Starting a podcast from home is bloody scary. You know you should because “they” say you should. It’s great for your personal brand, it will bring in more potential customers, and most of all it’s easy.
Or so say all the podcast hosts with years of experience in audio and video production.
Well, they’re not wrong. When you’ve got the experience and the budget, there’s not a lot holding you back. You could probably just hire someone to create a podcast.
This blog post, however, is for you out there who started out like me. I work from home. I don’t have a studio and I don’t have budget for hiring fancy equipment.
Also, I live a million miles away from all my guests.
I had fellow marketer, and podcast extraordinaire, James McKinven, telling me about the power of podcasts. So, after a long think, I started podcasting from home.
Spoiler alert: it was scary and daunting. Listening back to your voice is mortifying. If you think you can get over this minor hurdle, read on.
Once you get over the sound of your own voice and put in the graft to create your first podcast, you will realise it is rather simple. But, don’t be fooled. There’s some upfront graft, some shopping, and — most of all — some learning.
By the end of you this post, you’ll learn:
- How to start a podcast from home
- Options for recording your podcast from home
- How long your podcast should be
- What you need to start a podcast from home
- Podcast equipment you can use at home
- Software you will need to get started
- Podcast hosting options
- How to publish your podcast
- Podcast distribution
- How to make money podcasting at home
- Some examples of podcasts created remotely
How to start a podcast from home
When I first approached James for tips on podcasting, I had one main question:
“Can you do a podcast remotely?”
Now, James is an optimist and I am a skeptic. This made for the perfect middle ground. James said it was achievable and I flagged all the terrible things that could go wrong.
Let’s walk through the components required to start your podcast from home.
Sound quality when podcasting from home
James made me aware of the sound quality restrictions I was setting myself up for. I already knew attracting guests would be difficult due to starting a new brand and a new podcast. So, the podcasting from home element was the area I needed the most help with.
When I started my podcast from home, I used the same headset I used for calls to record. After three episodes, I realised I would need to invest in a proper podcast microphone to hit the quality I was striving for.
It’s no good creating content people want to listen to if they can’t bear listening to it. It’d be like running a blog with the best content but making it hard to read. You’ll find some microphone suggestions in the sections below.
Not only was there the potential downside of recording in my spare room — not soundproofed and prone to a lot of building work happening on my road — but there was also the major issue of my guests being unprepared.
To get around this, I prepared a checklist for each guest to confirm when they were booking a slot on my calendar. I’m not saying they all stuck to it but guidelines for remote guests are a must. For the most part, guests arrive with a suitable headset, have enough bandwidth, and are in a quiet area.
Planning a podcast from home
Before you get carried away and start inviting guests, plan the format of your podcast. If you start recording straight away, you’ll end up with 90 minutes of conversation. Which sounds great. But, leaves you with a hard-to-follow podcast and a ton of editing.
I found this out myself when I was a guest on a podcast. While they had prepared a set of questions, the format went out the window immediately. So, let me rewrite this point.
Plan the format of your podcast and stick to it. It’s like being a project manager. You are the host of the podcast but also the producer and director. You don’t have the luxury of hours in a recording studio so time is not your best friend.
I put together a slide deck detailing the questions I would ask. I’ve included my template here so you can save yourself an hour. You won’t be able to edit it so make a copy for yourself and tailor it to your needs.
How to record a podcast from home
You’ve secured a guest. Your new hardware has arrived. It’s time to start recording. Let’s take a look at the options for recording your podcast from home.
The most common and most desired options are free video conferencing options. But, you might want to look at paid versions that can take your home podcast to superior audio levels.
How do I remotely record a podcast for free?
If you are on a strict budget, here are some video conferencing platforms that offer free subscriptions:
- Google Meet
Differing per vendor, these platforms will differ in meeting lengths. So make sure you check out the meeting time or recording limit.
If you are smart about things, you could also use your employer’s video conferencing platform. This way you get access to a premium platform with no recording restriction.
When you ask, make sure you mention you only need access to the online meetings. This way, there is no cost to your employer.
Advanced recording options
If you’re at home using a standard internet connection, you could suffer from jitter or packet loss. Also known as lag.
If you find your podcast recording suffering from this, you could opt for a paid recording software that records both parties locally (instead of together in the cloud). Once your podcast recording has finished, the recording files are merged together for a seamless (and lag-free) episode.
You can get a free trial of Squadcast here and try it out for yourself.
How long should a podcast be?
There is no right or wrong answer to how long a podcast should be. My best advice is to go with your gut feeling.
When I started UC Influencers, I aimed for 30 minutes. This was for a few reasons:
- It’s a business podcast so likely to be consumed during work
- The longer your podcast, the more editing you will do
- Zoom conks out at 40 minutes and I’d like to say hello and goodbye either side of the 30 minutes
How do you record a podcast interview?
Once you’ve chosen your recording platform, recording a podcast interview is simple.
If you’re using Zoom, when you join the meeting, you hit the Record button in the bottom bar.
You can tell Zoom is recording once the Record button has changed to Pause/Stop Recording.
If you opted to use your employer’s video conferencing platform, it might be Microsoft Teams.
In Microsoft Teams, once you have started your meeting, click the … in the bottom bar. This will bring up different options depending on your permissions. Click Start Recording.
Microsoft Teams will let you know recording has started by popping up this message at the top of your screen.
When your podcast has finished, your recording will be stored as a file and accessible via File Explorer.
What do I need to start a podcast from home?
A shopping list. I spent about £500 before I published my first podcast from home. There are no strict rules on what is wrong or right. Included in my budget is also hosting for a new website where my podcast will live and a freelancer to create my intro and outro music. More on this later.
In the next sections, I’ll break down everything I needed to start my podcast from home.
For the UC Influencers podcast, I use the following podcast equipment:
- Laptop; unless you’re adventurous and try to create a phone-based podcast
- Yeti Podcast Microphone: you don’t need to be a sound engineer to get this setup; plug and play for clear and professional audio
- Logitech C920 HD Webcam: clips onto your laptop so you can record video if desired; doubles as a great webcam for business calls too
There are four software packages I use to record my podcast from home.
- Podcast recording software (like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Squadcast)
- Podcasting hosting software (like Transistor)
- Public calendar — for your guests to book in a recording slot
- Podcast editing software — you will need to edit your podcast
For editing my recordings and adding in intro and outro music, I use Audacity. It’s recommended by everyone and didn’t take long to get used to.
I’d recommend watching this video before you start editing your podcast.
Use this link for the Audacity download and have a thorough play around before you edit a real episode.
For the most part, you’ll likely be playing with these buttons below. Highlighting audio, zooming in, and shifting pieces around are my most common actions when editing.
Free podcast hosting is tempting because it is free. They are limited by storage or bandwidth so if your podcast is going to be a long-term venture, you’ll end up migrating away or paying a premium.
For my podcast hosting software, I use Transistor and couldn’t be happier with it. For a podcast newbie, it’s simple to upload, add show notes, and push to Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
I also embed my podcast in a blog post on my website. On Transistor, you have the option to copy the embeddable code. From here, you can add your podcast episode directly to your blog post.
A website isn’t essential for starting a podcast from home. But, you might want to consider it if the purpose of your podcast is to generate awareness of the services you offer.
How to publish a podcast
Once your edited episode is ready, you hit upload on Transistor and everything else is done for you. Before you upload your first episode, you’ll need to connect to Apple and Spotify. Otherwise, the platform takes care of everything.
How to start a podcast on Spotify
Go through your one-time setup on Transistor and all your Spotify publishing needs will be taken care of each time you upload a new episode.
How to start a podcast on Apple
Perhaps the biggest challenge when it comes to podcasting from home is getting people to listen to it.
Deep in my podcast plan was “who is my audience and how will they find me?” This is the same problem anyone has with marketing anything. The list of ways to attract an audience is as long as a piece of string.
Instead of listing them all out, Olly Meakings has done this in his 100 ways to get your first 100 users Notion board.
Personally, any content I produce is usually search engine optimised so it stands a chance of being ranked high when people search on Google. But, with my podcast, I knew it would be harder.
I targeted nano influencers. People who had a following in my niche industry. By inviting them on my podcast, I gained their audience (assuming they shared it once live).
One thing I never thought would help amplify my podcast was an RSS feed.
By adding an RSS feed to your podcast, you allow people to receive your latest episodes if they choose to add your website to their aggregator. Here’s a DM of mine that reinforces why you should add an RSS feed.
The main benefit of RSS is, instead of having to go to each website and see if there is any new content, content comes to you in a centralised location. The main method for using RSS feeds is through an application known as an aggregator like Google Reader.
Can you make money with a podcast at home?
Yes. Depending on your goals, the ways you can make money will differ.
There are two options for making money from a podcast from home.
- Find a podcast sponsor
- Affiliate marketing
I can’t take credit for being any good at either of these (yet). For this, here’s some recommended reading:
- The 10 Coolest Affiliate Marketing Podcasts You Should Plug Into
- What do podcasts and affiliate marketing have in common?
- Monitor Backlinks Blog
Okay, there is a third curveball approach to making money from a podcast from home. Both James and I have created pages where you can “buy me a coffee”. If you’d prefer to keep your podcast sponsor-free, it’s more than okay to leave a link for a tip. The better way to push this is to mention it on your podcast while listeners are engaged. I’m yet to do this because… well, remember at the beginning of this post where I said podcasting was bloody scary?
I take my hat off to anyone who asks their listeners to contribute to their podcast. But, as you’ve already found out, podcasting — even from home — takes time, effort, and investment.
And here’s a fourth way to make money with a podcast at home. There’s also the value of producing a podcast and showcasing your expertise. I talk about content marketing and reference blog posts I’ve written. A subtle reminder to my listeners that I’m always available for freelance work 😜
Some great examples of podcasts created remotely
My podcast is far from the best example but it is an example of how simple it is to create a podcast from home.
Here are a few examples of people better than me:
- How I Built This: Since the Sierra Nevada episode several weeks ago, they’ve been recording remotely. Listeners haven’t grumbled at the switch from in-person — did they even notice?
- ReWork: Inspired by the book of the same name, the founders of Basecamp even have a series titled Going Remote.
- Insane In The Men Brain: Rich Wilson talks to funny & interesting people about their experiences. And talking to people doesn’t require being there in-person.
- Sweathead: How do you get good at strategy? With almost 500,000 listens, Sweathead tries to answer this question. That’s a lot of listens so going remote can’t have had too much of a bad impact.
- All Good Copy: Glenn Fisher, author of The Art of Click hosts guests from the UK to Australia so you’d imagine a remote podcast is vital.
- Greyhatbeard: A Microsoft-themed podcast so naturally recorded on Microsoft Teams (remotely).
- CoSchedule: All about actionable marketing. One action Ben at CoSchedule took was to record remotely to keep his podcast going during the coronavirus pandemic.
- BootSaaS: Val’s SaaS podcast so remotely that he sometimes uses his son’s room!
I’ve laid this blog post as a podcast starter kit for podcasting from home. It is simple once you’ve done the upfront work.
It is possible to start a podcast from home.