Between figuring out which recording gear to use and finalizing a podcast name, topic, and format, podcasting can quickly become overwhelming — melting the initial excitement of starting it.
Good news though? Creating a podcast can become less confusing and more doable when you break down the process into steps to take at a time.
This guide will help you with just that as we answer how to start a podcast (with an actionable checklist) and what you need to start a podcast. Along the way, we’ve also shared frameworks to script or outline your podcast, social media podcast promo templates, and a show name generator to get started right away.
Altogether, launching a podcast divides into five steps:
- Setup your podcast topic, name, format, and cover art
- Choose podcast equipment and software
- Generate episode ideas and script (or plan) a few episodes
- Record and edit your podcast episodes
- Promote your podcast
Let’s dig in:
[#TOC1]1. Setup your podcast topic, name, format, and cover art[#TOC1]
Kick it off by getting your podcast basics right. Brainstorm and finalize the following:
Your ideal podcast topic is one that interests both you and your target audience and offers something unique. Identifying it boils down to taking these steps:
- Start with some introspection
Ask yourself what your expertise lies in. What can you talk about for days on end and not get bored by the time you reach your 50th episode?
- Next, look outward
You can always dive into creating a detailed listener persona down the line — when you’ve enough audience data. For now, highlight who your ideal listeners are and talk to them about their interest in your podcast topic.
The idea here is simple: find out whether there’s a listener demand for your idea.
- Now research podcasts in your target space
Studying potential competitors will save you from launching yet another podcast on a topic there are tons of podcasts on.
Listening to competitors’ podcasts would also help you identify a unique angle for your show — an awesome way to fill a gap in your niche and create a podcast that listeners will love.
Together, these three steps will assist in nailing your podcast topic and angle:
Audience interest/your audience’s appetite for topic + Your interest & expertise + The space you’re going to fill
Do you want to host a solo show or invite guests or both? Also, do you prefer a live show or perhaps a recorded video element to it?
Each way of structuring your podcast comes with its pros and cons. So it’s best to put some thought (hey! no overthinking 👀) around what you can realistically manage.
Choose from the following podcast formats:
Solo or Monologue Podcast Format
When you record yourself speaking to your audience.
- Great for intimately connecting with listeners.
- No schedule clashes — record whenever you want.
- Best for establishing yourself as a thought leader or authority in your field.
Leaves all podcasting responsibilities — from ideation to engaging listeners and promotion on you.
Co-Hosted Podcast Format
When you record with a partner.
Reduced hosting pressure as you split podcasting responsibilities.
- Finding a good partner with the right chemistry is challenging.
- Scheduling clashes as you coordinate with your co-host on a suitable recording time.
Interview Podcast Format
When you (and your co-host) chat with an expert.
- Less pressure on you for bringing the best insights to the show.
- Better promotion as guests share the episode with their network.
- Outreach, scheduling, and editing more folks can be hard.
- You need strong interview skills (guiding the conversation to the right path, asking the right questions to bring out the gems, etc)
Panel Podcast Format
When you interview more people than one guest as in the interview format.
- Least hosting pressure on the host.
- Lots of interesting insights for listeners.
- Reaching out and scheduling with multiple guests is challenging.
- Making sure all guests feel included and getting everyone to talk can be tough.
Video Podcasting Format
When you record video/your webcam along with the audio.
- Better opportunity to connect with listeners — humanizing your show further.
- Offers plenty of ways to repurpose your content for more reach and maximum impact.
- It’s not for the camera-shy folks.
- Tough to get the logistics right for all guests (if in a panel interview format).
Non-Fictional Storytelling Podcast Format
When you narrate real-life stories or events.
- Lots of stories to feature on the podcast.
- Storytelling can make your show super engaging for listeners.
- Fact-checking to make sure all details are correct takes a lot of work.
- Laborious podcast format as it takes work to find and research the right stories, identify the best hook, and more.
Podcast Theater Format
When you tell fictional stories across a series of episodes/seasons.
- Least common format so less competition.
- No worries regarding sharing accurate facts.
- Audience building takes time since it’s a unique format.
- Upfront work in planning seasons so you can connect episodes.
Episode length and frequency
Before anything, know this: respect your listeners’ time. Meaning: your podcast episodes can’t be as long as they need to be ❌ That’s a big no.
Instead, a good exercise is to work out an ideal episode length, then cut it back by 5-10 minutes. Creating such an artificial limit saves you from rambling. You dive straight into the meaty bit, which ensures every second is packed with value for listeners.
Now for ways to determine the ideal episode length and podcast frequency:
- Ask your audience. Something as simple as a Twitter poll works.
- Review the competitor standard. See if you can make it better — by shortening or lengthening it or publishing more regularly.
- Tailor your epsiode length to your publishing frequency. If you plan to publish an episode daily, for instance, consider keeping it short (about 15 minutes long). Similarly, if you’re going weekly, you can play with a 30-40-minute episode length.
One thing to be mindful of here: if you don’t already have an established brand, consider sticking with short to medium-length podcast episodes that come out regularly (rather than quarterly). Why? Because listeners are more likely to tune into long episodes (1-3 hours) from people such as Joe Rogan who they already know than those they aren’t familiar with.
Most of all, pick a schedule that you can realistically manage. After all, you’ve to keep the show running and you can’t do that if you aren’t able to squeeze it between your other responsibilities.
Can’t commit to podcasting daily, weekly, or fortnightly? Consider dropping seasons as the Freelance Writing Coach podcast does.
If you already have a personal brand or are creating a podcast for a client that’s well-known in their niche, selecting a name is often as simple as adding ‘show’ or ‘podcast’ to your name or company name.
Alternatively, pick a self-explanatory name (these tend to be easily discoverable too) in case you’re talking about something specific such as growth hacking or baking (lava cake, anybody?).
Yet another idea to come up with a podcast name? Use a podcast name generator to auto-generate your show’s name:
Whatever you finalize, remember these two, must-follow pro tips:
- Keep it short since short names tend to be memorable and easily fit (and are readable) on your podcast cover art.
- Include a keyword in your podcast name if you can because podcast directories like Spotify and Apple Podcasts are search engines and a keyword in your name will improve discoverability.
Podcast Cover Art
A podcast cover does two jobs:
- Set listeners’ expectations
- Invite people to tune in
It’s why your cover art needs to reflect your podcast’s theme and personality. To do so, make notes of the following three and ask yourself these accompanying questions:
- Reflect on your podcast’s angle, tone, and personality — how can your cover art better showcase it in visuals?
- Study competitors’ cover art — what can you do to make your cover art stand out?
- Review your audience (their age, industry, and expectations) — how can your cover art better resonate with them?
Remember to design a minimal cover or use these podcast cover art templates:
What’s more, because 73% of listeners tune in from their smartphone, make sure your podcast cover art is minimally designed and easy to read (fancy fonts can be tough to read so don’t use them).
One last tip: design for dark mode. That is: choose colors carefully so they don’t blend in the background for folks who have dark mode active on their devices.
[#TOC2]2. Choose podcast equipment and software[#TOC2]
If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can start your podcast with just your computer.
However, crisp audio quality plays an effective role in retaining listeners. It’s why we recommend investing in at least a good mic (nothing that breaks the bank) before starting and using the headphones or ears buds you have.
With that, here are podcast equipment recommendations for you:
Best podcast equipment for beginners
Understand the following mic types as you shop for one:
- XLR or USB. Their plug-and-play functionality makes USB mics easy to use. But they don’t offer the highest quality sound recording. In comparison, XLR mics offer better sound quality but need an interface (a device that converts the mic’s signals into a format your recording software recognizes) to work with your computer.
- Condenser or Dynamic. Condensers are sound-sensitive, which makes them a good pick if you’re recording from a studio with an interface. In contrast, dynamic mics give you the ‘radio’ voice and are best for recording in a regular room.
Have a little more cash you can spare? Get these two on top of a microphone for better quality podcast recording:
- Headphones. Headphones prevent echo or audio bleed during the recording when your mic picks up unwanted sounds from other equipment. Wired ones like Audio Technica M50X don’t need batteries and reduce lag.
- Camera (for video podcasts). You can always use your webcam or phone’s camera to get things rolling. Alternatively, invest in a full HD webcam such as Logitech C920 or an expensive DSLR.
Once you start seeing results or if you’re starting with a mid-range budget, get these good-to-have podcast equipment as well:
- Pop filter
- Microphone stand
Best overall podcasting software
You need software to collaborate with guests, record episodes, and edit recordings.
There are free options out there such as GarageBand for recording and editing, in-person, audio-only podcasts for Apple users. However, a specialized software offers high-quality recording — essential for offering a top-notch listener experience.
[#TOC3]3. Generate episode ideas and script (or plan) a few episodes[#TOC3]
With your podcast topic and recording gear ready, get into planning mode.
Brainstorm ideas for episodes based on:
- Questions people ask you or ask each other on social media and community forums
- Topics you think aren’t discussed enough but need to be
- Questions you had on the topic when you were starting out
Once you’ve a backlog of at least 25 ideas ready, script the episodes.
Scripting saves you lots of time down the line by helping you record focused episodes. That focus, in turn, ensures your episodes are loaded with value.
Again, you don’t need to go in-depth and have everything fully written down (although you can do that too if you think that’ll beat your nervous jitters).
But the simplest version of a podcast script is a bulleted list of points you’ll cover or questions you’ll ask experts if you’re doing an interview-style or panel-based podcast.
Copy-paste these points into a teleprompter (psst! VEED has a free one 🎉) and refer to them when recording.
You can also flesh out these bullet points for a semi-detailed script (in case of a solo or co-hosted show). Or don’t, because you can always record on the fly with the bullet points as your guide.
Remember, don’t let scripting hold you back — use it as a supportive tool for fleshing out each episode instead. Here’s an idea for how your script could look like:
[#TOC4]4. Record and edit your podcast episodes[#TOC4]
Recording can be the most overwhelming part of starting a podcast — specifically for those who don’t consider themselves pro speakers.
But here’s a little secret that’ll cheer you up: it’s not about how you speak but the way you edit your podcast recording.
Of course, articulating your thoughts beautifully and choosing the perfect words play an important role. But don’t let that hold you back. Because speaking clearly and plainly (read: no rambling and no fluff) is often the best way to connect with listeners.
So go on, set yourself 6-8 inches away from your mic (make a call me like the 🤙 sign with your thumb and forefinger to measure) in a well-furnished room. Then, hit record in whatever podcasting platform you're using.
Pro Tip: Recording in-person? Make sure everyone in the recording studio has a separate microphone for optimal audio quality.
Don’t forget to select an appealing video frame with an interesting background that shows your personality if you’re recording a video podcast.
And if you find yourself getting stuck (odds are you will and that’s okay!), don’t stop and start from scratch ❌
Instead, pause and continue from where you think your recording went downhill. When you edit the recording later, simply edit out the messed-up bit and the pause for a seamless narrative.
A few other things to edit:
- Remove anything that’s redundant or doesn’t contribute value.
- Get rid of ‘umms’ and ‘ahs.’ A few are okay though — you don’t want to sound like a robot, after all.
- Clean your audio to remove distracting background noises (you can do this in one click with VEED’s editor)
[#TOC5]5. Promote your podcast[#TOC5]
Distributing your podcast episodes is key to growing your pool of loyal listeners.
You can always share the link to your latest episode on your socials and with your verified email list. But to encourage people to tune in, use the following tactics:
- Build hype around the upcoming episode by sharing your favorite takeaway from it.
- Include behind-the-scenes content (a bite-size video, picture, or story sharing a funny moment or a glimpse of your recording, for instance) with a link to your episode.
- Create a personalized media kit for your guests and request them to share the episode with their audience.
An even better way to drive more people to your podcast is to repurpose the content into different formats.
For instance, use VEED to create multiple, bite-sized clips from your video podcast as Lenny Rachitsky does for his podcast. For example, Lenny repurposed this episode into multiple social media videos including this one on TikTok:
If you’re running an audio-only podcast, create audiograms with VEED. Then share them to your marketing channels with a link to the full episode.
You can also auto-create a transcript of the episode with VEED and refine the transcript or use it as your reference to write a new blog post.
Social Media Examiner takes this approach to reuse and promote its podcast content. Here’s their podcast episode on scaling Facebook Ads and the repurposed blog post with a link to the complete episode.
Here are 10 more effective ways to promote your podcast.
One parting tip: don’t share all repurposed pieces of podcast content to every and any marketing channel ❌
Instead, review content-platform fit before promoting a clip to a specific marketing channel for maximum results. Put simply:
- Understand each distribution platform’s audience appetite before sharing it on there.
For example, an NSFW podcast might be best distributed to YouTube and TikTok but not LinkedIn, whereas, a marketing podcast might make sense to distribute on most social channels.
- Review which content formats each platform’s audience enjoys the most.
Reels, for instance, are a great format to get your Instagram followers’ attention. Similarly, Twitter threads do well on Twitter rather than videos.
In short, ask yourself: is my audience on YouTube (or whatever channel) interested in this topic? f so, which content format do they consume the most here
Wrap up: How to start a podcast checklist
Starting a podcast can sure be confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. Use this podcast launch checklist to plan, create a recording setup, and get in the flow of things:
Phase 1: Get your podcast basics right
✅ Select a topic and angle for your podcast
✅ Choose a podcast format
✅ Determine your publishing frequency and episode length
✅ Come up or auto-generate your podcast’s name
✅ Design your cover art
Phase 2: Get your podcasting equipment ready
✅ Use what’s available or shop for these must-have equipment: microphone, headphone, camera
✅ (When ready or on a sizable budget) shop for good-to-haves: pop filter, mic stand, ring light
✅ Set up your podcast recording and editing software
Stage 3: Plan and script episodes
✅ Brainstorm and shortlist 25 podcast episodes
✅ Script the first batch of episodes
Stage 4: Record and edit
✅ Connect your equipment with your podcast recording software, position yourself, and start recording
✅ Edit out sections you botched, unnecessary pauses, redundant sentences, and filler words
✅ Clean the audio to get rid of distracting background noises
Stage 5: Promote
✅ Auto-generate a transcript of your episode with VEED
✅ Repurpose the transcript into a blog post, Twitter thread, social media post, or newsletter
✅ Create bite-sized video clips or audiograms from your podcast episode and share on relevant distribution channels