Written by Addy Saucedo

Podcasting and audio content continues to grow in popularity because more people are consuming new media content on mobile smartphones and smart devices. Creating a podcast is affordable and easier than ever. Now is the perfect time to start a podcast for your hobby, personal brand or business. For easy to follow steps and expert support, you’re in the right place. Previous experience? Not required. You’ll discover absolutely everything you need to start your podcast in the following phases:

  1. Planning (that's this article!)
  2. Creating
  3. Sharing

Download this free podcast launch checklist to follow along!

Plan

Planning is an essential step to go from an idea to a live podcast and making sure it lands on excited ears with a buzz that continues to spread beyond the initial launch. In this phase, you’ll map out the details of your podcast such as the name, format, description and understanding your target audience. Ok, grab a piece of paper or your computer and let’s get planning.

💥Hot tip: The Podcast Planner, the book, and podcast is an excellent resource for the planning phase of podcasting. Click here for more info.

Topic

Let’s take the idea you have for your podcast and expand it into your show’s main topic.  Having the main topic for your show will make it easy for you to create content. It starts to take shape as a North Star when you introduce other relatable topics.  A show without a main topic is a show with many inconsistencies. Podcast listeners love having a sense of what they will hear when they hit play. No doubt there will be twists and surprises in content, but the foundation (the main topic) is still present.

Here are a couple of fill-in-the-blanks to help clarify your main topic:

  1. The main goal for my podcast is:
  2. The type of show I have is (interview, educating, storytelling, etc.):
  3. I’ll be covering the following subjects:

Here is where your main topic and its subjects take shape into what your show is all about.  Take those three answers and craft 1-2 sentences describing what your show is about.

No. 1 Fan

Just as it’s necessary to have an understanding of your show's main topic, the same goes for knowing your potential audience. The best way to figure out your target audience is by focusing on one person. It’s time to find out who your ideal listener–no scratch that–who your number one fan is! Picture your number one fan and complete the sentences:

  1. They find my show interesting and entertaining because:
  2. My show helps them:

Now take those two answers and craft one sentence describing your number one fan:

Still need some help?  Watch this video:
Finding Your Niche by Podcast Professors

Podcast Description

A podcast description is one of the first elements people see when searching for their next podcast. Capture their attention by combining the sentences you used to describe your show with the one you used to describe your number one fan. You’ll have a pretty solid podcast description. Save it in a place for when it’s time to complete your podcast settings for Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and other directories.

Descriptions of:  my show is about  +  my number one fan  =  podcast description

💫Helpful articles and podcast episodes:
Why Are You Podcasting?
How a Podcast Compass Is Super Helpful
The Valuable Basics of Your Podcast
How To Write a Better Podcast Description That Attracts New Listeners

Structure

In June 2018, Apple announced they had over 550,000 podcasts listed in their directory.  How would your podcast have a better chance of being discovered against that many podcasts? You’re already off to a great start by knowing your audience, the topics you’ll be discussing, and having a description. Structuring your content is next. In the following video, you’ll discover how easy it is to implement a structure that has your audience waiting for more:

How To Add Structure To Your Podcast And Hook Your Audience

Summary of how to structure your podcast content:

  1. Introduction
  2. Main Content
  3. Call to action
  4. Next episode teaser
  5. Closing

Now is the best time to plan the topics for your first three episodes.  Support those topics with the structure you just learned and save it for the creating phase when you press record.

💫Helpful articles and podcast episodes:
Crafting the Perfect Podcast Intro So You Don’t Lose Listeners In the First Five Minutes
Creating Content: From Confused to Confident

Best Length For Podcast

Since we’re on the subject of podcast format, wondering how long your episodes should be is inevitable. Talking for the sake of hitting thirty minutes, or an hour, or any other given time frame is not a great idea. We’ve all seen those movies that should have ended twenty minutes earlier!  

Here are a few elements to consider when trying to determine the best length for episodes:

  1. Your audience and their lifestyle  
  2. Your main topic
  3. The format of your show
  4. Was the topic interesting from beginning to end?

Let’s review some popular podcasts and their average episode length, based on their last three published episodes:

You Had Me At Black: 16 minutes
Trained by Nike: 26 minutes
Rants and Randomness with Luvvie Ajayi: 1:10 hours
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard: 2:49 hours

Each of these podcasts is considered successful and well-regarded, so there’s no one right answer for length. How long does it take you to tell the story or explain the topic you’re discussing? You can also, once you have a few episodes under your belt, look at your consumption analytics to see where listeners start to drop off.

Schedule

Part of planning your podcast is figuring out when you want to publish new episodes. Here is a short blurb from Sarah Werner in her article, What’s The Best Day and Time To Publish My Podcast?:

Focus on releasing episodes consistently, which means setting expectations for your listeners and sticking to your schedule.  Since the date and time of the episode release does not have a significant effect on downloads, set a date and time that works most conveniently for you.”  

Other questions to consider when planning your schedule:

  • When will I record new episodes?
  • When will I handle the editing and post-production?
  • When will I promote my podcast?

💫Helpful articles and podcast episodes:
EASY Scheduling Hacks To Support Your Podcasting Life

Name Your Podcast

Time to name your podcast!  The name is probably one of the first things you set your mind on when you decided to start a podcast. Even though you have a name in mind, it’s best to go through the exercise below to make sure it’s unique and that it fits with all the elements you’ve worked on thus far.

Listen to this podcast episode to learn what makes a great podcast name:
The Valuable Basics of Your Podcast

Questions to help with naming your podcast:

  • Does it resonate with the vision and the goal you have for your podcast?
  • Is it relatable to your content and your audience?
  • Does it intrigue your potential audience?
  • Will it be unique in the podcast directories?  Is it already in use?

Launch Date & Approval Time Frames

Podcast approvals vary for each directory.  For example, Stitcher might approve your podcast within 24 hours while Apple Podcasts might approve your show within seven days. For this reason, setting a hard podcast launch date is unrealistic.  Plan to submit your podcast with 2-3 weeks lead time before the launch date you have in mind.

Family and Friends

On a podcast launch day, instant traction doesn’t happen on its own.  A plan for that is needed. Immediate (within 24 - 48 hours) subscriptions, listens, ratings and reviews will have your podcast coming out of the gates strong. Start creating your podcast launch support team of 15-20 family and friends willing to commit to those tasks when they receive your “It’s Live” announcement.

Own It

Check it and own it! Once you’ve created the name for your podcast, consider grabbing the following elements:

  • Website domain (don’t worry about making a website, this guide has you covered in the sharing phase)
  • Social media handles
  • Trademark the name and logo of your podcast. Start here USPTO.gov

Need help researching whether your podcast name is available as a domain and social media channels? Check out NameCheck.com

👋Now that you have your social media handles start spreading the word that you are starting a podcast. Be sure to let us know by tagging @Simplecast!

Moving On

Look at that!  You’ve come a long way from just having an idea about a potential podcast. Before we move on, remember to be yourself, stick to your personality and go with what feels right. You’ll stand out from the crowd. Let’s start creating your podcast!

✅Reminder: Download this free podcast launch checklist to follow along!