So You’re Thinking of Starting a Podcast: 3 Important Steps to Take Before Launching
Who, at some point in their life, hasn’t dreamed of what it would be like to have their own radio show? While such aspirations seemed next to impossible years ago, the world of podcasting has blown the doors wide open. In many ways, the opportunities that podcasting provide can be far greater than radio ever could as you can potentially reach a huge audience while speaking on a specific topic. Given all this, you may just be considering starting a podcast of your own.
I’ll confess I’m actually in this same boat right now. Although I’ve been a part of multiple podcasts in the past, this latest venture would find me in the unfamiliar-to-me personal finance podcast realm. Such an undertaking would also mark the first time I’d be responsible for all of the show production, editing, and execution. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought and preparation into starting my podcast while also noting some of the tips I’d share with others about the process.
If you’re thinking about starting a podcast of your own, here are a few things to consider before investing your time and money into the project.
Three Must Dos Before Starting a Podcast
Make a list of potential topics, guests, etc.
I don’t know about you but I often find myself getting more excited about the idea of doing a show than actually coming up with specific ideas for said show. Sure you may already have a basic outline for what a given episode of your new podcast might entail in theory but have you considered what weekly topics you would cover and what guests you would have on? In other words, how would you keep your podcast going beyond your initial few episodes? With consistency being a major key in finding success with podcasting, it’s a good idea to set yourself up with a master list of show ideas so that your podcast doesn’t hit a wall in its infancy.
Luckily a recent trend in podcasting has been to create seasons. This is helpful because you could potentially plan out your entire first season of topics before launch and then spend the break brainstorming for your next set of shows. Whether you choose this route or prefer a year-round schedule, definitely give yourself a good headstart by doing the hard work of coming up with epsiode concepts beforehand.
Do a test show… or a few
Once you’ve made a master list of show ideas, the next step is to put your ideas to the test. That is to say that you should attempt to put together a test show. Now, you may have noticed that we have yet to discuss equipment and how can you do a test show without equipment? Well, in my mind, it makes more sense to utilize whatever recording gear you do have (even if it is only your phone) to produce a for-your-ears-only show just to prove your concept before investing in hundreds of dollars in podcast equipment.
There are many reasons why doing a test show (or shows) is important to the podcast-launching process. First, it will give you and any co-hosts you might have a chance to build your on-air chemistry or find your “radio voice.” No, I don’t mean that hacky, pseudo-deep voice that some DJs put on — it’s just that you may discover that the cadence or level of annunciation you use in casual conversation may not translate well to the podcast form. Of course it’s also good to get practice speaking without relying on verbal crutches such as “like” and “um.”
Along similar lines, you’ll notice that many successful podcasts have a certain format to them that they stick to fairly rigidly. This not only includes the various segments that make up an episode but also the standard length a given show will run. By doing practice shows, you can see what format works best for your concept and ensure that some of your topic ideas are producing enough content to reach your goal podcast length. Getting some of these kinks out ahead of time will hopefully save you some time — and some rough episodes — when you are ready to launch the real thing. At the same time, don’t let yourself get so concerned about perfecting your show that you never get around to actually starting it! As long as you’re confident that what you’ve come up with is something you’ll be able to execute effectively and repeatedly, there’s little harm in giving it a go.
Watch gear reviews and set a budget
Like I mentioned, one great thing about podcasting is that you can make yourself heard without needing all of the same fancy equipment found in professional broadcast studios. Quite often you’ll encounter shows recorded using iPhones, conversations that were ripped from Skype calls, and other low-budget methods employed just to get the job done. While such practices may not be a bother for some listeners, others may be more decerning. Similarly, you as an aspiring podcast creator may be striving for a higher quality set-up.
As with many things in life, there are many different price points you’ll find for everything from microphones and stands to editing software and podcast hosting. The key is to figure out how much you’re willing to spend/invest in your production. This is where seeking out reviews and pricing out gear can really help you get the most for your money.
In terms of reviews, my go-to is always YouTube. Whether you’re looking for a review on a specific microphone or just want to watch a “best mic under $200” comparison clip, you’re very likely to find what you need on the site. However one thing to note is the some of the info on these videos may be a bit outdated so it’s always a good idea to check for newer reviews or head to Amazon and see updated pricing before making a final decision. Even better, if you do find a piece of gear you like, you can see if the current pricing is a good deal using CamelCamelCamel.
Ultimately you may find it tempting to get top of the line everything when you’re starting your show — but don’t! There may be room to grow into these higher-end items eventually but, when you’re starting out, you’ll likely want to find more reasonably-priced items that fit your show’s needs. Besides, as long as a show has listenable audio quality, it will be the content that makes your podcast stand out, not the mic.
Considering how popular podcasts are these days, it’s no wonder than many among us have thought about starting our own shows. Whether you want to launch a show just to get your thoughts and ideas out there or you have your eyes set on growing a brand and making money from your efforts, a podcast could be a great medium. All that said, don’t let your overwhelming excitement to get your show off the ground lead you to overspend on equipment or ill-prepare you for the workload of producing a consistent podcast. Instead take the time to plan out ideas, do some test shows, and set a reasonble gear budget for yourself. Best of luck!
This article was first published on Dyer News.