A year ago I had no idea I would become the Creator and Host of the Side Hustle Pro podcast and I probably would have laughed in your face had you suggested it. I had no dreams of producing audio content. As a writer, I love sharing the stories of people who inspire me. But when I started interviewing people on my blog, I found myself having to edit down their answers (which didn’t do justice to their stories). Then, after all of my hard work, I realized people were just skimming through my blog posts without reading the whole thing. That’s when I began seriously looking into bringing my interviews to life through the Side Hustle Pro podcast. Now several months in, I want to share the steps I’ve taken and resources I’ve used so that you too can start your own podcast with no experience.
1. Decide on Your Podcast Topic and Structure
Before you start investing in recording and editing tools, you need to decide on the topic and structure of your podcast. For me, this part was a bit more straightforward because I had already been interviewing dope women of color who were carving their own path. I wanted to change the narrative of entrepreneurship by featuring black woman business owners who started their business while working a 9 to 5 (aka side hustling). I searched high and low for podcasts that might touch on this topic and didn’t find any that answered the questions I wanted to know. So I had to create my vision.
If you’re not sure what to podcast about, take some time to think about and flesh out the answers to these questions:
- What are you good at?
- What do people consistently ask you for your advice on?
- What do you want to talk about?
- Is there an overlap there?
- Are you the right person to talk about this topic?
- Can you talk about this for more than a few episodes without getting tired of the subject matter?
When you have an idea for a topic, determine what themes within that topic you want to cover. To do so, you will need to know who your target listener is.
2. Determine Your Target Listener
When you know your target listener (And I mean REALLY know them) then you know what kind of content to discuss on your podcast. To learn more about my future listeners, I got on the phone with ten black women side hustlers to tell them about my idea and learn more from them about the kind of topics they wanted to hear about on the show. From these intimate interviews I learned what kind of resources and tools would be useful, what other experts my target listener found valuable, what books they’re reading and what other podcasts they’re listening to.
As a result, I now know without a doubt who the ideal Side Hustle Pro listener is. I know her name, where she works, know what she likes to read, her favorite tv shows, how she commutes to work, what she does after work, what are the current podcasts she has on her playlist and more.
Similarly, you should take proactive steps to get to know people who might be interested in your podcast topic. Don’t know who they are? Join Facebook groups centered around the topic of your podcast. Visit Quora and blogs devoted to that topic. Use Twitter’s advanced search tool and search for keywords related to your podcast’s topic. What kind of themes come up over and over again? What questions are people asking? When you feel intimately acquainted with your future podcast listener, you will know his/her name, age and occupation. After doing your research, write out a profile of your target listener. I share the profile of my own avatar in Episode 7 of Side Hustle Pro.
3. Name Your Podcast And Create Your Podcast Art
Name your podcast something memorable but keep in mind that you want someone who randomly comes across it to understand exactly what your podcast is about at first glance. This is not the time to get creative with spelling, because you also want people to be able to find you when they do a Google search.
Similarly, when you’re creating your podcast art, make it something that is dynamic and bold yet distinguishable when it’s on that small little screen in the podcast mobile app. That means use minimal text, legible text and distinct colors. Ask yourself, does my face or name really need to be on my podcast tile for people to know what this podcast is about? Or is it more important that they know the title of the podcast? The answer to this will differ for everyone. But spend some time looking through the top podcasts on iTunes or Soundcloud and make note of what podcast art is memorable to you.
4. Purchase Your Podcasting Equipment
When it comes to microphone options, there are several common microphones that I came across in my research. I think John Lee Dumas does the best breakdown of quality microphones in the low, mid and high range tier:
Low Tier Microphone
Logitech Clear Chat: According to John this microphone gets the job done and has great audio quality. I usually recommend this to guests to use instead of just iPhone earbuds or talking at their computer.
Mid Tier Microphone
ATR-2100: This is a medium cost microphone with excellent quality. This is the microphone I used to make the earlier episodes of my podcast. I’ve since switched to the Blue Yeti microphone.
Blue Yeti : This is the most common microphone I’ve seen used by podcasters. It has excellent, powerful and clear sound. I mainly switched to this one because I live in a two podcast home and this is the microphone that my fiancé uses. I tried it and liked it. It’s also easier to attach a pop filter to this to filter out the pops from being too close to the microphone when speaking.
High Tier Microphone
Heil PR-40: I may look into this down the road. This is a great microphone (again, per John Lee Dumas), but there’s no need to pay this much. There are perfectly good microphones at the low and mid cost tiers.
Pop Filter and Foam Ball Windscreen: The clearer your audio can sound, the better. Pop filters and foam ball windscreens, while not required, are fairly cheap and can keep your hard “p” words from making a lot of sound on your recording.
Tutorial on Choosing Your Podcasting Equipment
Choosing Your Podcasting Equipment
5. Record and Edit Your Podcast
Now this is where all of my coins (and time!) goes. I record most podcast interviews via Skype and use Ecamm call recorder to record the interview. When I do a solo episode, I record directly into Garage Band. I also edit using Garage Band. Once my episode is edited, I upload it to Auphonic to help level out the sound (for example if my guest and I have different audio levels). I have also recently purchased Soundsoap for additional filtering of background noise. After I download the Auphonic version, I open the episode in iTunes and add in the podcast art and episode summary (also known as “tagging” the episode.)
I learned everything I know about this part from tutorials on YouTube, so I’m providing those detailed tutorials below. Sometimes I wish I had an audio engineer and producer to do this work for me (I can spend as much as six hours on editing), but I’m thankful that I now know how to do this. I don’t have to rely on anyone and I know my podcast will be ready each week for a Wednesday release date.
6. Select A Podcast Host
Before you can publish your podcast, you need to decide on a host aka the place on the internet that stores the files for your podcast and enables your RSS feed, which you need to submit your show to iTunes. There are various podcast hosting options. I use Libsyn for hosting and have had a great experience so far. It provides excellent hosting, customer service and analytics at a very reasonable rate. I chose Libsyn because analytics is huge to me and I’ve heard poor reviews about the analytics offered by some other hosts. I signed up for Libsyn using the Entrepreneur On Fire Libsyn offer code, which gives you the rest of the current month and all of the next month free. After the promotional period expires, you can choose from several plans that vary in cost and storage allowance. Learn more about media hosting here.
Other Podcasting host options:
School of podcasting has a great comparison of hosting options.
Tutorial on Podcast Hosting
Web and Media Hosting
7. Publish Your Podcast Feed and Submit to Podcast Directories
After you create a podcast episode, including recording the podcast, editing, creating artwork and posting the RSS feed online courtesy of your podcast host, you can use iTunes Podcasts Connect to validate, submit, and manage your podcast on the iTunes Store. Important tip: You can’t keep your podcast in draft mode and have it scheduled to go live on June 22, if you want iTunes to validate your podcast on June 21. You have to set it live on June 21 (or even earlier to be safe) and hope no one discovers it before your big reveal.
Tutorial On Publishing Your Podcast Feed and Submit To Podcast Directories
Submitting Your Feed To iTunes and Other Directories
And there you have it, folks. These are the resources I used to launch the Side Hustle Pro podcast with no experience.
- Start with a game plan! Going in, I made a commitment to release a weekly podcast for 12 months. If you don’t have a game plan, it’s easy to be tempted to skip a week when life gets busy. Make a plan and commit to it.
- Don’t underestimate marketing. The work truly begins after I publish an episode. In order to enable discovery and new listeners, I have a whole checklist to market each episode. Download my free podcast launch and marketing checklist here:
- Know that you will get better as you go.
- Every independent podcast started somewhere
- Even John Lee Dumas cringes at his first episodes
- So get out there and get your content out in the world. You can’t compete if you’re not even in the game!
- Leverage your guests
- Before an episode goes live, send your guests an email heads-up that it’s going live and send them easy one click share links and instructions, including suggested social media language.