Hosting a podcast is a powerful marketing tool and potential source of revenue. According to a telephone survey of 2,000 people in the U.S. age 12 and older conducted by Edison Research, 64 percent of people know what a podcast is, with 44 percent having ever listened to one and 26 percent having listened to one within the last month.

If sharing your expertise and opinions through your own podcast is something you want to try, it helps to get started properly. Take some tips from textile designer Savannah Hayes, who launched her podcast, Gamechangers: A Mastermind of Creative Entrepreneurs, in April 2018. In it, she interviews successful female entrepreneurs and gets about 20,000 listeners per month. Here's her advice on how to get started.  

1. What kind of hardware or equipment do I need, and how much can I expect to pay for it?

The three main things you need to start a podcast are (1) a microphone (2) a way to connect with your guests and (3) a way to record the audio. If you're on a budget, try using the headphones that come with the iPhone--they have a microphone built in. Another popular option is the Blue Yeti ($130). It works well and is very popular for Instagram shots. To connect with your guests, assuming you're not chatting in person, you can use Skype or a podcast-specific VOIP like Zencastr (paid plans start at $20 a month). Zencastr is great because in addition to providing a connection with your guest, it also records the audio, putting each guest on a separate audio track. This is key for editing. I use Zencastr to record my guest's audio and the Zoom H4n ($220) to record my audio as well as a back-up of the guest's audio. It's a personal worse-case-scenario fear to land the guest of my dreams and then lose their recording because of a software glitch. This set-up allows for two recording of the guests, one main and one safety net.

What software do you use to edit and what kind of file is the final product?

I've outsourced editing from the beginning, which I highly recommended. Podcast producers are pretty affordable and probably even more importantly, they can provide invaluable advice when it comes to launching your podcast. They've been in the podcast game a lot longer than you have. That being said, if you're down to edit on your own, a popular service like Audacity (free) can be really easy to use.

Where are the best places to publish a podcast, and how do I get my podcast launched on those platforms?

Two things to be clear about here. First you need to find a place to host your podcast. This is where the main podcast lives. I use Libsyn (plans start at $5 a month) for this. From there, you can essentially "share" or "publish" your show from the main hosting site onto various platforms. The main beast is Apple Podcasts a.k.a. iTunes. You can also submit to Google Play and Spotify as well Stitcher, Pocket Casts, PlayerFM, Overcast, etc.

How can I attract thousands of listeners, and do you have any tips for marketing?

Stay consistent! Make sure each episode you publish has a corresponding "show notes" page on your blog. Here you can do a quick recap of the guest and the episode as well as link to anything you may talk about during the show. Make sure this page is SEO-friendly with good graphics. You'll want a podcast branded graphic with your podcast name, the show title and the guest's name as well as additional graphics if possible. Make sure to share all these images on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Also consider creating a Facebook group/community around your podcast. Another important tip is to get out there. Pitch yourself to be a guest on other similar podcasts so you can get yourself in front of your target audience. Apply to speak at conferences. Write guest blog posts. Present yourself as an expert in your field. Also, if you have guests on your show, make sure you ask them to share their episode with their followers as well. Make it easy for them--send them direct links and ready-made graphics.

What's the ideal length of a podcast?

It depends who you ask. Think about your target audience and where they're going to be listening to your episode. Also, are you publishing daily? Weekly? Monthly? Does your audience only have five to ten minutes in the morning, but they'll show up every day? Or are they listening on their commute? Most podcasts average 30-45 minutes and that seems to be the sweet spot.

Do you have any tips for coming up with good topics?

There are a lot of ways you can structure your podcast. It can be just you, week after week. You can have a co-host. You can structure the episodes around guests. My show is centered entirely around the guests and their businesses. Each episode has (generally) the same arc. How did they start the business, how did they grow the business, how are they running it today. Having that loose framework helps me to easily jump into how each guest differentiates herself. When it comes to topics for each episode it's all about research. Make sure you know your guest before having them on. Head to their website and scour the About page. Check out their Press page and see what interviews they've already done. Head to their social, especially their Saved Stories on Instagram. Get to know them. Being informed ahead of time will allow you to pivot more easily and organically as the conversation flows.