Creativity. Consistency. Collaboration.
It really is that simple.
Put aside your concerns for deciding who to host with or which microphone you'll need to buy... nailing your podcast's mission statement and finding an audience for it is far more important. Sure, in time, the technical aspects will need some love and attention. And maybe that first episode might not exactly sound in reality as perfect as it sounded in your head. Instead, focus on these three simple steps when starting out until they become second nature. The rest will follow as you grow in confidence, and your listeners grow in numbers too.
Consider your structure. Will there be theme music? A teaser clip to start the episode? Will you pre-record your introduction separately to the main body of the episode? Is there any archive you can use? Consider the textures within your episode - is everyone on the phone, are there a mixture of different ages, genders and voices to keep the listener entertained? Create your own jingles and stings (I once made my own with a friend's ukulele band!). Are you reflecting your own personality? (Yes, it really is OK if the cat occasionally purrs in the background)
As your audience grows, so too will their expectation that you'll release your podcast at the same time every week - e.g. 9am every Tuesday. They'll also like the podcast to be about the same length - ideally no more than an hour. Trust me, I've surveyed plenty of hardcore podcast listeners...If they love you, your episode will be a part of their morning commute, daily dog walk or weekly bath. Miss the window and they might just switch elsewhere.
Ask for help. You'll need it when you're starting out. Even if you've your wife sorting facebook and your mum making you tea the night you record, it'll all help. Don't be afraid to ask for retweets from your guests, reviews from your listeners and ask for help from other well-established podcasters in your field too - they've been in your shoes, remember.
Setting up a podcast is pretty much like running your own business. From marketing, to editing, to cover art, to cold calling your potential guests... So it's pretty rare (and perfectly acceptable!) that you won't know everything about every thing straight away. Recruit others to cover your weaknesses. Know someone who's great on social media? A writer? A photographer? Reach out to them and ask for help. In the long run, it'll leave you more time to be passionate about whatever subject you've chosen to pod about.
Finally, making a podcast is meant to be fun. Don't let the details overwhelm you. Remember that a podcast is different to radio. They're not as polished, with room allowed for purring cats, barking dogs and sometimes mistakes/retakes. Keep your podcast human, not perfect. And always keep the three c's close to your heart.
Clare Freeman's book 'Start Podcasting Now' will be released in Spring 2018. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for pre-orders or enquiries.