Podcasts: tips to get started?

I’m considering creating a short podcast series as a project for my Toastmasters club, and would be very grateful for advice from anyone with experience.

I’m particularly keen to learn about the technical/practical aspects of recording and hosting the content, rather than the actual content creation: I’m comfortable with crafting segments appropriate to my audience and have enough time and ideas in the pipeline. It’ll be mainly tips for newer speakers with short story examples from my own experiences.

Some factors which may or may not be relevant:

  • Doing it for free and with existing equipment (iPhone) is preferred but not a total dealbreaker.
  • Doesn’t need to be ‘broadcast quality’, and not planning to use video. Each episode likely to be similar in length to a regular Toastmasters speech or perhaps a bit longer - say, ten to fifteen minutes tops.
  • Not planning for this to be an on-going thing - more like a 12-episode project that could be kept as a learning resource at our Toastmasters club. So if hosted content is removed after 90 days, that would be a problem.
  • I’ve used iMovie a few times, so am comfortable with editing (e.g. adding a musical intro, fade outs, etc). I’d like to be able to control how it’s put together.
  • Not planning on any live interviews - it’ll just be me.
  • I have a targeted audience in mind, so don’t need to worry so much about marketing. Likewise, not bothered about monetising this at all. I’d prefer no ads but could accept a short “This podcast brought to you by…” message being a condition of the hosting company.
  • I have next to no art design skills (I gather that submitting a podcast to iTunes, for example, needs a logo), but can at least slap a title over a photo in Canva - presume this would work ok?

My rudimentary grasp of the process is: download the appropriate app to my phone, press ‘record’, edit and press ‘submit’. If I’m missing or grossly oversimplifying a vital step, it’d be good to know.

Aside from your suggestions on what might be the best fit platform to use, what aspects of podcasting have people found the most difficult or time-consuming? What’s a realistic ratio of ‘recording/editing : finished content’ for me to aim for?

Get a decent microphone with a 3.5 mm jack (preferred) or USB connection; nothing is more painful to listen to than buzzy, echoing, or inconsistent audio… The really professional models will run into the many hundreds of dollars but you can go to B&H and find choices suitable for your purposes under US$100. Also, find a quiet place with as few interruptions and ambient sounds as possible. And finally, learn how to edit and filter your audio; I hate with a passion the podcasters who leave in coughs, sniffles, slurping sounds, and awkward pauses and transitions. There was a really interesting interview podcast on international relations and nuclear surety that I gave up on because the presenter kept slurping his drink every thirty seconds which drove me up the fucking wall. In fact, look for some tips on broadcasting on how to avoid making hissing ‘S’s and other annoying sounds on mic.

Good luck to you.


I second a decent microphone. Podcasts are an audio medium, and if your audio is lousy then you’re done. I stopped listening to a podcast I otherwise enjoyed because I just couldn’t stand the audio anymore. Both hosts were tinny and echoey, and one of them was recording in his office at work on an open mic, so I’d hear phones ringing in the background and occasional conversations by other people. That just doesn’t fly. Even using the included earbud/mic that comes with the iPhone is better than just talking at the phone itself, but that’s still a very low bar. I know one YouTuber who records his voiceover in the closet because all the soft clothes prevent echo. That’s how important good quality audio is. Less-than-optimal audio became a bit more acceptable during the pandemic for infrequent guests on podcasts because they couldn’t go to the studio to record, but it still isn’t acceptable for the host.

Plan, plan, plan. You shouldn’t read from a script, but have “storyboard” to plan out the beats of your show. Have well defined segments that your audience can reasonably follow.

I don’t podcast but my partner does. We have a really complicated microphone set up, which is probably overkill for you, but yes, be mindful of sound. Trying to isolate it as much as possible is good. Do you have any headsets laying around? Or does a friend have a yeti you can borrow? (For instance, our air unit was so loud that we have to turn it off when he is recording.)

They record into Audacity to export their sound files to edit (recording into Zoom can work too). They use Audtion or Garageband to edit, or Finalcut and Premiere - honestly, just whatever you are comfortable with.

They host the final files on Soundcloud, but register it with all the usual podcast places like Spotify and Apple&Google. Honestly not sure of the registering details because they are a part of a bigger group that takes care of that part, but I can ask.

If you need to mark a spot to come back to later when editing, clap or make a loud noise so you can tell where it is visually when editing. You’ll also learn how to spot your ums or coughs using this method and can edit them out.

Thanks for mentioning SoundCloud - I had a quick look at one review of their free hosting package, and thought it looked very suitable.

The audio quality tips (you and previous posters) also appreciated. I will now certainly invest in a microphone!

And since I’m on a Mac, it makes sense to use GarageBand as well for the editing. I didn’t even think of that.

Thanks all - now I can make an actual plan (including watching a few ‘how to’ videos) and get this idea off the ground.

Make some test recordings and listen back to them. Record 5 minutes or more, and then listen to it like it was a podcast. That is, on earbuds or in your car, not on fancy studio headphones. Listen to it at 1.5\times or 2\times speed. Like others in this thread, I’ve given up on some podcasts because the audio quality was too poor. That was a big problem 5–10 years ago, but is not something I’ve encountered lately.

You can even try doing this before you spend any money on anything. Suprise! the microphone on a $1600 Mac is higher quality than a $15 usb mic. There will be some minimum quality (and price) level before you exceed the quality of your computer’s and phone’s mics.

Once you do have a setup, practice with it, and make lots of test recordings. Much easier to figure out you’re too close (or far) from the mic after a 30 second test recording, then after going through your entire script.