All You Need For A Minimum Viable Podcast
You’re thinking about starting a podcast. You have a message to share, a story to tell, or an audience to serve.
The problem is, you don’t have a fancy $400 podcasting mic. (Or even a fancy $100 mic.)
You don’t have a mixer—in fact, you’re crazy intimidated by the thought of even touching a mixer.
You don’t have any experience in audio editing or production.
Or maybe you don’t have the eight to 15 hours per week that it can take to produce a weekly 30-minute show.
So should you just give up on your podcasting dream?
No way. It’s just time to think MVP: Minimum Viable Podcast.
The Minimum Viable Podcast
The concept of a “minimum viable product” is common in the tech world. In software development, it means asking the question, “What are the absolutely crucial features we need to launch a functional product?”
Or, put another way, “What is the most bare-bones thing we can create that still does what we need it to do?”
This process helps things get made—otherwise, perfectionists like me would tinker with them until the tech was obsolete. Tinkering can happen and iterative improvements can be made—just after the essentials have been taken care of.
You can apply this “bare bones” concept to your podcast and get your message out quickly and easily with the Minimum Viable Podcast (MVP).
What You Need
At its core, a podcast is an audio file that is distributed to listeners via syndication (i.e., an RSS feed). Here’s the absolute minimal stuff you’ll need to make that happen:
- A voice. I kind of feel like a jerk listing this, since it seems obvious. However, I would like to point out thatthe voice does not need to be your own. It can be the voice of a relative, a friend, your computer’s text-to-speech synthesizer or another source altogether—just make sure that you’re not infringing on someone else’s copyrighted material.
- A recorder. You’ll need to record that voice with something, and often the best piece of equipment at hand is your smartphone. Simplyopen up your voice memo app and start recording.
If you decide to use an all-in-one service like Podbean, you can record directly to the Podbean app and hit “publish” right from your phone. This means that you can skip Step 3 below because you’re already done.
Otherwise, you will need to compress the recording (usually an M4a or WAV file) into an MP3. You can do this for free using iTunes.
- A way to host and distribute your recording to listeners.I recommend using Libsyn,Blubrry, Podbean, Soundcloud or Squarespace to host your episodes, syndicate your show and provide a digital home for your podcast. Each of these options offers different services ranging from free to not-free, so you may wish to invest the time to vet the best option for your needs.
And… that’s it.
You may have noticed that I didn’t include listeners as part of your MVP. That’s because they’re actually not a prerequisite for starting your podcast. Many podcasts launch with zero listeners. You’ll earn them over time as you continue to produce content.
There’s Always A Caveat.
The MVP is not for everyone.
If you want to earn praise for outstanding audio production, you’re probably not going to earn it using an MVP approach. Your show is not likely to appear on one of those “best podcasts of [insert year here]” lists. You might not get a ton of five-star reviews. And it will be difficult to build a devoted fan base—simply because a podcast exists does not mean that eager listeners will flock to it.
In fact, you will probably garner criticism from folks who value high production quality. They may say you’re diluting the podcast pool, or that your voice sounds like Bane from “The Dark Knight Rises” yelling into an empty garbage can.
But if your only goal right now is to start podcasting quickly, MVP-ing is the way to go.
What Do You Think?
In your opinion, what constitutes the absolute MVP—the minimum viable podcast? Am I missing anything, or forgetting any options? Let me know in the comments!
Find out more about Sarah Rhea Werner at