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How to Start a Podcast in 2021? Find Answers to All FAQs

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How to Start a Podcast in 2021? Find Answers to All FAQs

Is podcasting right for me? And if it is, how do I start a podcast in 2021? 

It seems like these questions are becoming increasingly common as podcasts skyrocket in popularity. If you’re like most casual podcast fans, you’ve probably wondered what it would take to start and grow a successful podcast. Would you enjoy it? What kinds of skills, equipment, and budget would you need to do it the right way? 

From the outside, it might seem like a lot of fun, way too much work, or both—but you won’t have an accurate idea of what it’s really like to do until you… well, do it.

But in case you want a little more information to go on, we’ve compiled a monster list of 50+ frequently asked questions about how to start a podcast and all that it entails, from what you need to get started, to how to monetize it and get it noticed by as many people as possible.


The basics: What equipment do you need to start a podcast?

It really depends on your budget and goals. If you’re truly strapped for cash, you can start a podcast with simply a computer and a good idea.

But if you’re serious about creating a podcast that’s enjoyable to listen to, start with these basics:

Can you record a podcast from your phone? 

Definitely! You can start podcasting with a smartphone with a simple recording app, such as the Anchor, Spreaker, or Podbean. Of course, these apps won’t give you as high sound quality as many professionally-produced podcasts, but if you’re looking to get started quickly, don’t let the lack of a computer stand in your way.

For best results though, Riverside.fm recently launched their iOS app that allows you to record professional-quality audio and video for your podcast. 

To get the best sound quality, we suggest using an external microphone


How do I use headphones for podcasting?

A quality set of headphones are essential to a good podcast. They help cancel ambient noise and let you hear yourself better.

The way you hear yourself talk is not the way you sound to others, so hearing yourself as your microphone is recording you will help you make adjustments on the fly rather than realizing post-recording that you were too close to the mic, popping your p’s and k’s, or speaking too loud. 

It’s best to choose podcast headphones that are easy to use (such as a USB plug-and-play option), but any quality pair you have should do the trick.

Can you use Beats for podcasting?

Yes! If you have a quality pair of Beats headphones, they should work well enough for your purposes.

How can I hear myself through headphones without delay? 

If you hear a delay in your microphone headset, you may be experiencing audio latency. This problem can often be fixed by closing any other programs that are using the audio and reducing your plugin usage.

How can I hear my voice through headphones in Windows 10? 

To set up your headphones in Windows 10, plug them in using either the 3.5mm split jack or the USB port (or connect them wirelessly if they have Bluetooth compatibility). Then, select the headphones as the default sound output device in your computer’s sound settings.

Then, connect your microphone. 

  • In the sound settings, choose the sound control panel on the right. 
  • Select the Recording tab and choose your microphone to set that as the default input device. 
  • Then, open the Properties window and adjust the settings in the Levels tab according to your preferences. 

Test your new setup in your favorite podcast software!


Recording & Editing: What software should I use to record & edit a podcast? 

The best and easiest way to record a podcast is to use audio recording software. There are many free and paid solutions on the market. 

The most popular free podcast software options are GarageBand, Adobe Audition, Audacity, Skype, Zoom, and Discord. 

Then, there are the higher-quality paid options such as Riverside.fm.

It all depends on what you’re looking for. If you don’t have extra money to spare, one of the free options above is a great place to get your feet wet. But if you can afford to be a bit more discerning, look for a recording software option that provides:

  • Ease of use and a low barrier to entry
  • Locally-recorded, studio-quality audio (and video, if you’re interested in producing video content for social media or YouTube)
  • In-recording producer controls

How do I record a podcast remotely? 

Contrary to what you might think, you can record a podcast with people in different locations. Whether you need to record a podcast interview or you’re simply recording remotely with your co-host, it’s easy enough to make it sound like you’re in the same room. 

Simply choose a high-quality recording software like Riverside.fm that records each participant’s audio and video locally to their computer. That way, you’re not dependent on a fast internet connection, and each person’s feed sounds crisp and clean. 

Also, make sure each participant uses a quality microphone and a set of headphones for the best results.

Related article
: How To Record A High-Quality Podcast Remotely [in 2021]

Can you record a podcast on Zoom?

To start hosting a podcast on Zoom, all you need to do is set up a normal virtual call with your co-hosts and/or guests. Once everyone has entered the call and you’re ready to record, click the “Record” button on your dashboard. 

When you end the meeting, Zoom will automatically save the mp3 audio and mp4 video files to your computer. 

Is Zoom good for podcasts? 

Zoom is free to use, which makes it an easy choice for beginners who are already familiar with using it for work or recreational calls. However, since the software wasn’t designed with studio-quality podcasting in mind, it isn’t the best choice out there for podcasters.

Zoom uses compressed audio and video, which means some of the data is removed to make the file smaller. Your podcast audio can sound grainy and fuzzy as a result.

Also, Zoom depends on a live internet connection, so if your connection drops, your audio or video file will be disrupted as well. That’s why it’s better to use software that records locally to each participant’s computer.

Can you record a zoom meeting if you are not the host?

Zoom’s default setting only allows the host to record a meeting. However, the host can give permission to another participant to record it instead, or the host can set up the participant as an alternative host

Can you record a podcast on discord?

Recording a podcast in Discord is a viable free option for those looking for an alternative to Skype or Zoom but cannot afford paid options. 

You’ll need to create your own account and server, link the server to a Discord recording bot such as “Craig,” and invite your guests or co-hosts to the voice chat within your server. Recording with Discord allows you to record each participant’s voice separately, which increases the audio quality potential during the editing phase.

How do I record my first podcast?

Recording your first podcast can be an intimidating step, but it’s best to just dive in! Set up your equipment in your sound-proofed recording room of choice. Write out your podcast script so that you don’t have to start recording on the fly. 

Then take a few calming breaths, and start recording!

How and where can I edit podcasts?

An essential part of creating a podcast is editing it into the final product you want your listeners to experience.

After you’re done recording, you need software to help you cut tape, mix tracks, and splice in music and sponsored ads. You’ll do all this from a digital audio workstation (DAW), or your editing software of choice. 

Use Riverside’s Magic Editor to automate the post-production process. Watch the video below to learn more about it.


What is the best podcast editing software?

There are several popular editing software options available, depending on your budget and goals (and how much of a tech learning curve you’re up for). Some of the best options include:

Read more: Podcast Editing Software: Which One To Choose In 2021

The money questions: How do I monetize my podcast?

If you’re hoping to start a podcast and make money, you’re not alone. But the concept of being paid to talk into a microphone can be a little confusing for many people. Do podcasters actually make money? How much can they make?

There are two main ways to monetize your podcast. The most popular way is by using your platform to promote and sell other things (i.e., sponsorship). You’re paid by other companies (your sponsors) to run advertisements during your show. 

The other way to make money from your podcast is directly from your listeners. You can ask for donations (through popular platforms such as Patreon and GoFundMe, or even through a direct PayPal or Stripe donation button on your website). 

You can also sell your podcast by charging membership tiers to premium subscribers. You might produce a regular, free podcast—but then your die-hard fans can pay for VIP content, such as exclusive episodes, Facebook groups, or podcast merch. These subscription tiers can be set up through membership platforms like Patreon or Supercast.

How do I get sponsors for my podcast? 

That’s the eternal question. Sponsors are usually only willing to pay podcasters who have a certain number of listeners or downloads. 

You can check these places to find sponsorship deals:

How much can I charge for my podcast?

This also depends on your audience size. The most popular way to price ads is on a cost-per-mille (CPM) basis, meaning the number of average downloads. Rates generally range from $15 to $50 CPM.

Who is the highest-paid podcaster today? 

The podcast that makes the most money is undoubtedly Joe Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. His podcast earned a whopping $30 million in 2019, and he signed a $100 million exclusivity deal with Spotify in 2020. He earns a reported $75,000 per episode.

In 2020, Spotify also paid $200 million to acquire The Ringer and its 39 podcasts from Bill Simmons, making him the first podcaster to make Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list.

Of course, not all podcasters rake in this kind of cash. 

How much do popular podcasters make?

According to reporting by The Atlantic, popular podcasters can charge $25 to $40 for every 1,000 listeners. So a larger podcast with one million listeners might be charging $25,000 or more to read a single ad.

What pays more, YouTube or a podcast?

Podcasting pays more on a CPM basis than YouTube does. While the average CPM for podcasting ranges from $15-$50, YouTube videos tend to pay in the $2-$10 CPM range. 

Do platforms like Apple and Spotify pay for podcasts?

In short, no. These platforms function as podcast directories or places for consumers to discover and listen to podcasts. Right now, Apple and Spotify do not pay podcast creators to list their products on their platforms.

However, Apple and Spotify announced in May 2021 that podcasters can monetize their show. Listeners will pay a subscription fee to get access to the content of independent podcasters.

Do you need an LLC to start a podcast?

No, you don’t need an LLC to get started. An LLC, or limited liability corporation, is a business structure that helps protect your personal assets from business-related risks. Basically, if you get sued or run into financial trouble in the course of your business, your personal assets (like savings and property) won’t be at risk of loss. 

Podcasters who want to treat their podcast like a real business might want to consider getting an LLC for their podcast, since creating an LLC means your business will be treated separately from you as an individual. 

If you plan to earn a hefty income or share responsibilities/revenue with your cohosts, it might be a good idea to set up a formal business structure that helps you assign ownership among your venture’s participants.

How much does it cost to start a podcast?

While you can start a podcast for free (as long as you have basic recording equipment), it’s likely going to cost at least $100 to get yourself set up. And the real cost depends on if you’re a hobbyist or plan to make an income from your podcast. 

You’ll need to cover the cost of your equipment (which can vary in price), a podcast hosting account and software subscription, and extras like theme music and cover art design. If you go with the bare minimum, you can expect to spend $50 on a microphone and $15/month on podcast hosting.

If you want to start a high-quality podcast, it might cost more in the range of $500-1000 to get started with the right equipment, plus $30-$50 per month for hosting and software subscriptions.

Is starting a podcast worth it?

It really depends on your goals. What will mean “success” to you? Podcasting can be very hard work, especially if you’re trying to build a large audience or earn the big bucks—but they have countless benefits.

Podcasts are relatively easy to record and produce and have a low barrier to entry. You can record in your native language since there are podcast audiences worldwide. You can even repurpose content you already have, like blog or video content—while having less competition than YouTube or blogging.

Other benefits include:

  • Getting your name and brand out there
  • Making connections with your guests and interviewees
  • Potential for sponsor revenue
  • Building traffic to your website

Starting and succeeding: What makes a podcast good?

The answer to this question is definitely subjective, but most popular podcasts share the same basic characteristics:

  • They stick to a topic or central idea
  • They keep their audience at the center of their content
  • They have consistent publishing schedules
  • They have a consistent format
  • The hosts are passionate about what they do, and that shines through in their end product

Who can start a podcast?

The great thing about podcasts is that the barrier to entry is very low. You don’t need technical skills or speaking skills to get started, and you don’t need a massive budget, either. If you’ve got the passion and the willingness to experiment, you can do it.

Why is everyone making podcasts?

The demand for podcasts is high, and just seems to be increasing—which explains why many people in 2021 see podcasting as an excellent way to connect with an audience, build your brand, and create content that excites you.

Can you start a podcast by yourself?

Absolutely! Of course, if you’re podcasting solo, you’ll be generating ideas, recording, producing, mixing, publishing, and marketing the podcast on your own. But if you’re up for that, then yes, it’s definitely possible to start a podcast by yourself!

How long should podcasts be? Can a podcast be 10 minutes?

A good rule of thumb is to tailor your episode length to publishing frequency. 

  • If you publish every day, keep it short and snappy (10 minutes is perfectly fine). 
  • If you publish weekly or a couple of times a week, try to stay within the 30-50 minute mark. 
  • If you publish less frequently than that, your listeners probably won’t mind if you go over an hour.

Of course, these are just suggestions; there are MANY exceptions to the rule. For instance, Binge Mode is a popular podcast covering various fandoms from Game of Thrones to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and their twice-weekly episodes regularly surpass two hours. 

Think about your audience and your podcasting goals, and do what feels right to you.

How do you format a podcast?

Choose a format based on what kind of value you plan to deliver to your audience, your style, and your brand. For instance, if you want to convey information from various experts, you might want to choose an interview format. Or if you want to show off your creative talents, consider an audio-drama where you simply tell a story you’ve written yourself.

The most popular podcast formats include: 

  • Interview
  • Solo host/monologue
  • Co-host/conversational
  • Nonfiction/documentary style
  • Fiction/audio-drama

What do you talk about on a podcast?

It’s best to talk about what you’re passionate about. That way, your interest will shine through and make the content as interesting as possible for your audience. Consider your topic, your audience’s interests, and your own interests. 

You can also use one of the following segment ideas to help flesh out your podcast content:

  • Guest interview
  • News/announcements
  • Review or recap
  • Quote of the day
  • Answer listener mail

What should I say at the beginning of a podcast?

Your podcast intro should list your name, your podcast’s name and topic, and what your podcast does for your audience. It may also include opening music and a tagline. 

The intro should set the tone for your podcast and keep each episode feeling consistent and of a piece.

How do you start a podcast interview? 

Introduce your guest, including their name, job title, and accomplishments (framing your introduction in a way that shows the reason why your audience should care).  

Then, treat the interview like a story.
Start by asking your guest how they got to where they are today, and let the interview flow naturally from there.

What questions do you ask on a podcast interview?

If you’re hosting an interview podcast, remember: this guest has probably gotten the same questions repeatedly. Try to approach the interview from a unique angle, and keep your questions interesting, authentic, and tailored to your specific audience.

See our ultimate list of podcast questions to ask in 2021 for a few question ideas to get the ball rolling!

How long is a podcast interview?

The length of your interview is limited only by your guest’s time restraints and your personal preferences. However, it’s a good idea to set yourself a shorter interview length than you’d like, such as 30-45 minutes. Asking for less of your guest’s time will help them be more inclined to say yes, and the deadline will help you dig deeper because you know you don’t have an endless amount of time.

Can podcasts have the same name?

It’s not a good idea to choose a podcast name that’s already taken. You want to be as unique as possible so that when people search for your podcast, they only find you.

If you want to use a name that’s already in use, consider contacting the show host to find out if the podcast is still active. 

It’s an unfortunate fact that podcasts fail every year, so it may be that the show is no longer on the air. If that’s the case, the host might be willing to remove their podcast so that you can use their name.


Post-production: How do I publish a podcast? 

You’ll need to add tags (or metadata) to your audio file so that any podcast player will show the right information and graphics. Then, choose a podcast hosting platform to store each podcast episode. Once you’ve established this “home” for your podcast episodes, you can push out that RSS feed to various podcast directories. More on that process below.

Do you need a license to publish a podcast?

You don’t need a license to be a podcaster—but if you want to feature music on your show that you didn’t create, you’ll want to obtain a synchronization license

Many podcasters rely on “fair use” laws that let them play a small portion of a copyrighted work without a license; however, all it takes is one lost lawsuit for you to lose a lot of money. It’s best to get a license to use someone else’s music or avoid using it altogether.

Where can I upload podcasts for free?

Free hosting options aren’t optimal, since they have fewer options to help you expand your podcast audience. Also, as they say, if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product

But, it’s understandable to have budget limitations when you’re just starting out. Here are a few popular free hosting options:

How do I manually distribute a podcast and get it on all platforms?

Unfortunately, there is no one place to submit your RSS feed so that it will appear on every possible platform. 

Most podcast directories and listening apps pull from Apple Podcasts, but to be safe, you’ll probably want to manually submit your RSS feed URL (which you can find on your hosting platform) to as many other podcast directories as you can. 

Once it’s submitted, that directory will show each new episode as you publish it to your hosting platform.

Read more about how to publish your podcast to all directories where you can submit your podcast feed.

How do I set up an Apple podcast?

It is absolutely free to put a podcast on iTunes. To submit your podcast to Apple, you’ll just need an Apple ID account. We recommend starting by testing your RSS feed. Subscribe to it on your personal account. Then, if all the details look right, you can submit your podcast for validation through Podcasts Connect. 

How long does it take for a podcast to be approved on iTunes?

The iTunes review process usually takes up to five business days. While you wait, you can check your Podcasts Connect account for updates. Once approved, a podcast typically goes live in Apple Podcasts within 24 hours.

How do I get my podcast on Spotify?

Like Apple, it’s easy (and free) to distribute your podcast to Spotify. The platform partners with many hosting sites—such as Podbean, Simplecast, and Anchor—which makes it simple to authorize Spotify as a distribution platform for your podcast. If your host isn’t one of Spotify’s partners, simply log into Spotify for podcasters with your Spotify account. 

  • Click “get started.”
  • You should be shown a link, which you can paste into your podcast's RSS feed.
  • The address linked to your RSS feed will receive a verification email from Spotify with an 8-digit code. Copy and paste that into the “submit” form.
  • Then, you’ll be prompted to add or update information about your podcast. When you’re done, review everything you entered and click “submit.”

That’s it! The podcast should be visible in the app within a few hours.

Is YouTube a podcast?

It might sound like a strange concept—since podcasts are all about audio, not video, right? But in today’s age, many podcasters are embracing video, and many YouTubers are leaning into the audio medium to reach a wider audience. Modern consumers want (and expect) variety in the forms of media they consume, and YouTube has become a popular place for audiences to seek out podcast content. 

The more ways you can package your content, the broader your audience will be. That’s why it’s helpful to use podcast software that captures high-quality video as well as audio, so that you can publish your podcast content to YouTube.

Marketing: How do I get my podcasts noticed?

If you don’t have a following, it can be daunting to consider starting a podcast and building an audience from scratch. But the best course of action is to:

  • Choose an idea or podcast topic that provides value to your target audience (and isn’t just about your own ego and what you’d like to talk about ad nauseum)
  • Be diligent about your podcast promotion and marketing
  • Create social media profiles for your podcast and be active online
  • Tell ALL of your family and friends about your new venture—and ask them to spread the word too!
  • Submit your show to every podcast directory you can
  • Use proper SEO techniques to optimize your podcast for search engine results

How long does it take for a podcast to get popular?

It depends. Do you already have a large audience clamoring to subscribe, or are you relatively unknown? 

Are you podcasting in a highly competitive niche—or on the other end of the spectrum, have you chosen a topic that doesn’t have much demand? 

There’s no magic number for how long your podcast can take to become popular. Many big podcasters churned out episodes and marketed like crazy for decades before starting to get noticed, while others hit the top of the charts within a few weeks. Everyone’s story is different, but it’s clear that there’s almost always no such thing as an overnight success.

What is the best day to launch a podcast?

Since every podcast audience is unique, your best bet is to start publishing, then check your hosting platform’s analytics to see what days and times get the most downloads for your podcast. But if you’re looking for a good place to start, here’s a list of the most popular days and times to publish according to Podbean’s 2019 statistics:

  • Wed 7 pm EST
  • Mon 8 am EST
  • Mon 9 am EST
  • Tue 9 am EST
  • Mon 10 am EST

Do you need a website for a podcast?

It’s not technically necessary, but you should absolutely have a website if you’re serious about podcasting and building an audience. Your website is your home base. It:

  • Functions as an archive for back episodes
  • Helps you gain new traffic
  • Establishes brand consistency
  • Helps you build a community. 

You can also create a funnel for your audience by collecting subscribers’ email addresses and contact information, then adding them to your email list for any future marketing or promotional efforts you take on down the road.

How many episodes does it take to start a podcast?

A good rule of thumb is to have at least two or three episodes in the queue before going live, but it depends on how much buffer you’d like to give yourself. One episode is all you really need to get started; the rest is just how prepared you want to be.

How do I start a podcast on social media?

In today’s digital age, a social media presence is key to getting your podcast noticed. Promote your podcast by building social media profiles that are entertaining, valuable, and engaging to your target audience.

That means choosing the platforms where your target demographics are most active, then filling out your profile bio and links to match your brand. Make sure everything about your online presence points back to your podcast and brand identity.

Then, post regularly with valuable content that your audience will enjoy seeing (so don’t just post an advertisement for your show twenty times a day). Engage with your audience—reply to comments, comment on other posts within your niche, etc. Be authentic and let your personality shine through!

What podcasts are trending?

The most popular types of podcasts in 2020 were comedy podcasts, closely followed by news, true crime, sports, and health. This goes to show that what makes a podcast successful is in large part related to how much valuable information it provides that improves its audience’s lives—all while making them laugh (or at least feel entertained).

For example:

Related article: How Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, Ezra Klein, and The Daily Make Their Podcasts

What are 3 reasons podcasts are so popular?

  • Podcasts are great for multitasking
  • They’re an entertaining way to stay informed on news, politics, sports, or any other topic that interests you
  • The intimacy factor: hearing your favorite podcast host in your earbuds on a regular basis feels like having a casual chat with a real friend. It’s hard to find this level of engagement in other forms of media.

Why do podcasts fail?

There can be any number of reasons why a podcast might fail, but one of the most common is that beginner podcasters aren’t able to connect with their audience or deliver real value in an entertaining package. 

Is podcasting dying?

Absolutely not! There’s a high demand for podcasts, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. People crave passive audio entertainment that they can enjoy while working out, taking the dog for a walk, or doing dishes—which is why podcasting as a form of content creation isn’t going anywhere.

How to Start a Podcast FAQs: Over to You

Starting a podcast can be daunting. It’s understandable to be filled with countless questions about the process, the equipment, the software, and the right marketing strategies. 

The world of audio content is a vibrant, exciting one that’s always full of potential for growth. We hope that by answering the questions above, we’ve helped you feel a little more prepared to make the leap into podcasting!

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