Whether you have set your sights on a career in the media or are just passionate about your hobby, follow these eight steps to start your own podcast

1. Choose your podcast topic

You need to consider the following questions:

  • What's your main goal for podcasting?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How will the podcast satisfy the needs of your listeners?
  • What subjects are you most passionate about? What makes it interesting?
  • What areas would make for great discussions?
  • Does the podcast concept have the potential to run for multiple episodes?
  • If it's delivered in an interview format, who would be your guests and how would you source them?

If you're wondering whether a particular theme has legs, you could try noting down as many episode ideas as you can think of.

The ten most popular podcast genres highlighted by the Ofcom figures include:

  • entertainment
  • news and current affairs
  • comedy
  • discussion and talk shows
  • politics
  • society and culture
  • health and wellbeing
  • true crime
  • hobbies
  • football.

Even if your preferred topic isn't on the list, that's fine - as niche topics cater to those listeners looking for something specific.

It's harder to stand out in an area that's highly competitive, so it's down to your style, personality and unique perspective to encourage listeners to tune in to you over the other podcasts in this space.

2. Decide on the format

Some of the most common types of podcast include:

  • Interview - typically a single host (but can be two) speaks to individuals about a topic. The guest gets to provide their expert opinion, usually through a question-and-answer format. It's the host's job to steer the conversation towards what's most interesting for the podcast's audience and summarising the key points.
  • Solo - if you're an expert on your chosen subject then this is as simple as it gets. It's just you speaking into your microphone.
  • Co-hosted - a popular format where two people, each playing a particular role and bringing something different to the conversation, host the show together.
  • Panel - similar to the interview, but featuring more than one person, giving it a more conversational feel. The typical set up is with a host and a group of guests.
  • Scripted non-fiction - these episodes are about real-life events, often focusing on a single theme for each series. This method is also used to present the news.
  • Repurposed - taking existing content and transforming it in a way that maximises value, such as taking a written article and presenting it in an audio format.

Weigh up the pros and cons of each podcast format at Castos - 8 podcast formats to consider for your show.

The length of your podcast episodes is another thing to consider - how long does it need to be to get your messages across while ensuring your audience sticks around for most, if not all, of the episode?

More importantly, is how you'll ensure that your output remains consistent. Listeners invariably want to subscribe to podcasts that are predictable. Be easy on yourself in the beginning and maintain a schedule you can handle.

3. Shape your podcast brand

Podcast name

This may sound easier said than done, but you need to choose something that resonates with you and your audience. The name needs to showcase exactly what the podcast is about.

Try to come up with a name that is short (ideally four words or less), memorable, meaningful and provides a fair representation of your podcast content and what listeners can expect by tuning in.

It needs to be clear and concise, simple to both spell and pronounce. If it's too ambiguous then people may be confused as to what you'll be speaking about. Ensure the name is unique, and nobody has come up with that name before. If in doubt, you can always run it through Namecheckr.

If you're having trouble settling on a suitable name for your podcast, see website builder Wix's A guide to podcast names.


In addition to this, you'll need to come up with a short description or synopsis of what your podcast is about. As well as telling new listeners who you are, be sure to include a few keywords that people are searching for to make it easier to find and to keep them engaged.

There's a 4,000-character limit on most directories, but you won't usually need that much detail for your description - around 600 to 900 characters should be enough.

Cover art

You can use a free platform like Canva to create your cover art, with templates available for those who are lacking in design skills. Ensure that the images are high resolution and optimised for mobile browsing.

In its complete guide to The dos and don'ts of podcast cover art, Spotify suggests that for the best visual quality, you should go for dimensions of 1400x1400 to 3000x3000 pixels, sticking to a ratio of 1:1, so that it looks good across all podcast platforms.

Apple Podcasts also have their own cover art requirements, asking for:

  • square images
  • JPEG or PNG files
  • a minimum 72 dpi resolution.

4. Equip yourself with the right tools

No matter how good the content of your podcast is, if the recording doesn't sound great then you're unlikely to keep listeners hanging around for long.

This doesn't mean that you have to spend a fortune on the latest technology either, it's all about focusing your budget on the right areas.

Here's what we recommend to get you started:

  • Laptop - you need to get a laptop that can perform multiple tasks at a high speed. See Riverside.fm's An overview of the 10 best laptops for podcasting.
  • USB microphone - widely considered the cheapest and most cost-effective option, it's easy to just plug them in and go. While some models have been derided for their poor sound quality, respected brands such as RØDE offer professional studio quality USB condenser models for around £100 that come with their own tripod.
  • Headphones - a decent pair of headphones is important if you plan to interview guests, as they can improve the audio quality and help you to focus on the task at hand without any distractions. You can buy a pair of all-round, on-ear Sony or gear4music stereo headphones for £10-£20 to get you started.
  • Recording and editing software - you'll require specialist software to record and edit your podcast. By using a dedicated podcasting app, this will give you a clean recording of your audio as it is saved locally and then uploaded. The price of subscriptions does vary, ranging from free to £30 per month. At Prospects, we use Cleanfeed Pro to record our podcasts (subscription) and Audacity to edit them (free).

Explore the full range of options by reading Spotify's Podcast equipment guide for creators.

5. Plan your episodes

If your podcast isn't scripted, you need to create an outline based on the purpose of the episode. This can later be used for the episode description, or show notes as they're often referred to.

If you're interviewing someone, try to come up with a list of questions that will keep the interview on track while taking into account your overall aim.

As the host, you'll need to guide the discussion and ensure that it's in keeping with your podcast structure and what your listeners will come to expect from your show. There should still be space to explore different tangents from this central idea.

Your episode may contain some or all of the following aspects:

  • a teaser or hook
  • introduction
  • welcome and overview
  • advert spot/trailer swap
  • interview questions/answers
  • call to action (CTA) and conclusion
  • outro.

When looking at the overall picture, you could choose podcast topics based around similar themes that can easily be split into a series. This is great for giving listeners an idea of what's to come and to keep them engaged for the long term.

6. Source your guests

The sourcing of guests can be time consuming so you first need to consider who these people are going to be and come up with a plan for contacting them. Will you be getting in touch with experts in their chosen field, or are you going to keep it simple and just interview those you know to start with?

The time factor is going to be crucial so aim to book these interviewees as far in advance as possible, maintaining regular contact so they know what's expected of them on the day.

If the recording is being done remotely, ensure they have the right set up. They also need to be made aware of the date, times involved and to receive the questions in advance so they can prepare their answers.

You may wish to build a rapport with the guest prior to the recording session through a pre-interview where they can ask any questions they might have. Allow at least 30 to 45 minutes longer if you plan to do this on the same day as the recording.

Be aware that guests can drop out, so factor this into the process and the deadline you've set for releasing your episodes.

7. Record and edit your podcast

To ensure the recording goes smoothly, you'll need to consider the:

  • Location - choose a room that has minimal noise and plenty of furniture, such as carpet, rugs and curtains. Soft objects can reduce echoes in the room and help to create a cleaner recording.
  • Settings and recording levels - ensure the microphone sound is connected to the computer's USB port. Aim for a reasonable audio level that's not too loud to reduce any distortion, as you can always increase the volume when editing.
  • Audio file quality - ensure your initial recording is saved in a high-resolution WAV or AIFF file format. It can be converted to a recommended upload format (such as an MP3 or M4A file) later on.
  • Position of your microphone - for a natural sound, position the mic just to the side of your face and angle it slightly towards your mouth, about two to four inches away.
  • Test recording - compare the quality of your recording to other podcasts you listen to. Also aim to listen to it through a range of mediums, e.g. a laptop speaker, mobile phone speaker, your headphones, etc.
  • Intro/outro - for the former, be sure to include who you are, the theme of your podcast, and why listeners should tune in. The latter should thank listeners for their time and include your tagline/CTA. You could ask them to leave a review of your podcast, sign up for a newsletter, subscribe to your website or follow your social media channels.

The editing stage involves:

  • adding your intro/outro
  • stabilising the volume levels and using noise reduction tools
  • correcting any mistakes made
  • cutting it down to just the best bits
  • choosing royalty-free music to include (ensure you have permission if using copyrighted music)
  • adding in music at the right sound level
  • first focusing on editing the content, then cleaning up the audio
  • removing any noticeable gaps
  • crossfading between any music tracks.

Read about editing in more detail at The Podcast Host - Podcast editing: How & where to edit your podcast in 2024.

Once your recording is ready, you'll need to choose a podcast hosting platform for your audio files. To compare your options, see The Podcast Host - Best podcast hosting sites in 2024 (with 4 free options).

From there, you can submit an RSS feed to podcast directories such as:

8. Get your podcast out there

When launching your podcast, you need to maximise the exposure, gaining listeners, subscribers and reviews as quickly as possible.

Emily Slade, podcast producer and host of the Prospects Future You podcast, emphasises that her best piece of advice is to record ten episodes and schedule them for release before doing anything else.

'If you can prove that you've got ten in the bag, that instantly puts you in the top % of podcasts,' she explains. For more trends, see Podcastpage - Podcast statistics & trends 2024.

Emily adds, 'If you can be disciplined and focused enough to get ten episodes out, you're already winning. It immediately builds up traction and gives you time to continue recording and releasing more episodes.'

Other things you can do to boost your podcast's visibility include:

  • creating visual soundbites of the episode and posting them through your social channels
  • ensuring the podcast is listed in the most popular directories mentioned above
  • publishing transcripts of your episodes for accessibility reasons and to improve your chances of being found via Google - visit the Future You podcast transcripts page
  • encouraging your guests to share the podcast with their own audience
  • appearing as a guest on other people's podcasts.

If you begin to feel anxious about putting your new podcast out there, remember that even the most confident people suffer from imposter syndrome at the beginning.

Try signing up for some popular podcasters' blogs and engage with the community via their social channels. You'll find that most people would only be too happy to help those starting out on their podcasting journey.

Listen to the Prospects Future You podcast

Whatever stage of your career journey you're at, from full-time study to landing your first graduate job or looking to change careers, this podcast series is for you.

Presented by our host Emily Slade, each episode features discussions with industry professionals, course leaders and career advisers.

Listen and subscribe to our Future You podcast.

Find out more

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