It’s 2018 and, despite the fact that video is said to have killed the radio star (way back in the 1980s already), podcasts have rekindled humankind’s love for audio content.
It’s not that we necessarily prefer listening them over watching a Netflix series or reading online listicles. No, instead podcasts have come to fill that awkward content-consumption void we tend to experience during long drives, commutes or even while cooking dinner.
Apart from the fact that podcasts are fun to listen to, they could also offer those with the gift of the gab a great platform for sharing their thoughts and maybe even making some extra money.
- A short history of podcasting
- Why you should start a podcast
- What you need to start your own podcast
- Ways to make money from your podcast
- A few podcasts to draw inspiration from
Originally known as ‘audioblogs’, podcasts’ roots can be traced right back to the 1980s and the invention of RCS (Radio Computing Services). During this period, radio stations were experiencing a technological leap and started requiring music and talk-related software in digital format.
It wasn’t, however, until the mid-2000s that podcasts started developing into the easy-to-consume and -download format we know today. As broadband internet and portable audio devices (such as iPods) became the order of the day, people started recognising the World Wide Web’s potential as a broadcasting platform.
For a good 10 years, podcasts remained something of a niche interest and took a backseat to blogging.
But then, in 2014, something really interesting happened. WBEZ released a podcast called Serial. This true crime drama took the form of a journalistic investigation into the mysterious 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Masud Syed, was accused of the crime, found guilty and given a life-sentence, despite pleading innocent. Syed is the central figure in the podcast and helps host and producer, Sarah Koenig, unravel the events that lead up to Lee’s death.
The podcast became an instant hit and ranked number one on iTunes even before its debut, remaining there for several weeks. As of 10 June 2017, the podcast’s episodes were downloaded a total of 175 million times, establishing an ongoing world record. Serial also won a Peabody Award for its innovative telling of a long-form nonfiction story.
Serial served as a gateway podcast to many listeners and, in many ways, sparked a sort of audio content revival.
Even though you might not have a thrilling true crime story to investigate, if you’re passionate about a certain topic and love talking, chances are you’d make a pretty good podcast host.
Currently, there are about 115,000 English-language podcasts available for download on the internet. While most of them may be produced by big media houses – the BBC, for instance, is the largest producer of podcasts in the UK – many are run independently by everyday people, like you and me.
Having your own podcast is a great way to share your knowledge about a certain topic or interview guests who interest you. There are no format rules when it comes to podcasts – if you want to record a two-minute episode or a two-hour one, that’s really up to you.
If you want to draw listeners, however, there are a few things you should have in place:
Now look, even though you are an amateur podcaster, it doesn’t mean you have to sound like one. If you’re really serious about this new hobby (and you should be), it’s best to invest in good quality equipment from the start.
The basic list of items you will need to start off with looks like:
- Recording software
- Mixing software
- Internet access
There are many resources online, discussing which of each are best to use. Take some time to do in-depth research before buying. While it may seem like a bit of a drag, it could end up saving you loads of money.
This is kind of obvious, but unless you’re a celebrity already, you can’t just sit down, talk into a microphone and expect people to listen to what you have to say.
You need a topic or theme to build your episodes around. Now, this can be pretty much anything you’re knowledgeable/passionate about – from football to feminism, yoga to yard sales. Seriously, anything goes and you will probably be surprised to find how many people share your interest!
Now that you have all the equipment and know what you will be talking about, it’s time to do it!
Running a podcast requires extraordinary commitment and many hours of hard work. While it seems like great fun to sit down and chat away, preparing, editing and publishing episodes takes a lot of effort.
People also like knowing that their favourite podcast will be posted at regular intervals. To start off with, you might want to publish every two weeks, instead of every week. This will give you time to settle into a rhythm. Once you’re on a roll, you can increase the frequency of episodes.
Platforms to publish your podcast on
You’ve recorded your first episode, edited it and feeling proud enough to share it with the world. This is a big step! And one that requires great care.
Start by choosing a platform to host your podcast on. A few popular free ones include:
Once you have a home where your podcast lives, it’s time to start syndicating to the likes of iTunes, Spotify and GooglePlay.
Finally, your podcast isn’t just magically going to make headlines overnight – you’re going to have to tell people about it! Share your episodes on social media and whenever you have a guest on the show, ask them to do the same. Soon enough, you’re bound to build a nice little following.
If you’ve been podcasting for a while and have a growing audience, you might want to investigate possible ways to make some money from it. Of course, you wouldn’t earn a lot, but it could just help purchase some new equipment and other resources.
Here are two avenues to explore initially:
If you listen to podcasts regularly, you might have heard that there are about four large companies that dominate the podcast sponsorships. Typically, these companies would look to work with podcasts that get about 50,000 or more downloads per month. This is obviously quite a number to reach, but maybe a good goal to set.
However, you needn’t wait for one of them to approach you. If you’re running a podcast about a niche topic, why not put a proposal together for companies or brands who might benefit mutually from sponsoring one of your shows.
If, for instance, your podcast is about bird-watching, you could approach binocular manufacturers, tour companies or even outdoor clothing brands to pitch in a few pounds.
While they might be sceptical at first, the secret is to just keep asking until someone relents.
Teaching others about podcasting
Another great way to make some extra money from your podcasting experience is to teach others about it.
You can put together online tutorials and charge people a small fee for downloads. Or, you could even run real-life workshops in your area! As podcasts gain popularity, more and more people are going to be looking for guidance on how to start their own one. So, it’s a pretty sustainable option to go for.
Do keep in mind that there are quite a lot of free podcasting resources online. You can work around this by guaranteeing exclusive quality content and not charging an exorbitant amount. For instance, it wouldn’t be wise to charge more than £25 per tutorial.