How to start a podcast: Your podcast launch checklist

You recorded your first episode, but there are other things you’ll want to have ready to go before you hit publish for the first time to ensure that your show hits with maximum impact.
April 12, 2023
Zan Romanoff
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Congratulations! You’ve come up with a podcast concept; you’ve recorded some audio, and put it together into an episode. You feel like you’re ready to share that podcast episode with the world, and you…almost are! 

But there are also a bunch of other things you’ll want to have lined up and ready to go before you hit publish for the first time to ensure that your show hits with maximum impact. We’ve assembled them here in a handy list, along with some tips for how to get each one done. Click here to jump down to the full checklist.

First things first

Before you even think about publishing your first episode — heck, before you even press record — there are some preliminary steps you need to take to make sure that what you’re making will garner an audience. The first, but most overlooked step, is to search your podcast name on Google and podcast platforms. If there’s even one other show with that name, think seriously about changing it. Not only will duplicating another show’s name make it difficult to find your show, but it could get you into hot water legally. 

Along with a unique name comes a unique premise and point of view. Make sure your podcast topic is something people haven’t heard before — if not the content, then at least the angle you take or the personality you bring. You’ll also want to make sure it’s a topic you can repeat over and over for years, if necessary, so write down as many ideas for episodes as you can. If you can come up with at least 10, your topic probably has legs.

Make sure you sound like a pro

This one might sound obvious, but there are some sonic elements to a successful podcast that beginner podcasters tend to overlook. Having good audio quality is one thing (you did follow our instructions on how to buy a microphone and how to set up a podcast studio, didn’t you?) But adding sound effects like bumpers and stingers, background music, and intro and outro music will really take your show to the next level. Think of it as if you were a chef at a fancy restaurant, plating a dish before it goes out. Is one delicate sprig of parsley going to make or break someone’s experience of eating what you’ve made? Probably not, but it can be the step that signals how serious you are. It separates the amateurs from the professionals. 

Have enough content in the can 

It’s a good idea to launch with a trailer: three to five minutes that preview what’s coming, the same way a film’s trailer might. Not only does it help attract an audience before you start, it also helps you get set up on all the podcast players — some platforms, like Apple Podcasts, can take up to a week to post your first recording, but subsequent episodes will post almost instantly. A trailer makes it so you can get on a solid schedule from episode 1.

Whether or not you publish a trailer, what we definitely recommend is having more than one episode ready to go when you launch. In fact, some experts recommend publishing more than one to start with: that way, people who are interested can click next and become even more invested in your show.

Bottom line: unless you’re producing a topical talk show, try to have your production schedule running a few weeks ahead of your posting schedule. That way, if something comes up — which, let’s be real, something always comes up — you won’t necessarily need to miss a week. Consistency is key, especially early on, so make sure your listeners can build your podcast into their lives.

Create a strong visual identity

If you’re short on time or resources, your podcast cover art can just be something you whipped together from a template in Canva. But it can be nice to work with a designer to come up with a full visual brand: not only original cover art, but a logo you can use in different ways and a color or font that will always be associated with your show so people can recognize it every time they see it cross their feeds. You might also want to create individual images for each episode — a headshot of a guest, if you have one, or some other visual pattern that you can change up and use in posts on social media to attract attention your way. 

Start a website

The internet is a vast, wild place, so you want to create a centralized hub where people can find everything they need to know about you and your podcast. Make sure to register the address you want. There are tons of sites that will help you do that, including Google Domains, Hover, and GoDaddy, which typically charge $15–20 for a year of domain registration. To actually design your website, Squarespace subscriptions start at $16/month — though it’ll be less if you have a discount code, and since you listen to podcasts, you should have a discount code or five. 

This is also a good moment to consider whether the name you’ve chosen for your podcast is unique enough. If you’re having a hard time scoring a good site name, it might be time to re-think your handle. 

Your site doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated — it just needs to come up when someone googles you. Ideally, it will include a link to your episode feed, any social media accounts (more on those in a second), and contact info, so that Steven Spielberg can easily get in touch about optioning your show and turning it into the next big thing. A blog post with show notes for each new episode is a good idea too, but not required.

Reserve your social handles

Again, if you haven’t chosen a unique name, this will be…challenging. Make sure to pick a handle that’s available across social media platforms, so that people won’t have to remember a bunch of different details when they want to find your Twitter, as opposed to your Instagram. You should also think about what content you’re going to use to populate these feeds once you launch. 

This is also a good time to set up a newsletter. It’s one of the only ways you can own your audience — your podcast subscribers and social followers could disappear, but you’ll always have that list of email addresses. Use it to announce new episodes and share behind the scenes details that will give people a reason to open!

Make a promotional plan

Let’s be honest: there are a lot of podcasts out there. How is yours going to stand out from the pack? Before you launch, it’s worth thinking through how to make sure the word gets out about how amazing your new show is. Take advantage of personal connections by asking friends and family to post about it on their social media feeds, but also reach out beyond your own network. 

You might also take it a step further and pitch yourself to the places listeners go to find podcasts: media, newsletters, and podcast apps. Write a compelling press release and send it to journalists and newsletters who focus on your topic to see if they’re interested in covering your launch. 

You can also network with other podcasters and see if they’d be open to trading appearances or swapping promos on each others’ shows, or just dropping your name at some point. For that, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got promo copy they can read on their show, or a promo you’ve recorded ahead of time. 

This is the time to call in any favors you’ve got — after all, you’re only a brand-new once!

Read more: 3 ways to market your brand-new podcast from scratch

Choose a podcast hosting service

Finally, it’s time to find the place where your podcast will actually live! Yes, you could technically upload the audio files to your own site, but that much storage space is expensive, and services that are built for this purpose also come with extras that will ultimately make your life a lot easier, like the automatic creation of an RSS feed. There are plenty of options out there; popular ones include Libsyn, Podbean, and Buzzsprout. Ideally, these services will provide a secure place for your show to live online, as well as pushing your show into podcast directories like Apple Podcasts and Spotify and collecting analytics on who’s listening and where they’re finding you. 

And finally…hit publish!

And maybe throw yourself a little party to celebrate. After all, pictures will be good content for that Instagram feed, and everything you spend on your soirée is a tax-write off. Welcome to being a creator: the pay is usually low, especially to start, but the perks can be extremely fun. 

The full podcast launch checklist

You can copy this checklist into your project management app of choice, or print it out and hang it on the wall next to your editing station. 

First steps

☐ Unique podcast name 

☐ Engaging premise and point of view

☐ 10+ ideas for episode topics

Production

☐ Episode 1

☐ Intro & outro music

Recommended:

☐ Trailer

☐ Episode 2

☐ Episode 3+

☐ Other sonic elements (bumpers, background music, etc.)

Visual branding

☐ Podcast cover art

Recommended:

☐ Brand font & colors

Online presence

☐ Website

☐ Newsletter

According to target audience:

☐ Twitter account

☐ Instagram account

☐ Facebook page

☐ TikTok account

☐ LinkedIn page

☐ YouTube channel

Promotional plan

☐ Promo copy

☐ Press release

☐ List of matching podcasts for promo and guest swaps

☐ Subscriptions to newsletters for pitching

☐ List of journalists to pitch

Final steps

☐ Podcast hosting service

Zan Romanoff
Zan Romanoff is a full-time freelance journalist, as well as the author of three young adult novels. She lives and writes in LA.
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How to start a podcast: Your podcast launch checklist

Gold microphone, headphones, and coffee cup in 3D casting shadows. Below each is a checkbox, with the first two checked.

Congratulations! You’ve come up with a podcast concept; you’ve recorded some audio, and put it together into an episode. You feel like you’re ready to share that podcast episode with the world, and you…almost are! 

But there are also a bunch of other things you’ll want to have lined up and ready to go before you hit publish for the first time to ensure that your show hits with maximum impact. We’ve assembled them here in a handy list, along with some tips for how to get each one done. Click here to jump down to the full checklist.

Record or import audio, make edits, add fades, music, and sound effects, then publish online, export the audio in the format of your choice or send it directly to your hosting service.
Create your podcast from start to finish with Descript.

First things first

Before you even think about publishing your first episode — heck, before you even press record — there are some preliminary steps you need to take to make sure that what you’re making will garner an audience. The first, but most overlooked step, is to search your podcast name on Google and podcast platforms. If there’s even one other show with that name, think seriously about changing it. Not only will duplicating another show’s name make it difficult to find your show, but it could get you into hot water legally. 

Along with a unique name comes a unique premise and point of view. Make sure your podcast topic is something people haven’t heard before — if not the content, then at least the angle you take or the personality you bring. You’ll also want to make sure it’s a topic you can repeat over and over for years, if necessary, so write down as many ideas for episodes as you can. If you can come up with at least 10, your topic probably has legs.

Make sure you sound like a pro

This one might sound obvious, but there are some sonic elements to a successful podcast that beginner podcasters tend to overlook. Having good audio quality is one thing (you did follow our instructions on how to buy a microphone and how to set up a podcast studio, didn’t you?) But adding sound effects like bumpers and stingers, background music, and intro and outro music will really take your show to the next level. Think of it as if you were a chef at a fancy restaurant, plating a dish before it goes out. Is one delicate sprig of parsley going to make or break someone’s experience of eating what you’ve made? Probably not, but it can be the step that signals how serious you are. It separates the amateurs from the professionals. 

Have enough content in the can 

It’s a good idea to launch with a trailer: three to five minutes that preview what’s coming, the same way a film’s trailer might. Not only does it help attract an audience before you start, it also helps you get set up on all the podcast players — some platforms, like Apple Podcasts, can take up to a week to post your first recording, but subsequent episodes will post almost instantly. A trailer makes it so you can get on a solid schedule from episode 1.

Whether or not you publish a trailer, what we definitely recommend is having more than one episode ready to go when you launch. In fact, some experts recommend publishing more than one to start with: that way, people who are interested can click next and become even more invested in your show.

Bottom line: unless you’re producing a topical talk show, try to have your production schedule running a few weeks ahead of your posting schedule. That way, if something comes up — which, let’s be real, something always comes up — you won’t necessarily need to miss a week. Consistency is key, especially early on, so make sure your listeners can build your podcast into their lives.

Create a strong visual identity

If you’re short on time or resources, your podcast cover art can just be something you whipped together from a template in Canva. But it can be nice to work with a designer to come up with a full visual brand: not only original cover art, but a logo you can use in different ways and a color or font that will always be associated with your show so people can recognize it every time they see it cross their feeds. You might also want to create individual images for each episode — a headshot of a guest, if you have one, or some other visual pattern that you can change up and use in posts on social media to attract attention your way. 

Start a website

The internet is a vast, wild place, so you want to create a centralized hub where people can find everything they need to know about you and your podcast. Make sure to register the address you want. There are tons of sites that will help you do that, including Google Domains, Hover, and GoDaddy, which typically charge $15–20 for a year of domain registration. To actually design your website, Squarespace subscriptions start at $16/month — though it’ll be less if you have a discount code, and since you listen to podcasts, you should have a discount code or five. 

This is also a good moment to consider whether the name you’ve chosen for your podcast is unique enough. If you’re having a hard time scoring a good site name, it might be time to re-think your handle. 

Your site doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated — it just needs to come up when someone googles you. Ideally, it will include a link to your episode feed, any social media accounts (more on those in a second), and contact info, so that Steven Spielberg can easily get in touch about optioning your show and turning it into the next big thing. A blog post with show notes for each new episode is a good idea too, but not required.

Reserve your social handles

Again, if you haven’t chosen a unique name, this will be…challenging. Make sure to pick a handle that’s available across social media platforms, so that people won’t have to remember a bunch of different details when they want to find your Twitter, as opposed to your Instagram. You should also think about what content you’re going to use to populate these feeds once you launch. 

This is also a good time to set up a newsletter. It’s one of the only ways you can own your audience — your podcast subscribers and social followers could disappear, but you’ll always have that list of email addresses. Use it to announce new episodes and share behind the scenes details that will give people a reason to open!

Make a promotional plan

Let’s be honest: there are a lot of podcasts out there. How is yours going to stand out from the pack? Before you launch, it’s worth thinking through how to make sure the word gets out about how amazing your new show is. Take advantage of personal connections by asking friends and family to post about it on their social media feeds, but also reach out beyond your own network. 

You might also take it a step further and pitch yourself to the places listeners go to find podcasts: media, newsletters, and podcast apps. Write a compelling press release and send it to journalists and newsletters who focus on your topic to see if they’re interested in covering your launch. 

You can also network with other podcasters and see if they’d be open to trading appearances or swapping promos on each others’ shows, or just dropping your name at some point. For that, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got promo copy they can read on their show, or a promo you’ve recorded ahead of time. 

This is the time to call in any favors you’ve got — after all, you’re only a brand-new once!

Read more: 3 ways to market your brand-new podcast from scratch

Choose a podcast hosting service

Finally, it’s time to find the place where your podcast will actually live! Yes, you could technically upload the audio files to your own site, but that much storage space is expensive, and services that are built for this purpose also come with extras that will ultimately make your life a lot easier, like the automatic creation of an RSS feed. There are plenty of options out there; popular ones include Libsyn, Podbean, and Buzzsprout. Ideally, these services will provide a secure place for your show to live online, as well as pushing your show into podcast directories like Apple Podcasts and Spotify and collecting analytics on who’s listening and where they’re finding you. 

And finally…hit publish!

And maybe throw yourself a little party to celebrate. After all, pictures will be good content for that Instagram feed, and everything you spend on your soirée is a tax-write off. Welcome to being a creator: the pay is usually low, especially to start, but the perks can be extremely fun. 

The full podcast launch checklist

You can copy this checklist into your project management app of choice, or print it out and hang it on the wall next to your editing station. 

First steps

☐ Unique podcast name 

☐ Engaging premise and point of view

☐ 10+ ideas for episode topics

Production

☐ Episode 1

☐ Intro & outro music

Recommended:

☐ Trailer

☐ Episode 2

☐ Episode 3+

☐ Other sonic elements (bumpers, background music, etc.)

Visual branding

☐ Podcast cover art

Recommended:

☐ Brand font & colors

Online presence

☐ Website

☐ Newsletter

According to target audience:

☐ Twitter account

☐ Instagram account

☐ Facebook page

☐ TikTok account

☐ LinkedIn page

☐ YouTube channel

Promotional plan

☐ Promo copy

☐ Press release

☐ List of matching podcasts for promo and guest swaps

☐ Subscriptions to newsletters for pitching

☐ List of journalists to pitch

Final steps

☐ Podcast hosting service

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