Podcasting 101: What You Need to Know About Podcasts and How They Work

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You might have heard the word ‘podcast’ being thrown around and wondered what the heck people are talking about. You might even have heard of some popular podcasts but aren’t sure where or how to listen to them.

Well, we’ve got you covered.

But, before we dive into what a podcast is and how podcasts work; I’ll start by telling you a (slightly embarrassing) anecdote.

Back in 2004, I remember iPods being able to play these things called a ‘podcast.’ I had no idea what a podcast was, and the library on iTunes didn’t look at all enthralling to 15-year-old me.

So, I stuck to music on my Creative Zen. That’s right, a (now discontinued!) Creative Zen. I’ll bet you don’t even remember them; but, at age 15 I decided that I was way too cool to have an iPod like everyone else. Cue the eye roll!

But either way; I was convinced that this ‘podcast’ thing, whatever it was would never take off. I couldn’t understand the point, and neither could my friends. Surely you could just listen to the radio instead?

Fast forward to 2022 and I host my own podcast: The Confident CEO. And in 2023, I’m not the host of both that show and The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Podcasting.

It seems funny to me that I now work in an industry that I never thought would see the rise of skinny jeans, but here we are.

Since 2004 when podcasts first appeared on iPods, they have become increasingly popular. But if you’re wondering exactly what a podcast is and how they work, this post is for you. In this post, we’ll explore the basics of podcasts, including how to listen to them, how they are created, and how you can start your own podcasting journey.

What is a podcast?

Let’s start at the beginning.

A podcast is a digital audio file that is made available on the internet for download or streaming. It is typically a series of episodes that can be listened to on demand.

Podcasts cover a wide range of topics, from news and politics to entertainment and education, and everything in between. I’m not being over-sensationalist when I say that if you can think of a topic, there is probably a podcast on it. They can be continuous (i.e. released every week or bi-weekly) or released in series. Some podcasters release a new series every year, whilst some will release multiple series in a year.

Podcasts can be produced by individuals or organisations and are often hosted by experts or enthusiasts in their respective fields. That’s right; you don’t need to be a seasoned radio DJ to host your own podcast. Podcasts can be accessed through various platforms, including dedicated podcast apps (known as podcast directories) streaming services, and websites.

Popular podcast directories include Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Deezer, Stitcher, Pandora; the list really does go on and on.

There are estimated to be between 3 and 4 million podcasts available as of May 2023. In comparison, there are approximately 114 million YouTube channels.

How do podcasts work?

Podcasts work by creating and publishing audio content that can be accessed by listeners on demand.

In short, someone records and edits audio files, before uploading them to a podcast hosting platform which then distributes these recordings to podcast directories and platforms via an RSS feed.

Listeners can then subscribe to the podcast and receive new episodes automatically as they are released. Podcasts can be accessed through a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers, making them a convenient and accessible form of media for a wide range of people.

And once the podcast episodes have been downloaded to your device, you don’t even need an internet connection to listen to them; so they’re great for on-the-go, or for when the Wi-Fi is a bit dodgy.

How do you listen to a podcast?

There are several ways to listen to a podcast. But the most common way is to use a podcast app on your smartphone or tablet.

Popular podcast apps (also known as podcast directories) include Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Stitcher, Deezer, iHeartRadio and Google Podcasts. Once you have downloaded a podcast app, you can search for and subscribe to your favourite podcasts, or use the search function in the app to discover podcasts in genres and topics that you’re interested in.

Once subscribed to a podcast, new episodes will be automatically downloaded to your device as they become available. You can also listen to podcasts on your computer by visiting the podcast’s website or using a web-based podcast player. Some podcasts may also be available on streaming services like YouTube or SoundCloud.

Can anyone start a podcast?

Yes, anyone can start a podcast!

All you need is a topic you’re passionate about, some basic equipment (like a microphone and recording software), and a platform to host and distribute your podcast.

While it may take some time and effort to build an audience, podcasting is a great way to share your ideas and connect with others who share your interests.

Looking to start your own podcast? We’ve got 3 FREE resources to help you get started ⬇️

Podcast Launch Checklist and Episode Planner
Podcast Launch Checklist and Episode Planner
Podcasting - Getting Your Business Heard
Webinar: Podcasting – How to Get Your Business Heard
Grow Your Podcast Audience in 5 Days
5-Day Email Challenge: Increase Your Podcast Audience

How do you start a podcast?

Starting a podcast is easier than you might think.

First, choose a topic that you’re passionate about and that you think will resonate with your target audience. Then, invest in some basic equipment like a microphone and recording software. Next, choose a platform to host and distribute your podcast; our favourite is Buzzsprout.

Finally, start recording and promoting your podcast to build your audience. Want an in-depth guide? Check out this post ⬇️

Verity Sangan

Verity Sangan

Hey there! I'm Verity, Registered Nurse turned Podcast Host, Launch Strategist, and Coach. I love all things podcasting and am passionate about getting more women find their voice through podcasts. Host: The Lazy Girl's Guide to Podcasting & The Confident CEO Podcast

About Me

Verity Sangan

Hi! I’m Verity; host of The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Podcasting. I’m a mum of 2, a Harry Potter nerd, Star Wars geek, and spend my days lecturing in health and social care, or talking about podcasting. Read more >>

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