Like Sarah Keonig, the host of the ubiquitous true crime podcast Serial, you, too, can have millions of ears hooked on your voice. Anyone with an Internet connection, some audio gear and a little elbow grease can launch their own podcast. Ranting to strangers has never been easier.
Choose a topic you’re passionate about, obviously, but also one focusing on a niche that isn’t receiving much coverage. The world doesn’t need another podcast on Why The Leafs Suck. Also, try to avoid slipping into solipsism; chances are a podcast entitled “Thoughts on My Life” won’t blow up on iTunes (unless you’re Bill Murray). But if you’ve got expertise or knowledge in a specific area (Woodworking? Archery?), people out there will want to learn what you know. Your podcast could become a powerful source of info for those who share your interest.
Studio, schmudio. You can make your podcast with surprisingly little equipment. Your most important investment will be in a good USB mic, as it’ll directly affect the quality of your show. (You won’t be able to mask shoddy sound with snazzy graphics.) The Blue Yeti USB Miscrophone ($150, bluemic.com) offers tremendous quality thanks to its condenser capsules. Next, you’ll need recording software. Start with Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net)—it’s a free audio editing and recording program. You can switch to the far more advanced Pro Tools 11 ($325, avid.com) once you start amassing a decent following.
Now, to get people to lend you their ears. Start by creating a website to host your podcast. Try a free blogging tool like WordPress and make sure it can be indexed by search engines, contains good quality show notes and will drive traffic from appropriate keywords. Then submit your podcast to the iTunes store, as well as other major podcast directories, like Feed Shark and Podcast Alley. Finally, get the word out. List your podcast’s URL on your business card, email signature, and Twiter bio. Tell everyone you know. Politely.
Ideally, you’d make some returns on this auditory investment. It’s possible. You can start by joining a podcast network like Mevio or Podtrac. They collect shows that have an audience, categorize them and sell ads against them for you. Or, if you think you can land your own sponsors—and are confident in your ability to record the ads yourself—take a stab at going solo. Try hitting up MailChimp, Squarespace or Audible; they already sponsor every podcast you listen to.