An illustration of a microphone for a podcast
Lots of people are making podcasts. You should make one too. (Illustration by June Le, Minneapolis College of Art and Design)

5 Things To Know When Creating Your Own Podcast

Learn the first stages of becoming a podcaster from an amateur who has already made mistakes, so you don’t have to!

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An illustration of a microphone for a podcast

Learn the first stages of becoming a podcaster from an amateur who has already made mistakes, so you don’t have to!

So, you want to start a podcast. Maybe you know someone personally who has their own podcast, or you have a charismatic personality. Perhaps you just have something you want to share. It seems like everyone has a podcast, and now you want one too!

You’re in luck. I’ve run a weekly podcast since September 2009. I have over a thousand episodes under my belt and on average, receive over 220,000 downloads per episode. Okay, maybe I just ripped that straight from the “WTF with Marc Maron” Wikipedia page. While I’m not a renowned podcast host by any means, the experience I’ve obtained may be helpful. Chances are, over a year ago, I was a lot like you.

Around this time last year, I began working on Arcane Etc., which is an actual play Dungeons and Dragons podcast made by myself and my tight-knit group of broke college friends. We started a donation jar and scavenged underneath every sofa cushion in search of long-lost change. We pooled together enough money and bought a bunch of microphones, a mixer, then started recording. The problem was that our first episode was set to launch that October. Whoops.

Yes, we dreamed big. Hope glistened in our eyes, and despite having faith in our abilities, we miscalculated how difficult starting up would be. It looked so easy. We took a few steps backward, then a few steps forward, then backward again. It wasn’t a learning curve; it was a learning roadblock. I often felt stuck and was unsure if our podcast would ever see the light of day.

By the time you read this, however, our first episode, alongside a trailer for our first season, will be out for nearly two whole weeks, with a second episode to launch within the next couple of days. We had a pretty successful launch! Nowhere even close to 200,000 downloads, but more than we anticipated.

Because I want you to also be successful, here’s some helpful insight into creating your very own podcast.

1. Discuss a Topic You Love

If you’re reading this, it’s more than likely you have never done this before. Try to refrain from being too ambitious. Frame your show around things you either enjoy doing or would like to do each episode and make it manageable for yourself. Don’t create a show about “talking.” Make it more tangible. Whatever it is, you need to look forward to it every episode.

2. Host Alongside Your Loved Ones/Those You Trust

If you’re to have a co-host (you don’t need one), you’re going to need to choose people you can trust and be comfortable with. And this is a given, but you need to be able to have fun with this person. If you aren’t having fun, your listeners will be able to tell.

Be careful with the amount of responsibility you place on your co-host(s). Are they lending their voice during recordings while you do all the hard work? If that works for you, great! If you want their help, are you sure they are dependable?

Your friend will be excited to make a podcast with you, but excitement doesn’t create accountability. Record a podcast alongside someone who wants it to succeed as badly as you do. Share a common goal with this person and visualize similar success.

3. Is Hosting a Podcast Worth it to You?

Ask yourself: Does this need to be a podcast? Are you offering the internet something that aches in your gut, begging to be shared? While podcasting is fun, it can be costly, time-consuming and stressful depending on the time you’re willing to sacrifice to it. You may need to ask yourself if it’s worth it.

There is nothing wrong with giving it a shot. Don’t use this or any advice as an excuse to keep you from doing something you really desire. You can record for three hours, never touch a piece of editing software and send it to your friends, just because it’s fun. You have the right to do that. There’s no road map. None of this advice is mandatory for success.

Just make sure this isn’t more of a burden than it is fun — not that having a podcast is always going to be fun either. Just ease into it if you’re unsure of your own commitment. It will save you a few dollars and headaches. Lastly, times are stressful as it is without the extra workload, so make sure this fun hobby doesn’t force you to neglect your own physical and mental health.

4. Do Your Research

If you want to really give this podcast everything you got, you must do your research. If you have time, learn how recording, editing and general podcasting works via YouTube or online classes before jumping in. Don’t buy something because someone on the internet told you to; buy something because you know it will best support the content you’re trying to create.

Studio setup, room tone, mic etiquette and physical comfort are all things that we neglected, so it’s worth thinking about in advance. Also, how are you going to spread the word about the show? We primarily use our Instagram and word of mouth for now. Who’s the target audience? What podcasting host are you going to use to get your RSS feed on popular sites like Spotify? Are you willing to spend that kind of money?

Once you have done your research, consider investing in more durable and higher quality equipment. Even if you have to look under your couch cushion for some extra coin, it’s worth the few dollars extra. But don’t go overboard. One day you might walk away from this podcast, and that’s okay. Don’t pay too much for something that may not last for the foreseeable future.

5. Record, Scrap, Record Again and Upload.

When you record your very first episode, congratulate yourself! Run it through your editing software. Audacity is a great free software; I happen to use Adobe Audition. Take your time with editing; be as critical as you can be. Work on your craft and polish that first recording until it sounds as good as possible. Then archive it and never listen to it again.

I don’t mean to sound cynical. You will cherish that first recording, but it’s probably a little awkward. It’s your very first go. It’s rare for people to crush something like this on the very first try. Don’t feel discouraged. Just put the episode away and record it again. Then edit it, scrap it, record it again and repeat until you’re ready to put it out there.

Finally, just remember to share it with the world. Be comfortable with who you are and what your baby podcast is. It’s only the beginning of something great. Upload-phobia is hard to overcome. That initial upload will feel rushed and not everything will seem in place.

It’s scary, but it isn’t until it’s finally published that you can really hone your craft. Over time your dream podcast will be fully realized. Stay consistent, keep working at it, and with a little luck, you may have garnered your own following.

If you’d like to check out Arcane Etc. it’s available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts as well as Podbean (shameless plug). Feel free to comment or reach out to our social for any questions and share a link with your own podcast when it’s up and ready. Welcome to the community. We are so excited to see what you have in store for us!

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