Unlock your inner podcaster: A step-by-step guide to content creation
In a world buzzing with podcasts, have you ever considered trying your hand at creating your own? Podcasting is a fantastic way to share your thoughts, ideas, and interests with the world, or even just with a private audience of friends and family. It is one way to create content to express yourself and show potential employers your creative and self-starting productive capabilities.
The best part? It doesn’t require a massive investment in equipment or professional studios. With some creative thinking, a dash of passion, and a willingness to experiment, you can dive into podcasting with minimal risk and resources.
1. Set reasonable expectations of yourself
Treat this like a time-bound limited experiment. A low-risk entry into the world of podcasting is to do a limited series – say 8 episodes. You can learn and refine some skills without a significant financial commitment. A limited series lets you explore your interests deeply, refine your content, and engage with a niche audience, all while maintaining creative control. It’s the perfect opportunity to hone your podcasting skills, gather valuable feedback, and decide if podcasting is a long-term pursuit—all while sharing your passion with the world, one episode at a time.
2. Connect to a Passion
Find a topic that genuinely interests you. Think about your hobbies, experiences, or areas of expertise that you’d love to share. Your passion will be the driving force behind your podcast, so choose wisely. Whether it’s cooking, travel, book reviews, or even a deep dive into workscape issues, your enthusiasm will shine through in your episodes.
3. Choose Your Style
With your topic in mind, it’s time to choose the style of your podcast. Do you want to host solo, engage in conversations with guests, or co-host with a friend or family member? Your style will shape the tone and dynamics of your podcast. Listen to a variety of podcasts to identify the style that resonates with you. There are informative styles like No Such Thing As a Fish, the conversational tone of Armchair Experts, or the storytelling format of Serial. Find what appeals to you and use it as a basis for your own podcast. I recommend keeping it simple and go for just an audio podcast, rather than a video form – as you explore your way.
4. The Minimum Viable Equipment
While some podcasters invest in top-notch equipment, you can start with the basics without breaking the bank. Here’s what you need:
- Microphone: Invest in a good-quality USB microphone. Options like the Blue Yeti or Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB offer great sound quality without costing a fortune.
- Headphones: Any decent pair of headphones will do for monitoring your recordings. You don’t need to splurge on studio-grade headphones. With a separate microphone, you won’t want your headphones to have a built-in microphone.
- Recording Software: Use free software like Audacity (for Windows, macOS, and Linux) to record and edit your episodes. You can record in-person. You can record over a Zoom call – simply get the saved audio file and then edit it in Audacity.
- Quiet Space: Find a quiet corner to record, free from background noise and distractions. For good sound quality consider a room that doesn’t have reflective surfaces that bounce sound around. You can reduce this echo effect with a floor covered in carpet or rugs, and windows that can be covered by curtains.
4. Plan Your Episodes
Before hitting the record button, plan your episodes. Create a general structure for episodes thinking about a standard approach to the introduction and conclusion. Take note of how other podcasters do their introductions and conclusions, and reflect on what elements you would like to copy.
For the main content of each specific episode, choose a set of key points, questions, or discussion topics to keep your episodes organised and engaging. When it comes to time-length, this depends on the style of podcast. If you have a guest and it’s a conversation you might go for 40 to 90 minutes. If it’s an informational style, then aim for episodes between 20 to 30 minutes to keep them concise and enjoyable.
5. Recording and Editing
Now, it’s time to dive into recording. Find your comfortable speaking pace, and don’t worry if you stumble or make mistakes; you can always edit them out later. Maintain a natural and conversational tone. When you’re satisfied with your recording, use your chosen software to edit out any unwanted portions and add music or sound effects if desired. Keep it simple in the beginning, and over time, you can experiment with more complex editing techniques.
6. Share with Friends and Family
Your first couple of episodes can serve as a great pilot for your limited series. Share them exclusively with friends and family. Ask for their honest feedback to help you improve. Their input can be invaluable in shaping your podcast’s other episodes and content.
7. Choosing a Hosting Platform
To share your podcast with your audience, you’ll need a hosting platform. SoundCloud offers a free plan that allows you to publish a limited number of episodes within a total 180-minute limit. It’s user-friendly and an excellent choice for beginners. You can keep the episodes private if you want, and share a special link to your audience. When you are ready to release episodes publicly, make sure to optimise your episode titles and descriptions for searchability. If you want the episodes to be available on other platforms as well, like Spotify or iTunes/Apple Podcasts – there is a little more involved: Getting accounts on those platforms and setting up the main hosting platform to provide an RSS feed that other platforms can receive. If that feels too technical for now – then leave this step for later, knowing what is possible.
8. Promote Your Podcast
While your podcast may be private for now, there’s no harm in promoting it to a wider audience when you feel confident. Share it on social media, in relevant online communities, and with anyone who might share an interest in your chosen subject. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Put the link to the main hosting platform in your email signature, and in your online profiles – that’s a convenient way to let people know about your creative content.
9. Evolve and Learn
Your first limited series is a learning experience. Pay attention to listener feedback, and be open to evolving your podcast. As you gain more experience, you can consider investing in better equipment or doing a regular series. And if you decided that podcasting is not for you – then this is not a failure. Keep notes about what you did, and be ready to share with a potential employer the evidence of this experiment you did by yourself and what you learnt from it. That in itself can create a positive impression about your ability to try new things and to have a vision that you can make real!
The Self unLimited Stories of the Brave series started out as a limited series of 10 episodes. I also made the initial decisions to only record and publish when I found an interesting guest, and to publicly state these choices. In hindsight these were very good decisions. I have seen others put pressure on themselves to start podcasting by publishing frequently and ongoing. The experience became stressful and they couldn’t deliver on the hype and promises they made – which isn’t a good outcome for anyone.
I have evolved to a very conversational style and this means I do not have set questions for guests before the recording. Because I am doing regular episodes, I have made a guest pack of guidelines to help put them at ease and to set expectations about my particular style of episodes.
Whatever you choose to do, have fun and let your enthusiasm shine through each episode.
May you unlock your inner podcaster, and start creating your limited series today!
Helen Palmer has been creating podcast episodes since early 2018. She’s learnt a thing or two along the way, and she has had a lot of fun talking with very interesting people. It is just one of the ways she expresses herself creatively in making content in the workscape of Helen unLimited. Sometimes she writes, sometimes she talks – in whatever form it takes there is a constant passion to pass on useful knowledge that can make a positive difference in other’s lives.