How to Make a Podcast

Podcasting is such an accessible medium, second probably only to blogging. But it’s more intimate. As a podcaster, you’re in your audience’s ears. You have a chance to make a connection that’s really difficult to do with just the written word.

So, how do you get started? First, go and subscribe to The Showrunner podcast at Rainmaker.fm. Then, I’ve got some steps for you below, starting with some critical questions you need to answer before you think about anything else.

Here it is, your handy how to make a podcast guide.

What’s your topic?

The key here is to narrow down. Howsound is about radio storytelling. Imaginary Worlds is about the scifi and fantasy stories we love. The Jellyvision Show is about creative entrepreneurs. Notice the hyper-focus of those shows? A niche topic is likely to attract a stronger, more engaged audience than a generalized one that appeals to no one specific. You need a really, really big megaphone to get that kind of show started. So focus in and cast a small, narrow net.

  • Your topic should interest you — a lot — if you’re not passionate about it, you won’t attract a passionate audience
  • Almost no niche is too small. Really, think about what you’d listen to, what your interests are. There’s probably a topic there you can work with.

What’s your format?

Hand in hand with topic, format is how you’ll present your show. Will you moderate a panel of guests? Do interviews? Sit in front of a mic and talk for an hour? That can work if you’re a really good talker and have some on-air experience or training, but it’s tough to pull off otherwise. There may be a lot of shows on your particular topic, even if you’ve taken my advice and focused on a tight niche. Your format can set you apart, though.

  • Look at what other successful shows are doing, particularly on public radio
  • Keep your resources in mind. A panel of guests is going to require a multi-track recording, multiple mics and the space to hold everyone at once. An interview show can be you with a mic and hand-recorder.

What’s your schedule?

More often is usually better. If you can’t commit to weekly, then every other week can be okay. Monthly seems to be the bare minimum. If you can’t produce your podcast on that schedule, you probably won’t attract an audience.

  • Whatever schedule you choose, consistency is key. If you don’t show up when you’ve told people you will, they’ll stop listening.
  • Again, resources are key here — particularly your time. A show recorded live to tape with no substantive editing might only take an hour or two a week to produce. A show like mine, EOS 10, each episode is hours and hours of work across a number of people. Be realistic with what you can do.

I want you take some time here. These questions are critical to the success of your show, way more than what mic should I use? and what editing software is best? (the answer to those questions, by the way, is the ones you can afford. There are free software options and affordable mics that will give you quality sound). Think of these things as your podcasting foundation, and the rest — the software and the mics and the podcast feeds as the structures you’ll build on top. A bad foundation will never support any structure you build, so get this part right.

One last question.

Are you committed?

I recently did a podcasting panel at Awesomecon in DC and I told the audience that there iTunes is littered with shows that never make it beyond episode ten. A lot are lucky if they’ve made it to episode five. Want an audience to stick with you? Show them you’ve got commitment and will stick with it, too. Many will hesitate to start even listening if they only see a few episodes — they’ll worry about falling in love with your show and then it disappearing, so don’t be that podcaster.

Okay, now that you’ve answered these critical questions, here’s some resources to help you break down the more technical parts.