Why start a tech podcast? Well for one, it's fun! But it's also great for your personal branding, which is a critical and often underutilized tool for breaking into the tech industry. Show off your knowledge and your entrepreneurial spirit at the same time...and it's actually easier than you might think!
The Ironhack Podcast's co-host, Dan Parry, shares his expertise to help you figure out how to choose the right equiptment, design your branding, and how to launch!
Start Your Own Tech Podcast, by Dan Parry
Are you thinking of starting your own tech podcast, but you don't know where to start? What tools should you use, how often you should record or what it should be about!?
We have you covered in this guide to starting a tech podcast - this article will cover everything you need to know to get your first podcast off the ground, and it's easier than you might think!
As the amount of podcasts grows, so too do the tools and platforms you can use to create them. It can be a little overwhelming to compare all the different hosting and posting platforms but there are some great solutions that we want to recommend, and that we use on our own, Ironhack Podcast.
Bear in mind that all recommendations in this guide will vary in price and account type, depending on your needs.
First off, always remember that routine and schedule is an invaluable tool for any podcaster. This applies to the whole process - from booking and recording through to editing and publishing - the more structured you can make the process, the easier your life will be.
We started with the reasonably chaotic approach of booking recording sessions with guests whenever they were available instead of a set schedule defined by us. This makes publishing regularly harder to maintain and leads to weekends and evenings spent editing or squeezing in last minute recordings. Once we set a regular time for recording and a set day for publishing, the whole operation began to run smoothly.
We will explore in a little more detail later exactly how to break up your creation process into easy and manageable tasks from preparation to publishing.
The basics - audience, content and naming
Who is your podcast for and what is it about? Identifying your target audience will help you define the episode topics, the guests you might want to book and the way you structure your episodes. There is no right or wrong answer, maybe you want your podcast to be for your average tech enthusiast to enjoy on a run, or maybe you want to target c-level professionals with some in-depth industry knowledge.
Talking about what you know may be an obvious and comfortable approach, if you are an expert in, or even just very passionate about a particular topic, then you can probably wax-lyrical for an hour a week with no problem. Alternatively, you may want to play the learner role in the podcast and have interesting and smart guests to help guide you through specific topics, in turn your listeners will learn about the topic and of course you get a little smarter every episode.
Format is the next thing to consider, this may be a bridge you cross when editing, but think about how you want your episodes to be structured and how your audience may consume them. More serious and information dense topics will fit an interview style with little to no interruptions, whereas some more casual discussion based episodes could benefit from a few fun features, like a “tech news” section with a cool little jingle, for example...
Do some research on podcasts you like, take some mental notes, see what strikes you and go with that. You can also adjust after a few episodes.
When it comes to your name, try to keep it something original but easy to remember, SEO is king - Avoid having a “The” at the beginning. (We've learned that the hard way!)
Setup and branding
There is a list of minimum things every podcaster needs to be ready for recording and publishing:
Recording equipment - Microphone, headphones and a laptop.
Recording software or an account on a recording platform.
An account on a hosting platform.
An intro/outro jingle (if your podcast has one).
Choosing your equipment
There is a huge market of podcast and streamer mics to choose from, your budget will define this somewhat. We recommend the Blue Yeti line of microphones, easy to use, USB friendly and reasonably priced
Headphones are again down to your personal preference and budget but we highly recommend using some over ear headphones to help block out any outside sounds when recording.
We use the DT 240 pros.
Your laptop will or desktop is a non negotiable, you need it for every other aspect of your podcast so we will assume you have one of some description already. Thankfully creating a podcast does not require a high end device, only a decent internet connection.
Choosing a podcast hosting platform
A podcast hosting platform will be your hub once you have created your content, they allow you to upload episodes, distribute and promote them. We use, and recommend, Buzzsprout for first timers, it is a holistic and easy to use platform that allows you to add copy and artwork to each episode and easily publish on multiple distribution platforms at once (Spotify, Apple music etc).
You can also control your monetization and promotion from most of these sites. There are some great guides out there for which hosting platform might be best for you, but as a go to, all in one solution, we say check out Buzzsprout. We will look at exactly how this site fits into your creation process soon.
Designing your branding
You will need some channel artwork as well as a thumbnail for each episode. Some podcasts use a picture of the guest for each episode and others use their standard artwork, check out the Ironhack podcast episodes, we have used both over the years, so you can see for yourself how both look:
Canva is a great resource for creating your artwork for free, especially for any banners or social media branding you want to do alongside your episode art. You can also use some great, free, logo generators (google “free logo generator”) to create a great logo with minimum effort. Just try to avoid having a 🎙️ in your artwork if you can, it's not that its bad, it's just that literally every podcast has it...
While the artwork is an essential requirement for a well branded podcast, a jingle is optional. You may want to have a few seconds of music to book your episodes or to separate the intro from the content, but many great podcasts choose to forgo the inclusion on one. If you do choose to get a jingle you are better off paying a small amount for some audio you can own and use without fear of any copyright issues down the road.
Make sure you have a quiet space to record in, obviously we can't all have studios with sound proof walls, but avoid construction sites near an open window. Soft surfaces are your friend, anything that absorbs sound.
We recommend Zencastr for actual recording, it will allow you to record with multiple guests and then instantly download all the mp3s after the recording is finished. You can then edit them however you like in your own editing suite, or if you prefer, you can download them pre-processed from Zencastr.
Are you enjoying this article? Check out The Ironhack Podcast to get inspired and see how Dan and Tim bring you the best tech conversations in the biz!
Producing your podcast
As mentioned before, structure and routine is a great ally when producing a podcast episode, there are a few steps to do but after a few episodes you will get much more efficient.
It's about breaking your process down into simple, manageable tasks:
Book your guests.
Prepare the episode.
Guests and booking
Guest acquisition will vary from person to person, maybe you are lucky enough to have a network you can draw from or maybe you will use social media to ask guests you really want to have if they would be willing to come on and talk. Usually a few episodes are required to give a potential guest something as a frame of reference. Don't be afraid to do a pilot episode here to entice further guests, this can be just you (or you and your co-host) introducing future audience members to the podcast and what it will have in store. You can add all your artwork and jingle to this and it will work great as a supplement to your guest invite.
We use our students, alumni and staff as guests to tell the story of Ironhack. Remember there are two types of interview - the first is about the guest, how they achieved a specific goal or built something inspiring.
“Today’s guest is the mind behind this awesome piece of tech you all know, introducing...Person X”
The second is about a topic, episodes in which you have a guest present to help you discuss a specific concept.
“Today we are talking about the evolution on mobile phones, and do to that we have Person Y, a long time mobile phone designer”
However you do your outreach, try to offer a set recording time for your guest to choose from, Wednesday at 7pm, for example. This will make it much easier for all involved when finding a time and it will help keep your content process regular.
Once you have a guest, set up a short preparation meeting. This can be as short as 15 minutes, and the goal is to find out a little more about your guests to find some topics for the episode. We usually have a document open during the call and a general idea of what the topic of the episode will be. Have a conversation about topics of discussion or questions the guest might be best positions to answer and create a running order in your doc.
The running order should always be a guide and not a script. Add a list of questions, usually with an intro section first, a body of questions about or around the main topic and maybe some additional talking points. When you record, have the document open and use it to guide the conversation. Don't just read the questions one by one, use them as touching points - this will give you a much more natural flow.
You can also use this prep to answer any questions the guest has and make sure they are comfortable ahead of the recording slot. Make sure they have a good enough microphone and at least somewhere good to record.
Most recording platforms will allow you to use webcams while recording, and we recommend this. While you may only use the MP3 files for your final product, having the video recording makes the conversation feel a lot more natural for all involved.
Get on your chosen platform 10 mins before the guest and make sure everything is running fine, you don't want to find a problem when it's time to go!
Don't worry about mistakes or taking a few goes at the questions, you can always just edit it out later if you want. The goal in recording should always aim for a relaxed and fun experience. Tangents are usually the most interesting part.
If you choose to download your episodes premixed from your recording platform, you wont need to edit at all. If you do have access to come editing software we recommend keeping it light.
Don’t over edit your podcast!
New producers may spend hours and hours tweaking every last part of their episodes to make them perfect. Our tips are to remove any obvious mistakes or re-dos, delete the track for the person who isn't talking (to help remove any background noise from off mic participants) and maybe add some noise reduction if the mic quality needs it.
Of course this is up to you but if your content is presentable and ‘good’, your audience usually won't mind about these minor details.
Once you are recorded and edited, you can upload the MP3 directly to your hosting platform of choice and then it's just about adding your copy and clicking publish!
A lot of this work will be done in your account set up on your chosen platform, again we recommend Buzzsprout. Each time you upload and episode the artwork, and where it is distributed to will be preset, you just need to add the title and description.
Research seems to vary, but the best time to publish is 00:00 on Thursday, therefore it will show up in the morning for those listening to podcasts and usually podcasts are listened to on the weekend. Of course this varies and doesnt move the needle too much in our experience.
Go get started!
You have some checklists to work through and it may seem like a lot at first, but once you settle into a routine and get to know your tools, you will be a pro in no time. All the tools we recommended are beginner friendly and with a little commitment you should have no trouble.
Feeling inspired? Check out The Ironhack Podcast!