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The 5 Most Important Things When Starting A Podcast

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(By Dave Jackson) You want to start a podcast? You’ve heard how every TV show, ex-radio DJ, and empty nester with something to say is starting a podcast. You’ve also heard that some shows are making $455,000 a year from people contributing to the show. You would like a small piece of that. Here are five things you need to know.

It Takes Time If you are truly focused, you might get your production down to a 4-to-1 ratio. This means that a 15-minute podcast will take an hour (or four times as long) to create. I know what you’re thinking. How does talking into a microphone for 15-minutes take an hour? You need to come up with the idea, record it, edit it, write at least a paragraph about it, and then upload your file and post it. That 15-minute podcast just took an hour.

Recording Is Easy — Podcasting Is Hard Talking into a microphone is easy. Anyone can press “Record” in Audacity software and create an episode. The problem is it may not be very good. As someone who listens to a LOT of podcasts on a weekly basis, I would say there is a fair number of podcasts that make me cringe.

Podcasting requires knowing who your audience is. Your episode is a gift. “Everyone” is not your target audience. By having a more precise topic (sometimes called a niche, or “niching down”) you end up with a smaller audience that is more devoted. I had a client who did a show called “Special Mouse” that focused on taking people with special needs to Disney parks. The people that listened to that show LOVED it as they’d previously felt they were the only people going through this type of challenge.

Figure out who your audience is so you can give them the gift of your podcast.

It’s Not The Technology I doubt someone will come up to you and say, “You HAVE to listen to this podcast!” and when you ask “why” they answer, “The audio quality is like nothing I’ve ever heard!”

You do not need to spend thousands of dollars on equipment. I have helped hundreds of podcasters set up successful podcasts that spend the same amount of money you would on an Xbox (or less).

Your sound quality needs to be non-distracting. When how things sound distract from what is being presented, I’m gone.

While you don’t have to spend thousands, everyone does need their own microphone. There are great microphones for under $100. Don’t buy one microphone and put it in the middle of the table for four people. Will it pick up your conversation? Yes. Will it be listenable? No.

Get Comfortable, This May Take A Second Jerry Seinfeld has a ton of cash. Jerry obsesses over every word in his comedy act (no winging it) and is constantly working to improve his act. Consider this:

  • It took him four years to get on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
  • He was awesome on the Tonight Show for nine years before NBC gave him his own show.
  • The television show Seinfeld did poorly for the first four years of its existence and was almost cancelled.

This means it took 17 years for Seinfeld to be a “hit.” Valerie Geller, in her book Beyond Powerful Radio, points out that it takes three years to build an audience on radio.

When I hear people talk about using crowdfunding sites like Patron six months after starting a podcast I think they misread the word and thought it was “fundcrowding,” as you need a crowd first, then you can monetize. They had it all backwards.

Get A Focus Group for Your Show Steve Martin, in his Masterclass series, said, “So many people ask ‘How do I get an agent?’ or ‘How do I get a manager?’ when they should be asking ‘How do I get good?’”

I have people come to me who want to try a monetize their show or set up Facebook ads, etc. There is no sense promoting a show until you know that it connects with your audience.

Dave Jackson is a Hall of Fame podcaster and consultant. He started the School of Podcasting in 2005 and has helped more podcasters with their podcast than any other human on the planet. Find him at

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