April 23, 2024

How to start a podcast: A step-by-step beginner’s guide

Starting a podcast is no small feat. This beginner’s guide walks you through the process of creating a podcast your audience loves.
April 23, 2024

How to start a podcast: A step-by-step beginner’s guide

Starting a podcast is no small feat. This beginner’s guide walks you through the process of creating a podcast your audience loves.
April 23, 2024
Kevin O'Connell
In this article
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For a medium that’s almost 20 years old—the word “podcast” dates back to the early 2000s—podcasting is growing at a remarkable pace. Over the last five years, the percentage of Americans who listen to podcasts every week has more than doubled, now amounting to roughly 31% of the population.  

And where audiences go, marketing dollars follow. Podcast advertising is flourishing, and advertisers are discovering that ads read by podcast hosts—familiar voices belonging to speakers whom audiences have come to trust—pack a punch. 

There’s never been a better time to start a podcast. But don't kid yourself: it won't be easy. Assuming you want to create a podcast that connects with someone, hopefully many someones, you're in for a lot of work, and probably some trial and error. 

Learn how to start your podcast with this in-depth, step-by-step guide. Plus, understand the popular monetization strategies to earn cash while you’re at it.

How to start a podcast in 12 steps

  1. Choose a podcast topic 
  2. Research your audience
  3. Choose your podcast format
  4. Name your podcast
  5. Craft a compelling podcast description
  6. Make cover art and theme music
  7. Get the necessary equipment
  8. Choose a hosting platform
  9. Write a podcast script
  10. Record your first episode
  11. Edit your podcast
  12. Promote your podcast  

1. Choose a podcast topic

A good show starts with a good podcast topic. The better defined your topic, the more likely you’ll find your audience (and vice versa).

“History,” for example, doesn’t tell a potential listener enough about what they’re getting into. “The History of Bread” gives them enough to decide if they want to listen.

It takes some work to choose the right podcast topic. To hit the sweet spot between unique and obscure, research your audience to gauge interest in your idea. Ask people in related affinity groups if they’d listen via survey, interview, or focus group (even informally—pose the question on social media or just ask your friends). 

2. Research your audience

Identifying and getting to know your audience is just as important as developing your idea. This audience helps define the content of your podcast. 

Questions you might want to answer:

  • Who are you making this podcast for?
  • How much knowledge of the topic will your audience have? (Another way to think about this: Is your podcast for an expert, an aspiring learner, or a general audience?) 
  • What tone is right for this audience? Humorous, serious—or somewhere in between?
  • Can you tap into existing communities within this audience—e.g., dedicated Facebook groups?

Identifying your target audience will also help you promote your podcast when the time comes. 

3. Choose your podcast format

There are all kinds of podcast formats: from a single host unraveling a mystery to two friends discussing pop culture to a panel playing a wacky game show. 

Your topic should inform your format. “The History of Bread” probably won’t work as a panel discussion, but it would make a great long-form series of interviews, narration, archival tape, and music.

Whatever podcast format you choose, it should play to your strengths. If you want to have a sports show where you interview athletes, you should feel confident in your ability to ask questions that elicit intriguing answers. If your video podcast is a comedy, you should have some skill or experience in humor writing, improv, and the like.

If you can't find a format that suits you, start doing your show the way you think it should be done. There are no rules here.

4. Name your podcast

A good podcast name will clearly tell potential listeners about the show. It should also be concise and easy to remember. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself: 

  • What’s the tone of the show? Will it be serious, even somber, or will there be humor? Your podcast title should reflect the tone.
  • How much leeway on subject matter do you want to allow yourself? For example, “The History of Bread” would make sense for a show about bread, but it might not make sense if you want to expand to discuss cupcakes and noodles down the line. 
  • What names are already taken? As you zero in on a name, make sure there's not already another podcast with the same (or similar) name. Check whether the URL and social media handles are available, too. 

💡 TIP: Don't obsess too much over the name. It's important, but not as important as the content and the listening experience. If you're stuck, pick something obvious and go.

5. Craft a compelling podcast description

Imagine you’re browsing through a record store. You’re looking for something new, but there are hundreds of albums. What if one had just a plain white cover with “MUSIC” written on it? Kinda bland.

But what if another had epic artwork and a passionate description of the soul-stirring journey the music will take you on? Which album are you more likely to listen to? 

That’s similar to your podcast description. It’s how you grab a listener’s attention, make an excellent first impression, and get them excited about your show. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get to the heart of your podcast. What's it about? Why should someone care?
  2. Add a personal touch. Let your personality shine and invite people into your world.
  3. Make it snappy. You’re not writing a novel. You’ve only got a few lines to hook ‘em.
  4. Mention your audience. Are you aiming at coffee snobs, indie music lovers, or geeky science folks? Make it known. 

Let’s look at two quick examples:

Inviting and interesting 💚

"Join Alex & Jamie as they sip on Portland's finest brews and dive deep into the stories of the Rose City's hidden gems. Perfect for longtime locals and newbies alike, get a fresh look at the quirky, innovative spirit that makes Portland unique."

Pretty boring 🟥

"Listen to our show where we talk about things in Portland."

6. Make cover art and theme music

Good podcast cover art helps you brand your show and catch the eye of potential listeners. Your art should reflect the theme and tone of your show, but it can be simple. Add some kind of graphic design with text, illustration, or photography. 

The Pretty Lonesome podcast with Madeline Argy is a good example of interesting cover art. The show is about the unspoken conversations we all have with ourselves, but never speak out loud. 

Example of good album cover art

The cover art reflects this in a few ways:

  1. The fancy martini glass next to a kid’s juicebox, symbolizing the way we want to be seen and the way we really are inside
  2. The diary and fluffy pen, telling us that this is a show that won’t take itself too seriously
  3. The main character looks off-screen, pondering her thoughts, communicating that this is a podcast all about deep thinking

Paired with a good product description, you know what you’re getting yourself into when you tune into Pretty Lonesome. 

Make sure the name of your podcast is shown in the art—many podcast apps do not display the show’s name when displaying podcasts by episode title. You can use a free tool like Canva to whip up cover art, or hire a professional designer on Fiverr to help with your podcast artwork. Keep it between 1400x1400 to 3000x3000 pixels at a 1:1 ratio so your art looks good on all listening platforms. 

For your theme music, royalty-free music is certainly an option. But if you have the budget, consider commissioning a composer to create or license you an original song. They can create a compelling intro and outro for listeners that hooks them, making sure they return for every episode.

7. Get the necessary equipment

Before you hit the record button, do you have the right gear? It doesn’t take a lot of processing power to record an episode, so your existing computer will probably be enough, but you may need to invest in some additional podcast equipment

You don’t have to go broke buying these things—you can usually get all the essentials for about $150. A modest investment can make the difference between sounding amateurish and sounding like a professional. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Microphone. Fairly standard podcasting microphones can cost around $100–$125. The type matters: You could pick up a dynamic microphone like the Rode PodMic, but it requires an XLR connection, which means you also need to buy an audio interface to connect it to your computer. If you don’t have the budget for that, go for a USB microphone like the Blue Yeti, which you just plug into your computer and go. 
  • Pop filter. A screen that sits between you and your mic to reduce the pop of “p” sounds. They usually sell for less than $10 on Amazon. 
  • Over-the-ear headphones. If you’re podcasting with a co-host or guests, you’ll want a pair of over-the-ear headphones so you can hear them without their audio being picked up by your microphone. Good headphones will also come in handy when you get into editing and producing your podcast. You can nab a good pair of Audio-Technicas for around $70 on Amazon. 
📚 Read: The best podcast equipment for creators in 2023

8. Choose a hosting platform

Once you’ve recorded, edited, and produced your podcast, you need to find a place to host it. Podcast directories like Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes), Spotify, and Google Podcasts don’t host the podcast audio files themselves. Instead, they stream from where the files are hosted. 

A few podcast hosting platforms you’ll want to check out include:

Each has a slightly different set of plans depending on storage size and additional features.

Your hosting provider will create a podcast RSS feed when you create your show, which you’ll use to submit your show to whatever directories you want to appear in. Some hosting sites have built-in integrations to automatically show up on a number of platforms.

9. Write a podcast script

Next, develop a podcast script to outline your ideas and get on the same page with collaborators before recording. There are many different ways to do this, depending on the type of podcast you’re making and episode length, but a garden-variety chat or interview show generally follows a flow like this:

  • Intro
  • Guest welcome
  • Sponsor message (if your episode has ads)
  • Segue 
  • Topic or discussion 
  • Outro
  • Call to action
🧠 Learn: How to nail your podcast introduction

10. Record your first episode

Now for the fun stuff: recording your first podcast episode. There are many podcast recording software options available, but to make life easier for you, we recommend using Descript. 

Since our integration with SquadCast, Descript has become an all-in-one Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for recording, editing, and publishing your podcast. 

Product image of the SquadCast and Descript integration

Conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype aren’t designed for recording, which means bad internet equals bad file quality. You don’t get any of those issues with Descript—just high-fidelity audio and video. 

Here’s a tutorial for recording podcast audio using Descript software.

Podcast guests can join recording sessions from their browsers or iOS/Android devices without an account. Sessions are recorded locally and uploaded to the cloud progressively, so you won't lose them even if your internet connection goes down. 

Don’t worry if the recording doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. You don’t need to publish the raw recording. You can edit out any mistakes during recording in the next steps. 

11. Edit your podcast

You want to sound natural, but long silences, excessive filler words, crosstalk between hosts, and ambient noise can make for an insufferable listening experience. That’s why good editing is essential to any podcast. It makes the audio more concise and compelling, makes you sound more confident, and ensures that your audience won’t miss the point. 

There’s a ton of podcast editing software available to creators today. It’s important to pick the right one: Choose one that’s too lightweight and you’ll end up with a poor end product; pick one that’s too complicated and you’ll face hours of technical frustration.

It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that we think Descript is the best podcast editing tool you’ll find for Mac and Windows. There are other audio editing software like Audacity, Adobe Audition, and Garageband, but Descript has the best features for all kinds of producers. 

If you’re a first-time editor, Descript will get you up and running fast so you can start editing immediately. If you’re an experienced pro, Descript will save you hours at every stage, from transcribing to assembling new episodes. 

Descript makes editing the content in your podcast as easy as editing a doc. It’s got all the editing and mixing tools you’ll find in a legacy editing suite. And it’s loaded with dark magic: AI-powered tools that instantly remove filler words (“ums,” “uhs”), convert bad recordings to high-quality audio, and even let you clone your voice so you can correct mistakes by typing, saving you hours you’d spend re-recording. 

But enough about us. You should probably shop around—we’re confident you’ll choose Descript.

As you do, here are a few features to look for. 

  • Multitrack editing. Editing your podcast will entail cutting and rearranging audio, sometimes moving segments together, and sometimes pushing them apart to insert other material. It's pretty easy when there's just one track, but the complexity can grow as you add tracks from other hosts, interviews, archival audio, musical overlays, etc. Your editing tool should have a timeline that clearly shows separate tracks and allows you to edit them independently. 
  • Noise reduction. Unless you own a recording studio, your audio isn’t going to be perfect. You’ll likely battle room reverb, fan noise, dogs barking, or your neighbor’s leaf blower (so many leaf blowers). Fortunately, you can enhance your sound quality by applying noise reduction during post-production.
  • Flexible export options. The ability to export your podcast in different file types and different cuts can help you expand your reach. For example, your podcast may have a regular version and a version for paid subscribers with additional content. Look for the ability to export directly to your hosting service—rather than exporting the file to your desktop and then uploading it to your host manually. 
  • Transcription. Podcasting is an audio medium, but you’ll also want to transcribe your episodes. It makes your job easier as a creator—you can easily track down quotes or segments without re-listening. Transcripts also make your podcast accessible to all by publishing detailed show notes, and posting them on your website makes your podcast visible to search engines. 

💡TIP: You can get great audio quality with Descript's Studio Sound. Studio Sound will not only remove the background noise; it will also break down and regenerate the speakers' voices, so they sound like they were recorded in a studio. You can also polish your audio with EQ, compression, and other tools.

Image of user toggling on Studio Sound effect in Descript dashboard

12. Promote your podcast

Mark Asquith, CEO and co-founder of Captivate.fm, says one of the best ways to promote your show is just to make it easy to find and share. “The quickest win you can generate is making it easy for listeners to share your show with friends,” he explains. 

He advises providing a single, measurable link to share, (like this: https://www.markasquith.com/listen) and then “telling people at the start, throughout the content and right at the end of every single episode to share your show with friends who they think would like it.”

Kevin Chemidlin, the host of Grow the Show and a podcast coach, advises starting with a grassroots approach. "By far the best way to promote a podcast online is actually not to promote—it's to participate,” he explains. “Participate in the forums and groups, comment thoughtfully on photos and videos, and provide something meaningful to the people you interact with. Once you've built a relationship with the person or community, you can share your podcast link."

However you decide to promote it, here are a few tips: 

  • Create a podcast website. It doesn’t have to be complex—a simple landing page will do. Be sure to include links to your show on all those listening platforms to boost your website’s SEO and help it get found on search engines. 
  • Generate buzz by teasing the podcast launch in the days leading up to it, and then promote each episode as it airs. Each episode is a chance to draw in a new listener, so try to tease the subject matter without giving it away. 
  • Use social media to repost positive reviews and praise from listeners. You can also repurpose clips from your podcast as social media posts to give followers a taste of your show. 
  • Use guests for cross-promotion. If you can land a guest with a significant following, you want their fans to tune in to your podcast. Ask them to repost a link to the episode they’re on.

Don’t overlook your family, friends, and community as your first listeners. Feedback is a gift—use it to make your show better and more engaging for your audience.

🧠 Learn: Podcast promotion 101: Find partners to work with

Benefits of starting a podcast

Cultivates a valuable network

Let’s say you start a podcast about sustainable fashion. Over time, you invite designers, influencers, pattern makers, and suppliers to your show. Through these collaborations, you're giving your listeners awesome content and building relationships with key players in your industry. 

Entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss have used their podcasts to network with top performers from various fields, which led to new opportunities outside of podcasting. 

Attracts new users and customers

The latest podcast statistics confirm the industry is continuing to grow. Jacob Media’s latest radio broadcasting survey, Techsurvey 2023, reported an all-time high of weekly podcast listeners, going from 21% in 2019 to 33% in 2023. 

Whatever niche you’re in, a podcast can help you reach that audience. There are podcasts about cybersecurity, bees, cats, horror, NSFW, and pens—yes, there is an entire podcast dedicated to pens, pencils, and ink called The Pen Addict.

Helps you build a community

Podcasts like The Adventure Zone by the McElroy family have passionate fans who engage in online discussions, attend live shows, and even create fan art. Overall, your podcast helps build connections between listeners, and even between them and you. 

It’s not just your show that connects everyone, but also your social media, Discord groups, or other marketing channels you drum up to promote it. 

Provides extra income

How much money a podcaster makes depends on how many people listen to your show. 

Chances are, you won’t make millions of dollars off your podcast, but you can still earn a reasonable income from it. For example, if you’re promoting an affiliate product, you could make between 5 and 30% of any sales. If you’re selling ads, you can earn between $500 and $900 for every 10,000 downloads. 

How to make money with a podcast

While we’re on the topic of money, here are a few ways you can monetize your podcasting efforts:

  1. Sponsorships and advertisements: One of the most common ways to get paid is by brands. These brands pay to advertise their products or services at the beginning, middle, or end of a podcast. The rates can be based on CPMs or flat fees, depending on the agreement.
  2. Listener donations and crowdfunding: Some podcasters use Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee to get support directly from their listeners. In return, they might offer bonus content, shout-outs, merchandise, or other perks. It's a popular model for niche or indie podcasts with a dedicated audience.
  3. Affiliate marketing: You can also make money as a podcaster by promoting other brands, products, or services and earn a commission from sales generated through your unique link. As noted, you can make between 5 and 30% of each sale. 
  4. Product sales and subscriptions: Sell your own books, merch, or online courses to make extra money. Another option is to offer exclusive content for a monthly fee. This could be ad-free episodes, bonus episodes, early access to content, or tickets to an event. 
  5. Live shows and events: Once your podcast gains a following, hosting live podcast episodes or related events is a great source of income. Fans can buy tickets to your show, and there you can sell merchandise or other products, too. Steven Bartlett, from The Diary of a CEO, managed to sell out his tour through the UK and Ireland in 2022, hosting live shows in venues like The London Palladium, which seats 2,300 people. 

The best podcast resource for beginners 

Behind every successful podcaster is a good tool stack. Descript covers your entire workflow. You can create your podcast from start to finish, from recording to importing audio and editing. Add effects and music, and publish your show online or export it in whichever format you like. 

Descript's AI-powered tools save you time and money, making you wonder why you ever edited audio any other way. With filler word removal, you can eliminate “ums,” “uhs,” “you knows,” and more from your podcast in seconds. Search features allow you to find exactly what you need from hours of recorded audio in no time.

Thousands of popular podcasts like Planet Money and FreakonomicsRadio use Descript to produce their shows. Want to join them? See how Descript can help your own podcast

How to start a podcast FAQs

What is required to start a podcast?

To start a new podcast, you'll need a clear concept, recording equipment (like a mic and headphones), a podcast hosting service, cover art, and a name. You’ll also want to pick up recording and editing software to refine your episodes before they go live. 

How much does it cost to start a podcast?

You can start a podcast for free using basic equipment and free hosting, or it can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars with professional equipment, studio space, and premium hosting. A microphone, headphones, and hosting services are the basic costs. Descript offers free podcast editing software to get your show off the ground. 

How do I start a podcast with no experience?

To start a podcast with no experience, research and choose a niche or topic you're passionate about. Then, invest in basic recording equipment, familiarize yourself with audio recording and editing, and choose a hosting platform to distribute your podcast content.

Do podcasts make money?

Yes, podcasts make money. It comes from sponsors, ads, listener donations, merchandise sales, or premium content subscriptions. Most podcasts don't make too much money, especially in their early stages, and they need a lot of listeners to monetize.

Kevin O'Connell
Former Product Specialist at Descript. Podcaster, audio engineer, musician, arts advocate.
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How to start a podcast: A step-by-step beginner’s guide

How To Start A Podcast


For a medium that’s almost 20 years old—the word “podcast” dates back to the early 2000s—podcasting is growing at a remarkable pace. Over the last five years, the percentage of Americans who listen to podcasts every week has more than doubled, now amounting to roughly 31% of the population.  

And where audiences go, marketing dollars follow. Podcast advertising is flourishing, and advertisers are discovering that ads read by podcast hosts—familiar voices belonging to speakers whom audiences have come to trust—pack a punch. 

There’s never been a better time to start a podcast. But don't kid yourself: it won't be easy. Assuming you want to create a podcast that connects with someone, hopefully many someones, you're in for a lot of work, and probably some trial and error. 

Learn how to start your podcast with this in-depth, step-by-step guide. Plus, understand the popular monetization strategies to earn cash while you’re at it.

How to start a podcast in 12 steps

  1. Choose a podcast topic 
  2. Research your audience
  3. Choose your podcast format
  4. Name your podcast
  5. Craft a compelling podcast description
  6. Make cover art and theme music
  7. Get the necessary equipment
  8. Choose a hosting platform
  9. Write a podcast script
  10. Record your first episode
  11. Edit your podcast
  12. Promote your podcast  

1. Choose a podcast topic

A good show starts with a good podcast topic. The better defined your topic, the more likely you’ll find your audience (and vice versa).

“History,” for example, doesn’t tell a potential listener enough about what they’re getting into. “The History of Bread” gives them enough to decide if they want to listen.

It takes some work to choose the right podcast topic. To hit the sweet spot between unique and obscure, research your audience to gauge interest in your idea. Ask people in related affinity groups if they’d listen via survey, interview, or focus group (even informally—pose the question on social media or just ask your friends). 

2. Research your audience

Identifying and getting to know your audience is just as important as developing your idea. This audience helps define the content of your podcast. 

Questions you might want to answer:

  • Who are you making this podcast for?
  • How much knowledge of the topic will your audience have? (Another way to think about this: Is your podcast for an expert, an aspiring learner, or a general audience?) 
  • What tone is right for this audience? Humorous, serious—or somewhere in between?
  • Can you tap into existing communities within this audience—e.g., dedicated Facebook groups?

Identifying your target audience will also help you promote your podcast when the time comes. 

3. Choose your podcast format

There are all kinds of podcast formats: from a single host unraveling a mystery to two friends discussing pop culture to a panel playing a wacky game show. 

Your topic should inform your format. “The History of Bread” probably won’t work as a panel discussion, but it would make a great long-form series of interviews, narration, archival tape, and music.

Whatever podcast format you choose, it should play to your strengths. If you want to have a sports show where you interview athletes, you should feel confident in your ability to ask questions that elicit intriguing answers. If your video podcast is a comedy, you should have some skill or experience in humor writing, improv, and the like.

If you can't find a format that suits you, start doing your show the way you think it should be done. There are no rules here.

4. Name your podcast

A good podcast name will clearly tell potential listeners about the show. It should also be concise and easy to remember. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself: 

  • What’s the tone of the show? Will it be serious, even somber, or will there be humor? Your podcast title should reflect the tone.
  • How much leeway on subject matter do you want to allow yourself? For example, “The History of Bread” would make sense for a show about bread, but it might not make sense if you want to expand to discuss cupcakes and noodles down the line. 
  • What names are already taken? As you zero in on a name, make sure there's not already another podcast with the same (or similar) name. Check whether the URL and social media handles are available, too. 

💡 TIP: Don't obsess too much over the name. It's important, but not as important as the content and the listening experience. If you're stuck, pick something obvious and go.

5. Craft a compelling podcast description

Imagine you’re browsing through a record store. You’re looking for something new, but there are hundreds of albums. What if one had just a plain white cover with “MUSIC” written on it? Kinda bland.

But what if another had epic artwork and a passionate description of the soul-stirring journey the music will take you on? Which album are you more likely to listen to? 

That’s similar to your podcast description. It’s how you grab a listener’s attention, make an excellent first impression, and get them excited about your show. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Get to the heart of your podcast. What's it about? Why should someone care?
  2. Add a personal touch. Let your personality shine and invite people into your world.
  3. Make it snappy. You’re not writing a novel. You’ve only got a few lines to hook ‘em.
  4. Mention your audience. Are you aiming at coffee snobs, indie music lovers, or geeky science folks? Make it known. 

Let’s look at two quick examples:

Inviting and interesting 💚

"Join Alex & Jamie as they sip on Portland's finest brews and dive deep into the stories of the Rose City's hidden gems. Perfect for longtime locals and newbies alike, get a fresh look at the quirky, innovative spirit that makes Portland unique."

Pretty boring 🟥

"Listen to our show where we talk about things in Portland."

6. Make cover art and theme music

Good podcast cover art helps you brand your show and catch the eye of potential listeners. Your art should reflect the theme and tone of your show, but it can be simple. Add some kind of graphic design with text, illustration, or photography. 

The Pretty Lonesome podcast with Madeline Argy is a good example of interesting cover art. The show is about the unspoken conversations we all have with ourselves, but never speak out loud. 

Example of good album cover art

The cover art reflects this in a few ways:

  1. The fancy martini glass next to a kid’s juicebox, symbolizing the way we want to be seen and the way we really are inside
  2. The diary and fluffy pen, telling us that this is a show that won’t take itself too seriously
  3. The main character looks off-screen, pondering her thoughts, communicating that this is a podcast all about deep thinking

Paired with a good product description, you know what you’re getting yourself into when you tune into Pretty Lonesome. 

Make sure the name of your podcast is shown in the art—many podcast apps do not display the show’s name when displaying podcasts by episode title. You can use a free tool like Canva to whip up cover art, or hire a professional designer on Fiverr to help with your podcast artwork. Keep it between 1400x1400 to 3000x3000 pixels at a 1:1 ratio so your art looks good on all listening platforms. 

For your theme music, royalty-free music is certainly an option. But if you have the budget, consider commissioning a composer to create or license you an original song. They can create a compelling intro and outro for listeners that hooks them, making sure they return for every episode.

7. Get the necessary equipment

Before you hit the record button, do you have the right gear? It doesn’t take a lot of processing power to record an episode, so your existing computer will probably be enough, but you may need to invest in some additional podcast equipment

You don’t have to go broke buying these things—you can usually get all the essentials for about $150. A modest investment can make the difference between sounding amateurish and sounding like a professional. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Microphone. Fairly standard podcasting microphones can cost around $100–$125. The type matters: You could pick up a dynamic microphone like the Rode PodMic, but it requires an XLR connection, which means you also need to buy an audio interface to connect it to your computer. If you don’t have the budget for that, go for a USB microphone like the Blue Yeti, which you just plug into your computer and go. 
  • Pop filter. A screen that sits between you and your mic to reduce the pop of “p” sounds. They usually sell for less than $10 on Amazon. 
  • Over-the-ear headphones. If you’re podcasting with a co-host or guests, you’ll want a pair of over-the-ear headphones so you can hear them without their audio being picked up by your microphone. Good headphones will also come in handy when you get into editing and producing your podcast. You can nab a good pair of Audio-Technicas for around $70 on Amazon. 
📚 Read: The best podcast equipment for creators in 2023

8. Choose a hosting platform

Once you’ve recorded, edited, and produced your podcast, you need to find a place to host it. Podcast directories like Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes), Spotify, and Google Podcasts don’t host the podcast audio files themselves. Instead, they stream from where the files are hosted. 

A few podcast hosting platforms you’ll want to check out include:

Each has a slightly different set of plans depending on storage size and additional features.

Your hosting provider will create a podcast RSS feed when you create your show, which you’ll use to submit your show to whatever directories you want to appear in. Some hosting sites have built-in integrations to automatically show up on a number of platforms.

9. Write a podcast script

Next, develop a podcast script to outline your ideas and get on the same page with collaborators before recording. There are many different ways to do this, depending on the type of podcast you’re making and episode length, but a garden-variety chat or interview show generally follows a flow like this:

  • Intro
  • Guest welcome
  • Sponsor message (if your episode has ads)
  • Segue 
  • Topic or discussion 
  • Outro
  • Call to action
🧠 Learn: How to nail your podcast introduction

10. Record your first episode

Now for the fun stuff: recording your first podcast episode. There are many podcast recording software options available, but to make life easier for you, we recommend using Descript. 

Since our integration with SquadCast, Descript has become an all-in-one Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for recording, editing, and publishing your podcast. 

Product image of the SquadCast and Descript integration

Conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype aren’t designed for recording, which means bad internet equals bad file quality. You don’t get any of those issues with Descript—just high-fidelity audio and video. 

Here’s a tutorial for recording podcast audio using Descript software.

Podcast guests can join recording sessions from their browsers or iOS/Android devices without an account. Sessions are recorded locally and uploaded to the cloud progressively, so you won't lose them even if your internet connection goes down. 

Don’t worry if the recording doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. You don’t need to publish the raw recording. You can edit out any mistakes during recording in the next steps. 

11. Edit your podcast

You want to sound natural, but long silences, excessive filler words, crosstalk between hosts, and ambient noise can make for an insufferable listening experience. That’s why good editing is essential to any podcast. It makes the audio more concise and compelling, makes you sound more confident, and ensures that your audience won’t miss the point. 

There’s a ton of podcast editing software available to creators today. It’s important to pick the right one: Choose one that’s too lightweight and you’ll end up with a poor end product; pick one that’s too complicated and you’ll face hours of technical frustration.

It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that we think Descript is the best podcast editing tool you’ll find for Mac and Windows. There are other audio editing software like Audacity, Adobe Audition, and Garageband, but Descript has the best features for all kinds of producers. 

If you’re a first-time editor, Descript will get you up and running fast so you can start editing immediately. If you’re an experienced pro, Descript will save you hours at every stage, from transcribing to assembling new episodes. 

Descript makes editing the content in your podcast as easy as editing a doc. It’s got all the editing and mixing tools you’ll find in a legacy editing suite. And it’s loaded with dark magic: AI-powered tools that instantly remove filler words (“ums,” “uhs”), convert bad recordings to high-quality audio, and even let you clone your voice so you can correct mistakes by typing, saving you hours you’d spend re-recording. 

But enough about us. You should probably shop around—we’re confident you’ll choose Descript.

As you do, here are a few features to look for. 

  • Multitrack editing. Editing your podcast will entail cutting and rearranging audio, sometimes moving segments together, and sometimes pushing them apart to insert other material. It's pretty easy when there's just one track, but the complexity can grow as you add tracks from other hosts, interviews, archival audio, musical overlays, etc. Your editing tool should have a timeline that clearly shows separate tracks and allows you to edit them independently. 
  • Noise reduction. Unless you own a recording studio, your audio isn’t going to be perfect. You’ll likely battle room reverb, fan noise, dogs barking, or your neighbor’s leaf blower (so many leaf blowers). Fortunately, you can enhance your sound quality by applying noise reduction during post-production.
  • Flexible export options. The ability to export your podcast in different file types and different cuts can help you expand your reach. For example, your podcast may have a regular version and a version for paid subscribers with additional content. Look for the ability to export directly to your hosting service—rather than exporting the file to your desktop and then uploading it to your host manually. 
  • Transcription. Podcasting is an audio medium, but you’ll also want to transcribe your episodes. It makes your job easier as a creator—you can easily track down quotes or segments without re-listening. Transcripts also make your podcast accessible to all by publishing detailed show notes, and posting them on your website makes your podcast visible to search engines. 

💡TIP: You can get great audio quality with Descript's Studio Sound. Studio Sound will not only remove the background noise; it will also break down and regenerate the speakers' voices, so they sound like they were recorded in a studio. You can also polish your audio with EQ, compression, and other tools.

Image of user toggling on Studio Sound effect in Descript dashboard

12. Promote your podcast

Mark Asquith, CEO and co-founder of Captivate.fm, says one of the best ways to promote your show is just to make it easy to find and share. “The quickest win you can generate is making it easy for listeners to share your show with friends,” he explains. 

He advises providing a single, measurable link to share, (like this: https://www.markasquith.com/listen) and then “telling people at the start, throughout the content and right at the end of every single episode to share your show with friends who they think would like it.”

Kevin Chemidlin, the host of Grow the Show and a podcast coach, advises starting with a grassroots approach. "By far the best way to promote a podcast online is actually not to promote—it's to participate,” he explains. “Participate in the forums and groups, comment thoughtfully on photos and videos, and provide something meaningful to the people you interact with. Once you've built a relationship with the person or community, you can share your podcast link."

However you decide to promote it, here are a few tips: 

  • Create a podcast website. It doesn’t have to be complex—a simple landing page will do. Be sure to include links to your show on all those listening platforms to boost your website’s SEO and help it get found on search engines. 
  • Generate buzz by teasing the podcast launch in the days leading up to it, and then promote each episode as it airs. Each episode is a chance to draw in a new listener, so try to tease the subject matter without giving it away. 
  • Use social media to repost positive reviews and praise from listeners. You can also repurpose clips from your podcast as social media posts to give followers a taste of your show. 
  • Use guests for cross-promotion. If you can land a guest with a significant following, you want their fans to tune in to your podcast. Ask them to repost a link to the episode they’re on.

Don’t overlook your family, friends, and community as your first listeners. Feedback is a gift—use it to make your show better and more engaging for your audience.

🧠 Learn: Podcast promotion 101: Find partners to work with

Benefits of starting a podcast

Cultivates a valuable network

Let’s say you start a podcast about sustainable fashion. Over time, you invite designers, influencers, pattern makers, and suppliers to your show. Through these collaborations, you're giving your listeners awesome content and building relationships with key players in your industry. 

Entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss have used their podcasts to network with top performers from various fields, which led to new opportunities outside of podcasting. 

Attracts new users and customers

The latest podcast statistics confirm the industry is continuing to grow. Jacob Media’s latest radio broadcasting survey, Techsurvey 2023, reported an all-time high of weekly podcast listeners, going from 21% in 2019 to 33% in 2023. 

Whatever niche you’re in, a podcast can help you reach that audience. There are podcasts about cybersecurity, bees, cats, horror, NSFW, and pens—yes, there is an entire podcast dedicated to pens, pencils, and ink called The Pen Addict.

Helps you build a community

Podcasts like The Adventure Zone by the McElroy family have passionate fans who engage in online discussions, attend live shows, and even create fan art. Overall, your podcast helps build connections between listeners, and even between them and you. 

It’s not just your show that connects everyone, but also your social media, Discord groups, or other marketing channels you drum up to promote it. 

Provides extra income

How much money a podcaster makes depends on how many people listen to your show. 

Chances are, you won’t make millions of dollars off your podcast, but you can still earn a reasonable income from it. For example, if you’re promoting an affiliate product, you could make between 5 and 30% of any sales. If you’re selling ads, you can earn between $500 and $900 for every 10,000 downloads. 

How to make money with a podcast

While we’re on the topic of money, here are a few ways you can monetize your podcasting efforts:

  1. Sponsorships and advertisements: One of the most common ways to get paid is by brands. These brands pay to advertise their products or services at the beginning, middle, or end of a podcast. The rates can be based on CPMs or flat fees, depending on the agreement.
  2. Listener donations and crowdfunding: Some podcasters use Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee to get support directly from their listeners. In return, they might offer bonus content, shout-outs, merchandise, or other perks. It's a popular model for niche or indie podcasts with a dedicated audience.
  3. Affiliate marketing: You can also make money as a podcaster by promoting other brands, products, or services and earn a commission from sales generated through your unique link. As noted, you can make between 5 and 30% of each sale. 
  4. Product sales and subscriptions: Sell your own books, merch, or online courses to make extra money. Another option is to offer exclusive content for a monthly fee. This could be ad-free episodes, bonus episodes, early access to content, or tickets to an event. 
  5. Live shows and events: Once your podcast gains a following, hosting live podcast episodes or related events is a great source of income. Fans can buy tickets to your show, and there you can sell merchandise or other products, too. Steven Bartlett, from The Diary of a CEO, managed to sell out his tour through the UK and Ireland in 2022, hosting live shows in venues like The London Palladium, which seats 2,300 people. 

The best podcast resource for beginners 

Behind every successful podcaster is a good tool stack. Descript covers your entire workflow. You can create your podcast from start to finish, from recording to importing audio and editing. Add effects and music, and publish your show online or export it in whichever format you like. 

Descript's AI-powered tools save you time and money, making you wonder why you ever edited audio any other way. With filler word removal, you can eliminate “ums,” “uhs,” “you knows,” and more from your podcast in seconds. Search features allow you to find exactly what you need from hours of recorded audio in no time.

Thousands of popular podcasts like Planet Money and FreakonomicsRadio use Descript to produce their shows. Want to join them? See how Descript can help your own podcast

How to start a podcast FAQs

What is required to start a podcast?

To start a new podcast, you'll need a clear concept, recording equipment (like a mic and headphones), a podcast hosting service, cover art, and a name. You’ll also want to pick up recording and editing software to refine your episodes before they go live. 

How much does it cost to start a podcast?

You can start a podcast for free using basic equipment and free hosting, or it can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars with professional equipment, studio space, and premium hosting. A microphone, headphones, and hosting services are the basic costs. Descript offers free podcast editing software to get your show off the ground. 

How do I start a podcast with no experience?

To start a podcast with no experience, research and choose a niche or topic you're passionate about. Then, invest in basic recording equipment, familiarize yourself with audio recording and editing, and choose a hosting platform to distribute your podcast content.

Do podcasts make money?

Yes, podcasts make money. It comes from sponsors, ads, listener donations, merchandise sales, or premium content subscriptions. Most podcasts don't make too much money, especially in their early stages, and they need a lot of listeners to monetize.

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