“That article on Forbes said podcasting was easy.”
“Wait, I need a microphone? What type? What brand?”
“How do I edit my podcast? What software do I need? Who should I hire?”
“What the hell am I doing?!”
If you’ve said or thought or shouted any of these phrases into the depths of despair… welcome to the honest podcast launch overview you’ve been looking for.
Here’s the truth:
Launching a podcast that is worth listening to takes hard work, planning, consistency, and commitment.
While the internet is a wealth of information, it can be overwhelming sorting through all of the differing advice. A few searches can leave you feeling more confused than you were to begin with.
Not to worry, this is precisely why we have written this article.
This is NOT a step-by-step guide.
This IS an honest overview of:
- What basic tools and resources are necessary to launch a successful podcast.
- The long term benefits you can expect to gain from podcasting.
- How this might look for you—entrepreneurs, small business owners, speakers, consultants, authors—to launch a podcast from scratch.
This podcast launch overview is outlined by our 9-step, proven process that is the accumulation of over 8 years of experience in the podcasting space. Over the years, we have helped established entrepreneurs and marketers amplify their authority and grow their business through the power of effective podcasts. By taking you from overwhelm to launching a podcast to your target audience, our approach is built on results and shaped by innovation.
Phase 1 | Planning
First, you need to be clear on your intentions for your podcast. This will lay the foundation for recording your very first episode.
Let’s break this foundation into THREE sections:
Step 1: What Are My Podcast Goals? Who Is My Podcast For?
Setting goals… This is an important step in any planning process. But how do you know what goals need to be set for your specific podcast?
This will look different for everyone depending on what you want your podcast to achieve for your business.
Just like any other marketing initiative—or any communication initiative—the first step is to hone in on your ideal audience. Who are they and how can your expertise help fulfill their needs?
We have found that most businesses or entrepreneurs see their goals reflected in one of these six avatars.
- The Thought Leader: This is for the business who wants to be viewed as an expert in their space.
- The Lead Driver: This is for a business or person who has a specific product and they want to generate leads or sales for their business.
- The Networker: This is for a new or existing business or individual who is looking to build or strengthen relationships with others in their field.
- The Teacher: This is for people who want to educate or share their knowledge on a specific subject.
- The Money Maker: This is for people who are interested in monetization or sponsorships. If you are hoping to earn money directly from the podcast, this might be you.
- The Entertainer: This is for the people who want to influence a lot of people or make an impact.
Goals will likely overlap and you may resonate with more than one of these avatars. That is okay. We found it’s best to focus on no more than 2-3 goals. If you try to do too many things, you will lose traction with your target audience.
Once you determine your goal, a.k.a. your “why,” and your target audience, you have set a strong foundation for your podcast.
Next, it’s time to think about your show’s topic. What do you want to share with your audience?
Your topic can be as broad as marketing or as niched down as discussions about reducing stress and burnout for busy physicians.
Some advice to keep in mind:
- The more niche you go in podcasting, the better.
- Focusing on one group of people is a good strategy.
- Be passionate about whatever you choose.
Step 2: What Do I Name My Show? How Do I Appropriately Brand It?
This step will be straightforward if you are creating a podcast for an established business. If this is the case, you will want to use your company’s brand guide to inform the colors, fonts, and tone of voice for your podcast.
If this project is a separate entity from your business, you will have more creative freedom in this process.
Branding your show requires defining these important aspects:
- Brand Identity
- The Purpose
- Vision and Mission
- Tone of Voice
- Logos and Typography
- Color Scheme
Then, you can move on to writing the podcast title and description and choosing the music and cover art.
Podcast Title: This is your listener’s first indication about who you are and what you are about. Try to pick something clear, memorable, and specific. It should also rank for your podcast’s relevant keywords.
Description: Your description is usually the second interaction your audience has with your show after the title—so you need something inspiring. Keep it brief and powerful.
Music: For many of us, music creates emotion. Allow this to aid you in choosing music for your podcast. Podcast music is generally inserted during the intro and/or outro portion of your episode, with some specific sounds inserted during shifts in conversation or ad breaks.
Cover Art: Podcast feeds contain artwork that is a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels. Choose something eye-catching that represents your podcast well.
Check out The EOS Leader Podcast for an example of a well-written description that is short and direct. You’ll notice the artwork, music, and title also drive attention to the topic and intrigue the listener.
Take time brainstorming, defining, and refining these aspects of your podcast. When in doubt, revisit your goals. If you find yourself overthinking things, remember that you can always adjust and rebrand after your podcast launch if need be.
Step 3: How Do I Record My Podcast? How Do I Get The Best Sound?
The first thing you will need to know in regards to equipment is the difference between software and hardware.
Software: Recording to software entails using either computer-based software or internet-based software.
Computer-based software is typically called audio editing software or referred to as a DAW (digital audio workstation). This includes free tools like Audacity or paid versions like Audition or Pro Tools.
Internet-based software or software as a service (SaaS) solutions include Zencaster, Squadcast, or the most commonly used tool, Zoom.
Although many people record straight to a software-based tool, this is not something we generally recommend. This is simply because they often lack dependability. You run the risk of something or someone cutting out or not having the sound quite right. In our opinion, if you are going to be conducting interviews, you want something you can rely on.
Hardware: Hardware is the opposite of software, it’s dependable. You usually run into fewer problems or technical issues. It is also usually higher quality in the sense that you can set certain levels that suit the room or place you are recording in and know that it will sound great almost every time. In other words, you have more control of the sound.
Podcast Equipment Suggestions: Now, there are many different equipment pieces to consider when starting your podcast and within each category there are many options. If you want to read more about what equipment might be right for your specific podcasting needs, our founder Jeff wrote a detailed article titled Podcasting Equipment: The Complete Guide that you can refer back to at any time.
Creating the Right Recording Space: Make sure you are recording in the right space. You can do this by evaluating outside noises such as traffic, people, or animals as well as inside noises such as children or pets running around. All of these will be picked up on your mic and your voice will be skewed by that.
Simple fixes may include avoiding hard surfaces (try carpeting walls and flooring) and using proper recording techniques (facing the mic, not moving around too much).
Phase 2: Produce
You know what you want your podcast to be about, the branding you desire, and the “why” behind your show. Now, it’s time to find the people who will help you bring your show to life. How do you find guests? How do you know if they’re going to be the right guests for your podcast? And how do you even begin to interview them?
In this phase, I will explain how to:
- Identify the right guests for your podcast.
- Effectively schedule guests.
- Conduct a great interview.
Step 4: How Do I Know Who To Have On My Show?
Before you get lost in a Google search, ask yourself what your ideal listener wants to learn or listen to. What will intrigue them? What are they struggling with? How can your guest help answer their questions? Look for guests who can speak to what your ideal listener wants to hear about.
Try not to focus on how many listeners you may get. Don’t let imposter syndrome get to you or waste time wondering why anyone would want to be on your show. Instead, invest time in identifying and connecting with the guests that feel right for you and your audience. Several tactics that have worked for us and the shows we have helped produce are:
Highlight your friends and connections. If you’ve been in your industry for any length of time, you have probably befriended some interesting people. Get them on your show first. After you have had a chance to interview them, ask if they can introduce you to other experts in their circle of influence that could add value to your show.
Find authors of upcoming books that relate to your topic. Generally speaking, if an author has an upcoming book release, they will want to get in front of as many people as possible. This positions your podcast as an important opportunity that helps both parties achieve their goals. Conduct a search in Amazon or Google with the topic you want to cover, and include the date.
Make connections with your ideal guest online. Comment on relevant blog articles or social posts to cultivate an authentic connection. This is a great way to build rapport over time with them before inviting them onto your podcast.
Securing your first few podcast guests can seem daunting. But if you focus on what matters, you will start building a strong guest list. A few reminders:
- Look for guests that can add unique value to your target audience.
- When extending an invite, highlight how the interview will benefit them: visibility, traffic, authority.
- Ditch the imposter syndrome. You and your podcast are worth the effort and time it takes to secure meaningful interviews.
Step 5: How Do I Efficiently Schedule My Guests?
Once the invitation has been accepted by the guest, it is time to schedule a date, time, and program (Zoom, GetWelder, etc.) for the interview to take place.
This is an area where the most time is usually wasted. With the unnecessary amount of emails back-and-forth, it can take weeks to schedule the interview, leaving the guest feeling unsure or worse, frustrated.
Taking a strategic scheduling approach is key. Give them a list of dates and times to choose from that will best suit their schedule. Use a scheduling software like Calendly, Acuity Schedule, or whatever you use for regular meetings.
This way you can set out dates that work for your schedule and your guests can pick a date that works for them too. You want to make the process as efficient as possible.
Make sure you are setting expectations from the beginning. Allow them to ask any questions they may have in a follow-up email and answer as precisely as possible.
Our suggestion would be to share with them the general flow of your podcast while limiting the number of concrete questions you may ask throughout the show, as these may change once the conversation takes place.
Step 6: How Do I Conduct a Great Interview?
One of the most rewarding things about podcasting is interviewing industry experts and getting the opportunity to learn from them. However, it is important to remember that their time is valuable and the more efficient your process is, the better their experience will be.
Common obstacles that are faced when trying to conduct a solid interview are:
- Lack of confidence.
- Feeling outclassed or intimidated by the interviewee.
- Not knowing what mistakes to avoid.
- Unsure of the right questions to ask.
The first step you will want to take in preparation for the interview is to identify your unique strengths.
What is your style of interviewing?
- Are you a curious person who can think on the spot and ask the right questions off the top of your head?
- Or are you better at planning ahead and having some ideas sketched out of how the interview should go?
Once you have the answer to these questions figured out, then you will have a better idea of how much planning you should do for the episode and what kind of questions to ask.
It is always best to spend some time researching your guest, their story, and other interviews they may have done. There are plenty of interview podcasts out there often asking the same questions of industry leaders, time and time again.
So how can you make the interview with your guest stand out from the crowd? This is where the research and preparation plays a big part.
Get familiar with their background and find interesting points of conversation to include in your questions. You may not have a chance to interview them again, so make the most of this time by being well-versed in their work.
Finally, make sure that they are set up with quality equipment, have a quiet space to record in, and that they feel comfortable on your show. Trust your gut, get curious, and take responsibility for the interview.
Phase 3: Publish
You have branded your show, conducted your interviews and now you’re ready to launch your podcast!
In this phase you will:
- Produce your podcast.
- Promote your podcast.
- Launch your podcast!
This is the final phase and in many ways, the most exciting.
However, it does require some of the most detail-oriented work and technical proficiency.
From rendering audio files, choosing which platforms you want to publish on (Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, etc.), making sure it is appearing on the correct RSS feeds, to double-checking your headline and keywords, and sharing assets with your guests for promotion, this is a critical phase.
You’ll want to have all of your i’s dotted and t’s crossed for maximum impact and a successful launch!
STEP 7: Where Do I Begin With Producing My Podcast?
There are a lot of moving parts that go into the production of a podcast. This includes the editing of the interview, brainstorming how to rework the content, and more. You will be taking the raw components and content and turning it into something engaging.
Before we get into the meat of this topic you need to understand what you’re getting yourself into. Your production will vary based on the type of content you are hoping to create. Some questions to consider:
- What kind of show are you trying to produce?
- Who should be working on your show?
- What tools do you need to get the job done?
If you plan on having a simple interview podcast or solo podcast, your focus will be more on piecing together the raw materials you have and making those sound polished.
If you are searching for a more dynamic sound, your efforts will go toward more editing with crafting a narrative script after the fact.
Who is involved in producing a podcast?
Common titles you will need to be aware of while getting your production plan together (whether you do this by yourself or with a team) will be:
Producer: This is the person who coordinates and executes the production of your podcast. Their duties can include anything from research, budgeting, and setting the creative direction of the podcast to overseeing the editing.
Host: This is likely you! This is the person who is conducting the interview or acts as the consistent presence on every episode of the show. There can be more than one host per show.
Audio Editor: This is the person who cuts and rearranges the audio for clarity and storytelling purposes. They will perform the general processing and mastering.
Production Coordinator: This person is responsible for managing the logistics of the production process from recording to publication.
There are multiple other roles involved but these are the common names you will want to know. If you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation of certain roles, try searching on Podcast Taxonomy’s whitepaper.
What if I want to produce my own show?
If you are producing your own show, you will need to have an idea of the software available to help you. Audacity, Garageband, Audition, and Pro Tools are a few popular options. These each have different benefits and it is definitely worth doing your research before committing to one over another.
If you’re planning on editing your own podcast, be prepared to learn a lot of new tools and do quite a bit of work. This is a craft people spend years mastering, so don’t expect to learn this overnight.
What if I want someone else to produce my show?
If you do not have the time to produce your own podcast, you’re not alone. The majority of people, especially entrepreneurs or business owners, do not have time to spare. The good news is, you do not have to do this by yourself. There are a lot of options for hiring the right help. Some of these may include:
Consultant: This is usually a person who (hopefully) has experience making successful podcasts who guides you through the process. You typically pay these individuals for access to their courses or direct help.
We moved into this space at the beginning of 2021 with the Podcast Launch System. In this group course, we take you through the three phases of planning, producing, and publishing your results-driven podcast. It’s been a great alternative to our full-production services and a lot of fun to teach.
This is not a good fit for some businesses because it is not worth the team’s time to learn and manage everything. This is a great fit for people who want to do all of the work but make the learning process shorter.
Technical: This is the most popular type of podcasting help you can get. Typically technical help is a person, service, or small agency that assists you with the technical side of running your podcast. It’s a great fit for people who know what they want to record and how to record it but don’t want to deal with anything after that. For example, you would schedule, plan, and record your podcast episode and then send it to your technical help to handle the post-production steps like editing, uploading your podcast to the internet, and writing show notes.
This might be a good fit for your company. We’ve found this is a good solution for companies on a budget who are looking for more of a service than a partnership. To be successful with this kind of help, it’s very important that you have a strong strategy and plan before starting. This kind of agency is usually more concerned with making a nice-sounding podcast and not what the podcast is actually doing for your business.
Full-service: This is the space where my company has operated the longest. The full-service option is a perfect fit for companies who are looking for true partnerships when it comes to producing your podcast. Full-service agencies are podcast specialists and understand how to leverage the audio medium to help your business achieve its goals. You can view most full-service production companies as an extension of your own company. They should be able to plug into your existing flow and expectations seamlessly.
Full-service podcast solutions work best for busy teams that have a sense of what they want to accomplish but aren’t entirely sure how to get there. They have a unique understanding of your business, your goals, and how a podcast can help you achieve them. Full-service is typically a good fit for medium- to large-size companies with dedicated marketing teams. They can sometimes be a good option for higher-profile individuals like authors and business leaders who want to just focus on being the talent and not worrying about anything else.
To decide what is best for you, you need to evaluate your budget and your goals. Of course, the full-service agencies are generally the most expensive option as you are getting the most help, while a consultant might be best for someone with a smaller budget as they may bill you by the hour.
Do your research! Make sure the person you hire for your podcast launch has a good reputation and understands podcasting well. You don’t want to hire someone only to realize that you do not mesh well with each other. If you’re unsure where to start, you can follow our guide: How to Choose a Podcast Production Company for Your Project (and 7 Suggestions of the Top Podcast Companies).
Step 8: How Do I Promote My Podcast?
You’ve done everything you need to do in order to make a really great podcast—the interviews, the planning, the editing—but now you need to promote your podcast.
There are many different platforms and strategies you can use to promote a podcast. Some are easy and don’t require a lot of effort, while some might take a bit more time. A few examples of podcast promotion that we have seen work for our in-house podcasts as well as our clients are:
Create an Episode Trailer
This is a great way to give information about what the podcast is about, who it is for, share the name and host of the podcast, and explain when they will see the episode go live. Keep it short and engaging. This should pique the listener’s interest without giving too much away.
Repurposing your content will allow you to create high-quality pieces efficiently. If you’re creating content for a single purpose you are cheating yourself and your audience. We suggest creating content with at least three different purposes in mind.
For example: You create a podcast, turn it into an article, turn that into emails, and take pieces of it to use for social posts. ONE piece of content FOUR ways. We break this down in detail in our latest article Stop Wasting Content: What Megazords Taught Us About Content Repurposing Workflows.
Write Show Notes
Think of the show notes as the written resource for your podcast. They should clearly reflect what the audience will learn and state the reasons why the reader should listen to the episode. Highlight specific powerful quotes and links to any services, products, people, or businesses mentioned in the show.
Great show notes should make the reader want to click play, so focus on the value of the content.
Design Social Images
Podcasting can be a surprisingly visual medium. You can leverage written components and create visual pieces out of them. These may include quote cards, featured images, or audiograms (a compelling clip from your audio edited together with one of the social images you create).
Just be sure to make it visually appealing so if someone is scrolling through their social feed, they want to stop and watch/read/listen.
Some additional ideas could be:
- Paid advertising.
- Paid promotion on social media.
- Podcast sponsorships through sites like Advertisecast.
Remember, just because there are many ways to promote your podcast doesn’t mean you must do all of them. Identify where your target audience spends their time outside of podcasts, and focus your promotion efforts there. We explain every step of the podcast promotion journey in this article written by our team: Podcast Promotion: 8 Ways to Grow Your Audience.
Step 9: What Is The Best Way To Prepare for Podcast Launch?
Before your podcast launch date, you’ll want to have these foundational platforms set up.
Your podcast needs a host site or host platform. This is where your podcast and related media will live. This is where your primary data is tracked and analytics can be reviewed.
Sites like Simplecast, Transistor, and Megaphone are popular. It’s important to research these different host platforms and choose which one’s features suit your show and goals the best.
This is where your show notes will be published and the embed code for your hosting platform will be placed. This is also where you will direct your audience for more information, links, and any other resources you want to offer. Platforms like WordPress or Squarespace are popular and efficient.
A very important step in the podcast launch process is understanding your RSS feed. We have discussed how all of your media lives on the host and how it will be informing all of the other platforms when an episode is ready. So how does this work? The RSS feed.
This RSS feed is what you’ll be submitting to podcast distribution platforms (which we will be going over next) and you will only need to submit this feed once. Every time you upload a new episode to your media host, the feed is automatically updated on any distribution platforms you’ve submitted the podcast to.
There are many distribution platforms (sometimes called directories) where you can list your podcast but these are the ones we believe are essential.
- Apple Podcasts is one of the largest podcast directories and it should certainly be one to focus on. To learn how to upload to Apple Podcasts, head over to iTunes Connect’s Podcaster Support page to create an account and submit your podcast.
- Spotify is another essential directory that is quickly gaining authority as a podcast platform because of its ability to make relevant music and podcast recommendations. Head over to Spotify for Podcasters to get started and follow the steps to submit your show.
- Google Podcasts is also a platform we would absolutely recommend having a presence on. You can find out more by heading over to Podcasting on Google. Once you verify ownership of your podcast and review the info, publish the podcast and wait for approval.
Every platform is different so it’s important to review the process for each. You can expect to be asked for your podcast’s name, description, category, artwork, etc. You should allow plenty of time for your podcast to be accepted and show up in the directory before your launch date—this will vary for each platform.
When it comes to the official podcast launch, we like to suggest publishing 2-3 episodes to kick your show off and having at least one scheduled and ready to go. This gives your audience plenty of content to listen to while you prepare future episodes.
Ready, Set, Podcast Launch
Hopefully this insight has given you a helpful overview of what a podcast launch will require.
It can be easy to get wrapped up in the numbers, but podcasting is a long game. It requires consistent uploads, intentional strategy, and valuable content.
Set realistic goals and try to be patient.
Remember: it’s easy to make a podcast. It’s hard to make one that people want to listen to and engage with.
But if you put in the hard work, ask for help, and stay focused on your goals, it can change the trajectory of your business.