Since launching the Let’s Discuss Podcast with my good friend Monica Welburn, in spring 2017, I’m regularly asked to share my podcasting tips for beginners. And I’ve finally taken the time to sit down and put an in-depth list together for anyone who is thinking about starting a podcast. Here is everything you need to know before you record, edit and publish your first podcast episode…
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
I will never forget the afternoon Monica and I headed into her home office and sat down to start working on Let’s Discuss. Neither of us were prepared for how complex the process would be, and both naively assumed we could Google “how to launch a podcast”, read a few tutorials and begin recording that same afternoon.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t that simple. And we didn’t record a thing for at least another two months, because there was so much prep to take care of first.
So, the first of my podcasting tips for beginners is to do your research. Pat Flynn from the Smart Passive Income podcast has a great page on his website dedicated to podcasting advice, and it should be your first port of call.
Monica and I consulted this (now revamped) Pat Flynn post again and again, whilst we set up Let’s Discuss. It outlines all the essential podcasting tips for beginners, explaining audio files, podcast feeds, syncing to iTunes and designing your artwork.
I’ll never be able to explain all of the logistics as well as Pat Flynn does, so I won’t even bother trying. Instead, I will say this… Block out some time in your diary where you can sit down – without distractions – and properly read through Pat Flynn’s podcasting tutorials. Make a note of everything you need to do, and then start methodically from the beginning.
2. GET YOUR KIT
Since launching the Let’s Discuss Podcast, last spring, I’ve heard the same line from a number of friends within the industry, “I’d love to start a podcast. But I’d want to do it properly, and it seems like such a big investment.”
But, here’s the big secret: Setting up a podcast is not as expensive as you might think.
Monica and I started out with the Blue Snowflake USB Microphone, which we bought on Amazon for approximately £30 (it’s no longer available on Amazon.co.uk, but this is a similar microphone from the same company). We recorded our first two seasons using QuickTime Audio Recorder, with the Snowflake microphone plugged into a MacBook and placed directly in-between us as we chatted.
(We currently record on the Olympus LS-100, and will continue upgrading our equipment as the podcast grows and our skills develop).
Obviously you could spend a lot more on your kit, if you wanted to. But the point is, you don’t need to, as there are plenty of affordable options out there. So please don’t let the cost of recording equipment delay you from starting a podcast.
3. PRACTISE RECORDING & EDITING
As with any skill, podcasting is something that takes a lot of practise. Monica and I have now produced four seasons of the Let’s Discuss podcast, and we continue to learn and refine our skills with each episode. So don’t expect to be “perfect” from day one.
Your episodes will sound slicker and more professional as you slowly get to grips with podcasting. However, it is a good idea to do a few test runs before you record your first episode. This will help you become comfortable in front of the microphone, suss out the best location to record in (you don’t want to pick up lots of background noise) and clarify which elements of your show need to be scripted.
Plus, it will also give you a chance to practise editing audio files.
Let’s Discuss is currently edited in Garageband, which I taught myself to how to use by following these helpful podcasting tips for beginners:
I highly recommend Garageband, as it’s very easy to get your head around. I was able to learn the editing basics within a day, and by our fourth episode I felt pretty confident using the software.
4. DOT YOUR I’s & CROSS YOUR T’s
There are lots of platforms out there which distribute podcasts – from Stitcher and Spotify through to SoundCloud. But the biggest, of course, is Apple Podcasts. And to get your show synced up to iTunes you need to meet a number of requirements.
This iTunes resource page maps out everything you need to know as a new podcaster, and you should follow each step carefully in order to get your podcast on the platform.
And here’s another important thing to consider… If you plan to use music in your podcast you’ll need to purchase the licensing rights first. For Let’s Discuss Monica and I have always turned to Audio Network, which is quite affordable.
5. PLAN YOUR RECORDING SCHEDULE AHEAD OF TIME
Before you make things official and send your podcast out into the world, it’s important to get a firm grip on your production schedule. So start by asking yourself these questions:
– How often will you release new episodes? Weekly, in seasons, multiple times a week, every fortnight…
– If you’re recording in seasons, how many episodes will there be per series? When will each season begin and end?
– What day of the week will you publish new episodes?
– How many topics/themes will you discuss in each episode?
Once you have clear answers to all of these questions you can put together some form of editorial calendar, and work out when you will need to record and edit each episode in order to meet your publishing deadlines.
Podcasting is a big commitment, and it requires a lot of work and attention. But it truly is so much fun – and highly rewarding. So it’s definitely worth putting the hours in if you have a passion for creating content!
Have you found these podcasting tips for beginners helpful? Are you thinking about starting your own podcast this year? Leave a comment below, as always to share your thoughts…
Portrait photos by Lydia Collins