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10 top tips for making a podcast

Eve and Caroline’s completely non-professional guide to making a podcast.


We made a podcast but perhaps YOU have something to say. A podcast is an easy way to talk to the world about a subject that interests you. We’ve had a few people ask us how we did it, so here is our ‘we-were-complete-novices-but-we-did-it-well-done-us’ guide to making a podcast.



Tip 1 – Purpose and audience


A podcast is a low-bar-to-entry, easy, independent form of broadcasting. You can shape it any way you like. However, before you start recording, spend as much time as you can thinking about the purpose of the podcast and the audience (who you want to reach). Perhaps you want to explore a topic such as fostering or space or people who keep axolotls as pets. Perhaps the podcast is for you to tell your story rather than talk about any particular topics. Think about what you want to say and who you think might listen and benefit from your experiences. 


Come up with a name for the podcast and slogan/subtitle/tagline. All of this will focus you and save you time when you start recording. If you have all this ready, then when you pitch to get guests on the podcast they will know exactly what they are signing up for. 


We spent a lot of time early on thinking about the purpose and audience for our podcast. (It was probably the smartest thing we did!) We wanted to talk about the experiences of women at work post-40 including issues at work, changing careers, finding purpose in the second half of our lives. We wanted the podcast to be positive, inspiring and reflective of a generation of women who not only have to work but also want to.


We came up with:

The Right Side of 40 Podcast - Women talking honestly about work and life post-40

Whenever we discuss a new idea or guest for an episode we refer back to our purpose and audience. Does it work or can we make it work? This has made decision-making a lot easier and kept us on track i.e. we argued less!


Tip 2: Podcast format


Podcasts come in all shapes and sizes. You can take advantage of this by having the episodes as long or as short as you like and in whatever format you like e.g. monologue, two-hander, interviews, conversational, information-based, quirky. Do whatever you want, there is no podcast police (not yet, anyway). We were aiming for episodes to be between 30 minutes and an hour. We are still trying to stick to the hour max but if we think the content is good we keep it in. It’s our podcast, we can do what we like. (So there!) We also have 5-10 minute episodes that we just do for fun. 


However, if you want to be picked up by BBC Sounds or similar platforms, you should make all your episodes the same length and have a clear format similar to some of the traditional radio programmes or podcasts you will hear on BBC Radio 4 such as Desert Island Discs or Friday Night Comedy. The history podcast You’re Dead to Me is also a good example of this. These are all being described as podcasts now whereas some of these radio formats have been around for 40-50 years. With all these shows the listener knows exactly what they will get with each episode and how long it will be. 


Tip 3: Elements - putting the episode together


As well as the main content of your podcast episode, there are additional elements that you can include to make it sound more professional such as music, sound effects and intros and outros.

  • Music and sound effects. Most podcasts have some music at the beginning and end of each episode. We also use little snippets of music to separate different sections of the conversation. We were really lucky, Eve’s husband is a musician and wrote us a theme tune and one of her teens mixed it. However, you can use free or bought music from sites like Freesound Check terms and conditions if you are using free or bought music as there may be restrictions on distribution, payment required or artists to be credited (quite rightly!). Alternatively, you can also just make your own sound effects, strum a couple of chords on a borrowed guitar, or line your pots and pans up as a drum kit. You can also not bother with any music or sounds at all. It’s your podcast and if it feels too hard either get help or don’t do it.

  • Intros and outros. Most podcasts, including ours, have standard introduction and end sections to each episode. We pre-record these and Eve glues (technical term) them to the beginning and end of each episode. We state our purpose of the podcast episode in the ‘intro’ and promote our social media and website at the end of the episode in the ‘outro’. You don’t have to add any of these elements but they do save you time when recording. If you don’t want to pre-record them you could just talk through them at the end of your recording.


Tip 4: Guests


For your first guests, look around you, everyone has an interesting story to tell, including your friends, family and colleagues. Shamelessly use them… er… ahem, we mean, tap into their unique experiences. It is very comforting interviewing people you know already as you will be more relaxed and it will help the conversational style develop. This gave us confidence to approach people we didn’t know to talk about different subjects on the podcast. With guests, we would have a topic in mind to discuss with them i.e. something work-related like redundancy or menopause, or their experience of changing careers. We would have an initial chat by phone then send them questions ahead of the interview to help structure the conversation. The questions were to get them thinking and help us not forget to ask them things. However, as we grew more confident we became less afraid to go off topic and let the conversation flow. We also wrote an intro for each guest and included links to their projects on our Resources page on the website.


We absolutely loved interviewing our guests. We felt very lucky that they shared their time and experiences with us. We learned so much with each episode.


Tip 5: Recording


Recording can be as simple as talking into your phone and uploading to Apple or Spotify. 


We recorded some episodes face-to-face sharing a huge mic. The Tonor mic was connected to Eve’s laptop and we initially used a free recording software called OBS studio which is a screen-capture and sound recording tool used by many professional streamers. 


This setup was good in the beginning because it was more fun recording together, however, the logistical difficulties of being in the same place and connecting with our guests meant we quickly moved to recording all episodes online. Everyone being online also helped with sound levels. 

Super Top Tip - headphones and mic really help reduce background noise. If possible, ask your guests to wear them as well. 

Recording online meant that Eve, Caroline and guests would all be in different physical locations using either laptop or phone to connect to a Google Meet virtual call. We started using a professional Google Meet account that allows you to record meetings and have indefinite length i.e. not get cut off after 40 minutes. Google Meet is a video conferencing software like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. 



We can see each other on the Google Meet call but we only use the audio stream for the podcast which we extract for editing. The way we do that is that once you get the recorded video file, you will need to convert it from its native MP4 format to an audio file which is an MP3 file. There are lots of free tools on the internet to do this. Many of them have a 1GB file limit. We use audioconvert.com and convertfiles.com. Once you have the audio file, you can save it ready for editing.


There are lots of different ways to record. This is how we did it, there are probably many others. If all this sounds too complicated, there are also lots of podcast studios popping up in towns and cities who will help you get set up and record your episodes. They usually charge per hour and many freelance work spaces have them.


Tip 6: Editing


You don’t have to edit your podcast episodes but it does make them sound more professional and gives you the opportunity to take out anything you don’t like or correct the sound. Things to cut out: coughing, ‘ums’, ‘you knows’, interruptions, swearing, guests and us ranting off-topic, doorbells ringing, dogs barking although the latter you might want to keep just for cuteness. 


You can also ‘correct’ or improve the sound levels in a podcast through editing if you get good at it, but don’t be too worried about this. Lots of podcasts have bumpy sound, just do what you can or live with it. 


For editing we use Audacity's free sound editing tool. 


Eve’s Super Top Tip 1 - Listen to the episode to get a feel for how it sounds overall before you edit. 

We do a long edit then a tighter one. Then sometimes more edits if we are still not happy. Don’t be afraid to cut but also remember the podcast format is conversational and if it works leave it in. 

Eve’s Super Top Tip 2 - If your podcast partner has given you specific timecodes to edit, work backwards through the episode because the timecodes will change as you cut. If you cut from the end first, edits are much easier to find and there’s no maths!

Make peace with the sound of your own voice. You won’t like it at first but other people will. We still try not to say ‘you know’, ‘um’, ‘er’ and all our repeated phrases ‘that’s so interesting’ (Eve) and ‘that’s a tricky one’ (Caroline). However, without all these we don’t sound like real people and podcasts are about hearing real voices in conversation.


Tip 7: Publishing the episodes


Podcast episodes are hosted on podcast platforms which you can access in different ways. You can post your podcast episodes directly to all the main podcast platforms such as Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon, and Acast. 


On their websites you will find all the information as to how to post your episodes. If someone is subscribed to, for example, Apple, when you post your episode the Apple subscriber will be notified that there is a new podcast episode.


However, we use a hosting platform called Acast to host our podcast episodes which posts to all podcast platforms in the list above for us. We only have to load our episode to Acast once and Acast shares it via an RSS feed with all the other platforms.


You can schedule podcast episodes to post at specific times or ‘push the button’ manually each time you want to post.

Super Top Tip – we put all episodes on our website for easy access for people who are not familiar with the different places to access podcasts. They can listen on our website although it does not have the same features that Apple, Spotify, or specialist podcasting platforms have.

As a minimum you need one image that will be loaded onto the podcast platforms to promote your podcast. We use a logo:



Other podcasts use an image or photo as well as the title of their podcast. Lots of podcasts use photos of the presenters. We initially wanted to use a photo but could never find one of the both of us that we liked. This was an early draft of our podcast image. It’s not great but we could have used it. 



We created both of these images and all our marketing and social media content using a free design tool called Canva.


It’s very simple to use. There are templates for everything. The image above that we didn’t use was created using a template in Canva that we adapted by changing the text and background colour and inserting a photo of us.


As well as an image, when you post your episode you will also need text:

  • Episode name and number

  • Description of the episode. Show your personality and the style of the podcast in what you are writing, it will help promote your podcast. 

  • Include warnings about any subjects that viewers might find distressing e.g. suicide, drug use. For profanity there are boxes to check on the podcast platforms and they will warn listeners for you. This is important for young people and families.

  • Don’t forget to always include any taglines, links to your website if you have one (we include our Resources section with links to guest projects), social media accounts, and you can also promote other related episodes or the next episode in a series.

  • Episode length - include this in minutes. (Some feedback that we have had is that some people choose the episode they want to listen to that day based on the length of journey they have in the car or train.)


Tip 8: Marketing


Marketing is one of the hardest things to do but it will create your audience. More awareness of your podcast will turn into more listeners (hopefully). If you don’t feel comfortable doing it, get help from knowledgeable friends, young people or pay a PR or design and marketing specialist to help you. 


Design

Our first tip is to design everything for viewing on a phone. It’s sometimes hard to remember that when you are working on a laptop but over 70% of our audience look at the website and podcast on their phone. Eventually, this will be near to 100% so stay ahead of the curve. 


Secondly, apply some very simple consistent design principles to use for your logo, website, social media posts. 


Choose a few colours, create a logo if you can or create an image that represents your podcast. Use the same one or two fonts in everything you create. Be consistent. Look at other podcasts for inspiration. 


We created all the graphics we use in Canva which is a simple online design tool.


It has lots of templates to help you create social media posts. Once we had created a logo (see ours above in Tip 6) and chosen a style and colour palette for the posts, we used Canva to source background images or we asked guests to send us photos for their episodes. (Double-check they have permission to use them.) If we couldn’t find the right image for something we took our own photos on our phones and used them - nice bucket of apples, Eve, and nice home-made time machine, Caroline.


    

Social media


Post as much as you can on all the social media platforms you feel are appropriate to your audience. We use Linked In (because our main topic is work), Facebook (good for our over-40s audience), Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Spoutible. We create an image for each social media post (see examples in Tip 7 above) and post them on all platforms to promote the episodes. Try also to post as much as you can on subjects around your podcast. It’s hard work but it will grow your audience.


Develop a consistent voice when writing your episode blurbs and social media posts. Express your personality and the voice of your podcast as it will connect you to your audience. Have fun with it if you can. 


Don’t forget the hashtags - use some consistent ones but have fun with the rest e.g. for us our regular hashtags are #rightsideof40 #podcast #midlife #nevertoolate.

Encourage all your friends and guests to share, share, share the posts to widen your audience.


You can also pay to boost posts on social media platforms to reach people outside your network.


Find social media sites which are talking about similar subjects to your podcast. For example, we have promoted our cold water swimming episode on some wild swimming social media groups.


Website


You don’t need a website but it is useful for marketing and does make you look more professional. We have a simple website that we created using Wix.


Wix is a free website design tool but we pay extra to be able to send out unlimited emails to our subscribers. Email newsletters are a powerful marketing tool. Encourage your listeners to sign up and email them when you publish new episodes, blog posts or resources

Super Top Tip - As soon as you know that you want a website, buy the URL that you want. Don’t wait around. Often your ideal URL has already been taken, but with some creativity you can come up with an equally good alternative. 

There are a number of site domain registration sites available like GoDaddy or Enom.


When you enter a search for the domain name that you want, the site will suggest alternatives if the exact one you’re looking for is gone. If you want to keep that domain name for a period of time longer than a year, you will need to pay every year to maintain ownership of the site domain. If you let it lapse, the domain name goes back into the pool for anyone to snap it up.


Other things:


Business cards - old school but they do work. We created business cards which have a QR code that links to our website. There are lots of free QR generator sites. Check how long you keep the QR code for - sometimes they are only free for a limited time and then you have to pay to keep them.


Get yourself on other podcasts. We are still waiting for our first invitation… hint, hint… we might have to invite ourselves. 


Enter your podcast for awards/reviews - there are a few out there such as:


Don’t forget to vote for us!


Tip 9: Feedback


Brace yourself. People might tell you what they think. Usually it’s a family member half way through breakfast when you least expect or want it.


Feedback is important and you should create as many ways as you can for your listeners to tell you what they think. The easiest way is to provide an email address for your podcast. You can set up a free one - we use Google Mail. We also have a contact form on our website. Listeners can leave comments on our website on the episodes page but we find this is not popular because they have to register. If we don’t have registration it is much harder to monitor. Public forums such as websites or social media posts are tricky as they do require moderating in case people post unpleasant things. We have a small audience so this is not too onerous but the more popular you get this could become a big task. You can always turn off comments for posts. 


We have found that social media is the best way of getting feedback on individual episodes. Facebook is definitely more conversational but that is because our over 40s audience is the biggest user. You may find other social media platforms are better for getting comments on your podcast.


Don’t be afraid to ignore the feedback of those who are not your target audience. Again, podcasts can be as independent as you want, you don’t have to appeal to everyone. 

However, feedback can provide you with insight from an unexpected audience. We didn’t think men would be interested in our podcast but they are listening and telling us that they have issues at work post-40 too. We didn’t think the under-40s would listen, but again, they are planning ahead and looking for inspiration. We listened to this and have created some episodes aimed at them.


However, don’t be afraid to stick to your core principles. We wanted to elevate the voices and experiences of post-40 women therefore they are who you will hear on our podcast at the moment.


Tip 10: Be Brave


If we can do it, so can you. We didn’t think anyone would want to listen to us but we’ve had over 3,000 downloads so far.


Have a go. It’s never too late. 


Love Caroline and Eve xx 




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