Starting Your Own Podcast

Jeff GargasBlog, Connect Better, Innovate Better, Lead Better, Teacherpreneur Better, Tech Better

TL;DR:

  • Starting your own podcast is a great way to share value with others.
  • What you share could be the thing that helps someone else.
  • Come up with a title, format, and cover art.
  • Get your equipment, distribute your show, and promote like crazy!

If you don’t already know, let me be the first (although I’m probably the 100th) to tell you; podcasts are huge, and they are growing in popularity every single day. Whether you listen regularly (like 51% of U.S. citizens over age 12), or you’re just now learning what a podcast is, podcasts are one of the fastest growing mediums in the world. With more than 850,000 active podcasts, you can find a show about anything you can imagine. Sports, comic books, personal growth, meditation, and yes…teaching. Starting your own podcast can be daunting, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

So why should you consider starting your own podcast?

My good friend, Chad Ostrowski (@chadostrowski), always says, “For every problem we see in education, there’s a solution in a classroom somewhere. We just need to share it.

Starting your own podcast is a great way to share what you do with others, and potentially give them the solution to a problem they’re having. What you share could be the thing another teacher has been waiting for, or the thing that changes the way they teach. Imagine the impact you could have by simply sharing what you do.

On our podcast, Teach Better Talk, we highlight educators and share their story. Maybe this is the route you want to go; sharing the awesomeness of others. Maybe you want to just jump on the mic and share how you’re feeling, that new tech took you tried, or your opinions on what is going on in education. Or hey, maybe you want to podcast with your students.

Your podcast could be about anything you want. And just because you’re a teacher, doesn’t mean it needs to be about education, necessarily. You can podcast about anything you’re passionate about.

'The only way your podcast fails is if you quit. And the quickest way to quit is to not start at all. So let's get to it...you've got a lot of value to share.' - @jeffgargas Click To Tweet

In this post, I’m going to cover the basic steps to start your own podcast. You can jump to any of the following sections if you’re already into the process.

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Pick a name/title
  3. Plan your episode format
  4. Layout a schedule
  5. Write a description
  6. Create cover art
  7. Choose your equipment
  8. Create an intro and outro
  9. Set up distribution
  10. Promote your podcast
  11. Get started

Before starting your podcast.

Before we get too far into this, I want to be very clear: starting and running a podcast is not easy. I’m going to give you some simple steps below, but it is far from easy. It requires time, energy, focus, and a commitment to your audience. It’s a project. So it’s important to assess whether you’re in the position to, and ready and willing to sacrifice the time and energy needed.

Ok, ready to commit? Great, so let’s get started!

Here are 10 simple steps you can take to start your own podcast. (Notice: I said “simple,” not “easy.”)

1. When starting your own podcast, choose a topic.

First things first; what is your podcast going to be about? Maybe it’ll be about classroom management, or technology, or the craziness of the staff room. Your topic should be interesting and marketable, but the most important thing is to make sure it is something you get excited about. Podcasting is tough. When you have to take a little extra time away from your family, or that episode requires some additional attention to detail, your passion for the topic is what will drive you through it.

Think 6, 12, or 18 months from now, is this a topic you’re still going to be excited about, or will you be bored of it? The topic of your show, and your passion for that topic, is the foundation of everything here. Choose wisely.

2. Pick a name/title for your podcast.

This is one of the first things people will see. Your title is what is most likely to draw first-time listeners in. It sets the tone, and initiates the brand of your show. Before you get too anxious trying to think of the perfect name, I have some good news; you can change this. Yes, of course, if you’re 150 episodes in, changing the name requires quite a bit of effort in the marketing department. But right now, as you’re planning things and getting started, you might change this a few times…and that’s okay.

3. Plan your episode format before starting your podcast.

I’ll start with the good news; the format of your podcast can change, too. There are a wide variety of formats you can choose from, and a bunch that haven’t even been tried or thought of yet. You could interview people, rant on topics, provide audio tutorials on tools, provide quick snippets of inspiration, or change it up every episode. Heck, maybe you’ll create the next awesome idea for a format!

One of the most common formats is the interview format. This is where you chat with a guest each episode. This formats provides you with a guest that can bring a lot of the content of your episode. You can lean on their expertise to carry the episode, and they are also likely to promote the episode, so there’s a marketing advantage as well. However, this format requires you to be a good host, a good interviewer. You could also make it more of a casual conversation with your guests instead of an interview.

You could have a co-host, or no co-host or guests – just you. There really is no wrong answer here, but you should think through a few questions when laying out your format:

  • Is the format sustainable? If you’re thinking of a co-host, can you both be available all the time when needed? If you have guests, how will you find them, communicate with them, etc.?
  • What challenges will the format create for you? Is it too long or too complicated? Does it require working with multiple calendars? Think through any potential challenges, and adjust your format if needed.
  • Will you enjoy it? If you like rolling solo, maybe a co-host or guests don’t make sense. If you’re someone who thrives on conversations, but solo would be easier, maybe the challenges are worth it.

4. Layout a schedule for recording and publishing your podcast.

The next step is to decide how often you’ll publish your podcast. The most important thing to keep in mind is your recording and editing processes. If you plan to release an episode every week, you need to realistically be able to record and edit an episode every week.

Tip: I strongly suggest always staying 1-2 weeks ahead of your schedule. For example, if you plan to publish weekly, try to record a few extra episodes before launching the show. Then stay 1-2 weeks ahead of schedule so you always have an extra recorded episode, in case schedule conflicts prevent you from recording one week.

5. Write a description for your show before starting your podcast.

Your show’s description will show up when people view your show in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on any of the other podcast platforms. This description should be on your website, and can be used in marketing your show as well.

Your description should let the potential listener know what to expect. What will they get from the show, what topics are discussed, etc. You can even include the show’s schedule if you’d like, such as “Weekly interviews with educators” or “Daily tidbits to help you achieve success!”

You can be creative here. Catchy is good. But make sure it tells them what they need to know: what the show is about.

Here are a few examples of good show descriptions.

Teachers On Fire: Profiling agents of growth and transformation in K-12 education. Advocating for collaboration, communication, creation > consumption, critical thinking, design thinking, growth mindset, inquiry, PBL, and strategic uses of technology in education.

Greater Is In Me: This podcast will inform, inspire, and influence people to fulfill the greatness that exists within.

Award Winning Culture: Join Hans and Jennifer Appel on an intentional walk into how educators can create Award Winning Culture and climate. Through a mindset focused on Character, Excellence, and Community, Jennifer and Hans uncover the real secrets to creating life-changing learning environments, deeply rooted in JOY.

Cult Of Pedagogy: Teaching strategies, classroom management, education reform, educational technology — if it has something to do with teaching, we’re talking about it. Jennifer Gonzalez interviews educators, students, administrators and parents about the psychological and social dynamics of school, trade secrets, and other juicy things you’ll never learn in a textbook.

6. Create cover art for your podcast.

Your cover art is what will catch the eye of people as they browse their favorite podcast platforms. Your cover art should be visually appealing, visually represent the content of the show, and set the tone for your show’s brand.

Here are a couple resources for making professional-looking cover art.

  • Canva
  • Adobe Spark
  • Don’t want to create it on your own? Use a service like Fiverr – you can find talented graphic designers that will rock out some cover art for you quickly, and for as little as $5.

Make sure your cover art works in Apple Podcasts.

As of right now, Apple Podcasts is still the largest and most popular podcast platform, so you need to be certain your artwork follows their guidelines, and looks good on their platform.

Here’s an excerpt from Apple’s Feed and Image Requirements:

[Cover art must be] a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels, 72 dpi, in JPEG or PNG format with appropriate file extensions (.jpg, .png), and in the RGB colorspace. To optimize images for mobile devices, Apple recommends compressing your image files.

And another from Apple’s Podcast Best Practices:

Create artwork for your podcast that still works well when scaled down to thumbnail size on mobile devices. […] To be eligible for featured placement on the iTunes Store and Podcasts, artwork must be a 3000 x 3000 pixel JPEG or PNG file with 72 dpi in the RGB color space.

Create your artwork in a variety of sizes.

When you get your cover art design ready, recreate it in a variety of sizes. I would suggest having a version for at least the following:

  • Facebook Post
  • Twitter Post
  • Instagram Post
  • Instagram Stories

**Bookmark this page: Always Up-To-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes.

7. Choose and test equipment before starting your podcast.

So, what equipment do you need in order to start a podcast? Well, you can go a lot of ways here, and honestly, if we covered all the equipment you COULD use for podcasting, this would be an even longer post. So I’m going to stick to the bare minimum you should have in order to start.

A microphone for recording.

Obviously, we need to capture the sound of our voice in order to podcast, but this does not need to be anything expensive, and you can start with one you probably already have. Your computer’s built in mic is more than fine for getting started. Even your phone probably has a good enough mic to roll with.

If you’re looking for a higher quality mic, but don’t want to spend a ton of money, Rae and I both use Audiotechnica USB mics.

Tip: If you use the mic that is built into your headphones, be aware that movement could create a crackling noise.

Headphones.

Yes, you should absolutely 100% wear headphones when you record. Otherwise, you risk having echos, or feedback, in your recordings. The good news: any headphones will do. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money. If you have an iPhone, the included Apple Headphones work perfectly fine.

Recording & Editing Software.

Next, you need a way to record the audio for your podcast, and a way to edit your episodes. Some software and apps will allow you to do both within one, and others will not. This is an area where you could explore for hours (days even) and not even scratch the surface.

I’m not going to tell you which I think you should go with. A quick Google search can get you dozens of “top 10” lists and reviews of software. Below are just a few of the many options you have. Most have some form of free version or free trial. Do some research, play around with a couple, and find the one that you like best.

Web-Based Recording Software:

Editing Software:

Hosting & Distribution.

Lastly, you need somewhere to host your podcast episodes. It’s a common misconception that Apple hosts podcasts.  Apple does not. Rather, Apple Podcasts, like most podcast platforms, simply provide a place for people to find and consume podcasts. The actual audio files are stored some place else, and then sent to those platforms and apps (like Apple Podcasts) via an RSS Feed (Really Simple Syndication Feed). Below are just a few of the many options you have for hosting your podcast.

Here’s a post with 31 podcast hosts.
[scroll down to keep reading]

8. Create an intro and outro for your podcast (with music).

You need to consider having a set intro and outro for your show. The intro is typically a voice introduction to the show with some music, but really, it could be anything you want. I suggest having your intro be short, informative, and backed by some catchy music. The outro can be music only, or include a call to action, or maybe not exist at all. The intro is more important than the outro, but I suggest both.

You can create an intro and outro on your own by finding some royalty free music (from somewhere like Bensound or audiojungle) and recording your voice over that music. Or, you can head back to Fiverr and find some really talented folks that will put together an intro and outro for you, for pretty cheap.

9. Set up distribution for your podcast.

Most of the hosting sites I mentioned above will also distribute your podcast to all the major platforms, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc. But if the one you choose does not provide this service, you can do it on your own. If you’re doing it on your own, be sure to get your show on Apple Podcasts and Spotify at the very least.

Tip: Getting your show approved on Apple Podcasts can take up to 3 weeks, so plan accordingly when laying out your marketing launch plan.

10. Promote your podcast.

Ok, so you’ve got everything set up and you’ve started recording your episodes. So now millions of people will be listening and subscribing, right? No, of course not. You need to get the word out! Announce the fact that the podcast is launching soon. Share what the show is about, why people should listen, and how they can access it. Reach out to friends, family, and colleagues, and ask them to help support you by subscribing, and leaving a rating and review of your show.

Create a blog post for each episode. Share every episode with your community on social media, via email, and through any other channels you use to communicate with your audience. When episodes publish, share them out individually, including specifics about the episode: what do you talk about during the episode? Did a guest join you? What value will listeners get from it?

The most important piece of promoting your show is to share, share, share. Don’t be afraid to talk about your show. Be proud of the work you’re doing, and tell people about it. Just make sure your show brings value first!

11. Final Step: Get Started!

Record an episode. Make mistakes. Adjust. Change everything. Just get started! The only way your podcast fails is if you quit. And the quickest way to quit is to not start at all. So let’s get to it…you’ve got a lot of value to share. Who knows, maybe that first episode is the one that changes someone else’s life.


About Jeff Gargas

Jeff Gargas is the COO and co-founder of the Teach Better Team, and co-author of the Teach Better book. Prior to co-founding Teach Better Team, Jeff was the owner of ENI Multimedia, an online marketing firm, where he worked with entrepreneurs and small businesses, assisting them with web design, social media, content marketing, and brand awareness.

Prior to all of this, Jeff was an adjunctive professor at Kent State University and spent 10+ years in the music industry. He has spoken at conferences around the country, and has successfully promoted more than 500 events and launched 7 businesses in a variety of industries.

Jeff is passionate about music, and enjoys spending time with his family as often as possible. He is also a member of the Teach Better Speakers Network.

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