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  • Writer's pictureHajar J. Woodland

So You Want to Make a Podcast, but Don’t Know Where to Start?

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

And by 'make a podcast' you probably also mean 'get it on Apple and Spotify'.

If you just want someone to tell you what to do without bogging you down with the technical jargon, this is the guide for you. It'll take you from ‘I want to start a podcast’ to ‘Soooo guys, guess what I’ve been up to this lockdown…’ in no time.

Does the world need another podcast? Sure! Why not? Even if you have a small community of 50 listeners, you’ll be connecting with people and giving them a chance to be part of something unique. Imagine if all your listeners were in one room – how good would that feel?

Don’t underestimate the value, insight and comfort you can offer through a simple conversation or one-person monologue. Yes, there’s a lot of crap out there vying for our attention, but your authentic voice is valuable and, trust me, even without any marketing or publicity, you’ll naturally build a loyal listenership and see those numbers increase month-on-month.

Whether you’re offering thoughts on a specific subject or seeing where a conversation takes you, podcasts are one of the best things to come out of our content boom. We’re moving from heavily curated broadcasts to open conversations from a diverse range of people all over the world. And at a time when pithy tweets can land you in trouble, voices build empathy and compassion, allowing us to connect as flawed human beings rather than ‘like’-able robots.

Forget those doubts, understand the value of your voice, and make that podcast!

On board? Good! What’s next?

There are LOADS of books and guides on podcasts out there, but when I started, all I wanted was someone to say: ‘Do this, this and this, and you’ll be fine’, which is why I’m trying to be that person for you.

This isn’t a definitive guide, but it worked for me. I have a decent foundation in audio as a live singer and content producer, but I’m not a sound engineer. I don’t know everything about audio or podcast platforms or sponsorship, and I’m not going to run through every single option. BUT, if you’re new to podcasts and audio, this is what I recommend.

In this article, l’ll cover:

  • Recording setup

  • The only mic you really need

  • Editing software

  • How to ‘upload your podcast to Spotify’ (that’s not a thing by the way)

I’ve also whacked a shopping list at the end so you can buy what you need for about £100.

1) Sort out your podcast recording set-up

Let me guess – your first thought after ‘I want to start a podcast’ is ‘I need a mic’. But, not so fast there...

Before you start looking for a pretty mic (you’re probably paying for a fun colour or cool brand name by the way), you need something to plug it into. Sure, you can get a USB microphone that goes straight into your laptop, but I’ve found some of these to be very low gain and not a flexible solution for future recording and editing. Get yourself an audio interface that plugs into your laptop and you’ll give yourself more options for guests and different mics as you grow.

There’s lots of info on audio interfaces and why you do/don’t need one – Music Repo does some superb explainer videos – but, well, just trust me. Get an interface.

When I started, I went cheap with this Behringer one, but you do get what you pay for. It’s been absolutely fine, and I’ll continue to use it for a little while longer, but I’ve noticed that sometimes I get a bit of a buzz and for some mics the gain needs to be super high. Still, if you’re on a low budget and just want to get going, this is a good option. The most important thing with an interface at this stage is the number of channels you want (i.e. how many speakers you have or guests you foresee having). You’ll probably want a two-channel mixer at least. One channel = one microphone = one guest.

The brilliant producer (and my mate) Andy Nichol recommends Audient, which I’m definitely going to upgrade to. With interfaces a higher price gives you better quality and more features, for but remember for podcasts you’re only recording speaking voices not a full live band, so there’s no need to sledgehammer a walnut here.

OK, NOW you can think about microphones.

By going the audio interface option, we’re discounting USB mics, which means you’ll be look at microphones with a standard XLR output (three pins at the bottom of the mic). You plug an XLR lead into your mic at one end and the interface at the other.

2) Which microphone is best for podcasts?

You could spend hours looking at all the different types of mics around and you could test a few different ones, or you could go straight for a classic, quality mic that will do the job in every situation. For most musicians, the SM58 is as sturdy and dependable as it gets. It’s been around since 1966 and is still the first choice of rock legends.

It’s not your standard spoken word microphone, but it will do the job and give you a clear, quality sound. What’s more it can take some serious knocks and still survive. Having an SM58 up your sleeve will serve you well for podcasts and live events for the next fifty years. If you just want to get going, you won’t regret buying an SM58.

If you’ve got some pennies lying about and want to go super fancy and look oh-so professional, the broadcast standard Shure SM7B is the one for you. I got mine at a steal for under £300, but they currently retail at £389. Even with my Behringer interface, I could hear a huge difference in sound quality and depth, but I needed an additional preamp, so I’d suggest making sure you have a better interface before wasting a good mic on an unworthy setup.

3) Editing your podcast

You could record your podcast straight into an audio recorder app such as QuickTime or even a portable recorder, but if you want to edit it (and I recommend you do), you’ll need editing software. If you’re completely new to audio editing, start simple with something like GarageBand or Audacity. Years ago, when I worked in radio, I trained on CoolEdit Pro (now Adobe Audition) but when I started my podcast in 2019, for the sake of just getting it out there cheaply, I began with GarageBand and it was absolutely fine. Of course, it has limitations, but for simple edits and fading music in and out, it’ll do the job.

How much you edit depends on the style you go for, but there’ll be parts of your podcast where you stumble over words or lose your train of thought. That’s all well and good with a friend, but for something you’re putting into the world, I’d say it’s worth tightening up, so people stay engaged. Also, don’t over-edit. ‘Erms’ are a really important part of how we communicate information and give the listener a chance to take it in. Take out a few for clarity, but don’t take them all out.

As you get better and see more opportunities to improve your podcast audio, you’ll want to learn industry standard software, such as Audition or ProTools. I now use Audition which gives me so many more options, super clean clean edits and helps me tidy up audio.

4) Getting your podcast on Spotify (or, podcast hosting)

If you’re brand new to podcasts, you might be asking ‘how do I upload my podcast to Spotify?’ Well, it doesn’t work like that. In the same way you can watch a YouTube video when it’s embedded on different websites, you can listen to your podcast from a range of different podcast platforms/directories. These directories are all taking a feed from your podcast host.

In short, upload your podcast to a host such as Buzzsprout, Anchor or Acast and then list your podcast wherever you want it to be heard (e.g. Spotify, Stitcher, Apple). Acast is both host and directory, and Anchor’s owned by Spotify. But don’t worry, you don’t have to use Anchor or Acast to be listed in their directories.

I use Buzzsprout but will be looking to move to Acast at some point for their Patreon integration. Buzzsprout is good value and provides clear instructions that help you get your podcasts listed everywhere and like Anchor, it has a free option.

I hope that was a decent beginner's introduction to podcasts. Any questions or comments, leave them below - I'd love to hear about your new podcast. Here's that short shopping list...

Your basic podcast recording shopping list – start a podcast for about £100 (if you go second hand)

Oh, and mic stands...

I prefer a telescopic floor stand for flexibility and so I don’t have to sit at a table, but you can use tabletop ones or stands that clamp onto a surface edge. You can always just hold your mic but be careful not to knock it while recording.


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