In my last podcast, I covered the things you should think about when deciding if podcasting is for you. Since then, podcasting celebrated its 10th birthday and more people – business owners and hobbyists have decided to start their own podcast. I also ran a podcasting Masterclass for the Guardian and it was interesting to see the range of people who were interested in learning about podcasting.
Once you are clear on the why you want to start a podcast, who it’s for, what you’d cover, the resources you have available, and research distribution, you should think about the practical bit of things.
Here are a few things to get you started:
Recorder and Recording
You can decide if you want to record your podcast by interviewing people or just sharing information yourself. The difference is you are having a conversation with someone and the other you are reading out information to your audience on your own.
If you intend to interview guests face to face, then you have to get a good recording device that wouldn’t break the bank, offers good quality and is user-friendly.
I use the Zoom H2n which retails for about £120 (complete with the accessories pack). You need the pack because it has a windshield which helps with wind and other interferences as well as other bits that make using it easier. I’m almost 2 years into using mine and it still works great. I also know other podcasters who record on the go, that use this as well. If you are however more technically savvy, then there’s the H4n which has more buttons to boost quality. But from experience, this records amazing quality.
For those who want to record online, you can do this by using Skype with an add-on software called Call Recorder if you are a Mac users and Pamela if you use Windows. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and are a one-off. I have a Mac and have found Call Recorder to be very effective, but note that quality of the recording depends on the computer, broadband connection and the microphone used by both of you. All three have to be working well to get the best optimum quality – this is what I have found.
When it comes to using a microphone, I recommend that you use one. While your inbuilt microphone maybe powerful, it doesn’t help to boost the quality by investing in a microphone that would serve you well in terms of quality.
At the moment I use a Samson Meteor which was not expensive (less than £50) as opposed to the popular Blue Yeti a lot of podcasters use. There are a number of pros and cons for both: weight, height and price (Blue Yeti retails at almost £100); but you can decide when you read the reviews on Amazon, which one would be best for you. I always say it is best to keep the costs to a minimum at the start-up phase.
Once you’ve covered the recording equipment, one thing you have to consider is editing. I recommend editing because I believe listening is an intimate experience – especially with headphones; so things such as ‘ermms’, long pauses and ‘tsk’sounds can be unpleasant to the ear. We all have quakes when we speak normally, but they become more pronounced to someone else listening to a recording. I can’t tell you how many times I edit myself out – I want to sound crisp at all times, as this can distract people from the content shared.
I use Audacity which is a free editing software. It’s far from intimidating and you can find several ‘how to’videos on YouTube to get you started and along your editing journey – that’s how I learnt.
There’s also WavePad which retails at about $34.99 which I have used as well and there isn’t much difference (apart from the cost of course) in editing. I recommend either of these because you want the process to be easy and smooth in the beginning so you can get your content out to your audience and not be hindered by the technicalities of it all. If you can afford to pay for someone to edit for you, then you don’t have to bother with learning how to. There are freelancers on oDesk and Elance.
Post Production Quality
Regardless of how great your microphone is and the quality of your recording I would recommend you use a free software called Auphonics. It is easy to use and once you’ve put your audio file through it, you’d notice the difference. It also gives an opportunity to tag your audio file with metadata.
There are a number of podcast hosting platforms; iTunes and Stitcher Radio the most popular ones. To get yours on either one of them, you’d need a website to create a feed link that will send uploaded podcasts to them.
There’s lots of debate (at least from my side) about where to host your mp3 (audio) files. You can host through companies such as Blurry, Libsyn and Amazon. Neither one is free, so this is something you have to plan and budget for. The only payment I make each month is for Dropbox; and I host all files (hundreds of them) via Filezilla. For stats’lovers and if you are interested in the no. of downloads etc., then explore the options mentioned above.
If your website is on WordPress, the Powerpress plugin is the best podcast plugin on the market because you can have multiple podcasts on one website as opposed to the Podpress plugin.
Powerpress has a number of videos to help with the set up. Once you’ve set it up, you have to sign up with iTunes and Stitcher Radio and they will request the feed link to get you up and running.
You can find other podcasting platforms to send the same links to here www.podcast411.com which is a directory of most of the podcasting platforms available. Select which ones you think would offer you more exposure.
In addition to iTunes and Stitcher (and the other platforms I’m on), I use SoundCloud. You may not have heard of it, and if you have, know it’s mostly used by musicians, but they are extending their reach to the spoken word and think it’s a brilliant tool to share audio. The best thing (in my opinion) about SoundCloud is its ability to increase social engagement with integration with Google +, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Hootsuite and Instagram. I suspect more platforms are planned.
While the above podcast platforms are great ways to host and share your content, I found Twitter and Google + to be the best social media platforms to share individual podcasts. For Twitter, I use the hashtags to draw attention to them and on Google +, I’ve joined different communities who are my target audience. As it’s relevant to them, I get to engage with them. Also because I interview people within the sector, they share our podcasts as well.
Repurpose your content
While you may feel podcasting can take up a lot of time, there are added benefits in terms of repurposing your audio content and using it for blogging and writing articles for perhaps third parties. A 2-minute audio clip gives about 350 words, and as a starting point is good news if like me starting a blog can be challenging some times. A company I have found to be very effective and accurate is called REV and they charge $1 a minute. They’ve returned a job in a matter of hours and have been accurate.
I hope that gives you enough of the practical side of things to get you started. I always say if you understand and know the objective of starting a podcast and target audience, then the practical side of things will be easy to navigate.
About the Author
Viv is an Audio and Podcast Specialist. She has over 20 years marketing experience working for companies such as Walt Disney, NatWest, Barclaycard, RBS, BMW and Thames Water. Alongside Audio Byte, she presents her radio show Dream Corner, interviewing female entrepreneurs and female leaders in the City; and over 250 women have shared their journey with Viv. In her spare time, she loves running, reading and chocolate.