Dan Hudson: How to start a podcast
Podcasting in the UK has seen an enormous rise in recent times, with thousands of new shows being launched on a daily basis. But in such a crowded marketplace, finding and keeping listeners can be tough. I’ve learnt a huge amount producing my podcast A Gay And A Nongay, and hopefully my tips can help you if you are considering starting a podcast.
Ask yourself why you’re doing it.
It’s very easy now to record and upload a podcast, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Before you hit record, it’s a good idea to ask yourself why you’re starting this podcast in the first place— and what it is you want it to achieve. Producing an engaging podcast is a huge workload. If you’ve got lots of different projects on, it might not be the most constructive use of your time, or the best medium for you.
Planning your podcast will make your routine easier. Decide how many episodes you want to publish in a month, which topics you want to cover, when you plan to release a new episode, and so on. And stick to the plan! When starting out it’s often better to record multiple episodes at one time so you can edit and release without the stress of planning the next one.
Learn how to edit!
Editing, both during and after recording will ensure the podcast is the best it can possibly be. Edit out repetition, mistakes and parts of the conversation that don’t go anywhere. Don’t be afraid to go back and revisit parts of the recording if you think it could be improved. It can take a while to learn to edit, but it’s worth it in the long run. You can download Audacity for free, or pay for Adobe Audition, Hinderburg or Reaper.
Keep your introduction short and get straight into the content. Idle chat gives listeners the opportunity to switch off!
Invest in equipment
If you have the budget, it’s well worth spending it on studio hire. If you don’t, invest in a decent quality microphone setup. Don’t record over Skype unless you absolutely have to— it sounds jarring and it’s likely to present technical issues. Where possible, see if guests can record their end and cut together so it sounds like you are in the same room. The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a great place to start.
Be prepared for a slow build
Don’t assume your podcast will be an instant success, as you’ll need to build an audience first. Joining podcast groups on social media, appearing on other podcasts, regularly using social media accounts and being on as many platforms as possible will all help you with this.
Make notes for each episode
Know the rough direction you want the conversation to go in before you open the microphone. You don’t have to write a script that you read word-for-word, but a list of bullet points will help to keep you on track. If you do end up on a detour, you can always stop, start again and edit later.
Ask for reviews
Lots of good reviews can get you into the ‘new and noteworthy’ section on iTunes which can have a huge impact on downloads. Every time you get an email from a listener, be sure to reply to them and ask them nicely to leave a review. If they’ve taken the time to get in touch, they’ll be happy to oblige!
Have an interesting podcast image
Your cover image will appear as a thumbnail image on most podcast streaming services, so go for an eye-catching design that still stands out even when it’s small. It may be worth paying a graphic designer to do this for you.
Brand your podcast
Use of a voiceover, theme music (generic library music will do) and some basic sound effects is a simple way to make your podcast stand out and sound ‘big’ and professional. (Note that you can’t use commercial music without a licence!)
Most importantly, have fun!
Podcasting is fantastic and the possibilities are endless but most podcasts end up folding after a few episodes. Make sure your podcast is about something you are really, really passionate about and you’ll easily be able to maintain enthusiasm.
By Dan Hudson