What You Need to Know Before You Start a Podcast

If you follow me or @healthyworkhq on Instagram, or are a part of the Healthy Work Community, it’s probably (hopefully!) no surprise to you that we recently launched the Healthy Work Podcast. 🎉 And if you didn’t know about this, then head on over to our podcast page to binge-listen & tell us what you think!

Since our launch, people have reached out to me with great questions about getting their own podcast started, tools & services I’d recommend, & more. Even though we’re only about ten episodes in, I’ve learned A LOT about what it takes to create a podcast from scratch, and I’m happy to share! I’m still learning & improving my podcast game every day, but I know these tips will get you off on the right foot if you’re just getting started.

10 Things to Know Before You Start a Podcast:

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1. Submit to Apple in advance.

Most people will be tuning into your podcast via Apple Podcasts, so you’ll need to submit your podcast to Apple Podcasts for approval before you plan to launch.

The problem is that Apple is a little elusive about how long it takes to review a podcast & approve it. While most people say they got approved in a few days, others have waited several weeks.

I submitted The Healthy Work Podcast about three weeks before I planned to launch just to be safe. I actually don’t exactly how long it took for them to approve me because I never got a confirmation email (although I did get confirmation when I submitted it that it was under review, weird).

Bottom line: give yourself plenty of buffer & submit earlier rather than later. To submit to Apple, you’ll need at least one episode ready & it will be automatically published once approved. If you’re like me & want to have a little more control of your podcast launch day, then I recommend creating an intro trailer episode to go live when you submit your podcast & Apple approves it.

After The Healthy Work Podcast was approved by Apple Podcasts, I also submitted it to Spotify & Stitcher. This makes my podcast more accessible to more people, which means MORE LISTENERS. I found all of the necessary links & forms via Buzzsprout, my podcast hosting platform, which walks you through the submission process to make it simpler. Buzzsprout also automatically submitted by podcast’s RSS feed to Google Play.

2. Be clear on your mission.

You gotta know who you’re talking to before you jump in. And you’re listeners should be able to recognize pretty quickly that they’re listening to a podcast created for them, otherwise you’ll probably lose them pretty quickly. If you’re not yet clear on your podcast’s mission, step back & ask yourself these questions:

  • Why are you starting a podcast?
  • What is your podcast about?
  • Who will benefit from listening to your podcast?
  • How will you know if your podcast is successful?

Creating a short intro episode or trailer for your podcast is a great way to state the mission of your podcast explicitly to your listeners & explain clearly WHO you created your podcast for. This is also a great way to keep yourself accountable to the message you promised your audience. In my intro episode for The Healthy Work Podcast, I introduce myself briefly, explain why I wanted to create the podcast, who the podcast is for, the format, & the episode length listeners can expect.

3. Launch with more than one episode.

Most experts recommend launching a podcast with several episodes. This helps you build momentum & “hook” loyal listeners more quickly. Launching with several episodes can also help boost SEO since each individual episode contributes to the findability of a podcast.

I actually had planned to launch with three episodes per my research, but ended up launching with two because #life. Not the end of the world, but I’d recommend starting with three or four episodes at launch if you’re able to swing it so that you can build trust and respect faster.

4. Send a mic to your guest.

Sound is the most important part of your podcast. Prioritize it. Ever listened to a podcast where you constantly had to turn the volume up & down because every time the guest starts speaking it sounds like they’re going through a wind tunnel? DON’T BE THAT PODCAST. If you record remotely like I do, you won’t be able to 100% control the environment your guests are in, but you can improve their sound DRASTICALLY by using a decent external microphone.

I always ask my guests if they own an external mic or headset when they book an interview slot. And if they don’t, I mail them one (this one) with a return label & envelope. This system has worked pretty well for me (except that one time I mailed a mic to the wrong address, whoops), & has ensured sound quality that’s never past the point of no return with a little editing.

Bonus tip: when you send a mic to your guests (or even if you don’t), include a handwritten thank-you note & maybe a little something extra to make them feel appreciated. I always send a handful of our super-cute punny Healthy Work stickers.

5. Invite people who have their own podcast.

Speaking of microphones, an important thing I’ve learned along the way is that everything is so much easier if you interview another podcast host. This is because 1) they’ve already got the equipment, so I don’t need to spend money mailing them a mic, 2) they probably have a quiet space to record in, 3) they are already comfortable with speaking on a podcast. So if you’re first starting out, try to book some people who have their own podcasts, just so things go a little bit more smoothly.

6. Create a podcast primer.

I send out a podcast primer to every guest I invite on my podcast, whether they’re a seasoned pro or it’s their very first interview. My primer walks guests through some tips for sounding great on the podcast (how to find a good space to record in, how far to be from the mic, what kind of headphones to wear, etc.). It’s not overly technical, but gives guests a better idea of what to expect during the interview from a logistics perspective as well as content perspective. I remind guests that every interview is different, but lay out a general outline for how the episode will look & include some questions to start thinking about.

7. Use Calendly to schedule interviews.

Calendly has been the perfect scheduling tool for my podcast interviews. I just send guests an email with the Calendly link, then they choose a time that works for them based on my availability. When they select a date/time, they’ll also be prompted to share a few basic details that help me prep for the interview. The form includes:

  • Do you have a podcast mic?
  • What’s your mailing address?
  • What’s your business url?
  • Instagram handle?
  • Share a brief bio...
  • What business topics do you love chatting about?
  • Is there something you’d like us to promote for you on the podcast?

The Zoom link for the interview is also housed right in the Calendly event for easy access on recording day. And because I’m only using Calendly to schedule podcast interviews, I can get away with using the free version.

8. Record on a split track.

Split or “multi-track” recording is when you record each person's audio independently. The benefits of a split recording is that you’ll have more flexibility and control over individual gain and volume levels. You’ll also have the ability to independently edit (clean, process, mute, etc.) sections of each track. This means that you don’t have to worry as much about interruptions & feedback. So for instance, when my cat jumped on my desk & sent pens, papers, & houseplants flying while a guest was in the middle of their epic story, it didn’t matter because I could easily edit out the commotion on my side of the audio later.

Luckily, Zoom now does split recordings; just adjust your settings before you hit record & you’ll automatically receive both the “all-in-one” recording and the split recording after it processes & exports.

9. Create a show notes template.

Do yourself a favor & set up a few simple processes that you can easily duplicate again & again per episode. This will save you lots of time in podcasting land. One of these processes for me is a show notes template. It’s super basic (you can create one in a Google Doc or Notion or wherever) but it reminds me exactly what info I need to curate for Buzzsprout before I publish a new podcast. I just duplicate it, rename it, & fill in the blanks.

  • Episode Title:
  • Guest/Artist:
  • Episode summary (one sentence):
  • Keywords/Tags:
  • Guest bio/intro:
  • On this episode we discuss (3-5 bullet point summary):
  • Resources from this episode (include hyperlinks):
  • Episode url (for show notes on website):

10. Anticipate technical difficulties.

Technical mishaps are inevitable. They’ll happen with your guest. They’ll happen with you. My best piece of advice for preemptively preparing for technical difficulties during an interview (when they’re most stressful!) is to build in extra time. I do this by having my guests book a 45-minute interview slot even though the interview should only be 20-30 minutes. This buffer time has been a LIFESAVER for me when a guest couldn’t get their mic working, or my headphones died mid-interview, or Zoom just wasn’t having it. Trust me, all of the experience & fancy equipment in the world won’t save you from having technical difficulties.

Must-Have Podcast Tools & Equipment:

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Podcasting is one of those things that you can do decently well on the cheap, or invest in professional-grade equipment with all of the bells & whistles. Right now, I’m taking a fairly frugal approach to producing The Healthy Work Podcast & doing all of the editing & production myself with just a few basic tools.

  • Calendly: Like I said above, I use Calendly for scheduling interviews & collecting important information from my guests. Cost: $0
  • Zoom: I record all my podcast interviews in Zoom, and despite a few technical glitches here & there, I’ve never lost a recording & am always pretty pleased with the sound quality. I use Zoom for other aspects of my business so I have the Pro Plan. A big selling point for this upgrade is that you’re not limited to a 40-minute meeting like in the free plan. Cost: $14.99/month
  • GarageBand: If you have an apple device, GarageBand is a user-friendly audio editing app. After I record each episode, I pop the file into GarageBand for some basic editing: adjusting volume, cutting out umms, interruptions, or uncomfortably long pauses, adding & fading out the outro, etc. I also recorded & produced my intro in GB. Great for beginners! Cost: $0
  • Auphonic: This is my other secret weapon for ensuring high sound quality. After I’ve recorded & edited my podcast to my satisfaction, I run my .WAV file through Auphonic for a final tuneup. Auphonic is an automatic audio post production web service. You can learn more about it here, but basically it helps me get a better end product, audio-wise, without having to be an audio expert and spend hours editing in GarageBand or beyond. I recommend trying out their free version (up to 2 hours of audio per month) to see if it’s a good fit for you. Cost: $11/month
  • Buzzsprout: You can’t have a podcast without a host. I’ve had absolutely zero issues with Buzzsprout. They simplify the publishing & listing process, plus provide some basic listeners stats. Cost: $12/month (for 3 hours of hosting)
  • Microphone: There are a ton of mic options out there, starting as low as $50. I splurged a little & opted for the Rode NTUSB Versatile Studio-Quality USB Microphone. I bought it in a value bundle that included a mount, professional boom arm, pop shield, & a few other accessories. Cost: $268
  • Headphones: You’ll definitely want to wear headphones when you record so that your microphone doesn’t pick up the other side of the call. Earbuds and AirPods will typically leak audio. Closed over-the-ear headphones or in-ear-canal phones are your best bet. I already had these Skullcandy Bluetooth headphones & they do the trick. Cost: $109.99

Don’t forget these things before launching your podcast!

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Podcast theme: You don’t have to have music, but most podcasts include a musical theme in their intros/outros. It’s a great way to add a little personality & brand recogniction to your podcast. I downloaded my free theme “Bright Bright Sunshine” from Envato.

Artwork: You’ll need podcast artwork before you submit your podcast to Apple for approval. Don’t overthink this. Your artwork can be simple with the title of your podcast clearly stated. If your podcast is part of a larger brand, I’d choose colors & fonts that reflect that brand. Here are some additional tips for designing great podcast artwork (for example, don’t use images of microphones in your artwork because they’re already everywhere in podcast land!).

Pro tip: to be eligible for featured placement on Apple Podcasts, artwork must be a 3000 x 3000 pixel JPEG or PNG file with 72 dpi in the RGB color space.

P.s. I recently interviewed nutritionist-podcast-host-boss-lady, Dana Monsees, on The Healthy Work Podcast, & she also shared her helpful podcasting insights. Listen to that episode here.

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