Podcast artwork for How to start a podcast

Are you thinking of starting a podcast? 

There's loads of information out there and you're not sure where to start? 

I hear you! I felt like that when I started my own podcast. It felt like there was so much I needed to know about format and software and equipment and hosting. All of sudden, something that was meant to be a joyful next step for my business started feeling like a stressful one.

I'm lucky in that I had a brilliant guide (my sister, an experienced podcaster) to help me along the way. Now, 7 months into my own podcasting journey, I'm here to help you with everything you need to know if you're thinking of creating a podcast of your own.

Are you ready to learn more about podcasting? 

Episode Transcript

I’m Holly Christie, your host, I’m a website designer and small business mentor. I have 2 website companies - This Demanding Life, for small businesses who want an amazing website which brings in leads and converts visitors to customers. And Simply Sites, for start-ups and micro businesses who want a stellar website, and experience. I’ve been in the website and small business industry for well over a decade now and I’ve created this podcast to help you to make a success of your small business.

Today we’re talking about podcasts. Why you might want one, how to turn your idea into reality, what equipment and software you need and how to get your podcast out into the world. Ready? Let’s get started…

As with everything when it comes to marketing and new ventures, we need to scope it out. I like to do this either on a big piece of paper and pens, so I can plot journeys, or using software like Milanote. When scoping out you should be looking at things like:

  • Who is the ideal audience of the podcast?
  • What do you want the purpose of the podcast to be?
  • What value will it bring to your audience?
  • What do you want the format to be?

Let’s break it down quickly…..

Who’s your ideal audience:

Identifying this early on will help shape the tone of voice you use, the artwork and the language when advertising the podcast. Whilst you don’t have to go into massive detail at a granular level, you should have a good idea of who you would like to be listening to your podcast. For example - this podcast has an ideal audience of small business owners. They’re often solopraneurs, with some of them hiring associates and VAs to make them into a small team. They’re the decision maker in their business. They’re usually aged between 30 and 50 and their small business is their second career.

What do you want the purpose of the podcast to be:

It could be that you want to educate and inform. Or that you want to attract guest speakers and increase your network. You may think of your podcast as a place where you can showcase your expertise or it’s a long game to getting more business. Podcasts tend to take a long time to make a return on investment so being clear in your goals can help you to:

  • Get started
  • Stay motivated
  • Keep creating content for it

What should the value of it be?

Just as with the other social media platforms, there is a lot of noise in the podcasting world. People start podcasts, people abandon some, there are new ones coming up all the time, then there are the old favourites which have been around forever and have huge followings. Somewhere in that mix will be yours, if you get started. The main thing to know is that people will only listen to something if it adds value. The value doesn’t necessarily have to be business related. I listen to a couple of business podcasts, but I’m much more likely to be found listening to a psychology one like Esther Perel, I also love a good comedy or chat podcast. I learn a lot from the psychology ones but the more chatty ones add value by bringing entertainment and light relief to my day. So when scoping out your podcast, have a think about what the hook will be for others to listen to it. What value will it bring them?

What do you want the format to be?

The format of your podcast will be entirely up to you. You’ll learn a lot as you go along so it will pay to be flexible here while you work it all out. You might have some ideas though of whether you’d like the podcast to be weekly, fortnightly, in seasons. As long episodes, or quick take-aways. Solo or guest, etc.

There are different things to consider here. People who are looking to monetise their podcast with sponsorship often go for weekly episodes, sometimes even biweekly as regular content helps to keep them high up in the podcasting charts and their listener numbers, high.

I chose to make my podcast in seasons because I knew there would be times I’d want to cluster the content, recording a lot in a short period of time, and times I’d want a break from it so I could work on other things. A lot of my audience are parent led businesses so I went with seasons which tie in with the school year, aiming at 3 seasons of 12 episodes. I’ve since seen the model of lots of podcasts doing 4 seasons of 8 episodes a year. Do what works for you, but having a plan of how and when you release episodes will help you to stay on track.

Ok, that’s your pre-work done. Let’s look at the next steps:

Branding and Artwork

You’ll need to create the artwork for the podcast. You’ll need a podcast cover which will have the name of the podcast, your name, a picture of you, and anything else you’d like on there. Try not to clutter it too much as the artwork is quite small on phones so simple is best here. You’ll also need individual episode artwork which includes the episode title. This is particularly important if you’re going to have a website for the podcast or a podcast page on your own website. If you use the same artwork it’s all going to look the same and people won’t click through to individual episodes.

If you’re having guests on the show you may like to have another cover which allows for an image of them and their name, as well as yours and your episode title.

I also have a 3rd option for when I co-host episodes with Amy. This isn’t strictly necessary as you can just use your guest artwork but as Amy and I are designers, it was an easy win for us.

If you’re going to run your podcast in seasons you may like to see how you can mix up your branding for the artwork so that people can easily see which season they’re in. You’ll see I’ve done this by swapping round the colours on mine, so when you’re on the podcast page of my website you can see whether you’re in season 1 or 2.

Music

Most people will have music for their intro and outro sections. In an ideal world we’d all have this professionally created for us, giving work to a musician. The reality is that stock music is quick, easy and licensable for your podcast. These are the pros, just make sure you’ve got the correct license as some will license the music fully and others will license it to a certain number of downloads. The cons are that others could be using the same music for their podcast or, if you choose something popular, then other companies may be using it for their identity. Do what works for you but make sure it’s on brand for your podcast.

Equipment

I would absolutely recommend you use a microphone here. It’s one thing doing a quick LinkedIn or Facebook live and just speaking into your computer mic, it’s another thing being on a podcast where someone doesn’t have the visual and they have audio only. Trust me, they’ll notice if the quality isn’t good. So get a mic. It’s doesn’t have to be majorly expensive, but it does have to be well reviewed and recommended.

Headphones

These are up to you. Personally I don’t use them as I don’t like things on my head! I know lots of people who do use them and swear by them. They’re particularly good if you’re in an environment where there could be some background noise. For example if you’re in a shared space or you have a pet. They can also be good at stopping feedback from the other person’s computer when you’re recording. If you’re happy to wear them, then I’d recommend them.

If you’re not as keen to get all the equipment or you can’t find the right environment then you can hire a podcast recording studio from £10.50 per hour on a Spotify plan but you can expect to pay more like £20 per hour upwards.

You’ll need some recording software

There are so many ways you can record the audio of a podcast. You can use free software like Zoom or paid for podcast production software such as Riverside or SquadCast.

Whilst Zoom is a great tool, sometimes the audio can be out of sync and currently, they don’t offer all the additions that podcast specific software give, such as editable transcripts, AI generated clips, audio uploaded to local machines at the time of interview etc. So if you’re going to go all in with your podcast, I recommend you get a subscription to one of the big studios. If you’re not planning on creating too much content, say you’re only planning 10 minute episodes, you’ll often find that a free plan is enough to get started with.

Next: Editing

Most podcast episodes will have to be edited in some form or another. It could be to remove background noise, or because a guest has gone off-topic or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have said ‘you know’ about 3000 times and want to remove that. So make sure you allow time for editing the podcast and, I cannot stress enough, how much using an online recording studio is going to make your job quicker, easier and better. I use Riverside to record this podcast and one of my favourite features is I can hit a button to remove all filler words from an episode. I can also edit a podcast word by word, by deleting it in the transcript and it removes it from the recording. They’ve also just launched an AI feature where you can add words and it will do it in your voice. Clever eh?

And I promise you, I’m not here to promote Riverside, I understand that other software also does this, but I don’t use that software! So sharing what I do know, here.

You may also like to add your music here at the editing stage so that when you go to export the podcast, it’s ready to go as one file.

Exporting

Some braver than me people will live stream their podcast but if, like me, you’re planning on releasing the podcast on set dates, then you’ll need to export it. You can export just the audio files or the video and audio. You’ll also need to either have a copy of the transcript or create one. You can either do this with your recording software or drop a file into some software such as Descript, to create your transcript. Do be aware that some transcripts will need a hefty amount of work as they use AI to generate them, so often get bits wrong or spell names wrong.

Now I hate to say it but that’s just phase 1 of the work. The next part is to prepare the podcast so it can be listened to.

I’ll list what you need here, then we’ll go into more detail.

You’ll need:

  • Hosting software
  • Podcast artwork
  • Transcript
  • Shownotes
  • Episode title

Hosting Software

You’ll need a podcast host - this is where you create the online identity for your podcast. You’ll register the name there, upload the artwork, any info about the show and then publish each episode. This software will create an RSS feed for your podcast and publish it to the major platforms such as Apple, Spotify etc. A quick Google search will show you there are loads of podcast hosts including Spotify, Captivate, Buzzsprout, SimpleCast. They’re all much of a muchness and many of them will start off with free plans or free trials so go with the one which feels best for you.

Once you’ve setup your podcast here you can look at uploading each episode. The platform will let you know the dimensions of things like the artwork you need to submit, as well as file types for the episode itself.

There will be a step-by-step process for uploading the podcast episode then you simply schedule it and you’re done!

Adding the podcast to your website

If you also have a website or page on your website for your podcast then you’re not quite finished yet. You’ll need to add the episode to your website or page of your website. Some podcast hosts will have a plugin which pulls the data through, otherwise you’ll need to add it manually.

As a designer, it was important to me that my podcast looked good on my website and to ensure this I add the podcast manually to it. I have a template setup which pulls through dynamic information such as the title and the featured image. It also has sections for the show notes, which is the short description I use to market the podcast, as well as a longer transcript, and the episode player. So people can play the episode directly from the website. I also have a reviews section which shows the latest reviews of the podcast. Once you’ve created the episode on the website you can link it back to your podcast host so people can click through to your website for more information.

I recommend you have a podcast website or page on your website as it will help your podcast to be discovered. It’s great for your SEO and it helps to establish you as an authority in your industry so, whilst it’s a lot of work, it’s win-win in credibility and SEO factors.

There we have it - everything you need to know about starting a podcast. I know it’s a lot of work but if it’s a part of your marketing plan then getting started sooner, rather than later, will help you to get ahead with it and for it to start to become a part of your routine. The more it becomes a routine, the quicker you’ll find things like the upload become. My advice is, don’t get hung up on the details, don’t aim for perfect, aim for ‘done’!

If you’re thinking of starting a podcast and you’d like some help with it, particularly on the tech side of creating a website or web page for it and you’d like to talk through some options, drop me a line at: holly@thisdemandinglife.com and I’ll help you to get started.

That’s all for this week. Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end. I hope you’re inspired to get going with your own podcast now. Please can I ask a quick favour - I would be so grateful if you could leave a rating and review of this podcast. It really does make a difference to people being able to find it and podcast platforms showing it in search results. I’d love to get this free resource to as many listeners as possible.

Thanks so much and see you next week!

Small Business Growth

I’m so excited to have your podcast alongside me as I grow my business. Looking forward to taking action on your steps and learn from someone who knows what they are talking about. Thanks Holly – you’re a star!

LisaJaneYork

Brilliant first episode!!

The first episode of “Your Business, Your Way” is a refreshing take on the entrepreneurial journey I needed to hear this morning . I felt reassured hearing Holly emphasise a crucial point: you don’t need to know everything to get started. This approach is a game-changer, especially for those new to the business world, breaking down the barriers of perfection and complete readiness that often hold us back.

What I loved about this first episode of the podcast is its blend of practical advice with an undercurrent of motivation. It reassured me that starting with what I know and learning as I go is not just okay, but a smart way to grow. The podcast feels like a supportive friend, nudging you to take those first steps while keeping the mood light and approachable.

For anyone at the crossroads of starting or scaling a business, this podcast could be the push you need. It’s a promising mix of insights, stories, and encouragement. I’m eager for the next episodes and recommend it to anyone looking to embark on a business venture in a way that’s true to them. It’s an exciting start, and I’m genuinely looking forward to where this podcast will take its listeners next.

wmbaggs

Really Refreshing

Looking forward to the next episode, I’m hooked already. Really easy to listen to and definitely strikes a chord with me. 

MrsH68

It’s a great podcast Holly, you’ve covered some really useful topics and had fantastic guests. It’s like your topics were written with me in mind…

Natalie Trembecki

Just listened to your first podcast episode and it’s absolutely brilliant! Good work Holly!

Mike Cottam

Feeling inspired

Would definitely recommend this podcast. Aimed at those small business owners, but for someone who has recently started a new role in my company, this definitely motivated me on this cold wet Monday morning to not be afraid of being vulnerable in the workplace and putting myself out there!

Can’t wait for the next episode

izagoo9067

Small Business Growth

I love listening to each new episode of Holly’s podcast. It feels like she has read my mind and understands the challenges I find myself up against when running my business. Her advice and insights are fantastic and I’m looking forward to hearing her future episodes. This is a great resource for any small business owner trying to establish a successful business in the online (and/or offline) world.

Fay Wallis