How to start your own Podcast
In addition to cooking over 300 new dinner recipes over the past two years, we’ve managed to DIY a podcast that’s been listened to over a 100k times. That’s a lot of people tuning in to hear what we had for dinner! We didn’t have any prior experience or tech skills, just a good old fashioned Midwestern work ethic and the internet. If you want to start a podcast (you should!), we hope this check list makes it a little easier. It’s the information we wish we would have had when we started, all in one place. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or need help.
Recording Set Up
Microphone: You can record with the mic from your earbuds or headset but the sound will be pretty terrible. A USB plug in mic will make all the difference in your sound quality. What is a USB plug in mic? It’s a mic that plugs directly into your computer using one of your USB ports. Kate and I both like the Blue Snowball mic to start.
Headphones: These don’t need to be fancy, just ear buds or headphones to plug in while you record. If you are recording with a co-host or interviewing, the headphones are absolutely necessary for not picking up an echo.
Computer: We just use our laptops to record our weekly episode, no special upgrade or fancy equipment. Kate uses a Chromebook and I use a PC.
Hand Held Recorder (optional): Betsy has recorded several episodes on location. She ventured up to the North Georgia Mountains to cook over a wood stove at Foxfire and recorded with Katie Parla in her Rome apartment for her book, Food of the Italian South. For these interviews, she used the Zoom H4N recorder, which has built in mics and records on to a sound card.
Skype allows you to record your session, but can drop out and have audio issues so we try to use it sparingly and only if it specifically requested by the interviewee.
After recording, we export the audio and edit in Audacity, which is open source and free to use. There are other editing platforms like Hindenburg and Adobe Pro that are paid. Of course, if editing isn’t something you’d like to spend your time doing there are lots of great podcast editors out there.
Your podcast host is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. After you finish recording your episode and it’s ready for release, you upload it to your hosting service to publish. The hosting service will send your podcast out to all of the different places people get podcasts: itunes, Stitcher, Castbox, Spotify and Pandora…just to name a few. Your hosting service is also the place where you get your statistics (think weekly downloads, geographic data, number of listeners on each platform).
Longtime listeners know that we’ve tried a few different hosts, but we finally landed on one that we really like. Our podcast is now on Buzzsprout and would highly recommend them. It’s easy to use and their customer service is highly responsive when we do have questions that come up. They also produce tons of training videos and articles to help you learn the ropes. It’s a full service operation at a great price.
If you listen to podcasts, you already know the importance of show notes. We review recipes every week, so linking to each recipe in our show notes is a crucial part of our show. We have to be able to send people somewhere when they’re ready to cook! We currently have this wordpress website for our shownotes, but Buzzsprout also creates a pretty slick website for our us automatically, which you can see here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we have the brass tacks out of the way, we wanted to spend sometime answering questions we get a lot!
Q: How long should my podcast be?
A: Of course the wonderful thing about podcasts is the flexible format. You podcast can be as long or as short as you like. Notably, The Daily from the New York Times is consistently 22-24 minutes long and it’s largely accepted that this is the sweet spot to capture commuter listeners. We try to keep ours in the 26-28 minute range but occasionally run longer or shorter.
There are some great examples of long format interview shows that stretch over two hours (think Tim Ferris) as well as micro podcasts that are under 5 minutes an episode.
Q: Is the podcast market saturated? Is it too late to start a podcast now?
A: It may seem like everyone has a podcast but there’s room for everyone! One statistic that I especially like is this:
- Active Blogs: 500+ Million
- Active YouTube Channels: 27 Million
- Active Podcasts: 700,000
We’re huge advocates for podcasting as a medium for delivering information in a highly personal, accessible way. Maybe you personally don’t want to start a podcast, but would it be nice if your school had one to supplement? Your church? Your yoga studio for class information and weekly meditations? There is a lot of information I’d like to consume while on walks and in my car!
Q: How long does it take for you to put your podcast together every week?
A: We have a lot of moving parts because we need to plan and then cook three meals. That takes about 4-5 hours of work each episode, but a lot of that is worked into our daily routine – we have to make dinner anyway!
We record every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. and it usually takes about an hour when you include set up, a little chit chat, getting through the episode, etc.
Betsy edits the podcast and Kate writes the script and show notes. This is a total of another 2-3 hours of work, which includes uploading the podcast and publishing. All in, we spend about 7-8 hours a week producing a 25 minute episode, but again this includes cooking time.
Q: How do you make money podcasting?
There are a lot of people out there trying to crack the code on monetizing podcasts. For starters, you can sell ads. Here’s the breakdown on ads:
Pre- roll: 30-60 second ad that runs before your show
Mid- roll: 30-60 second ad that runs in the middle of your show
Post – roll: 30-60 second ad that runs at the end of your show
You can sell ad space through a third party ad agency based on a CPM model, which is a dollar amount per thousand downloads. This can range anywhere from $2 all the way up to $40 based on who you’re working with and the size of your show. Some people sell ads independently and work out a per episode rate (eg: $200/episode) with an advertiser who would like to reach the specific audience you’ve gathered through your podcast.
Others ask listeners for contributions through platforms like Patreon or just a simple pay pal button. You can also sell merchandise or products that align with your mission.