How to start a Podcast

Podcast Platforms Review
Last Updated on 25/11/2022 by Gaz S

Starting a Podcast

If you are committed enough about starting your podcast, there are some steps you need to cover first, before you begin. In this article, we will help you get all the information you need to know how to actually start the process of becoming a podcaster. There are fewer podcasters than bloggers, so it’s just the right time to start.

Planning your Podcast

Before you start, you’re going to need to do some planning first. There are some important things you’ll need to cover. First off, you’re going to have to decide what your podcast is actually going to be about. This could be a hobby or a topic you like or are interested in, or you have knowledge regarding it. Examples include Sci-Fi, Gaming, Politics, News, and Comedy. This is a really important step because you are going to need a topic that listeners actually care about, and you’ll have to dedicate yourself to that and stay up to date with it, so be sure to choose one that interests you and may interest listeners.

Naming your Podcast

The next step is to give your podcast a name. It may seem easy at first, but choosing the correct eye-catching name is not that simple. You’ll need a name that covers what is the podcast about but also be creative, which will certainly catch a listener’s eye. But make sure to choose a name that is broader than your topic. Because for example, if you choose just one videogame to talk about, later on, you cannot cover topics regarding other ones. So for example staying at the videogames topic, don’t choose “Minecraft talks” as your name, let’s choose something broader like “Videogames and Beyond”. I just made these names up while writing, I’m sure you can do better!

Podcast show length

Now, show length is a thing that differs a lot between podcasts. It can be different between episodes too, a lot of factors play a role here, like the main topic of your podcast, the episode’s topic, the things you’ll want to talk about, guests, and so on. If you asked a podcaster about this, a short episode would be around 15-20 minutes, while a long one would last for over an hour. Although, you don’t need a 25-minute podcast because that is the average, or under an hour because listeners won’t pay attention to it anymore. There are 5-minute podcasts and ones up to several hours. Find whatever suits you and your topic the best and stick with it! Ultimately your episode lengths should be decided by your audience and your content. If you have 50 minutes of valuable, relevant content, you should not chop it down to 20. Or likewise, if you’ve said everything you have to say in 10 minutes, why pad it out to 30? In extreme cases, say you do an interview and it’s a fantastic conversation from start to finish but runs for 2 hours. You can always chop it in half and create two episodes. Over time, your listeners will tell you if they think your episodes are too short or too long. Try to survey your audience once a year to gather data like this, and you can adjust accordingly. Actually, length can be a ‘unique’ factor to your podcast. Short 4-minute episodes could suit a certain type of listener, or huge 3-hour in-depth interviews might suit another.

How to start a Podcast
How to start a Podcast

How to make a Podcast with Buzzsprout?

Alban Brooke from Buzzsprout tells Best Media Tools readers, the right way to start a Podcast.

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Different styles of Podcast shows

The format you choose is personal and depends on who’s involved. It’s totally up to you!
Let’s see what kinds of podcast show formats there are.

The Solo Show

Also known as a monologue, the benefits of this format include that you don’t need to rely on anyone else to record your episodes, and you’re building a reputation as the authority on your subject. The podcast is also exclusively yours, so you can make calls on sponsorship and monetization. And you don’t need to split the profits with anyone. Challenges of being a solo podcaster may include that this is the most intimidating style of show for a beginner podcaster. One of the biggest challenges of a solo show is getting over the feeling that you’re ‘talking to yourself and realizing that you’re actually talking to the listener.

The Co-Hosted Show

Presenting alongside a friend or colleague.
It’s a great way around the ‘mic fright’ of recording alone to chat on the show with someone else. If you find the right co-host you have someone to bounce off, and debate. Some co-hosted podcasts have great chemistry between the presenters. This can create a first-class listening experience. The disadvantage of this is that not only do you need to set aside time to record, but that time must also be suitable for your co-host. There’s also the question of ownership: who’s podcast, is it? Do you split any future income 50/50? And what happens if your co-host loses interest or becomes unavailable in the future?

The Interview Show

Doing an interview show allows you to have a chat with someone you’ve always looked up to. On top of this, your guests will have their own audiences who may listen to the interview and end up subscribing to your show. If done right, you can really grow an audience this way. Although, interviewing is a skill that you’ll need to hone through practice, so don’t approach the A-listers in your field straight away. You’ll need to constantly find and approach potential guests, schedule interviews, and rely on others to show up. You also need to rely on technology to work properly throughout each call.
There are a bunch of other formats that aren’t so commonly used but might well suit you, these include.

Roundtable

One regular host and several guests, talking through one specific topic.

Docu-Drama

A mix between drama and documentary. Offering learning and info, but in an entertaining way

Podcast cover Art

Just like your episode titles, first impressions are everything. Having attractive cover art that stands out is important when your show lines up against thousands of others in apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Your podcast logo will often be viewed as a thumbnail so don’t cram any small text onto it, the only text on there should ideally be your podcast name. For creating cover art, you could do it yourself if you have the talent, or hire a freelancer, working with a designer helps you to really put your name out there for everyone to see. Cover art is like choosing a podcast name, in many ways. You’re trying to find that balance between descriptiveness, cleverness, and quirkiness, all in one static image

Podcast cover art
Podcast cover art

Buzzsprout has written a guide on how to make the best podcast cover art. It’s called 12 tips to create excellent podcast cover art, so go take a look.

Podcast equipment

What do you need to start a podcast?

The bare minimum you need to record a podcast is a computer with a USB microphone and access to the internet. Though the more limited and lower cost of your setup and equipment, the more limited the sound and audio quality of your show will be. Simple USB microphone setups can give good results if you choose the right mic. Plus, it’s much better to get started and see whether you enjoy podcasting before paying out large amounts of money on audio equipment. Audio quality is important but it doesn’t have to cost a ton to get good quality. So, you are going to need a USB microphone for starters, but to improve your audio quality significantly, you can add some accessories to your shopping list, that is not that expensive and give you an audio quality boost. Those accessories can be pop filters, soundproof sponges, audio mixing devices, and so on. Pop filters are necessary because it eliminates the “pop” sound when pronouncing words with “p” in them. And the stand just makes it so much more comfortable for you and your guests to have a chat. We have listed several cheap and mid-range options for microphones, stands, and pop filters so you can have an easier time deciding what will you buy.

Podcast equipment for beginners

Best budget options

A good podcast microphone can cost hundreds of dollars, but luckily there are a lot of much more affordable options.

Don’t let the term “Budget Level” put you off –These are relatively cheap but have pretty good sound quality though, and are very easy to set up, so they’re well suited for beginners. But, many veteran podcasters still use these microphones, even years down the road.

Samson Go 

Samson SAGOMIC Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone is an omnidirectional, super portable, for interviews on the go, with a laptop.
This ultra-portable USB condenser microphone is a simple Plug and Play device for a Mac or a PC (no drivers required). Custom compact design that clips to a laptop or sits on a desk allows for a very clean setup and is not intimidating.
In most cases, this is not very high on the list of recommendations, but it is great in two specific cases:
If you are a podcaster, you travel a lot, and you want to record directly on your laptop,
If you are a podcast guest, and you want to easily boost your sound quality.
It is a very good budget microphone.

Samson Q2U

This SAMSON Q2U Handheld Dynamic USB Microphone Recording and Podcasting Pack is an excellent option if you are on a tight budget or you need a larger setup for 4 or 6 people. Having both XLR and USB connections, it is extremely versatile, allowing you quickly change your setup depending on the type of audio content you are recording. This mic sounds really well and can easily compete with pricier USB mics, makes it easy to record your content, and will satisfy even more experienced podcasters. Background noise is controlled thanks to the durable metal cage. A built-in headphone jack lets you monitor sound in real-time, without any delay. In the package, you’ll get a pop filter, necessary cables, and a stand, although it’s a small one so you’ll have to get a bigger one that is adjustable.

MXL 990

MXL 990 Blaze LED Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone is budget-friendly. You can find it for around $80.
It is also offered in a set for around $110. The MXL 990 set also includes a shock mount with integrated pop-filter, 20′ XLR cable, a desk swivel, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
It provides the flexibility of the XLR connection to use an audio interface or preamp.
It has the necessary specs to provide a quality recording (for its price point, it has a high-quality small-diaphragm and cardioid polar pattern).
Good price-to-quality ratio. Balance sound.
Consider the MXL 990 if you want a good condenser microphone, and your budget is limited.

* This MXL 990 requires a separate +48V phantom power. It is compatible with audio interfaces with mic preamps such as PreSonus AudioBox 96. 

Best mid-range options

These microphones are all you need for podcasting up to six or seven-figure audiences. They are also within the normal podcaster’s budget and provide great-quality recordings to boot.

The Rode Podcaster (Dynamic: USB)

The Rode Podcaster is an absolutely excellent dynamic podcast microphone.
The price definitely creeps up a little when you include stands and a shock mount, but you’ll notice a significant difference if you compare it directly with any of the entry-level microphones above. This is what is used in so many podcasting studios right now. If you like the look of the Rode Podcaster, but would rather opt for an XLR mic so you can plug it into things like mixers or digital recorders, then check out its brother mic – the Rode Procaster.

The Blue Yeti (Condenser: USB)

Whilst the Rode Podcaster is a Dynamic type microphone, this next one is a Condenser. The Blue Yeti is one of the most popular USB podcast microphones in the world, and it comes in at around $115. The Blue Yeti offers great quality audio thanks to its condenser capsules. It’s also amazingly easy to use with a plug-and-play USB connection. One of its biggest advantages, though, is its range of polar patterns. The Yeti offers settings for solo recording, two-person face-to-face recording, and group recording. So, it’s flexible and can adapt to just about any situation. For best quality sound, you need to be quite close to the mic, so prepare to get pretty cozy when you’re recording two people or groups.

Lastly, the Blue Yeti comes with its own stand, so it’s a good mic if you want to jump in at the high-end and not have to worry about the additional kit.
The Yeti might not quite match the MXL990 or the Rode podcast mics for sheer quality, but the ease of use and the fact that it’s entirely standalone make it a really serious choice at this level.

AKG Lyra (Condenser: USB)

The AKG Lyra is marketed as an “Ultra-HD Multimode USB Microphone”. Put simply, it’s a great-sounding USB mic with a fair bit of use flexibility. As a USB mic, it works right out of the box. Plug it into your computer, load up your audio software or call recorder, and away you go. This mic is designed for folks who want premium-quality audio, without needing to have additional gear or any in-depth knowledge of audio. It can also work equally well for audiophiles who spend a bit of time recording on the road. The AKG Lyra could easily become part of your travel kit, along with your laptop and a pair of headphones.

Podcasting microphone stands and booms

Types of Microphone Stands

1. Tripod Stands
This is the most common design available. Tripod stands are general-purpose stands- perhaps that is why they are so prolific. You can use them for a variety of tasks.

2. Tripod Boom Stands
A tripod boom stand has a long boom arm, which gives the stand a longer reach. For musicians, particularly instrumentalists, this can be the best podcasting microphone stand they are searching for.

3. Round Base Stands
As the name suggests, these stands have a round base. They are great for stage performers like singers or stand-up comics, as these stands occupy less space on the floor, and the artiste is unlikely to trip over them.

4. Low Profile Stands
A low-profile stand can hold the mic at a lower position. It is commonly used for guitar cabs, kick drums, etc.

5. Desktop Stands
A small stand that can be conveniently placed on your work desk. It can be the best podcasting mic stand for podcasters who record at home or prefer to record while sitting.

6. Overhead Stands
These stands are used when the mic needs to be positioned at greater heights or very different angles. Overhead stands are more expensive as compared to other stands.
Whether you prefer to record your podcast while sitting or standing, you need to have the podcasting microphone set in a suitable position.
Why you should buy a quality mic stand:
Often, during a podcast recording, you might need to change your position. Imagine that you want to lower your microphone, and it gets stuck. It is also typical for low-quality stands to sag down slowly due to the weight of the microphone. Now you are annoyed and struggling to fix it in the middle of the recording! And if you are not able to reposition it, you tilt your neck and end-up recording at an awkward angle. The best podcasting microphone stand should ensure that this never happens to you. A good stand will also protect your gear so your expensive microphone will remain safe. You do not want your podcasting mic falling off the stand and crashing on the floor right in the middle of your recording.

Moreover, when you buy a microphone stand, you need to spend your money on something that will last for years! A mic stand is not something that should need repair or replacement every year, so you should really research well and buy the best podcast mic stand that suits your needs.

RODE PSA1+ Microphone Studio Arm

The RODE PSA1+ Microphone Studio Arm is perfect for podcasters and broadcasters, combining boom arm design with desktop positioning and featuring a 360-degree swivel. This mic stand has a sleek aesthetic and allows for easy noiseless adjustment while in use. It is accompanied by velcro straps to keep cables safe. The stand can be clamped to a desktop for temporary use or permanently installed for longer-term projects.

Heil PL-2T

The Heil PL-2T sets up in about 2 minutes: you just tighten the vice to your desk and slide the boom arm into the hole. It can rotate 360 degrees and will hold your microphone steady in any position. There is a channel on top to hide your microphone cable, just be sure to align the plastic strips the correct way so they can clip securely into place. The boom arm segments are both 20″ long, which gives you that little bit of extra reach you need for the right placement. They also hide the springs for a nice clean look. Heil also offers a range of mounting accessories for more permanent and secure solutions. This boom is strong enough to hold the Blue Yeti with the Blue Radius II shock mount, both amongst the heaviest of equipment.

Heil PL-2T microphone boom arm
Heil PL-2T microphone boom arm

Blue Compass

Blue Microphones also have this Blue Compass microphone boom arm and with the popularity and quality of their products, this is sure to be a hit. It has hidden cable management, quiet hinges, a mount adapter (for 3/8″ and 5/8″ threading), and a 32″ horizontal reach. It’s priced competitively, is built solid, and can hold plenty of weight (including their own heavy Blue Yeti + shock mount)

Blue Compass microphone boom arm
Blue Compass microphone boom arm

Podcasting Pop filters

Pop filters

You might think to yourself that a pop filter is a pop filter, there are no differences, and you would be incorrect because the material used, the size, the shape, and the mount are all playing a role in providing you the best experience. Nylon is cheaper and more effective, but it breaks easily and higher frequencies can be negatively impacted. On the other hand, metallic mesh pop filters are very durable, they do not affect the higher frequencies, but it’s more expensive and although the metal itself is durable, the sheet is thin, so can be vulnerable to bending or distortion if you don’t handle it with care.

Auray PFSS-55 Pop Filter

The Auray PFSS-55 is not as expensive as other alternatives, it’s made from Double nylon mesh, flat, with a diameter of 5.5”. The mount is a type of gooseneck mount with a clamp.

AURAY PFSS-55 Pop Filter with Gooseneck
AURAY PFSS-55 Pop Filter with Gooseneck

Stedman Proscreen XL Metal Pop Filter

This Stedman Proscreen XL Metal Pop Filter is twice the amount of the previously mentioned options, it’s made from a metallic mesh, with a gooseneck mount and a diameter of 6”

Stedman Proscreen XL Pop Filter
Stedman Proscreen XL Pop Filter