Podcasting for Beginners: The Complete Guide to Getting Started With Podcasts

Podcasting 101: The Complete Guide to Getting Started via @Buffer

Content marketing comes in many different shapes and sizes. Creators like you have a lot of options: blog postssocial media updates, visuals, video, slide decks, and even more. You can even add podcasting to this mix.

Audio is being used in clever ways to fit into the content plans of some of the top forward-thinking websites and blogs. Tim Ferris—author of The Four-Hour Work Week—recently started a podcast on his blog. Copyblogger runs their Lede podcast amid their traditional awesome marketing posts.

Podcasts seem to be a growing trend that is here to stay. Have you thought about starting your own? If so, here’s what I dug up for how to get going in this new content direction. Read on to learn the ABCs of podcasting for beginners.

How to Overcome Your Fears of Starting a Podcast

I have always been podcast averse but never quite able to put my finger on why.  Then I read a pitch from Copyblogger for a podcast seminar. Demian Farnworth listed pretty much all my fears.

“My voice sounds weird.”

“The technical skills needed to record, upload, and store audio files are so far out of my wheelhouse.”

“The cost of quality equipment exceeds my small budget.”

“I want to pee my pants when I think of speaking in public.”

That’s me in a nutshell. I am not used to the sound of my own voice. I have no idea what’s involved in getting audio recorded and edited. I cringe at spending money on a microphone. And I’m rather uncomfortable speaking extemporaneously without the safety net of rough draft after rough draft after rough draft.

So what can someone like me—and maybe someone like you—do about it?

Reasons to Jump Headfirst Into Podcasting

When was the last time you listened to a podcast?

If it’s been awhile for you, chances are that someone you know has listened pretty recently. Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults listen to podcasts at least occasionally.

Commuting–be it by train, subway, or car—along with the ubiquity of mobile devices represent a huge opportunity for the growth of podcasts. People who listen to podcasts via cell phone grew 10 percent from 2010 to 2012.

Then there are the strategic reasons, too. Michael Wolf,  chief analyst of NextMarket Insights (and a notable podcaster), sees podcasting as a less crowded content channel than blogging. It has deeper engagement, as listeners tend to stay tuned in longer than with blog content. Podcasts work as multitasking options, too—you can listen to a podcast while you cook or while you drive. The same can’t be said for blog posts or any form of visual content.

Done right, there are many advantages to starting a podcast of your own—new audiences, less competition, and greater intimacy among them. And it takes less than you think to get started. Here’s all that’s needed for a beginner to create an amazing podcast.

Gear to Get Started

A quality podcast will mean quality equipment. Sure, you can scrape by with a bare minimum setup. You can record a podcast with nothing more than your smartphone, but it’ll sound like just that—a phone call recorded on a mobile device.

Have you heard of the MVP concept? It stands for Minimum Viable Product, and it is a startup-y term for pushing out the bare bones version of whatever you have, seeing if people enjoy it, then building it up from there. It’s a lean approach we love at Buffer, and I think it makes sense for getting started with podcasts, too.

Invest enough to create a quality podcast, see if people like it, then advance from there.

Step one: Buy a microphone. 

Audio quality begins and ends with a microphone. The better microphone you buy, the sharper your podcast will sound. And audio quality reigns supreme when a person’s podcast choices include heavyweights like WNYC, NPR, and ESPN.

Fortunately, it won’t break the bank to get a good-enough microphone.

USB microphones—like the Snowball by Blue Microphones—start around $60. Most buying advice you’ll read about podcast microphones is to purchase a dynamic microphone that is front-firing with good rejection, meaning it picks up your voice clearly without the unwanted sounds of wherever you’re recording.

You can also pick up a headphone/microphone headset for around $30. This is a great option if you’ll be podcasting with cohosts or with guests (more on this below). If you opt for the standalone mic, you can always grab a separate set of headphones—even some you have lying around—and you might also consider buying or fashioning a microphone stand so that you’re comfortable for your podcast.

Recording, Uploading, and Promoting

Before you press the record button, there are a couple final steps to prepare for your podcast.

  1. Format: What’s your podcast going to look like?
  2. Content: What’s your podcast going to say?

Podcasts can take many forms: one-man shows, cohosts, guests, call-in, etc. Metafilter founder Matt Haughey, who has put in hundreds of hours on podcasting, recommends that your show involve two or three hosts.

Kevan Lee
Freelance writer by day, sports fan by night---and sometimes vice versa. I write about email and nutrition (not at the same time) and a whole lot more. Live simply, give generously, watch football, beat cancer.
Kevan Lee