How To: Start A Podcast

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Last week, we had the pleasure of speaking with Katie Philo. She’s a Londoner living in New York and her day job is working as the social and content manager at Britbox. But on the side, she also hosts her own podcast, When I Grow Up. We’re big fans of the podcast ourselves, so for her how-to, we wanted to ask all about the nitty gritty behind launching it. If you’ve ever thought about starting your own podcast, check out Katie’s 10 steps below!

1. Have an idea. “I think the first part is really just the idea, the motivation to commit to making something. You don’t need it to be 100% set in stone and if that idea starts to change as you get going that’s ok. But you’ve got to have an idea that, at its core, you’re fully behind.”

2. Choose a name. “I think everyone gets really tripped up coming up with a name. My best advice is do a big brainstorm and put everything down on a page. Then give yourself a few weeks to ruminate on this list. Make it snappy and memorable. You should be able to read it and get a general gist of the idea of the podcast.”

3. If it’s a guest-based podcast, start reaching out. “I have three lists on the go at any given time: ‘Dream List’ (unlikely, but a girl’s gotta dream),  ‘Wishful Thinking List’ ( (people who are slightly more accessible but still ambitious), and then a ‘Hopeful List’ (people I know personally or through friends). Then you have to start emailing. Always try and go directly where you can. If you can’t find an email address, try Twitter or Instagram. My biggest advice is do your research on the guest. Don’t just send an impersonal email. Be thoughtful and take the time to articulate why this would be of interest to them.”

4. Get your equipment sorted out. “I use the Yeti USB Mic, and I also use a pop shield, which gives the sound a little bit more depth. I use a Skype audio recorder and I always tell the person on the other end to put in headphones with a mic. Then [for]in-person [interviews], I have a Zoomrecorder.  You don’t really need expensive equipment though. You could even record straight onto your phone or GarageBand. Never let equipment stop you from getting started, it doesn’t need to cost you a thing.”

5. Design your artwork. “You want it to sell the podcast and also give a feel for what it’s about. I think having a simple, distinctive color palette is a good idea, not over-complicating it. When audiences see your cover on mobile,  the smallest it will be is the size of a postage stamp. So you need to consider: Is the text legible? Does it stand out? I commissioned an illustrator to make my artwork, but don’t be afraid to make it yourself.”

6. Choose a format. “There are a few things to think about here: do you want it to be really kind of clear format where you have the same questions or parts every time or is it just free flowing conversation? Have a think about how you want it to play out and be consistent.  Do lots of research. If you’re prepared, you will feel less nervous.”

7. After recording, edit. “Once you’ve recorded,, the next step is editing the audio. I use Adobe Audition, but there are loads of free tools like Audacity online. Your decided format will determine the level of editing required. For example, if your podcast is a long-form interview, you might only need a bit of tweaking. If you’ve never edited before, take your time and use online tutorials. The Internet is your friend when it comes to learning this stuff. You’ll get faster over time, trust me.”

8. Choose a title and description. “Make sure your episode title is clear and punchy. Think of it like a headline. Does it reflect the episode well? Will someone want to click on it? A good description is like a film synopsis explaining what audiences can expect and gives them a reason to listen. From an SEO perspective, make sure you include key words, search terms and people.

9. Distribute it. “In terms of distribution, there are lots of different platforms to host your podcast.  I use Audioboom. I upload my audio directly and the platform makes it easy to syndicate to the places people get their podcasts such as Stitcher, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. There are lots of other podcast hosts, including Podbean, Buzzsprout and Soundcloud. Do you research and figure out which will work best for you. Remember, there are requirements for audio, such as file type and volume levels. I’d recommend checking out the FAQs on iTunes Connect as it has some easy to follow explainers.  Whichever platform you chose will have listening stats. Keep an eye on them as you’ll be able to see which episodes particularly engaged audiences.

10. Keep going and have fun! “Be open to feedback and take it on board. When you’re doing everything on a project, it’s easy to miss areas you can improve on. Never feel pressured to stick to an unrealistic release schedule and find a format that works for you. Don’t worry about the listener numbers at the beginning. The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself and have fun with it.”

Thank you for the great advice, Katie! We love your podcast, and appreciate all these tips. Readers, when you’re done getting started on Step #1, come back next week for an interview with a woman who is great with money.