How to be a podcaster: Do it in four words or less – and for free if you’re in Dublin on Culture Night

Gemma Tipton offers a beginner’s guide to taking up a new cultural pursuit

Hold forth on topics that fascinate you, and share them with the world. What’s not to love? Conor Reid, head of podcast at HeadStuff, gets you into podlife.

Head of podcast – do you train for that?

That’s the beauty of podcasting, anyone can do it. Reid’s own background is as an academic and teacher. He got into podcasts with his own show, Words to That Effect, which looks at the truths and fictions behind popular culture. “I just loved every aspect, from the research and interviewing to the editing, production and marketing.”

Sounds like a lot of work

It definitely takes multiple layers to make it successful. Find a handy step-by-step blog on, where they break it down into 11 steps, including naming your podcast (“make it four words or less”) and making cover art (“a minimum of 1,400 pixels by 1,400 pixels”).

We’re getting too technical way too soon

Sorry. It does bring out the inner nerd. Podcasting is easy to do but hard to do well. Your idea needs to have longevity: you have an idea, but can you make it run to 20 episodes? One hundred? Getting going is inexpensive, though, as you can record on a smartphone and edit using free software. Reid reckons a decent USB microphone and pair of headphones, for less than €50 each, can do the job. “Spend as much as you can afford on a reasonably good mic, and use it properly, in a quiet room with a bit of DIY soundproofing.” Can’t find a quiet spot? A professional studio gives ideal conditions, but bathrooms, wardrobes and garden sheds have all been called into service.


Should I do it solo or find a friend?

“It’s always easier with more than one person, to spread the workload and best use everyone’s skills. If you’re on your own, at [the] very least rope in a few friends to help out with some small tasks. There’s no secret formula to the perfect podcast,” Reid says. “But a few elements go a long way: a unique approach or topic, good audio quality, rapport between hosts or, for an interview show, a curious and relatable host.” People underestimate the time it takes to make a good episode. “If you are planning, recording, editing and then promoting a show yourself, you’ll need to spend at least five hours on each episode – in many cases considerably more.”

How do I get it online?

Set your show up on a media host. It’s initially time consuming, but once done it’s straightforward to add episodes, Reid says. Media hosts, which range in price from free to about €10 a month, include Spotify for Podcasters (formerly Anchor) at Start paying the likes of Audioboom, Blubrry, Libsyn, Buzzsprout or Podbean and you’ll get add-ons including stats and distribution extras. Then link to distribution platforms such as Apple and Spotify.

Then start raking in the loot?

As if! Monetising your podcast takes time and is an artform in itself. “There are definitely easier ways to make a few quid. Make a podcast because you find it fun, or challenging, or exciting, or because it complements something else you do. And if you can find a sponsor, or get some listener support, then fantastic.”

I think I need help

HeadStuff runs training courses, including an introduction to podcasting evening course, with prices from €60 an hour. Get a taster for free this Culture Night, with workshop sessions for all ages and stages on Friday, September 22nd. “Last year we made nearly 100 five-minute podcasts in at least seven languages, in one night!” Booking is essential.

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton contributes to The Irish Times on art, architecture and other aspects of culture