How to Start a Podcast SIMPLY – DIY & (nearly) for free in 2024

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I have been asked to detail exactly how to start a podcast SO MANY TIMES since I launched my Online Business from Scratch podcast – so here it is!

As a bit of backstory, I launched a podcast in 2021 for my homeschooling business and made exactly three episodes before it all seemed too overwhelming and I ditched it – even though people loved it, the stats were great, and it was obviously a huge positive for my business.

So I was determined not to fall into the same trap this time.

As a result, I’ve started as simply as I possibly could.

So if the typical start-a-podcast guides that talk about getting a podcast coach, paying for professional editing, and spending a month’s rent on complicated tech and pro-level soundproofing make you want to ditch the entire idea, you’ll love this stripped-down guide.

It’s actually doable for the non-techy, busy person.

So here it is – how to start a podcast as simply and quickly as possible.

Let’s go!

Please note: This is a living document! I published it early and quickly because people wanted it. I’ll keep expanding and updating over time – if you have questions or requests please drop them in the comments.

My podcast idea

I knew from the very start of this business that I wanted a podcast.

Podcasts are a great way to really connect with people, and produce long-form, evergreen content that’s not just skimmed. People actually listen!

And since I’ve started podcasting I’ve noticed that every single paid Business Idea Review client has mentioned listening to my podcast.

I’ve also noticed that many of the very successful people that I follow have ditched social media, but continue with podcasts – a strong clue that they’re very effective.

As my audience is tend to be very new to the idea of online business, I decided that initially I would record all the steps I took and why as I started this business, and share them, so people could follow along and see what’s actually involved when starting an online business.

This would be an evergreen resource – I hope that in a few years people will be able to find the podcast, binge the series, and have some great ideas about where they should start and what their days will look like. All my strategies, like email and great content, are fairly timeless, so it’s almost like an audio course in how to start an online business.

This can be my first season, and after that I can interview other people, and talk about online business and digital products in general.

So what’s your podcast topic?

Choosing your podcast topic

Ideally, this will be closely related to your business topic.

If you need some help choosing a great business topic, check out my guide for multipassionates and my free Business Idea Blitz course. You can use the steps in there to choose your perfect podcast topic.

Remember, it has to be something you can talk about a LOT.

For me, I’m simply talking about what I’m doing and why. This made it really easy for me to start. I take down notes as I go, then expand and edit it into a final draft when I’m ready to record.

And I know that once I expand from that format into covering specific online business topics that I’ll have endless content, because I can talk about online business all day (just ask my poor husband 😉).

Action step: Choose your specific topic

Don’t go broad here! Narrow it down to be closely related to your business topic, and very specific.

If you’ve already done this with your business topic (if you haven’t, you can do it here) it should be quite easy.

Examples

Motherhood ➡️ motherhood in the first 6 months

Travel ➡️ families doing a lap around Australia

Science ➡️ debunking health and wellness myths

Marriage ➡️ couples of 10+ years

Writing ➡️ writing your first novel

Just like choosing your business topic, you can always start very specific and expand later on if there’s demand. But specific will grow your business faster at the start.

Action step: Write down 20 potential episode ideas

Here’s where the real test comes in – just how much content can you produce about your topic?

Grab your notebook or open a fresh doc and start brainstorming.

If you can come up with 20 episode ideas fairly easily, that’s great!

If it’s a struggle, even after you’ve searched for ideas, you need to tweak your topic.

Action step: Choose your format

Will you have go solo? Have a co-host? Interview people?

I highly recommend going solo to start with, unless you have a business partner OR have someone that you know will be a great co-host (and will help with the actual work of editing, uploading, and promoting).

Finding people to interview, coordinating with them, and editing two tracks of audio adds way more complexity, and you just don’t need that at the start.

Not to mention that interviewing people is a skill, and if you don’t have it you can easily end up with 2 hours of a rambling nightmare that will take days to turn into a coherent, listenable episode.

Yep, I know THAT from my first podcast experience – that episode was never published 😳

Name your podcast

I’m all for straightforward descriptive names.

I want someone who sees my podcast to know exactly what it’s about – Online Business from Scratch is pretty clear about focusing on the beginning and setup of an online business.

Action step: Name your podcast

If you have some ideas, share your shortlist with family and friends (and followers if you have some) to get their vote.

I also recommend trying out Namelix – it’s a fantastic AI name generator.

I put in ‘motherhood in the first year’, chose ‘short phrase’ as the option, then said it was a podcast.

Here are my first results. Not bad! And there are hundreds more.

It also suggested ‘Oooh baby baby’ and now I’m going to have Salt’n’Pepa’s Push it stuck in my head all day – thanks Namelix 🤣

Pro tip: DON’T include podcast in the actual title.

People will find it on a podcast app, so they know what it is.

But you can add podcast to the end when you’re promoting it elsewhere.

Example: My podcast on Spotify. Adding podcast to the end of the title would look silly, as it’s already clearly labeled as a podcast.

My website podcast page. Here, I need to tell people it’s a podcast, because it’s not apparent from the platform.

Got your name? Awesome, time for the next step!

Podcast tech stuff

🚨 WARNING 🚨

Most people waste time here, and spend far, far longer than they should agonising over which microphone to use.

It’s really not THAT important.

Sure, you need to have good sound quality – but most microphones are acceptable.

So try not to get stuck here.

Your goal here is to just keep moving, and publish your podcast ASAP.

Podcasting microphones – which one?!

First option – use what you have.

It’s probably obvious that this is ALWAYS my first approach.

Try out anything that you already own, even if it doesn’t seem like it would work.

One of my summit presenters used her children’s SingStar microphone to record her workshop, and her sound was great.

Some people use their phone – after all, they have pretty good inbuilt microphones for phone calls! We got a surprise feature in a parkrun podcast after running Rouen parkrun in France, and the host simply recorded us on his phone in a quiet corner.

Wired earbuds with a mic can also give pretty great sound.

I started my podcast with my cheapie microphone from Public in Greece because it was all I had while we were travelling – and it was just fine.

It’s definitely not perfect, but for the first dozen episodes, recorded in Airbnbs, I think it’s definitely good enough. And I’ve had no complaints about sound.

Now I’m back in Australia I’m using my Blue Yeti microphone. I bought this in 2017 to run my first summit and it’s still going strong.

It’s not ideal for podcasting (more about that later) but it does the job. Even though I’m just sitting on the floor in my bedroom to record it.

I highly recommend using what you already have to casually record an episode. You’ll be able to see if it will work, plus it will give you experience and practice in actually recording a podcast.

Maybe the sound will be fine, and you can get cracking on actually making the podcast.

But if it isn’t…

Second option – buy a microphone

So if you don’t have anything, or you’ve got the money to spend, I have a few tips.

First, get a dynamic microphone, not a condenser. You know how I said earlier that the Blue Yeti isn’t ideal? It’s because it’s a condenser, which picks up a lot more background noise because it needs to be further from your mouth.

Dynamic microphones don’t pick up as much background noise because you speak right into them, so they can be less sensitive overall.

Second, get a cardioid pattern. This means the microphone will only pick up sound from a specific direction, which again cuts the background noise. The Blue Yeti does have this feature.

Since I have traffic noise at my new house I’ve been looking for a dynamic microphone, and here are the two microphones commonly recommended – check out the features, read the reviews, and order one.

Don’t overthink it! Remember, spend your time on content and production, not falling down the research rabbit hole.

Samson Q2U

It has brilliant reviews, it’s very affordable, and it will definitely do the job for my needs – and I’m pretty sure that means it will do the job for you, too.

Audio-Technica AT2030

Same-same really – dynamic, cardioid, great reviews.

Either will do – flip a coin and move onto your next step!

OK, so you’ve drafted some episodes, experimented with your tech, maybe ordered a microphone – what now?!

How about we do the stuff that makes it feel real – like actually recording your new podcast.

Draft your welcome + first episode

It’s time to actually create some content!

First up, draft a short welcome/trailer.

You may do well with dot points, or you may need to write down every word. Neither way is better, do whatever works for you.

Just say who you are, what your podcast is about, and what people can expect from you.

Here’s mine, if you’d like some ideas.

Pro tip: Make it at least 60 seconds long AFTER editing. Spotify only counts listens that are at least 60s, so if your trailer is shorter than that it won’t count towards your stats.

Mine was originally 59s – when I realised a few days later I added a few seconds of silence and replaced the episode 🤦‍♀️

Next, draft your first episode.

Adding backstory is an easy start. Talk about how you started doing what you do and why you do it.

Give people your story, and show them why you’re good at what you do and why they’d want to listen to you.

Got it? It’s time to record.

Software to record your podcast

Yet another place for you to get overwhelmed by research – so let’s keep moving!

Audacity is a free audio editing program that’s used widely.

However, I’ve attempted to use it quite a few times and I find it confusing and difficult to use.

You also can’t add video, which is an absolute necessity (check out my stats later on).

Download it and give it a try, but don’t feel like a dummy if you can’t get the hang of it.

So for recording and editing I use a paid (but cheap) program called Filmora.

I started to use it in 2020 when I was making a LOT of tie-dye videos for YouTube, and it turned into an essential tool pretty quickly.

It does everything I need, but it’s not too complicated. I find the interface much less confusing.

I use it to record, edit, and export my podcast audio, and to turn them into videos.

I also use it for everything video and audio related in my business – like recording and editing workshops, screenshares, and site reviews. My kids use it for presentations and assignments, and the occasional family video.

Even my tech-averse husband will put together trail running videos from his GoPro footage, and he manages to cut, speed up, split audio, add music, add transitions, and do all the fancy stuff – this is the guy who gets frustrated by Gmail, so it’s definitely easy to use.

Filmora is a business necessity to me. You can try it out for free here.

If you like it, there are a few upgrade options.

I have the annual plan, where I get regular updates. They also have a lifetime plan, where you pay for the current version and just keep that version forever.

Either will do – pick one and keep moving!

ACTUALLY recording your podcast

Scary bit – doing the actual recording that PEOPLE WILL LISTEN TO!

First, set up your space. You don’t need a full soundproofed studio, just somewhere reasonably quiet without a lot of hard surfaces.

I’ll often use a bedroom, and close the curtains, drape a blanket over the wardrobe doors, and scatter pillows on hard floors or desks – anything to break up those hard surfaces and reduce echo.

With a cardioid microphone, it’s especially important to reduce noise behind you, as that’s where the microphone will pick up most of the sound.

So if you have any background noise, like traffic, face it – the microphone won’t pick up as much of the sound.

And turn off or remove anything that causes background noise – fan, fridge, air conditioner, the cat…

OK, so now you look like you’re sitting in the results of an explosion at your local bedding store, you’re ready to record!

Set up your microphone, open your draft, and start Filmora.

Start a new project in Widescreen, and choose Record Voiceover from the drop down menu.

Make sure you choose the correct microphone!

Yeah, I’ve accidentally recorded an episode with my inbuilt mic, and it sounded like I was in a swimming pool bathroom – I had to redo it 🤦‍♀️

All set up? Hit the big red button and start recording.

TEST FIRST! You can run through your welcome, or just talk crap – but record a clip, listen back and see if it’s good enough.

Tips to sound good on your podcast

  • Smile while you talk, your voice will sound more natural
  • I start most recordings by saying random stuff to a random tune, or even singing something silly (and I cannot sing) – it helps me warm up and relax
  • Exaggerate – people are used to all those SUPER EXCITED!!!! podcasters and Youtubers. It means that your normal speaking voice probably sounds subdued on a recording. Don’t be scared to add more inflection and volume variation than you normally would.
  • Sit up straight, or stand – this makes it easier to breathe and just brings more energy overall
  • Wave your hands around – again, this will make you sound more natural and energetic
  • Keep a glass of water next to you, and drink regularly

Now take a deep breath and record the REAL THING 😲🥳

Yep, you’ll get a bit of stage fright, you’ll feel wooden and weird, but have a few tries – you’ll loosen up as you get used to it.

If you choke up or muddle your words, just pause, go back a sentence, and start it again. You can edit it out later.

If you’ve fully scripted your podcast, you’ll need to practice to avoid sounding like you’re reciting it. I mean, I’ve had two decades of reading aloud to my children so I was well-trained! But when someone is obviously reading from a script it can sound quite boring.

You may need a few tries. If you get frustrated you may need to come back and try again another day.

IT’S OK! You’re learning a lot of new skills, you’re not going to be perfect straight away.

Just get a good enough recording and

After all, you want something you can look back on in a year and see how far you’ve come!

Editing your podcast

COMING SOON!

Awkward note: your vocal fillers

You are now going to notice EVERY SINGLE BIT of vocal filler you use.

I’m talking about the ums, ahs, likes, and ‘you know?’ type of sounds and phrases you use way too much.

You will cringe. You will probably be mortified at how much this crops up. And although most can be edited out, if you use a lot of filler it will take a lot of tedious editing time to remove them all.

Here are some ways you can reduce or eliminate them – OVER TIME. You can’t change your speech patterns overnight! But you’ll slowly improve as you go.

Be aware – simply being aware of your personal fillers will help you reduce them. And you’re going to become VERY aware while editing.

Pause – I find pausing means I use fewer fillers, and they’re easier to edit out.

Slow down – more time to think also helps reduce filler. We often speak too fast anyway, and podcast listeners are used to speeding up episodes to suit them.

Plan your content – a full script or very structured outline means you don’t need to think so much, so you’re less likely to verbally fill in the gaps.

You can get away with a few fillers in your episodes, but if you use a lot you really need to edit them out. I absolutely love one person’s emails and writing, but I can’t listen to their podcast because of their constant lip smacking – I flinch at every single one.

So yes, this is worth a bit of effort to reduce or eliminate!

But again, be patient. You may start with a lot of editing, but if you work on this you can reduce it over time.

Hosting your new podcast

There are lots of places to host your podcast, which means means this is yet another chance to get bogged down in overwhelm and analysis paralysis.

But if it’s a public podcast, it really doesn’t matter where you host it.

Yes, some hosts have great monetisation features, and teams, and fancy recording and editing features, but you don’t need them right now.

Maybe in the future, but guess what all these hosts also offer?

Free migration.

So don’t get bogged down comparing features when you don’t know if you’ll ever use them – just start with a free, easy option, and you can migrate in future if you need more.

Action step: Start your podcast hosting account

Head over to Spotify for Podcasters and open your account.

It’s easy to go through each step and slowly fill in the information – and you don’t need to do it all at once, or get it right the first time. Just whack something in there and refine it later.

You’ll need a podcast cover image – use a Canva template. They’re great looking and easy to edit to suit your brand.

I don’t LOVE mine, but I don’t love ANY images I create – I’m a perfectionist without the necessary skills to make it perfect 😆

Action step: Distribute to all the podcast platforms

This is a bit of a tedious PITA, but very necessary.

You want your podcast to be available on all the different podcast apps to make it available to everyone.

And you want that done BEFORE you launch it, BUT you need to have a published episode there before you can make it widely available 🤦‍♀️

So when you’re nearly ready to launch, upload a 5-10 second placeholder episode.

I just recorded me saying something like ‘This is a placeholder while I get all the tech sorted – subscribe and you’ll get some real episodes very soon.’

No-one will listen to it, so don’t stress about the content.

Then you can go through the steps required to get your podcast on all the platforms.

Most are fairly easy, and will just require you to put in the RSS feed.

But some (like Apple, which is absolutely essential) make you jump through a LOT of hoops to list your podcast.

Grit your teeth, work through each step, and you’ll get there eventually.

Making a podcast page on your site

COMING SOON

Should I add my new podcast to YouTube?

Um – YES! Definitely!

It’s a little extra work, but I get way more listens from YouTube than I do from ALL podcast platforms combined. Seriously.

Right now, I’m only getting around 21 listens per podcast episode (yes, I definitely need to do more promo).

But on YouTube, I’m getting a LOT more views. Obviously, the people who are already regular YouTube users prefer to listen to podcasts there – my husband is definitely one of these people.

Even though he doesn’t listen to my podcast, because he has zero interest in online business.

(come on husband, watch and like – boost my stats!)

And remember, YouTube is a great search engine. If you write titles and descriptions with your keywords, new listeners will find you.

You’ll also have more chance of ranking in Google search – they show videos right up the top of the results.

You can simply add your RSS feed to YouTube, and they’ll automatically list your new episodes as audio-only.

But if you want to make the most of it, I recommend making a proper video – read on to find out how I do this in about 10 minutes.

Making videos from your audio podcasts

Maybe one day I’ll do actual videos while recording my podcast…but not at the start.

Needing to make myself presentable and set up a nice background seems like a lot of work, just so you can see me talking.

I mean, my face is perfectly presentable, but I can’t see why you’d want to stare at me 😆

But I REALLY wanted to add video in some way.

My solution?
Add some nice restful nature stuff to the background with Canva.

Hit play below – those stars are mesmerising, right?

It’s quick and easy to add video like this, and gives people a decent background and your podcast name/brand on their TV or other screen.

Action step: Add video to your podcast

  1. Start a new design in Canva using YouTube Thumbnail as a template
  2. Open Elements, then Video
  3. Choose a category – I’ve chosen Sky below
  4. Find a decent video of 30+ seconds and add it to your canvas
  5. Add text/branding if you prefer
  6. Download the video as an mp4
  7. Add it to your Filmora audio file, duplicating the video clip
  8. Add fade transitions between each video clip
  9. Export as an mp4, and upload to YouTube
  10. For each new video, copy the last and update the details

Pro tip: If you have a free Canva account, you can filter the videos so you only see free ones.

Making podcast episode blog posts

COMING SOON!

Getting your podcast transcript with AI

There are a few sites that pull your transcript from YouTube without all the timestamps, and they’re all pretty much the same – I use YouTube Transcript.

But your transcript will be a huge, messy block of text.

So I take that transcript text, and whack it into ChatGPT with the following instructions.

Add proper grammar, capitalisation, and paragraphs to this text. Don’t change the words.

And it gives me this.

I can then cut and paste it directly in the blog post, do a quick read through to check for any errors, and it’s done.

Accessibility AND an SEO boost in minutes, for free!

AND THAT’S IT FOR NOW….

Like I said at the start – work in progress! But it’s plenty to get you started.

Please drop any questions in the comments below, and I’ll answer them in future updates.

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More good stuff…

My business ISN’T growing fast enough! So…it’s freak-out time

My business ISN’T growing fast enough! So…it’s freak-out time

I just did my monthly stats and…not much has changed 😭
So how do I deal with progress that’s not as fast as I’d like? After listening to this, you won’t feel alone, AND you’ll have strategies to deal with your inevitable business stress. Because we all get a little irrational sometimes, right?!

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