How to Start a Podcast for Free

tl;dr – There’s a lot to do when you start podcasting and many personal rewards. Learn how to start a podcast for free.

How to Start a Podcast for Free

Learn how to podcast for free
Learn how to podcast

How can you start a podcast for free? You need equipment, editing skills and hosting. Grow it and you may get advertisers. Do not spend a lot of money up front because only a few podcasters actually ‘make a living’ with their shows. Start small and slow, then take measured growth steps. The tips below show you how to start a free podcast. There are suggestions for growing your audience.

Get Me Online helps get new podcasters started with low-cost tools, audio editing and podcast hosting. We’ll show you how to start a podcast for free.

1 – Planning Your Podcast

There are many podcasts already out there and to be successful, you have to figure out what topic or niche you want to fill. You will have multiple episodes, so the topic should be an area that you can speak about for 100 episodes that appeal to your potential audience. Over time, you can grow your topic to include more about the general focus. When you choose a name for your podcast, make sure it’s broad enough that you don’t lock yourself into a narrow focus. Here are a few examples.
Fishing is a topic, but Bass Fishing focuses mostly on that.
Graphic Design is a topic, but The World of Fonts focuses on that piece of it.
Baking is a topic, but Gluten-Free Baking is a narrower focus.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE COMMITTING
Have you listened to different types of podcasts?
Do some stand out more than others?
What features do you like – or dislike – on podcasts that may be similar to your idea?

Before you decide on a name for your podcast, check the competition and see what’s already out there. Look at the top podcast charts and you’ll see that some podcast names tell what it’s about, while some names don’t mean very much. Be sure the name lets you talk about a lot of topics and isn’t so narrow that you’re locked into a very small group of possible guests for your episodes.

Examples:

Instead of these podcast show titles

  • Joe’s Show About Home Improvement
  • All About Baking
  • Perfect Graphics

Try podcast show titles like this

  • Do It Yourself Kitchen Remodeling
  • Baking Secrets – Pies, Cakes and Desserts
  • All About Logo Fonts

There is no right answer to how choose your podcast’s name. There are three types of names you can consider:

  1. A Clever Name
    Clever is always good, but if you’re too clever, listeners may never find your podcast. If you choose a clever name, be sure to get a tagline that describes what your show is about.
  2. A Descriptive Name
    You want listeners to find your podcast, so a less clever but descriptive name may be a good choice. If your show is about how to become a Yoga instructor, then “How to Become a Yoga Instructor” will stand out when people search. Don’t use too many words, be brief and succinct. And searchable.
  3. Your Given Name
    If you’re famous, even in a small pond, this may be a good choice. But if you’re not yet on a “A” lists, this isn’t your best option, unless you write a terrific tag line that says what your show is about.

To brand your podcasts, you need a website and social media accounts. There are a lot of “shoulds” about a domain name but remember, you want to use it on your social media accounts, too. Be sure to check and make sure you can get as similar as possible user names on your social accounts as your domain. HINT: You should own the domain, not your web developer.

You’re not alone – most starting podcasters have no listeners! You may start talking to no one, but that’s typical and people don’t care if they haven’t heard of you. What they care about is your topic, episodes, guests and information about a topic that interests them. Your job is to give them a reason to listen. More than that, you have to give them a reason to come back for more. This is why you should build at least 10+ episode titles because people choose podcasts based on show summaries.

Take a look at the Podcast Discovery Survey results. The description is most important to potential listeners.

Podcast Discovery Survey results
Podcast Discovery Survey Results

Format is everything. You build a plan and stick to it (unless something flops) so people know what to anticipate on each episode. If your podcast starts with an introduction, write it out and use it every time. Music? Keep it the same so it’s branded to your show. A typical format includes these sections, and you should massage these to make them your own. You may not need all of these; use what fits your show model.

  1. Intro “teaser”
  2. Short musical spot
  3. Your welcome and introduction to the episode
  4. First ad can go here (if you have ads)
  5. Interview your guest
  6. Ask your audience to do something, like “Post a review of us on iTunes!”
  7. Short exit musical spot

PODCAST FORMATS Podcasts come in several formats and include: Solo Show (monologue), Co-Hosted Show, Interview Show, and other less-common formats like roundtables, documentaries and docu-dramas.

Bigger is NOT always better. Don’t plan an hour-long podcast to start. Twenty minutes is a reasonable length for new podcasters. It will force you to conduct a solid interview and not venture into off-topic discussion. In fact, the average daily commute is about 20 minutes, and listeners use their commute time for podcasts, so that’s a good length to start. Most podcasts are between 20-45 minutes so you can determine the length based on these two criteria: Your content and Your audience

YOUR MATERIAL How much material do you have? If you can easily build 30 minutes of quality information for each episode, then don’t cut the length. If it an episode turns out to be too long, consider building it into two episodes.

ASK YOUR AUDIENCE: Engage your audience! Tell them an easy link on your podcast website during your podcast to take a short survey every now and then, or better – have a survey question per episode about your topic (keep it short). If you can manage it, report the survey results at the end of the episode (or at the beginning of the next).

There are two considerations about your podcast’s frequency.

  1. How often will your audience listen?
    If you are developing traffic with a twice per month podcast, stick with that schedule. Over time and when you gain advertisers, you can think about increasing it.
  2. How much can you manage?
    If podcasting is not your full time job, you need to manage your podcast in your “free” time. Your initial investment of time and technical learning to record and edit episodes will be significant but over time, it will become easier.

There are two things you should consider to name your episodes.

  1. Tell listeners what to expect from the episode name. Do NOT use “Episode 1, Episode 2.” Instead, choose an informative title like “Five tips to…” or “How to…”.
  2. The biggest boost you can give your podcast is to use searchable titles. Use your keywords in titles. If your podcast is about fishing, a title may be “How to find the best fishing spots in Maine.”

2 – Recording and Publishing Your Podcast

Recording equipment varies from starter tools to professional setups. At the least, you need a quality USB microphone, internet access and a quiet place to record. The Samson Q2U is an example of an affordable USB mic and has options you may want, like a boom arm that enables you to find the sweet spot for recording.

Are you doing in-person interviews? Take a look at interview kits in just about any price range. The Maono setup is a low-cost starter setup with excellent reviews.

Are you recording remotely on Zoom? Make sure your guest has a quality mic and a steady internet connection. Run a couple of tests and listen to them before starting a Zoom interview.

Wear headphones when recording a podcast

Keep these three tips in mind but practice first (and listen to yourself!)

  • Your microphone should be 5-6 inches away from your mouth, but at the same height as your mouth.
  • Sit back a few inches and have the pop filter between your mouth and your mic.
  • The distance your mouth is from the mic setup impacts the volume level. (The closer you are, the louder your voice will sound.)
  • Watch your breath. Keep your body still.
  • Reduce your post-production editing time by keeping your distance consistent.
  • Tilt the mic at a 45-degree angle for the best quality.
  • If you are listening to a guest, move away from the mic so you don’t make noises that get recorded.
  • Wear headphones (your guest, too). No headphones will generate audio feedback that you have to clean up later.
  • Mute yourself when you’re not speaking.

Zoom is a good interview platform for remote guests and it has an advantage: you can record each person speaking separately. This will make editing the interview much easier (like to edit out a sneeze).

  • Open your Zoom client and click Settings
  • Click the Recording tab
  • Enable Record a separate audio file for each participant
  • Record and save the interview to your computer
  • When done, open the recording folder
  • Inside that folder, open Audio Record
  • You’ll see that each participant’s audio track is listed as its own file (with the file name beginning with the interviewee’s name).

If you have technical skills or want to learn how, there are several podcast recording and editing software packages that let you clean up your audio from noises, cut out segments, add a music layer and move sections around. The best known include Alitu, Anchor, Audacity and Adobe Audition.

Whether you’re editing yourself or hiring an expert, keep these tips for editing podcasts in mind:

  • Have a template. Make it simple so it includes your intros, outros and ad slots in regular places so all you have to add is your voice for that episode.
  • Edit content first. Then remove mistakes, sneezes and other distractions.
  • Add compressions. In the software settings, add compressions. They can make your voice sound soothing, so let your tech automate noise removal.
  • Use sound fades. Add sound fades between tracks to make smooth transitions.
  • Set ID3 tags. When you export, add ID3 tags so your media player has accurate details about the episode.
  • Bitrate. If you are the only voice, set the bitrate to 96 kbps. Music? Set it to 192 kbps. These settings help polish your voice and add soothing.

Your podcast has to be hosted somewhere before you can make it available from Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You purchase a podcast hosting site that generates an RSS feed. That feed is what gets listed with the directories. Podcast hosting comes in several flavors from free to free-for-a-limited-time, to monthly paid. These lists of podcast hosts are provided for your information. (We have no relationship with them.)

  1. Buzzsprout
  2. Captivate
  3. Transistor
  4. Castos
  5. RSS.com
  6. Podbean
  7. Resonate
  8. Adamenfroy recommendations
  9. Deeper dive into podcast editing software

3 – How to grow your podcast audience

There are three ways to grow your podcast audience.

ONE Record quality, interesting podcasts that a group of people want to hear. Make sure you have an intriguing description for your podcast that includes who you are, what the podcast is for and what the listener will get out of the podcast.

TWO Advertise your podcast by building a website and maybe add a blog to refer your listeners to, perhaps to complete a survey after each podcast. Have good episode titles with keywords that can be searched.

THREE Submit your show to podcast directories. Use this list to get started. Apple Podcasts and Spotify are the most common, but there are several you can use for a wider reach. Remember, you add your RSS feed to podcast directories, so be sure you have a podcast host with an RSS feed.