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How to start a podcast

So you want to create a podcast in 2021? It's a great idea! Podcasts are fast becoming the best medium for you to effectively build a relationship with your audience. It's never been easier to start a show, with great budget equipment to make you sound like a pro and tools like Welder to record in high-quality remotely.

In this comprehensive guide to podcasting, we'll talk you through everything you need to know about starting and growing a podcast. From the gear you need to buy, the format of your show, how to get onto the podcast players and how to get listeners.

Why start a podcast?

If you've clicked on this article you've probably already decided that you want to start a podcast, so I'll keep it brief. Podcasting takes time and persistence for you to see the benefits, so when you start, commit to it for the long-term and you'll reap the rewards further down the line.

You might be wanting to start a podcast for marketing or you might be looking to start one as a hobby. Maybe you have a content business and this is another string to your content bow. For all different use cases, podcasting will bring you closer to your audience or potential customers.

If you think about the amount of time people spend listening to a podcast vs reading your blog or watching a video, it can be 10-15 times more. A video might be 5 minutes long, but a podcast 50 minutes. Think of the extra info you can pack into that amount of time, the amount of things you can teach, or the type of relationship you'd be able to build.

Podcasts also have other hidden benefits that I didn't think about when I started. It can help you build a network in your industry or area of expertise and you can have conversations with people you never thought you'd be able to. When I started my marketing podcast I recorded with the CEO of HubSpot (a huge tech company in my industry), Brian Halligan, which would have been completely unattainable without my show.

Then comes the content repurposing element. Oh my goodness are podcasts good for producing lots of content. If you record your 60 minute show (for example) with video, you can then break that down into 10 YouTube clips, a blog post, a Twitter thread, an Instagram carousel or a post in your favourite community.

That's enough about the why, let's get you started on your pod!

Idea and Format

Try to avoid the usual formats of either a 1-hour long guest interview or a "2 co-hosts talk about a topic".

Before you get started with your show you need to have a strong, unique idea and a format that makes your show stand out. How can you be original?

Try to avoid the usual formats of either a 1-hour long guest interview or a "2 co-hosts talk about a topic". There are a lot of podcasts out there and you could get lost in a sea of interview shows if you don't come up with something fresh.

On the other hand don't spend too much time stewing over this. If you're filling a gap in the market or your industry where an interview show doesn't exist, then go for it. You can take a regular format and put a little spin on it; say that all the shows in your niche are quite lengthy, maybe you can introduce a shorter format?

This is exactly what I did with my show, Indie Bites. I took an existing format "interviewing entrepreneurs about how and why they grew their businesses" and packed it into a 15-minute episode. I also try to add a unique interview style and some extra elements people get to know the show for; such as my recommendations section.

Here are a list of formats to choose from, along with a relevant show for inspiration:

Podcasting is meant to be fun, so make sure you're making your show about something you really enjoy. Create a list of all your ideas for names and formats, then start to brainstorm to decide on your favourite.

When you're deciding on your format it might also be useful to think about your length and publishing frequency. Think about your audience, would they prefer a 2 hour long show, or a 2 minute one? Would they like to listen to the show once a week, or once a day?

Branding

So you've come up with your idea and you've chosen a format, time to brand your show so it's distinctive. You can break podcast branding into 3 main areas; your name, your podcast art and the audio you use throughout.

Choosing a name can be a challenge but try not to overthink this. It needs to be unique, but also descriptive enough that people know what your show is about. Some of the cooler podcast names I've come across are:

  • Breaking Brand - a show about how an agency, Gin Lane, launched brands by breaking convention.
  • How I Built This - a show about how entrepreneurs built their business.
  • All Consuming - a show about random consumer goods and why we buy them.

However, if you're really stuck on choosing a name, it's fine to be really descriptive with your name. You only have to look at Joe Rogan to see that! If you want to make a podcast about motorcycles, you could call it the "The Motorcycle Show" (before me, Johan and Predrag start it).

Poor Predrag...

Then you can move onto your podcast art. This is what will show up in people's feeds alongside your episode and will be displayed front and centre when people first stumble upon your show, so let's make it brilliantly creative. Have a look at some of your favourite podcast covers in your feed, take note of what makes it stand out. Is it their use of colours or graphic elements? Do they have faces on it? Make screenshot your favourites and put them in a document so you can start to make your own. Here's a screenshot of my podcast app for inspiration:

A snapshot of my podcast library

Equipment

Realistically, a $100 USB microphone and a pair of earbuds is all you need to get started.

This is the section of podcasting you can get stuck in a very deep rabbit hole. I tend to get very excited about this, so please feel free to tell me if I waffle on too much!

Realistically, a $100 USB microphone and a pair of earbuds is all you need to get started. As your podcast grows and you want to invest more, you can start improving the type of microphone you have and get accessories to achieve better quality. However with podcasting, content really is king, so don't get bogged down on which microphone to buy (or you could just get really excited about it like I do).

Microphones

There are two main decisions when choosing a microphone:

  • XLR or USB
  • Condenser or Dynamic

USB microphones are the easiest to get started as you plug and play, but sometimes aren't the highest quality. XLR microphones need an interface to work with your computer but you have a higher ceiling for quality (basically you can just buy more expensive mics). Luckily for us, some cheeky manufacturers make microphones with XLR and USB options, meaning you can start out with one and switch to the other if you'd like.

Condenser vs Dynamic microphones is a pretty easy one to choose between. Condensers are more sensitive, often require phantom power and require a well treated sound environment to sound good. Dynamic mics are more forgiving, often directional and give you that "radio" voice. For most podcasters who are recording in a regular room, a dynamic mic will be best for you. If you're recording in a studio with a nice interface, then you could opt for a condenser mic.

How much should you spend?

Honestly I think the point of diminishing returns is at about $100. If you buy a microphone more expensive than this, I'm not sure the majority of people will be able to tell the difference. I bought a $400 Shure SM7B to replace my $100 Shure SM58 and I can barely tell the difference. Listen to this clip here and see if you can?

[James to add clip]

Mic recommendations

What about the Blue Yeti?

Many people default to the Blue Yeti as their first microphone, because it's often the only one they've heard of. Blue has been around for a while and has exceptional marketing, but I don't think it's the best option in it's price range. It's a condenser microphone so it's not very forgiving and most will use it with the included stand. If you're set on a Blue Yeti or you've already bought one, the best way to make it sound good is to get it as close to your mouth as possible. Pick up a boom arm to put it on like the Rode PSA-1.

Our CEO Johan has a Blue Yeti, so I calmly asked him about it:

Can we convince Johan to change?

What one should you buy?

There are quite a few microphones there so which one should you choose? It does depend on your budget and recording environment, but if I was starting my podcast from scratch, I'd get an Audio Technica ATR 2100x. It's great value, sounds very good, has a microphone port for monitoring and I can use it with USB or XLR.

As mentioned earlier I currently use the Shure SM7B, which is the mic that you'll see on many big podcaster's setups. I'm probably going to switch to the Shure MV7 soon because I'd love the ease of use that comes with the USB interface.

Headphones

Wearing headphones is something I overlooked when I started my podcast, but it's extremely beneficial to be able to monitor your own audio while recording. You don't particularly need an expensive pair, but ones that are comfortable for you would work fine.

If you record your podcast remotely, wearing headphones is essential. Any remote recording platform, including Welder, uses echo cancellation technology to stop one person's audio being recorded from the other person's speakers, but this makes the audio sound slightly compressed. Wearing headphones allows echo cancellation to be turned off to get the raw quality.

You don't need to spend any more than $100 on a pair of headphones. Most of the Welder team use Audio Technica M50X because they're comfortable, have a very accurate sound reproduction and they look cool.

However if you have an existing pair of Bose headphones, or even $10 earbuds, they'll work absolutely fine.

Interfaces

If you get an XLR microphone, you'll need to invest in an audio interface to take the analogue XLR signal and turn it into a digital USB one, that you can then plug directly into your computer to record with Welder. These come in all different sizes and flavours, each with slightly different functionality.

The most simple and effective interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. It's the interface you'll see many podcasters using, because it has 2 XLR inputs, headphone monitoring, line outputs and a USB-C connection to your computer. You can pick one up for around $150.

Focusrite make a whole range of USB interfaces, stretching from the Scarlett Solo (with 1 input) to the Scarlett 18i20 (with 18 inputs).

If you're not convinced by the Focusrite options, here are a few other recommendations:

Recorders

If you'd like to record directly onto a device and an SD card, or if your podcast is in person and you won't have a laptop, you can get an XLR recorder.

The Zoom H6 is a fantastic option, with up to 4 inputs recorded onto separate tracks. This will set you back about $400. If you're stretched for budget then take a look at the Tascam DR-60 which will be available for around $180.

If you'd like a full mixing setup, then consider the Rode Rodecaster ($600) or the Zoom PodTrack P8 ($500). These podcast-specific mixers will give you lots of control for in-person podcasts (and you'll look like a badass while doing it). Most mixers and recorders that I've mentioned also have in-built interfaces so you can connect it to a computer to record with Welder.

Accessories

We're almost there on gear! There are a few essential accessories to go with your new microphone and some useful additional extras that you might want to consider.

Essential

  • XLR cables - $15. You'll need these to work with your XLR microphones. Don't go for the cheapest options, but anything over $15 will work well.
  • Mic desk stand - $10. I've used the low-cost Neewer Desk Stand for many years and they've worked an absolute treat.
  • Boom arm - $20. For many years I used this Neewer Boom arm which worked well for my lighter microphones. For an ATR 2100x or SM58, this will work great, but for a heavier microphone you'll want to upgrade. You can get a Rode PSA-1 or Blue Compass for $80, which will work a treat. I'm using Rode's stand in this video.
  • Foam pop filters - $1 - $15. A foam pop filter is absolutely essential for stopping those plosives from hurting your listeners ears. You can pick up a bag of these for a couple of dollars, but don't expect the greatest quality. Alternatively you can get a more premium option from Rode, the WS2 for $15 or so. - done

Useful, but not essential

  • Shock mount - $50. If you're using a particularly sensitive microphone or you often hear tapping from your desk, it might be worth picking up a shock mount to remove any micro vibrations. The Rode SM-1 is a good option here.
  • Cam Link - $20. If you record your show with video and you're investing in a DSLR, you can turn it into a webcam using a nifty $20 device. If you want a slightly higher-quality version then the Elgato Cam Link for $100 will be for you.
  • Teleprompter - $80. When recording with video you can use a teleprompter so you're looking directly into the lens.
  • Light panel / ring light - $50. In a particularly dark room it might be worth getting an LED light panel or ring light to improve the quality of your video.

Planning

For the production of your show to go seamlessly, strong planning is essential. Creating documents and processes to ensure that every aspect of your show has been thought about. Here's the guides I suggest you look into creating:

  • About your show - This will be different depending on the complexity of your production, but this will be a reference point for you every time you record or if you're sharing any information about your show for marketing. Think back to when you were coming up with the idea and format for your show, include that all in here.
  • Briefing for guests - It makes it much easier for your guests when they know exactly what they're getting into with the recording. They'll come into the recording knowing what your podcast is about, what they need to prepare and how the software works. In this document include a section explaining what your podcast is about, notes / talking points / questions, a mini-tutorial on how to use Welder, some useful things to know so the recording goes seamlessly (wear headphones, quiet room, instructions if recording with video).
  • Recording and publishing schedule - Podcasting rewards consistency, so having all your episodes planned out in advance will help you achieve this. Have an Airtable or Notion doc with the list of all your guests / potential guests, the episodes they'll be included in, any research you need to do.
  • Research - With the number of podcasts out in the wild, making your content the best it can be is going to help it grow. Having good research for each episode is going to be the backbone of great content. If you've got a guest coming on, listening to their previous podcast episodes, reading through their articles, digging deep into their background to find hidden gems is going to make your interview extremely valuable. If you've got a news show, making sure each host has read all the news articles you plan to discuss and it's all in a shared document to reference throughout the episode will make you sound informed, thus giving your listeners confidence in you.

You can immediately tell the difference between a well-planned podcast and one that's not. Of course, there are other elements that make a good podcast such as quality, guest / host chemistry and format. However, getting your planning process down is going to make it so much better.

Recording

Should you record with video? For the most part, yes, you should record with video.

You've come up with your concept, brand, bought all your equipment and each episode is well-planned - it's time for the fun part. Recording! There are a few different ways you can record your show, mainly in-person vs remote, video vs audio - which we'll briefly touch upon in this article.

In person

If you want the best possible quality and chemistry between you and your co-hosts or guests, then an in-person recording will be your best option. The challenge of physical recordings are mainly logistical. You've got setup time of the gear, you need to find a space to record in and you've got to travel there.

Look for a local podcast studio that offers hourly rental where you can book a slot each time you need to record. This way everything will be setup for you and you'll only have to press record when you arrive. Alternatively, you can build your own podcast studio where you have the up-front cost for all of your gear, but you'll have a regular place to record at any time.

Another option would be to travel with a set of microphones and recorder that you can use at multiple locations. When I was doing podcast production in London, this is how I'd do it. In my backpack I'd have 2 Shure SM58 microphones along with a battery-powered Zoom H6 recorder. I'd then monitor the audio using a splitter and Audio Technica ATR M50x headphones. Once I'd finished the recording I could pack everything away into my bag and have the recording on an SD card ready to edit.

Remote

By nature of how the world is working at the moment, remote recordings make the most sense. However, with the technology available now to get super high quality recordings, I'll often choose to record remotely even if I have the option to record in-person.

Before, the only time I'd record remotely was if I wanted to record with someone who was in another country and that made it kinda tough to record in person. So more often than not I'd just not record that episode. Although if I really wanted to record with that person, I'd opt for Zoom. I'd have a horrible quality recording which pained me to release, but at least I'd managed to get something.

Now with local recording available from Welder, I can record all my podcasts with the same quality as if I was in the same room as my guest and do it from anywhere in the world. I don't even have to worry about internet connection drop outs, because the file is uploaded from each person's computer throughout the recording. It works just like any other video conferencing software that you might be used to, but just with super high quality.

  1. Get a free account at getwelder.com
  2. Setup your session
  3. Send the link to your guest or co-host
  4. Check you're happy with the settings
  5. Press record
  6. Make a 🔥 show
  7. Stop recording
  8. Your files are automatically uploaded
  9. Download your files and edit

Should you record with video?

For the most part, yes, you should record with video. Even if you don't plan to publish that video at the start, it might come in useful later in your podcast's life.

The benefits that come from recording your podcast are going to heavily contribute to growth, as you unlock additional distribution channels (ahem, such as YouTube, the second biggest search engine in the world). Video is also seen to have far more engagement than an audio-only podcast, as people can interact with the content on social channels, rather than the passive podcast players. For your video content, try these 4 steps:

  • Create a YouTube channel for your podcast
  • Create episode trailers for each episode
  • Cut 4-5 clips from your show and publish them with SEO-friendly titles
  • Post across other social media, such as Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The only downside of recording with video is that it could be quite jarring in the final edit. My podcast, Indie Bites, is audio only for the moment because of the amount of cuts and edits that go into the final episode. If I was to release a video version, it would be far too difficult to watch as there is a jump cut every few seconds.

Editing

It's now time to craft your high-quality recording into a wonderfully produced episode. Editing can be light touch to keep up with a busy schedule, or you can spend hours on the finer details of your show.

Audio Editing Software

There are various different softwares you might use for editing, so I'll break down a few for you.

  • If you're on a Mac, then you'll already have pre-installed GarageBand, which you can use completely free. It's simple in it's controls, but you can still make a good episode.
  • If you're on a PC, you can download Audacity for free which has excellent production capabilities (and it's also available on Mac too).
  • For more advanced tools you can upgrade to Logic Pro X (on Mac), Adobe Audition or Avid Pro Tools. These tools will give you much more control and functionality that may be beyond your needs as a podcaster, but if you really want to up your quality you can spend time learning the software and how to make the most of it.
  • There is a new editing tool on the block called Descript, which allows you to edit a show like a text document. It's a little unstable but if you can figure it out then it's a nice way to edit.

Video Editing Software

If you want to edit your show with video, which has a bit more of a learning curve but will help you with the distribution mentioned in the previous section, then there are 4 options I'd recommend.

  • On a Mac you can edit for free using iMovie, but you're limited in your workflow.
  • On both Mac and PC, and if you have an Adobe subscription, you could opt for Premiere Pro which is an extremely popular and powerful editor.
  • For a one time $300 purchase on a Mac you can try Final Cut Pro, which is equally as powerful as Premiere Pro but is more optimised for a Mac.
  • On a budget but want professional editing? You can use DaVinci Resolve's full feature set for free, which has a steep learning curve but is super powerful.

How to Edit

Picking the software to use is only the beginning, now the show actually has to be edited. We'll be writing and producing some more editing tutorials to explain in more depth, but here's an outline on how to edit your podcast.

  1. Download your files from Welder or import them from your recording device
  2. Organise your files in a way that's easy to find and reference later - this is really important
  3. Import your audio or video files into your editing software of choice
  4. Remove any unwanted audio, such as ums and ahhs, dogs barking, breaks in the recording
  5. Normalise your levels so it's consistent throughout, and add a compressor if you have one in your software
  6. You might want to add an EQ to your voice to your preference, but this is a personal choice
  7. Add your music, production elements, sponsor slots, intros and outros
  8. Export your main show
  9. Cut together promotional clips you'd like to use later

Publishing

Podcast Hosting

How do you get your show onto the podcast apps, like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Overcast? You'll need to find yourself a podcast host. There are a ton of podcast hosts out there, each with their different features that might be useful for your use case.

The main function of a podcast host is to generate an RSS feed that is submitted to the players, and then each time you upload an episode, send that information to the podcast apps automatically along with podcast art, show notes, descriptions and more. Here are 5 podcast hosts you should look into:

  • Anchor - the free, default option for most people starting out. Strong integration with Spotify since they purchased it in 2019. It works, but if you're serious about podcast growth I'd look for a paid option.
  • Buzzsprout - the largest podcast host in terms of popularity. You can start for free but limited to the amount you can upload, as with the paid-for plans. It's a little clunky.
  • Castos - good if you have multiple podcasts that you plan to host, no limited on uploads and a handy Wordpress integration. No free plan, starting from $19 per month.
  • Transistor - a more recent addition to the podcast hosting space and the one I personally use. It also allows for unlimited podcasts starting at $19 a month, but has a nicely designed player and strong analytics.
  • Podbean - with a focus on enterprise customers, PodBean gives the option for dynamic ad insertion, which can be very useful for monetization. Pricing is competitive starting at $14 per month for one show, with no limits.

Episode Publishing

Your host will get the show onto the podcast apps, but you'll need to tell it what to post. This means you need to choose a captivating title, an engaging episode summary and detailed show notes, plus unique show art for each episode (if you'd like).

The title needs to draw people in but also describe what the content of the episode will contain. You'll be competing with a feed of other captivating podcast titles when people are scrolling through, so make sure you spend time on this. I often come up with the title before I even record the episode, as this helps me shape my research and planning.

The episode summary is what will show up once the title has drawn someone in. This is your chance to captivate the person reading it so they decide to listen. Explain what they'll learn in the episode, some of the key talking points and ultimately why they should listen.

The show notes are the accompanying written part of your show. It's a place people can go while listening to your podcast to find links or references, or after if they'd like to dig further into something mentioned on the episode. Spend some time while you're editing collecting links and resources from the show ready to place them into your show notes. If you can, add timestamps so it's easy for your listener to reference.

Promotion

You need to work hard for those first few episodes

Time to start growing your show. As there is no native discoverability mechanism for podcasting, you need to work hard for those first few episodes to earn your listeners - and stick with it! Once you're creating fantastic content that your audience is loving, it will start to grow organically. Here's some ideas for promotion.

  1. It may seem obvious, but cross promote your show across all of your social media channels. Create short snippets of your show using software like VEED.
  2. Transcriptions. A full transcription of your show will give you large SEO benefits and also make your podcast more accessible, plus Welder generates an automatic transcription for you after your recording. For even an bigger benefit you can write a summary of the episode on your blog, leverage your existing traffic, outlining the things people will learn from the episode.
  3. Guest on other podcasts. People who listen to podcasts will want to find new podcasts to listen to, so try to get on others if you can.
  4. Get your podcast guests to share your show with their audience, this can be especially handy if they're influential in your industry. Make this easy for them. You can send them a clip or an image that they can use so they look good.
  5. Ask people to review your podcast on Apple Podcasts, as this will help push your podcast up the podcasting charts, which can be a great source of new listeners.
  6. If you can, build up an owned channel around your podcast. This could be in the form of an email list where you send your subscribers an email every time a new episode is out, or a blog where you write your summaries. A direct communication channel for your podcast, such as an email list, can be extremely valuable over time as your show grows.
  7. Use video! YouTube can be a huge driver of new listeners for you, so try to record with video and publish as often as you can.

Summary

So that's Welder's full-guide on how to create a podcast in 2021. It's a lot to get the hang of and many steps to cover, but once you nail those first few episodes and stay consistent with it over time, you'll reap the rewards. Here's a quick recap of the sections:

  • Idea and format - come up with a unique and interesting idea. The more original the better. Try to avoid your usual 'interview show' and explore different formats, however, if you are going to do an interview show, do what you can to put an original spin on it.
  • Branding - make your show stand out with distinctive branding. This stems from your copywriting through to the music you choose, but building an easily identifiable brand will help new listeners discover your show.
  • Equipment - the gear you need to produce a podcast. This is a deep part of podcasting, but don't fret about it too much. You can get a great $80 microphone like the Audio Technica ATR-2100x and sound superb.
  • Planning - putting documents and processes in place to make production a breeze. This might sound boring, but it makes a big difference. Spend the time to craft those initial documents, then put the grunt work in doing your research.
  • Recording - the fun part. Record your show in-person, remotely, with video or without. Pick a way to record that works for you to get high-quality results.
  • Editing - turning your recording into a masterpiece. Find a software package that suits your needs, cut out unwanted sections, add production elements and export.
  • Publishing - sending an engaging episode to the podcast apps. Take your edited file and upload to your podcast host with a great title, episode summary and show notes.
  • Promotion - start to grow your show with promotional tactics. There is so much you can do to share your podcast with the world; record with video, transcribe, write a blog, share on social media and so much more.

If you have any questions about your podcast or anything mentioned in this article, feel free to send me an email at james@getwelder.com and I'll be happy to help you out!

In the meantime, get recording!

Why start a podcast?

If you've clicked on this article you've probably already decided that you want to start a podcast, so I'll keep it brief. Podcasting takes time and persistence for you to see the benefits, so when you start, commit to it for the long-term and you'll reap the rewards further down the line.

You might be wanting to start a podcast for marketing or you might be looking to start one as a hobby. Maybe you have a content business and this is another string to your content bow. For all different use cases, podcasting will bring you closer to your audience or potential customers.

If you think about the amount of time people spend listening to a podcast vs reading your blog or watching a video, it can be 10-15 times more. A video might be 5 minutes long, but a podcast 50 minutes. Think of the extra info you can pack into that amount of time, the amount of things you can teach, or the type of relationship you'd be able to build.

Podcasts also have other hidden benefits that I didn't think about when I started. It can help you build a network in your industry or area of expertise and you can have conversations with people you never thought you'd be able to. When I started my marketing podcast I recorded with the CEO of HubSpot (a huge tech company in my industry), Brian Halligan, which would have been completely unattainable without my show.

Then comes the content repurposing element. Oh my goodness are podcasts good for producing lots of content. If you record your 60 minute show (for example) with video, you can then break that down into 10 YouTube clips, a blog post, a Twitter thread, an Instagram carousel or a post in your favourite community.

That's enough about the why, let's get you started on your pod!

Idea and Format

Try to avoid the usual formats of either a 1-hour long guest interview or a "2 co-hosts talk about a topic".

Before you get started with your show you need to have a strong, unique idea and a format that makes your show stand out. How can you be original?

Try to avoid the usual formats of either a 1-hour long guest interview or a "2 co-hosts talk about a topic". There are a lot of podcasts out there and you could get lost in a sea of interview shows if you don't come up with something fresh.

On the other hand don't spend too much time stewing over this. If you're filling a gap in the market or your industry where an interview show doesn't exist, then go for it. You can take a regular format and put a little spin on it; say that all the shows in your niche are quite lengthy, maybe you can introduce a shorter format?

This is exactly what I did with my show, Indie Bites. I took an existing format "interviewing entrepreneurs about how and why they grew their businesses" and packed it into a 15-minute episode. I also try to add a unique interview style and some extra elements people get to know the show for; such as my recommendations section.

Here are a list of formats to choose from, along with a relevant show for inspiration:

Podcasting is meant to be fun, so make sure you're making your show about something you really enjoy. Create a list of all your ideas for names and formats, then start to brainstorm to decide on your favourite.

When you're deciding on your format it might also be useful to think about your length and publishing frequency. Think about your audience, would they prefer a 2 hour long show, or a 2 minute one? Would they like to listen to the show once a week, or once a day?

Branding

So you've come up with your idea and you've chosen a format, time to brand your show so it's distinctive. You can break podcast branding into 3 main areas; your name, your podcast art and the audio you use throughout.

Choosing a name can be a challenge but try not to overthink this. It needs to be unique, but also descriptive enough that people know what your show is about. Some of the cooler podcast names I've come across are:

  • Breaking Brand - a show about how an agency, Gin Lane, launched brands by breaking convention.
  • How I Built This - a show about how entrepreneurs built their business.
  • All Consuming - a show about random consumer goods and why we buy them.

However, if you're really stuck on choosing a name, it's fine to be really descriptive with your name. You only have to look at Joe Rogan to see that! If you want to make a podcast about motorcycles, you could call it the "The Motorcycle Show" (before me, Johan and Predrag start it).

Poor Predrag...

Then you can move onto your podcast art. This is what will show up in people's feeds alongside your episode and will be displayed front and centre when people first stumble upon your show, so let's make it brilliantly creative. Have a look at some of your favourite podcast covers in your feed, take note of what makes it stand out. Is it their use of colours or graphic elements? Do they have faces on it? Make screenshot your favourites and put them in a document so you can start to make your own. Here's a screenshot of my podcast app for inspiration:

A snapshot of my podcast library

Equipment

Realistically, a $100 USB microphone and a pair of earbuds is all you need to get started.

This is the section of podcasting you can get stuck in a very deep rabbit hole. I tend to get very excited about this, so please feel free to tell me if I waffle on too much!

Realistically, a $100 USB microphone and a pair of earbuds is all you need to get started. As your podcast grows and you want to invest more, you can start improving the type of microphone you have and get accessories to achieve better quality. However with podcasting, content really is king, so don't get bogged down on which microphone to buy (or you could just get really excited about it like I do).

Microphones

There are two main decisions when choosing a microphone:

  • XLR or USB
  • Condenser or Dynamic

USB microphones are the easiest to get started as you plug and play, but sometimes aren't the highest quality. XLR microphones need an interface to work with your computer but you have a higher ceiling for quality (basically you can just buy more expensive mics). Luckily for us, some cheeky manufacturers make microphones with XLR and USB options, meaning you can start out with one and switch to the other if you'd like.

Condenser vs Dynamic microphones is a pretty easy one to choose between. Condensers are more sensitive, often require phantom power and require a well treated sound environment to sound good. Dynamic mics are more forgiving, often directional and give you that "radio" voice. For most podcasters who are recording in a regular room, a dynamic mic will be best for you. If you're recording in a studio with a nice interface, then you could opt for a condenser mic.

How much should you spend?

Honestly I think the point of diminishing returns is at about $100. If you buy a microphone more expensive than this, I'm not sure the majority of people will be able to tell the difference. I bought a $400 Shure SM7B to replace my $100 Shure SM58 and I can barely tell the difference. Listen to this clip here and see if you can?

[James to add clip]

Mic recommendations

What about the Blue Yeti?

Many people default to the Blue Yeti as their first microphone, because it's often the only one they've heard of. Blue has been around for a while and has exceptional marketing, but I don't think it's the best option in it's price range. It's a condenser microphone so it's not very forgiving and most will use it with the included stand. If you're set on a Blue Yeti or you've already bought one, the best way to make it sound good is to get it as close to your mouth as possible. Pick up a boom arm to put it on like the Rode PSA-1.

Our CEO Johan has a Blue Yeti, so I calmly asked him about it:

Can we convince Johan to change?

What one should you buy?

There are quite a few microphones there so which one should you choose? It does depend on your budget and recording environment, but if I was starting my podcast from scratch, I'd get an Audio Technica ATR 2100x. It's great value, sounds very good, has a microphone port for monitoring and I can use it with USB or XLR.

As mentioned earlier I currently use the Shure SM7B, which is the mic that you'll see on many big podcaster's setups. I'm probably going to switch to the Shure MV7 soon because I'd love the ease of use that comes with the USB interface.

Headphones

Wearing headphones is something I overlooked when I started my podcast, but it's extremely beneficial to be able to monitor your own audio while recording. You don't particularly need an expensive pair, but ones that are comfortable for you would work fine.

If you record your podcast remotely, wearing headphones is essential. Any remote recording platform, including Welder, uses echo cancellation technology to stop one person's audio being recorded from the other person's speakers, but this makes the audio sound slightly compressed. Wearing headphones allows echo cancellation to be turned off to get the raw quality.

You don't need to spend any more than $100 on a pair of headphones. Most of the Welder team use Audio Technica M50X because they're comfortable, have a very accurate sound reproduction and they look cool.

However if you have an existing pair of Bose headphones, or even $10 earbuds, they'll work absolutely fine.

Interfaces

If you get an XLR microphone, you'll need to invest in an audio interface to take the analogue XLR signal and turn it into a digital USB one, that you can then plug directly into your computer to record with Welder. These come in all different sizes and flavours, each with slightly different functionality.

The most simple and effective interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. It's the interface you'll see many podcasters using, because it has 2 XLR inputs, headphone monitoring, line outputs and a USB-C connection to your computer. You can pick one up for around $150.

Focusrite make a whole range of USB interfaces, stretching from the Scarlett Solo (with 1 input) to the Scarlett 18i20 (with 18 inputs).

If you're not convinced by the Focusrite options, here are a few other recommendations:

Recorders

If you'd like to record directly onto a device and an SD card, or if your podcast is in person and you won't have a laptop, you can get an XLR recorder.

The Zoom H6 is a fantastic option, with up to 4 inputs recorded onto separate tracks. This will set you back about $400. If you're stretched for budget then take a look at the Tascam DR-60 which will be available for around $180.

If you'd like a full mixing setup, then consider the Rode Rodecaster ($600) or the Zoom PodTrack P8 ($500). These podcast-specific mixers will give you lots of control for in-person podcasts (and you'll look like a badass while doing it). Most mixers and recorders that I've mentioned also have in-built interfaces so you can connect it to a computer to record with Welder.

Accessories

We're almost there on gear! There are a few essential accessories to go with your new microphone and some useful additional extras that you might want to consider.

Essential

  • XLR cables - $15. You'll need these to work with your XLR microphones. Don't go for the cheapest options, but anything over $15 will work well.
  • Mic desk stand - $10. I've used the low-cost Neewer Desk Stand for many years and they've worked an absolute treat.
  • Boom arm - $20. For many years I used this Neewer Boom arm which worked well for my lighter microphones. For an ATR 2100x or SM58, this will work great, but for a heavier microphone you'll want to upgrade. You can get a Rode PSA-1 or Blue Compass for $80, which will work a treat. I'm using Rode's stand in this video.
  • Foam pop filters - $1 - $15. A foam pop filter is absolutely essential for stopping those plosives from hurting your listeners ears. You can pick up a bag of these for a couple of dollars, but don't expect the greatest quality. Alternatively you can get a more premium option from Rode, the WS2 for $15 or so. - done

Useful, but not essential

  • Shock mount - $50. If you're using a particularly sensitive microphone or you often hear tapping from your desk, it might be worth picking up a shock mount to remove any micro vibrations. The Rode SM-1 is a good option here.
  • Cam Link - $20. If you record your show with video and you're investing in a DSLR, you can turn it into a webcam using a nifty $20 device. If you want a slightly higher-quality version then the Elgato Cam Link for $100 will be for you.
  • Teleprompter - $80. When recording with video you can use a teleprompter so you're looking directly into the lens.
  • Light panel / ring light - $50. In a particularly dark room it might be worth getting an LED light panel or ring light to improve the quality of your video.

Planning

For the production of your show to go seamlessly, strong planning is essential. Creating documents and processes to ensure that every aspect of your show has been thought about. Here's the guides I suggest you look into creating:

  • About your show - This will be different depending on the complexity of your production, but this will be a reference point for you every time you record or if you're sharing any information about your show for marketing. Think back to when you were coming up with the idea and format for your show, include that all in here.
  • Briefing for guests - It makes it much easier for your guests when they know exactly what they're getting into with the recording. They'll come into the recording knowing what your podcast is about, what they need to prepare and how the software works. In this document include a section explaining what your podcast is about, notes / talking points / questions, a mini-tutorial on how to use Welder, some useful things to know so the recording goes seamlessly (wear headphones, quiet room, instructions if recording with video).
  • Recording and publishing schedule - Podcasting rewards consistency, so having all your episodes planned out in advance will help you achieve this. Have an Airtable or Notion doc with the list of all your guests / potential guests, the episodes they'll be included in, any research you need to do.
  • Research - With the number of podcasts out in the wild, making your content the best it can be is going to help it grow. Having good research for each episode is going to be the backbone of great content. If you've got a guest coming on, listening to their previous podcast episodes, reading through their articles, digging deep into their background to find hidden gems is going to make your interview extremely valuable. If you've got a news show, making sure each host has read all the news articles you plan to discuss and it's all in a shared document to reference throughout the episode will make you sound informed, thus giving your listeners confidence in you.

You can immediately tell the difference between a well-planned podcast and one that's not. Of course, there are other elements that make a good podcast such as quality, guest / host chemistry and format. However, getting your planning process down is going to make it so much better.

Recording

Should you record with video? For the most part, yes, you should record with video.

You've come up with your concept, brand, bought all your equipment and each episode is well-planned - it's time for the fun part. Recording! There are a few different ways you can record your show, mainly in-person vs remote, video vs audio - which we'll briefly touch upon in this article.

In person

If you want the best possible quality and chemistry between you and your co-hosts or guests, then an in-person recording will be your best option. The challenge of physical recordings are mainly logistical. You've got setup time of the gear, you need to find a space to record in and you've got to travel there.

Look for a local podcast studio that offers hourly rental where you can book a slot each time you need to record. This way everything will be setup for you and you'll only have to press record when you arrive. Alternatively, you can build your own podcast studio where you have the up-front cost for all of your gear, but you'll have a regular place to record at any time.

Another option would be to travel with a set of microphones and recorder that you can use at multiple locations. When I was doing podcast production in London, this is how I'd do it. In my backpack I'd have 2 Shure SM58 microphones along with a battery-powered Zoom H6 recorder. I'd then monitor the audio using a splitter and Audio Technica ATR M50x headphones. Once I'd finished the recording I could pack everything away into my bag and have the recording on an SD card ready to edit.

Remote

By nature of how the world is working at the moment, remote recordings make the most sense. However, with the technology available now to get super high quality recordings, I'll often choose to record remotely even if I have the option to record in-person.

Before, the only time I'd record remotely was if I wanted to record with someone who was in another country and that made it kinda tough to record in person. So more often than not I'd just not record that episode. Although if I really wanted to record with that person, I'd opt for Zoom. I'd have a horrible quality recording which pained me to release, but at least I'd managed to get something.

Now with local recording available from Welder, I can record all my podcasts with the same quality as if I was in the same room as my guest and do it from anywhere in the world. I don't even have to worry about internet connection drop outs, because the file is uploaded from each person's computer throughout the recording. It works just like any other video conferencing software that you might be used to, but just with super high quality.

  1. Get a free account at getwelder.com
  2. Setup your session
  3. Send the link to your guest or co-host
  4. Check you're happy with the settings
  5. Press record
  6. Make a 🔥 show
  7. Stop recording
  8. Your files are automatically uploaded
  9. Download your files and edit

Should you record with video?

For the most part, yes, you should record with video. Even if you don't plan to publish that video at the start, it might come in useful later in your podcast's life.

The benefits that come from recording your podcast are going to heavily contribute to growth, as you unlock additional distribution channels (ahem, such as YouTube, the second biggest search engine in the world). Video is also seen to have far more engagement than an audio-only podcast, as people can interact with the content on social channels, rather than the passive podcast players. For your video content, try these 4 steps:

  • Create a YouTube channel for your podcast
  • Create episode trailers for each episode
  • Cut 4-5 clips from your show and publish them with SEO-friendly titles
  • Post across other social media, such as Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The only downside of recording with video is that it could be quite jarring in the final edit. My podcast, Indie Bites, is audio only for the moment because of the amount of cuts and edits that go into the final episode. If I was to release a video version, it would be far too difficult to watch as there is a jump cut every few seconds.

Editing

It's now time to craft your high-quality recording into a wonderfully produced episode. Editing can be light touch to keep up with a busy schedule, or you can spend hours on the finer details of your show.

Audio Editing Software

There are various different softwares you might use for editing, so I'll break down a few for you.

  • If you're on a Mac, then you'll already have pre-installed GarageBand, which you can use completely free. It's simple in it's controls, but you can still make a good episode.
  • If you're on a PC, you can download Audacity for free which has excellent production capabilities (and it's also available on Mac too).
  • For more advanced tools you can upgrade to Logic Pro X (on Mac), Adobe Audition or Avid Pro Tools. These tools will give you much more control and functionality that may be beyond your needs as a podcaster, but if you really want to up your quality you can spend time learning the software and how to make the most of it.
  • There is a new editing tool on the block called Descript, which allows you to edit a show like a text document. It's a little unstable but if you can figure it out then it's a nice way to edit.

Video Editing Software

If you want to edit your show with video, which has a bit more of a learning curve but will help you with the distribution mentioned in the previous section, then there are 4 options I'd recommend.

  • On a Mac you can edit for free using iMovie, but you're limited in your workflow.
  • On both Mac and PC, and if you have an Adobe subscription, you could opt for Premiere Pro which is an extremely popular and powerful editor.
  • For a one time $300 purchase on a Mac you can try Final Cut Pro, which is equally as powerful as Premiere Pro but is more optimised for a Mac.
  • On a budget but want professional editing? You can use DaVinci Resolve's full feature set for free, which has a steep learning curve but is super powerful.

How to Edit

Picking the software to use is only the beginning, now the show actually has to be edited. We'll be writing and producing some more editing tutorials to explain in more depth, but here's an outline on how to edit your podcast.

  1. Download your files from Welder or import them from your recording device
  2. Organise your files in a way that's easy to find and reference later - this is really important
  3. Import your audio or video files into your editing software of choice
  4. Remove any unwanted audio, such as ums and ahhs, dogs barking, breaks in the recording
  5. Normalise your levels so it's consistent throughout, and add a compressor if you have one in your software
  6. You might want to add an EQ to your voice to your preference, but this is a personal choice
  7. Add your music, production elements, sponsor slots, intros and outros
  8. Export your main show
  9. Cut together promotional clips you'd like to use later

Publishing

Podcast Hosting

How do you get your show onto the podcast apps, like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Overcast? You'll need to find yourself a podcast host. There are a ton of podcast hosts out there, each with their different features that might be useful for your use case.

The main function of a podcast host is to generate an RSS feed that is submitted to the players, and then each time you upload an episode, send that information to the podcast apps automatically along with podcast art, show notes, descriptions and more. Here are 5 podcast hosts you should look into:

  • Anchor - the free, default option for most people starting out. Strong integration with Spotify since they purchased it in 2019. It works, but if you're serious about podcast growth I'd look for a paid option.
  • Buzzsprout - the largest podcast host in terms of popularity. You can start for free but limited to the amount you can upload, as with the paid-for plans. It's a little clunky.
  • Castos - good if you have multiple podcasts that you plan to host, no limited on uploads and a handy Wordpress integration. No free plan, starting from $19 per month.
  • Transistor - a more recent addition to the podcast hosting space and the one I personally use. It also allows for unlimited podcasts starting at $19 a month, but has a nicely designed player and strong analytics.
  • Podbean - with a focus on enterprise customers, PodBean gives the option for dynamic ad insertion, which can be very useful for monetization. Pricing is competitive starting at $14 per month for one show, with no limits.

Episode Publishing

Your host will get the show onto the podcast apps, but you'll need to tell it what to post. This means you need to choose a captivating title, an engaging episode summary and detailed show notes, plus unique show art for each episode (if you'd like).

The title needs to draw people in but also describe what the content of the episode will contain. You'll be competing with a feed of other captivating podcast titles when people are scrolling through, so make sure you spend time on this. I often come up with the title before I even record the episode, as this helps me shape my research and planning.

The episode summary is what will show up once the title has drawn someone in. This is your chance to captivate the person reading it so they decide to listen. Explain what they'll learn in the episode, some of the key talking points and ultimately why they should listen.

The show notes are the accompanying written part of your show. It's a place people can go while listening to your podcast to find links or references, or after if they'd like to dig further into something mentioned on the episode. Spend some time while you're editing collecting links and resources from the show ready to place them into your show notes. If you can, add timestamps so it's easy for your listener to reference.

Promotion

You need to work hard for those first few episodes

Time to start growing your show. As there is no native discoverability mechanism for podcasting, you need to work hard for those first few episodes to earn your listeners - and stick with it! Once you're creating fantastic content that your audience is loving, it will start to grow organically. Here's some ideas for promotion.

  1. It may seem obvious, but cross promote your show across all of your social media channels. Create short snippets of your show using software like VEED.
  2. Transcriptions. A full transcription of your show will give you large SEO benefits and also make your podcast more accessible, plus Welder generates an automatic transcription for you after your recording. For even an bigger benefit you can write a summary of the episode on your blog, leverage your existing traffic, outlining the things people will learn from the episode.
  3. Guest on other podcasts. People who listen to podcasts will want to find new podcasts to listen to, so try to get on others if you can.
  4. Get your podcast guests to share your show with their audience, this can be especially handy if they're influential in your industry. Make this easy for them. You can send them a clip or an image that they can use so they look good.
  5. Ask people to review your podcast on Apple Podcasts, as this will help push your podcast up the podcasting charts, which can be a great source of new listeners.
  6. If you can, build up an owned channel around your podcast. This could be in the form of an email list where you send your subscribers an email every time a new episode is out, or a blog where you write your summaries. A direct communication channel for your podcast, such as an email list, can be extremely valuable over time as your show grows.
  7. Use video! YouTube can be a huge driver of new listeners for you, so try to record with video and publish as often as you can.

Summary

So that's Welder's full-guide on how to create a podcast in 2021. It's a lot to get the hang of and many steps to cover, but once you nail those first few episodes and stay consistent with it over time, you'll reap the rewards. Here's a quick recap of the sections:

  • Idea and format - come up with a unique and interesting idea. The more original the better. Try to avoid your usual 'interview show' and explore different formats, however, if you are going to do an interview show, do what you can to put an original spin on it.
  • Branding - make your show stand out with distinctive branding. This stems from your copywriting through to the music you choose, but building an easily identifiable brand will help new listeners discover your show.
  • Equipment - the gear you need to produce a podcast. This is a deep part of podcasting, but don't fret about it too much. You can get a great $80 microphone like the Audio Technica ATR-2100x and sound superb.
  • Planning - putting documents and processes in place to make production a breeze. This might sound boring, but it makes a big difference. Spend the time to craft those initial documents, then put the grunt work in doing your research.
  • Recording - the fun part. Record your show in-person, remotely, with video or without. Pick a way to record that works for you to get high-quality results.
  • Editing - turning your recording into a masterpiece. Find a software package that suits your needs, cut out unwanted sections, add production elements and export.
  • Publishing - sending an engaging episode to the podcast apps. Take your edited file and upload to your podcast host with a great title, episode summary and show notes.
  • Promotion - start to grow your show with promotional tactics. There is so much you can do to share your podcast with the world; record with video, transcribe, write a blog, share on social media and so much more.

If you have any questions about your podcast or anything mentioned in this article, feel free to send me an email at james@getwelder.com and I'll be happy to help you out!

In the meantime, get recording!

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