The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Travel Podcast in 2021

by Travel Writing World
Starting a Travel Podcast

Are you interested in starting a travel podcast? This guide will show you how to conceptualize, set up, and execute a podcast in the travel space. The advice here is also somewhat general, so anyone wishing to start a podcast in an area outside of travel will find these steps and ideas helpful.

Ultimately, this article details the way I do things on my podcast and reflects my own opinions, needs, and idiosyncrasies. Admittedly, the way I do things might be overkill for the beginning podcaster, but all the basics to establish a professional podcast and website are here. 

While some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you I get a small commission if you purchase a service or product using the links, they are all products and services that I use and can vouch for.

Podcasting does not have to be terribly expensive or complicated, but my approach is not one of economy or simplicity. That said, I have tried to give you options so you can craft a system that works best for your own budget, vision, and situation. And if you have any questions, please email me.

Happy podcasting!

Understand that while podcasting is hard, the landscape is still wide-open

While it has been around for over a decade now, podcasting is still in its infancy. Some reports claim that there are now over 750,000 podcasts. That number seems high, but when you control for “active podcasts,” meaning podcasts that have released a new episode within the last 30 days, that number shrinks to about 500,000 at best. Other analysts say that number is much, much smaller with anywhere from 125,000 to 250,000 active podcasts. 

Though it is hard to accurately confirm this data, the lesson is clear: many podcasts “podfade,” the act of a podcast slowly fizzling out or altogether disappearing. The word on the street is that a sizable percentage of podcasts simply peter out at around episode 10, with even more ghosting by episode 30.

We can glean two takeaways from the data: 

  1. Podcasting is hard.
  2. The podcasting landscape is still wide-open.

Podcasting is difficult because it takes time to set-up, plan, record, edit, and publish episodes. The barriers to entry are slowly getting lower, so perhaps one day podcasting will be much easier and more common than blogging.

With the advances in voice assistant technology and smart speakers, that time may come sooner than you expect. But for the time being, there are many demands on your time and effort to setup a show and to publish an episode into the world. The difficulties and time associated with podcasting ultimately contributes to many abandoned shows.

Podcasting is also still wide-open, especially when you compare the number of active podcasts to the numbers of active blogs that exist in the world. Several estimates calculate that there are some 600 million blogs in the world, with 31 million active bloggers in the USA alone. The argument that the podcasting space is still wide-open gets more compelling when you consider how many different types of podcasts exist in the multitude of different industries and niches. 

With more and more people beginning to podcast every day, and with more celebrities and corporations getting in the game, there is more competition now than there was, say, seven years ago. But there is still plenty of room to make your own mark.

Define your purpose, niche, & audience

When you consider how many podcasts exists on a wide variety of subjects and in very specific areas or niches, you will realize how wide open the field is and how important it is to have a solid idea of what you want to do before you start.

If you do not have a solid idea of what you want to do, and an idea of how your podcast is distinct from others, your podcast may get lost in the crowd. So, the better you can define your purpose, audience, and niche at the beginning, the better chances you will have standing out and succeeding.

How to define your purpose, niche, & audience? Three questions.

If you are considering starting a travel podcast, you should answer the following three questions:

QUESTION 1) Why do I want to start a travel podcast?

Some reasons include

  • To report (inform)
  • To share adventures or document travelogues (inspire and entertain)
  • To build community in, and have conversation around, a specific topic or niche (networking, content marketing)
  • To build authority as a _______ (travel writer; digital nomad; tour leader; influencer; etc.)
  • Etc.

Question 2) What specific travel topic or niche do I wish to cover?

Some examples include

  • Accessible travel
  • Cruise
  • Adventure travel
  • Digital nomadism
  • Bookish travel
  • Solo travel
  • Foodie travel
  • Travel hacks
  • Female travel
  • Travel industry news
  • Travel blogging
  • Budget travel
  • Family travel
  • Luxury travel
  • All inclusive resorts
  • Road tripping
  • Etc.

Alternatively, you can approach your travel podcast from a location-specific perspective. For example

  • A specific country
  • A geographic region
  • A state
  • A city
  • A theme park
  • National parks
  • Etc.

If your idea for a travel podcast is not on the list above, don’t worry. Podcasting is constantly evolving, and there are many related topics and niches that I haven’t included. If your podcast has something to do with the travel industry it can be considered a “travel podcast.”

Question 3) Who do I wish to serve?

This is one of the most important questions to answer. What I mean by this question is, who is your ideal listener? The better you know your audience, the better you can serve their needs and interests. 

Some audiences are clearly demarcated. If you wish to inspire others on your solo female travel podcast, then your audience will be clear. Narrowing your audience is important as it will help you understand what types of questions, needs, or interests your audience has. And knowing this will help you better serve them.

Research your idea

Now that you understand your purpose, niche, and audience, you will need to do some research to see if your idea has been taken. If you learn that your idea has been taken, don’t freak out just yet! Podcasts on related topics and in similar formats can co-exist.

Believe it or not, at the time of writing this, Disney-related podcasts claim 11 of the top 15 spots in the Apple podcasting charts for the “Travel and Culture” category. Clearly, there is a huge market for this type of content. But the fact that 11 Disney shows can co-exist at the top of the charts illustrates that it not inherently a fool’s errand to start a podcast that has a direct competitor. Why? Everyone has a unique voice, approach, and contribution to give to the world.

If you find that there are other podcasts with “your” idea and in your niche, the next step would be to survey your competitors to look for holes and angles. What are other podcasters doing? Are there any holes that need to be filled or angles that they are not covering? Do you think you can do things differently? Better? More consistently?

While it might be okay for two (or more) similar podcasts to co-exist, you should seriously consider what makes you or your show stand out. What value proposition does your podcast have over another podcast? What will set yours apart?

Define your format

Now that you have established your podcast’s purpose, niche, and audience, you should define your podcast’s format and hosts. This is also helpful as it will help you determine what equipment to buy (more on this below). 

There are several different types of formats typical in the travel podcasting space. They are listed below with a brief description on how they work and what makes them different.

  1. Travelogues. Travelogues in the podcasting space are audio accounts from the road. They usually have a description of travel plans and itineraries while the hosts are in the midst of their adventures. These podcasts have an immediacy to them, and attempt to give you as raw as of an experience as possible without it being filtered or embellished by memory or time. You often hear the environment in which the travelers navigate. Sometimes, travelogues are done after travel, retracing their steps and reflecting on the experiences from a hotel room or when the host is back at home. 
  2. Interviews. The travel space also has interview-style podcasts. The topic and nature of the interviews vary. In my show, for example, I interview travel writers about their work, careers, and the places they traveled to. Other shows have different subjects like interviewing experts about what to see and do in certain countries, interviewing digital nomads on how they live their lives, interviewing those within the hospitality industry, interviewing adventurers about their stories, and so on. You get the idea.
  3. Round-ups. In this format, the podcast hosts comment on topics and news related to the niche.
  4. Stories and reportage. This could be content that leans more on more news and journalism side of podcasting. Or, this could communicate historical or inspirational stories from the road.
  5. Hybrid. A combination of the types above. This is the most common approach.
  6. Etc.

You will also want to consider the host situation. Will you be doing it alone, or will you be co-hosting with a friend?

A show with a co-host might be easier to execute than a show with only one, as two or more people carry the show forward and share the workload. But shows with co-hosts take more planning, scheduling, and agreeing on what might be creative differences.

One podcast roundup show I listen to has three, sometimes four, hosts and a guest. Organizing a time where everyone is free to record an hour-long show is difficult, a problem that results in the podcast releasing 2 episodes a month at best, and 1 show every few months at worst.

Hosting a show alone requires one person to do all the heavy lifting, but you will have total creative control and freedom. 

Lastly, you will want to consider the length of your show. Do you want quick episodes or more lengthy conversations? Longer shows take more time to edit than shorter shows, obviously, but they can result in a better-engaged audience.

Define your schedule

Consistency is important in building an engaged audience. Think about television in the days before Netflix: fans of shows would ensure that they be in front of their televisions at the specific hour and day of the week to watch the latest episode. We live in a different world now, but sticking to a schedule is incredibly important in the construction of listening habits. 

You need to define and commit to a reasonable podcasting schedule. What day of the week will you release an episode? How often will you publish an episode? Once a week? Twice a month? Once a month?

Only you can know how busy your life is to figure this out, but stick to it once you do!

Pick a podcast name & design cover art

While it is not absolutely necessary, it is certainly helpful if some keywords of your niche appear in the title of your show. This will help people find your show in their podcasting apps and in Google search.

Once you pick a title, you will need to do more research to see if your title has already been taken by another podcast. If it has, chose another name. 

Once you pick a unique show name, begin thinking about cover art. The best practice is to have a cover with images that directly relate to your show, though this isn’t absolutely necessary. To commission cover art on the cheap, visit websites like Fiver and Upwork. This should be 3000 x 3000 pixels.

Purchase gear & software

After you decide what the purpose and format of your travel podcast will be, you can begin researching and buying gear. As they say, there are many ways to skin a cat, so what I have below are merely suggestions on what to buy according to your show’s format. Ultimately, your unique situation and budget will dictate what is right for you.

Travelogue podcast gear

Travelogue podcasters often have a portability requirement. There are some podcasters that record from the countries, cities, and sites they are visiting, and others record from the comfort of their hotel rooms and reflect on the day’s adventures. In the case of the former, you will want a portable recording device like a ZOOM H1. In the latter, you can get by with a USB microphone that plugs directly into a laptop. For both, audio files can be recorded/edited using free software like GarageBand (Apple) or Audacity (Windows). Shoestring podcasters might be able to get away with recording on their mobile devices, at least while starting out. 

Interview podcast gear

If you are not currently on the road and you are interviewing someone remotely (i.e.: interviewing someone not in the same room as you), portability is less important. My podcast fits this bill. At its heart, it is an interview-based podcast that I record from the comfort of my home. As a result, I do not have the same portability requirement that travelogue podcasters have. What I need are a half decent mic, a mic stand, a small USB sound card (to do a “mix-minus”), a pair of headphones, and my computer. I conduct my interviews via Zoom, Skype, or mobile phone and I record/edit my podcasts in Adobe Audition.

Hybrid podcast (travelogue & interview) gear

Hybrid travel podcasters often need the best of both worlds: ability to record remotely and lightweight equipment. Fortunately, hybrid podcasters do not need an expensive setup to achieve good results. A good quality USB microphone with a pop filter, headphones, and free software like GarageBand or Audacity is all you need. You can also use a cheap ZOOM H1 to record the sounds, narratives, and interviews in situ. For recording interviews remotely, there are plenty of free services you can use like Zencaster. After you have the raw sound files, you can import the audio files into your free editing software to make sure everything sounds good.

Get a website & hosting

Now that you have determined your niche, format, and name, and purchased your gear, you will want to look into getting a domain name, website hosting, and podcast hosting.

Technically, you do not need a domain name or website hosting to start a travel podcast. But owning a website associated with your travel podcast helps with professionalism and may help you attract more organic traffic to your show. In other words, this will increase your online presence and may help you get more listeners.

Purchase your podcast’s domain name on Google Domains.

There are a variety of services that help you simultaneously publish a podcast and a post on your own website. I won’t go into detail how I have it all set up, but basically I have hosting for my Wordpress website via SiteGround (use my affiliate link and you’ll get a discount) and hosting for my podcast files via Blubrry (use my affiliate link to get one free month of service). After I’m done with my episode, I upload the audio file to the Blubrry platform and then create the episode’s webpage on my Wordpress website (this also acts as the episode’s show notes). When I “publish” the episode in Wordpress, the podcast is broadcast out into the world on all the podcasting websites I chose and its unique webpage gets published as a post on the website. It is nice to have this type of integration.

In short, the actual website, show notes, and related files live on my SiteGround web host, and the audio mp3 files live on my Blubrry podcast host. There are other ways to do this, perhaps cheaper and easier, but this is the way that works best for me.

SiteGround is regarded as one of the best web hosting services, but if you are just starting out and want something a little cheaper, look into HostGator (use my affiliate link and you’ll get a discount).

Record & publish

After you have your website up and running, you can record your episodes and publish them into the world. You’ll need to get established in podcast aggregators like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and the like, but Blubrry makes that extremely easy for you and will help you get set up on Apple Podcast.

Next steps

Do not pop the cork just yet. The challenging work of building an audience and marketing your podcast now begins.

How do you grow your travel podcast? Reach out to other travel podcasts, travel bloggers, and invite guests on your show. Provide valuable and interesting content. And keep at it. Building an audience takes time.

It is also helpful to remember that you will not get rich podcasting. But you will have fun. And if you are not at least having fun, what’s the point?

Let me know if you want me to update my Ultimate Guide to Starting a Podcast with more detailed information or information on topics like setting up mix minuses and marketing.

Happy travel podcasting!

Last Updated on 28 October 2020 by Travel Writing World

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