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How to Start a Podcast

by Riley Cook

There is no denying that podcasts have risen in popularity over the last five years.

Image Credit: Carol Yepes \ Getty Images


In 2018, there were 451,983 podcasts, jumping to 2,370,173 in 2021, and now, in 2023, there are a whopping 5 million podcasts!


But what makes them so exciting, and why are people flocking to them? Podcasts are versatile and easily accessible. Since COVID, many people have decided that they are more interested in side hustles and convenience, both of which can come from a podcast. Whether you’re looking to start one or find one to listen to, both options are available.


However, a lot has changed. In the past, podcasts were all about a voice; you could tap into an episode and give it a listen without the interruption of ads or sponsored content. Now, because, like anything else with high demand, there is a rise in advertisements, sponsorships, and live shows.


Years ago, the start-up cost for a podcast was as low as $9/month for a host, and if you were looking to turn it into a business, a trademark application—depending on your state—would range anywhere from $55 to $250 per class. Now, podcasts have become a major investment, with podcast equipment costing over hundreds of dollars. It’s gone from a simple side hustle with minimal risk but a large reward to a large risk with potentially no reward.


So, it’s almost 2024, and you want to start a podcast, but don’t know where to begin. Well, you want to begin by finding a host. Places like Buzzsprout, Libsyn, and Blubrry are all great options, and some even offer a free plan. The only downside to this is that now that there’s so much competition, you can’t skimp out on finding a quality hosting platform. Some platforms on their free plan will offer lower bandwidth, no website, no domain, ads, and slower customer support.


Additionally, when searching for a hosting platform, you want to look for one that makes transitioning from free to earning money seamless. Their integration process should allow you to scale easily without trouble. In 2018, podcasts weren’t as popular, so many hosts would stick to free plans with no real motivation to scale. It was fun, it was light, it was some low music playing in the background while a host spoke eloquently into a mic on various topics.


But now, it’s sort of like a circus, with many people finding physical locations to rent, design, and shoot in. Editing and shooting content for a podcast that is not yet profitable is unwise, but with all the competition in the field, it’s no wonder why newbies are feeling the need to do so.


It's sort of like Instagram; when the app first came about, it was lighthearted fun with users snapping random, blurry photos and captioning them something cute and non-thought-provoking. Now, it’s a full-on photoshoot with each picture having to be shot in 4K to fit your profile’s aesthetic. Users now speak angrily to one another when they're low on followers or content views and cannot monetize their page. Like every good thing, once too many people get their hands on it, it can get muddy.


But fear not; the good thing about any business is that it's yours, and you get to make your own rules. Your podcast should be done your way. Invite audiences back to 2018 when there was little to no pressure to sit down and watch as well as listen to a podcast. People love podcasts for their versatility, and that it’s multitask-friendly. Don’t feel pressured to have celebrity guests or bring people on that will require a full-on studio setup; that’s not what got people in love with podcasts in the first place.


Sure, it’s nice to put a face to the voice, but all that requires is a mascot from an artist on Fiverr or a one-time photoshoot that should cost no more than $650. Don’t overthink the process, or else you’ll miss out on a wonderful opportunity to start something new and have it grow into something phenomenal. Next is promotion.


Promoting anything these days is hard work, but luckily due to the popularity of podcasts in and of itself, you can start with your followers and have some success. Depending on your topic, you should also take into consideration reaching out to blogs and magazines such as She’s SINGLE to get a write-up done. This will help to increase your brand’s value and esteem, plus help you reach a larger audience. When you’re looking to monetize your podcast, it’s important to consider brand deals that are within your niche.


If your podcast talks about traveling, don’t segue into promoting sex toys; keep it consistent so that your listeners don’t feel like they’re being sold something. I know that’s easier said than done when the goal is to obviously make money, but you have to be a smart business owner and think of your business as something that needs to grow versus something that’s already in its final stage of development.


A business is like a child; there is no instant gratification, and the second you become greedy and tarnish your brand is the second you lose everything you’ve worked months, maybe even years, to build. Consider entering podcast contests to get awards and recognition for your hard work and don’t be afraid to turn down offers, especially when you start getting those valuable features and global recognition. Not everyone should have the chance to work with you; that’s how you stay exclusive, and that’s how your fans stay loyal.


We hope this article gave you some insight into how to start and grow your podcast. I'll be discussing how to get celebs on your show in another article. Best of luck!

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