How to Make a Podcast

Dive into the journey of making a podcast & take a peak at our perspective on how social audio will evolve.

Some people create podcasts for fun, others for money or clout. In general, most podcasters share their stories, conversations, and debates because of the intrinsic reward that they get from talking to other people. Podcasting enables virtually anyone to meet new friends and learn from others. Listeners also get a similar opportunity; you may not directly meet someone by listening to a podcast, but you will likely feel an intimate connection to a creator or guest after hearing their ideas through the authenticity of their own voice. So both ends of the spectrum —creators & consumers— can benefit from podcasts.

But starting a podcast isn't as straightforward as one would think. Podcasting is a labor of love. You typically have to invest some amount of time and money into creating a podcast. There is certainly a cheap and easy way of podcasting which often results with a lower-quality, but nonetheless good, podcast. You can also go with the expensive and time-consuming route which often results with a more professional podcast. Regardless of your path, here is the gist of what you need to start a podcast.

Equipment

Your podcast creation toolkit can set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars per setup. If you want guests in your podcast you should multiply your equipment costs per person by the number of people that you plan to host. At the minimum you should expect to buy or utilize the following tools:

Professional podcasters tend to have all or most of what is listed above. At the bare minimum, you need a device to capture audio (computer or phone). You can step it up a notch with some headphones, which are great for tuning out external distractions, listening to your podcast while recording, and capturing your audio if the headphones have an embedded mic. You can also use a microphone to record high quality audio that will sound better than your computer, phone, and headphones. Some microphones require a mixer to process audio which also enables you to tune your podcast in real-time. If you are really into crisp audio, you should buy after-market cables to connect your mic to your mixer. Your physical equipment will likely include cables, but their material quality will be less than the expensive cables that audiophiles obsess over. Finally, you will need some sort of software to record remote audio and/or edit your tracks once recorded (more details in the next section).

Having the right equipment is the first step no matter how professional you want to be. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars to get started (although many people do), all you really need is a computer or phone to record and distribute your podcast. Just don't forget to buy extra equipment if you want guests.

Creation

Recording and editing audio can be hard to learn, but knowing how to can pay off in the long run if you continue making podcasts. There are many products to help you with this process:

Not everyone has the time or desire to edit audio, so many podcasters hire professionals to cut, mix, and combine their tracks once recorded. Point being, this is a job in and of itself. You can find professionals to edit your audio on freelancing sites such as Fivvr or Upwork or you can hire someone like Young Jamie from the Joe Rogan Experience to be your exclusive producer (though I don't think that he is available for work at this moment in time).

Hosting

Content hosting is required to distribute your podcast on the internet. In layman's terms, hosting stores your podcast online and makes your audio available to podcast catchers typically through a really simple syndication (RSS) feed. This step is rather straightforward:

  1. Upload your finished podcast to the hosting site
  2. Generate an RSS feed link
  3. Paste that link into the upload input on the various podcasting platforms
  4. Validate your ownership via email
  5. Check back in to ensure that your content was uploaded & to analyze your listener data
  6. Upload more podcasts to automatically distribute your new content the platforms

Hosting isn't terribly difficult to do with tools like Libsyn, Bluberry, or Podbean, but it costs money. You should expect to pay $15 to $30 per month to host your content on any of the dozens of platforms that are available for this specific step.

Promotion

Awareness is the key to building an audience. Most podcasting apps don't help you with promotion very much since they are designed for intent-based search and consumption. On a high-level, promoting a podcast is similar to promoting any other product or content; do it often and everywhere. A.B.C. — Always be closing.

Growing your podcast is fun! For real. Seeing your audience develop feels good. It means that your ideas or conversations or stories are being heard — and likely by people from all around the world. Promoting can seem like a redundant loop of work, because that's what marketing is. But once you get enough traction with your podcast, your audience will start to organically grow. So you won't always have to annoy your network to smash that download button or listen on Apple Podcasts.

Monetization

Earning money as a content creator is not necessarily as straightforward as it seems from a consumer perspective. The three primary ways that people make money from podcasting are through advertising, subscriptions, and donations.

One thing to note is that most podcasters don't monetize their podcast. They are either too small to attract sponsors or they're not in it for the money. Monetization is entirely optional and should only be pursued if you want to make money, otherwise, you'll just dilute the quality of your podcast with ads.

Conclusion

Podcasting can take a lot of time, effort, and money. This guide touches just the surface of what is needed to start a podcast but don't get discouraged by the overwhelming amount of work! Luckily we built a new tool that enables you to dip your toes into podcasting without going through all of those steps listed above: Lava.

Lava empowers you to create, share, and discover recorded social audio seamlessly on your smartphone. Simply download the Lava mobile app to connect with friends, share your ideas, and discover conversations from people all around the world. Everything that you create on Lava is posted directly on your profile for others to follow and also on the feed for people to discover.

And I know, you've just read this super long post only to find out that I wanted you to discover Lava. But hey, always be closing. On a more serious note, give Lava a shot. Riley Robertson and I (John Allen) built Lava throughout 2020 because we wanted to make a podcast but found that creation and promotion are disconnected which makes discovery rather difficult. So we reimagined audio for the modern internet & built a new social network for your voice: Lava.

podcasts
social audio
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