How to Make a Podcast

What to know before starting a podcast

You owe it to yourself to make your podcast as good as you possibly can, and a huge part of that is making sure you have all of the hardware, software, and supporting services required to elevate you above the competition. With that in mind, here's how to make a podcast.

What You Need to Start a Podcast

Before you can start your podcast, there are four bases that you need to cover:

  • A topic or niche: This is basic stuff. Figure out what your podcast is about, do some market research, and plan things out.
  • Recording equipment: Don't record your podcast with your phone or the built-in mic in your laptop. Be prepared to spend at least a little money on some basic equipment.
  • Recording software: You don't need to pay a bunch of money for software, but that doesn't mean you can use the audio recording app that came with your computer.
  • Podcast hosting: Your podcast needs a place to live online, and there are a whole lot of options to choose from.
Equipment to make a podcast with an on air sign.
Carol Yepes / Moment / Getty Images

Finding Your Podcasting Topic or Niche

This is the first step in starting a podcast, and it's a pretty important one. If you already have a built-in audience from somewhere else, then you may be able to just roll tape, talk about whatever, and have your audience eat it up. For everyone else, do yourself a favor and put some thought into the big picture and the overall theme of your podcast.

If you're starting from scratch, then think about your favorite interests and hobbies. Is there anything you could talk about with some level of both authority and enthusiasm?

After you have some ideas, do some research on the competition. See what's out there in the same topic or niche, and think about how you could attack the same thing from a different angle, put a different spin on it, or just bring something new or better to the table.

If you need some inspiration, you'll find all kinds of ideas in the best history podcasts, the best mystery podcasts, the funniest podcasts, and the best podcasts overall. It's good to listen to tons of episodes to see what's working for other people.

Recording Equipment for Making a Podcast

You can technically record a podcast on your phone and upload it from free Starbucks Wi-Fi, but the result probably won't be that great. If you want to make a professional-sounding podcast that people will actually want to listen to, you need to put together some essential podcasting equipment.

Here's the basic equipment you need to make a podcast:

  • Computer
  • Headphones
  • Microphone
  • Recording software

While it's possible to record a podcast using a phone or a tablet, it isn't really recommended. You need a good computer that's capable of running audio recording software if you want to put together a professional podcast.

A decent microphone is the next most important piece of equipment. You don't have to break the bank, but you should seriously consider buying a condenser microphone if you don't already have one. There are a lot of decent USB condenser microphones out there that are also affordable, or you can go for a more expensive microphone that has an analog output, phantom power, and the whole nine yards.

Headphones you can cut some corners on, as any set will do. Over the ear headphones are better, since it's less likely that your microphone will pick them up, but you don't need to shell out for expensive studio monitor headphones unless you're super serious.

With that basic equipment assembled, you can start recording your first podcast. However, the sound quality of your podcast will improve if you add additional equipment like:

  • Microphone shock mount
  • Audio interface
  • Audio mixer board
  • Pop filter for your microphone
  • Sound booth or acoustic foam on your walls

There's really no limit as to how far you can go with your recording equipment. Upgrades to your mic and mic accessories, audio input and mixer equipment, and your recording environment can all help create a more professional sound.

A microphone shock mount is a good place to start, as that's a great way to keep your mic from picking up noise from vibrations like moving your chair or tapping on your desk, and a pop filter helps minimize red-lining from specific sounds when you're talking.

If you upgrade from a USB mic to an analog mic, then an audio interface and a high quality sound card can improve your overall sound quality. A physical mixer board is an expensive upgrade, but it gives you more control over your levels and will really help if you plan on having call-ins.

If you can't afford a full-on home recording studio, then some acoustic foam can go a long way toward preventing unwanted noise.

Recording Software for Starting a Podcast

You have a whole lot of options when it comes to choosing recording software for your podcast. There are options at every price level, including some fantastic free options if you're feeling the pinch after buying all of your recording equipment. In fact, our favorite option is Audacity, which is free and available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Whatever software you select to record your podcast, make sure it has editing capabilities that will allow you to fix any sound issues that crop up. You may also want to be able to cut and splice your audio, add sound effects, and other advanced options, and the ability to save in a variety of other formats is also key.

How to Get Podcast Hosting

There are a lot of options out there for podcast hosting. You can technically use any web host and just upload your podcasts, but that isn't always ideal. If you become popular, you may run into bandwidth and throughput issues, especially if you have cheap shared hosting.

Dedicated podcast hosting is designed specifically for podcasts, so you won't experience any issues if you become popular and have a lot of concurrent listeners or downloads. A lot of these hosts also provide extra features that are geared toward increasing your audience, disseminating your podcast to various platforms, and even monetizing your podcast.

Making a Podcast: How to Record and Release Your First Podcast

Now that you've put together all of the equipment you need to get started, it's time to record and release your podcast into the world. This is the basic process you'll follow:

  1. Record your podcast using the audio recording software of your choice.

  2. Listen to your podcast, and use your audio software to fix any issues.

  3. Upload your podcast to your podcast host.

  4. Use tools provided by your podcast host to promote your podcast, or promote it yourself by sharing the link on social media.

    One strategy you may want to consider is to get your podcast on Spotify. It's not an easy process, but you'll get tons of exposure that might help your podcast catch on and become viral.