Introduction

In this episode of English Plus, Danny takes you on a deep dive into the world of podcasting. Discover the power of podcasting, learn how to plan and record your episodes, find out about the essential equipment, and understand how to create engaging content. Danny also provides valuable tips on promoting and monetizing your podcast, as well as insights on growing and sustaining it in the long run. Whether you’re a budding podcaster or just curious about the process, this Podcasting 101 episode is packed with useful information and actionable advice. Listen now and take your first step into the exciting world of podcasting!

And if you want to take your podcasting skills even further, the great people of Spotify created a wonderful resource for new creators called How to Start a Podcast. Check it out as it has a lot of of helpful insights into podcast hosting, distributing, producing, monetizing and best practices—straight from Spotify‘s expert team.

Audio Episode

Interactive Transcript

Text Transcript

Danny: Hello, and welcome to the inaugural episode of the ‘101 series’ on the English Plus podcast. I’m your host, Danny, and I couldn’t be more excited to kickstart this new journey with all of you. Whether you’re on your morning jog, driving to work, or sipping that warm cup of coffee, we’re glad you chose us to accompany you.

Just a quick heads up before we dive into the meat of the matter. This series, the ‘101 series’, is a special collection of episodes coming to you every other week, designed to give you the essential knowledge and tools needed to make a head start in different exciting fields. Think of it as your cheat sheet or even a crash course, if you will.

Today, we’re starting right here, in our own backyard, with ‘Podcasting 101’. Yes, you heard it right! Today, we will peel back the layers of what makes a podcast tick, how you can start your very own podcast, and most importantly, how to make it successful.

We’ll be traversing through the valleys of podcast genres and formats, climbing the hills of recording and editing, and finally, setting up camp in the heartland of promoting and monetizing your podcast.

If you’ve been bitten by the podcasting bug, or simply curious about how this whole thing works, stick around. This episode, my friends, is going to be a wild ride.

[Transition Music]

Let’s begin with the fundamentals. What exactly is a podcast? A podcast is a series of spoken-word content that you can download or stream from the internet. It’s a lot like a radio show, but with the beauty of being on-demand, which means you can listen to what you want, when you want, where you want.

The birth of podcasts can be traced back to the early days of the internet when they were nothing more than simple ‘audioblogs’. The true rise of podcasting took off with the introduction of iPods and other MP3 players, so much so that the term ‘podcast’ itself is a combination of ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’.

The surge in podcast popularity can be attributed to its accessibility and convenience. All you need to start your own podcast is a microphone and a unique idea. Additionally, the on-demand nature of podcasts is ideal for our busy lives – you can tune in while commuting, exercising, cooking, or just relaxing.

The beauty of podcasting also lies in its versatility. Podcasts cover a wide range of topics, catering to various interests. They provide a platform for learning, entertainment, storytelling, and creating community.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the various genres and formats of podcasts.

Firstly, we have the interview-style podcasts. These follow a simple yet effective format where a host interviews a different guest each episode. Notable examples include “The Joe Rogan Experience” and “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations”. These podcasts are often insightful and personal, offering unique perspectives from guests across different fields.

Then, we have the conversational or co-hosted format. Here, two or more hosts engage in a discussion on a chosen topic. The hosts often share a camaraderie that is infectious, and listeners feel like they’re part of an intimate conversation. A fantastic example is “No Such Thing As A Fish”, where four hosts humorously discuss bizarre facts.

The narrative or storytelling format is another popular style, akin to an audio documentary or audiobook. The hosts weave a story that unfolds over one or multiple episodes, drawing listeners into a captivating narrative. “Serial” is a prime example of this format, revisiting a non-fiction crime story over a season. Its gripping, suspenseful storytelling has held listeners worldwide in rapt attention.

Then we have the educational format. These podcasts aim to educate listeners on specific topics in each episode. “Stuff You Should Know” and “Ted Talks Daily” fall into this category, imparting knowledge on diverse topics in an engaging manner, and of course, you are listening to one right now, English Plus Podcast.

But remember, these are just guidelines, not rules. Some of the most successful podcasts blend different styles to create their own unique listening experience.

And speaking of successful podcasts, it’s time to analyze a few examples to understand what makes them tick.

Let’s start with “Serial”, a podcast that redefined the landscape of podcasting. It combined a compelling narrative, rigorous investigative journalism, and high-quality production to create a podcasting sensation. “Serial” was not just about telling a story; it was about creating an immersive experience that kept listeners on the edge of their seats.

Another standout podcast is “The Daily” from The New York Times. It offers an in-depth analysis of the biggest stories of our time, narrated by the charismatic Michael Barbaro. The podcast’s success lies in its thoughtful exploration of complex issues and its consistent delivery of high-quality journalism. It shows how traditional media can transition into the podcasting world and find enormous success.

Then we have “Call Me Candid,” a podcast started by two influencer entrepreneurs, Hayley Paige and Sierra Schultzzie. Their podcast is an excellent example of how to leverage an existing online following effectively. They provide invaluable insights into the influencer world while maintaining a down-to-earth and relatable tone that resonates with their listeners.

Each of these podcasts, despite their differences in content and format, share a common thread – they consistently deliver high-quality content that connects with their audience. And that, my dear listeners, is the essence of podcasting. It’s a platform where diverse voices can be heard, engaging stories can be shared, and communities can be formed.

So, that’s a taste of the power of podcasting. It’s more than just talking into a microphone. It’s about connection, storytelling, and the freedom to explore whatever topic you’re passionate about. But how do you get started? How do you make a podcast that stands out? Stay tuned, because after a quick break, we’ll be diving into the planning stage of your very own podcast.”

[Transition Music]

Danny: And we’re back! Before the break, we talked about what podcasting is and why it’s awesome. Now, let’s dig into how to get started with your own podcast. It’s planning time, folks!”

You might be brimming with excitement and eagerness to get started on your podcasting journey. However, without proper planning, you could find yourself overwhelmed or lost. Therefore, it’s vital to establish a solid foundation before diving in. And that starts with identifying your target audience.

When we talk about the ‘target audience,’ we refer to the specific group of people you wish to reach with your podcast. These are the folks who will be genuinely interested in your content. Now, why is it important to define your target audience? Well, knowing who you’re speaking to can help shape your content, tone, style, and even your marketing strategy.

So, how do you identify your target audience? Start by asking yourself some key questions. What are their interests or hobbies? What are their challenges or problems? How old are they, and where do they live? The more specific you can be in identifying your audience, the more tailored and impactful your podcast will be.

Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to select your podcast theme or topic. Remember, your topic should align with the interests of your target audience. It should also be something you’re passionate about because your enthusiasm will undoubtedly shine through and engage your listeners.

There are literally thousands of podcasts out there, so try to find a unique angle or niche for your podcast that sets you apart. This could be a specific focus within a broader topic, a unique perspective, or a novel format. The key is to create something that is both unique to you and valuable to your listeners.

Next, let’s talk about deciding on a format for your podcast. As we discussed earlier, there are several formats you could choose from: interview-style, solo, panel discussion, storytelling, and more.

The interview format, where you speak with a new guest each episode, is very popular. It’s great for variety and bringing in expert opinions, but it does require you to find and schedule guests regularly.

The solo format, where you’re the sole speaker, offers you full control over the content and can help establish you as an authority in your field. However, it can be challenging to maintain listener engagement without the dynamic of a conversation.

Panel discussions and storytelling formats offer more variety and can create engaging dynamics, but they often require more planning and editing.

Consider your topic, your personal strengths, and your target audience’s preferences when choosing a format. There’s no right or wrong choice, and you can always experiment and evolve your format as you go along.

The next step in planning your podcast is to outline your episodes. This is where you decide how many episodes you want to launch with, how often you want to release new episodes, and what each episode will cover.

Consider launching with at least three episodes. This gives new listeners a better sense of your content and can improve your visibility in podcast directories.

The frequency of episodes is entirely up to you, but consistency is crucial. Decide whether you want to release episodes weekly, biweekly, or monthly, and stick to that schedule.

Now, when it comes to planning the content for each episode, having a general outline can be very helpful. For instance, you may start with a brief intro, followed by the main content, and then wrap up with a conclusion or teaser for the next episode.

Remember, podcasting is a journey, not a race. It’s all about connecting with your audience, sharing valuable content, and improving with each episode. So don’t be afraid to experiment, learn, and grow as you delve into the podcasting world.

Alright, that’s planning your podcast in a nutshell. Up next, we get into the nitty-gritty of the equipment and software you need to get your podcast off the ground. Don’t go anywhere.”

[Transition Music]

Danny: Welcome back, folks! Now that we’ve planned our podcast, let’s equip ourselves for the journey ahead. You wouldn’t go on a camping trip without a tent and a flashlight, right? Similarly, you can’t start podcasting without some essential gear.”

Starting a podcast might seem daunting, especially when you think about the technical aspects involved. But don’t worry, we’re here to break it down for you. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to upgrade your podcasting setup, this episode is going to be an insightful guide.

To begin with, let’s address the basic podcasting equipment that you’ll need. The most critical piece of equipment for podcasting is, of course, a microphone. Your microphone is your direct line to your audience, and it’s worth investing in a good one to ensure that your voice comes through clearly and professionally.

There are mainly two types of microphones that podcasters commonly use: USB microphones and XLR microphones. USB mics, like the Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB or the Samson Q2U, are straightforward to use and relatively affordable. You just plug them into your computer, and you’re ready to record. They’re perfect for beginners or for those on a tight budget.

On the other hand, XLR microphones offer superior audio quality and are more flexible in terms of the audio hardware they can connect to. Examples include the Heil PR40 and the Shure SM7B. However, they’re more expensive and require an audio interface or mixer to connect to your computer.

Another essential piece of equipment is a pair of closed-back headphones. A good pair of headphones allows you to monitor your audio while recording, helping you catch and correct issues before they become problems. Some popular options among podcasters include the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and Sony MDR7506. But remember, these are just a few examples, don’t shy away from searching and finding your own preferences when it comes to headphones or microphones.

Now, there is one important thing you need to consider when you buy a microphone besides choosing whether to buy a USB or XLR microphone. You see, microphones, at their core, are devices that convert sound into electrical signals, and there are many types of microphones available in the market. For today, we’ll talk about two of the most popular ones – dynamic and condenser microphones. These two are quite different in terms of how they work, and they each bring their own benefits.

First up, we have dynamic microphones. These microphones are workhorses. They’re sturdy, reliable, and require no external power source to function.

So, when should you use a dynamic microphone? Dynamic mics are perfect for handling high sound pressure levels, like live concerts or events. They’re also great for on-the-go podcasters because of their ruggedness. If you’re recording in a noisy environment, dynamic mics are typically less sensitive to background noise.

Now, let’s talk about condenser microphones. Condenser microphones are more sensitive and provide a higher output level, and thus, capture a wider range of frequencies and have better transient response, which is the ability to reproduce the speed of an instrument or voice. However, they’re also more fragile and require an external power source. This makes them a good choice for studio recordings where detail and clarity are required. If you’re a podcaster recording in a quiet home studio, condenser microphones could be an excellent choice.

In summary, if you’re a podcaster working in a controlled, quiet environment, a condenser microphone can capture the nuances and richness of your voice. But if you’re often in louder, unpredictable environments, or need a sturdy mic to travel with, a dynamic microphone might be your best bet.

Now, let’s delve into the realm of advanced podcasting equipment. These pieces aren’t essential for beginners, but they can significantly improve your audio quality as you become more experienced.

A pop filter is one such piece of equipment. This screen is placed between you and your microphone to reduce or eliminate ‘popping’ sounds that occur when you pronounce ‘P’ and ‘B’ sounds. They’re relatively inexpensive and can make a big difference in your audio quality.

A sound mixer or audio interface is another piece of advanced equipment. These devices allow you to connect multiple XLR microphones, adjust the volume of each microphone independently, and control various other audio settings.

But don’t forget, it’s not just about the equipment. The environment where you record is equally important. Try to find a quiet, echo-free space to record your podcast. Using foam panels can help reduce echo and background noise, providing a cleaner, more professional sound.

Once you’ve got your hardware sorted, it’s time to consider the software for recording and editing your podcast.

Audacity is a popular, free, open-source audio editing software. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’s quite robust for a free software, offering a wide range of tools for editing and refining your audio.

For those willing to pay for a more advanced solution, Adobe Audition is a powerful tool. It offers a wide array of features that make recording, editing, and enhancing audio tracks a breeze.

GarageBand is a great option for Mac users. It’s free, user-friendly, and comes with a variety of built-in tools and effects.

Once you’ve recorded and edited your podcast, you’re going to need somewhere to host it. A podcast host is a service that stores your audio files and allows listeners to download or stream your podcast.

Libsyn, Podbean, and Buzzsprout are popular hosting platforms. They offer various plans depending on your needs and provide you with an RSS feed that you can submit to various podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

Each platform has its unique features. Libsyn is known for its robustness and reliability, Podbean offers unlimited hosting services, and Buzzsprout has an intuitive, user-friendly interface.

Remember, the best equipment and software for you depends on your needs, your skills, and your budget. Start with the basics, and upgrade as you learn more and grow your podcast.

So, that’s your basic toolkit for starting a podcast, folks. And remember, while the right equipment is important, the most crucial ingredient is your passion and dedication. Up next, we’ll dive into recording and editing your first episode. Don’t go anywhere.”

[Transition Music]

And we’re back! So far, we’ve planned our podcast, gathered our gear, and now it’s time to dive into the real fun part – recording and editing your first episode. Ready to roll? Come on, let’s do it.

We all know that content is king, but even the most riveting content can be undermined by poor audio quality. So let’s start with some tips for recording high-quality audio.

Use a good quality microphone: As we discussed earlier, investing in a decent microphone is essential. USB microphones like the Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB or the Samson Q2U are excellent starting points for beginners.

Find a quiet, echo-free environment: Try to find a quiet place to record, free of background noise and echoes. Adding foam panels to your recording space can also help reduce echo.

Position your microphone correctly: Keep your mouth around 2 to 3 inches away from the microphone and speak into it at a 45-degree angle. This position will reduce harsh ‘p’ and ‘b’ sounds, also known as plosives.

Test your audio levels: Before recording, do a soundcheck to make sure your voice isn’t too loud or too quiet. Aim for your audio levels to peak around -12db to -6db.

Record a little of room tone: This is the sound of the room when it’s quiet. Having a bit of this recorded can be helpful during editing when you want to cut out some noise but need to fill the silence.

Save and backup your files: Always make sure your recordings are saved in a safe location and keep a backup if possible. It’s a simple step that can save you from significant headaches down the line.

After recording, it’s time to move onto the editing phase. Audio editing might sound intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before, but with the right software and a little practice, you’ll be polishing your episodes in no time.

The basics of audio editing involve trimming unnecessary parts, removing long pauses or mistakes, and adjusting the volume levels for a consistent listening experience. You might also want to remove any background noise, which can be done with the noise reduction feature found in most editing software.

Speaking of software, there are both free and paid options available. Audacity is a popular free choice with a broad range of editing tools. It’s perfect for beginners who want to learn the ropes without investing money upfront.

For those willing to spend a bit, Adobe Audition offers an impressive array of advanced features. It’s used by many professionals and offers excellent control over your audio editing.

GarageBand, free for Mac users, is also a solid option, especially for those just starting out. It’s user-friendly and includes a wide array of built-in sound effects and music.

Finally, to add that extra layer of polish and professionalism to your podcast, consider adding music and sound effects. A good intro and outro music can help set the tone for your podcast and provide a sense of consistency.

Free music and sound effect libraries, like FreeSound or the YouTube Audio Library, are great starting points. Remember to check the licensing requirements for any track you decide to use – you want to make sure you have the rights to use it in your podcast.

So, that’s recording and editing your first episode. It might seem a little intimidating, but trust me, with some practice, you’ll be a pro in no time. Up next, we’ll be talking about content creation, interviewing techniques, and how to keep your audience hooked. Stay tuned!

[Transition Music]

Danny: Welcome back, folks! We’ve covered the what, the why, the who, and the how of podcasting. Now, let’s dive into the art of creating engaging content. Because, at the end of the day, content is king.

First things first – how should you script your podcast? Having a script doesn’t mean you need to write out every word you’re going to say. That can make your podcast sound robotic and insincere. Instead, a good script should serve as a guide. It should outline the key points you want to cover, in the order you want to address them. This way, you’ll always know where you’re headed next, which will help you stay on track and keep your audience engaged.

Now let’s talk about creating engaging content. Remember, your audience is here for a reason. Maybe they want to learn something new, maybe they’re looking for entertainment, or maybe they just want to feel connected. Whatever the reason, your job is to deliver what they’re looking for.

Here are some tips for creating engaging content:

Know your audience: Understand who your audience is and what they want. Use this understanding to guide your content creation.

Be authentic: People can tell when you’re being genuine. Be yourself, be sincere, and your audience will connect with you.

Deliver value: Whether you’re teaching, entertaining, or telling a story, always strive to deliver value to your audience.

Keep it structured: Even if your podcast is conversational, having a clear structure will help your audience follow along and keep them engaged.

Engage with your audience: Ask questions, invite feedback, and encourage audience participation. This can make your audience feel involved and invested in your podcast.

Now, if you’re planning to include interviews in your podcast, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Prepare: Research your guest and their field of expertise. Prepare thoughtful questions that will stimulate engaging discussions.

Listen: During the interview, really listen to what your guest is saying. This will allow you to ask follow-up questions that dig deeper into the topic.

Make it a conversation: Instead of simply going through a list of questions, aim for a natural, flowing conversation. This will make the interview more engaging for both your guest and your audience.

Put your guest at ease: Make your guest feel comfortable and appreciated. A relaxed guest will give better, more engaging responses.

Finally, always remember to keep your audience engaged. You can do this by keeping your content relevant and interesting, but also by actively engaging with your audience. Encourage them to share their thoughts and questions, invite them to participate in discussions, or even conduct live Q&A sessions.

And there you have it! The secret sauce to creating an engaging podcast. Coming up next, we’ll explore how to promote and monetize your podcast. Stick around!

[Transition Music]

Welcome back to the show! Alright, we’ve created a stellar podcast, and now it’s time to let the world know about it. We’re talking about promotion and monetization. Ready to rock and roll?

Having a great podcast is one thing, but getting people to listen to it is another challenge entirely. It’s here that the power of promotion comes into play. You could have the most exciting, informative, and well-produced podcast, but without effective promotion, it might never reach its potential audience.

There are many ways to promote your podcast. One of the most basic yet effective methods is leveraging your existing networks. Share your podcast with family, friends, and professional connections.

Another strategy is to use your website or blog. Create a dedicated page or section for your podcast. Include show notes, transcripts, and embedded players for each episode. SEO optimize your show notes with relevant keywords to help your podcast appear in search engine results.

Guest appearances can also significantly boost your visibility. By appearing on other podcasts, you’re introducing yourself to an audience that already listens to podcasts. Likewise, inviting guests onto your podcast can help attract their followers to your show.

Now, let’s talk about one of the most exciting parts of podcasting – monetization. There are several ways to monetize a podcast:

Sponsorships and advertising: Once your podcast has a sizable following, you might attract the interest of sponsors. These could be read-out-loud advertisements, known as live reads, or pre-recorded ads placed at the beginning, middle, or end of your episodes.

Crowdfunding and donations: Websites like Patreon allow your audience to support your podcast financially, often in exchange for exclusive content or merchandise.

Premium content: Some podcasters offer bonus episodes, ad-free versions of episodes, or other exclusive content for a fee.

Selling products or services: If you have a product or service that ties into your podcast’s theme, you could use your podcast as a platform to promote it.

Building a community around your podcast is another essential part of podcasting. Your listeners are your most significant asset, and fostering a sense of community can turn casual listeners into loyal fans. Engage with your audience regularly, be it through email newsletters, social media, or live Q&As. Create a space where your listeners can interact with you and with each other, like a Facebook group or a subreddit.

Finally, never underestimate the power of social media. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are excellent ways to reach a larger audience. Share behind-the-scenes photos, tease upcoming episodes, or post snippets of your podcast as ‘audiograms.’

However, remember to cater your content to each platform. What works on Instagram might not work on LinkedIn. Understand each platform’s nuances and adjust your strategy accordingly.

So, there you have it! You’re not just building a podcast, you’re building a brand. Next up, we’ll be discussing how to grow and sustain your podcast. Don’t go anywhere.

[Transition Music]

Welcome back to the final segment of our Podcasting 101 episode. We’ve planned, we’ve recorded, we’ve promoted, and now, we need to sustain. Let’s dive into how you can grow and maintain your podcast.

Keeping your podcast fresh and interesting over time is an art. One way to do this is by regularly introducing new segments or themes. For example, if you have an educational podcast, you might introduce a new mini-series on a specific topic. Or, if you have an interview-style podcast, you might occasionally bring in a co-host or conduct panel discussions.

Another key is to stay curious and keep learning. The more you learn about your podcast’s topic, the more fresh content you can provide to your listeners. Regularly consuming related content, such as books, articles, and other podcasts, is a great way to stay informed and inspired.

Next, let’s talk about feedback and criticism. It can be tough to hear negative comments about something you’ve put so much effort into, but remember, constructive criticism can be a valuable tool for improvement. Listen to your audience’s feedback, both positive and negative. Thank them for their input and consider their suggestions. But also remember, you can’t please everyone. Stick to your vision, and create a podcast that you’re proud of.

Consistency is also crucial. Regularly releasing episodes not only helps retain your current audience but also attracts new listeners. When people see that you’re committed to your podcast, they’re more likely to become loyal listeners. Aim to release episodes on a consistent schedule, whether that’s daily, weekly, or bi-weekly.

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your milestones and successes. Did you reach a certain number of downloads? Have you been podcasting for a year? Did you receive a glowing review? Share these achievements with your audience! These celebrations not only motivate you to keep going, but they also help your audience feel connected to your podcast’s journey.

And that, my friends, is Podcasting 101. From planning to recording, promoting to sustaining, you’re now equipped to start your own podcast journey. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep your passion burning, and the rest will follow. Until next time, this is Danny, signing off from English Plus. Stay curious, folks! I’ll see you next time.

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