How to Start a Podcast

You choose the path, purpose, and destination.

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Start a Podcast — It's an Adventure

So many podcasts start out as a dream: “I’d love to … I wish I… Maybe I could … Wouldn’t it be fun? … Well, now that you’ve discovered our How to Start a Podcast Guide, that dream can happen!

We’re going to show you how easy it is to make a podcast, get YOUR one-of-a-kind show up and running, and then how to market, grow, and monetize that dream. It’s so exciting!

We’ve broken the start a podcast process into four critical phases that align with the onboarding process of podcast hosting platforms like Libsyn.

Take a short-cut to wherever you are in your podcasting journey.

Coming Soon - Podcast Growth
Coming Soon! Podcast Monetization

PURPOSE

Why Are You Making a Podcast?

Podcasting is the fastest growing medium in the world. According to Edison Research (The Infinite Dial® 2022), 73% of the U.S. 12+ population (an estimated 209 million people) have listened to online audio in the last month, up from 68% in 2021. Let’s put your podcast on the map!

Here on your start a podcast journey, we serve as your compass, exploring your dream podcast destination, what to think about and how to get there. Make it EPIC!

Man walking on train tracks towards the sunset.
First, look at why you want to start a podcast. Your “WHY” is your own. Libsyn stands for Liberated Syndication and we’re all about giving your voice a platform and the freedom to be heard — everywhere!
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ASK YOURSELF:

WHY do I want to start a podcast?

  • Do you want to educate or inform people?
  • Are you championing a cause or underserved community?
  • Is your podcast a lead generator for another entrepreneurial endeavor?
  • Are you repurposing content created for other mediums like radio or YouTube?
  • Do you and your friends have jokes the world needs to hear?
  • Are you the biggest superfan of a sports team with stats for days?
  • Do you need to share your Netflix series character obsession?
  • Are you a storyteller?
  • Are you hoping to build a content empire?
  • Are you uber connected and want to interview interesting folks?
  • Do you simply feel like it, no agenda, you just want to talk to the world?
You might have answered “yes” to a couple of questions above and we’re guessing your answers have something to do with your passions, expertise and aspirations.

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TAKE-AWAY:

Your “WHY” (and ultimately your podcast) should = your expertise + your passion + your audience.

Your area of expertise or interest is a great place to start a podcast. Then, the fuel to keep you podcasting is your passion and excitement about the subject. For some of you, this might be clear, others might spend time really trying to figure it out. Regardless, there is a reason you want to go on this journey.

Ultimately, it is what you are obsessed with that will keep you podcasting, although sticking with it at times can be harder than expected, much like weather you weren’t expecting or a sudden detour …

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ASK YOURSELF:

Can I talk about this for an hour a week for the next year?

It takes most podcasts months or even a year to really gain any traction … it's a long trip. Brainstorm at least 20 subtopics within your bigger idea – was it easy?

Many podcasts slow down, dissolve, or completely dismantle in the first year and do what we call “Podfade.” Some people simply tire of the same topic or types of conversations, others lose their way or tire of the work involved to get from here to there.

Want to know a little secret? Even if you put solid energy into refining your concept before you start a podcast, you can still revisit this process to update and pivot your direction. Understanding that you will need to be flexible and learn from your audience is critical. The most successful podcasters are constantly discovering, learning, refining, exploring and launching new podcasts!

Libsyn will be here to help you avoid the fade and keep your passion — that’s our passion!

Women alone in nature listening to a podcast.

AUDIENCE

How Do I Start a Podcast That an Audience Will Listen To?

Envisioning your audience is critical to your concept. These are the people that will become your community, traveling with you on your podcast journey and compelling you to keep creating. Listeners from all over may evolve into friends or co-hosts
— it happens all the time!

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ASK YOURSELF:

Who is my audience?

  • Do you see your podcast being for all ages or ”adults only”?
  • Is your audience female, male, or non-binary?
  • Are you speaking to married people, single, or parents?
  • Where do they live? Are they local, regional, or worldwide?
  • Is your target audience fairly small and niche or broad and inclusive?
  • What kinds of hobbies or interests does your audience have?
  • Does your idea serve historically excluded or underrepresented communities?
Oftentimes, your expertise, passion and audience magically line up, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the measurement of all of those ingredients has to 
be adjusted and tweaked. Think of yourself as the tour guide who is there to share your knowledge with enthusiastic visitors. What is interesting to them? What will make them return and perhaps share your destination with others?  

Think beyond who your audience is and ask some deeper questions about what’s going to keep
them along for the ride.

  1. What’s important to them?
  2. What will they get from listening?
  3. What kind of products and services might they use?
  4. Do they want a podcast like the one that you’re creating?

Answering these questions allows you to create meaningful content that people look forward to and want to share.

If your goals include monetization or integrating automatic ads, think about whether your audience demographics will reflect the audience sought by the kind of brands you have in mind. If not, you might want to revisit both.

Now that you’ve got a good idea WHY you want to start a podcast and WHO your audience might be, it’s time to layer on some strategy and research. Exploring options and talking to others who have travelled a similar road are great ways to hone your podcast itinerary.

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TAKE-AWAY:

If you start a podcast and hope to attract advertisers, read this blog with Erica Mandy, Sustaining Your Podcast — Purpose & Partnership, and set yourself up for success!

RESEARCH

How To Set Up a Podcast First Stop: Study Other Podcasts

On your podcast journey, think of other podcasts as learning tools and make research your best friend. Since YOU are original, chances are your concept is inherently unique. Still, exploring what others who offer similar content are doing will give you an edge and will, most likely, save you time. Take time to survey the current podcasting terrain.

First, peruse the podcast category in which you think your podcast would be housed on places like Apple Podcasts.

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Try searching places like Listen Notes with keywords that you think your future audience might use to discover your podcast. See what comes up and start listening.

You can also install some of our favorite podcast apps, like Overcast or Goodpods, to help you discover fellow podcasters who are passionate about similar topics. Note topics that remain unexplored.

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ASK YOURSELF:

What do I like about fellow podcasts? How is my podcast different?

  • Do they have theme music?
  • Do you like it?
  • Does the content make you want to listen to the next episode?
  • Does the show artwork and title appeal to you?
  • Are they offering a way to connect with them or provide feedback?
  • Do you feel like you instantly connect with the content and host?
  • Does the host seem knowledgeable?
  • Do they have identifiable segments that repeat in each episode?
  • Are there ads in the podcast that you like?
  • Is there already a podcast with the name you had in mind?
  • What makes one podcast funny and another not?
If there is one true crime podcast, there are a thousand. What are the best and why? How did they get there? What makes one better than the other? Listen and take notes. Return to this as you model your own podcast journey, being careful to maintain originality in your planning.

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TAKE-AWAY:


Always respect other creators' work. Don’t copy content verbatim, use copyrighted imagery, or music without the proper permissions. Don’t risk legal trouble. Keep your work original and uniquely you. YOU are enough.

Think hard about what you are bringing to the party — why would people want to go on this adventure with you? Determine what elements separate you from the crowd and engage your ideal audience.

Fellow podcasters are a great asset and we recommend engaging with your podcasting community early in your journey.You will find that most podcasters are helpful, collaborative and excited to share what they’ve done and how they were able to start a podcast. Always great to talk to someone who’s navigated the path before.

Follow other hosts on the social platform of your choice. Libsyn’s InstagramTwitterYouTubeCrowdcastFacebook, and LinkedIn communities are all unique and offer a constant source of learning materials and interaction. Fellow travelers are happy to share their stories!

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ASK YOURSELF:

In what ways am I staying up to date on the latest podcasting news?

The Feed ad with two cast members

By seeking out and participating, you will immerse yourself in of-the-moment podcasting topics and connect with fellow creators. Libsyn’s official podcast The Feed is hosted by Podcast Hall of Fame members Elsie Escobar and Rob Walch. It is a podcasting community-driven show focused on keeping you podcasting, with ongoing podcasting tips, news, information and analysis of the latest and greatest in the podcasting industry along with inside insight into Libsyn.

Don’t underestimate the power of research + originality in what you bring to your podcast. They are powerful confidence boosters and total game changers as you take next steps along the way.

PLAN

How To:
Make a Podcast Map Out Your Format & Style

As your podcast vision begins to solidify, the format and style of your podcast might start to emerge more clearly than ever. Take the time to see where it’s going and if you like where it’s headed.

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ASK YOURSELF:

Do I have a clear picture of the format, length and style of my podcast episodes?

  • Will I host my podcast alone or have a co-host?
  • Will it be narrative, interview, panel discussion, etc.?
  • How long will each episode be?
Not sure? Spend a little time thinking about the shape you want your podcast to take.

Drive Alone or Share The Wheel — The Question of a Podcast Co-Host
Libsyn podcaster Ginger Campbell from Brain Science was asked what podcasting wisdom she would share with new podcasters upon her induction into the Podcasting Hall of Fame.

Screen Capture of the Brain Science cover art with the podcast title, description and media player, illustrating how your podcast appears when it shows up in an app.
Screen Capture of the Brain Science cover art with the podcast title, description and media player, illustrating how your podcast appears when it shows up in an app.
“Get a co-host if you can. Having someone to share the load will make podfading less likely.”

“Get a co-host if you can.
Having someone to share the load
will make podfading less likely.”

In essence, if you are ok with all the fame AND ALL THE WORK, keep your format solo. If you are more of a team player? Consider a co-host. It’s nice to have someone else who can drive a bit.

Some solo or co-hosted podcasts have guest hosts to step in when episodes are not able to be recorded by the original hosts. You might want to consider early who your guest host/s might be.

Define a Style that Feels Natural

Much like traveling options (luxury, backpack, group tour), many podcast formats are available. Choose one that inspires you, works well with your topic and provides an authentic listening experience. Consider:

  • Interview: Q & A with one or more guests who have special knowledge, fame, or experience
  • Panel: Discussion among a group
  • Journalism: Reporting on news or covering a specific story
  • Storytelling: One or more short pieces in a single episode or a longer story told over several episodes
  • Narrative Nonfiction: Audio documentary, typically spread over multiple episodes
  • Narrative Fiction: A fictional story told by one person or a cast of characters

Don’t feel like you have to commit to your original format. Podcasting is a journey and sometimes, pivoting is one of the best strategies you can implement, and it is often the way you discover something new.

Podcast Episode Length — It’s Personal

The best podcast episodes match content and audience with appropriate length. When choosing an episode length, try to stick with it. Listeners appreciate knowing that they can count on your podcast. They are often multi-tasking — one of the beauties of the audio format — listening during an activity that also has a predictable length: work commute, laundry, workout, you get it.

Remember, do your best to keep your episodes around the same length, but never to let the length 
dictate the content.

A longer trip is not always a better trip. If your episodes are usually 60 minutes and you have 45, don’t try to come up with another 15 minutes just to fill the space. If it’s an engaging, informative and complete episode, it’s good content. And quality ALWAYS wins over consistency. Think of it as giving your listeners 
15 minutes back to think about what you just shared with them!

Another consideration: typically, longer episodes take longer to prep, record, and edit. Be realistic about how much time can devote to producing your show.

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TAKE-AWAY:

Estimate how long you think it will take you to create an episode and triple that time — that’s how long creating an episode really takes.

The general “wisdom” is that the ideal length for an episode is 22 minutes (pre work-from-home, this timing was the perfect length to fit within a daily commute or daily workout at the gym). But research by Libsyn’s own Rob Walch shows that the average length of popular podcasts is often much longer.

Among the top 200 podcasts on Apple Podcasts:

Chart of Top 200 Podcasts

Among the podcasts hosted on Libsyn:

84% of shows with over 100,000 downloads are 51 minutes or longer.

If you are going to have a special longer show in the future, let listeners know and promote it. 
If you are skipping a week, let them know that, too. Keep your listeners informed and expectant.

GOALS

How To Create a Podcast: See Yourself Reaching your goals.

Setting realistic ambitions for your podcasting journey will help ensure your longevity. No two podcasters are identical, but most of us can ask ourselves the same questions to arrive at our unique goals.

Take time to write them down, including why your podcast is important to you (harken back to your Purpose, which we covered initially) and what kind of results will let you know that your podcast is successful. Return to these throughout your creation process to stay on track and aligned.

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ASK YOURSELF:

What personal factors will help me set realistic goals?

  • What level of commitment and time can I give my goals?
  • How will I measure my success — financially, emotionally or both?
  • What is my budget for achieving my goals?
The goals you set can be lofty and future oriented or grounded and short-term. A mix of both is ideal. Like a trip, you want to get there, but seeing this along the way is a welcome bonus. It all adds to the value of the journey. You also want to think about when to evaluate podcast metrics. You’ll need time to get established, even as long as 12 months. But from early on, you should be able to see trending lines for your key performance measures — enough to let you know you’re headed in the right direction.

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TAKE-AWAY:


Break your goals down into yearly quarters (3 month, 
6 month, 9 month, and 12 month) and then create 
sub-goals within quarters focused on larger milestones. You can even give yourself monthly and weekly goals.

Your goals will guide you as you grow and evolve content. If you want to create a podcast just for fun, you might be tempted to skip this introspection. But being clear about your motivations and determining destinations can help you keep going when things get difficult. Coming back to your goals will help you reconnect with the energy and inspiration that first got you podcasting. You are on this trip for a reason!

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ASK YOURSELF:

What success metrics can I use to help me set realistic goals?

  • Increased social media followers or newsletter list growth
  • Audience feedback (sending in ideas or questions, filling out surveys)
  • Total number of episodes published
  • Total number of downloads. This has A LOT of nuance and should never be the single metric of your success. We talk more about this in the Growth section.
  • Sponsorship requests or sponsorship revenue
  • Direct sales of services, merch or products you or your company offers
  • Higher visibility through speaking or other industry opportunities
  • Brand market share growth
  • Community or personal growth

Consider these metrics and what is achievable, but also provide you with some ROI — financially or emotionally. Don’t stress if you haven’t even considered these yet, just use the list to think about what might work for you.

Remember, a podcast about Heritage Breed Pig Farmers in the US should not have a goal of 100,000 downloads for the first month. This not because it won’t have an audience, but because we have to consider how many people are interested in the topic, and how many of them are listening to podcasts. Getting 100 downloads might be achieving greatness for that topic.

We really can’t say this enough: success metrics should be unique to your time constraints, priorities, budget, and topic. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Continue with a spirit of testing and versioning, moving forward with what has value and leaving behind metrics that are no longer meaningful. This is your voyage. What matters is your take-away, who you meet, what you learn, how you connect — and that is ongoing.

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TAKE-AWAY:

More than anything else, never forget that successful podcasting takes time and commitment. If you start to feel defeated or overwhelmed, go back to your initial goals, your why, your audience, and the passion that fired you to get started. These things will keep you podcasting.

Consider Your Budget Early in 
The Planning Process: Where to Start & Where to Go!

For many who start a podcast, it begins as a journey. Where and how they start relates closely to the means they have to get started. Remember, you can always ladder up or ladder down! Check out our YouTube channel for podcasting gear and services that cost less than $100!
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Make it Quick & Good —
Grab Your Stuff & Go!

If you want to start a podcast, and are looking for a no-cost to low-cost entry point, and are podcasting from home, quick and good is your game. You want to get online as simply and inexpensively as possible, knowing you’ll be set up properly to expand your efforts in the future if you want to.

Polished & Professional — Itinerary, Please!

This is where you land if you want to add podcasting to your marketing and outreach plan, and/or want to make your podcast its own business. Here, you are ready to invest money and time in podcast equipment, podcasting workflows and possibly a podcasting production team. You are looking to create a more upscale podcasting experience for your audience. This level is ideal for a small-to-medium businesses or nonprofits, or for someone looking to build a new venture around their podcast.
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Go Big or Go Home — You’re Cruising!

When only the best will do! If you have a vision for the best podcast ever and have the resources to invest in equipment, podcasting experts, a production team and systems to market and promote your show, the “Go Big” level is for you. You are ready to start a podcast business and create a world-class show!

You’re Ready to Create — Get Packing!

Now that you’ve developed a solid purpose, considered your audience, done your research, and have a plan with some measurable goals, it's time to get to the fun part! That’s right! It’s time to use your objectives to produce your dream podcast that creates lasting and meaningful connections with your audience. Your train is leaving the station and we’re on board to help you stay right on track!

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CREATION

First Stop — Podcast Descriptions, Titles, Artwork and more!

Creating and entering your podcast show information is one of the first stops you will make when you sign up for a podcast hosting service. These elements succinctly summarize your show and compose its first impression to the world. You have to provide them to your podcast host BEFORE you upload any media or episodes.
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Once you jump into recording, you will then be able to adjust these elements, as your recording process will naturally refine them.

Below is the most common show-level info you need immediately after you sign up for a podcast hosting plan with Libsyn.

Think of it as your packing list. Here we will cover the things most likely to impact growth and distribution, starting with your podcast title. The rest are also detailed in the Podcast Glossary.

  • Podcast Title
  • Podcast Description
  • Podcast Cover Art
  • Podcast Author Tags
  • Subtitle
  • Categories
  • Owner name
  • Owner Email
  • Website URL
  • Format or Type
  • Content Rating
  • Language
  • Copyright

These elements can and should be refined over time and with content creation. You’ll need this information not only for your podcast, but similarly for individual episodes.

The video below shows where some of these details are entered in the Libsyn Podcast Dashboard settings.

Best Podcast Titles

Your podcast title is what allows people to find you when they search the internet. It is the all-encompassing name for the totality of the content you hope to share. It is what you are naming your big adventure, but works best when you bear in mind how you are getting there.

Limit your title to a 25 character count with spaces, so it falls square at the universally acceptable show title median of 20-26 characters. Longer titles may be accepted, but usually get cut off. And remember, you don’t need the word “Podcast” in your title. That would be like stating the obvious: America’s Got Talent TV Show.

Keep your show title brief and intriguing. You want a catchy title that reflects your content and includes ONE, just ONE key search word.


No Keyword Stuffing or Homonyms

What is keyword stuffing? It would be when you give your podcast a title like: Dog Training & Obedience with Expert Dog Psychologist Spike Barkalot. It’s clear you are trying to get to anyone who is even thinking about their dog to find you by loading the boat. Since 2019, Apple has rejected such heavy-handed stuffing. Don’t take that chance. You may not need a search engine optimization consultant, but do keep stuffing in mind.

Also, avoid anything that might trip people up when they are searching for or sharing your show. Like is it 2,000 or Two Thousand? Is it Allowed or Aloud? Take a look at a homonyms list and avoid them. In addition, abbreviations or unnecessary punctuation just complicate things.

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ASK YOURSELF:

Is anyone else already using this title?

  • Search for it on the web.
  • Search on Podchaser.
  • Search on Apple Podcasts.
  • Search social media like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter handles, and hashtags.
  • Check if there’s an available domain at any registrar, like Pair Domains.
  • Search the Copyright Public Records Portal.

The search tools in any podcast directory or app do not work like web search engines. Most deliver results based on individual words rather than phrases, and the results are then weighted by algorithms based on actions like subscriptions, follows, streams, and downloads.

You need to search the directories thoroughly, with combinations of words as well as individual words, and take the time to review results more carefully than you might on a search engine.

We strongly recommend combining multiple methods to confirm your original title.

Keep it Original

Once you have come up with alternatives you like, you need to ensure you are not infringing on anyone’s trademark. Search to make sure there’s not already a show with the name you’re coveting.

Again, originality is critical in this area and we would hate to see you invest in launching a podcast only to be detoured with legal action down the road.

That said, show titles can absolutely be updated/changed, and most podcast hosts will automatically provide the updated title in your account to the popular listening apps.

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TAKE-AWAY: 


Apple Podcasts (one of the most important podcast platforms) considers exactly three things when a person searches for a podcast: 1) Show Title, 2) Episode Title, 3) Author Tag. This makes all three extremely important when it comes to listeners finding your show. We will address episode titles under the “Podcast Episode Titles” section.

Podcast Author Tags

The podcast author tag is usually presented as a field within your Podcast Hosting platform. Libsyn provides creators with the option to enter this for the Podcast and Episode.

At show level, keep these simple with your name and the names of any co-hosts. Just your name/s is/are perfectly good.

Why Is My Dog Doing That?
with Spike Barkalot

At episode level it is ok to add the names of the guest/s you are interviewing in that episode:

Why Is My Dog Doing That? 
with Spike Barkalot &Lassie Bowser

The Feed

Podcast Cover Art Your podcast artwork is a big deal — the vision of your venture.  It’s the first thing audiences see and often what compels them to listen.

It is a critical part of your brand and what people will recognize when they come across your show. Don’t take it lightly!

There are some basic parameters for podcast artwork that you must follow.

Podcast Author Tags Chart

Also, review Ron Walch’s article on Creating Podcast Artwork and Podcast Artwork FAQs.

Thanks to Libsyn’s integration with Canva, you can design professional-grade artwork for your podcast or episodes right from your Libsyn account using Canva’s friendly design tools. Canva offers a large content library — graphics, templates, icons, and more — to create engaging and beautiful designs sure to attract new listeners to your show. Also, our integration with Canva generates artwork that is automatically optimized for podcasting, so you don’t have to worry about getting the specs right every time.

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TAKE-AWAY:


Pay special attention to your podcast cover art size — under 500 kb. Artwork larger than this can break your feed or cause artwork not to appear in your audience's favorite apps.

Check out the branding from successful Libsyn podcasters — get inspired to create your own!

The podcast names are to the point, the titles are clear. The intent is obvious and the imagery striking.

Why does all this matter? You’d be surprised! Check out this “Elsie’s Answers” Video.

Podcast Description



Your podcast description is a brief synopsis of what people will get when they listen to your show — what they can expect. It should draw listeners in — an invitation they can’t resist — making them want to join you on your journey every step of the way.

Your description is also what your potential audience will be presented with when they bump into your podcast in a podcast app, on your website, or even a shortened version on social media profiles.

Brain Science Podcast Description

For our example, a good podcast description might be:

Learn how to change your dog’s behavior by understanding his or her motivations, desires and experiences. From barking and jumping, to licking and counter surfing, we get inside your dog so you can, too. Learn to think like your dog as a way to change his mind and in turn, his behavior. Is he anxious, depressed, spastic, withdrawn? Now you can work with him to ease his discomfort and your frustration. Interviews with leading dog experts inform us as well.

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TAKE-AWAY:

Maximum length for a podcast description is 4,000 characters, but most podcast apps display only the first two lines. This makes it essential that you communicate the “elevator” phrase of your podcast mission up front. A podcast description length between 400 and 600 characters tends to work best, allowing enough length to intrigue listeners and encourage them to take the next step.

Here are 3 podcast description tips:



1. Two Sentence Focus

Make sure that the first two sentences of your description immediately communicate what your show is about and who it would most benefit. In most podcast listening apps, especially if someone is browsing on a smartphone with a small screen, only the first sentence shows up; if they want to find out more, they have to click. Often people make a decision based on those first two sentences.

2. Stating the Obvious

Don’t start your description with “This is a podcast…..” or “hosted by…..” Generally people are searching for content within an app that already has clearly defined podcast categories, i.e. they know that it’s a podcast. Said apps also clearly delineate who the “author” of the podcast is. No need to repeat.

3. What is Streamlining?

Once you start your podcast, you might discover that the show you thought you were creating is not the show that you created. Streamlining or updating your description is a best practice. Forgetting to update your description to align with the current content could lead to not reaching the right audience.

Once you have titles, tags and descriptions ready to go, entering them in your podcast hosting platform 
is a breeze!

PODCAST SCRIPT

Podcast Pre-record Checklist — Don’t miss a thing!

Your podcast script serves as your episode itinerary, outlining the flow of each episode. Some creators write every word they are going to record, others just the high-level bullet points. Regardless of YOUR preferred style, dividing your podcast into repeatable segments will help you create an episode that has the familiar structure with a beginning, middle, and end.

You’re anxious to record, to get to the fun part, but we promise, your pre-record preparation game will speed up your editing process.

Piece of paper with a “Things to Pack” checklist on it and a hand above hovering over with a pencil. Camera, sneakers, etc. surround the paper.

Find Your Episode Flow

The following is an example of how you might segment your show to allow time for everything you want to communicate. Use it as a checklist or a loose guide for recording.
  1. Podcast Intro: Sound/Music/Branding
  2. Intro of guests/themes
  3. Commercial/promo/CTA(call to action)
  4. Questions that set up the end solve (let listeners know what’s coming)
  5. Discussion about questions
  6. Commercial/promo
  7. The big solve/resolution
  8. Thank guests and set up what’s up for next time
  9. Any additional self/other promo – CTA
  10. Podcast Outro: sound/music/branding
Don’t worry if you don’t have any podcast sponsors or commercials. Not all podcasts do. We will talk more about advertising in our Podcast Monetization section and you can always skip ahead if you just can’t wait. Focus instead on creating a podcast structure that feels natural. Authenticity is something that will help your audience feel connected and listening week after week or year after year.

Co-Host Script Writing Tips

Writing a script by yourself is hard enough, but throw in a co-host and this will take a bit more coordination. Any collaborative editing tools like Google Docs, Notion, and Trello might be helpful to track topics and changes. A Kanban board might be helpful to communicate and prioritize primary talking points and which host will lead the conversation. Topics that don’t make the cut for this recording can easily be moved or copied to the kanban for the next recording session.
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ASK YOURSELF:

What information or details MUST I remember when I record?

  • The sources for any data points or studies shared
  • Your website address/handles/email
  • The names of your sponsors
  • A request for listener feedback
  • Thank you or gratitude for listener feedback
  • A virtual or IRL meetup you will be attending

These are the types of details you’ll want to have written down in your script so you are clear and accurate.

Consider Setting Topic Time Limits
Within Your Script

You have so many great ideas for this episode and you’re so passionate about all them, but your podcast is called “30 Minutes to Improve Your Health.” If you covered all the possible topics for health improvement in one episode, the episode would go on forever. This episode might be titled Low-Sugar Dessert Alternatives, so just stick to that topic and deliver on what the title promises.

If you’re prone to getting off track, tangents can be handled in post-production, but being efficient up front is a lifesaver.

Best Podcast Questions & Discussions

If you are creating an interview show or there is banter between hosts, the best questions you can ask will elicit NEW information that contributes to the main point/climax of your discussion.

Common podcast questions fall into these three categories:

  • Person — Questions about your interviewees’ experiences/life.
  • Product — What they have produced/done to solve a problem they saw; benefits and features (in essence, why are you interviewing them)
  • Purpose— How does this work/product give value/meaning to life; how has it changed your guest as a person?

In general, your intro and “discussion” questions will deal more with the person and the product, a discovery path to the resolution or purpose of the episode.

Podcast Intro and Outro

Your podcast intro and outro are what grab attention and showcase your podcast’s personality. The first few seconds of your podcast plays a major role in growing your audience.

A bit of podcast music or a signature sound is a great way to give your show a character all its own. While music is not written into your script, it will impact it, so now is a great time to think about how what you say in your intro and outro would synch with some music you add during editing.

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TAKE-AWAY:


Someone could be listening to your podcast for the first time — how will your intro music and first few minutes keep them listening and tell them what your podcast is about? Consider developing a signature intro and outro complete with royalty-free music.

Libsyn’s Elsie Escobar recommends the paid service Epidemic Sound and the free service Cc Mixter for royalty-free music for podcasts.

Listen to a few episodes from The Official Libsyn Podcast, The Feed, as an example. Notice what elements/segments stay the same and what changes. Also, check out Elsie’s Episode Notes as written on the Libsyn Blog. These provide great insight into script topics and timing for a podcast that is co-hosted and over an hour long. Your outro is the conclusion of your podcast and you should consider including the following components:
  • Thank guests and set up what’s up for next time
  • Any additional self/other promo
  • Sound/Music/Branding
These are relatively self explanatory and a nice way to end each episode. You can adjust the 10 segments recommended above, but it is always a good idea to promote your podcast, your website, related podcasts, etc. Strive to get a nice balance/flow of information, emotion, questions, answers and relevant asides. 
Once you hit your stride, you’ll find your podcast script becomes second nature! As you get into a rhythm of writing a script and recording, you’ll get better and faster! You’re in a new place 
and now you know exactly where the best coffee, restaurant and theater are. It’s like you’ve been here your whole life!

PODCAST STUDIO

Check Your Surroundings - The Best Podcast Recording Site For You!

Location. Location. Location. Where is the best place in your home to record? Think rooms with lots of soft surfaces: carpeting, cushy couches and chairs, drapes, etc. Better yet, rooms that don’t face the street or have windows and adjoining walls. Finished basements are often good for this reason.
Silhouette of a person looking through a telescope at a beautiful starry night sky.

If you are thinking garage, kitchens or bathrooms, think about the many hard surfaces and reverb you are likely to encounter. Not the best at-home podcast studio ideas. Granted, most podcasters don’t have optimal recording spaces, but nearly every home has bedrooms and closets!

Yes, Closets. You would be surprised how many podcasters use their closets to record podcasts. Even This American Life host Ira Glass has been found recording in the closet! Closets are ideal because they are usually laden with sound absorbing clothes, often carpeted and in less lived-in rooms like bedrooms. Walk-in closets are excellent for achieving clear audio without echos.

Location icon

ASK YOURSELF:

What do I ALREADY have that can help improve my recording?

  • Throw pillows
  • Blankets
  • Carpeted room or closet
  • Space without windows to lessen outside noises
  • Anywhere with minimal hard surfaces

Quiet

Once you’ve picked a place, take some time to listen, really listen to what you hear in that space. What is the ambient noise? Can you hear the ice maker or the fan? Listen for white noise that you don’t usually notice but could be audible on a recording. Then, record a minute or two in your space and listen back to see what you are picking up. This will give you a baseline from which to build, providing insight into the level of sound blocking material you need, or not.

Soundproofing Your Recording Studio

Once you have chosen your location, you’re going to want to try out some sound treatment tactics to see what works best to improve the audio quality of your podcast.

Acoustic Treatment Tips To Fit Your Budget

These tips may sound pedestrian at first, but they do the job without expense and can be used in any location you’ve chosen.

  1. Simple & Minimal Cost
    • Surround yourself with pillows or cushions
    • Put a blanket over your head

    Now, do an audio quality test again.

Does it sound better than your first recording? Do you still feel like you need something more? You might find that facing one way or moving to a different part of the space makes a difference. Or, you might find that the podcast sound quality is echoey or there’s too much reverb. All of this information will help determine your podcast studio setup.

  1. Small Starter Investments

Here is a shortlist of soundproofing equipment to help you slowly improve the sound quality in your space. 
All very doable and not terribly expensive.

Note that if you will have a co-host or guests with you in the same physical space, this changes the game. During your testing phase, make sure to recreate what you will be doing during your episodes as best as you can. Two or three voices is a totally different animal than one.

And cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to make it perfect right out of the gate.

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TAKE-AWAY: 


If I were to leave you with ONE thing about setting up a podcast studio, whether it is for recording yourself or multiple people, it’s this: test, test, test! Test your podcast sound quality and your podcast recording space, changing and adjusting until you get it right.

  1. Professional Podcast Studio Setup

That said, the only way to fully block sound, meaning how to soundproof a room, is to go find a professional recording studio. Most of us don’t need that.

Thankfully, podcasting is a verb, which means you can continue to adjust and re-adjust your recording space as you go. Start good and get better.

A professional podcast studio setup merits hiring a sound and design expert who can advise you based on your needs. Every space is different and the money spent on a sound consultant is well invested. Another option is podcast studio rental. In fact, for most, this is the way to go.

After your series of testing and reconfiguring to aid in the absorption of sound, you’ll be in a position to decide what podcast equipment or podcast equipment bundle will serve you best.

PODCAST RECORDING

Podcast Recording & Gear That Can Evolve With You

Finally it’s time to record. Perhaps the most magical part of the whole process! This is what you have been planning for all along and one of the BIGGEST first steps in your journey. But what do you need?
Person hang-gliding though a wide, open blue sky beneath a bright orange and red parachute-like floating device.
There are loads of options to choose from, but in all cases, the basic podcast equipment you will need for recording, editing and publishing a podcast includes:
  • Something to record with and into (hardware and/or software)
  • Microphone
  • Headphones
  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for post-production
  • The Internet!
Podcast Mics to Love Image
Must Have Apps for Podcasters
Podcast Editing Pros, Cons, & Price
Podcasting Headphones the Truth and Cost Video link

These videos talk about podcast mics, headphones, apps, and podcast editing software, and are 6 to 20 minutes long. They are well worth your time. Moreover, you’ll get great tips on the best equipment for under $100!

If you’re just not ready to invest in any equipment just yet, try out Libsyn Studio, currently in beta. You can create all your podcast segments and even layer in music! It is the easiest way to create a podcast from start to finish — hence, the “studio” name.

Podcast Recording Checklist

The recording process nuances are many depending on your location and if you have a co-host, but running through the list below should save you a few regrettable mistakes.
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ASK YOURSELF:

Am I ready to record?

    Show & Interview Notes
  • If you have notes for the interview/conversation, it’s best to use a plain text file or a PDF and open it in your favorite app. Avoid paper notes that rustle.
  • Tablets or smartphones are great for notes!
  • Make sure you’ve done your homework on the person you're interviewing.

    Alerts/Interference
  • Turn off alerts or sounds on your computer, watch, Alexa, and smartphone.
  • Keep your cell phone away from your computer; it might interfere with transmission.

    Computer
  • Are all peripheral cords connected?
  • Is your computer sluggish? Do you need to reboot or update?
  • Is EVERYTHING fully charged and plugged in?
  • Do you have enough memory or space for your recording?
  • Close all programs except the program that you are using to record if at all possible.

    Headphones
  • Use a wired connection for mics, headphones, etc., to avoid wi-fi cut-outs or lapses. If wireless are all you have available, it’s not the end of the world.

    Microphone
  • Is the correct microphone selected for recording? If you have a mic connected, make sure you have it selected and not the built-in microphone.
  • If you have an external microphone, use it!

    Internet
  • How is your internet speed? Are you on the correct wifi?
  • Make sure that your bandwidth is at least 1.5Mbps up / 1.5Mbps down. You can do a bandwidth test for speed here.

    Personal
  • Although at times you can get super excited about the topic, do your best to refrain from moving around. Keep your arm, head and hand gestures to a minimum and channel your energy instead into your voice!
  • Do you have some water with you?
  • Do you need some chapstick?

    Location
  • Are you in a sound-absorbing location like a closet or studio?
  • What is the ambient noise? Can you hear the ice maker or the fan?
  • Consider surrounding yourself with pillows or cushions.

    Co-Host Checks
  • Check with your co-host — are they prepared also? Have they gone through this list?
  • Are they recording locally as a backup?

If you’ve gone through this list, you’re well on your way to audio or video output ready for post-production editing!

Audio Editing

Yes, you are going to want to edit your podcast, if for no other reason, to add in your intro and outro music. You can also take out bloopers, the unexpected child interruption, your pet’s desperate cry for attention or whatever elements feel like they take away from your message.

Above we shared Brian’s recs on editing tools for under &100, and below he demonstrates real-time podcast editing.

Live-Audio-Editing-for-Podcasters

How much or how little you edit your recording is dependent on many personal factors. Brian’s video primarily focuses on Adobe Audition, but can be universally applied to any Digital WorkStation (DAW), including free editing DAWs like Garageband or Audacity that also work great.

Don’t get lost seeking perfection, and if you are, consider hiring a podcast editor to handle this leg of your podcasting expedition. There are some very talented folks ready to assist.

At a minimum, you should listen to your finished content at least once all the way through after editing. Don’t miss your chance to catch mistakes, take notes on things you want to improve for next time, AND write down the time-codes for major topic changes that can be used in your show notes when you publish your episode out to the world.

Be prepared — the first time you record could change everything. It could change your life, it could change your voice, it could change your whole concept. Feel free to evolve.

PODCAST PUBLISHING

Assembled & Ready To Fly!

You made it, you are at the brink of being able to say, “Hey world, I made a podcast!”

You have all the elements ready — YOU are ready to publish your podcast to the world.

If you haven’t already chosen a Podcast Host for your podcast, now is the time.

You need a Podcast Host for the next step.

Person hang-gliding through a wide, open blue sky, inspired and soaring.
A podcast host, like Libsyn, is where you will upload, enter, 
and store all of the details of your podcast. They host this information for you and deliver it seamlessly to your audience on all the most popular listening apps like Apple Podcasts 
and Spotify.

Most podcast hosting platforms will have some kind of “create episode” button with a form to enter the details of your episode after entering your podcast creation details referenced at the beginning of the Creation chapter. <p?Libsyn offers the option to set episode defaults for some of the details below, so if you want to keep some items the same for every episode, you only need to set those once. We’re all about speed!

  • Podcast Episode Title
  • Podcast Episode Author Tag
  • Episode Cover Art
  • Episode Descriptions

These may look similar to the Podcast Show Creation items (title, description, etc.), but they are usually very different. Episode information should be specific to each episode that you publish and its unique content. Take a look at the diagram below.

Diagram showing your Podcast Title Artwork and description at the top, with each episode title, artwork and description flowing from it to the next level.

Podcast Episode Titles

While podcast episode titles have some similarities to the Show Title, they have some distinctly different parameters that you should consider, some of which depend on the audience platform.

Apple Podcasts has specific requirements for episode titling. Libsyn provides a unique Apple Podcasts episode title field so that you can optimize your title for Apple Podcasts as well as other platforms.

Requirements specific to Apple Podcasts episode titling:

  • Do not duplicate your show title in the episode title.
  • Do not list your episode number in your show title.

Examples:

  • Correct: Pacing: Why won’t my dog lay down?
  • Incorrect: Episode 1: Pacing: Why won’t my dog lay down?
  • Incorrect: Why Is My Dog Doing That? Pacing: Why won’t my dog lay down?
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TAKE-AWAY: 


Just like for your Podcast Title, try to keep the character count between 20 and 26 and use one unique SEO term. These tactics will ensure your content is found by the right audience and look its best in the most popular apps without being truncated.

If you have been following along, you probably jotted down possible episode topics earlier in the Purpose section. Use these topics to try and construct 5 to 10 episode titles following the correct example above. Use this brainstorming session to generate clever or catchy naming conventions for future episodes.

Episode Author Tag

For the Episode Author Tag, you can include the guest for that episode only. For example, if you are hosting a famous guest, enter your name as well as your famous guest’s name in the Author field. Doing so helps listeners find your episode if they are searching for your guest author.

Example of the Episode Author Tag:

  • Episode Title: Pacing: Why won’t my dog lay down?
  • Episode Author Tags: Spike Barkalot, Lassie Bowser.

The names you provide for the field appear as the authors for this episode only. If you leave the field blank, only your Show Author Tag will appear.

Episode Cover Art

Artwork that is unique to each episode is not supported on all podcast listening apps and not widely required by most podcast platforms, but often a great way to promote a new drop! The basic specs for episode artwork are:
Episode Podcast Artwork Requirements Chart

Read more about Episode Artwork Requirements.

Creating episode artwork can be part of your marketing strategy and have multiple uses outside of publishing. For instance, since the primary image is a square graphic, it could be repurposed as a social media post on Instagram or Facebook.

Your episode artwork might also look wonderful behind an audiogram! Use Headliner to help you create audiograms from your podcast.

If you are using one of the Libsyn Show players on your website, episode artwork can look particularly nice! Check out The Show Player for The Feed: The Official Libsyn Podcast:

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TAKE-AWAY:


You don’t NEED to create episode artwork when you start a podcast. In most cases this will default to your show artwork. But remember when you are ready, Libsyn also has a Canva Integration that makes it easy!

Check out this video with Dave Jackson from School of Podcasting and Libsyn, walking you through creating episode artwork with Libsyn and Canva. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to make it happen!

Episode Descriptions and Show Notes

Episode descriptions can be full of exciting details and extra resources, or simple and streamlined.

Regardless of your approach, the content is specific to the episode and the first few lines should be written to attract new audiences.

Check out these screenshots to see how much of the episode description is actually visible in the directory listings.

Screenshots of how your podcast and episodes look in a directory, illustrating the small amount of text you are allotted to really capture a listeners attention in the description.
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TAKE-AWAY:

Focus your attention on the first few lines of your episode description and don’t repeat your show title — you only have a few lines to grab your audience’s attention. If you’re interviewing someone famous, 
this is the place to name drop!

Screenshot of how episode descriptions or show notes look when a listener clicks “see more.” The entire text is visible.

Once the episode is clicked on, the entire episode description is usually visible.

Episode descriptions are also known as show notes and they can include a timecode list of content and topics that help listeners customize their listening experience.

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ASK YOURSELF:

What do I usually want to
know when listening to a
podcast episode?

  • The name of the interviewed expert
  • Links to books or products referenced
  • How to ask the podcaster a question about 
some topic discussed
  • Where I can connect with other people who listen

The great part about including these elements in your description is that you don’t have to memorize them 
for the recording — you can simply say, “Links will be in the description,” and move on!

As you can see in the screenshot, links to important information and CTA’s are also included in the episode descriptions.

A good starting point for your episode description is to include these elements:

  • Super-charged 2 to 5 lines of copy describing the episode content — at the beginning.
  • Podcast CTAs — Any links to show-related requests like audio feedback, newsletter signup, or social.
  • Sponsor CTAs — Links to sponsor landing pages or products.
  • Links to Access — List of links to access your content on the most popular podcast apps.
  • Source/Reference Links — When including data from a study or another podcaster, be sure to give them a 
proper credit.
  • Topic Timestamps — These are especially helpful if your content is long and covers many topics.

This may seem like a lot for each episode, but Libsyn makes it easy with unlimited text snippets included in every plan. These let you store the most frequently used elements of your description and use them over and over.

Speed up Podcast Publishing with Snippets

You can refine your description by formatting your text (such as bolding words or using colors) and by including links and images. Remember, we cover every part of the Libsyn podcast publishing process in our in-depth podcast support articles. We are here to help you the whole way through. Having gotten this far in our guide, you might find these of interest.

Once you’ve populated all the episode information in the Create Episode form, loaded your media and artwork, all that’s left is that Publish button…

You Did It! You're Ready to Publish an Episode!

Creating your first episode is the first real milestone in your journey, and it only gets easier from here on out. Your following episodes will feel more familiar and most likely take less time as you learn.

Note that it is often recommended that you publish 2 or 3 episodes before you start working on distribution to the popular podcast apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. This will ensure that you are giving audiences enough content to fall in love with, and the platform enough content to show you some love!

Congratulations! The first leg of your trip is behind you.

More on growth, podcast players, websites, and promotion is just around the corner.

You’re almost ready to launch your podcast!

FAQs

The best idea for a podcast is always a niche that needs to be filled. Look around, like Brook and Mindy from REMalations did before they started their comedy dream interpretation podcast. Nobody else was doing it; that gave them the first chance at a potentially eager audience!

All you need is a good idea that an audience is looking/waiting for. That, and a unique personality to deliver equally unique content. Take Brook and Mindy from REMalations: A Comedy Dream Interpretation Podcast. They saw a niche for dream interpretation, honed their already infamous best-friend banter and got started. It’s that easy!