How to improve your recording studio from a DIY to having a pro upgrade it in your home.
One of the great things about a creative endeavor like podcasting is that you’ll always be learning from past experiences and working to level up your production quality. Once you’ve started podcasting and gained a following, you’ll likely want to know what you can do to provide an even better experience for your listeners.
Many podcasters find that they’ll gain followers and then have a period where their audience growth plateaus. If this is happening to you, putting attention and time into polishing your recording processes might be just the thing to get your growth jump-started again.
Upgrading your studio
There are a few key elements to consider when you’re looking at making upgrades to your podcast recording space at home. By upgrading, you could hire professionals that could help remodel a space to make it bigger, or perhaps some adaptations and of course, soundproofing your space.
1. While natural light and windows are great for stimulating creativity and increasing mental health, they are not great for recording space. Hard, flat surfaces are the enemy, especially ones that channel noise.
2. Soundproofing and sound treating are, in fact, different things that are often conflated. Sound treatment is when you add elements inside a room to control the reverb level. Things like acoustic foam, baffles, and upholstered furniture are sound treatments, not soundproofing.
3. On the other hand, soundproofing is a more permanent process that needs to happen within your room’s walls, floor, and ceiling.
Buying and upgrading your equipment now that you have a budget
Even small changes can equal significant differences in the quality of your podcast. The list of gear we’ll go over below can be added individually, so there’s no need to go crazy with upgrading everything at once (unless you want to, in which case, have at it)!
1- Computer – Once your podcast is up and running, you’ll know how much difference a good computer makes in your audio capture and editing. This is a great place to upgrade if your budget allows, and you’ll likely find that your final product is of better quality for several reasons when you have a laptop with enough juice to keep up with the demands of recording and editing.
2- Microphones – If you started your podcasting journey with a USB mic, moving to an XLR microphone is a great way to get your audio even more dialed in. There is a vast range of microphones on the market, and the best choice for you will depend on your budget and what format you use for your show.
3- Pop Filter – Pop filters are an affordable way to improve your audio quality in your podcast home studio drastically. By intercepting plosives in your speech before they reach your mic, editing is smoother and easier, which results in a better end product.
4- Mic Stands – A mic stand that suits your style of recording will not only make things more comfortable but will also help to protect your gear. With many options on the market, it’s easy to find the style that suits your recording needs. While you don’t need to go all out and buy the most expensive one you can, a mid-range option is likely the best choice. Cheaper mic stands are less sturdy and tend to sag over time.
5- Shock Mount – Integrating a shock mount into your recording setup will help reduce noise from things like small bumps or taps and moving your microphone. It’s worth investing in a mid-range to high-quality shock mount since you can use them for long periods if they’re well-built. Cheaper models will be made of plastic or rubber prone to cracking over time, but higher-end shock mounts will remain durable.
6- Headphones – Headphones can really help you to polish up your podcast audio experience. Over-ear headphones will help you to be more immersed in the experience when you’re recording and allow you to work on the quality of your speech by giving you a much greater ability to hear the more minor nuances of sound. So, think about investing in quality headphones to upgrade your podcast!
7- Headphone Amplifier – A headphone amp isn’t necessary if you’re a solo host or if you do most of your collaboration with guests or co-hosts over Zoom, Skype, etc. If you do have multiple in-studio hosts, this is a must-have to level up your audio for your podcast. Headphone amps give you greater control over each individual mic, allowing you to control the volume of each mic individually. This makes your editing process cleaner and easier, letting you focus your post-production time on other areas.
8- Audio Interface – If you make the switch to XLR mics, you’ll need a way to convert that analog signal to digital – this is where the audio interface comes in. This device allows you to limit the sound coming in so that your higher frequencies aren’t clipped, giving you greater control while converting your analog microphone signals into the digital format your audio capture program needs.
9- Mixer – A mixer is another alternative to a USB audio interface, but it gives you more control over EQ, etc. There are mixers with built-in USB ports, meaning that you don’t have to worry about how to connect your mixer to your podcasting laptop. There are many different mixer configurations to suit your podcast’s format, so some research on what the other models offer will point you in the right direction.
10- Cables – With so much essential gear to put time and energy into choosing for your home podcasting studio, cables often end up being overlooked. It’s in your best interest, however, to spend time finding a quality cable option. Your cables are the connection between your microphone and the recording device. Low-quality cables can cause noise interference and signal transfer issues, potentially lowering the quality or ruining a recording.
11- Digital Audio Recorder – Unless your podcast format sees you in-studio sitting at your desk the entire time (which many do), you’ll need a method of capturing audio when you’re on the move. There are many options, from entry to pro-level audio recorders. You’ve probably noticed in other podcasts that it’s really apparent when hosts are using a lower-quality recording device. Moving to a higher-end audio recorder will make an immense difference to your podcast quality, helping you produce a more professional-sounding final product.
12- Memory Storage Devices – Audio files take a lot of space to store, and with the amount of time you put into editing, you’ll want to be as positive as you can be that your precious files aren’t lost and remain accessible. External hard drives are the hero of this part of the story — if a bit of an unsung one. File storage can be something that we overlook until there’s a problem with it, at which point it might be too late, so make sure you’re proactive with this part of your podcast recording process.
13- Soundproofing Materials – Soundproofing and sound treatments come in all shapes, sizes and price points. From blankets, towels, and duvet covers hung up and stuffed under the cracks under doors to more professional solutions — you just need to make sure you’re reducing interference from sounds outside your podcast studio. Chances are, you began your podcast by using things you found around the home to sound treat your studio, but if you’re looking to invest in professional materials, there are many options.
14- Podcast Recording Software – The options for podcast recording software have exploded over the past few years, making more niche products for audio-only, audio and video, or remote recordings. Taking some time to browse options and think about what will work best with your format is a worthy investment. While you can get by with any old software, you’ll be able to streamline your recording and editing workflow processes immensely when you find the right software for you.
15- Audio Editing Software (DAW) – Your DAW of choice is entirely personal, depending on what your workflow looks like and what your editing priorities are. Different workstations will provide unique user experiences — some of your choices may be functional. However, part of your choice may also be based on the user interface and what is the most intuitive for you.
16- Podcast Hosting Platforms – Podcast hosting platforms have proliferated in the past several years, giving creators various options and price points. If you started on a free plan and like the functionality of your podcast hosting platform, upgrading to a paid plan may be the best option for you. If you’re finding limitations, we suggest trying the free versions of other platforms to see if there’s another option that suits you better.
17- Internet – The Internet that supports your podcast home studio is less about what provider you go with and more about the internet speed offered in your coverage area. While you can upload your episodes on a slower internet connection, you’ll definitely notice that it takes a long time to upload and that you likely won’t be able to do anything else during that period. High-speed or fiber-optic internet plans will provide you with all the connectivity you need to maintain a nimble and streamlined workflow.
Improving post-production like a pro
If you’re a self-taught podcast editor, there are always new things to learn and focus on to improve the final version. It can be easy to learn the basics and forget how much difference you can make to the level of professionalism by continuing to refine your editing skills, so here are a few reminders and tips to help you create a more polished podcast.
- Trim down audio clips for time and narrative
- Rearrange clips to tell a story – just because you recorded something in a specific order doesn’t mean your final version needs to have the same order.
- Add music, sound effects, and other pre-recorded layers (intro, outro, & sponsors)
- EQ & compression on each track
- Adjust individual track volumes
- Bounce a single stereo track that’s ready for mastering
- Final compression
- Track limiting for loudness
Improving your techniques and strategies
Looking at established podcasts for examples, you’ll find several commonalities between them. If you’re not already doing these things or could polish them up a bit more, check out the list below for areas where you can add more to your podcast.
- Create podcast trailers for marketing and overall professionalism.
- Use Sound FX to create a more engaging and layered experience for listeners.
- Create audiovisual intro and closing themes to add to your show’s branding.
- Use Calls To Action (CTA) to make your audience more engaged.
- Use social media to promote episodes and to attract new listeners, like doing giveaways and collaborations.
Improve your personal podcasting skills
Working on refining your podcasting skills and learning new ways to make a more professional show from your home studio is one of the great parts of the podcasting journey. Once you have the basics down like your podcast format, the structure, and your visual identity, that’s when the real fun begins! In this section, we’ll review a list of areas you can incorporate into your show to get even more out of it and give more to your audience.
Learn from your podcast analytics
Establishing how you measure your podcast analytics, your goals, and what information you can use is a compelling way to connect with your audience. Having the insights from analytics can give you tons of information on what’s important to your listeners so you can provide them with a podcast that speaks to their likes and priorities. In the end, that will come back to you in the form of even more followers.
Do deep research
Knowing the latest trends within the podcasting industry and asking tons of questions are the best ways to ensure that your podcast stays relevant and competitive in an ever-changing market. It’s a great idea to keep a live document of trends that you saw in established and successful podcasts to inspire you to incorporate some of those best practices into your own show. Educating yourself on these trends can be a great source of inspiration for something you may not have thought of on your own. A new segment idea might emerge, or you might learn best practices or tips on gaining more advertisers and sponsors.
It can be easy to forget that we need to be diligent and evaluate and create content plans based on data-driven insights. Once your podcast has been live for a few months or more, take some time to look back and identify which areas worked the best and had the best audience response. Chances are, you can turn these areas of success into regular parts of your show, and continuing to do this will help you to create an engaging and responsive podcast that resonates with your audience.
In essence, a podcast is a communication method, which means that your communication skills need to be extra strong to ensure that your message and content resonate with your audience. This applies to your recorded content, as well as how you conduct yourself with guests and any advertisers or sponsors you may gain. Professional communication and good organization are critical if you want to grow your podcast. A great example is setting expectations and a schedule for any guests you might have on your show. Joining a podcast as a guest can be a nerve-wracking experience for some, and uncertainty or disorganization around the process creates an experience of unnecessarily heightened anxiety. Things like pre-production meetings, setting agendas, and providing your guest with an outline of the show and any homework they can do beforehand are excellent best practices to ensure that your guests are comfortable and would happily return.
Creating a marketing plan for your podcast
As with most businesses, podcasts are not a “build it, and they will come” type of endeavor. You will need to put together a plan to market and promote your podcast to watch it grow and thrive. You could also listen to marketing podcasts for more ideas on inspiring ideas.
Establish your short and long-term goals
One of the best ways to establish your goals is to create a SWOT analysis. This acronym stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This exercise can help you develop areas to improve or focus on, leading you to create achievable goals.
Speaking of goals, make your goals SMART goals. This acronym stands for specific, attainable, relevant, and timely. The idea is to make goals that are too broad or unrealistic and narrow them down into something that can be measured and is reasonable within your given timeline. Instead of your goal being something like “I want to get advertisers for my podcast,” a smart goal would look more like “I want to gain two new advertisers to my podcast to help me increase production quality and purchase new gear within the next six months.”
KPIs are numbers that you set for yourself to benchmark and measure growth. For a podcast, those can be things like how many followers you’ve gained, how many downloads you have, and what improvement you would like to see over three months, six months, and one year.
Measure your goals periodically. Goals are only helpful if you have a way of tracking success and measuring how you’re doing. That’s why writing down your goals and objectives is so important — it creates a way to hold yourself accountable for what you’ve done to work towards them. Setting reminders in your calendar to review goals periodically is an excellent way of holding yourself responsible for how much effort you’re putting into improving your podcast.
One of the most significant ways to grow your followership is to ensure that your podcast is available across all distribution channels and platforms. Syndication is something that can take your podcast from small side hustle to a full-time endeavor. Many podcast hosting platforms make it simple to provide your podcast on multiple podcatchers. However, there is some legwork for you to do in order to get approval from individual platforms like Apple Podcast, Spotify, or Stitcher.
Build up an interactive network
Well, at first, podcasting may seem like something that is done with just the host and production team of your show but to be successful, there are many more people that you should involve. As a part of your marketing plan, there are a few key things to consider in order to boost your exposure and grow your podcast’s audience.
Partner with a reputable podcast producer.
When you make the jump to bringing on an established podcast producer, you’ll find that the expertise and resources available to you jump exponentially almost overnight. A good podcast producer will bring years of experience and knowledge to your show, helping you to put together your best final product for your listeners.
Be a guest on a reputable podcast.
We can all be guilty of getting into a rut with which podcasts we listen to. Your potential audience isn’t necessarily out there looking for you — they’re listening to shows they know and are comfortable with. The advantage of being a guest on an established and reputable podcast is that you get access to their audience, which is a whole new full of listeners that you can also draw to your show. The same goes for having other podcaster’s guests on your show. Generally, when you are a guest on the show, you will mention that on your own show, leading listeners to a new show to hear someone they’re already familiar with and know they like.
Connect with your audience and build a strong relationship
The best and most successful podcasts are ones where they’ve created a whole community around themselves and the contents of their show. Social media is a huge driver, as is two-way participation in shows and online. In recent years, some podcasts have even organized in-person meet-ups and activities for their followers, whether they are present or not. These kinds of activities foster solid connections and loyal listeners.
- Facebook – Facebook pages and secret Facebook groups are an amazing way to provide safe spaces for your audience to come together, create community, and discuss topics from your show.
- TikTok – This platform is perfect for expanding the reach of your show and getting new eyes on your content by capitalizing on TikTok trends that are always circulating. There is definitely a learning curve to get started on TikTok, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be off to the races.
- YouTube – YouTube is the perfect place to give your audience a visual medium to watch your show. If video is something you’re considering, publishing episodes on YouTube is an engaging way to let your audience see the face they’ve become accustomed to hearing.
- Instagram – For podcasts, Instagram provides a way to give users quick updates on new podcasts and upcoming episodes and an insider look into the behind-the-scenes of their favorite show.
Let the audience be a part of your show.
Ask for feedback from your listeners, invite them to your program, and share audio or another creative way to let your audience know they are being listened to. It’s one thing to feel an attachment to a show you listen to frequently, but it adds a whole new level of engagement when you feel that your favorite show is interacting with you and listening to you. Getting your audience to engage with your podcast and with you is one of the best ways to foster that sense of community and create loyal listeners.
Ask your listeners for reviews.
Requesting your listeners give you a rating or review on their favorite podcast app goes a long way toward helping boost your exposure and gain new followers. Something important to remember for this is that you’re much more likely to get people to write a review if you explain why you’re asking. If you create an engaged group of listeners and clarify that a thirty-second review could help grow your show even more and provide them with more content, they’ll be much more likely to take that time and leave one for you than if you just request without an explanation.
Marketing strategies for your podcast success
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is how websites rank higher in search engine lists. If someone is looking online for true crime podcasts, for example, the first page of Google results will show up because those websites are using SEO techniques to increase traffic to their site. Google sees these as popular due to their SEO strategies and will provide those shows at the top of search rankings.
One of the best ways to boost your SEO is by using your website’s blog to incorporate keywords commonly searched in relation to the type of show you create. If you’ve ever wondered why seemingly random companies have blog pages, this is why. The more frequently a keyword shows up on a website, provided that content is high-quality, the more likely that website is to show up at the top of a search list.
Research the best type of podcast ads
The primary source of income for Podcasts comes from their advertisers. The best practice is to seek out advertisers that align with your brand and you can provide genuine testimonials. Part of creating a solid connection with your audience means that they trust you and will listen to you if you promote products that they use. So, ensuring you are working with brands that you truly support and like is essential in maintaining that trust with your audience.
Offer Subscriptions for exclusive content in your newsletter.
Subscriptions are a very good way to offer your community exclusive content. You can charge your subscribers a basic monthly fee to have access to this special content. So it is super important to listen to your community since most of the time your audience will tell you what they want to hear from you. Maybe you could offer exclusive episodes, interviews, discounts, or even funny bloopers. This is why it is essential to define what type of content your audience is willing to pay for and to find a differentiator that sets you apart from the rest of the podcasters.
There is also an interesting way to make more side money. You could win commissions when your audience chooses to purchase a product or a service for a brand that you recommended under a specific link or code. This affiliate advertising will work better if you know the product yourself, that way you can offer genuine and trustworthy reviews. This will also help you generate trust and loyalty to your community. A lot of brands have affiliate programs, search for a product or service that you like and ask yourself if it has the same values as your podcast.
Email marketing can be a great way to achieve this interaction with your listeners and keep them engaged. With an email marketing campaign, you can ask for feedback through a survey, send promotional offers, event invites, write an RFP (request for proposal) with compact information about your business, where you can announce a project, describe it, and solicit contributors to participate.
Now that you have worked on creating a brand for your podcast and you have been able to achieve a vision and voice for your brand, then it could be the right time to think of other products or services you could develop. The difference between affiliate partnerships is that you will own these products or services. They might take more time to develop as you have to create them, but again, listen to the necessities of your audience. They could give you some ideas. Some products or services that you could develop are; books, virtual or live events, merchandising, or conferences.
Improving your home podcast studio and marketing plan is an exciting journey. With some dedication and effort, the growth you can see will surely bring you that buzz of excitement and pride. From upgrading your audio equipment to soundproofing your studio to taking the time to create a solid marketing plan and execute it, there are a variety of ways for you to tackle the goal of creating a more professional podcast experience for your audience. Once you start seeing the results from your efforts, don’t be surprised if you’re even more hooked on podcasting than ever!