Podcasting: The complete guide for 2022
Updated: Jun 28, 2022
You’ve got the passion, and you want to share it with everyone.
But there’s a lot between your voice and the world, so let’s try and cover the most important things to think about while podcasting.
When you know what you’ll be podcasting about, how to carve out your place in the market is the thing to consider. For your own sake, try answering the following questions:
What is your unique selling point?
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Who is your audience in the short- and the long term?
What will your audience be coming for, and what will they be staying for?
The biggest challenge for most podcasts is to establish and maintain a format.
Sure, everybody wants to be the next weekly sensation, but most of us do not have the capacity to do it. Podcasting requires tons of planning, time and effort, therefore, think carefully on whether you can sustain the output of episodes of your chosen frequency.
The pressure to deliver an episode ever so often will tear on anyone, regardless of how high the spirits initially, so make sure to plan a long time ahead.
My recommendation is to plan the entire first season before even thinking about recording - especially for first-time podcasters.
What to talk about in each episode, and with whom? How many episodes per season? How long should every episode be?
Create a buffer of three to five episodes before releasing the first if your content allows for it. This will be helpful when unexpected delays or other challenges inevitably messes with your schedule.
Knowing exactly where things are going makes everything so much easier. Not only will you feel more in control, but your audience will likely take you more seriously as well.
Having an end in sight can serve as motivation to overcome every challenge, and every task will feel more satisfying to complete.
And after the first season is over, you can allow yourself some breathing room to reflect on how things went, and how to improve for season 2.
Establishing a workflow will prevent you from being overwhelmed.
Who is in charge of recording, editing, mastering, publishing, marketing?
Who will book the guests?
How will you actually go about recording?
Define the roles and responsibilities of your production, and make sure you’ve got people who've got the time and the skills to perform them.
Eventually, things start to get technical. I’ve listed my recommended kinds of gear, from the bare necessities for beginners, all the way up to expert-level.
Digital Workstation (DAW)
Compressor, EQ, Gate & Limiter (Most DAWs include such plugins by default, which is enough to edit and master a podcast)
Studio-level room treatment
Gain automation, multiband compression, saturation, loudness metering and EQ flattening plugins
Studio monitors and multiple headphones for reference
The better the quality in, the better the quality out. A lot can be done in post-production, but for the love of everything that’s holy, don’t rely on it.
Perhaps the biggest challenge while recording is to determine the amount of gain. Gain is the measure of how much signal is being amplified by a device, and is typically expressed in dB. The higher the gain, the more amplification is occurring.
Gain can have a significant impact on the overall sound of a recording. Too much gain can result in distortion.
There is no golden ratio to this, but as a rule of thumb, averaging between -23 and -18 with peaks no higher than -9 is a safe level of gain.
Make sure to eliminate as much background noise or other unwanted sounds as possible before recording. Recording in a small room is a good idea, as it allows for less ambience and echo.
Room treatment is important to ensure a good recording. If you don’t have access to a proper studio, using fabrics and other soft padding on hard surfaces to reduce reverb (or “room tone”) is a good idea.
Read this guide on creating the optimal recording environment for more detailed info.
When podcasting with others, always record every speaker on individual tracks.
Avoid having one person be heard in someone else’s microphone. If two voices are heard in the same mic at the same time, it is very difficult to edit out one without infringing on the overall quality.
The easiest way to avoid this is to sit far enough apart from each other, and to makes sure the microphones have enough gain to pick up the intended speaker and no one else.
Despite being close to the same thing, editing and mastering are different enough to make a certain distinction.
In editing, we focus on what and when something is being heard.
Usually, a podcast contains the following elements:
Speakers: place each speaker on an individual track on the timeline.
Intro/outro music: place them on the timeline and apply sidechain compression to make the music “duck” for any speech playing at the same time. Make sure you have the rights to use any music used in your podcast!
Bumper music: cut out a piece of music suitable for your podcast. Bumpers are used to “reset” the mood between conversations.
Sound effects: insert any effects you like and make sure in particular that they are neither too loud nor too quiet.
In mastering, we focus on how things sound. Target levels become important, and the goal is to create a smooth listening experience.
For those of you who are new to audio processing, there are the fundamentals of podcast mastering:
Gain staging: make sure each track averages about the same loudness to start
Subtractive processing: using EQ, de-esser, de-clicker, de-reverb and so on to remove unwanted frequencies and sounds
Compression: evening out the overall loudness of a track by reducing dynamic range
Additive processing: using EQ, multiband compression, etc. to add flavour to your tracks by increasing desirable frequencies and such
Panning: ever so slightly pan one speaker to the right and another to the left to enhance the stereo dynamics of the conversation. Do not overdo this.
Limiter: catches the odd loud peaks where compression would be excessive
Metering: making sure your output meets your target levels
Podcast target levels:
The recommended target level for podcast audio is -16 LUFS (Loudness Units Full Scale). This ensures that your podcast will sound great on a wide range of playback devices, from small portable speakers to large home theater systems.
Use metering devices, or plugins, to measure LUFS.
Read this guide for more in depth on target levels in audio production.
Time to publish your podcast. These are a few common hosting platforms to choose from, with the pros and the cons that come with them:
Perhaps the most popular choice for podcasters, especially beginners.
Simple & fast
Customizable website included
Private podcasting/premium feed
And while you can create your own website, with your own RSS-feed and upload your podcast that way, it’s generally not recommended.
There is so much more to marketing than one might think. If you were able to answer the questions in step 1, you’re already ahead. Knowing what you bring to the table, and who your audience is is key to good marketing.
By engaging actively in marketing, you might find new outlets for creativity and ways to spread your message. It takes work, but it’s necessary in order to establish yourself in the increasingly competitive landscape of podcasting.
A few rules of thumb for podcast marketing:
Work just as hard on promoting as creating
Provide insights & solutions to problems
Network and collaborate
Post even more on social media
The first two to eight weeks are the most crucial for early growth
Create a plan
Whatever ways you choose to go about it, do so whole-heartedly. Create a plan and stick to it as best you can. What to post, where to post, and how often.
Consistency is important, and just knowing what to do next will help you soldier on over the next hurdle when everything seems overwhelming, and it’s so much easier to evaluate your strategy if you keep things organized.
Try to be as active as possible on social media. By maximizing engagement and exposure, you will be relevant in people’s minds, as well as to the algorithms - which means more engagement and exposure.
Squeeze out more content of what you create. Have an upcomoing guest? Post about them on social media, create polls and other engaging posts.
The guest just left the studio? Post about it and hype up your upcoming episode!
Your SEO potential increases the more links point your way. Try your best to spread out, but beware of over-extending. You probably won’t have time to be ALL over the place, so pick the platforms you think are relevant for you and your audience and go for it. You can always increase your social media presence later.
Snippets & highlights
Salvage and create new pieces of content to fit in on multiple platforms.
Instagram and TikTok are the fast-food of social media; geared towards fast-paced consumption for short attention spans - you only have 3 seconds to grab people’s attention. Because of the rapid nature of these platforms, audiograms and other visual content is becoming more and more important to remain competitive, but creators can also get a lot more exposure and fast.
YouTube tends to be more forgiving, and is suitable for longer highlights, as well as entire episodes.
Collect email addresses
Whether by providing free stuff on your website, newsletters or otherwise, try to collect as many email addresses as possible, from as early as possible. You will thank yourself later.
Email is a great way of sharing your episode to people who have already engaged with your podcast/website, which means they’re “hot leads”.
Interact with your audience
Interacting through social media is an obvious one, but why stop there! Be creative and explore the avenues available to you. If you are still working on establishing your podcast, allow your listeners to be a part of the journey, ask them to contribute - invite them to interact.
Here are some concrete examples for interacting with your audience:
Encourage them to send you emails, or messages on social media
Ask for listener contributions for the show
Build a community by creating a Discord server, a Facebook group, a subreddit etc
Calls to action
Positive reviews are very important, especially early on. I don’t care how you do it, just get your listeners to write them!
Then again, a listener can only review your podcast so many times... Coming up with new calls to action is a good way to squeeze out more engagement from each listener. The fewer you have, the more you need each one.
Imagine if every loyal listener gave a review and recommended your podcast to at least one other person.
Encourage interaction by incentivising your listeners to follow you on social media, and perhaps even become patrons.
Incentive is important, because many casual listeners might need an extra push out the wagon to help out. Premium content is a popular option, but be creative and come up with solutions suited to your podcast and your audience.
We don’t like the word “competitors” around here. We prefer “industry colleagues”.
You share an audience (and if you don’t, you might!), so set yourselves up for a win-win situation and feed off of each other’s success!
Here are some collaboration tips:
Be a guest on each other’s podcast
Record an episode together and post on both feeds
Lend each other content to include in an episode
Create interactive social media content together, like challenge-trends, or polls
Seek out relevant aggregators for your content and get featured!
These can be websites, instagram pages, etc, and their function is to collect relevant content for their followers and spread it.
Consider also the many different independent podcast player apps, such as Overcast, Stitcher, and Podcast Addict that are worth looking into for the same reasons.
To wrap things up
So there you have it – our complete guide to starting your own podcast. We hope you found this information helpful and that it has inspired you to get started on your very own podcasting journey. If you need a little help getting started, let us know. Our team of audio experts would be happy to assist you with recording your first episode, processing the audio, publishing your show, and marketing it like a pro. What are you waiting for? Podcast away!
Let us know if you found this article useful!