Podcasting is on the rise. Last year an annual survey done by Edison Research and Triton Digital revealed that in 2019 40% of people ages 12-24 listen to podcasts monthly, a 10% increase from 2018. Beyond the statistics, it’s become hard to ignore podcasting’s advance. Most major streaming platforms have added podcasts to their platforms, and major news platforms have begun to produce them. For college students, creating a podcast is not only a way to explore interests, but can allow connection with a broader audience, as consumption of digital audio continues to grow.
Sourcing equipment, audio editing, and distribution can make starting a podcast an intimidating process to embark on! Knowing this, we have created a four-step guide covering podcast essentials, an introduction to audio, a breakdown of equipment you might need, and distribution services that you can use.
You may listen to podcasts on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, or Podbean, but do you have any idea about how someone was able to get them on there?
A distributor’s job is to take your media and make it available to your audience. Because of the podcast boom that we’re experiencing, there are a number of different hosting companies providing this service. Here are a few of the main ones:
Anchor is the only free podcast distribution on the market as of March 2020. They distribute to every major podcast platform and offer unlimited hosting storage. Anchor is also unique, as it offers an in-software DAW. You can record directly into the app, edit, add sound effects, and more! Other key features include automatic transcriptions and comprehensive statistics.
Podbean distributes your podcasts to places such as Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and other podcast apps. It also features custom players you can embed into your website, auto-sharing to social media, comprehensive statistics, and an ad marketplace. Perhaps one of the most valuable features of this service is that it makes your podcast available on Amazon Alexa immediately after publishing.
Buzzsprout has the smallest maximum price of the distribution services on this list and carries some impressive features. Buzzsprout distributes your podcast to all major platforms, provides customers with comprehensive statistics, and automatic transcripts. It also allows you to create a website for your podcast, and promote your episodes with customizable virtual soundbites.
Libsyn is the only service on this list that doesn’t have an option for a non-paid plan. Their platform boasts interactive statistical reports, and custom episode publishing and optimization. Libsyn also lets you develop a custom HTML5 media player, which can be beneficial if you want to develop a branded player.
When distributing your podcast, you’ll want to ensure it accessible to everyone. A critical step to making this a reality is providing transcripts for your episodes. Transcripts are written versions of your recordings. They allow equal access to your content for people who are hard of hearing or have auditory processing disorders.
You can make your transcripts by listening to your complete episodes and typing out what is said word by word. However, this can be time-consuming, and there are services designed to help build transcripts for you. Here are a few to check out:
This automatic transcription service allows you to convert audio and video into text within minutes and is available in over 199 languages and accents. It also identifies advanced punctuation and individual speakers. Happy Scribe is pay as you go, so you can prepay for an allotted number of hours of video and audio to be transcribed, and then add more once you run out.
Temi is a more affordable transcription service that charges per minute. It offers a simple editing tool, allowing you to edit your transcripts, and can identify different speakers. One downside to Temi is that the accuracy of your transcript is based around the quality of audio you provide. If there is a lot of people speaking at once, the software will have a hard time accurately transcribing the audio. If you are interested in this service, they do offer a free trial transcript and will produce a transcript for an audio file up to 45 minutes.
Descript is an all in one podcast platform. While they do offer transcription services, you can use Descript to record, edit, and mix your podcast as well. Their free plan includes up to three, free, hours of transcription, and after the paid producer plan ($10/month) allows for unlimited transcription. This service is a great tool to invest in if you have limited audio experience and was want to have all of your podcast’s assets in one place.
If you’re looking for a free transcription service, Anchor, a distribution service we mentioned above, offers automatic transcription for all episodes. Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about how you can make your podcast accessible, check out this guide by Podcast Accessibility.
Congratulations! You’ve created and published a podcast. Now, the only step left is to create a marketing plan. Like the rest of the podcasting process, this will look different for everyone. Maybe your podcast is just for family and friends, or maybe you dream of it being heard by thousands. Whatever your goal is, here are four simple tips for growing your audience!
Post on Social Media
Many people have social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. If you don’t have an account on a site, now would be a perfect time to make one!
If you already have personal accounts, you could also choose to create an account specifically for your podcast. These accounts, whether personal or branded, can be a great way to show your family and friends what you’ve been working on! From your social media, people can easily share your posts and podcasts with their family and friends, helping grow your audience.
If you are in search of what a post on social media promoting your podcast could look like, check out this Instagram post from the Portland State Vanguard promoting their podcast, Situational Significance.
Create an Email List
Another great marketing tool is an email list! An email list is a collection of your podcast fan’s emails. You can collect emails through social media polls, a plugin on a website, or physically on a piece of paper. Once you have a list you’ll be able to send an email to your fans when a new episode comes out, an exciting guest comes on, or you have any other important update with the podcast.
You can write and design these emails in email software such as Gmail, or you could look into services such as Drip or Emma, which help users store their email lists and create custom, branded mailers.
Create a Website
Creating a website for your podcast can be a great way to develop strong branding and provide your audience with a convenient “one-stop-shop” to learn about and listen to your podcast. Websites can take a significant amount of energy to create and maintain, but they are not impossible, and Student Media Tech is here to help!
You can schedule an appointment if you need help figuring out which platform to use, need assistance finding a domain, or are unsure about what to include.
Talk to Local Topic Influencers
One final thing to consider when promoting your podcast, especially if you already have social media or a website, is reaching out to local influencers on your topic and asking for a shout out.
For instance, if your podcast covers basketball, ask a local high school basketball coach if they would be willing to share the podcast with their circle of sports friends. Better yet you could ask them to be a guest on the show, which would also help broaden your audience. The key is to find people that are already interweaved in the community your topic targets. They will be able to share your podcast through word of mouth, their social media accounts, and other mediums that will target potential audience members who already have an interest in your topic.
If you’re stuck trying to find people try creating a LinkedIn account to research people in the professions your topic surrounds, search for people through topic related social media accounts, or reach out to someone you already know who may have an indirect connection with the community you’re looking to target.
Congratulations! You now have all the tools to create and release your own podcast. Hopefully, the entire process broken down makes it feel approachable and manageable. Student Media is here if you have any questions and the internet has a wealth of resources if you are eager to dig deeper. A few of our favorites are Google’s Podcast Video Series and The Podcasts Host’s guide.