podcasting software for beginners is Anchor.fm. I have found it an absolute dream from the beginning, right through the point where I’m at now, getting hundreds of listeners per episode.
Here are the benefits of using Anchor as your podcasting tool:
The mobile app is outstanding and that’s what I use to record, edit and publish my podcasts end-to-end.
You can record your podcast remotely with guests by simply sharing a link as the audio is all recorded within the app itself.
It has a library of free audio assets to use and the editor tool is great to trim clips, add audio in the background and order your audio files.
Anchor publishes your podcast to all the major podcast platforms including Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, plus it gives you an RSS feed to embed on your website. See my podcast RSS feed here.
You can monetize it to make cash if you want, I haven't as of yet but the option is there.
It also has a recently updated analytics suite so you can get analytics on each episode, as well as your overall channel
Like most things that are free, Anchor isn’t perfect. The analytics are not up to my usual expectations (Google Analytics style) and if you are creating a more complex podcast with multiple guests and professional equipment you might need an upgrade.
If you are looking for a more advanced podcasting tool I would recommend Audacity as it has a whole host of beneficial features. Audacity also really allows you to go to town with the editing and effects.
Remote recording podcast software
The world has changed a lot in 2020 and the method of recording podcasts has evolved greatly too but fear not - I’ve got you. Remote podcasting is on the rise and I’ve found the best ways to do this are:
Zoom Call - you can save the audio down to your machine and upload to Anchor then publish it, plus you can record the video for YouTube. I have experienced some loss of audio and temperamental behaviour if you are recording video also so make sure you test it first.
SquadCast - this is a purpose-built remote podcasting software and it’s great if you don’t want any drop offs in your audio and a more professional set up with an individual audio file per guest for editing. The subscription fee is low and if you are a regular remote podcaster it makes perfect sense.
Anchor - ‘Record with friends’ is a feature that allows you to record a call and the audio quality is great.
Equipment options for podcasting
Similar to the software, there are a lot of options when it comes to the hardware for podcasting and if you are starting out it’s important to know the basics - essentially you need a microphone and some headphones.
When I started my podcast I used my Apple Airpods to record and listen as it was just me speaking in a monologue style but as I started to introduce guests and take things more seriously I needed to upgrade.
My microphone is a Blue Yeti which is a USB microphone that has great sound quality plus I can use the settings to have multiple people speaking into one microphone. Since I started using this microphone, the sound quality is great and it has made a significant difference in the growth of my podcast in general.
Sound quality really matters so if you are unsure on what to spend your money on whether it’s software headphones or a microphone - make sure you invest in a good mic.
Speaking to other podcasters, I have also been recommended other microphones such as The Blue Snowball, The Rode Podmic and The Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone but this costs a bomb and people only buy it because Joe Rogan uses it.
I still use my Airpods if I’m recording the podcast over the internet but if I’m in person with a guest I don’t use headphones. I have used headphones in professional studios though and it does make the experience better.
The headphones I would recommend would be either the cheaper option of OneOdio Over Ear Headphones or the more professional Sennheiser HD 280 PRO MK2 Headphones. There are lots of options out there and it depends on how many guests you have and your set up.
If you really want to be fancy with your podcast setup you can buy all sorts and here are some good places to start.
Foam microphone cover - this will help reduce the hissing and pops from you and your guests speaking and therefore reduce the time spent on editing.
Pop filter - again to shield the microphone and improve the sound quality.
Adjustable Microphone Stand or Boom Arms - will help position the microphone in the perfect position for you and your guests.
On Stage MY-420 Studio Microphone Shock Mount - this will help reduce any vibrations coming through the mic from your stand.
Audio Interface - this improves the quality of the audio coming from your mic and you have more control over the quality of sound.
**Podcast equipment set up for beginners**
Headphones: Apple Headphones / Airpods
Microphone: Blue Yeti Microphone
Accessories: Foam microphone cover
Step 3: Planning your podcast
Create a podcast structure
Organisation is key to any good content creation and you need to establish a podcasting structure which will work for you and your guests. Most podcasts have an intro, main body and an outro but it’s the order of the content and the flow that you can create that makes it really interesting to the listener.
When you are creating your structure, make sure that you tailor it to your audience and to your guests - this way it will appeal more to the audience and it will gain more traction.
**Podcast episode structure example**
Introduction (just me introducing the episode / guest over some background music)
Ask the guest to introduce themselves and what they do
Quickfire Q&A to warm up and have a bit of fun with the guest
How they started in the industry and lessons learned
What they do now and any projects that they want to talk about
How they try to attain a work-life balance
What influences they have had on their career
Advice they would give to people starting in the industry
Thanks and goodbye to guest
Outro (Charity fundraising, Subscribe, leave a review and follow on social media)
Decide on which podcasting format you would like to use, bearing in mind this may vary episode to episode but the more consistency you have the better it will be for your audience.
1-2-1 Interview podcast - this would involve a host interviewing another guest, for example the Joe Rogan Experience is probably the most popular for this.
Multiple guest podcast - this is more like a radio format where multiple guests come in and out on segments, for example the BBC Radio 5 Live Football Daily
Single monologue podcast - this can be you speaking directly to your audience, for example Russell Brand sometimes does this in his podcast Under the skin
**Podcast format example**
I have developed a 1-2-1 interview style over time and it works best for me as it allows me to meet really interesting people and really get to know them. I’ve found podcasting on my own to put a message out not that enjoyable - bouncing off other people is the best way for me.
There are no rules to how long a podcast should be, some podcasts are less than 20 minutes and they work for their format, while others are well over an hour. If you’re confident that you are producing quality content for your audience then they should stay engaged. Focus on creating quality over quantity.
It all depends on the format, guests and how you want to approach it, you can always edit out the weaker parts of the recording and trim it in the edit.
**Podcast episode duration tip**
I usually think of people listening to my podcast on their commute and for this around 1 hour is about right and people usually listen to the majority.
Step 4: Finding guests for your podcast
Create a podcast guest shortlist
Planning your schedule and trying to get guests on your podcast is one of the most challenging aspects I have found over time as it’s just me organising, recording, editing, marketing, etc.
To combat this I created a short list of people who I would like to get on my podcast and I use this as a means to vet if they are relevant to my audience but also to create a hit list to contact over time.
Network through social media
Connecting with potential new guests on social media has been one of the best ways for me and I know that anyone who uses LinkedIn will know it’s a great way to look people up and see if they are the right profile.
I’ve found LinkedIn to be one of the most effective methods for me, even if I send somebody a direct message on there and I don’t hear back from them until 3 months down the line. Instagram and Twitter will also work for some people but I find the responses much slower.
Look for people who have their own podcast
Pre-built audiences are sometimes hard to come by, however in the world of podcasting you can find hosts of other shows to bring real value to your podcast.
Some of the most interesting people that I have interviewed on my podcast have their own podcast and they are pros. For example, I featured Sarah McDowell from the SEO SAS podcast on my own pod. This aligned both from a subject matter and an audience perspective as she has her own following of people interested in SEO.
Step 5: Recording your your podcast
The sound quality of a podcast is one of the most important factors and this isn’t just down to your equipment set up - the room you record the podcast is also important. Any solid surfaces like hard floors are a no-go and it’s best to have carpet and soft furnishings in the room to absorb excess noise and echoes.
Most people don’t have a recording studio in their office or at home so do the best you can and it will save you a lot of time in the edit.
**Podcast recording environment examples**
I’ve recorded podcasts in my car, in a cupboard and in a greenhouse in Use Space. I’ve had to be flexible around my guests but I always test audio before I start any episode.
Comfort is key
Make sure you and your guest are comfortable, have a drink ready and ensure you have a conversation beforehand just to warm up your speaking patterns. Hot drinks are great for your voice and it helps to keep you hydrated during the episode, however try to avoid fizzy drinks as they might make you burp and the mics will pick it up.
When you are interviewing a guest who isn’t used to podcasting they can be nervous and that is natural so normal routines and having a calming influence is really important. Make people feel at home and they will give you valuable content in return.
I normally make a pot of peppermint tea for me and my guest as a calming influence and less caffeine than coffee so you don’t ramble on.
How to record a podcast episode in Anchor
As Anchor is the best choice for newbie podcasters, I wanted to give you the step by step guide in the app so you can see how easy it is.
Go to the anchor app and log in or create an account.
Go to Tools and top left New episode
Tap the Tools button in the app to Record, add an audio file from your Library, add Interludes, Sounds or Songs.
Make sure you an intro and an outro for your episode
If you want to do a remote podcast tap on “Invite friends to join”
Go to details and add in a title and description, I generally use the script notes as the show notes
Use the editing tools to trip or edit the audio
Publish the episode and add the 5 SEO tags for the episode
Check it has been published and listen
Look at the analytics on the episode to see how many listens, what platforms, etc.
Anchor have a guide: How to make a podcast on the anchor app
Step 6: How to edit your podcast
Create an enticing intro
When you are editing your podcast there are some important stages that you need to focus on to make a strong impact with your listeners.
Create a custom intro for each episode that bridges the gap for the listener and tells them what to expect on the pod. Having background intro music often helps differentiate between the beginning segment and the main body (plus it’s good to get a regular jingle). Anchor has lots of sound effects and royalty free background tracks but if you want something specific Audio Jungle has the widest variety of royalty free audio clips.
**Podcast intro example**
I use background music and then introduce the guest and the topics we cover. I also say that my podcast is in support of the CALM charity and that I’m raising money over time.
Save time in the edit
During the recording stage you can do things to save time in the editing suite, if you are not careful you can spend hours editing an episode and from my experience that isn’t the best use of time.
Background noises, losing the train of your thought and coughing are the most common issues when I have been recording episodes from my experience. Sometimes interruptions can’t be helped so when you restart the conversation I’ve found it’s good to do a clap (yes like in the movies) with your hands or go silent then restart. The reason behind this is because you will be able to visualise the places to trim when you are in the editing tool rather than listening to clips multiple times.
Although it’s important to try and save time in the edit, make sure you listen to the whole episode with headphones at least once before you publish. This will help you listen to the product that your audience and makes writing the description easier.
Outros are all about calls to action
You can edit the outro per episode but I would suggest that you have a generic outro that you can use for every episode. Make sure you have clear calls to action on your outro, with some strong examples including:
“Subscribe to my podcast”
“Leave a review on Apple podcast”
“Follow me on LinkedIn”
“Sign up to the newsletter”
“Email me feedback on <enter email address>”
“Visit my website on <www.inserturl.com>”
Step 7: Promoting your podcast
Plan your release day and time carefully
When you release your podcast is important and choosing the right day and time can make the difference between tens and hundreds of listens.
You might need to research your market or just test and learn but most podcasters in the digital and marketing space say that Sunday night after 8:00pm when people are downloading pods for their weekly commute or Thursday morning before 7:00am are the sweet spots.
**Podcast publishing tip**
I usually publish my podcast on a Tuesday or Thursday morning around 6:00am.
Create engaging podcast artwork and social assets
Creating great artwork can make you stand out in the browsing categories but make sure you have a look around the competition first so you can stand out with fresh colours or styles. Create podcast artwork that is easy to read on a mobile and eye-catching in the podcast platforms such as Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.
Also when you are working on the creative save out the assets in multiple sizes so you can quickly and easily share them through your social media channels.
**Podcast artwork and assets checklist**
I use Canva to create my podcast artwork and it has some great templates for inspiration and it’s completely free to use. It’s also great for creating social media assets at scale.
Here is my beginner’s guide to podcast assets:
Podcast thumbnail - 1080 x 1080 pixels
Instagram post - 1080 x 1080 pixels (same as above)
Instagram Stories - 1080 x 1920 pixels
LinkedIn Article / LinkedIn Post - 800 x 400 pixels
YouTube post thumbnail - 1280 x 720 pixels
For Facebook, Twitter and any other platforms I use the square from Instagram
Write a great description
Writing a great description is really important to gain new listeners as the podcast platforms use the title and the description for their search function. So like with Google you need to make sure that it is optimised for podcast SEO and you have a maximum of 4,000 words to do so.
**Podcast description tips**
I use the script as a base for the description and then when I’m doing a test listen, I make notes and finalise my description.
Also remember to write a great intro and add your calls to action at the end of your description with links to your email, website and social media channels.
Share your podcast on social media
Sharing with your already engaged network is one of the best ways to gain awareness and traction that your podcast is ready to listen. However don’t be fooled into posting once about your pod and think the game is over.
Due to the volume of content and competition on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram your post doesn’t reach all your followers, in fact it reaches less than 1% of them. This means you need to have a posting plan to hit different channels at different times and try to extend the promotion over a 2 week period without spamming too much.
If you have a guest(s) on your show you can tag them in your social media posts to help reach their audience on platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram. It’s a good way to build a new audience through the networking effect, the bigger the network of the guest the more listens and subscribers you will get.
**Example social media posting plan**
Here is the timeline and tactics of when I post on my social channels:
Day 1 Launch the podcast
Post an Instagram story share from Spotify
Post a link to Apple podcast on Linkedin
Post on Twitter and pin the post to my profile
My podcast RSS feed auto posts to my website
Update all my bio links from my profiles to the episode link on my website
Day 3 (or the nearest weekday)
Post on Instagram main feed and tag the guest
Post a link to Spotify on LinkedIn
Post a link to Spotify on Twitter
Day 7 (or the nearest weekday)
Create an article on LinkedIn with the description as the article content with links to both Apple Podcast, Spotify and all my CTA’s
Post a link to my website page on LinkedIn
Post a link to website podcast page on Twitter
Post a mobile video recording of my website page on Instagram & Stories
Post podcast video on YouTube
Podcast reviews = increased visibility
One of the golden rules to podcasting is to ask for podcast reviews on your episode to boost visibility. The more reviews you get, the more chance you stand of growing your project. Many of the modern platforms, such as Instagram and LinkedIn, determine their algorithm on the quality of comments and reviews.
**Podcast reviews tips**
Start out by asking friends, family, Whatsapp groups, colleagues.... anyone to leave a written review on Apple Podcast.