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As the co-host and producer of an award-winning independent podcast, The Cinemile, I get a lot of questions around podcast production from listeners keen to start their own. Most of them have no budget or fancy equipment and wonder if it’s possible. The short answer is… yes! Here are some of my tips for getting started on your own.
Find Your Niche.
You need to love the topic. You need to offer something different in the approach to the topic.
Take movie podcasts as an example – it’s a very flooded market. There are a lot of male movie podcasters. And movie podcasts tend to sound very similar – studio based and talky and very long.
We make a movie podcast that reflects our favourite hobby (going to the cinema and talking about the movie), captures the fun we have together walking home, and felt like a genuinely different offering to other podcasts in 2016 when we launched (short, light-hearted, one half female).
The Elevator Pitch.
A good podcast needs a good elevator pitch. Tell me in one line why I should listen when I have (literally) a million other options
Make it, and make it well.
Once you have your idea, just go for it and record an episode. You have nothing to lose! Anyone can make a podcast who has access to a recorder (a phone works fine if you’re indoors), a computer with basic editing software, and the internet. One of the most joyous things about podcast production is just how cheap it can be. However, cheap does not mean low-quality. You must have a clear recording. There are fantastic YouTube videos which teach basic recording and editing skills.
A key factor of the ease of our podcast is that we live together (makes scheduling easier, although still surprisingly tricky with two kids!) and we have a natural rapport. If you have a co-host, pick somebody you are comfortable with, try and offer different points of view, and importantly – think about how easy it is to schedule time together.
How do you get people to listen?
Find a platform to host the podcast. Libsyn is a good place to start from scratch, Acast are great for established podcasts or talent. You then submit the RSS feed to wherever you want the podcast to be – Apple Podcasts is the biggest platform but there are dozens.
Create a website and/or social media accounts. Engage with online groups, podcasters, fans of whatever your subject matter is. Promote yourself and don’t be shy! If you’re proud of your podcast you naturally want people to listen.
Submit yourself for awards – when we won a British Podcast Award (Best New Podcast, 2017) it shifted our audience from small but dedicated friends, family, and movie buffs to a broader, much bigger audience. The win and subsequent press helped promote the podcast beyond anything we could have done alone.
Podcasting is the most adaptable medium out there, as evident by all of the wonderful new productions which have launched in lockdown, and in the flexibility shows have had recording remotely with co-hosts and guests.
Since launching our podcast there have been multiple times we couldn’t make it to the cinema (birth of two kids, gobal pandemic…) but we still make it and do our best to stay true to the format. We love it too much to stop! Who doesn’t go for a walk around their block to dissect a movie they’ve just watched on Netflix?
Assume your podcast won’t pay the bills and that nobody will ever listen, and make it anyway because you love it.
Cathy Cullen co-hosts and produces the critically-acclaimed podcast The Cinemile which won Best New Podcast at the inaugural British Podcast Awards in 2017. She has been called “hilarious” by the Observer, and she and her co-host / husband were described in NME as “The Richard and Judy that we deserve, but never got”. She has worked in broadcast media for over ten years in scheduling, strategy, and merchandising.