🎙 Jeremy’s How to Start a Podcast Guide

See more Guides by Jeremy • Last Updated: February 2024

This guide is based on my experience starting my podcast, Wider Roots, in early 2024. It’s focused on launching an interview-style podcast, but many of the suggestions would apply for any podcast format.

You can follow Wider Roots here: Website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Instagram

Visioning & Planning

See the Wider Roots Manifesto that I wrote early on after doing the visioning process below.

Here are some of the questions I asked myself in the visioning & planning process:

  • What do I long for that is having me start this podcast?
  • If I were writing my truest reasons without any filter (create a safe box of protection and love where only I can hear what’s said here, and it will be cared for) — what is the fullest truth about what this project is about for me?
  • What is the compelling challenge this podcast is a response to?
  • In my highest vision, what is the impact I would love this podcast to have on the world?
  • This podcast is about exploring questions, not about having all the answers upfront. What are the central questions that I want to guide my conversations with people? (This is one of the most important pieces of the planning I did to articulate my focus.)
  • If I were to take a stand on what I believe the world needs, what would I say? Where can I take a bold stance that is at the center of this project? 
  • What are quotes from people I admire that speak to the premise/theme of the show I want to create?
  • Who is the central audience I want to speak to? What are the other audience segments that may not be at the “center of the bullseye” but are adjacent?
  • Ideal Listener Deep Dive: What are their biggest challenges? What are their biggest hopes? What kind of stuff are they reading/listenign to already?
  • Make an initial list of guests you might want to bring on. This will help you get a sense of the range of 
  • Also, make a list of possible topics you’d love to discuss (these may be topics that you discuss with many guests).

Getting support

  • Who do I know who has done a podcast project that I can talk to and ask questions? (You’d be surprised how many people have done one, even if briefly.)
  • Who in my life can be my support team? Make a list. (There are tons of steps in this process where you’ll want to get feedback on a document you’ve written, the website, the art, the first episodes, etc.)

Structure questions:

  • Treat it like an experiment where you commit to doing a certain number of episodes to start. How many episodes do you want to be in this first round?
  • How often do you want to publish?
  • What day of the week will you publish?
  • What is your launch date?

Launch Process

Advice:

  • Start 3 months before you plan to launch
  • Launch with 3-4 episodes recorded, so you have some buffer.
  • Launch with 2-3 episodes on day 1 (so they can get to know you more quickly up front)

Follow the Launch To-Do List below. 

Misc Things I’ve learned

  • Finding Guests: My friend Della told me something early on that’s proven to be true. Most guests are happy to be on your show, especially if they have a book or other offer they’re trying to get out in the world. While some folks will never get back to you, a lot of folks will. You can often just reach out via their website contact form even if you don’t have a direct connection to them. Alternately, there’s a “press inquiries” email in most books, and you can use that to get in touch with them if they’re an author.
  • Audio quality matters: It’s amazing how much more people enjoy listening when it doesn’t sound like it was recorded on Zoom. (See tech/equipement recs below.)  It’s really important that your guest not use bluetooth headset as both the headphones AND the microphone because the audio quality diminishes massively. Ideally they have a fancy external mic like you. Second best is that they have wired headphones with a mic. Third best is that they use their bluetooth earbuds as their headphones, but switch their mic to their laptop mic. 

Systems

I’m a huge systems nerd. Here are a bunch of my current systems.

Main resources

  1. Guest Prep Document
  2. Episode/Interview HQ doc template.  (See an example filled-in version of this template.) Includes sections for:
    • Research
    • Template email to send topics for discussion to the guest in advance
    • The interview outline (including talking to the guest before/after the interview).
    • Episode description
    • Episode title
    • Quotes to pull for social media
    • Space to script out the intro/outro for that episode
  3. Recording Prep Checklist (below)
  4. Editing/Publishing Checklist (below)
  5. Template emails to send to guests
  6. ChatGPT prompts to help with writing show notes for each episode

Design & Launch resources

  1. Launch To-Do List (below)
  2. Podcast App Subscribe Links (below)
  3. Example episode structure
  4. Example announcement email to colleagues
  5. Example life update email to friends
  6. Example email to “launch team” supporters and launch toolkit
  7. Example “write a review” form
  8. Example podcast trailer video
  9. Example link tree (for IG bio link)
  10. Example website
  11. Example brand style guide (font, colors, etc.)
  12. Example social media post templates: part 1 and part 2

Guest Calendar

I made this so I can have an easy at-a-glance overview of my upcoming guests, and whether I need to schedule more guests soon. I am aiming for 2 guests a month, so when I have more then 2, they are highlighted a different color, so I don’t overbook myself too much in one period of time.

Episode Database

To keep track of the key info for all the episodes

Editing/Publishing Checklist

See full checklist below. Here’s what it looks like in spreadsheet form:

Guest Scheduling Tracker

I use a plugin called Streak to track my guests. It might be overkill for most folks. You could accomplish something similar in a spreadsheet.

Tech Tools & Hardware

I did a bunch of research and here’s what I use.

  1. Microphone:  I use the MV7 ($250 new) because it has a USB port. I’d get it used on eBay if you can.  The budget pick is the Q2U ($70) —  it has a USB port and will 100% take care of what you need to get started. (You almost certainly don’t need the SM7B its the fancy mic that super high-end folks use).
  2. Camera: I use my iPhone in “continuity camera” mode. It’s by far the best webcam you’re going to have access to. Find a way to mount it to your monitor or laptop. If you’re not recording video with your podcast, this is less important.
  3. Remote recording: I use SquadCast because it is free with Descript (see below). It is SUPER helpful to not just record via Zoom. SquadCast lets you record high quality audio and video on each person’s local computer while you two chat in a Zoom-like room. That way, none of the audio is compressed/distorted, and even if someone’s internet is slow, there is seamless video being recorded on their machine (that you get at the end of the process).
  4. Audio Editing: Descript (here’s my referral link if you want me to earn a few bucks). I wouldn’t be willing to edit my own episodes if it weren’t for Descript. It makes a transcript of your audio files, and lets you edit the audio by editing the transcript, the same way you would in a Google Doc.
    1. I strongly recommend using Studio Sound to make you and your guests sounds super high-quality.
  5. Podcast Host: Captivate.fm (here’s my referral link if you want me to earn a few bucks)
  6. Podcast Website: PodcastPage.io (here’s my referral link). I tried WordPress themes and SquareSpace themes. I liked this boutique solution because it’s simpler and has built-in podcast tools. It will automatically download
    1. If you want something even simpler, you can use the built-in website feature that comes with most podcast hosts (like Captivate or Buzzsprout). They don’t have as much flexibility to design out a homepage or individual pages. But they get the job done without much work.
  7. Music: I eventually licensed music from a friend. If you have access to that, I recommend it! It feels so much more meaningful than using stock music. It cost more, but it was worth it for me. If you’re going to use stock music, I looked around on PremiumBeat.com and a little on TuneTank.com. (Here are the tracks I considered before I went with a song from friends). 
  8. Newsletter / email list: I use ConvertKit (here’s my referral link). It’s easy. They even have a template for podcast announcements. I believe it is very important to also have an email following, so you can communicate with folks beyond just the episodes they make time to listen to.
  9. Domain name: If you don’t already have a domain registrar, you can get it from Squarespace Domains. (I use Cloudflare, but it’s a bit more complicated.)
  10. Cover Art: I worked with my friend Molly McLeod to make the cover art. She has a “logo design” package. I tried to work with folks on Fiverr for this and I just wasn’t proud of the result, so I paid a legit designer instead.
  11. Social share templates: I paid two people on Fiverr to take the cover art I already had and use that as a basis for some social media templates. Fiverr person #1 (cheaper), Fiverr person #2 (more expensive but better).
  12. Books: I have an affiliate account through bookshop.org (because Amazon is evil). This allows me to earn a small commission if folks buy books through that system. Anytime I link to a book in the show notes or the website, I use my affiliate link for that book.

Interviewing

Some resources I found helpful

  • Krista Tippett on Generous Listening
    • Honoring them. Reading their books, their other interviews. “Vulcan mind meld” Learn not what they think but HOW they think.
    • “What I get interested in are questions that will be interesting to them [the interviewee].” “If you ask a question that’s interesting to them, they’ll often start thinking out loud in real time. They’re excited and forget they’re being interviewed,” Tippett says. “Maybe they’ll even say something that they haven’t said before—and you have this moment of surprise and discovery.”
  • Krista Tippet – How to ask a great question
  • Ira Glass on the Art of Storytelling (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

Some things I’ve learned and am playing with:

  • Try to focus the interview on a central underlying question
  • Be willing to try stuff out when recording, you can always cut it later.
  • As Ira Glass says, be ruthless when editing. I’m aiming to cut 30% of every episode. This gives me permission to try stuff out while recording because I know I can cut it later.
  • “Yes and…” to keep the energy going and build on what they’re saying. Rather than letting the energy drop between each question and then starting over from low energy.
  • Bring myself into the interview. Bring questions I truly don’t have answers to, bring my stories of times I’ve struggled or failed, etc.

Episode Cycle

Recording:

  • 1-3 months before: book the guests
  • 2-4 weeks before: Research the guest
  • 1 week before: Send the guests the prep doc and a list of topics you want to cover with them
  • Day of recording: Follow the Recording Prep Checklist.

Publishing: 

  • 14 days before: Start editing
  • 10 days before: Send to reviewers
  • 4 days before: Finalize edits (based on feedback from reviewers), write show notes, pick title, queue for publishing in your
  • 3 day before: Make social media posts. Queue social media posts for the next few weeks. Share social posts with guest so they can promote it.
  • Publish date: Promote in all the places.

Checklists

Launch to-do list

This is my VERY long to-do list for my launch. You don’t need to do all these things!! There’s a way to launch a podcast with just zoom, your existing headset, and the built-in website on your podcast host (like Captivate.fm), and little to no editing. The list below is definitely for the overachievers out there. Take what makes sense, and leave the rest. Don’t let the list below create overwhelm for you!

Planning

  • Write vision/manifesto doc (see above)
  • Send purpose doc to folks for feedback 
  • Define audience / ideal client
  • Pick schedule (frequency and day of week – Tuesday)
  • Schedule chats with experienced podcasts to ask them questions
  • Make a list of all possible guests
  • Make a list of all possible topics
  • Pick a draft name name
  • Send invites to first 3 guests

Make first drafts of everything

  • Survey folks I know about what they’d want to hear discussed on the podcast 
  • Make a simple webpage with a wait list opt in email box, so you can collect interest while still in the early phases
  • Send out waitlist page to the first round of folks
  • Manually add folks to email list who I think would want to know
  • Schedule test run of recording software (SquadCast) with someone
  • Sketch the podcast episode structure (example)
  • Make a guest prep document
  • Draft podcast show description
  • Write the standard intro
  • Write the standard outro
  • Send the intro content to 2-3 folks for feedback
  • Send outro content to 2-3 folks for feedback
  • Schedule a practice interview with 1-2 folks to get into the vibe of interviewing
  • Pick a standard prep opening/closing question to use with every episode

Equipment & Software

  • Buy mic
  • Buy mic stand
  • Buy cables
  • Pick audio editing (Descript)
  • Set up audio editing and learn to use it
  • Pick remote recording (SquadCast)
  • Set up remote recording
  • Pick publishing (Captivate.fm)
  • Figure out if I need to make any changes to my visual background for recording video
  • Set up Calendly for guests to book me 90 minutes and 2 hours
  • (Optional) Use Zapier to automatically add SquadCast URLs to my Google Calendar event after someone books me on Calendly (link to template Zap)

Website/Infrastructure

  • Get domain name for podcast
  • Set up an email address
  • Pick podcast website platform (Podcastpage.io)
  • Set up email list tool (ConvertKit)
  • Put opt-in box on website
  • Add google analytics to website

Social media

  • Get username on platforms for podcast (Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc)
  • Get someone on Fiverr to make you template social share images 

Pre-launch

  • Make a launch board for the next 4 weeks to keep track of all the tasks visually)
  • Make a list of channels who can share things about my podcast (email lists, WhatApps, etc)
  • Make a giant spreadsheet of all the Changemaker coaches I know who I want to announce this to.
  • Add the podcast project to my LinkedIn experiences section
  • Make cover art
  • Finalize show description
  • Finalize the title
  • Pick the categories
  • Research music of podcasts I like
  • Select music
  • Select the episode title format (ex: do we include EP23 in the title?)
  • Make template show notes (see description)
  • Set up email address for folks to send questions to ([email protected])
  • Make a standard format for the episode cover art (distinct from podcast cover art)
  • Make a bio link page for IG and twitter (example)

Pre-promo

  • Write the script for the trailer episode (1-3 minutes)
  • Record a trailer episode
  • Get feedback on trailer
  • Publish the trailer
  • Submit your podcast in all the directories/apps: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, etc (Captivate helps you do this).
  • Decide if you want YouTube to import your podcast (with just a static image on top) so it’s findable on YouTube. Or if you want to upload a video version to YouTube. Or if you want to ignore YouTube all together.
  • Optional: make a trailer video as well (example)
  • Collect all the links to subscribe to your podcast on various apps (see below)
  • Make a list of potential “launch supporters” (who will help share, and write reviews on launch day, etc.)
  • Make a lunch toolkit (example)
  • Ask people to opt in as a launch supporter (see example invite email)
  • Ask launch supporters to pledge to leave reviews and share on launch day
  • Make a social media plan for the 3 weeks leading up to launch day
  • Update my email signature to mention the podcast
  • Set up podchaser profile

Finish First 2-3 episodes

  • Finish editing episode 1
  • Finish editing episode 2
  • Send episode 1 & 2 to 2-3 folks to review and offer feedback/suggestions
  • Integrate their edits
  • Upload episode 1 and 2 following the Editing/Publishing Checklist

Website cleanup before launch

  • Add existing podcast episodes to the website
  • Add podcast “about” page to the website
  • Add my bio to the website
  • Add an SEO “meta” description to the site
  • Add template share image to all pages
  • Sync podcast with with captivate
  • Add pronouns to my bio
  • Add recnet instagram post to website once instagram is going
  • Fix all subscribe links on website
  • Add encouragement to write reviews (see my example google form for this so I can collect them AND they get in Apple Podcasts)
  • Make favicon
  • Add social icons to footer

Launch week

  • Ask any networks, influencers, groups you’re in to share your podcast.
  • Publish the trailer 1-2 weeks before the official launch date.
  • Publish the initial 2-3 episodes
  • Send an email to all your friends letting them know (life update email) (see my example email)
  • Send an email to all your colleagues who might be interested in this to let them know (see my example email)
  • Schedule social media posts
  • Ask friends with newsletters to include your podcast in their next newsletter

Recording Prep Checklist

I make a template task in Asana with all of these as subtasks. I duplicate it for each episode.

  • ✏️ Planning
    • Select guest
    • Confirm guest & send initial prep doc
    • Write questions
    • Optional: schedule a 15-min prep chat
    • Send calendar invite to guest
    • Add to house calendar that I’m recording
  • 💬 Guest Prep (1 week out)
    • Send them the guest prep document
    • Send them questions
    • Add them to the email list
  • ✅ Pre-recording checklist
    • Text housemates reminder that I’m recording
    • Re-send the call link to the guest
    • Silence cell phone
    • Go to bathroom
    • Fill water
    • Put “Quiet on Set” sign on door
    • Plug in mic and Check audio levels on my side
    • Set up iPhone camera
    • Set zoom to 1.3x on camera
    • Check lighting
    • Turn on night mode on display preference to make screen orange
    • Headphones plugged in
    • Close additional applications
    • Close windows in my room
    • Open my notes doc
    • Vocal warm up
    • Meditate / center for 3 minuets (set timer ⏲️)
    • Sign into Squadcast
  • 👋🏻 Welcome guest
    • Check audio levels on guest side
    • Set up guest to record on Squadcast and Zoom (if needed)
    • Center together
  • 🔴 Recording
    • Press record!
  • 🎉 Right after recording
    • Make notes for any relevant tasks / edits that I want to remember
    • Email the guest my gratitude and an ETA for when it will be published

Editing/Publishing Checklist

EDITING
Ask reviewers now so they have notice!
Use the SquadCast > Descript import function (Or hover on this cell for manual instructions)
Rename the new project EP000 – Guest Name
Assign speaker labels
Apply studio sound
Auto-level volume for both tracks
Initiate speaker detection if it didn’t happen on import
Action Bar > Detect Transcription Errors
Make sure audio is lined up with video before doing any edits!
Duplidate the compsition as an “ORIGINAL” backup
Add markers to Descript for main sections
EDIT1 – Major section edits, leave comments
EDIT2 – Small edits, fine-tuning
Write & record intro
Write & record outro
Add hook clip at the beginning
Add intro music (increase the volume before going into the show)
Add outro music
Add in-between music to create a bit of a pause
Add blooper at the end
(maybe) Share most recent review and then ask for review/rating/share

REVIEW + FINAL EDITS
Let the guest know well in advance when their episode will go live
Send to reviewers (2-3)
Integrate comments on review transcript
Integrate comments on google doc
Integrate my final comments in Descript

PUBLISH EPISODE
Send the guest a promotion prep email (template)
Clean up section markers
Gather links for show notes (resources, guest, etc)
Write show notes (episode description, guest bio, key takeaways / time markers, links)
Add book recs and author’s books to Bookshop.org lists
Choose a title
Add title to Descript episode
Create episode cover art
Export audio file
Export MARKDOWN and DOCX transcript files and SRT subtitles
Upload audio file to Captivate
Upload subtiltes (srt) file
Upload episode cover
Set release date in captivate
Set webpage URL in captibate
Press publish (aka: save and schedule)
Save a backup of everything to Google Drive folder

PUBLISH EPISODE PAGE
Copy the embed code
Copy the audio file
Make a share image for the cover art (simple, blurry background or some such)
Replace transcript
Clean up show notes & formatting
Remove references to website
Check the URL slug
Add a short URL for the episode
Add link to listen to this episode on Apple + Spotify
Add episode excerpt/summary

PUBLISH YOUTUBE VERSION
Make a YouTube version in Descript
Upload subtitles file
Add end cards
Clean up the description and add it
Add 00:00 timestamp
Upload cover image
Add to the podcast playlist
Set publish date/time

PROMO
Make promo toolkit for guest (Cover , banner, quotes, clips)
Add ambient music to the clips
Send promo toolkit to guest
Draft & schedule newsletter for WR email list
Draft & schedule newsletter for Jeremy Blanchard Coaching email list

MAKE CLIPS & POSTS
Generate video clips for social
Generate covers for the reels
Queue clips
Generate image quotes for social
Queue quotes

AFTER LAUNCH
Save the iTunes/Spotify episode link to the spreadsheet

Podcast App Subscribe Links

The podcast world is so weird. You need to provide a different link for each podcast app that folks use.

Here’s my (overly thorough) subscribe page: https://widerroots.com/subscribe 

In most places on your site, you can just include Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and maybe YouTube Music (which has replaced Google Podcasts), and then your RSS feed. I like to include all of the ones I possibly can on separate page. Here’s the list  sorted roughly in order of how prominent each app is (see Buzzsprout podcast player stats).

  • RSS
  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • Castbox
  • Overcast
  • Pocket Casts
  • Amazon Music
  • Podcast Addict
  • iHeartRadio
  • Podbean
  • Audible
  • Pandora
  • Player.fm
  • Castro
  • Goodpods
  • Podcast Guru
  • Podcast Republic