How to Start a True-Crime Podcast in 2024

How to Start a True-Crime Podcast

The true-crime genre has seen an explosive rise in popularity, capturing the attention of audiences worldwide. Podcasts have become one of the primary platforms for true-crime stories, serving up suspense and intrigue in easily digestible audio formats. If you’re enamored by perplexing mysteries and want to contribute to this burgeoning genre, then you’re in the right place. This guide is your go-to resource on how to start a true-crime podcast that captivates listeners and stands out in a saturated market.

We designed this comprehensive guide specifically for aspiring podcasters like you, aiming to demystify the process of launching a true-crime podcast. We’ll walk you through every stage, from initial planning to technical setup to effective podcast marketing strategies. Wondering how to turn your true-crime podcast into a profitable endeavor? We’ve got that covered too.

So if you’ve ever found yourself engrossed in a true-crime story and thought, “I could do this,” now’s your chance to make that dream a reality. Read on to discover the A to Z of how to create a true-crime podcast that not only entertains but also educates and engages your audience.

Part I: Planning Your True-Crime Podcast

Planning Your True-Crime Podcast

1. Deciding Your Niche within True-Crime

The true-crime genre is like a treasure chest; it’s overflowing with gems, but you’ll need to dig deep to find the one that resonates with you. When it comes to starting a true-crime podcast, the first puzzle piece is to decide your specific niche or focus within the broader genre. Here are some questions to ponder:

  • Are you intrigued by unsolved mysteries, or do you prefer to delve into closed cases with unexpected twists?
  • Is your interest piqued by infamous criminals, or are you more captivated by the less-known, underreported incidents?
  • Do you want to focus on crimes that are local to a specific area, or would you rather cover cases from around the globe?

Finding a unique angle will not only differentiate your podcast but also attract a dedicated listener base. Whether you’re drawn to cold cases, legal dramas, or psychological profiles, pinpointing your niche is the first crucial step in how to start a true-crime podcast that genuinely reflects your interests.

2. Content Research: The Spine of Your True-Crime Narrative

After identifying your niche, the next monumental task is content research. Gathering accurate and comprehensive information is pivotal when you’re starting a true-crime podcast. Your audience will be relying on you for factual storytelling, and nothing erodes credibility faster than incorrect details or assumptions. Here are key areas to focus on:

Importance of Primary Sources

Whenever possible, turn to primary sources like court documents, police reports, and firsthand interviews. These offer the most reliable and direct information, making your podcast a trusted go-to for true-crime aficionados.

While diving deep is essential, it’s crucial to know your boundaries. Discussing ongoing cases or revealing sensitive information without consent can lead to legal repercussions, including defamation or invasion of privacy. Always consult legal guidelines for true-crime podcasting before taking any bold steps in your storytelling.

Citing Your Sources: A Necessary Practice

Attribution isn’t just polite; it’s often legally required. Whether you’re quoting an article or borrowing a clip from another podcast, proper citation maintains your integrity and could save you from a legal quandary.

Fact-Checking: Your Best Friend

Last but not least, double and even triple-check your facts. Verify information through multiple sources, and don’t hesitate to edit your script if new information comes to light. Your audience will thank you for your meticulousness.

Good content research is more than just the foundation; it’s the whole infrastructure of your true-crime podcast. Make sure it’s robust enough to support your storytelling, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a podcast that’s both informative and compelling.

3. Episode Planning: Orchestrating the Symphony of Suspense

So, you’ve nailed down your niche and armed yourself with impeccably researched content. What’s next on your journey to starting a true-crime podcast? It’s time to focus on episode planning. This stage is where your research transforms into riveting narratives that captivate your audience from start to finish.

Narrative Structure: The Building Blocks

The most compelling true-crime podcasts often follow a coherent narrative structure. Whether it’s chronological storytelling or an intricate web of flashbacks and reveals, planning this structure in advance is essential. Think of it as plotting out a roadmap that guides listeners through your story, leaving them hanging on every word.

Sound Effects: Setting the Mood

While sound effects might seem like a minor detail, they’re actually the unsung heroes in creating an immersive experience. Whether it’s the ominous creak of a door or the distant wail of police sirens, sound effects can elevate your narrative dramatically. Don’t underestimate their power!

Interview Segments: Adding Layers of Complexity

If your true-crime podcast includes interviews with experts, witnesses, or even victims, planning these segments is crucial. Prepare your questions in advance and work on your interview skills to ensure these segments add value and depth to your narrative.

Call to Action: Engage Your Audience

At the end of each episode, consider incorporating a call-to-action. Whether it’s urging listeners to share their own theories or asking them to support your podcast through Patreon, a well-placed CTA can significantly enhance audience engagement.

Planning your episodes isn’t just a logistical necessity; it’s an art form. The more meticulously you plan, the smoother the podcast production process will be, allowing you to focus on delivering a gripping story that leaves your audience eagerly awaiting the next episode.

Part II: Technical Preparations

Technical Preparations

4. Podcasting Equipment: Tools of the True-Crime Trade

In the captivating realm of true-crime podcasts, your voice is your most powerful asset. But to capture and transmit that voice, you need the right equipment. Here, we’ll focus on the trifecta of podcasting tools: microphones, headphones, and podcasting cameras.

Microphones: The Cornerstone of Clarity

No matter how enthralling your storytelling is, poor audio quality can be a deal-breaker. That’s why choosing the right microphone is crucial when you’re creating a true-crime podcast. Different mics serve various purposes, but key features to look for include noise-cancellation, gain control, and a frequency response that complements your voice. Brands like Shure and Blue Yeti are often considered top picks in this department.

For a thorough review on microphones perfect for podcasting, check this out.

Headphones: Your Auditory Spyglass

A pair of high-quality headphones is indispensable for monitoring how your podcast sounds to your listeners. It’s not just about volume; it’s also about clarity, balance, and even the spatial positioning of sounds. Look for headphones with a flat frequency response for the most accurate monitoring. Brands like Audio-Technica and Sennheiser are reputable names in this arena.

For an in-depth guide on the best headphones for podcasting, see our recommendations here.

Podcasting Cameras: Visual Aid for the Aural Storyteller

While a true-crime podcast primarily focuses on audio, a video component can add a compelling layer. Whether you’re interviewing a guest or capturing behind-the-scenes moments, a good podcasting camera can significantly elevate your production value. Ensure that your chosen camera has good low-light capabilities, a flip screen, and ideally, an input for an external microphone.

To find the camera that will best fit your podcasting needs, check out our exhaustive review.

5. Audio Editing: The Post-Production Playground

Audio editing is more than just a technical requirement; it’s the stage where you can refine your storytelling techniques, polish your content, and produce a truly compelling episode. Whether you’re fixing tiny hiccups or adding suspenseful sound effects, the editing process can transform your rough recordings into a captivating narrative. But to achieve this, you need the right tools.

Audacity: The People’s Champ

For those new to podcast production or working on a budget, Audacity is a fantastic starting point. It’s free, open-source, and offers a decent range of audio editing features suitable for a true-crime podcast. You can trim, cut, splice, and even add some basic effects to enhance your episodes.

For a beginner-friendly guide on using Audacity for podcast editing, this tutorial is a great resource.

Adobe Audition: The High Roller

If you’re serious about creating a top-notch true-crime podcast and have some funds to invest, Adobe Audition is a premium choice. This software provides a plethora of advanced editing options, from multi-track sessions to intricate sound effects. The complexity can be daunting at first but rewards you with professional-level control over your audio.

For more on how Adobe Audition could be the game-changer in your podcast production, check out this comprehensive guide.

Reaper: The Dark Horse

Reaper is a versatile, affordable DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that has gained a loyal following among podcasters. It’s highly customizable, allowing you to streamline your workflow exactly the way you want.

For a deep dive into the features of Reaper suitable for a true-crime podcast, see this expert review.

6. Podcast Hosting: The Digital Stage for Your Auditory Drama

A podcast hosting platform is where your audio files live. Think of it as a dedicated home where each room contains a different episode of your gripping true-crime saga. But it’s not just about storage; it’s also where you’ll get the RSS feed to distribute your podcast to platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more. Let’s explore some of the most reliable options:

Libsyn: The Sturdy Veteran

Libsyn (Liberated Syndication) is one of the oldest and most respected names in the podcast hosting game. With a variety of plans that can scale with your podcast, Libsyn provides a robust and reliable platform for both beginners and established podcasters. They also offer advanced analytics to help you understand your audience better.

To learn more about what makes Libsyn an industry veteran, this article offers an in-depth review.

Anchor: The All-in-One Newbie

If you’re fresh off the podcasting boat and are looking for a free option, Anchor could be your go-to. It offers easy-to-use tools for podcast production and distribution, all under one roof. It’s user-friendly but can be a bit limited in terms of advanced features and analytics.

For a beginner-friendly guide to navigating Anchor, this tutorial covers it all.

Transistor: Analytics for the Analytical

If you’re data-driven and are keen to grow your podcast audience, Transistor provides advanced analytics and multiple shows under one account, making it perfect for those who are series-minded.

To see why Transistor could be the podcast host for the data nerds, check out this detailed review.

Part III: Content Creation and Production

Content Creation and Production

7. Script Writing: Crafting the Perfect True-Crime Narrative

When it comes to creating a true-crime podcast that grips listeners, the script is your playbook. It’s where you lay down the foundation of your narrative structure, decide what information to include, and plan out your storytelling techniques. No true-crime podcast can succeed without a well-thought-out script.

Structure and Flow: The Skeleton of Your Script

Before you begin writing, outline the narrative structure of your true-crime podcast. This includes deciding on the introduction, the main body where you lay out the crime, investigation, and aftermath, and the conclusion where you tie up loose ends. A well-planned structure helps you maintain the flow and keeps your audience engaged.

Dialogue vs Narration: The Balancing Act

In a true-crime podcast, the balance between dialogue and narration is crucial. Whether you’re interviewing experts, witnesses, or sharing first-person accounts, your script should include cues for when to switch from dialogue to narration to maintain the story’s pacing.

Storytelling Techniques: Building Suspense and Tension

A true-crime podcast thrives on suspense and tension. Using storytelling techniques like foreshadowing, cliffhangers, and pacing can greatly enhance the emotional impact of your script. Remember, you’re not just sharing facts; you’re crafting an experience.

8. Interview Skills: Elevating Your True-Crime Podcast With Compelling Conversations

In any genre, but especially in the world of true-crime podcasts, interviews can offer unique insights, fresh perspectives, and dramatic depth. Whether it’s an expert dissecting a forensic detail, a witness recalling crucial moments, or a family member sharing their emotional journey, interviews breathe life into your narrative. Here’s how you can master interview skills to make your true-crime podcast a riveting listen:

Pre-Interview Research: Know Your Subject

Preparation is key. Research your interviewee and the topic extensively before hitting the record button. The more informed you are, the more insightful your questions will be, ultimately adding value to your true-crime podcast.

Structuring the Interview: Form and Function

A well-structured interview enhances your podcast’s narrative structure. Consider creating a list of questions that logically progress from general discussions to more specific topics. This helps you, your guest, and your listeners stay on track.

The Art of Listening: It’s Not All About the Questions

Sometimes, the best insights come from unplanned moments. Practice active listening during interviews. If your interviewee touches on an intriguing point, don’t hesitate to go off-script and explore it further.

Ethical Considerations: Tread Carefully

Remember, true crime often involves sensitive subjects. Make sure you treat your interviewees and the topics with the respect and sensitivity they deserve. Always ask for consent before delving into personal or sensitive issues.

9. Sound Effects: The Unsung Hero of Your True-Crime Podcast

When you think about creating a true-crime podcast, your focus might initially be on the script, interviews, or technical equipment. However, don’t underestimate the power of sound effects to elevate your narrative and create an immersive experience for your listeners. Here’s why sound effects are the unsung hero of a compelling true-crime podcast:

Setting the Scene: Mood and Atmosphere

Imagine describing a foggy night where a crucial event in your true-crime story takes place. A subtle sound effect like howling wind or footsteps can transport your listeners right into the scene, amplifying the tension and mood.

Punctuation Points: Emphasizing Key Moments

Sometimes, you’ll reach a pivotal moment in your narrative—a surprise reveal, a twist in the investigation, or a turning point in a court case. A well-placed sound effect can punctuate these moments, making them unforgettable.

Storytelling Through Sounds: Audio Storyboarding

Just like a filmmaker uses a storyboard to plan out a scene, consider using an ‘audio storyboard’ to plan where your sound effects will best fit within the narrative structure of your true-crime podcast. This ensures your sound effects contribute to your storytelling rather than distract from it.

Yes, even your sound effects must be legally sound (pun intended). Make sure you either create your own effects, purchase them, or use royalty-free options to avoid legal complications.

Part IV: Post-Production and Outreach

Post-Production and Outreach

10. Monetizing Your True-Crime Podcast: Turning Passion Into Profit

If you’ve been meticulous in learning how to start a true-crime podcast, you’ve already invested a good deal in scriptwriting, interviews, and sound design. At this stage, it’s completely logical to consider monetizing your true-crime podcast. After all, passion can fuel you, but it doesn’t pay the bills. Here’s how you can turn your podcasting efforts into a revenue stream:

Sponsorships: The Golden Goose of True-Crime Podcasting

The allure of sponsorships is one reason many people learn how to start a true-crime podcast. Once your listener numbers climb, brands may approach you for shoutouts or product placements. This is one of the most direct ways to monetize your podcast.

Listener Donations and Crowdfunding: Your True-Crime Podcast’s Community Chest

Crowdfunding platforms like Patreon offer a robust model for direct listener support. You can entice your fans with perks like exclusive content or early episode releases. This way, you not only learn how to start a true-crime podcast but also how to make it financially sustainable.

Affiliate Marketing: The Passive Payday for True-Crime Podcasters

As you guide people on how to start a true-crime podcast, you can mention various podcasting equipment and resources. Each mention can be an opportunity for affiliate income. You can earn commissions from sales generated through your unique affiliate links.

Merchandise: Branding Your True-Crime Podcast for Cash

Creating merchandise like branded t-shirts, mugs, or stickers can offer an additional revenue stream. The key is to make sure these items resonate with the theme of your true-crime podcast and the sensibilities of your audience.

11. Podcast Marketing and Promotion: Getting the Word Out About Your True-Crime Podcast

You’ve done the work to learn how to start a true-crime podcast—kudos! But let’s face it, what good is an awesome podcast if nobody knows about it? The adage “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t exactly apply in the saturated podcasting landscape. Here’s how you can put your podcast on the map:

Social Media: Your True-Crime Podcast’s Digital Megaphone

The power of social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook can’t be overstated when it comes to marketing your true-crime podcast. Regular posts, behind-the-scenes content, and engagement with your audience can go a long way in building a community around your podcast.

Networking: Making Friends in High (and Low) Podcasting Places

Don’t underestimate the value of networking within the podcasting community. You might be surprised how willing other podcasters are to cross-promote, share tips, or even collaborate.

SEO and Blogging: True-Crime Podcasting Meets Digital Optimization

Writing accompanying blog posts can provide a two-for-one benefit: they offer additional content for your audience while also serving as fodder for search engine optimization. Keywords, like “how to start a true-crime podcast,” can help your blog—and by extension, your podcast—rank higher in search engine results.

PR and Media Outreach: A True-Crime Podcast’s Best Friend

Traditional media channels still offer great reach. Press releases about milestone episodes or special guests can garner attention from media outlets interested in the podcasting and true-crime genres.

Email Marketing: Keep Your True-Crime Listeners Truly Engaged

Building an email list gives you a direct line to your audience. Regular updates about upcoming episodes, special guests, and exclusive content can keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

12. Audience Engagement: Building a Loyal Community for Your True-Crime Podcast

If you’ve been diligently learning how to start a true-crime podcast, you know that one of the most important metrics isn’t necessarily listener numbers, but listener engagement. A smaller, dedicated audience can provide much more value than a larger, disengaged one. So, how do you create an invested community around your podcast? Let’s delve into some strategies:

Listener Surveys: Know What Your True-Crime Podcast Fans Really Want

You can’t meet the expectations of your audience if you don’t know what those expectations are. Listener surveys can provide invaluable feedback that you can use to improve your podcast and deepen engagement.

Exclusive Content: More than Just the Tip of the True-Crime Iceberg

Offer exclusive content that provides added value to your community. Whether it’s in-depth interviews, bonus episodes, or merch giveaways, these special touches can make your audience feel part of an exclusive club.

Interactive Features: Engaging Your True-Crime Listeners in Real-Time

Consider live episodes or Q&A sessions where listeners can submit questions and get answers in real time. This level of direct interaction can do wonders for audience engagement.

User-Generated Content: Your True-Crime Podcast’s Social Proof

Encourage your listeners to share their own theories or stories related to your podcast’s episodes. Sharing this user-generated content (with permission, of course) can not only provide social proof but also deepen community engagement.

Communication Channels: Keeping Your True-Crime Podcast Audience in the Loop

Social media isn’t the only way to communicate with your audience. Platforms like Discord or dedicated subreddit forums offer excellent ways for your listeners to engage with you and each other in a more intimate setting.

Common Questions About How to Start a True-Crime Podcast

FAQs

It’s perfectly natural to have a few questions buzzing around your head as you ponder the steps of how to start a true-crime podcast. Here, we’re tackling some of the most common queries:

What is the best podcasting equipment for a true-crime show?

The quality of your audio is paramount. Investing in a high-quality microphone, headphones, and even a podcasting camera if you’re considering video, can make a world of difference.

How do I go about content research for my true-crime podcast?

Research is a cornerstone of a compelling true-crime podcast. It’s essential to fact-check and provide a well-rounded view of the crime story you are discussing. This may include interviews, going through archives, or even Freedom of Information Act requests for certain documents.

What are the best strategies for episode planning?

Plan your episodes around key events in the story and make sure each episode has a clear beginning, middle, and end. This not only helps with the narrative structure but also keeps your listeners hooked.

How do I legally use sound effects and music?

Always make sure you have the rights to any sound effects or music you use. Several platforms offer royalty-free sounds specifically for podcasting.

What platforms are best for hosting my true-crime podcast?

The “best” platform can vary depending on your needs, but some popular options include Podbean, Anchor, and Libsyn. Each has its own set of features and price points.

How do I engage my audience effectively?

Audience engagement is crucial for the long-term success of your podcast. Employ strategies like listener surveys, exclusive content, and interactive features to keep your audience invested.

True-Crime Jargon: Mastering the Language of the Genre in Your Podcast

True-Crime Jargon

As you venture deeper into the realm of how to start a true-crime podcast, you’ll discover that there’s a specialized vocabulary unique to the genre. Mastering this jargon not only adds an extra layer of credibility to your podcast, but it can also make your content more engaging and easier to understand for true-crime aficionados. Here’s a primer on some key terms:

Perp Walk

This term refers to the practice of walking a perpetrator or suspect through a public space, allowing the media to capture footage or photos. The “perp walk” is often a dramatic moment in criminal cases, and discussing it can add depth to your storytelling.

Modus Operandi (MO)

Every criminal has a method, or MO, they typically follow when committing crimes. Understanding and discussing a criminal’s MO can provide crucial insights into the case you’re covering.

Cold Case

A criminal case that has not been solved and is no longer being actively investigated is referred to as a “cold case.” These often make for compelling podcast material, as they invite listener theories and speculation.

Plea Deal

A plea deal is an agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence or a reduction in charges. Breaking down plea deals can offer listeners a deeper look into the legal nuances of a case.

Eye Witness vs. Ear Witness

While an “eye witness” provides testimony of what they saw, an “ear witness” provides testimony of what they heard. Knowing the difference and the implications of both can make for engaging content.

Chain of Custody

This term refers to the chronological documentation or paper trail that records the sequence of custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of evidence in a case. It’s vital in ensuring that evidence has not been tampered with and is something you may need to explain in cases with complex evidence trails.

Double Jeopardy

This legal principle prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same charges following a valid acquittal or conviction. If a case you’re covering includes elements of double jeopardy, it’s sure to add an extra layer of intrigue.

In Conclusion: Taking the Leap in Starting Your Own True-Crime Podcast

How to Start a True-Crime Podcast

As the curtain falls on our extensive guide on how to start a true-crime podcast, let’s do a quick recap. From the essential groundwork of content research and episode planning to the nitty-gritty of podcast production and technical preparations, every step is crucial in shaping a compelling narrative. The mastery of scriptwriting, interview skills, and sound effects contributes to the high-quality content that keeps your audience hooked. And let’s not forget about the significance of post-production elements like monetization, marketing, and audience engagement to ensure your podcast not only survives but thrives.

Creating a true-crime podcast is a labor of love, punctuated by moments of intense research, creative storytelling, and even legal eagle-ing. But the real beauty of podcasting in this gripping genre lies in the fact that each episode you create adds a new layer to a story desperate to be heard.

So, if you’re toying with the idea of narrating your own tales of mystery and malfeasance, consider this your call to action. Take that leap. Who knows, you could be the next big sensation in the world of true-crime podcasting, giving voice to stories that lie in the shadowy corners of human experience.

The road ahead is thrilling, often challenging, but above all, rewarding. Are you ready to don your detective cap and hit that record button?