What Does it Take to Produce a Podcast?

Whether you’re wanting to start a podcast for your business/brand or just as something to do with friends, it’s daunting to try and figure it all out.

Just off the top of my head, here’s a few things you need to consider in no particular order:

An Overwhelming But Not Exhaustive List of Things You Probably Have to Do To Launch a Podcast

  • Topic / theme
  • Style of podcast (unedited discussion, scripted storytelling, news reporting, etc.)
  • Release schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, whenever you feel like it?)
  • Seasonal or ongoing?
  • Name of your podcast
  • How you plan to record (in person, over the internet, rent studio space)
  • What kind of mics or recording devices you want to use, and can afford.
  • Overall budget
  • Are you going to market it at all?
  • Where to host your podcast’s website?
  • Where to host your podcast’s audio files?
  • Seek out sponsors before you launch, after, or at all?
  • Register social media accounts for the name you picked – if they’re available.
  • Design show artwork.
  • Software for recording.
  • Software for editing – or do you want to hire someone to take care of that? 👋🏽 👉 🍋
  • Goals for the podcast or just do it for fun, regardless of whether anyone listens.
  • Are you doing it alone or with others? Are you going to divide up the tasks or do it all your self and just have co-hosts on air?
  • I’m sure there’s plenty of things I’m forgetting – feel free to throw your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of this post – but that’s a lot as it is. And if you’re like me, you might listen to podcasts you enjoy and think:

    That doesn’t sound too hard – just talk into a mic, add some music, and you’ve got yourself a Heavyweight, Serial, or Under the Influence.

    Easy peasy.

    It Takes a Village to Raise a Podcast

    The great thing about podcasting is that anyone can do it. The terrible thing about podcasting is that anyone can do it. The great shows make it seem so easy and while technically it is easy – record into a mic, export as MP3, upload, and share on social to much fame and riches – it’s far more difficult to just record a good podcast, never mind a great one.

    If you listen to the end of many of the popular podcast these days, you often hear a list of people who helped in the production, recording, editing, and marketing of a podcast.

    Just for example, here’s what it takes for one 27 minute episode of Under the Influence to go from an idea to published MP3:

    • 12 hours to record and mix.
    • Each episode requires 30-40 hours of research.
    • There are four researchers on the team. One researcher is assigned per episode. The research for each show is split between Terry and that researcher.
    • It takes Terry (the host) three days to write an episode.
    • One episode is being researched, one is being written, one is being recorded, and one is being revised for air.

    Gimlet Media's about page

    If you look at Gimlet Media, home of shows like Heavyweight, Reply All, StartUp, and more, they have over 100 people working on the podcasts and the business of podcasting.

    100 people. All drawing a salary, benefits, etc. from podcasting related work at one company that produces 24 podcasts.

    Don’t Throw Out That Microphone!

    That may make you feel like it’s not even worth trying to start a podcast. But that wasn’t my intention in writing this. Despite the competition and work required, I still think podcasting is one of the best things you can do with your business’ marketing budget. I also think it’s a ton of fun to do.

    I just want to make sure your expectations of what your first few podcast episodes might sound like when you’re comparing them to what you might be listening to. And to think very clearly about what you hope to get out of starting a podcast before you order microphones and design artwork – especially if it’s for a business or marketing effort beyond just a fun thing to do with friends.

    On a recent episode of a podcast I edit, Justin and Jon talked about what the most important metric is for their web app Transistor.fm, a podcast hosting company. Similarly, you need to figure out what the most important metric is for your podcast to decide if it’s worth the time, effort, and budget to continue. Download numbers? Interaction with listeners? Apple Podcasts chart position? Patreon support level? Working backwards from your goal for the podcast can help you determine the right answer to all the steps required to start a podcast I listed at the beginning of this blog post.

    You Can Do It. And I Can Help

    If all of this is overwhelming, please reach out and get in touch. Whether just for an hour or two of consulting to figure out next steps, or if you’re at the stage where you’re ready to outsource your production or editing work, I’d love to work with you on your podcasting dream.

    Have a comment or thought to add? I'd love to hear from you!

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