Starting your own podcast is a great way to increase brand awareness for your business. However, there are several things to consider and action steps you must take to ensure the success of your podcast. Here are eight questions to ask yourself before recording your first episode. Be sure to have a method for journaling, so you can brainstorm a list of possibilities for each question and create an action plan in preparation for your podcast launch.
Why do you want to podcast?
Knowing your why is the most important first step to starting a podcast. If you know your why, you have a better chance to become a successful podcaster. Knowing your why gives you the motivation to record episodes when you’re having a rough day, or you feel like you have nothing left to say. Knowing your why also helps you stay focused on the subject that’s near and dear to your heart. If you discover your reason for podcasting, before you launch your show, you can stay focused on creating content that adds value to your listening audience. Knowing your why helps you engage with listeners who are interested in your subject matter. The why behind the what is the heart of any creative task you undertake, including hosting a podcast.
What subject matter are you passionate about?
The answers to this question will help you build an audience of people with similar interests. I run a podcast called Inspirational Journeys: Stories that Matter. Before I could even think about podcasting, I had to listen to a few podcasts and get a feel for different interview styles, and how people recorded their solo episodes. During my research process, I talked to a few blind podcast hosts with similar interests.
Before I started recording episodes, I created a podcasting plan journal, which I highly recommend. In this journal, I wrote a draft of my introduction, which has evolved over the past four years, my outro, and any other promotional segments I wished to add. I have to admit, I don’t even script my segments any more. I say what’s on my heart and if I mess up, I start over until I’m satisfied with the finished product. Since my podcast is Christian Based, I pray and search the Bible for divine inspiration for solo episodes, which leads me to the next question.
Should you record solo episodes, or invite experts to educate your listeners about your chosen topic?
Once you decide what subject matter you want to talk about on your podcast, I recommend brainstorming ideas for individual podcast episodes. For example, I love to talk about Jesus and Writing all day long. My solo episodes reflect my passion for these topics, as I share Bible verses, and give my listeners a behind the scenes look at my writing process, and lessons I have learned in the last few years. Create a list of subtopics within your subject matter to generate ideas for solo episodes.
To answer the second part of this question, you can start with solo episodes. However, interviewing experts in your field accomplishes two things. It gives you a chance to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet, and it helps grow your listenership. When you invite someone to be a guest on your show, you and your guest have the opportunity to share the episode when it airs. This is an opportunity for people who follow your guest on social media to find your show and share it with their friends. Conducting interviews with experts in your subject matter is a win-win for both you and your guests.
What accessible podcast hosting platforms are available to blind and visually impaired podcasters?
Every blind podcast host has their own methods for recording, hosting and distributing his or her podcast. We all use different hosting platforms. One platform is not necessarily better than another, but the platform you choose depends on several factors. Do you want to host a private podcast, or do you want to make it available to the public? What podcast apps do you want your show to be aired on? Do you want your podcast to be available as an audio only podcast, or do you want to add a video component to it as well? Do you have your own music, or would you rather use the free music provided by some podcast hosting sites? Do you have a budget for your podcast? These are all things to consider when choosing your hosting site. I prefer to use Spotify for Podcasters, formerly known as Anchor, but there are a number of accessible podcast hosting sites on the internet. I recommend talking to other blind and low vision podcast hosts to get a sense of what they use. If you don’t know anyone in your network that hosts a podcast of their own, search for your favorite podcasts online to find out what sites the hosts are using. When you find the one you like, test the site to make sure it is fully accessible, provides the features you want, and fits your budget.
How often should you record each episode?
I have to admit, once I started my podcast, I recorded several episodes in a week, sometimes two in a day. I don’t recommend this crazy busy podcasting schedule, unless you have enough content for solo episodes or guests to keep you going consistently. Over the years, I found a schedule that works for me, and gives my guests a chance to promote their shows. I only record bonus episodes when an author in my niche has a book they is about to launch, and the episode is time sensitive. Otherwise, I schedule two episodes to go live each week, but I often record several episodes and batch them to save time uploading the show on the day the episode is supposed to air. Add a podcasting schedule to your plan and use an online calendar such as Google Calendar, Outlook calendar, or Apple calendar for Mac or IOS. Choose a calendar that allows you to send invitations to your guests, so they have a link to connect with you on the day you’ve schedule to record.
How do you record audio/video podcast episodes?
If you’re starting a podcast on a limited budget, you can record episodes on your iPhone and upload them to your hosting site. This worked for when I launched Inspirational Journeys: Stories that Matter. However, I discovered the Zoom video conferencing software a couple of weeks after I launched my first few episodes. A friend helped me test the Zoom software for accessibility. Using the tab key to get a feel for the different elements in the desktop client while learning the various hotkeys made the software easy to use with JAWS. I use Zoom to record solo podcast episodes in both audio and video. Once the recording is converted to M4A and MP4 files, I upload them to YouTube and Spotify for Podcasters, and I add them to my podcasting schedule. The platform you choose is based on your own personal preference. Test a couple of platforms out to find the one that works for you.
Should I have a podcast logo and images for my podcast episodes?
Although I am a podcast host who is blind, I have learned over the past four years of podcasting that having a logo for your podcast, and images for your episodes are important. These images are the means of attracting sighted listeners to your podcast. I find that I get more listeners, when they can see a picture of the person I’m speaking with, before they listen to the episode. A friend told me that if I don’t have an image to upload as episode art, my logo serves as the image for the latest episode.
There are three options you can choose from when it comes to finding or creating images for your podcast. One option is to find whether or not your hosting site offers to provide podcast cover art with the site’s logo embedded in the image. You can use this free image, but you have to add the blurb giving the creator credit to your show notes and podcast description. If you know someone who has an eye for graphic design, ask them to create your logo for you. You can also hire someone to do the art work. However, whether you ask a friend to design your logo, or hire it done, it helps to have a trusted friend to check the image for you and give you feedback.
As for episode artwork, I ask my guests to send me headshots as either JPG or PNG attachments with their name in the filename. From there, I can use Picture Smart in JAWS, or send the picture to my phone and explore the image with Voiceover. From my hosting site, I can upload the image as episode artwork. I also use the photos my guests send me as images to accompany the show notes I post to my website. Each podcast hosting site is different, so check the site for accessible buttons to upload your logo and episode art to your podcast feed.
Do I have the right recording equipment?
To discover the answer for this question, make a few sample recordings to test the quality of your microphone. If you simply want to record audio from your iPhone, you have a good quality mic, but you will pick up background noise. However, if you want to record from your computer, there are several varieties of microphones, from headsets, to desk models, to boom mics with mixing boards. The type of mic you purchase depends on your preference, equipment accessibility and complexity, and your budget.
Personally, I use a USB headset with a built-in mic. Logitech is a popular headset brand, but there are other brands out there at affordable prices.
For more podcasting tips, check out my Outlook Business Solutions blog article entitled 6 tips for Starting a Podcast. This article includes tips for choosing your subject matter, when and how long to record your episodes, links to different podcast hosting sites and so much more.
About The Author
Ann Harrison is the author of The Spirit of Creativity: Inspirational Poems for the Creative at Heart. Three of her previously published books are in the process of being revised and rebranded. She has also been published in several anthologies, including a devotional entitled God Things: Hope for the Hurting, alongside Jen Lowry and fifteen other authors. Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional freelance writer and editor, offering developmental and line editing services. She also hosts a podcast titled Inspirational Journeys: Stories that Matter, where she gives authors, professional editors creative artists and entrepreneurs a platform to share their stories. When she’s not interviewing special guests, she hosts solo episodes providing book reviews, reading selected poems, and sharing tips and encouragement for aspiring authors.