Have you wanted to start a podcast for a while now, but are intimidated by everything it takes to record and promote a podcast?
Starting a podcast is a great idea for any creative, artist, or creative entrepreneur.
I started my own podcast, Creative Happy Hour, just under two years ago. It’s been an incredible journey, one that has fed and been fed by my writing career.
Take time when choosing a format:
When I started out, I chose to have a cohost, because I thought it would be easier and more fun to work with a friend. We settled on a one hour or under format, and came up with a structure that worked for us: each week, we chose a theme, selected and made a cocktail to go with that theme, and then did an introduction, some banter about the cocktail, a discussion of the theme with examples, and some personal stories, and we would wrap up with applying the theme to living a happy creative life. Depending on the week, the structure was more or less loose. Over time, we decided that more structure was better, and eventually my cohost decided that her schedule was too overwhelming to keep carrying on with the podcast, so I have since continued on my own. Since I was doing pretty much all of the tasks attached to creating a podcast myself, nothing much changed for me except for the fun of having a cohost. I’ll be going over some of those tasks in just a bit. Now, I make sure to have an interview with a guest when possible or applicable, and I need to script the podcast a bit more.
Choosing a name is key:
What makes you different and unique? What do you want to be known for? What is the tone of your podcast? What is a name that can still apply even if you slightly tweak your theme? Pick your name wisely because it will be easier if you stick with it. Extra points for something unique that will make your podcast easy to find online. We chose Creative Happy Hour because it sounded fun, and it did a good job of describing what we do. There is a cocktail involved every time, and the tone is happy and creative. Because the words in the title are common, however, if you search for “Creative Happy Hour” on google, you will probably hit a bunch of results about hosting a creative happy hour for your office, but you’ll eventually get to our podcast after a page or two of search results. If your search for “Creative Happy Hour Podcast,” we’re right on top. That’s because we made sure that there weren’t any other podcasts out there with that name. Once you’ve chosen your name, reserve a gmail account, website, and social media accounts for it. It takes a while to get attention and followers, so the sooner you do each step, the better. Try to start building up interest for your podcast before you even launch the first episode.
The first episode is important:
Speaking of first episode, this is a major one. Also, that is a misleading section heading because you really should create three episodes to release all at once so that, if people fall in love with your podcast, they will have a few others to listen to and won’t be left high and dry. They’ll be more likely to subcribe.
Your first episode is crucial. We had assumed that we could just wing it, that our chatter is super fascinating to people other than ourselves. Unfortunately, we learned the hard way that the first episode will come at the end of a road full of trial and error. For us, what worked best is that we each did research on our chosen subject, and then we would do a recap and create an outline while mixing our drinks so we would make sure to hit on every point we wanted to make. I also had to be ruthless during the editing process and take out any non sequiturs or spots where we got a little too drunk on the creative possibilities or got plain silly. Now that I am doing this solo, as I mentioned above, I script my episodes much more and like to really make sure to provide value for the creatives who do me the honor of listening to me.
You can’t slack off with subsequent episodes:
After the first episode, you’re going to want to make sure that you are consistent: release your episodes on the same day of the week, make sure to stick to your format, choose subjects that aren’t all over the place. Depending on the scope of your podcast, of course, you can be more or less free in your choice of material. By choosing a podcast that talks about creativity rather than just writing, for example, I’m able to explore all subjects that might interest creative people of all walks of life. That’s not to say, however, that you shouldn’t construct a listener avatar, your idea of who your ideal listener is. You’ll be wanting to speak to them first and provide value for them before entertaining everyone else.
Don’t freak out about the technical considerations:
One of the big fears that many creatives have when thinking about starting a podcast is the technical aspect: how much equipment do you need, how much technical knowledge do you need, do you need to hire someone? When I started out, my cohost had hoped that we could hire someone to do our editing and our social media and pay them with the proceeds from our podcast. The sad reality if that the vast majority of podcasts do not monetize enough to pay for someone, so it’s more realistic to plan on doing the work yourself. If I can do it, so can you. Start brushing up on your editing skills. The rest can easily be achieved with free apps and other tools. That being said, if you’re paying for someone, that will free you up to promote yourself more or work on other things and you may be more motivated to do what it takes to monetize faster.
Recording your podcast is easier than you might think:
You’ll need a basic microphone and/or smartphone, whether you’re doing a video podcast or just an audio one. You’ll also want to set up a studio. All this means is finding a space with little noise pollution, which you can semi-soundproof with fabric to avoid the dreaded echo. We started with video, using just an iphone, and now I do audio only, using a basic microphone that plugs into my computer. I record everything in Voice Notes. Other people use GarageBand or another dedicated program.
Keep editing your podcast simple:
I edit everything on iMovie. I find it easier than GarageBand, but that’s probably just me. The simple message is, when editing your podcast, do what is easier and better for you. No judgement. Keep in mind that how professional you are while recording will vastly impact how easy it is to edit.
Use a service for uploading/distributing your podcast:
You’ll want to sign up for a service that does this for you. There is a fee, but it’s not too bad. I use Libsyn, and they’re pretty good. It’s a pretty self-explanatory process: Once you’ve created your account, you upload the audio file for each episode and add a thumbnail and description. Libsyn does the rest and distributes your episode to all the major podcasting platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeartRadio.
Keep the graphic design for your podcast simple and uniform:
All you need is a logo for your podcast, which you should make as clear and unique as possible. Keep in mind that most times, this logo will be tiny, so don’t make it too busy. Then, you’ll want episode art for each episode and things to share on social media. Try to develop a cohesive look with graphics, colors, layouts, subjects, etc. most importantly, though, have fun! You can use Canva or another free program, or Photoshop or InDesign if you want more creative control.
Do yourself a favor and don’t drop the ball when it comes to promoting your podcast:
Keep in mind that your podcast itself is a promotional vehicle for your creative platform, your author platform, or your writing platform. You’ll want to cross promote. You can promote episodes on Social Media, via your mailing list, on your website, on your blog, and by appearing on other podcasts. Remember, this is a long game. Chances are, your podcast won’t instantly have tons of listeners. There is a lot of competition out there, and you need to give your listeners the chance to discover you and fall in love with you. Don’t let them down- there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to podcasts. But if you stay consistent, keep on providing value, and stick around past the two-year mark, your chances of success increase exponentially.
Truly, starting a podcast is one of the more rewarding things I have done, and I highly recommend it.
Good luck and happy podcasting!
Please comment below if there is anything else you wish I had explained about starting a podcast as a creative or writer, and if you have a podcast that you would like to share, please let me know.