How to Plan, Build, and Launch Podcast

This article will help you get your podcast off the ground, so you can launch your new show on the best foot possible. These are the same steps and strategies we used to launch Perpetual Traffic to iTunes’ New and Noteworthy within a week and acquire over 760,000 downloads in its first year. Follow along and learn how to create and maintain a podcast that’s designed to last!

How to Plan, Build, and Launch Podcast
How to Plan, Build, and Launch Podcast

What You’ll Learn:

  • Plan, write, and build a launch plan for your podcast series by defining your concepts, creating the content, and generating buzz so your podcast gets loyal listeners
  • Maintain your podcast series by creating strategies for planning your episodes using a 5-step framework

Table of contents

Launch a Brand-New Podcast
Create a Powerful Content Marketing Asset: The Podcast
Your 12-Step Podcast Launch Plan
Identify Your Target Audience
Decide on Your Podcast’s Style
Decide on Your Episode’s Length
Figure Out How Often You’ll Publish Episodes
Decide on a Title
Write Your Apple Podcast Summary
Create Podcast Artwork that Meets Apple Podcast’s Requirements
Decide on Your Hardware & Software
Record Your First 3 Episodes
Edit Your Podcast
Upload Your Episodes & Submit Your RSS Feed
Celebrate, Launch & Promote
Create SOPs & Frameworks for Creating & Promoting Your Podcast
5-Step Framework for Podcast Creation
Use “Batching” to Speed Up Your Production
Leverage the Magic of Outsourcing
Run The Play

Launch a Brand-New Podcast

Create a Powerful Content Marketing Asset: The Podcast

If you’re mulling over the idea of launching your own podcast, here’s some encouraging news:

  • Podcast listeners tend to be loyal, affluent, and educated
  • 80% of podcast listeners listen to all or most of each episode
  • Listeners consume an average of 7 shows per week

In other words, having a podcast can help you get access to an extremely valuable audience of people who are likely to become regular consumers of your content.

A podcast is a powerful content marketing tool.

But if you’re thinking you need…

  • A fancy microphone
  • An expensive piece of software
  • A soundproof studio
  • A huge podcast budget

…to launch your podcast, you don’t.

The truth is, you can launch a podcast with equipment as simple as a laptop and a smartphone. Having better equipment (such as an expensive microphone) is nice… but it’s not going to be the difference-maker that makes your podcast succeed.

Also, keep in mind, your podcast’s results will improve over time. This means that the sooner you get started, the better. And as your podcast matures, so will your podcasting strategy and your equipment.

So don’t let invented excuses stop you from taking that first crucial step toward creating and launching your podcast now.

This article will help you get your podcast off the ground, so you can launch your new show on the best foot possible. These are the same steps and strategies we used to launch Perpetual Traffic to iTunes’ New and Noteworthy within a week and acquire over 760,000 downloads in its first year.

Your 12-Step Podcast Launch Plan

Identify Your Target Audience

Step 1 to launching your podcast is to get super clear on who your audience is.

What kind of person is going to tune in to your show?

What problems are they facing?

And how are you going to help them with your content?

Defining your customer avatar (AKA buyer persona) isn’t just a podcasting question—it’s a marketing question. And it’s a darn important one.

If you skip this step, or do a lazy job on it, you run the risk of wasting an immense amount of time launching a podcast that nobody wants to listen to.

So do your homework upfront.

ACTION ITEM: Think about your audience, and how you can best serve them with your podcast. It sounds simple, but this one step will lay a solid foundation for a successful podcast.

Decide on Your Podcast’s Style

Really successful podcasts have a consistent concept and style. And you have a few different style options for your podcast. Think about which of the following would be the best fit to reach your audience:

Interview-Style Podcast

This is the most common style of podcast, in which the host conducts an interview in each episode.

For example, in each episode of I’ll Drink to That!, host Levi Dalton interviews a wine expert and names the episode after that particular interviewee.

Interview-Style Podcast
Interview-Style Podcast

Location-Based Podcast

In this type of show, the podcast centers on the location where it’s recorded.

For instance, The MeatEater is about hunting and outdoor activities and is recorded on the road from locations around the U.S. Every episode is about a different location and the experience that follows.

Location-Based Podcast
Location-Based Podcast

Storytelling Podcast

This type of podcast tells a story.

There’s a good chance you’re familiar with some of the more popular shows in this category—like Serial, Dr. Death, and S-Town.

Stories have a real power to resonate with people, which explains why Serial was the first podcast to hit 5 million downloads on iTunes (and that was way back in April 2015).

Storytelling Podcast
Storytelling Podcast

Teaching Podcast

In a teaching podcast, each episode instructs its listeners on a particular topic.

In Coffee Break Spanish, for example, the show gives listeners a Spanish lesson in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

Teaching Podcast
Teaching Podcast

A Mix: Teaching/Interview/Case Studies

This style is a cross between…

  • Teaching listeners
  • Interviewing experts
  • Examining case studies

The Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast focuses on conversations about fitness, nutrition, and biohacking, and also features interviews with health experts and nutrition scientists.

A Mix: Teaching/Interview/Case Studies
A Mix: Teaching/Interview/Case Studies

Mini-Series Podcasts

This is where you create episodes that have more than one part: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, etc.

These are extremely powerful episodes because they essentially leave people hanging. It makes them want to come back to know the end result.

We do this with our podcasts whenever we need more time to dive into a topic in greater depth:

We do this with our podcasts whenever we need more time to dive into a topic in greater depth
We do this with our podcasts whenever we need more time to dive into a topic in greater depth

Many storytelling podcasts leverage this same principle. Take a show like Serial, for instance. The entire podcast is basically one big mini-series.

Decide on Your Episode’s Length

Successful podcasts also tend to produce shows of a consistent length. Some shows focus on brief episodes—Content Inc., for example, has episodes as short as 5 minutes. On the other end of the spectrum, The Tim Ferriss Show’s episodes can last 2 hours or more each.

To decide on your episode length, think back to your avatar.

How much free time do they have? Are you making this show for busy professionals who can only listen for 20 minutes while they’re driving to work? If so, consider making your episodes 20 minutes, max.

Also think about how knowledgeable your avatar is, compared to the complexity of your topic. If your show focuses on basic dieting for weight loss, for example, you can probably keep episodes relatively short. A show that focuses on the nitty-gritty details of nutritional science, on the other hand, likely needs more time to delve into its complex material.

Figure Out How Often You’ll Publish Episodes

A common mistake we see all the time:

Someone will start a podcast, and at first, they’re gung-ho about publishing new episodes regularly.

But over time, as other work crowds into their podcasting time, they start publishing episodes late. Then missing episodes altogether. Finally, they settle into an inconsistent schedule in which they’re publishing episodes whenever they feel like it or whenever they can find the time.

This is a problem, folks. Having a consistent publishing schedule is an extremely important factor in a podcast’s success. Publishing consistently will help you build a loyal audience who will know when to expect a new episode. This will help to ensure people keep coming back and download your podcast. And having consistent downloads is a key factor for having good rankings.

So when you decide on a publishing frequency, make sure it’s something you can stick to for the long haul. Determine how often you’ll publish and which day(s) you’ll publish.

Your publishing schedule isn’t written in stone. You CAN change it if you think you need to. Maybe you realize your podcast is working well, so you increase your frequency from once a month to twice a month. Or, maybe new responsibilities force you to reduce your frequency from weekly to biweekly.

Just don’t change your publishing frequency too often because that will confuse audience members who are used to hearing from you on a regular basis. And if you do change your publishing schedule after you’ve launched your podcast, make sure you communicate that to your audience in advance so you don’t lose listeners.

Decide on a Title

Your podcast’s title is important. Ideally, it will grab people’s attention, promise a benefit, and give them a hint as to what your podcast is about.

That’s a tall order!

To help get you started, look up some similar podcasts in your space and use their titles as inspiration. Do they share a common tone, style, or promise? Can you do something similar but different?

It’s also a smart idea to perform some keyword research. If there’s a relevant keyword that makes sense for your podcast, work it into your title. Use Google Keyword Planner to look up the search volume.

Write Your Apple Podcast Summary

Your Apple Podcast summary is the place to tell visitors, in more detail, exactly what your show is about. You want to use this space to tell people what problem you’ll help them solve, and any other reasons why they should listen to your podcast. So you’re going to want to write in a way that grabs people’s attention.

Put some work into this copy because it occupies a prominent place on your show page:

Put some work into this copy because it occupies a prominent place on your show page.
Put some work into this copy because it occupies a prominent place on your show page.

Because Apple Podcast is a big search engine, this is another good place to include relevant keywords. If you’ve featured well-known influencers on your show, for instance, consider mentioning them here by name.

Just be aware, though, that Apple Podcast has been known to remove podcasts for saying things like, “This show is inspired by [insert influencer or celebrity]” just to include that person’s name as a keyword. So be wary of unnecessary name-dropping (particularly if the person in question has not been on your show).

Create Podcast Artwork that Meets Apple Podcast’s Requirements

Your podcast artwork is extremely important. A good podcast icon will stand out and grab attention. And just like your title, you’ll want this to speak to your specific audience. This is a task you may want to outsource to a professional designer.

Here are a few suggestions for your podcast artwork:

  • Try using bright colors that stand out
  • Consider adding an image of yourself to foster a personal connection
  • Make sure your image is easy to see and read on mobile—like ours:
Make sure your image is easy to see and read on mobile.
Make sure your image is easy to see and read on mobile.

To meet Apple Podcast requirements, your image needs to be at least 1400 x 1400 pixels, with a maximum of 3000 x 3000 pixels.

Decide on Your Hardware & Software

You don’t need a big, complicated setup to launch a podcast. But you do need a handful of things, such as:

  • A microphone. Two brands we recommend are RODE and Audio-Technica
  • Recording software for interviews, like Skype or Zoom
  • Editing software like Audacity

A shock mount and boom arm aren’t essential, but they are convenient hardware accessories to go along with your microphone.

The mic you use is very important. It’s what captures your voice and determines if it will sound pleasant or grating.

The mics we use are called Rode Podcasters, which you can acquire from many different retailers for approximately $229.

The mics we use are called Rode Podcasters, which you can acquire from many different retailers for approximately $229.
The mics we use are called Rode Podcasters, which you can acquire from many different retailers for approximately $229.

A less expensive (but still high-quality) microphone is the ATR-2100, which you can purchase from a multitude of retailers for approximately $79. We started off with the ATR mics and then upgraded to the Rode Podcasters.

A less expensive (but still high-quality) microphone is the ATR-2100, which you can purchase from a multitude of retailers for approximately $79. We started off with the ATR mics and then upgraded to the Rode Podcasters.
A less expensive (but still high-quality) microphone is the ATR-2100, which you can purchase from a multitude of retailers for approximately $79. We started off with the ATR mics and then upgraded to the Rode Podcasters.

For more equipment and software suggestions, check out The Essential List of Podcasting Tools and the blog post How to Create a Podcast Studio on a Shoestring Budget.

Hardware and software is a topic that people get hung up on, but at the end of the day—it’s probably not as important as you think. The important thing is to pick a microphone that produces good quality audio and go for it.

Record Your First 3 Episodes

Now we’re getting to the fun part! It’s time to get busy recording your first few episodes.

When you launch your podcast, launch with 3 episodes (or more) because it serves as a hook for your audience and gives you the opportunity to create a solid first impression.

You’ll also have 3 episodes for newcomers to download instead of just 1—which means 3x the number of downloads! Three times the amount of consumption. Which is a good sign to iTunes that your podcast is well-liked, which will boost your rankings.

We recommend using these first 3 episodes to explain your most important, foundational material. Think of them as pillar episodes.

To find ideas for these episodes, look to your blog, YouTube channel, or any other mediums where you’re creating content. What are your most popular topics—the foundational posts that really interest people? The content that resonates with your audience can be repurposed and serve as your podcast’s pillar episodes.

Once your podcast episodes are recorded, now it’s time to…

Edit Your Podcast

Good editing can take an episode from good to great, making the content as engaging as possible. You’re looking for the magic, so to speak.

Here, the audio editor will attempt to CAPTURE or CREATE energy, chemistry, and passion, while highlighting the host’s personality. This is what people like to listen to. The editor will also go through the episode and remove anything that’s going to distract from the story or the message of the episode, such as distracting background noise, like a siren that was picked up while recording.

When editing, remember that content is king. Build the episode around the content and the story.

For the Perpetual Traffic podcast, we also worked with a music producer to help create an audio brand and set the tone. Just like graphic designers build a visual brand with colors, fonts, and images, a music producer builds a brand with sounds and instruments that are signature and custom to your product.

It’s possible to do your own audio editing, using a free tool like Audacity and licensing music and sound effects from a third-party site like AudioJungle. However, because audio editing can be time-consuming (and rather technical), this is a step we recommend outsourcing to a professional.

Upload Your Episodes & Submit Your RSS Feed

OK, your episode(s) are ready to go. But in order for people to find your show using a podcast application like iTunes, you’ll have to upload your episodes to a podcast host and submit your RSS feed to a podcast application like iTunes.

NOTE: This might be a good step to outsource to someone who knows how to do it. It’s not particularly difficult to do, but outsourcing it could save you some time if you’re not particularly tech-savvy.

Step 1: Upload Your Episodes

There are many podcasting hosting services you can use, such as Libsyn, PodBean, Blubrry, BuzzSprout, etc. The hosting sites range in price from free to $100+ monthly subscriptions.

At DigitalMarketer, we use Libsyn for our podcast hosting.

At DigitalMarketer, we use Libsyn for our podcast hosting.
At DigitalMarketer, we use Libsyn for our podcast hosting.

Libsyn works very well and is inexpensive. It’s also easy to use.

Other hosting sites will also have help centers on their websites that will explain how to upload a podcast using their platform. Some also have blog posts and other content resources that offer tips and strategies for podcasting in general, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for more podcasting tactics.

Step 2: Configure Your RSS Feed

Now you just need to submit your podcast’s RSS feed to podcast applications like iTunes.

If you use a host like Libsyn, simply follow their instructions to set this up. They make it simple and straightforward to submit your show to Apple Podcasts. Otherwise, you can use a plugin like Blubrry to accomplish the same thing on WordPress.

Celebrate, Launch & Promote

Now that your first 3 episodes are ready, it’s time to launch!

Take a minute to celebrate… but don’t assume your job is done. When you first launch your show, you want to keep working to create as much momentum and buzz as possible.

KEEP IN MIND: once iTunes approves your podcast, you have 8 weeks to make an impression in the New and Noteworthy section—the coveted spot on the iTunes Store directory that allows you to be highly visible and gain the recognition of millions of users for 8 weeks.

Once iTunes approves your podcast, you have 8 weeks to make an impression in the New and Noteworthy section
Once iTunes approves your podcast, you have 8 weeks to make an impression in the New and Noteworthy section

To do that, you want people to download, subscribe to, and review your podcast.

This is a good time to call on your community and market to help with your launch. Ask friends and family members to share it on social media. Partner with businesses in your market to help promote your podcast.

Another way to help boost your iTunes rankings is to launch with a contest.

When you use a contest, you want the prize to really appeal to your audience. Your contest prize shouldn’t be something that appeals to the masses because you’re not aiming to attract everybody. You’re working on gathering people who will actually find value from your podcast.

For instance, if your podcast is about fishing, you wouldn’t want to give away a laptop or a tablet. A more specific and appealing prize to your audience would be a fishing rod or tactical gear.

Here’s a look at the contest we ran when launching Perpetual Traffic. Our contest prize was tickets to our annual Traffic & Conversion Summit. In order to enter, you had to subscribe to our podcast and leave a review.

Look at the contest we ran when launching Perpetual Traffic.
Look at the contest we ran when launching Perpetual Traffic.

Launching with a contest helped our first podcast, Perpetual Traffic, hit #1 in the Business Category. It’s what got us to “New and Noteworthy” and helped us stay there for 8 weeks.

Launching with a contest helped our first podcast, Perpetual Traffic, hit #1 in the Business Category. It’s what got us to “New and Noteworthy” and helped us stay there for 8 weeks.
Launching with a contest helped our first podcast, Perpetual Traffic, hit #1 in the Business Category. It’s what got us to “New and Noteworthy” and helped us stay there for 8 weeks.

Okay, we’ve covered a lot. There are a lot of steps when it comes to launching a podcast, which is why we created a Launch Checklist; it sums up the important points to keep in mind. Use it as a reference and as a quick guide as you get ready to launch your podcast.

Create SOPs & Frameworks for Creating & Promoting Your Podcast

5-Step Framework for Podcast Creation

Now that your podcast is launched, it’s time to create some standard operating procedures (SOPs). This will help streamline the process of creating and promoting new episodes going forward.

It may be tempting to put this off until later, but trust us—it’s well worth your time to do this NOW. Otherwise, it’s easy to forget about it and continue creating shows by the seat of your pants.

And if you do that, you’ll end up with subpar results. You’ll also probably wind up wasting time because you’ll be following a less efficient process.

Here are some tips on how to create effective frameworks for your podcast.

A 5-Step Framework for Podcast Creation

Here’s a quick framework from James Schramko from Supervised Business. Every time you sit down to create a new episode, ask these 5 questions:

  1. WHY is [topic] important to [my audience] to [produce results]?
  2. WHAT do we mean by [topic]?
  3. HOW do we go about implementing [topic] to [produce results]?
  4. WHAT are the biggest challenges [my audience] faces when it comes to implementing [topic] to [produce results], and how do they overcome them?
  5. WHAT are the action steps the listener can take right now to get started [producing results] with [topic]?

That last question, in particular, makes the content more actionable, which should help the listener get the result they want.

Follow this simple framework to shortcut the process of creating episodes so you can make episodes your audience will actually download and listen to.

Distribute Your Podcast

In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner hears a mysterious voice in his head that says: “If you build it, they will come.”

Unfortunately, the same thing does NOT apply to podcasts.

Simply producing an awesome show isn’t enough. You also need to promote it to generate awareness and earn new listeners and subscribers.

Two of the most important distribution channels to promote your podcast include email and social media. So create a plan to promote both old and new episodes of your podcast to your audience via channels like Facebook and your email list. And yes, we said old episodes too. 🙂 Distributing those oldies but goodies will help keep your podcast top of mind with your audience in between new episodes and help you maintain consistent downloads as new listeners go back and consume past episodes.

We also suggest distributing your podcast promotion throughout the entire week, instead of all on 1 day. This way you avoid peaks and valleys in your downloads, something iTunes doesn’t like. iTunes is looking for podcasts that have consistent downloads and rewards those shows with better rankings.

To get an idea of how we distribute our podcast, check out a sample of our Podcast Distribution Schedule.

You’ll notice the document refers to a tool called MeetEdgar. MeetEdgar helps to automate your posting, so you can generate more traffic from social media without having to do anything manually.

Use “Batching” to Speed Up Your Production

Earlier in this article, we talked about how important it is to publish your episodes on a consistent basis. One way to speed up your podcast production and help make sure you stick to that publishing schedule is to take advantage of “batching.”

Batching simply means that instead of creating episodes 1 at a time, all the way through, instead you “batch” each step together and do several episodes at a time.

For instance, you might…

  • Brainstorm your next 6 episodes
  • Research all 6 episodes
  • Invite your next 6 guests
  • Record all 6 episodes
  • Edit all 6 episodes
  • Schedule all 6 episodes
  • Repeat

Batching makes the podcast creation process more efficient.

Leverage the Magic of Outsourcing

As you’ve learned in this article, there are a lot of things that go into the launching and the maintenance of a successful podcast. But at the end of the day, the 2 most important factors to your podcast’s success are:

  1. Content. This is first and foremost. Nothing else is going to work unless your show contains helpful, entertaining content that appeals to your audience.
  2. Promotion. Great content is essential, but it’s not enough. Even a podcast with great content can fail to gain traction if you don’t have a solid plan for promoting it to generate awareness and gain new listeners and subscribers.

Since these are the 2 most important factors in your podcast, they’re the 2 steps where you should put your personal time and attention.

All the other tasks—especially the technical ones, like editing your audio files—are ripe for outsourcing. Outsourcing is a great way to take tasks off your plate so you can focus on the most important, high-leverage activities.

REMEMBER: launching and running a podcast isn’t free. You’ll pay for it with either time or money. So pay for as much as you can with money because, at the end of the day, your time is the more limited (and more valuable) resource.

And now, you’ve reached the end of the article. Before we go, here are a few last pieces of podcasting advice:

  • Remember that a podcast is not a sales medium. It’s a value-first medium that will help generate goodwill and establish you as an authority
  • Record and launch with 3 pillar episodes, so that new listeners have a few episodes to listen to right off the bat
  • Write show notes that pique interest and convey the benefit of the episode
  • Create a varied distribution schedule to avoid download peaks and valleys
  • Cross-link and refer back to old episodes whenever applicable to help maintain download levels of your older episodes
  • Finally, remember that a successful podcast requires consistency and focus. Keep at it, and your results will get better over time

Good luck with launching your podcast!

Run The Play

One key thing you should consider when building out your podcast is that it is a marathon, not a sprint. The ROI on a podcast is not going to be quick, and it might take some time for your podcast to catch on with the general public. That being said, make sure you plan for the long game.

For this “Run the Play” section, we are going to focus on three separate phases: Plan, Build, and Launch. While the Build section of this checklist will take a majority of your time (and some consider the most fun) it’s important to understand that the Plan and Launch section of this checklist will be CRUCIAL to your podcast success.