How to Start a Podcast: Create Your First Episode in 6 Steps
If you're considering starting a podcast, planning your first episode thoroughly should be a top priority. But, what makes a good first podcast episode?
In today’s post, we’ll share a comprehensive step-by-step guide that help you kickstart your episode planning. Through this checklist, you’ll be able to:
- Take your first concrete steps toward starting a podcast
- Launch your first episode flawlessly
- Develop a predictable creative process for your podcast
- Begin to build your subscriber base.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
14 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Recording Your First Podcast Episode
When it comes to starting a podcast, there are several factors to consider. Getting started can be a whirlwind of ideas, short deadlines, and excitement. However, if you want to make your show profitable in the long run, you should be careful with how you plan each episode.
So, before you start recording your first podcast episode, you should ask yourself a few questions:
- What is your podcast’s goal?
- What motivates you to start a podcast?
- What do you want your podcast to achieve?
- How would you describe the content of your podcast?
- What will be a relevant podcast topic, and how will topics be selected?
- In your first episode, what will you talk about?
- Who is your target audience and what does your podcast offer them?
- What’s your first episode’s format?
- Will your podcast be audio-only or will it be a “vodcast”?
- Will your episodes be pre-recorded or streamed live?
- Do you prefer to have guests or stable co-hosts?
- How long will your first episode be?
- When will your first episode be released?
- How frequently will you be posting?
With those questions out of the way, let’s take a look at 6 essential steps to creating your first podcast episode.
How to Record Your First Podcast Episode (in 6 Steps)
In this section, we’ll share 6 essential steps you should take to create your first podcast episode.
- Identifying your target listeners
- Choosing a topic for your episode
- Determining the episode’s structure
- Choosing the right microphone & headphones
- Choosing trustworthy distribution platforms
- Adding music & sound effects
Let’s dive deeper.
Identify your Target Audience
Before creating your podcast show, be sure to identify and define your listener personas. Based on your listener personas, you'll be better able to determine what topics to cover in your first episode.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are your listeners? What’s their age?
- Is their location relevant to their ability to enjoy the show? If so, where should they be located?
- Is their educational background relevant?
- What are their interests? What topics do they think about in their day-to-day life?
- When they are online, what do they do? What are their favorite websites & content creators?
- What can you offer them that no other creator can?
Brainstorm Podcast Topic Ideas
You already know:
- Who are your listeners
- What kinds of conversations you want to have with them
So now, you need to pick a fitting topic for your first episode. When brainstorming ideas, keep in mind that:
- Your topic idea should be valuable or meet your potential listener's needs. Let your audience’s interests motivate and guide you.
- You should not only care about capturing potential listeners’ attention superficially but also about providing genuinely high-quality content. Stick to topics you know in-depth. Alternatively, be willing to do your research.
- If you or your guest don’t have previous experience as podcasters, try prioritizing topics that will be easy to talk about.
Pro-tip: Check out some successful episodes from podcasts with an audience similar to yours. But don't copy your competitors blindly. Don’t be afraid to put your own spin on your other podcasters’ best ideas.
Determine the Episode’s Structure
Let’s be honest: there's no universal recipe for structuring a podcast episode. Your episode’s structure is up to you. However, certain segments tend to appear in all podcast formats. And they may be helpful when you’re structuring your first episode.
These segments include:
- Musical intro - It consists of your podcast’s theme song if it has one, or a song specially chosen in relation to the episode’s topic. It usually appears before or after the spoken introduction.
- Introduction – In the introduction, let your listeners know what topics you'll cover in the episode and introduce your episode guests. Depending on your podcast’s tone, this segment can be taken as a relaxed moment to break the ice with your guest. Or you can share a special message with your listeners before getting into the episode’s content.
- Main section – Take a moment to introduce your audience to the different topics you’ll cover in your episode. According to your podcast format, you can divide them into different sections (such as monologue and interview sections). The most important thing is that all your episode’s content flows like storytelling.
- Outro & Call to Action – In the outro, summarize what you've covered during the episode and share some interesting conclusions. Plus, you can tell your audience what topics you're going to cover next, and who you'll be bringing on as a guest. Finally, include a call to action to get listeners to follow your social media or to subscribe to your podcast.
- Musical outro
Need help writing your first podcast episode script? Discover our step-by-step podcast script guide.
Choose the Right Microphone, Headphones & Recording Software
Now that you've identified your audience, selected the topic of your first episode, and defined its structure, you can start putting together your podcast setup. Your equipment will determine your podcast’s sound quality. So, it can make or break your episode. episode.
To start, you must have:
- A reliable microphone
- High-quality headphones
- Recording and editing software
Microphones play an important role in podcast recording, there’s no doubt about that. If you want to provide your listeners with a pleasant experience, your voice needs to be heard clearly in every episode. So, having a quality microphone to record your podcast episodes is non-negotiable.
There are two types of podcast microphones: condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. It’s common for content creators to use USB condenser microphones.
Creators choose condenser microphones because:
- They’re relatively affordable
- They provide high-quality audio
- Some models can be connected directly to the computer without the need for an audio mixer.
What type of microphone you should choose depends on:
- The context where your episodes are recorded
- Whether you’ll have guests or not
- Your budget
Need help understanding and comparing microphone options? Check out our list of the top 5 podcast microphones for beginners.
Whether you're recording in the studio or conducting interviews remotely, good headphones are essential. Additionally, if you record your episodes at your podcasting studio with guests, you should offer the same quality headphones to them.
Basically, you should choose high-quality headphones because:
- They allow you to take full control of how you sound
- They prevent ambient noise from filtering into your recording
Your headphones will accompany you during all your podcast recording sessions, so they’re an indispensable investment.
Luckily, there are several headphone options you can pick from. Check out our exclusive post on headphones to find out which ones are the best match for your podcast format.
Recording & Editing Software
After preparing your setup, it's time to record and edit the show.
In some cases, podcasters decide not to edit their episodes. A variety of reasons contribute to this. But most commonly, it’s because:
- Editing takes time
- Some podcasters believe that spontaneity will be appreciated by their listeners.
This is especially common for interview podcasts, which rarely undergo (or require) deep editing.
However, we highly recommend you edit your first podcast episode.
Overall, you should edit your first episode because:
- Editing will allow you to enhance audio quality
- You can edit out parts that didn't work out so well, to make your episode easier to consume
- You can add cinematic music and special effects
Editing can be surprisingly easy, even if you have no previous experience. There are many great tools to choose from, regardless of your expertise level and budget. If you’re just starting out, we recommend you try Audacity or Pro Tools Intro. Both tools are free.
Choose Trustworthy Distribution Platforms
Podcasts live on distribution platforms. Basically, a distribution platform is software that hosts your episodes and allows listeners to enjoy them. Therefore, if you want your first podcast episode to reach a wide audience, you should be mindful of where to host it.
Nowadays, there are many hosting options, and most of them distribute podcasts across popular streaming platforms.
Commonly, these platforms include:
- Apple Podcasts
- Google Podcasts
We recommend you try out Anchor. Anchor is Spotify’s beginner-friendly distribution platform. It’s absolutely free - and it can help you streamline your monetization.
Would you like to learn more about how to upload and distribute your first podcast episode? Learn more on our beginner's guide to podcasting.
Don’t Forget to Add Music & Sound Effects
Adding music and special effects to your podcast can really help shape its identity. The possibilities are endless, get creative!
The right music can not only make the listening experience more enjoyable but also set the tone of a particular episode moment. For instance, if you have a comedy podcast, special effects can help you land a punchline.
Bonus: Promote Your Episode Across Marketing Channels
Your podcast's first episode may be great, but you won’t get very far if you don’t share it.
Hence, it’s essential to:
- Start building your community as soon as you can
- Reach out to your audience across marketing channels
- Create a solid content marketing strategy
There are many types of content formats you can produce, but short videos are one of the most effective. In fact, according to a Hubspot survey, 85% of marketers believe short-form videos are the most effective social media format.
Creating audiograms from your episodes’ highlights is the most efficient way to include short-form videos in your podcast promotion strategy.
And with Audiotease, creating professional, on-brand audiograms is easy and cost-effective.
Want to promote your podcast’s first episode with a stunning audiogram? Try Audiotease for free today.