How to Start a Podcast: Lessons Learned from Top Creators

Anna Dominik Banzon

Author & Editor

Content Team Lead

Published on: Apr 23, 2021 Updated on: May 17, 2024

There’s no denying the popularity of podcasts these days. Everyone’s tuned in while driving to work, going home, or even while sleeping. From comedy to sports, true crime, fiction, down to pens and stationery gems, all sorts of podcasts are out there.

In The Infinite Dial report, experts claim that more than half (57%) of Americans aged 12 and up said they have listened to a podcast. That’s approximately 162 million Americans. In the Philippines, about 85% listen to music or podcasts every day, according to audio-streaming service Spotify.

With its popularity and appeal, a lot of people not only want to be listeners but also be podcasters themselves. Factoring in the average monthly revenue from ads earned by a popular content creator (roughly $25 to $40) for every thousand listeners, you shouldn’t be surprised that even digital marketers are curious about how to start a podcast and including it in their own strategies for content marketing.

If you’re interested, then what better way to learn than from the experts themselves? In this article, we look at seven successful podcasters and outline the lessons we got from them about how to start a podcast.

Tips From Local Podcasters

In the Philippines alone, there are plenty of inspiring podcasters discussing different kinds of topics. In fact, it’s a good idea to study local content creators precisely because they’re the successful ones who already caught the ear of the listening market here in the country. Here’s how to create a podcast, according to these local creators:

1. Find your niche.

As mentioned, there are already plenty of podcasts out there. If you’re going for a heavily saturated category, such as comedy or true crime, you’ll be sharing listenership with players who have been in the industry already. It may be an uphill battle to increase awareness of your brand. A better way to launch your podcast is to find your niche.

This is what ‘Sleeping Pill with Inka – a meditative podcast by popular voice actress Inka Magnaye – successfully did. On her show, she reads poems and books to help listeners ease their worries and fall asleep faster. With a very specific positioning in the podcast industry, she was able to gain a sizable, loyal audience and make a name for herself as well.

So, how do you find your niche? One good starting point is your passion. What topics are you most interested in? What are your strengths and talents? What can you do that others can’t?

These questions can direct you to a niche you can carve out.

2. Know your audience well.

When it comes to heart-wrenching hugot and wise relationship advice, ‘Boiling Waters PH‘ is the first podcast that comes into the mind of many Filipinos.

Aside from the show’s relatable, witty insights, it is particularly appealing to listeners because the hosts know their audience so well. This, you can hear in how they speak their fans’ vocabulary, talking about stories they’ve submitted, and even writing their episode descriptions with the precise voice of their audience.

For this reason, it is a go-to show for the nagmahal, nasaktan, iniwan,those who are trying to move on from getting ghosted, avoiding being marupok, and struggling in a no-label relationship.

Just like in any other content marketing strategy, how to make a podcast starts with looking for your ideal audience and understanding “what interests my audience?” Who will you be talking to in your show? What’s their lifestyle? What are their struggles and wins in life?

When you’re able to zoom in and highlight that in your podcast, your episodes will more likely stick with the audience you’re hoping to reach. This will also inform other future decisions such as the platform you’ll use for hosting and publishing and promoting your podcast.

3. Be authentic.

Wake Up with Jim and Saab‘ attracts a lot of listeners precisely because of the couple’s no-holds-barred banter and character impersonations when talking about hilarious life experiences.

They’re unapologetic when giving advice on their segment Malibag, which tackles typical life struggles they and their listeners are working through. They also bring up the current political climate and issues of massive concern in the country. It’s surely one of the Spotify and Google podcasts worth listening to.

In a Rappler feature about how they built their podcast, Jim shared that “as long as the conversation is real and engaging, then I think the podcast is a success.” So on that note, remember to speak authentically on your show. You won’t connect with your audience well if you’re not speaking in your genuine voice and intent.

4. Collaborate with people who share your goals.

Regardless of the category you chose, the primary goal of podcasts is to inform. To go in-depth in the discussion of topics and issues, you must go beyond readings and talk to people about their direct experiences and expertise.

This is what Ceej Tantengco does in ‘Go Hard Girls,’ a podcast dedicated to amplifying Filipina athletes’ stories to promote gender equality in the field of sports. Because who better to talk about the disparities that exist in sports and athletics than the women who go through them, right?

In her podcast, Ceej regularly invites athletes to chat with her and, through their conversations, shed light on issues and experiences that need to be talked about and addressed.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to personalities who can share their insights on the topics of interest of your audiences. Another benefit of inviting these personalities or influencers is that they can help promote your podcast episodes to their own audiences.

Add link-building practices and promotions to the mix then it’s a win-win for both you and your guest speaker.

Tips From International Podcasters

Even content creators outside the Philippines provide good strategies on how to start a podcast. Here are some we collected from various podcasters:

5. Hit the right duration.

There’s a lot of debate as to how long podcasts should be. It’s an important consideration because having too long of an episode, you might lose the interest of your audience, or too short, that you leave them hanging. But the thing is, there’s no single rule as to the right duration. It really depends on the kind of audience you have.

In Clyde Lee Dennis’ 7 Good Minutes Daily Self Improvement, the episodes are literally seven minutes long, more or less. That’s because it’s the “podcast for busy high achievers.” For people who are always in a hurried pace, the show is a fitting pick-me-up in the morning. They quickly get the inspiration they need amid the busyness at the start of the day.

The podcast duration boils down to how well you know your audience. If you know they listen to your show on the way to work, maybe an hour-long episode is good. If they’re tuned in to fall asleep, a 15-minute podcast may do. Check the analytics in your Spotify for Podcasters dashboard to see how your listeners are consuming your content.

6. Think of a creative name and match it with creative artwork.

Pod Save America‘ is one of the popular Apple podcasts that talk about American politics in depth. It’s hosted by the staffers of former president Barack Obama, Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, and Dan Pfeiffer. Aside from the informative content, what’s most striking about this podcast is its very name.

It’s a witty pun that carries the tone of the show itself. Because of its rhyme, it’s also easy to remember. The artwork is likewise creative and telling: an hourglass with the American flag at the bottom of the glass bulb.

Be creative in your podcast name and artwork as well. Use word plays, if possible. Perhaps there’s a jargon in the industry you’re tackling that can be turned into a witty pun. On the flip side, if you prefer not to go creative, go simple. “The [Your Name] Show” never fails.

7. Engage with your audience.

Crime Junkie‘ is a show hosted by two crime junkies themselves Ashely Flowers and Brit Prawat goes beyond the binge-worthy content of well-researched murder and missing persons cases. It has become a community in that they encourage listeners to submit cases to be unpacked, even going as far as letting audiences fill out an “If I Go Missing” form. These community-building strategies solidify the podcast’s loyal fan base.

In the same way, engage with your audience directly. It can start with a closed Facebook group, with only the loyal subscribers having access. It can also be in the form of meet-ups and merchandise. The bottom line is, engage with your podcast listeners as much as you can.

Key Takeaways

After studying these seven top podcasters, we gained these insights on how to start a podcast:

  • Audience always. The audience will provide key information as to how you can make your show successful, from the selection of topics, language, to its duration. You should always keep them in mind.
  • Content that contributes. Speaking of the audience, it’s easy to think of podcasts as talking to the void when you’re just starting out. But know that eventually, your show will have a following, just like these top podcasters. That said, it’s important to be responsible for what you’re putting out there. Ask yourself always, will this content contribute something meaningful to my future audience or not?
  • Passion for podcasting. Most of the top podcasts mentioned in this article started out as a hobby. The content creators were merely doing it out of their interest. When you start with that, you have a far better chance at staying in the industry, gaining a loyal following, and reaping the monetary benefits in the process.

How are you planning to start your podcast? Let us know in the comments section, or let’s chat on Facebook, X, or LinkedIn.