Podcast Production How-To Essentials

A man in a cap working on audio podcast production.

Podcast production isn’t as simple as podcasters would like it to be. In podcasting, the behind-the-scenes work is always important. One of the primary drivers of success in the sector will always be the process.

By conducting podcast production well, you’ll be able to provide your listeners with high-quality episodes. These episodes will be clear of background noise and dead air, for instance. You can also spice up your podcast with better transitions and sound effects.

Of course, hard work is a factor in great podcast production. You will also need some tools on hand to help you when you clean up and work on your episodes. In this post, we’ll show you how to navigate the waters of podcast production and give you a full list of what you’ll need to know.

How to create a plan

Planning is essential for any path we choose to take in life. It will keep you on track and prevent you from taking unneeded detours. We may say the same for podcasting. There are a few key points to consider as soon as you begin the procedure.

That way, you’ll know how and where to concentrate your efforts. It’s discouraging to put in all that energy just to see no tangible benefits in the end. Draw a route so you can figure out how to get to the finish line.

Preferably, define these three basic questions first:

  • What are the major characteristics of your target market?
  • What format will your show take? (Interview? Casual Conversation? Formal Presentation?)
  • What will the length of your episodes be?

How to define your audience

A woman wearing headphones and smiling.

Picking your ideal listener should not be too complex. Think collectively. Imagine a person you want to start a conversation with. List down all the characteristics, traits, and likes of that person. By doing this, you are providing yourself with a sort of avatar to begin with. The questions give you a glimpse of your target listeners’ demographics, psychographics, and socio graphics.

Choosing your primary audience will also define what content pillar you should train your focus on. After defining what type of person they are, you can now decide what topic and subtopics to discuss on your show.

For instance, say that you want to talk to business owners and e-commerce sellers. Then, you know you should talk about the supply chain, logistics, marketing, and other subjects related to business.

The main purpose of knowing the specific audience you will serve is value. How can you bring relevant solutions to the table? What special something does your show have which can make their lives better?

Benefits of defining your audience well:

  • Focus brings out your show’s niche
  • A honed audience will bring you sponsorship and collaboration
  • Audience clarity gives you a better idea of how to curate your blog posts and other content

How to know your show’s format

A smiling woman sitting in a chair in front of lighting equipment.

Before structuring your episodes, determine the style of your podcast. The previous step of defining your audience should provide you with a starting point of how you should deliver the message.

Ask questions like these:

  • Does the category you belong to dictate that you should share information through a conversation rather than an interview or roundtable format? 
  • Is it better to do narratives and share your experiences with your listeners? 

The format of your podcast will determine how well you get the message across without boring your audience.

  • Does the category you belong to dictate that you should share information through a conversation rather than an interview or roundtable format? 
  • Is it better to do narratives and share your experiences with your listeners? The format of your podcast will determine how well you get the message across without boring your audience.

Here are the different common podcast formats:

Interview

A woman holding a microphone for a man to talk.

Interview podcasts involve two key sides in each episode—the host and the guest(s). With this style of podcast, make sure that the guest(s) you are interviewing have sufficient authority and expertise around the particular topic of the episode.

Interview-style podcasts can require a significant amount of study. At the same time, the podcast host must have the skills to extract intriguing stories spontaneously from his or her guests. This format is ideal for presenting a variety of ideas and opinions.

There are two types of interviews — expert interviews and entertainment interviews.

Expert Interviews

Usually, expert interviews aim to discuss a current issue or subject about an industry. Thus, it is important that the interviewee is a thought leader in this realm. For example, sit with a guest like Taylor Swift if you want your audience to learn about songwriting and production.

Entertainment Interviews

You may invite guests to tell interesting stories about their life in entertainment-style podcasts. Comedians or entertainment journalists frequently host these types of programs.

Monologue 

A woman smiling in front of microphones.

In this type of interview, a single host speaks for the duration of each episode. Listeners tune in to hear and learn more about a certain issue. Some might listen to grab informed opinions on current events. 

The monologue format has the advantage of not requiring the help of others. There is no requirement for the host to book guests or coordinate schedules with another host. This technique, however, still necessitates a lot of research and knowledge. Monologue podcast shows can apply to any topic. 

Storytelling

Some podcasters base their podcast on fiction and nonfiction stories. And a lot of listeners enjoy listening to these podcasts. Although podcast shows are entirely audio, they may make for interesting stories.

Synchronize everything and present the story in a fitting atmosphere. Be sure to include the proper introduction, background music, and vocal tone.

Lore by Aaron Mahnke, for example, tries to educate its audience on conspiracy theories and historical thrillers. Aaron’s journey explores the darker side of history on his own, encountering things, people, and places from our worst nightmares. 

It is preferable to disclose stories in advance and provide a comprehensive timeline of occurrences.

Conversational

Two people having a conversation.

Conversational, co-hosted podcasts are akin to traditional radio shows. In this technique, two podcast speakers engage in interesting conversations about diverse subjects and issues. Co-hosts routinely discuss current events and provide insightful — or amusing — commentary.

This podcasting style requires an outrageous sense of connection and familiarity between the hosts. It simply will not work if the hosts dislike each other or don’t have a solid relationship with each other. It will simply add to the awkwardness of the conversation.

The dialogue should appear light and effortless. The co-hosts should refrain from sounding overly scripted. They should be able to tell when it’s appropriate to inject spontaneous comments to make the episode sound more natural.

How to set your podcast length

You should have complete control over the length of your podcast episodes. However, you should also make sure that your chosen length is enough to exhaust a topic in one episode. It should also not be too long for your audience.

For example, say that your target audience is students who commute 30 minutes from home to school. As a result, aim for a podcast duration of roughly 20 to 25 minutes on average. As you can see, we are not using the complete 30 minutes for each episode. We know they will need a little time to get in and out of vehicles and prepare to listen to the episode.

Here are some more podcast lengths that are suitable for different content:

  • 15 to 30 minutes – brief stories, current events, and daily news
  • 30 to 60 minutes – storytelling, interviews, and investigations
  • Over 60 minutes – live broadcast with multiple guests, in-depth conversations, and roundtable discussions

Only use one length parameter. Being consistent with how long your podcast plays gives your audience a look at what to expect from every episode. You are allowing your program to fit into your listeners’ daily routine.

Planning your episodes ahead of time

A calendar showing days of the week and dates.

Get several episodes ready before the launch day.

It’s better if you have ten episodes ready to go before you start. This will provide you with peace of mind. Knowing that you have a buffer relieves the pressure of trying to figure out what the next episode should be about.

The stress of meeting a deadline can prevent your creative juices from flowing. Also, there is a big likelihood that you are going to produce bad quality content if you are in a panicked state. Before firing the first shot, take it easy, and load your gun with ten bullets.

Know the starting point of ideas, research

You do not have to squeeze everything out of your brain at the time you decide to brainstorm about a topic. Use valuable resources instead of pressuring yourself too much to come up with an idea. 

Try browsing the internet and find benchmarks. Start with opening some podcasting platforms like Apple Podcast or Spotify and search those that are related to your topic. By looking at their number of reviews and episode popularity, you will identify what works and what does not.

Know your prospective guest(s)

To men doing research on a laptop and discussing points from a whiteboard.

Do your homework if you are going to welcome guests on your show. Find some of their previous guest spots and interviews. You’ll get a sense of how they act, which will help you come up with better questions to ask. 

When drafting questions, make sure that they can answer them with quality insights so that you will adequately address the concerns that your listeners have.

Name your podcast

After all the brainstorming and curation of your content pillars, it is now time to give your show a title. Most podcasters find naming their podcast quite intimidating. But for some, it will be impossible for them to move on to the next steps of podcast production without the name.

You should start with flexible words. For instance, if you want to talk about sports, never put a single sport in your title like “The Basketball Show” as it will give people the idea that you are only talking about basketball on the show. 

Keep it succinct. Always go for shorter names—they are easier to remember. Shows that are three to four words long are convenient to utter out loud. Also, it will look much better on your cover art. 

Make sure that the name is searchable. No one wants a podcast name that is hard to spell and find on the search bar. Let your audience spell your podcast name as it sounds. Avoid puns and creative misspellings.

Here are the other things to note in creating a podcast name:

  • Avoid the words “The” and “Podcast”
  • Avoid taken names
  • Make sure the name is ready for the show’s growth and evolution
  • Choose a name that you want to say out loud

The Essential Equipment 

A podcast producer studio with a microphone and recording software.

The equipment you choose in podcasting matters. You want to have equipment that will serve you as you transition from pre to post podcast production. Podcasting studios can make everything easier on you with their recording services. Yet, our goal here is to discuss the how-to of setting up a remote studio at your disposal. 

You might be curious about how much money you need to take out of your pockets to have your own setup. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a lot of fancy stuff for quality podcast production. However, your equipment is the initial investment you make. Opt for high-quality hardware and software so it lasts longer. 

Here are the essential pieces of equipment you should have to get the ball rolling:

Laptop

Yes, podcasters need a laptop. It is one staple of podcast production. Aside from its portability, a laptop offers adaptability and convenience for users. With the help of software and other tools that work on a laptop, you can incorporate background music, cut out unnecessary parts in your recording, make transitions, and interesting intro and outro.

However, there are a lot of considerations you need to remember when deciding to buy a laptop for podcasting. 

RAM (Random Access Memory)

The first consideration is the RAM. This is the laptop’s capacity to store data chunks one at a time. Go for a laptop with RAM of at least 8GB. Podcasters need higher RAM since audio tracks, editing software, and other necessary data impose higher levels of processing pressure on the device. Higher RAM means fewer delays and less processing lag.

CPU – Central Processing Unit

CPU defines how well can your device carry out different tasks. It is like the brain of a computer. There are high-speed processors, yet it is better that your laptop has a multi-core processor. It means that your laptop has several processing units for a speedier and more streamlined workflow. Some examples of CPUs are Intel Core, Apple M1, and AMD.

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) Requirements

A woman podcast producer gesturing over a laptop with a mic.

Before buying a laptop, ask yourself: What DAW do I want to install on my device? DAW is the podcast production software you will use to edit out and improve the quality of your podcast. Take note that there are DAWs that are available for only certain devices or operating systems. For instance, GarageBand works on Apple devices only.

Other considerations when buying a laptop for podcast production:

  • Screen Size
  • Operating System
  • Internal Storage
  • Latency
  • Plugin Requirements
  • Battery Life
  • Weight
  • Price and Warranty

Best Laptops for Podcasting:

Microphone

podcast production company

Great microphones produce great audio. One hard and fast rule in podcast production is: DO NOT USE YOUR LAPTOP OR DEVICE’S BUILT-IN MICROPHONE. Doing this will cause scattered and low-quality audio. 

So you might wonder, “What is the best microphone?” The microphone you choose should be compatible with your laptop. There are two ways to attach it to your device. The first one is through USB, and the second is through an XLR. An XLR is a type of connection. It allows you to connect your microphone to any piece of professional audio interface recording hardware or mixer.

USB Microphone

A USB Microphone is best for beginners who are setting up their studio without the help of an expert in tech. It is easy to attach and is perfect for podcasters who are doing a storytelling or narrative format.

XLR 

XLR is more complicated than USB. You need additional equipment to make an XLR microphone work. However, it will produce higher quality sound than USB ones. It is also perfect for connecting more than one microphone at a time. Thus, XLR fits an interview or co-hosting podcast format.

Pop Filter

If you choose a microphone over headphones, we recommend that you get a pop filter. This is a filter that attaches to the microphone. Podcasters believe pop filters improve the audio. They help eliminate plosive pops specifically. 

There are a lot of varieties of pop filter to choose from:

  • Clip-on mesh/nylon clips onto the mic stand with an arm that you can use to position it where you want.
  • Clip-on metal pop-filters.
  • Microphone attached.

Tips on How to Use Pop Filter Properly

  1. The pole on most pop filters tightens around the mic stand. 
  2. Loosen the bolt until it fits around the microphone stand. 
  3. As you adjust it to the proper place, keep it loose. 
  4. Once you’ve got the bolt in the appropriate place, don’t over-tighten it.
  5. Three finger widths away from your microphone should be where your pop filter is. 
  6. When speaking, keep your mouth at least three finger-widths away from the filter. You do this to allow the sound to disperse before it reaches the microphone.

Headphones

A microphone and headphones used for remote podcast recording.

Podcasters need headphones to avoid causing feedback with the microphone. It also prevents audio echo and bleed. When using this device, you become more aware since it helps you listen to your own voice. As a result, you have more control over your voice volume and modulation during the entire course of a recording.

Headphones also provide you with an improved microphone technique and help you avoid plosive sounds like “p” and “k”. Plosives are hard to edit out and can sound annoying. Wearing headphones is one of the key elements of producing a high-quality podcast recording.

Here are some specifications you should consider when buying headphones:

  • Sound Isolation
  • Frequency Response
  • Impedance
  • Sensitivity

Here are the factors to consider when buying podcast headphones:

  • Price
  • Comfort
  • Portability

Software

Today, there are a lot of audio editing programs available in the market. There are also free and paid options. However, choose a Digital Audio Workstation that has the right tools and features for your podcasting format. 

If you consider yourself a beginner in the podcasting space, never go for the expensive ones. Better go for audio editing software that is free or budget-wise to practice with. When you are confident enough, then that is the time you should consider a DAW upgrade.

What should you consider when choosing a DAW?

  • Fits your computer’s operating system and hardware
  • Audio plugin compatibility
  • Music production goals
  • Your budget

Here are some of the popular free DAW:

  • GarageBand – for Apple devices only
  • Audacity – for MAC and Windows
  • Tracktion 7 – for MAC and Windows

How to Set Up Your Recording Space

A man using computer sound editing equipment.

Another factor to consider while creating a better podcast is the recording environment. All the items mentioned above should have a specific area where you can set them up. You have the option of choosing your own room or a spare room inside the house.

The space should not be too empty. Empty spaces cause sound to reverberate. Clothing, soft furniture, and other interior fixtures can help reduce reverberation, or sounds bouncing back. Make sure there isn’t any noise in the background.

A sensitive microphone can catch even the tiniest sound. As a result, be cautious and make sure you’re filming in a calm environment.

You can begin recording your episodes after setting up your own remote studio. If you’ve already completed your audio, it’s time to begin the post-production process.

How to Start Podcast Audio Editing

In the post-production phase, you have two alternatives to pick from. Either you edit your own podcast or you get professionals to do it for you. There are audio editors and audio engineers who can do the job for you and spare you the time and effort of doing it yourself.

Consider how difficult it would be to record and edit a podcast without help. Nonetheless, you need to be aware of the many procedures involved in podcast editing. 

Using your digital audio workstation (DAW), you can edit, mix, and master your podcast.

A mixer with colorful buttons used for audio editing.

Here are the steps on how to do it:

1. Episode Cleanup

Edit out stutters, repetition, crutch words (e.g. ‘like’, ‘kinda’), uhms and uhs, dead air or long pauses, noise, plosive pops, and background sounds. These things sound annoying when repeatedly heard. 

Editing these things out can be tricky. Do not overdo this step as it would create unnatural and obvious cuts in your audio.

2. Sound design

You can add a captivating intro and outro to your podcast in this phase. The opener should intrigue listeners and be entertaining enough to pique your audience’s interest and keep them watching until the end of the show.

Meanwhile, the outro should contain elements that will entice people to watch the next episode. You can use background music and sound effects to play with the audience’s emotions besides the opening and outro.

3. Mixing and Mastering

This is the section where you combine all the audio elements into a single tale. Harmony, consistency, and clarity should all be present in the sounds. If you and your guest are recording in various locations, mixing and mastering can help you make the audio sound as if you and your guest are in the same room.

You must arrange your tracks and audio snippets properly during this process. To minimize confusion, divide them into individual tracks. The sequence should ideally be host, guest, ambiance and room tone, music, and down to the master track.

You can also use equalization to improve the tone of your podcast and determine whether it needs compression. After that, it’s a good idea to double-check the cuts and transitions from one audio clip to the next. To avoid abrupt transitions, they should have faded in the heads and tails.

Then, balance the ambient noise and the music. Neither should be too loud because it will drown out the voices. Finally, give the mix another listen to see if there are any faults.

Other Essential Elements of Podcast Production

Podcast production covers not only the audio aspect of recordings. Show notes, time stamps, transcriptions of each episode, and artwork are the additional requirements to attend to in order to complete the process. Here are the things you need to prepare along with your audio:

1. Transcripts and Show Notes

A copywriter and content editor works on show notes for a podcast producer.

Including show notes on your website can help you achieve further web visibility. Note that search engine algorithms can’t detect mp3 files. They therefore can’t rank these files.

As a result, in order to improve your SEO rankings, we recommend you create a text version of each of your podcast episodes.

2. Artwork 

Podcast cover art is artwork that a podcaster uploads to their podcast host. It then appears on podcast directories as a visual representation of their show. Because podcasts are mainly audio, giving your listeners something visual to look at is essential. 

Remember that most people are visual learners. Listeners will find your show based on the artwork before deciding whether to listen. Thus, make sure that your artwork is entertaining enough to push listeners to hit the play button. Good artwork reflects a good podcast.

3. Schedule and Distribution

The timing with which you release an episode is determined by your schedule and distribution. One of the most important factors in achieving success is having a well-planned distribution timetable. It’s time to start your podcast when you have all the resources you need prepared, including your audio. To post your MP3 file, you’ll need a podcast hosting site.

This site then creates an RSS feed for each episode of your podcast, which you may publish on other platforms and directories. Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher are examples of different podcast directories.

4. Publishing Calendar

Your podcasting initiatives will be easier to maintain if you use a publishing calendar. It guarantees that everything is in order and that all duties are on schedule. Enter all of your promotional efforts and plans on this calendar.

It’s critical to release content at key times. To do so, you’ll need to use your podcast statistics to figure out what your listeners are up to. You can use the trend to figure out when the best times are to release a podcast episode.

How to Do Podcast Promotion and Marketing

Now that you have a high-quality podcast, artwork, transcripts, show notes, and other podcasting essentials in place, it is time to put more fuel on the fire. Podcast promotion will determine your success in the industry. 

There are a lot of ways to introduce and promote your podcast to your target audience. Here are some tips:

1. Use social media to promote your podcast

Mobile app social media icons.

Keep your audience up to date on the newest podcast news via your social media sites. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are a few sites to start with. Social media is one of the most successful ways you can use to keep people interested from episode to episode.

Who isn’t on social media in today’s world? It is one of the most significant platforms to be on as a podcaster. If you’re just getting started with podcasting, social media might work as a magnet to attract new listeners.

You can use your podcast artwork for your posts. Create the best captions for each visual to entice your audience. 

2. Establish a website

Aside from your social media accounts, building a website is one of the most effective ways to engage with your online audience. Your website should house all of your podcast’s contents, including episode audio files, transcripts, blog posts, guest information, and information about your podcast.

A well-optimized podcast will increase your visibility when interested viewers use a search engine to locate you. A blog may help your website with content while also increasing its search engine optimization.

3. Be present in the YouTube realm

It may require some extra effort to make your podcast available on YouTube. There are many advantages to repurposing your audio track and creating a YouTube channel, though.

  • It is easier to share your podcast over social media channels
  • Search Engine Optimization benefits
  • Automatic closed captions and transcripts

By publishing your podcast to YouTube, you may more than double its digital footprint. It will give you exposure on a platform that receives billions of visitors every day. It’s an important strategy for ensuring that your audience can access your content no matter where they are.

Other strategies to promote your podcast:

  • Email marketing
  • Giveaway contest
  • Do guesting on other shows
  • Paid Ads

Key Takeaways

Before we wrap up this article, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • It is critical to plan ahead.
  • Understand the format of your show.
  • Select the appropriate equipment.
  • Choose the ideal name for your podcast.
  • You can promote yourself via a website, social media, and YouTube.

Podcast production should be at the top of any hosts priority list. We hope this article has helped you learn and comprehend the fundamentals of podcast production. If you are still having trouble with this process, please do not hesitate to seek help.

Podcast production businesses like Podkick can assist you from start to finish with your podcast. Experts will save you the time and effort of doing everything yourself, ensuring that you generate the highest-quality podcast possible.

Author at PodKick | + posts

Mary Achurra is a freelance content marketer. She helps business owners and entrepreneurs attract and retain customers by creating quality, engaging content.