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How to listen to podcasts: a beginner’s guide to finding, organizing, and enjoying your favorite shows

by Meagan Francis on April 3, 2014

how to listen to podcasts.jpg

I’ve mentioned before that podcasts are an important part of my day. They keep me entertained during my “kitchen hour,” make long car rides more interesting, and now that we’ve drastically reduced our cable package, also keep me company while I fold laundry! 

But I have to admit that until very recently – okay, just a few months ago – I didn’t really understand how to subscribe to podcasts or make the listening process more organized. I’d go right to the podcast’s website and listen from my browser, usually. It got the job done, but wasn’t exactly a streamlined experience. 

I’m no Luddite, but I’ve never been big on trying out new apps or programs. I’m more the type who sticks with whatever “works” until I’m essentially forced to rethink my approach – and then I’m usually glad I did!

And so it went with podcasts. As I discovered more and more shows that I wanted to add to my regular listening schedule, I realized I had to find a way to keep them all in one place and make them easy to download and listen to.

I’m guessing some of you can relate, and have wanted to check out those “podcasts” people keep talking about but aren’t really sure how to get started. So I thought I’d share my setup for finding, organizing, and listening to shows so that it might help you.

Note: many of the links listed below are affiliates. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

podcasts app

1. First, download an app. I use the standard Apple “Podcasts” app, and it gets the job done. My husband uses Pocketcast on his Droid phone, which seems a little more deluxe. I’ve also heard good things about Stitcher. There are other apps, but I suggest you start by finding something simple that you can easily get and use first, and then experimenting once you’ve got a system in place.

2. Go forth and discover! I still love the five podcasts I linked to back in September, but I’ve expanded my listening repertoire considerably over the last six months. This list is by no means comprehensive, but some of my current favorites are: 

Food & Family:

Business & Life

  • Ask Pat - a quick daily show in which my favorite Internet business guy, Pat Flynn, answers listener questions on everything from growing blog traffic to building an email list and more
  • Smart Talk: – Author Lisa B. Marshall interviews interesting and inspiring personalities in about careers, entrepreneurship and more.

Again, this is just a short list of the great shows I listen to every week, to get you started! One technique you can use to find new shows to listen to is to check the “related” podcasts listed along with one you like.

Sometimes it works well, but other times you wind up with a lot of irrelevant options. For example, if you like my podcast, The Home Hour, (and I hope you do!) here’s what iTunes displays for “related shows:” 

photo (4)

Not exactly what I’d call “related,” since my show focuses on inspiring and funny interviews about a wide variety of topics – motherhood, life, style, food – and not just advice on parenting or kids. The browsing capabilities on iTunes are definitely limited, and the shows that come up when you search a broad term like “food” or “motherhood” are often older shows that have great ratings but haven’t been updated in a while.

I’ve found a better way. Most podcasters tend to appear on other people’s shows from time to time, and many guests “do the rounds” of interviews particularly when they have a new book or event to promote. So if you hear a host or guest you really like, try searching for their name and see what comes up. You’ll often discover other similar shows, or possibly shows in genres you didn’t even know you were interested in! 

3. When you like a show, subscribe. You’ll get access to new episodes as soon as they go live, and you’ll be able to see at-a-glance which of your favorite shows have new episodes available. All you have to do is open the app and (in the case of the iTunes Podcasts app, anyway) tap “My Podcasts” to see them all in one place.

Here’s a peek at my podcast library, nice and neat and pretty inside the app. (Yes, I realize the battery on my phone is getting low! I’ll get right on that, promise!) 

podcast app

4. Invest in speakers. Your phone or laptop won’t project the sound very loudly, and it’s frustrating not to be able to hear your show over the clattering of dishes in the sink or the range fan over your stove. Earbuds are great for when you’re walking or working out, but I don’t find them to be a very workable solution for when you’re hanging out at home, with kids running in and out.  

Our setup is pretty deluxe: we have the Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker. I love it because you can play podcasts and music wirelessly (there’s a cord, too, in case you aren’t on a network or don’t have Bluetooth), and the sound quality is awesome to boot. It retails for $199, but to us the investment has been totally worth it. It’s small and compact, so you can easily move it around the house to any area where you want to listen. We even take it with us when we travel so we’ll know we always have a source of music.

Plus, it looks great sitting on my counter next to my stand mixer.

Bose Soundlink Mini

If a speaker system isn’t in the budget right now, try this trick: place your phone into a bowl, speaker side down. The concave sides of the bowl will bounce and amplify the sound. It’s not as great as my Bose setup, but it really does amplify the sound, and it’ll do in a pinch!

I hope this little guide will help those of you who haven’t fully embraced the podcast revolution start finding and listening to shows you love. Of course, I’m hoping one of your favorites will be my weekly show, The Home Hour Podcast!

Podcast Square Blue - home hour large

I’ve been getting great feedback about the quality of the show and how much listeners love my guests and special co-hosts, and the audience is growing by leaps and bounds. I’m really excited about the future of the show and am working hard to make it the best it can be.

(By the way, no new episode this week – it’s Spring Break here – so this is a great opportunity to get caught up on past episodes.)

Have fun discovering some great new shows..and if you’re a regular podcast listener, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What are your favorite shows, and what’s your system for listening?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Powers April 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm

I love the idea of searching for people as guests – that’s genius. :)

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Heather April 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Thanks for this! I have been wondering how to do this the best way. :)

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Laila April 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I love the bowl idea! Thanks!

Reply

April Perry April 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm

GREAT tutorial! We’ll share this with our Power of Moms Community, and thanks so much for including Power of Moms Radio on this list! Can’t wait to have you on as a guest. xoxo

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