About 20 million people in the United States listened to their first podcast in the past year, according to a 2019 study from Edison Research and Triton Digital. More people are listening to podcasts than ever before, and that creates plenty of opportunity for new podcasters. Have you ever considered starting a podcast? To make the process easier for new podcasters, we reached out to women who are podcasting successfully to find out what they’ve learned along the way—and what advice they’d give someone who’s thinking of starting a podcast.
Get your head in the game
Before you start, make sure you know the basics about how to interview someone and how to record, edit, and publish an audio file. You could take a podcast class or hire a podcast coach or mentor, but many podcasters are self-taught.
According to self-taught podcaster Catherine Meng, host of The Design Voice Podcast, “There was a lot of upfront work. It was literally me googling ‘how to start a podcast’ or ‘best podcast equipment’. I had the idea and then it took me about three months to do all the research, figure out what equipment to buy, buy the equipment, and then teach myself the audio editing software.”
Don’t waste your money on expensive equipment
Annett Bone is the host of dance-meets-life-and-business podcast The DancePreneuring Studio, which has been going strong since 2015. She says, “Don’t get hung up on the technical aspect of podcasting when you are starting out. Keep it as simple as possible. And rest assured that it doesn’t have to be costly to start. I started my podcast for less than $150.”
“Start small and simple and manageable,” echoes Katie Horwitch, host of The WANTcast, a long-running podcast for women against negative talk. She agrees that beginning podcasters don’t need fancy equipment. Recalling her early podcasting days, she says, “I was posting once every three weeks, and used a Blue Yeti microphone I got off of Amazon. And I used GarageBand on my computer (and there are free classes at the Apple store where you can learn how to use GarageBand!). No mixer, no fancy anything. I still don’t use anything fancy—I’ve upgraded my mic and know how to minimize distracting ambient noise, but that’s about it.” (Editor note: You can also snag GarageBand tutorials specifically designed for podcasters through online learning platforms like Lynda and Udemy.)
Podcast about something you love
When you choose a theme for your podcast, make sure it’s a topic you’re passionate about. Suchandrika Chakrabarti is a freelance writer, and for Freelance Pod, she interviews guests about how the internet is changing the way we work. She says, “Really, it’s about starting with passion for your subject, and going on to develop a community (online or off) around your theme. Depending on what your goals are for the podcast, you need to make it about something you want to talk about and research for months, even years—as long as your project lasts.”
If you have a co-host, take time to address the logistical side of podcasting, recommends Jennifer Zahlit and Larkin Bell, co-hosts of A Female Lens, which spotlights women in the film industry. Their advice: “If you’re collaborating with someone, it’s a good idea to start off by sitting down with the other person and discussing expectations, goals, and work habits. As you keep the podcast going, it will get easier as you ﬁgure out your workﬂow.”
Shaniece Vincent and Jordan James host self-love podcast Goddess Culture together and focus on creating quality content that will keep listeners engaged. They say it’s important to be in the right headspace when you’re recording. “We come up with the content of our podcast together, bouncing ideas off of one another so that we have a chance to logically think through how our ideas may be received. During that short planning session, we also make sure our energy is right to deliver a quality show. When you are not interested in your own topic or when your own energy is off, your listeners can tell and may choose not to listen.”
Determine the schedule
Catherine Meng works full-time as an architect, which doesn’t leave her much time for podcasting. She advises, “Be realistic about how much time you can spend on doing a podcast, especially if you have a full-time job that’s not related to the podcast.” (She talks more about planning and scheduling a podcast in my recent article, “Schedule Your Way to a Successful Podcast”. If you’re not sure if you want to post episodes on a weekly, bimonthly, or monthly basis, it’s worth checking out!)
Still don’t have all the answers? Start anyway.
Your podcast won’t be perfect at first, and that’s okay. Meng says, “You can fuss around and edit and adjust things forever, but at some point, you just have to be like, ‘You know what? This is what the product is. I’m going to release it.’ Unless you start doing it, you’ll never get better. Just sort of let go. Start doing the podcast and releasing episodes.”
Annett Bone says there are plenty of things she didn’t know about podcasting when she first started The DancePreneuring Studio, but she’s glad she didn’t wait until things were perfect before she launched it. She says, “I believe that timing is everything, so I knew what I was supposed to know for that particular moment in time.”
Prepare a few episodes before you launch
Instead of making the first episode, publishing it, and then working on the second episode, it is usually a good idea to record multiple episodes before you release your first. Marla Isackson hosts the weekly podcast Mind of a Mentor, which now has more than fifty episodes. She says, “Most podcasters will record about five episodes before they put it on Soundcloud and iTunes, so to start your podcast, you have a series of podcasts you can put up. If you batch the first few, it gives you a little more momentum.”
Catherine Meng launched The Design Voice Podcast with three episodes. She says, “It was a lot of work up front, and it’s gotten easier and more streamlined as time has gone by. It’s definitely more time-consuming in the beginning.”
Need help? Ask for it.
A Female Lens co-hosts Jennifer Zahlit and Larkin Bell quickly realized the importance of asking for help. “When we ﬁrst started, we really had no idea about audio and how to use all of the different settings on our recording equipment. We were deﬁnitely learning by doing, but a couple episodes in, we had our friend who has worked with audio give us an hour-long tutorial and explain how everything worked. That was a game-changer!”
Keep your goals in mind. They’ll help you grow.
The hosts of Goddess Culture have used podcasting as a way to expand into blogging, hosting, and travel. They now organize wellness retreats twice a year, and most of the attendees are people who listen to the podcast. Their advice for new podcasters: “Use this platform as an opportunity to expand your brand. Shatter every glass ceiling. Anything is possible.”