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What is a podcast

A podcast is a digital audio file, which can be downloaded or streamed from the internet and listened to on various digital devices. It is an audio recording of a discussion on a specific topic that can be listened to using an app, or online on a website.

Who is suited to starting a podcast?

While no formal skills or qualifications are required, the following characteristics are useful:

  • Passionate and knowledgeable about your subject – you’ll be talking about whichever topic you choose for your podcast at length, so be sure it’s something you know a lot about and have a strong interest in!
  • Dedicated to creating content – you’ll have to be committed to making new material and posting it on a regular schedule to build up an audience and then to retain your listeners
  • Clear communication – talking is the key part of podcasts so you’ll need to have a clear and natural speaking voice

Deciding whether to start a podcast

Consider the user needs

There are things that you will need to think about before you decide to start a podcast:  

  • Have you defined your audience? 
  • Will your audience listen to a podcast? 
  • Do you know what your audience needs, and wants, to hear about? 

You need to think about the unique point of view your podcast could offer: what can listeners hear from your podcast that they can’t hear anywhere else? Will they respond to the information in a podcast format – is it the most appropriate way of communicating with them?

What are the editorial issues?

Editorial standards like accuracy, impartiality, harm, offence and privacy need to be applied with the same rigour to podcasts as any other online content.

The challenge of creating a podcast is to find the right balance between pushing the boundaries of creativity whilst maintaining editorial integrity.

Set meaningful objectives

Clarify why you want to start a podcast and define how it fits within your wider communications plan: set meaningful, and measurable, objectives that explain how a podcast will help you to deliver on your goals.

Think of podcast ideas

Firstly, you need to think about the content of your podcast – such as its subject, format and name – as well as your target audience. To do this, you should find your niche by thinking about your interests, knowledge base and what your audience wants to hear.

If you already have a product or service and you’re looking at starting a podcast as a way of directing more people to that, then your audience will be whoever needs that product or service.

Alternatively, if you’re starting from scratch then you may want to think about creating a listener persona – a profile of a typical listener that includes their likes and dislikes, and other details that you can refer to when planning your content.

In the planning stage, you’re essentially looking to identify your listeners, as well as a problem and a solution. You can find these by assessing what podcasts are currently available in the niche you want to break into – what do they offer, and importantly, what do they not offer? These gaps are opportunities that you can launch your podcast in to help build a listener base.

Podcast formats

Whichever subject you choose, podcasts need to be consistent. You’ll need to focus on a particular topic, set a recurring length and format, as well as enough content and interest to fill the episodes. Generally, podcasts are in the following formats:

  • Solo – Only one presenter or host talking at length about each theme.
  • Multiple hosts – Two or more hosts in discussion.
  • Storytelling – A more descriptive style of podcast.
  • Interview – Discussing a subject with a guest. Note that if you choose this style, you’ll need to be sure to organise and plan the interviews in advance.
  • A combination of the above – While most podcasts tend to stick to only one of the formats, it’s possible to mix it up and include different types from episode to episode.

All podcasts rely on natural, unstructured speech. While you may plan the content topic and the format for each show, allow your thoughts to form freely and communicate this with your listeners. Often, your unique style of talking and presenting will be a major draw for why listeners choose your podcast.

You don’t have to publish a podcast every month. You can do it every 2 to 3 months if that supports your goals, but you should be consistent about the dates you publish your podcast. Get into a rhythm. 


It’s important to make your podcast accessible so everyone can access your content. To do this, you need to think about:

  • providing a text transcript of the audio 
  • publishing your podcast on media players that are accessible on different devices, that do not autoplay content
  • making sure the website you use to promote the podcast is accessible

How to record a podcast

Once you’ve identified the type of podcast you want to make, the next stage is to research the equipment and software that will enable you to record it. Generally, podcasts require minimal materials to set up, although there is the option to use additional equipment and software to enhance your offering.

If you’re looking to jump straight into recording a podcast with minimum fuss, you can use a podcast app, such as Anchor. All you need is a smartphone and the app. It then allows you to create and distribute podcasts, including the ability to record with other people or find co-hosts.

Podcast equipment

The essential equipment you need to create a podcast is:

  • A computer – to use the recording and editing software, as well as to publish the podcast and promote it
  • A microphone – one which plugs into your computer’s USB port will be sufficient, offering improved sound quality as opposed to the built-in option on your computer
  • Headphones – use these so you can hear yourself talking clearly and avoid any external noises interrupting you while recording

Podcast software

The key types of software you have to use include:

  • Audio software – used to record your podcast’s content. If you have an Apple Mac, you can use its free Garageband programme or a free podcast platform such as Anchor.
  • Editing software – enables you to hone the audio, such as removing spikes in sound, background noise or any content you don’t want to be included in the podcast
  • Call recording software – if interviews will be the main focus of your podcast, you may want to use call recording software to create a copy of the interview and allow you to interview guests who aren’t in the same location as you

Recording and editing

Recording your podcast

You probably won’t be lucky enough to record in a soundproof studio, but that’s OK. Smaller spaces work better for recording audio – preferably with carpet or curtains – as the sound echoes less. Try setting up your equipment in different potential spaces and record some test audio to check the acoustics before settling on your final recording location.

If you plan to record interviews, be sure to inform the interviewee that you’re recording the conversation.

Also, you should let the interviewee know exactly what you plan to do with the recordings, such as distribute it in a podcast or kept for your own records.

If you are keeping copies of the calls, ensure you comply with any relevant General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules.

It can help to remind any guests that nothing is going out ‘live’ and that the host isn’t there to trip them up, but to help facilitate a friendly and interesting conversation.

Guests can often be nervous at the start but usually relax as the conversation goes on, so it can be a good idea to ask them to re-record their introductions and responses to an earlier question at the end, in order to help them sound at their most confident.

Editing your podcast

The sign of a good podcast is one that sounds like a natural conversation to the listener. In reality, behind the scenes, a lot of editing work goes into shaping the full audio file into a seamless narrative and sound recording that makes up the final podcast.

Cut out unwanted background noise, things like coughs or smacks of the tongue and long pauses. Although you want it to flow like a conversation so don’t cut out everything

It’s really important to wear headphones when you’re editing – most people will be listening to your podcast through headphones so you need to as well. If you don’t, your audio might be too loud or too quiet.

Publishing your podcast

There are many ways to publish a podcast. For example you can: 

  • upload the MP3 file directly to a website
  • upload it to YouTube
  • upload it to Spotify
  • upload it to a podcast hosting service (some are free such as Podbean, Speaker, Anchor and Buzzsprout)

Your podcast must have an engaging description that tells people what they can expect because people will read what the podcast is about before they listen, so promoting your podcast is vital to get engagement.

In your podcast description, be sure to include keywords (words people would use to search and find your podcast in search engines) to help your content rank more highly on the search results pages.

Be practical too – use this as the space to let people know the episode name and number, as well as a brief breakdown of what the episode will focus on. It’s also the place to include an age rating (like a film) so people know what type of content to expect, and if it’ll be family-friendly or not.