How to make a podcast (and submit it to iTunes)
Like many things, podcasting’s popularity seems to be cyclical. Currently it’s on a particularly big wave. I get lots of questions about how to create a podcast (and submit it to iTunes). Here’s a quick primer.
Choosing a podcast topic
Everyone wants to know about which gear they should buy, where they should host their show, and how to get guests. But the most important step is to choose your topic!
More specifically: what original, unique and interesting perspective could you provide that topic?
A good tool for researching topics, and seeing where there might be opportunities, is Cast.Market. This is currently a free tool, and you should definitely sign-up for an account (it will also help you track the rankings of your show).
You can browse the different iTunes podcast categories, and see which ones are Chart Toppers, and Up and Comers. With Chart Toppers, you might want to look at when some popular shows were 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:
- Choose your audience wisely
- Quit trying to attract a crowd (the takeaway here is asking: how can you help people?)
- Don’t make stuff for hippies (audio)
Record a practice podcast
It’s not time to run out and get a bunch of recording gear (yet).
Before you run out and buy a bunch of gear, record something now! You don’t need a fancy mic to start practicing.
The next step is to record a test episode with whatever recording device you currently own. For most people this is their iPhone or Android device.
It’s really as easy as this:
- Find the Voice Memos app on your iPhone
- Choose a topic you’d like to talk about
- Write out an outline for a short 5-10 minute episode
- Open up the Voice Memos app and record your episode!
- Repeat over and over again: practice recording that same episode dozens of times
The idea is to start small. A lot of people fall into the trap of wanting all the gear, because buying equipment is fun. It makes you feel like you’ve already arrived. But podcasting is about creating compelling audio narratives, and you can do that without expensive gear. If you’ve never recorded your voice before, why would you spend a bunch of money?
For more on practicing podcasting, take a look at:
Get 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:
- Microphone: Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB
- Pop filter: Find one that will work with your mic. This one is a good start.
- Headphones: Sennheiser HD 202 II
- Editing software: Garage Band (for Mac) and Audacity (for PC)
That whole set-up should cost you under $100 USD.
Here’s a few other gear guides:
For hosting you’ll need two things:
- A website (homepage) for your podcast and the RSS feed
- 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. (If you use WordPress, use the PowerPress plugin to create an iTunes ready feed).
Nowadays, I recommend people use Transistor.fm. They’ll do it all for you: provide you with a website, MP3 hosting, an iTunes ready RSS feed, and great stats.
Recording, interviewing, editing your podcast
A lot of podcasts are interview shows over Skype. To record the audio, 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.
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.
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.
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 iTunes. Here’s the process for submitting your show, and improve it’s chance of getting into New & Noteworthy:
- Have 3 episodes recorded and in your RSS feed before you submit to iTunes.
- Submit it to the iTunes store by clicking on iTunes Store, selecting Podcast on the right-side, and the clicking on Submit a podcast
- You’ll need to wait 24-48 hours (or longer) for Apple to email you a confirmation email.
- 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.
- Write your network individually, and ask them to rate the show.Here’s the email template I used.
- If you use Overcast to listen to podcasts, you can share the show on Twitter.
- Find an online community that would be interested in the show. Examples: Product Hunt, Designer News, or a sub-reddit on Reddit.
You can listen to my podcast episode on this topic here.
You might also be interested in these articles:
- How to make money from your tiny podcast
- Don’t stand still
Notes from Justin Jackson
Startup stories, lessons, and tips.
Sent on Saturday mornings.
(Read it while you drink your coffee)