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From idea to podcast in 2.5 weeks

I used to think that making a podcast takes a lot of time, money and some unknown “x” but I was wrong on all three.

This community has been really good to me and I know that there are some people here who seek to express themselves not only through code but other media. Most people speaking about making podcasts are already way into things and thus take their advice seriously. I don’t claim that I found the perfect setup but I can assure you that the one I am presenting here works.

I have purposely listed the categories as well as all items within in their order of importance.

Finding a topic

First things first: You should only speak about a topic that you are interested in. In my case, that was automation. It is not the thing that keeps me up at night but I am genuinely interested in the topic and I could picture myself having a conversation with more than 10 people about the subject without getting bored. After all, you won’t be making money for a long time anyway so you might as well enjoy the ride. When it comes to competition, I would not worry too much about it. My field happens to be a niche that not many people care to make a podcast about but that also means that demand – well… matches that. At least temporarily. But even if you are in a crowded place, don’t let that discourage you. Your (yes, your!) personal spin will attract those people who are thrown off by the others or are simply not aware of it. To keep me sane, I wrote these exact lines on the top of my notebook:

Feel pressured by the competition? Then ask yourself this: How many new fitness and lifestyle podcasts are being successfully launched each day?

So there’s that.

Getting guests

If you’re like me, that’s the part that is probably most scary to you. But since you are reading this, you already have what is needed in order to find people: The Internet. I had some backfill friends and former colleagues but I knew that this was not going to make the cut in the long-run. So I reached out to people (e.g. here and here) and guess what: This is how I found two wonderful guests already and I know that more will come as we speak! Another thing that was surprisingly successful was this: email about 10 people at a time. I have a few episodes with people now but once that pipeline dries out, I will definitely do it again. Bear in mind that those emails can’t be templated – nor do they have to be – as people will find out about that immediately. Bear in mind that people are generally open when asked if they want to join a podcast as long as you are not trying to get Kanye West on your microphone.

Software

Total: 30/month+30/month +100 one-off

Here is all you need in order to get started:

  • Website & Podcast hosting: Transistor.FM charges $19 per month but offers you the whole package from podcast distribution to all possible channels, a bunch of automation and a first website1 to get out there. An alternative would be Simplecast but I thought the other pricing mechanism was nicer.
  • Recording: Use a free tool! All it needs to do is record your audio, so Garage Band or Audacity will do just fine.
  • Interviewing guests: Zencastr does exactly what you want it to do – record your guest in a reasonable quality. Don’t worry about getting a second microphone or handheld recorder – unless you are remote-recording bird noises, you won’t need it for a long time.
  • Editing: Descript ($10/month) Their software automatically transcribes your recordings and you can edit audio (and video) by just moving around text – it does not get more simple than that. You can also go the traditional route with a tool like Garage Band or Pro Tools (or really any kind of software) but in most cases, Descript will be a 20x improvement.
  • Email automation: Mailchimp directly integrates with Transistor FM and you generally can’t go wrong with it
  • Music (optional, $15): You can get a decent jingle from Audiojungle if you search for Podcast or Logo. But there are successful podcasts which don’t have one so don’t worry about it. And of course, you can make your own but again, consider time/value.
  • Domain (optional)
  • Notes: It doesn’t really matter which one you choose as long as you keep all your notes in one place and accessible all the time. I use Notion but I could have used OneNote or even more obscure services, too.

Hardware

Total: $150

  • Laptop/PC (I assume you already have that)
  • Microphone (optional, $80-120): I use the Samson Q2U and it records all my uhms and aahs perfectly! But since you won’t believe me on this subject anyway, check out this article.
  • Pop filter (optional but worth it, $10)
  • Quiet room

A word of caution

Just because you can, it doesn’t mean that you should. But if you are inclined to do it and were feared that you couldn’t do it: Do it. Things will fall into place once you get started. You can, of course, divert from everything that I have said in here but if you just want a working setup, feel free to copy & paste.

Don’t procrastinate

Hours quickly turn into days when it comes to researching the “best and cheapest”. Bear in mind that your first episodes will sound like crap either way and that this is rarely because you are not sitting in a Bugatti on a deserted island with a Telefunken U47 in your hand. It is because you are nervous and because you don’t know the right questions to ask and because you don’t know what you don’t know.

I already have a list of things that I eventually would like to have but the things that matter most at this point are the following:

  1. Find guests
  2. Have an interesting conversation or solo episode
  3. Edit one episode in less than 5 hours and
  4. Get it out there

Being this harsh is not to disrespect you or my audience, quite the opposite: The first people who are jumping on your show are forgiving when it comes to new adventures, what matters to them is that you succeed. They don’t just follow the herd but they are genuinely interested in (1) that topic or (2) you as a person and the best thing you can do is put yourself out there with what you have. And while you are at it, your wishlist will automatically increase but with every episode, you will know better what to look for.

Have fun!

I should do a podcast


  1. In case you are a proud web developer during the day, don’t fall for the trap of building a website for starters. Unless you are making a podcast on design but then audio doesn’t really cut it. A podcast is meant for the ear and all you need to worry about in the beginning is the content itself. Everything else is procrastination at its finest.