Back in February I started a travel podcast: So She Travels. I wanted to chat with some of the most interesting female travellers I knew, and encourage them to tell their story to inspire others to get more travel in their lives.
I’d been wanting to start a travel podcast for a while – over a year in fact. For whatever reasons me starting the podcast never quite got off the ground.
I was determined to make it happen this year though, and I did.
Starting a travel podcast
I read quite a bit about starting a travel podcast. Too much at times in fact and was almost put off by how complicated it seemed. I had lots of notes, lots of plans and too many ideas, basically, I overcomplicated it.
What made me actually get my travel podcast out there was simplifying it, doing the minimum, and remembering that, like my blog, my podcast was something I could build on as I developed my skills.
I just had to remember one of my many mantras: done is better than perfect.
How to Start a Travel Podcast
In today’s blog post I want to guide you through the essential steps to having your own podcast. If you’ve ever fancied giving it a go, you can learn everything I took a few months to, in just one blog post.
1. Research the market
Have a listen to some of the travel podcasts out there. I found there were loads by men, but I couldn’t find one that was regularly updated featuring women. I also couldn’t find one that focused on travel, for women, by a British person. And so, I decided that was my niche.
Knowledge is power: listen to as many travel podcasts as possible.
2. Find your why and define your audience
As in all my travel content, with my podcast I really wanted to help people travel more.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about women in travel, and since doing my research on podcasts I realised that women talking about travel in podcasts was way less common than the male led ones.
I wanted to create a podcast to inspire all women interested in travel, to travel more. And then, I realised that scope was still too wide. I realised I wanted to help women who were already travelling to seek different places, and to travel in a way they maybe hadn’t considered before. I wanted to target my podcast at women aged 25-40.
My travel podcast isn’t for total newbs, but it’s for women with some experience of travel who, for whatever reason, find themselves in a position where they can feature it more in their lives.
Your audience definition can evolve as you do, but try to understand your why before you get too far in.
3. Make a podcast plan
I like to write things down and make lists, and so, I wrote a plan for my podcast. This was a great way to just think a bit more about what I was doing and why.
Here are the section headers I used…
Reason to listen?
Ideas for the future?
Intro and outro?
4. Write your guest wishlist
I wrote a long list of the guests I’d love to have on the show. Obviously they had to be women, and they had to have had some awesome adventures. I started off with friends to warm me up. If I do go on to do another series I won’t interview my friends but it’s been a great introduction to the world of podcasting.
When you write to your guestlist, asking them to come on the show, outline what benefits they’ll get from the collaboration. You could link to them from your blog, and obviously you’ll push the podcast out on your social channels too. Make sure there’s a reason for them to say yes.
Just write to all of your dream guests and see who replies. Don’t get upset if they don’t want to be on!
I’ve found it works to message on Instagram, and then direct them to a page on your site that has links to examples and more information. This also helps if they’re not quite au fait with what you’re trying to do. I was emailing a document at first, but it just makes it easier and more familiar for everyone if you have the information in a centralised place, and of course you’ll get an extra view on the blog too.
5. Buy your equipment
You really don’t need much to start a travel podcast. I mean, you don’t even really need anything if you already have a smart phone. But of course, the more professional equipment you have, the more professional you’ll sound.
I would recommend you get a microphone though. I have the Snowball Ice, which me and over 1000 Amazon reviewers are very happy with.
And that’s it.
For my podcast set up I layer a blanket over my head and the screen, so I can still sit up straight, have the Snowball in front of me, and just get cracking.
6. Work out how you want to record it
I tried out a few different ways of recording.
I’ve ended up recording on Audacity with the Snowball when it’s a face to face interview. And then on a Skype interview I use Audio only, to help with the connection speed, and record onto Skype. I use my Snowball and headphones, and ask my participants to use headphones if they can.
You can use onlinevideoconverter to change the file from an mp4 to an mp3.
7. Set up your studio
I’ve learned a lot about sound while making my podcast. It’s not as easy as just turning on the mike and hoping for the best.
At first I was recording in my bedroom – thanks to all the soft furnishings – but I didn’t like that I wasn’t sat properly, and I’m one of those people who only wants their bedroom to be used as a bedroom, and only a bedroom, so I didn’t like the intrusion.
I decided to make my home office more sound recording friendly.
After reading about sound I realised why so many of my YouTube video voiceovers sound tinny and it’s because I was talking into the window behind my screen, which is a harsh surface so the sound bounces. Since buying my blind it’s helped loads as it gives it something softer to bounce off.
I’ve also started to have a fleecey blanket over my head and over the screen. This means the sound is contained. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely better.
When you’re working out how to start a travel podcast, the sound is one of the most important aspects.
8. Decide what you want to edit on
Again, I tried a few programmes, including some free trials on paid ones where you slot in the sections of the files you want and it sorts it all out for you. I knew I didn’t want to pay for this though, and actually found it quite fiddly, so I stuck with GarageBand on the Mac.
The fact that I’ve been using iMovie to edit videos for years meant GarageBand was actually quite intuitive for me. I didn’t really have a problem once I’d watched a few YouTube tutorials.
Now I just have my template and I can slot the newest file in making it much quicker to edit the latest ones compared to the first.
Obviously, editing is something that becomes a lot easier the more you do it. My first episode, with Jayne Gorman, took me ages. I was playing around with programmes and styles, and basically just overcomplicating it.
I must’ve listened to Jayne’s podcast SO many times, but it still makes me laugh.
9. And where you want to host it
I looked at where the big deals host theirs, and just did the same. So, I host with Libsyn. I got my first month free using Pat Flynn’s code and then now pay $15 per month.
If you want to go really deep into podcasting, then I’d definitely recommend Pat Flynn’s information online. He is passionate! But, there are so many articles, webinars and videos I also think you can get a bit bamboozled at the wealth of how to podcast guides he gets out. I want to help you publish a travel podcast, not be a world expert on the theory of podcasting.
So yeah, Libsyn. If it’s good enough for Pat, it’s good enough for me.
10. Fill in the tags and SEO deets
Knowing how to SEO your new travel podcast is a whole new thing to learn. TBH, it’s not something I’ve focused on yet. So far all I’ve done is made sure a few solid SEO terms are included in the description, and hope for the best.
I know that SEO is important to get your podcast found, which is why I didn’t want to just leave it out, but I’m afraid you’ll have to research elsewhere for best practice.
11. Add the flourishes
You might want to make an intro and outro, and to add music in. I played with a few tracks I found on Epidemic Sound and chose the one I did because it was chilled, and I liked the way it said ‘enchante’.
French, for ‘nice to meet you’.
As part of your market research have a listen to what you think of other people’s intros and outros. TBH I found a lot of them really annoying – either too loud or too perky, or too something. I wanted something chilled that would lead them into a nice relaxed 45 minutes of chat.
The intro will set the tone for the whole thing so it’s pretty important to get right (although I probs spent a max of one hour deciding on mine).
12. Design some branding
I hate the way things for women are pink so I wanted to stay away from any colours traditionally thought of as ‘girly’. I went for green and yellow and black for my logo and imagery.
Strong colours for strong women.
I designed all my branding on Canva, which took a few hours, and then it was good to go. I now have my templates, and I can just drop the pictures in. Much easier once it’s all set up.
13. Submit to all the things
There are so many podcast listeners out there. I did a little survey on Twitter to find out which ones my audience preferred. Spotify and iTunes were the clear winners, but then I listen on Google Podcasts so I decided to submit to that too (eventually!).
Also, to Stitcher.
Once you’re set up it updates automatically so you might as well submit to as many podcast listeners as possible.
Libsyn will submit to Spotify and iTunes for you, but you’ll have to do it manually for Google Podcasts and Stitcher. They’re all pretty straight forward apart from iTunes. I’d actually planned to release and announce my podcast a week before I actually did it but I didn’t press submit on the new podcast submission page.
You will need to make sure your new travel podcast adheres to all of iTunes’ strict rules or it will get rejected. It’s usually something to do with the artwork apparently, although mine got through first try.
14. Market your podcast
Marketing your travel podcast is a whole other project in itself. Obviously it helps for me that I have this blog and the associated social media channels. It means I have a way to get my podcast out there.
Still though, it’s hard work.
There are entire websites dedicated to ways to market podcasts, but in short, here are a few of the ways that have worked for me.
– Write related blog posts to promote your podcast. Pretty much like the one you’re reading here, or my post on the best podcasts for women, or this one on why I haven’t checked my podcast downloads. I also write a blog post around each guest, with a few links, just to promote it and to get in my readers’ inboxes. I try to focus on just one topic for the blog post, just to try and get some SEO value in.
– Interview internet personalities. Internet personalities will have audiences, and when they promote to their audiences, they will listen to you. If they like what you do, they’ll stick around and listen to more. And then become your followers too.
– Market on all your social media. Add the fact you have a podcast in to all your bios everywhere. Find good hashtags to let your potential audience know your podcast exists too. This is definitely something I need to work on.
– Add to your core pages on site. By ‘core pages’ I mean your about me, and work with me. You need to make everyone who ever visits anything you do know that you have a podcast. It’s a cool thing to do, and rare, meaning you’ll stand out to others.
– Create soundbites. Listen to your podcasts and find three points of about 20 seconds where hilarious things were said. Cut them down and make little soundbites that can be shared on Soundcloud or Facebook. Put your branding on and these will work as teasers to get potential listeners to listen to the content.
You can keep resharing these in the future to get people back to the podcasts. You could also create a best of at the end of the series. This is quite a lot of work but could be worth it. You can share these across all your social medias.
I did this for my chat with Kathi, about solo hiking travel tips, and it took me ages. So as a one woman operation I decided to not do this in the future. Something for you to think about though?
– Apply to be a guest on other hosts’ podcasts. The best way to appeal to a podcast audience is to get on someone else’s show and talk about yours. It’s also a great way to put yourself in the guests’ place and see what it’s like to be interviewed. Make a hitlist of the podcasts you’d like to appear on and get in touch with the hosts.
To be honest I never had the time to do this but it sounds like a great tip that makes sense to me.
– Claim the social media handles. I have all the @soshetravels related domains and social media handles, but I decided it’d be too much work for me to actually run them right now. They’re there waiting though, for when I feel I have more time.
15. Email marketing
If you have some sort of email list from associated internet activity then get a newsletter out and remind everyone who you are. Depending on how often you like to use your list you could always set up some sort of series to tell people the podcast is coming and then email again when it’s there.
I don’t email my list very often so I just decided to email once a few episodes in (after 4).
And if you don’t have a list, then just email your friends with some instructions on how to listen and leave reviews and then tell them you’ll buy them a drink one day in return.
Or leave that last bit off, depending on your relationship with your friends.
16. Get reviews
Reviews are the currency of the internet. Well, after links. Getting reviews for your podcast is essential to help it be seen by others. It’s quite hard to persuade people to write a review, especially as they need an Apple account to do it.
I wanted to run a giveaway to encourage my readers to leave a review. Something totally on brand that suited what I was trying to achieve in inspiring female travellers to travel more. Anyone who left a review was entered into the draw.
I planned to give away some hiking boots. I’d already been given a pair of Merell Ontarios to review, and I asked the company to give me a pair to give away. I loved them and knew my target audience would too. No cost to me, more promotion for them, and reviews for me. Everyone wins.
Here’s what I would’ve done if I’d had time to get round to it…
I also asked readers to follow me on Instagram. If you’re doing some sort of give away for reviews, it’s important to get them to follow you on another platform too. That way you can remind them when future episodes go live. You need to get them to sign up to something so the entries work for you in the future.
It’s also a good idea to actually show people how to leave a review as it’s not something people are used to. I wrote this into the competition announcement post.
And also, just to note, reviews only count for the country the reviewer is in. The way you can get round this is to download Comment Cast so you can see the reviews in different countries and monitor them.
If you do get negative reviews, don’t ignore them, act on them. These are a fantastic goldmine to show you how you can improve.
18. Thank your guests
I’ve been on podcasts before and only knew they were live when one of their listeners tagged me in a post. I think after a guest has given up an hour of their lives to be on the podcast, it’s only right for you to email them with the links and some words of thanks. It’s also a good opportunity to ask them if they could share it on their social media so use Bit.ly or similar to share some nice looking links.
Also, I found creating some graphics to share on social media really helped. Like this one…
Be respectful of the sacrifices your guests have made to be on your show.
19. Add to related posts
Once you have your podcast episodes you should totally go through and add them in to your old posts. Each of my podcast episodes focuses on one destination so every week once they’re published I go through and add them in to the related destinations.
For example, I’ve added Ellie’s interview into most of my India content, Jayne’s into Australia and Helen’s into my Africa stuff.
I do still need to go through and add the others in, but as I’m sure you’ve probably grasped by now, I’m a busy woman!
I have a document where I store all the HTML code so I can easily grab it when I want to add it in. It just means more exposure for your work, to people who would be interested to hear it when they come across your blog posts.
20. Make a page on your blog
If you have a blog you might as well make the most of it and set up a dedicated page or post to store your episodes. I set up vickyflipfloptravels.com/podcast and then put all the key messages I wanted to put across in there.
I’ve also set it up to automatically feature my new guests when I write the blog post, so it’s an easy scroll through for anyone looking for a podcast to listen to.
Also, if you have a blog make sure to shout about your podcast from the homepage. No point keeping it secret now is there?
21. Ask (anyone) for feedback
When you’re working out how to start a travel podcast it’s important you get as much feedback as possible.
I was quite lucky in that I released my first three podcasts just before a travel creators conference I went to in Hamburg. This meant that quite a few of my friends listened to all three on the way over. This wasn’t planned but was great for me as I could do a little survey as to what they thought of it all.
– How was the intro?
– Length of the interview?
– How was my interview style?
– What would you add?
– What would you take out?
My boyfriend voluntarily listened to them too and enjoyed, and my family too. Ask anyone you know who’s listened to them all for feedback. I haven’t actually had that much feedback, other than that everyone seemed to be enjoying it. Few sound issues, but they’re a constant work in progress.
22. Edit and adapt
Just because you did your first episode a certain way doesn’t mean the whole series has to be like that. Have a think about how you can make your podcast stand out a bit more with a bit of character and some flourishes here and there.
Play with your intro, play with adding sound effects. Think about whether a phone in would work, or segments. You could do a listener phone in, or ask questions, or anything your mind comes up with.
When you listen check for flow and random tangents and don’t be afraid to cut.
Having said that I don’t really edit that much. I might knock out the odd umm and pause here and there, but all my guests have been fab and I’ve enjoyed what they’ve had to say.
23. Work in batches
My travel podcast had a very slow start before it got to the publishing stage – mainly thanks to me being away on trips, and just having too many other projects going on. After the first four though, I knew what I was doing and so set myself a deadline of three weeks to get all the other ones done and uploaded. I knew that getting it all done while I was in the flow was a much better way of being efficient.
I set myself time limits.
One hour to research the guest, one hour to chat, one hour to make the podcast, one hour to create the blog post, one to upload to Libsyn and two to promote. So each episode, when I’m in a flow, takes 7 hours+. A full day’s work.
I’m planning to do 10 in this first series and so want to record the last four next week, just because I’ll be able to work faster when I’m in the flow.
24. Cross reference old podcasts
As you start to have more podcasts in your arsenal you can start to promote them just by mentioning them in other episodes. This can encourage your listeners to go back and revisit old podcasts they might not’ve listened to yet.
Also, don’t forget to mention your blog when you’re talking, or anything you’re looking to promote too.
25. Video yourself podcasting
Personally I decided not to do this. But, one of the things you can do to reimagine your podcast content for another channel is to film yourself as you interview. If you’re chatting face to face, then just crack on. If you’re interviewing for your podcast over Skype then you can film yourself with your camera, and then record the video call on a screen on your computer.
I didn’t want to do this as I didn’t want something else to think about while I was already interviewing, and I’d read somewhere that the audio might be limited as it uses more bandwith to chat over video Skype than just audio Skype.
Might be something I do in the future, but it’s not right now. One of the things I like about podcasting is that you don’t have to worry about what you look like.
26. Stay consistent
No matter what platform you’re publishing on, one of the most important things you can do to retain your readership is to stay consistent. I’ve managed to publish every week since I started because I had a few podcasts in reserve before I started.
I did cut it a bit fine for episode 6 with Alice, having only chatted to her a few days before, but for everyone else I was well on top of it so that the day before I just had to check it was all ok, and I could schedule them to publish.
Set yourself a publishing target and stick to it as if it’s a job.
27. Getting in ‘new and noteworthy’
The best way to get in new and noteworthy is with downloads. And the best way to get more downloads is to have more episodes to download. This is why I released three episodes in week one. Obviously it’s more work, but it means that when they’ve listened to one episode and like what they hear, your audience has more to download.
I’d definitely recommend releasing more than one in your first week, but I’d also suggest you do it again a few weeks later. You could choose a theme, and release them on that so there’s some reason behind why you’ve released more than one.
You have eight weeks to get in the new and noteworthy section.
Use your time wisely!
28. Monetising your podcast
Monetising my travel podcast wasn’t really in my plan to start, and to be honest, it still isn’t now. Obviously if the right opportunity came up in the future I’d grab it, but for now I’m happy with the success as is. It goes back to your why. I defined success as getting to talk to some fabulous women who were travelling and learning something new, which I did.
I’ve written more about this approach to success in podcasting: How Many People Have Downloaded my Podcast?
Having listened to many podcasts in my research I can tell you that the main ways to monetise a podcast are to have sponsorship, and include ads.
Maybe one day. Just not right now.
Travel podcasting for beginners
I hope all this advice on starting a travel podcast helps you. I really think there’s a lot of space for more interesting travel podcasts to start coming through.
If you have any questions at all about starting a travel podcast, just let me know in the comments box below and I’ll do my best to try and help you ASAP.
Remember, being a travel podcaster doesn’t have to be a big, epic thing. Just set up a mike, decide on your format, do a recording and see what happens.
Have fun with it!