Podcasts are playing a more and more important role in marketing. Not only are they a viable advertising platform, they’re a great opportunity to build brand authority and awareness.
On top of that, they’ve begun to play a major SEO role.
In this post, you’ll find everything you need to start a podcast for your business, from choosing a topic to equipment to editing and posting.
How to Start a Podcast for Your Business (Including Editing Tips!)
Why start a podcast for your business? Especially for a B2B company, it might sound like an odd channel to pursue. You can get a lot of value out of a well-put-together podcast, though.
The obvious benefits are brand awareness and engagement, but podcasts are having a bigger and bigger SEO impact as well.
When someone searches for a keyword, Google can serve up relevant podcast episodes – not just based on the podcast’s overall theme, but specifically based on that episode’s content.
Google listens to podcast episodes, and can present episodes in much the same way it does for YouTube videos. If you’ve ever had Google give you a YouTube search result that jumps straight to the relevant clip, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
All this to say, it’s worth doing a podcast – and it’s worth doing it well, so you can reap the traffic benefits. You can also run ads in the middle of your podcast.
Podcasts don’t have an immense barrier to entry, in the sense that you can create one with free software and any microphone – even with nothing more than smartphone, if you really needed to.
Getting that professional sound and polish is a little more involved, but well worth it. Here’s a look at the tools you’ll need to get the ball rolling.
Your microphone choice can already make or break your podcast. Recording with a headset, for example, will result in sub-par audio that can immediately drive listeners away.
The audio is all you’ve got, so you want it to be comfortable to listen to. This is something that has turned me off many otherwise-promising podcasts.
Your best bet is to start with a good, entry-level USB microphone. I recommend the Blue Snowball or Blue Yeti as a jumping-off point (the Yeti in particular is a well-loved podcasting standard, and comes in different varieties such as the smaller-and-cheaper Nano).
There’s also the Yeticaster bundle that comes with a boom arm and shock mount as well as the mic itself – meaning less effort trying to position the mic.
Another option is the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+. While it lacks the snappy name, it provides great quality and consistently good sound. I’ve used it extensively for B2B product videos and it’s always delivered steady, solid performance.
If you’re planning to have multiple people co-hosting the show, get them each their own microphone. It’ll save you a lot of headaches later.
You also need a digital audio workstation (DAW), or recording software. There are a wide range of options for this, partially dependent on your operating system.
If you’re on a Mac, you’ll have GarageBand installed by default. This is a very solid program, and comes with a range of really great presets so you can get a great sound very quickly. (Hint: the “Narration” preset is excellent for podcast audio).
For Windows users (as well as Mac, Linux and others), there’s Audacity. It’s a free, open-source DAW that is good for dipping your toes in the water without investing budget. It’s basic and doesn’t have the sleekest UI, but it’ll get the job done for free.
Stepping it up a bit, look at REAPER. It’s a powerful program that’s got everything you’ll need for podcasting. It offers a free trial of the full program, and has a low, one-time price point ($60 or $225, depending on your annual revenue). Because it’s so affordable, it’s widely used, so there are plenty of great tutorials out there as well.
If you’re looking to dive really deep into the audio production side of podcasting, there are a number of high-power options available. Unless you’re going to be working with audio extensively, these are likely overkill, but they’re worth a quick mention.
Adobe Audition is a very good program that comes with all the polish and power you’d expect from Adobe – and the price point, too.
Logic Pro X is for Macs. It’s GarageBand’s big brother, and is one of the DAWs you’ll see in professional recording studios.
Pro Tools is the gold standard for professional audio production. This is my platform of choice for any and all audio work. That said, it’s got a lot more under the hood than you’ll need unless audio forms an immense part of your content strategy.
I’ve Got Tools – Now What?
What sort of podcast are you looking to create? There are a few ways you can approach it.
You can use an authoritative, informative approach, with the host (or hosts) talking about a particular topic. This is a good format to integrate with your blog, for example – in fact, think of it as an audio version of a blog post.
Another option is to do an interview-style format. If you do an interview, for example with a subject matter expert on your chosen topic, prepare a list of questions and send it to them ahead of time to prime them for they can have good answers prepared.
Your topic can be anything, depending on what your goals are with the podcast. If you want to build brand authority and start people on the inbound journey, for example, use the same process you would for picking a blog topic.
Then write a script. You might find that writing short prompts or bullet points works better for you, or writing out the entirety of your content in a script.
This comes down to how you want your podcast to feel – a fully-scripted piece comes across more formal and sleek, whereas if you’re cueing yourself off prompts, your natural voice will come out more.
How to Record a Podcast
Your recording environment is a huge factor. There’s a reason music is recorded in a particularly-treated studio – the same idea applies to podcasts.
Of course, you probably don’t have a professional studio in your offices. Instead, look for a room that has as little ambient noise as possible – meaning computer fans, A/C vents rattling, a shared wall with the break room, etc.
A medium-size, not-perfectly-square room with some furniture in it is probably as good as you’ll be able to find in an office. I won’t bore you with an acoustics lesson here, just trust me – square is bad. A room with very little reverberation is what you want.
Once you’ve claimed a recording space, got your software up and running, you’re ready to go, right?
Almost. Not quite, but almost.
First, you need to do a sound check. Plug in your mic, open your recording software, and create a new (mono) tracks – one for each mic you’re recording. Set each microphone as the input for one track.
Position yourself to record, then talk at the volume you’re going to record with. While you do, watch the input meter in your DAW. That’s the bar the jumps as you talk – if it’s jumping into the yellow, turn your input level down (there’s likely a dial on your mic for that).
If it’s too low, crank it up until you’ve got a lot of signal but you aren’t going into the yellow (or red, or possibly other colors depending on which DAW you’re using).
Also, make sure that your computer isn’t outputting the sound through speakers. You don’t want the sound you’re recording to end up going back into the mic – that’s a feedback loop, and it can damage your equipment and your ears. Use headphones, preferably decent ones, instead.
Now you’re ready.
Pro Tip: Once you’re ready to go, record five or ten seconds of silence – just the mic input with nothing else. Then create a new track, and store that “silence” clip on it. This might come in handy later when you’re editing.
Voice Recording for Beginners
If you’re not experienced at voiceover recording – which most people aren’t – sitting in front of a mic can feel pretty daunting. You spend a good portion of your life speaking, but somehow having that mic there and knowing it’s recording can make talking unreasonably challenging.
It’s normal, and the best way to get past it is to forge ahead. Don’t expect your voice to sound big and powerful like the radio or podcast hosts you’ve heard – that comes later. Talk naturally.
Of course, “talk naturally” for most people includes a whole lot of “um” and “uh”. That’s a tough habit to break. You’ll get better at it with practice.
When you’re recording, don’t be afraid to leave overly long pauses between your sentences. You can easily fix that later, and it’ll make editing easier too.
If you stumble, mispronounce a word, catch yourself saying “um”, or something else happens that ruins your take, here’s what you do: stop for a second, and then start the sentence over.
Personally, when I mess up something like that and I know I’m going to need to go back and fix it later, I’ll stop for a moment, then snap my fingers near the mic, wait another second, and then restart my sentence.
That way, when I’m editing later, I can easily see the bit where there’s a pause-snap-pause in the waveform, and I know I need to fix what comes right before it.
Editing Your Audio: Cleanup
Once you’ve got your raw recording, it’s time to do some editing. It’ll probably take some getting used to hearing your own voice through your headphones or speakers.
Your next step is to clean up your audio. That means listening through the whole recording and fixing any problems. If you did something like my finger-snapping trick, you’ll have a visual cue to where you need to cut out a flubbed sentence.
Don’t rely on that though – listen through. If you left pauses between sentences, cut the track before the next sentence and drag the clip into a more natural-sounding position.
One thing it’s worth taking a moment to learn is how to crossfade clips in whatever DAW you’re using. When you have a couple clips that you’ve shifted together, there can be an artefact like a click, or the transition might just sound sudden if the background noise is subtly different from one clip to the next.
Crossfading basically overlaps the end of the first clip and the start of the second, and blends them together, making a more smooth transition between them.
When cutting, try to do it at a point where it’s silent, or immediately at the end of a word. There needs to be a small bit of space at the end of a word or sentence, otherwise it will sound jarring and unnatural.
Once you’ve gone through your audio and deleted the errors and extra spaces, you’ll probably have patches where there’s supposed to be silence, and there’s no audio clip at all anymore.
At these points, the background noise will be cutting out into true silence, and then when it starts up again, it can really jar the listener.
This is where that clip of silence you recorded earlier comes in handy. You can copy and paste it into the gaps to add that background noise back in.
If it’s still making a jarring click at that point, you’ll need to crossfade the start and end of that clip of silence.
Editing Your Audio: Shaping the Sound
Once you have the recording all cleaned up and arranged, you should be able to listen comfortably from beginning to end without anything unnatural or jarring happening.
At this point, it’s time to make your voice sound better. Audio production is a deep rabbit hole, but I’m going to give you a good starting point and try to keep it as beginner-friendly as possible.
This looks like a lot of text, but once you get the hang of it, it actually only takes a couple minutes.
In this part, you’ll be adding in plugins to your tracks. The way you do this is different for each DAW (and there are plenty more out there than the ones I mentioned earlier). Generally, there’s a series of “slots” on the track that you can click and select a plugin to activate.
I’m going to introduce you to a handful of basic plugins for shaping your sound: compressor, equalizer, limiter and noise gate. If those sound intimidating, don’t worry. I’ll walk you through it and keep it simple.
These tips are intended to give you a strong starting point – you’ll most likely need to tweak the settings.
First, create a new master track if you don’t already have one. A master track is just a track that everything other track passes through. Anything you do on the master track will apply to all your other tracks.
Master Track: Compressor
Add a compressor to your master track. Compressors work by setting a volume threshold – any audio that’s louder than the threshold gets its volume reduced. This means you can take the loudest spikes in your audio and make them quieter.
Once those peaks are in line with the rest of the sound, you can then make the whole thing louder without sudden spikes in volume.
Set the threshold to -25dB to start with.
The ratio is how much the volume gets reduced. For example, a 2:1 ratio means anything above -25dB (as we set above) will be halved. Set your ratio to 1.5 here.
Attack is how fast (in milliseconds) the compressor reacts when a signal above the threshold hits it. Don’t worry about this too much – set it to 10ms and you’ll be fine.
Gain is how much volume you’re adding to (or taking away from) the whole track. Leave this at 0dB – we’ll control the volume on the individual voice track instead.
Master Track: Limiter
A limiter is kind of like a totally indiscriminate compressor. Unlike a compressor, you’ve only really got one setting to worry about here. This will be called “ceiling”, “output level”, or “threshold” depending on your software.
All it does is stop any audio from going above that level. You’ll change up this setting depending on where you’re submitting your audio. I recommend using Anchor to distribute your podcast (more on that later).
Then you don’t need to worry about changing this – just set it to -1dB.
Otherwise you’ll need to look at each platform you’re submitting your podcast to and what their peak level requirements are, if any, and set your limiter to that.
Voice Track: Equalizer
This is where you get to start really changing what your voice sounds like. EQ is the biggest tool in your arsenal, and it’s also a very deep rabbit hole you can go down.
I’m just going to give you some basic settings as a starting point.
First, on your voice track, load up an equalizer plugin. Depending on your software, it will likely have up to 7 bands you can set. Each has three parameters: frequency, Q, and gain.
Frequency sets what target frequency to apply the band’s settings to; Q tells the plugin how widely the settings should impact frequencies around the target; gain makes the frequency band louder or quieter.
If that sounds confusing, don’t worry about it too much. Try these settings:
- Frequency: 160 Hz, Gain: +6 dB, Q: 10 . This brings up the “fullness” and weight of the voice. If you have a higher voice, try bringing the frequency up to 200 Hz instead. If it’s not having enough of an impact (or too much), raise or lower the Gain until it sounds good to you.
- Frequency: 6000 Hz (or 6 KHz), Gain: +4 dB, Q: 7. This band will make your voice more clear, bright and present. If it sounds too harsh, lower the gain.
Playing with the settings, especially the gain knobs, can yield very different results. Your goal is to have a full, rich sound that won’t be unpleasant to listen to for long periods of time at a stretch.
Voice Track: Compressor
We’re back to using a compressor again, this time on the voice track. Once again, you’ll want to play with the settings a bit, especially the threshold, as that setting really depends on how loud or quiet your recording is.
- Threshold: -25 dB
- Attack: 20ms
- Gain: +1.5 dB
If you’re still finding that your voice is too quiet, turn up the gain more. If you’re using multiple tracks and they’re fine in relation to each other but too quiet overall, turn up the gain on your master track’s compressor instead.
Voice Track: Noise Gate
Chances are, despite your best efforts, you weren’t in a perfectly quiet room when you were recording. That’s okay, that’s what a noise gate is for. It will cut off the audio when it’s below a certain volume threshold.
The good news is, generally, all you need to set is that threshold. Hit play and tweak the threshold setting until the background noise is quiet when you aren’t talking, but your speech still comes through clearly (pay special attention to the start and end of words/sentences).
Pannining is setting a track to the left or right – think of listening to a song on headphones. The singer will sound right in the middle, but some instruments and sounds will be on the left or the right. That’s panning.
If you’ve only got one podcast host, leave the voice right in the middle – you don’t need to worry about panning.
If you have multiple hosts, like if you’re doing an interview format, pan them slightly apart from each other. Try -20 and 20, respectively, so slightly left and slightly right.
That will create some separation in the voices, so they aren’t just talking over each other – and when both speak at the same time, your listener will still be able to discern who’s saying what.
Getting Your Podcast Out There
Once you’ve got your shiny new mp3 of your podcast episode, you’re good to go. The question is, where do you go?
I recommend heading over to Anchor. It’s a one-stop-shop for podcast management and distribution. It has basic recording and editing capabilities as well, which can come in handy if you find yourself away from your recording setup. And it’s free.
It’s an easy way to get your podcast on whatever platforms you like (you can choose where it ends up), with no storage limits. It’s quick, simple, and effective.