Expert Advice Before Your First Time Starting a Podcast

Welcome to the #365Firsts Podcast and the Expert Advice Before Your First Time Series. The show aims to encourage, prepare, and inspire you to do things you’ve never done before and complete your #365FirstsChallenge list. 

In each episode of this series, we give you tips and advice to set you up for success, for specific firsts and new experiences. The guests and topics are as varied as the options and possibilities of new experiences. 

Whether you’re trying to learn a new skill, improve your health and happiness, work on your self-development, add excitement and adventure to your life, or simply have first times, you’re going to love our podcast.

In This Episode

This episode features a topic that is particularly near and dear to our hearts on this show. Today, we’re speaking with an industry expert about how to start a podcast for the first time. Podcasts have truly grabbed the media world by storm over the last few years.

We’re joined by Dave Jackson today, who is a podcasting legend with plenty of helpful advice for people who are seeking to start up their own podcast. He’s the host of The School Of Podcasting, and it was fantastic to get to speak to him about his work.

The Guest Expert

Dave started The School Of Podcasting back in 2005, and it’s currently sitting at over 2.3 million downloads. It’s a wonderfully informative podcast that aims to help people understand the power of the medium. Dave looks at every aspect of a podcast- from planning and producing, to tools, promotion and beginners’ mistakes.

One of the highlights of Dave’s career took place in 2018, when he was inducted into the illustrious Podcast Hall of Fame.

He has a background in teaching technical education, which is one of the skills that helps him to be such a great educator in the field of podcasting. Dave is coming up to 15 years in the podcast game now, so you can be assured his advice is of the highest quality and he’s seen the industry go through some fantastic changes.

Dave started in podcasting when it was hardly a fledgling concept. He notes that he was very interested in building websites and working on a newsletter, and viewed podcasting as a way to put out content – which it absolutely is. We loved hearing about Dave’s first interaction with his global audience and how his first international interaction delighted him so much.

What You Need To Know About Starting A Podcast

Identify your Why for Wanting to Start a Podcast

To start off with, Dave notes it’s vital to understand why you want to start a podcast.

Try to set out a precise reason for why you want to start a podcast – and don’t just make it that you want to start one because it seems fun. Define your passion and your drive. Dave jokes you need to have the passion of a 16 year old trying to get his/her license. It must be something you really want.

Identifying your why and having a true love for your podcast topic is absolutely essential, as this is something that takes a lot of time, hard work, and dedication. And on that note, Dave suggests you ask yourself what are you not going to do anymore in your life. You’re going to need to cut something out to make time for podcasting because it is a big commitment.

Understand the Time Commitment

Dave notes he follows a ‘4 to 1’ schedule when planning out his timings. For example, he states that a 15 minute podcast will take about an hour to create. You’re going to need time to plan out your topic and thoughts for the episode, time to record it, time to edit, and time to summarize it for promotion. It took me five hours to record my first few 20 minute podcasts…

Dave also compares running a podcast to being in a band or another entertainment role. You need to practice, and to set up some test runs. Getting it right the first time is pretty difficult.

Choosing Your Topic

The conversation then moves to selecting a podcast topic, and Dave queries whether the chosen topic is something the aspiring podcaster would want to talk about for free. Podcasting is not a quick fix for money, and it’s common for podcasts to take a while to pick up speed with earnings.

Additionally, Dave notes that it’s okay for there to be podcasts with the same topic as you on the market. Simply being yourself offers a unique perspective and angle for your podcast so don’t worry about that. Instead, just be sure to pick something you love researching, and talking about.

Getting feedback on your podcast is important as well, although Dave notes that this can be hard, especially when you’re new. It can be hard to hear critique on a creative project, but it is so important for growth and ensuring you’re properly covering your topic.

Length of an Episode and Releasing Frequency

When the topic moves to the recommended length of an episode, Dave rejects the question of ‘how long should it be?’ and asks ‘how long can you hold your audience’s attention?’ instead. He notes that it’s important to record the podcast and focus on getting through the topic, and then look at the time.

However, do also bear your target market in mind when considering the length of an episode. For example, an exercise podcast, you might aim for 20 minutes or so to accompany a workout, but for parenting podcast, you may only aim for 5 minutes to accommodate the busy moms and dads.

When it comes to how often you should release podcasts, Dave suggests recording a few ahead of time and then seeing how long it takes you to finish them. Then, base your schedule off of this. You don’t want to try and release multiple episodes a week, but not have the time you need to produce the episodes. But do try to keep as consistent as possible, and keep effective communication channels between you and your audience.

The Technical Tools and Requirements

One of the most intimidating aspects of starting a podcast can be the technology requirements but Dave quickly dispels that notion. Tech isn’t as daunting as some people might think. For example, when you take a phone call in the car and turn down the radio to hear it, you’re essentially mixing audio. It takes practice, but technology can be much easier to work with than you might believe.

Dave gives simple and easy suggestions for what you need: start with the Samsung Q2U as your external microphone, use Audacity to record and edit, Canva for design work for your show’s cover, and Libsyn for hosting.

He does point out, even if you’re doing it as a hobby, there are some costs to be expected but they are minimal.

Being able to adapt  is one of the most important traits that a podcaster can have. Technology is always changing, and so is the podcasting game. Be willing to change, and don’t let things like imposter syndrome keep you down. Dave encourages new podcasters to believe in themselves and states that they know more than they think they do.

Get Over the Issues with the Sounds of your Voice

One key thing that stops people from podcasting is they hate the sound of their voice. This is incredibly normal! Dave explains this is because when we hear our voice normally, it’s muffled by our skull vibrating – which essentially is a subwoofer that adds bass. Recording and listening to yourself means you hear your voice with none of this bass, which can be uncomfortable.

Bonus Tips

An important tip from Dave is to never open a podcast with a lengthy apology for missing an episode, as someone may be listening for the first time and have no idea what you’re apologizing for. This is the kind of information you save for towards the end of your show for your more dedicated fans.

Monetization isn’t as easy as some might think. Dave advises podcasters should offer a product, a service or a membership as a way to monetize their shows. Advertisements and podcast-based earnings can be unreliable at best, and hard to get started too.

Generally speaking, Dave encourages people to simply start. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time, you just have to get going. You need one or more episodes to launch, but it’s entirely possible to just launch with one. Get going, and see where it takes you.

Get In Touch With Dave

As we mentioned earlier, Dave is the host of The School Of Podcasting, and is a wonderful person to chat with if you’re looking for advice. You can reach him at;

How To Reach Us

We’re always thrilled to hear from our audience, and we are always striving to make our show even more enjoyable and educational, too. That’s why we welcome any and all feedback from those of you who have been listening to the show.

Are there particular topics that you’d like to see, or something you want advice on? Is there something that you think we could be doing better? Feel free to get in touch with a member of our team at contact@365firstschallenge.com today.

What’s Coming Up Next Time?

New episodes of Expert Advice Before Your First Time are released each Tuesday and Thursday, and we’ve got a fantastic roster of expert guests lined up to give you more advice. 

In the next episode of the show on the 30th, we’re going to be talking with Adonis McNeal about attending the Super Bowl for the first time. After that, Laura Pennington will be joining us on the 4th of February to discuss freelance writing for the first time.

Make sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode, you can listen and subscribe on Apple, Google, or Spotify. While you’re there – please leave a review if you can. It really does help us out with our work, and each review is truly appreciated.

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