This list was created to help people who want to start their own podcast and want to do it the right way on the first try. Download the free resource we have prepared, and start your podcast today!
Our checklist allows a starting creator to develop the full show from a concept selection to publishing and development of regular content creating a schedule. We build on 9 key steps:
- Creators commitment
- Idea Selection and Development
- Content and Brand Plan
- Recording Setup
- Room Audio Quality
- Recording Schedule Setup for a Weekly Publishing Schedule
- Big Launch
- Continuous improvement commitment
A. Creators commitment
- Commit to your podcast project – why do you want to be a podcast creator?
Why do we ask you to write down your motivation to be a podcast creator? According to neuroscientific research when we write things down we are better at remembering it later. This is called a generation effect and is a great method of building new habits and changing our behavior. We strongly encourage you to physically write down with pen and paper your commitment to become a podcast creator. It will help you set your mindset and achieve better success with your podcast.
- Overcome your fear – accept the fact that new projects are stressful and you may have moments of doubts. Accept that your show probably will not be perfect from the first episode
Fear is a natural, evolutionary mechanism. Sometimes it helps is to survive and sometimes it stops us so we need to take active steps to overcome it. There may be different kinds of fears applicable in this situation for each new podcaster. Most commonly it may be the fear of the unknown, where podcasting is an absolutely new thing for you and despite wanting to start you may be afraid and avoid starting. It may also be the fear of failure, where we are afraid that we will fail, get judged on it and our self-esteem may drop. To move forward rapidly on your podcasting journey you need to quickly recognize what are you most afraid. Then simply accept it and observe yourself. When you will fill afraid or in doubt just reexamine your situation and check if this is one of the standard fears. If you have a ready response to your fear it will help you to rationally judge it and then move with your work.
B. Idea Selection and Development
- Choose an idea for your podcast – review our free list of ideas
A good podcast needs to have an idea that will drive and motivate its creator. But also it needs to send a simple message to its listeners. You need to quickly communicate what your podcast is about in an interesting and promising way so your listeners will keep coming back regularly for new episodes.
- Decide if you will podcast solo or with a co-host (agree on rules of cooperation)
Actually, the most important part of this point is that if you will choose to have a co-host you need to set up clear rules of cooperation. One person should be able to make a final decision when you will encounter a problem and will have vastly different opinions on solving it. This will happen sooner or later so in order to guarantee the survival of your podcast you need to have this backup mechanism.
- Pick a name for your show (try to make it memorable)
There is no one rule to follow. You can go with something straightforward, funny or mysterious. Anything will hold if the quality and consistency of your show are good. Pick something you like and feel good about it. If you are planning to work on your podcast for a long time you need to like the name to keep you entertained and motivated.
- Develop visual identity (logo and you can choose a color palette for a website) – our design tips
Since podcasts don’t have too many opportunities to build a visual presence try to have a great logo. When people are launching their favorite podcasting app they are seeing logos. Logos take bigger percentage of the screen than any other element. So make sure your logo captures attention, stands out and invites for listening to more episodes.
C. Content and Brand Plan
- Create a listeners persona – define who is your target audience
A persona is a typical user of a product, or in this case a typical listener of your show. When planning or recording a podcast don’t imagine that you are talking to a crowd of 20,000 people. Imagine that you are talking to just one person. Who is he or she? Add details about this person. Describe motivations, struggles, aspirations, and fears in the context of your show. Then when writing an episode think how the content you are preparing is suitable for this person.
- Create episodes’ topics hit list – develop a list of topics to nurture for future episodes
Try to always have a long list of potential episodes’ ideas available. Find a moment of creativity and generate many ideas you will keep at hand. They will be very useful when you start working on a new episode and you fill down on inspiration. Draw from your hit list of ideas and inspirations to quickly develop new episode.
- Decide on your episodes’ length and tone
Most people enjoy consistency. And they enjoy consistent creators and consistent shows. Decide how your show will look like – how long the episodes are going to be? What will be the tone of your show? Make those decisions early on and execute consistently. Sure, your show may evolve and in time you can adjust and change those early decisions. But at the beginning just make sure that you won’t jump with length and tone between consecutive episodes. Don’t make a 10-minute informal episode one week followed by a 30-minute formal one. This is not professional.
- Draft a structure of your episodes – split into segments for story flow management
Once you decide on the length of the show add some structure to it. Decide how long the acts of your show will be. Build-in some visible breaks for potential commercial inserts in the future.
- Plan for user engagement – review our tips for building longer-term value
Think about how your podcast can engage your listeners. Do you have questions for your users? Will you ask for feedback and comments? Tell your users where they should leave comments and how to contact you. Consider if you are going to ask for any references, recommendations, reviews, and ratings.
- Find and prepare intro, outro, and music (jingles) for your show – more on using legal samples
Originating from radio shows, good podcasting shows have also music intros, outros and may have some jingles during the show. Well-selected and correctly edited music can vastly improve how your show is received. Spend some time crafting correct music for your show. This is a longer-term investment worth making.
D. Recording Setup
- Choose your mic for podcasting – check our mic recommendations
You need a good mic to record your show. Forget about the mic built into your smartphone or laptop. They won’t carry a quality show. Invest in this vital piece of podcasting equipment early on. Good mic can improve the way you sound and can last for many years.
- Choose your audio editing software (DAW) – check our DAW recommendations
Digital Audio Workstation is essential for editing and saving your show. You need to have one that will give you enough capabilities to make your show great and make your editing easy and fast. You should be working on your content and not on moving things around in your editor.
- Choose closed-back headphones for audio monitoring – review headphones recommendations
Closed-back headphones are essential for monitoring how your podcast is being recorded and during the editing process.
The basic podcasting setup requires just a USB mic and a DAW. However, if you are going for premium setup and premium sound quality you will need good XLR cables, audio interface, mic signal booster. You may also consider having a stand, windshields, and a premium USB cable.
- Apply optimal mic settings for a recording session – our tips for mic setup
Set up your mic correctly for a better quality of recorded audio. There are many ways you can change the way your voice gets recorded. Experiment with what sounds best for you.
- Prepare yourself before recording, protect your voice & warm up – our vocal tips for podcasters
The recording session can be a long and tiring process. Make sure you prepare yourself before recording to sound best and avoid things that can ruin a recording day.
E. Room Audio Quality
- Decide where are you recording – understand room acoustics and choose optimal conditions
Be careful where you are recording. Select the best sounding room out of all locations available for your recording. A bad room will be heard on your recording and your podcast just won’t sound professional.
- Soundproof your studio and improve acoustics – look for solutions in this detailed guide
You can do a lot to improve how your recording room sounds. There are many ways to soundproof your studio from outside noises. You can also perform acoustic treatment of your studio to make sure you capture the highest quality audio.
- Choose the optimal time of the day for quietest recording conditions
If you don’t have a professional studio monitor your best sounding room. Check what day of the week and what time of the day it gets a minimal amount of outside noises lowering the quality of your recording.
F. Recording Schedule Setup for a Weekly Publishing Schedule
- Decide on publishing schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, or season format)
One of the key characteristics of a successful podcast is consistency in quality and regularity in the publishing schedule. Your audience needs to see you as a professional who delivers constantly if they are going to invest their time in listening to your show.
- Split your week in 7-day content mill plan (for a weekly release schedule)
Once you decide on your publishing schedule you need to develop routines and break up the lead time between episodes to guarantee yourself enough time to prepare, record, edit and publish a new episode.
- Step / Day 1 – Episode layout – decide on the main topic and episode structure – episode structure guide
On the first day of your cycle, you pick the topic of your next episode and work on the main structure. Draft the assumptions you are making and prepare a layout that you can use in your episode. Draft as many points for your episodes as possible. After scripting and editing, you will probably decide not to use all of the material you have so make room for those situations.
- Step / Day 2 – Research & develop your content – review sources, facts and useful information
Spend the second day of your cycle on gathering missing information. Good research will make your podcast sound professionally and your listeners will appreciate the time and effort you have put into the development of your show.
- Step / Day 3 – Scripting – prepare a script you will use during a recording session
It is good practice to have a script ready for your recording session. Work in all the findings of your research and development phase into the drafted outline you prepared at the beginning and get a consistent episode script. Make sure your episode takes the listener on a journey, with a clear beginning, middle, and finish. Using a script is very important if you have a complex story or you simply don’t want to miss anything important.
- Step / Day 4 – Recording day – warm-up and record (check our vocal tips)
Plan your recording day in advance. Be ready physically not to sound tired. Make sure you won’t be distracted. Record as many times as you need until you will be satisfied with your recordings and decide you have good quality material for editing.
- Step / Day 5 – Editing day – use your favorite DAW to edit your show
Simply use all the materials you have recorded in the previous step and build an episode according to your original outline. Then listen and check if it makes sense. Consider all the things you can do to improve your episode, e.g. changing the order of segments, rerecording segments, adding additional material, etc. Add proper music samples to amplify the impact of your material.
- Step / Day 6 – Buffer day – fine-tuning and backup day
Best case scenario – you have a free day. But usually, you will use this day for one of the steps 1-5. Maybe you need more time for research and development or maybe you can use this time for recording additional material and final editing.
- Step / Day 7 – Release day – publish and episode for your audience
Push your latest episodes to all directories where you have submitted your podcast. Make sure the episode was added correctly and is visible everywhere. Use all the channels you have set up to inform your audience that a new episode is available.
G. Big Launch
- Have a couple of episodes ready before you publish your first one
This is very important to boost your early rankings and get bigger visibility in podcasting directories. Having few episodes allow your listeners to listen more at a time which sends a positive signal to the algorithms and boosts your rankings.
- Choose your podcasting media host – review our media host recommendations
You need a mechanism to store and distribute your episodes to your listeners. Media hosting companies provide good and reliable services. Visit our review to check what is most important for you and get good recommendations.
- Set up an RSS feed (use your own and not the one provided by media host)
RSS feed is a simple solution for podcasting directories to get the latest episodes of your show. Set up an RSS feed on your own and don’t use the one provided by a media host. If you use the one provided by media host future migration to a different host (if you decide to move) might be very difficult if not impossible. Link in podcasting directories to old episodes may no longer work correctly.
- Choose directories where you want to publish your podcast
Get your podcast listed in the top directories that gather millions of potential listeners in one place. Use the link we provided below (in the next point on our checklist) to see top directories. Be aware that there are dozens of directories and applications delivering podcasts to listeners. Choose the ones you want to be listed on.
- Submitting your podcast audio files to directories – check this how to publish a podcast guide
Once you choose directories you will need to set up profiles for your show. Use the logo and short description to let your listeners find you.
- Develop a strategy for promoting your show – see our recommended strategy
If you want to get thousands of listeners you need to actively promote your show. Podcasting directories won’t do it for you. Prepare a consistent strategy of steps and activities you are going to take to spread the news about your show.
- Plan for launching a website to promote your show – review our website guide for podcasters
The website is essential for a podcast that plans to be successful in the long term. You need a site for communication, marketing, sales, and everything that involves turning your podcast into a profitable business.
- Pick a domain name, hosting provider, and useful Content Management System (CMS)
Setting up a website will require a few additional decisions for you to make. Pick a name and use a domain registrar to buy your domain name. Next, you will need to find hosting for your new site. Finally, once key decisions are made you will need to decide on a content management system to run your site. We strongly recommend WordPress.rog. On top of the CMS, you will need to add a professional-looking theme for your site.
- Get simple and highly valuable plugins for spam, SEO, link and images management
For your site to be powerful you will need to install plugins that will improve security, boost your marketing capabilities, help with management, improve loading time, etc.
I. Continuous improvement commitment
- Commit and keep implementing podcasting best practices
Once you launch your show you should constantly strive to be a better podcast creator. There are a lot of areas you should be constantly considering where your podcast can get better. Addressing all the best practices at once can be probably overwhelming so focusing on a few at a time can bring the best results. Also when you will work on changing too many aspects of your show, marketing, etc. you will never fully know which action had the biggest effect on growing your audience.
- Be aware and understand current podcasting trends
To be fully immersed in the podcasting scene and understand the market and your target audience you should follow trends and changes. Analyze what are the most significant changes every year and try to adjust to constantly improve your podcast.
- Commit to the improvement of your craft – what value you want to keep delivering to your listeners?
Once you have completed the journey that started at writing your commitment to podcast it is time to finish this ultimate checklist with final commitment. Using the same psychological mechanisms define what value your podcast delivers to your listeners, how it enriches their lives. This will help you with being a consistent and great podcast host.
We hope this list has motivated you to start your own show. Please leave a comment down below to encourage other people to start podcasting. Let us also know how we can improve this ultimate checklist and make starting podcasting easier for others.