How to make a podcast (and submit it to iTunes)

I get lots of questions about how to create a podcast (and submit it to iTunes). Here's a quick primer.

First, choose your topic

The most important step for a new podcaster isn't buying the right gear, choosing the right platform, or even finding guests.

Before you do anything else, you need to pick a topic.

To do this, you're going to answer two fundamental questions:

  1. Who is this podcast for?
  2. What is it for?

My show (Build your SaaS) is for people starting a software business in 2018. It's purpose is to share our journey, and help other founders navigate the startup stage.

Next, do your research

It's not enough to pick a topic. To really stand out, you'll need to ask yourself:

What unique perspective can I bring to this subject? What hasn't been done before? How can I stand out?

A good tool for doing podcast research is Chartable.

You can use it to browse the different podcast categories, and see what types of shows are ranking highly.

When you see a show at the top of a category,  look and see when it was last updated. If it's been months (or years!) you might be able to create a new show to fill that space.

For more about choosing your audience, check out:

Now, start practicing

Don't run out and buy a bunch of recording gear yet!

Practice by recording something on your phone. You don’t need a fancy mic to start practicing.

You can record test episodes with whatever recording device you currently own. For most people, this means using your phone!

Just follow these steps:

  1. Find the Voice Memos app on your iPhone
  2. Choose a topic you’d like to talk about
  3. Write out an outline for a short 5-10 minute episode
  4. Open up the Voice Memos app and record your episode!
  5. Repeat over and over again: practice recording that same episode dozens of times

The idea is to start small. 

It's easy to fall into the trap of buying equipment. But, having all that gear will delude you into feeling like you've already arrived. Podcasting is about creating compelling audio! If you've never recorded your voice before, you're going to need a lot of practice.

For more on practicing podcasting, take a look at:

Buy the podcasting gear starter kit

After doing a lot of research, and getting some great advice from my friend Adam Clark, here's what I recommend for people starting out:

  1. Microphone: Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB
  2. Pop filter: Find one that will work with your mic. This one is a good start.
  3. Headphones: Sennheiser HD 202 II
  4. Editing software: Garage Band or Screenflow (for Mac) and Audacity (for PC)

That whole set-up should cost you under $100 USD.

Here are a few other gear guides:

Podcast hosting

For hosting you'll need two things:

  1. A website (homepage) for your podcast and the RSS feed
  2. A place to host your audio files

Initially, for my first podcast, I hosted the website + feed on WordPress, and the files on Amazon S3. I thought it would save me money; I was wrong!

I ended up spending $20-$30 per month on AWS bills. It turns out, bandwidth is expensive!

That's why Jon and I started Transistor.fm

We'll give you everything you need for $19/month:

  • A website for your podcast
  • Fast MP3 hosting on our CDN
  • An iTunes-ready RSS feed
  • Landing pages for each episode (sample)
  • Detailed podcast analytics

We also have a podcast player that you can embed on your website, landing page, or on Twitter:

How to record and edit your podcast

Most podcast interviews (or co-hosting calls) still take place over Skype.

To record the audio on both sides, you can use Skype Call Recorder or Audio Hijack Pro. I also use ScreenFlow, which is screencasting software, but it works really well for recording audio as well.

Where do you get theme music? You can get theme music from Premium Beat and Audio Jungle. I got my music from someone local here in Vernon, BC.

How to book podcast guests

When you're looking to book guests, send people genuine emails that show you know who they are, and what they're passionate about. Also, use Calendly so they can choose a time that works best for them.

I talk more about getting guests in my interview here.

How to launch and promote your podcast on iTunes

The most important channel for your podcast will be Apple Podcasts.

Here's the process for submitting your show, and improve its chance of getting into New & Noteworthy:

  1. Have 3 episodes recorded and in your RSS feed before you submit to iTunes.
  2. Submit your feed by going to Apple Podcasts Connect.
  3. You'll need to wait 24-48 hours (or longer) for Apple to email you a confirmation email.
  4. Once it’s live in iTunes, it’s time to start hustling. You need to get as much initial traction you get (rating, downloads, subscribes) will determine how you rank in iTunes.
  5. Write your network individually, and ask them to rate the show. Here’s the email template I used.
  6. If you use Overcast to listen to podcasts, you can share the show on Twitter.
  7. Find an online community that would be interested in the show. Examples: Product Hunt, Designer News, or a subreddit on Reddit.

More resources

You can watch me create a podcast, from start to finish, in this YouTube video.

If you have more questions, you can reach me on Twitter.

Published on October 30th, 2018
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