The simple method does not get written about – at least not clearly. As many people have been surprised by how little work I put into starting a podcast, I thought I might try to break down some of the steps and offer the simple process for launching a podcast.
There are plenty of “how-tos” on how to get your podcast into the top ranking of itunes or to have a “successful” launch. Here I am merely interested in helping the people who have a creative spark they want to explore and want to try out a podcast as a way to learn and to find out what to do next. Here is what I recommend:
Note: Affiliate Links below (only products I use):
#1 Buy A Microphone: Go with the Audio-Tecnica 2100 (also the one recommended by Tim Ferriss) – buying the microphone first is a great nudge to eliminate a common barrier (“it won’t sound good”) to getting started
- Alternative: You can use the Rode SmartLav+ for iphone recording
Budget option: just use your iPhone or headphone mic. The key is to just get started…
Update: I’ve now gotten fancy and bought the Shure MV7 – this mic rocks if you want to spend around $220
#2 Setup Your Recording Software: There are many ways to do this. I currently use Audacity to record solo episodes (easy editing) and Skype + Easy MP3 recorder for digital interviews. Here are some options:
- Solo Recording: Audacity (PC, Free) or Anchor (Web, Free)
- Multiple-Person PC/Mac Web-Based: Zoom Video Calling – Free for unlimited 1-on-1 calls
- Multiple Person Web-Based Software: Zencastr offers a soup-to-nuts podcasting solution that seems promising (I haven’t tried it yet) or Riverside.FM (which I now use regularly)
- More Advanced PC: Skype (free) + Easy MP3 Recorder (free version) (this is what I used)
- More Advanced Mac: Skype (free) + Ecamm ($39.95) – I have a couple friends that use thi
#3 Record An Episode: Record a short episode explaining why you are starting a podcast. For me, my first episode was short and recorded the day after I got my microphone answering a simple question: “Why Do I Care About The Future Of Work?” See my sample episode:
#3b Record an Intro (Optional): I recommend going over to Free Music Archive to grab some audio and using that to record an intro. I recorded a two minute clip showing how I used FMA and audacity to make a simple introduction. I used a similar method for my own podcast intro.
#4 Edit Your Audio: I do some basic audio editing in Audacity (or for mac you can use GarageBand or ProTools. I typically use the noise reduction tool and clip out any egregious “ums” or slip-ups as well as use the ‘compressor’ tool to keep the audio more consistent. I keep most of my podcasts unedited and most people who listen don’t ever mention any issues. The beauty of a podcast is an in-depth unscripted conversation that enables people to talk through the nuance of an issue or go really deep on certain topics. Don’t worry about perfection at first!
I then use a tool that I loved called Auphonic, which optimizes your audio file for podcasting and audio listening. If you want to skip the editing, you can get away with just using this!
- Recommended settings: Constant 128k bitrate, mp3 file
#5 Pick A Name: Pick a name and subtitle, but don’t worry too much about sticking to it. Too many people stress out about committing to a name but don’t worry about changing it down the road. This is why I recommend a free tool like Canva to create your artwork so you can double down with a new name down the road.
Fun Fact: Tim Ferriss now has one of the biggest podcasts in the world, but originally was going to call it “TimTimTalkTalk”
#6 Create Cover Art In Canva or PowerPoint: Create a 1600 x 1600 image (this is the suggested size for iTunes) using custom dimensions option on Canva and create a basic cover for your podcast. Canva lets you use different icons and text in a way that helps you create something compelling. For those with advanced business skills, I also recommend creating a large square in PowerPoint and populating the image with your title.
- Tip: Use this free color palette generator to find a mix of different colors that look good together
- Tip: Use “Open Sans” as a font – it looks professional and is a simple option to create something
- Advanced: 99 designs is a reliable service to get great designs and options, but is a bit pricey at $349 for a contest. You might check out their design tips first (here)
For fun, here is my original podcast artwork created in PowerPoint in less than 15 minutes. I added some text, and shadows to “future of work,” and then used one of the image design options to give my face an artistic touch. I then grouped the image and text and shape and then hit right-click to save as image. I wasn’t 100% blown away by it but felt it was good enough to get started.
#7 Choose & Upload Your Episode To A Hosting Platform: There are many ways to do this. I’ve already gone from Soundcloud to Buzzsprout to Pippa and am now thinking about moving to Anchor. Here is what I recommend:
Free & Easy:
Anchoris the simplest most straightforward option for launching a podcast and getting it out to all of the podcast distributors (google, spotify, overcast, itunes, etc…). I’ve recently switched from Pippa to Anchor because they are now funded by Spotify, seem to be oriented towards creators and I just rather not pay for hosting if I can get it for free. There are some rumors that “anchor owns your audio” but you can see the post from the CEO here if you are confused.
- Soundcloud is another simple and free way to get started – you can host six episodes for free until you have to pay. You also have the option of submitting your feed to itunes or just keeping it on Soundcloud while getting some initial feedback. Here is a simple how-to guide.
Want more options?
- Pippa is very good, easy to set up, relatively cheap, and is investing a lot in being useful to podcast hosts with analytics and other features. (this is what I used to use)
- Transistor is a platform I recently switched to that I really like, especially if you want to create private podcasts or start to use ads
Depending on the host, they will help you automate the submission process to iTunes and other providers. If you choose something like Soundcloud, you will need to manually copy the RSS feed that the hosting provider gives you and, you need to sign
#8 Post at least 5-6 episodes, and then give yourself permission to quit: I call this method, “ship, quit and learn” and I think its important.
I really believe that we need more people putting podcasts out there. There are no gatekeepers and you have access to 3 billion people with internet access.
If you can attract 100 people who care about what you do, those are people you can connect with and learn from to evolve your podcast. However, if you find that you are frustrated by the process and don’t really enjoy creating a podcast, QUIT! The goal is not to become famous or become a top 100 podcast, but to do experiments such that you can learn something and figure out what to do next.
I decided not to quit because I LOVED the conversations I had and love the learning process of building a new skillset.
In September 2018, I decided to change the name and images of the podcast to challenge myself in a new direction. The new subtitle, “the human side of work” as a result of the evolution of conversations I realized I wanted to have as I recorded the first 25+ episodes.
…and then I renamed it again to “Reimagine Work” in 2019 when it seemed like that was more of an emergent theme.
…and then renamed it to The Pathless Path podcast after shipping 100 episides.
Bonus – Free Tools: Here is a running list of other free tools that might be helpful:
- Headliner.app lets you create free videos with transcriptions that you can edit. Very useful for social media formats.
Let me know if you start a podcast! I’d love to hear about it. E-Mail Me
33k+ Sold! (Top 1% Book) The Pathless Path is Paul's book about walking away from a "perfect" job with a promising future and starting over again. Through painstaking experiments, living in different countries, and a deep dive into the history of our work beliefs, Paul pieces together a set of ideas and principles that guide him from unfulfilled and burned out to what he calls "the pathless path" - a new story for thinking about work in our lives. Learn More & Buy The Book Here