The podcast industry is filled with terms, concepts, and technologies that can be intimidating to newcomers, but getting set up with your first podcast doesn't have to be hard. This is a quick introduction to get you up and running with your first show in no time.
For your first podcast, you'll want to think about your recording setup. At minimum, you'll need the following things:
You can likely get your show up and running without spending any money on software or equipment. And you can get your podcast online with Pinecast's free demo plan before you decide to invest in a paid hosting subscriptionl.
First, choose your device to record. There are apps available for phones and tablets, but it's generally recommended to use a laptop or desktop computer: this will make it easier to edit your content quickly and get everything set up just how you'd like it. Any modern laptop will work.
You'll want to look into software to record your episode audio. Both macOS and Windows have built-in audio recording applications (Quicktime and Voice Recorder, respectively). Both tools have built-in functionality for trimming audio, but they may be a poor choice for making more precise edits.
A free cross-platform audio recording and editing solution is Audacity. Audacity isn't the most polished solution, but for your first podcast, it'll serve you well. On macOS, you might consider using Garage Band, which usually comes with your Mac.
If you have a small budget, you might consider a paid tool. One option is Descript, which includes audio recording and editing features. This includes tools for transcriptions and editing audio using the text transcript. You can also consider cloud-based solutions like Cleanfeed or Zencastr.
The microphone built-in to your computer or phone is fine, but it can produce lousy sound quality. Remember that these microphones are made for phone and video calls and aren't optimized for high-fidelity audio.
While a built-in microphone is sufficient to get started, you'll want to look at other options as you grow. We recommend the Samson Q2U, which offers very good sound quality at a reasonable cost. A boom stand is useful and fairly inexpensive, and pairing it with a shock mount can help avoid noise.
Capturing better audio with a good quality microphone ensures you're capturing the best sound that you can. However, a good microphone will also pick up sounds that you might not want recorded, like the hum of an air conditioner, street noise, or even the sound of your voice reflected off of walls or hardwood floors.
Audio with low levels of background noise sounds better, and it's not hard to make big improvements without much effort. First, choose a recording space indoors and away from sources of noise. Prefer spaces with carpeting and soft materials like beds and other furniture.
Air conditioning may produce a noticeable hum. However, it may be less noticeable during a long episode than erratic street noise. If you live in a quiet area, keeping a window open for ventilation may be preferable and easier—you might only need to edit out a handful of noises from the outside.
Make a test recording and play it back with headphones on. Increase the volume until it's at a comfortable level and listen to your audio. You can gauge the background noise by pausing: if the background noise is significant, you'll be able to tell very easily.
If you still have background noise, you can hang blankets or other soft materials around your recording space. In a pinch, you can even drape a blanket over yourself and your computer. For a more professional approach, consider buying sound baffling.
Having a plan for your podcast is one of the most important factors for your success. If you start recording without a firm idea of what you want to talk about, what the theme of your episodes will be, or what you'll talk about after the first few episodes, you'll struggle to keep up momentum.
Take some time to think about your idea for a podcast and make a plan. You'll want to consider:
Interesting content is just one aspect of a great podcast. Engaging with your audience builds an enthusiastic following of folks who are eager to listen to your next episode and share your show with their friends and family.
There are many ways to engage with your listeners, but they will vary based on the kind of podcast that you're producing.
Posting with regularity is the single most impactful habit you can build to keep your show alive and growing. If you start skipping weeks, adjust your schedule to fit your availability. Similarly, try to release your episodes on a consistent day and time. Your listeners will wonder where your latest episode is if it doesn't get posted when it normally gets published.
Consider recording a few episodes in one sitting, then editing and scheduling them to go out in the future. This will give you some breathing room between episodes and give you a long block to concentrate solely on your show (rather than context switching every few days).
It's okay to have a monthly or twice-monthly schedule for your podcast! Even a sparse episode release schedule is better than an erratic one.
You'll need a podcast hosting service like Pinecast. Choosing a managed service—versus hosting the podcast yourself—reduces complexity and cost in many cases, and allows you to focus on what matters: producing great content. While self-hosting can offer some amount of freedom, it entails extra work, and you often have to deal with both technical and non-technical problems yourself—even if you don't know how.
Pinecast's Starter plan has everything you need to start and grow a podcast. Check out our guide for starting a podcast.
When you're ready to level up your podcasting acumen, check out our guide for power users.