July 8, 2021

How to start a podcast in less than an hour

Starting a podcast can sometimes feel a little intimidating. But what if you could get going in less than an hour?

Starting a podcast can sometimes feel a bit intimidating for new podcasters. And while there are plenty of step-by-step guides that walk you through the process, they often make it seem way more complicated than it actually is.

In this article, we’ll show you how to start your podcast in less than an hour. You’ll get some practice with every step of the process and see how easy it is to create a podcast.

Gather your tools before you get started

To start your podcast, you’ll need a device to record the audio and a device to edit and mix it. You’ll also need a podcast hosting service to upload your podcast, provide information about it (title, cover art, show descriptions), and distribute it to different podcast apps.

In this quick and simple guide, we’re focusing on tools that many people already have at their fingertips:

  1. A smartphone to record your podcast audio
    Your smartphone already has a microphone that makes it easy to record your podcast’s audio. You can either use your phone’s native voice recording app or record directly in Anchor.
  2. A smartphone or a computer to edit and mix your audio
    Your smartphone and your computer are both great at editing audio clips.

    If you’re using a smartphone, you can edit your audio clips with Anchor’s easy-to-use audio editing tools.

    If you’re using a computer, you can edit audio clips with Anchor’s web-based editor.
  3. Anchor to host and manage your podcast
    Anchor is Spotify’s podcast hosting platform that’s 100% free to use. We don’t have trial periods, hosting fees, or paywalls. Once you’ve created your Anchor account, you can start using it immediately to create, host, and distribute your podcast to the world.

Choose your podcast topic and format (10 mins)

What’s your podcast about, and how will each episode be structured? Those are the initial questions you need to answer when you’re starting a podcast.

Choose a podcast topic that you’re passionate about. It’ll be easier for you to stay motivated as you create your show. It’ll also make it easier to find new episode ideas.

Looking for a podcast topic that speaks to you? Start here.

Next, identify the target audience for your show. This will help you choose a format and angle to make your show unique. For example, a podcast about cooking can be aimed at several different target audiences, including working parents who need quick recipes for the whole family, people who are cooking for the first time, vegans, pescatarians, and many more.

Finally, choose a format that matches your topic and audience. Your show’s format dictates how you’ll engage with your topic.

To continue with our cooking show example, if your target audience is working parents, you might want to go with a monologue format that shares recipes with them as quickly as possible since they may not have time to listen to a longer narrative-style show.

On the other hand, if your target audience is people cooking for the first time, you could opt for a more narrative-style show that guides listeners through the kitchen in real-time so that they feel less stressed about navigating unfamiliar territory.

Exercise: It’s your turn!

  1. List three topics you’re passionate about.
  2. Write down your ideal audience for each topic.
  3. Narrow down a topic and audience you’d like to move forward with.
  4. Select a format that matches your topic and your audience.

Outline your pilot episode (10 mins)

Your podcast outline is your roadmap for creating an engaging first episode that sets the tone for what listeners can expect.

Your show’s structure will be determined by the format you’ve chosen, and its tone will be determined by your topic and audience. Tone can be as simple as presenting your topic in a light and informal style or a more serious style.

Keep the following segments in mind as you outline your pilot episode:

  1. Intros — these segments feature introductions of yourself and your show. You could have a standalone intro that is the same for all episodes, or you could have a recurring intro to the show paired with one that’s unique to each episode.
  2. Music cues — these are points in the episode where you can use music to transition between each section. We recommend using Anchor’s Transitions for this—these music tracks and sound effects are free, and you won’t run into any issues with copyright when you use them.
Some sample Anchor Transitions you can find in the Anchor episode builder.

  1. Scripted segments — these are the segments of your episode where having a pre-written script can enhance your listener’s experience. In our cooking show example, this could be the history of a recipe you’re sharing in the episode or some context around a key ingredient that’s going in a dish.

    Different podcast formats require different levels of scripted segments. Solo or monologue-heavy shows benefit from a lot of scripting prior to the recording process. By scripting their episodes, hosts can create a story arc that guides listeners through their chosen topic. Interview-based shows need minimal scripting since the interview makes up the bulk of the show’s runtime.

    Having scripted segments doesn’t mean you need to read those sections word-for-word while you record. They give you the opportunity to think through the ideas you want to share in these segments and make sure you hit all your topic points. You can adapt how you outline your scripted segments after you figure out what works for you.
  2. Interview segments — if you plan to include interviews in your show, there are a couple of ways you can outline your interview segments.

    If your show is mostly interview-based, you can brainstorm interview questions for your first guest in this section of your outline.

    If your show features a mix of scripted and interview-based segments, you can outline ideas for the types of soundbites you expect to get from your interview segments.
  3. Ad breaks — if you plan to include sponsored ad segments like Anchor Sponsorships in your show’s runtime, you should outline appropriate spots in the episode to have an ad break.
  4. Outros — these segments appear at the end of your episodes, and you can use them to credit your team and shout out your social channels.

Not everyone wants to go ahead with producing their first episode, and that’s okay. Consider producing a podcast trailer for your show. A trailer is a boiled-down version of your show—making one will give you audio production experience that you can use for your episodes.

Exercise: It’s your turn!

Write the outline for your first episode or your podcast trailer.

Record your pilot episode (15 mins)

Now that you’ve written an episode outline, it’s time to record.

Start by choosing a recording-friendly environment. We don’t mean a recording studio or a soundproof booth. We’re talking about a comfortable room where you can reduce unwanted noises around you.

If you choose to record in your bedroom or your closet, you’ll be in great company—many professional podcasters often do the same.

Try to minimize any sounds that might interfere with your recording. If you live with roommates or with a large family, let them know you’ll be recording an episode of your podcast, so they avoid making loud noises.

When you’re recording your episode, try to hold your smartphone mic as close to your mouth as possible; otherwise, you might sound distant and less engaging to your audience.

Interviewing a guest for your first episode? Here a few tips:

  • Make sure your questions are prepared in advance.
  • Pay close attention to your guest’s responses and have an active conversation.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • For remote interviews, try recording directly on Anchor with our Record With Friends feature.

Exercise: It’s your turn!

Record the audio you need for your pilot episode or your podcast trailer. Don’t be afraid to do multiple takes—that’s part of the process.

Edit your pilot episode (10 mins)

Editing is the most technical part of making your podcast, but you can create a high-quality edit in five quick steps:

  1. Import your audio files into Anchor.
  2. Cut and trim your files down to the segments you want with Anchor’s waveform editor.
  3. Add background music to your segments with Anchor’s Smart Background Music feature. With Smart Background Music, you can control the volume of your background music in relation to your audio clips.
  4. Add transitions between your segments with Anchor’s Transitions feature.
  5. Save your edited audio—you’re ready to publish!
Anchor’s waveform editor lets you make high-quality edits without learning complex editing software.

Exercise: It’s your turn!

Edit the audio you recorded in the previous step.

Prepare your podcast for launch (5 mins)

Preparing your podcast for launch involves sharing all the information that listeners see in their podcast app, including your show’s title, description, and cover art.

You can add your show information in Anchor—go to the Settings page in your Anchor account.

Your title should be short (30 characters or less) and match the show’s topic and format. Want a few tips on choosing a title? Check out our guide to choosing a podcast name.

Your description should also be short and reflect the tone of your show.

  • Keep it under 100 words.
  • Include links to your show’s social handles or website (if available).
  • Pay attention to SEO here and include any keywords that are relevant to your show.

Your cover art should stand out to prospective listeners. Anchor’s Cover Art Creator helps you create cover art in seconds. Just choose an image from our catalog, style the text, and you’re done.

Want more best practices for your cover art? Check out our article on best practices for creating podcast cover art.

Anchor’s Cover Art Creator gives you the ability to make beautiful cover art in seconds.

Exercise: It’s your turn!

  1. Write your title and description in your Anchor account.
  2. Create your cover art with Anchor’s Cover Art Creator and upload it to your account.

Publish and share your podcast (5 mins)

You’re at the finish line: Now that your episode has been edited and your show information has been entered in your Anchor account, you can share your podcast with the world!

It’ll take a couple of hours to a few days for your show to appear in every podcast app you choose to distribute to. Once your episode or show trailer is live, share it on your social channels and start getting the word out.

You might also choose not to share your show with the world just yet—only with your friends and family to get their feedback. That’s okay! You can take what you learned and apply it to your next episode or even another show.

So there you have it—we’ve walked you through the process of how you can start a podcast in less than an hour. After reading this, we hope you can see that podcasting doesn’t have to be complicated.

The most important thing to remember when you start podcasting is to have fun. Your podcasting journey will be much easier when you enjoy the process of making your show.

Exercise: It’s your turn!

Publish your podcast and share it with us!


Learn More: Create