I am by no definition anywhere a professional podcaster. I am sure that there are tips and techineques as well as specialized equipment that can be used to create a podcast that is polished and professional. But that was not my goal when I started and I do not want to make that kind of podcast. If you are looking for that kind advice, keep looking.
This page is strictly an editorial and will give you a few tips on how to get started. As I learn more or come across other tips, I will add them to the page. I will also include info on things I don’t do; whether I don’t do them by choice or not. And, as always, you will get my opinion – not just the facts. So grab your cup of coffee and let’s get started……
Yes, this is a necessity. Your audio devices in your computer must be able to record and play back. They should be able to handle mp3′s. This is way above my head and I don’t know what exactly to look for. I had an older computer (one that was about 5 years old) and it worked just fine. If you find that you are having trouble recording and you are working on an older model computer, this may be something to research further.
If you are wondering if Mac is better than PC, that is a personal choice. I don’t own a Mac and never have; I haven’t used one since I was a pre-teen (when they first came out and the screen was black with green text). I do know that Mac’s have some pretty awesome recording software, but I also understood that similar software can be found for PC’s. See the software section below.
I just have a basic, off the shelf Dell computer. It was purchased new in December 2008.
This can make all the difference in your sound quality. Every mic sounds a tad bit different. Keep this in mind as you are hunting for the perfect mic. I am not going to get into the professional microphones; I know very little about them. What I do know is they can cost you well over $100 and then there is mixing equipment and other stuff to connect to your computer. This equipment would be for the professional podcast.
Many computers have a built in mic; one that will record any sound near the computer. In the beginning of my podcasts, I accidentally used this mic. Hence the sound quality issues in the first episodes. I say to stay away from doing it this way. The sound quality is so bad that you will never maintain listeners, even if your content is top-notch.
When buying a mic there are two different ways they can be plugged into your computer; the USB port and the audio port. Mics that plug into the audio port are cheaper and you can pick one up for about $15; heck, I have heard of people using the mics from their Xbox or other game system plugged into the audio port. What I have found is that mics that plug into the USB port have a richer, warmer sound. I don’t know why and even when I go to Best Buy and talk to the teenage-expert they point me to the other style. The downside is that these mics cost more $30-$50 minimum, decent ones up to $100. But maybe you do get what you pay for.
Headset or not? This is a personal choice and depends on how you talk. If you don’t mind staying in one place while you are recording, get the table top mic (I think they are cheaper). If you move around alot, you will need a hand held or headset. If you talk with your hands and can’t sit still, get the headset. The other advantage of the headset is that the mic is always the same distance from your mouth the whole time you are recording. You won’t get any highs and lows are you move closer or farther away from the mic.
What is a Pop Filter? When we talk we are moving air out of our mouth. With certain letter sounds, such a “p”, (and I am sure these vary by language and dialect) a puff of air exits our mouth. This creates a popping sound on the mic. A pop filter dissapates the air so that it is not so annoying. The little fuzzy cover you find on most mics is the pop filter. On the handheld mics the mesh is wire, but under that is usually some foam. However, sometimes this little bit of fuzzy foam is not enough. Each person is different and what works for one may not work with another. If you find that your P’s are still popping, you need a better pop filter. These can be purchased at electronic stores for about $30 or you can make one yourself for a few bucks.
Tip – when you plug in your mic your computer may not recognize that you want to record with the mic. Go to your control panel on the computer, click on “hardware and sound”, click manage audio devices, click the recording tab, and make sure your mic is selected as default. You may have to do this everytime you plug in your mic. This is how I accidentally recorded using my speaker array for the first few episodes.
I use a Logitech headset style mic with faux leather ear cusions and a slip-on fuzzy pop filter. It connects via USB port. It costs about $50.
You need software to record. Most computers come with basic sound recording software. In fact, when I first started making my own training videos at work, this was the software I would use. But for doing a podcast, it won’t work. You can’t edit it or change very much. You need software that you can do this with.
If you own a Mac you are lucky to have access to Garage Band. I heard this comes standard now, but it can also be purchased. From the tutorials I have found online, this program has features designed esspecially for recording podcasts. You can add chapters and chapter artwork, plus it is super easy to use. This program alone makes me want to switch to Mac.
For the rest of us, the recording options are endless and I am not going to research them at this time. Keep checking back and I may add more.
I use Audacity. This is a free program that you can download and record. You will also need to download the LAME MP3 encoder from that same site. Truth be told, I had some trouble trying to figure out this program in the beginning. I found this site and it helped me out a lot. Basically, once you are ready to record, you click on record, say what you have to say, save the recording and export as an MP3.
Audacity does have a lot of features, and I don’t know the half of them. The best things are the ease of editing. You want to delete somthing, highlight that section and click delete. You can move the recording sections to add other recordings to it. You can easily import an MP3 and add it to your recording. You can add different track if you want sound effects or background music. Like I said, a lot of features.
So you have your equipment and you are ready to record. But what are you going to say?
This is all you and I cannot help much in this area. Listen to other podcast. Write notes about what you liked and what you didn’t like. Come up with a format that you feel comfortable with. Set rules for yourself and try to stick to them. However, you must be willing to change. As you record more, get more comfortable with your subject and witht he mic, you will find that your format may have changed. This is OK and expected.
Explicit? If you have a potty mouth and don’t want to tame it, then you have to put an explicit tag on your podcast. Truth be told, the tag may get you listeners. People are naturally curious.
As you explore what you want your content to be ask yourself these questions. Do I want it to be personal or information only? Am I only going to talk about one subject matter? Do I want to do segments, like a magazine or radio show? What are my goals in the podcast? What do I want to accomplish? How long do I want it to be for? How often do I want to record?
I do suggest taking notes to follow to keep you on track. Although I don’t agree with it, there are some podcasters that actually write out their entire podcast and just read it. You may find this helpful to try.
Also, know the copyright laws and respect intellectual property. Your can’t read someone’s article on a podcast or book for that matter. Don’t copy/paste and use pictures from another site. Don’t explain in detail instructions that are in a book. If you are not sure if you are violating the laws, either don’t do it or look it up.
I started off with the idea of a clean podcast, 30 minutes long; 10 minutes personal, 10 minutes craftly update, 10 minutes topic. It has been a year and I have never done a 30 minute show. I now spend 10 minutes on thank you’s, 20+ on personnel and 10+ on a topic. See how easily your plans can change.
If you want to add music to your podcast, be careful to abide by copyright laws. You are not permitted to add music unless you have the permission of the artist to do so. I would get this permission in writing and keep it on file. Fortunately there are several sites that independant artists post their music for use in podcasts; this is called podsafe music. They do this to help promote their music. I have purchased music that I heard on other podcasts, so it must work. Below are some links to some podsafe music sites.
Once you find the music you want to use, download it, upload it into your recording software and add it to your podcast recording.
Show notes are the links and related information about what was talked about during the podcast. There are no rules stating that you have to do them, but your listeners expect them. I have seen them as a few lines or I have written them as a long post. How you do your show notes is up to you. At a minimum you should list any links you discussed in the podcast.
Show notes are usually posted on the podcast website or blog. Where you host your podcast and where your show notes are located can be two separate places. Of course, this makes is a bit more difficult for your listeners, but you do what works for you.
Free vs. Paid Hosting
Now that you have recorded your podcast, you have to get it onto the internet. You have to “upload it”. You may hear the terms podcast hosting or web hosting. What this is, is a server (a computer memory type device) located at someone’s business that is hooked to the internet. The server has an “address”. The server owners are the hosting company and they take care of all the maintenance of the device(s), back up and all that other computer geek stuff. You sign-up for hosting service (either free or paid), which basically give you the right to store information on their server and gives your “stuff” an “address” for the internet.
You may wonder how these companies can offer their services for free. They do make money. They can do this through ads on your site (you can earn money from these ads too, but they get a tiny portion) or in the hopes that you will out grow the free service and subscribe to the paid service. Keep in mind that when you use a free service, you do not own the content you put on it; the service does. If they were to close shop or change formats, you would have no say so in the matter.
Here are some popular free services:
The downside to a free service is that they limit you. You are limited to the bandwidth and disc space. You can easily outgrow it, which means you have to pay for their subsciption fee or move your podcasts to another provider. Some providers make this difficult to do and in the end you loose listeners because they can no longer find your podcast; hence you start from scratch after the move.
My suggestion is to start off on the right foot. Buying a domain name and paying for web hosting is realitively inexpensive; $10 for a domain name and $4-5 a month for hosting and many hosting services give you the domain name for free (keep this in mind when you hear podcasters begging for donations to cover the hosting fees). Most hosting services give you unlimited use and space so you don’t have to worry about outgrowing it. In addition, you own all your content and any/all profits from that content. Another advantage is that you will be easy to find on the internet. If your podcast is titled “Start a Podcast” and your website is www.startapodcast.com; people will find you quickly and easily. Unlike www.startapodcast.freeblog4you.com/janedoe. Lastly, when you are paying a hosting service, they keep your statistic for you. You can easily find out how many people visit your site, download your podcast, etc…
Here are some sites for webhosting (FYI – I know Go Daddy seems popular, but they are not necessarily the cheapest):
Here are some paid sites for paid podcast hosting:
Once you decide who (either free or paid) will host your podcast, upload it using their instructions.
I used Name Cheap and Host Gator. Once I was all set up, I uploaded the WordPress.org software to set up my site.
Tips for Setting Up a Paid Site
When I started I knew nothing about designing a website and very little more about blogging software. I found this site that was selling an e-book on how to do it. But, like many entrepenuars, they offered some free advice; this is what I used. Watch their videos and it will really help. Below are the tips I remembered (it has been a year, I am getting old, and my memory isn’t what it should be).
- FTP – File Transfer Protocol. This is basically a program that allows you to upload files from your personal computer to the hosting server. I use Filezilla; it is free.
- WordPress Software – this is a free blogging software that is easy to use. Download it to your personal computer; unzip it.
- Using your FTP upload the software. You have to create a database, rename it and a few other computer things. Use the video I linked you to above to help or the wordpress.org help instructions.
- Go back to the WordPress site; click on extend and then themes. Search through the many themes and find one you like. Download it to your personal computer, unzip it and upload it to your wp-content folder on your site. The next time you are in the admin section of your site, the theme will be available to switch to.
- I use the plug in “TSG Podcasting” from the WordPress.org site to display my podcasts on my posts. Find this by going to the WordPress.org sits, click on extend and click
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I see it as inevitable. Once your podcast is successful you will undoubtedly look for a website of your own and a hosting service that can handle your volume.
The great thing about hosting your own website is that you can upload and store your podcasts directly onto your site. Doing away with podcast hosting services and their possible limits and fees. I found I outgrew Podbean by my 6th show.
RSS means Real Simple Sindication. This is how your listeners can subscribe to your podcast. I know that a lot of the free services do this for you already, but I like to use Feedburner. They are owned by Google, so you will need a Google ID to use it. In ths day and age and I think 80% of the population has one of these; but if you don’t, when you try to go to Feedburner and it asks you for your Google ID, click on register and follow the instructions to get one.
Once you get into Feedburner you will see a box titled “burn a feed right this instant”. Put your website address into this box, click “I am a podcaster” and click Next. Follow all the instructions and put all your podcast information in the Smartcast page (iTunes catagory, description, tag line, picture, etc…). When you are done you will be given a feed URL, you may need to click on “edit my feeds” to see this. It will look something like http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourwebsitename. This is the URL you use when getting your podcast on iTunes.
Feedburner will give you statistics as well. You can see how many people subscribe, how many downloads you have, where the people are subscribing from and a map of where your listeners are located; plus much, much more. And, they add new features all the time. You can even use Feedburner to create a second, non-podcast, feed so people can subscribe to your blog posts.
Getting it on iTunes
You have to have iTunes on your personal computer. Open it up and go to the iTunes store. Click on podcasts and on the menu, which is currently on the right, click on “submit a podcast”. Enter in the URL information from Feedburner and click submit. Follow the instruction from there. You should hear something back from iTunes within 3 days and your podcast should show up on a search within 10 days. I have seen it go quicker and I have seen it take longer. Be patient and contact customer service if you feel it has been too long.
iTunes can be a bit difficult to deal with, but the are the best way to get you going. But don’t forget about all the other podcast subscription services out there; such as podbean, podcast alley, and more. There is a great service called Podcast Blaster that will help you get your podcast posted to 50+ subscription services. It takes a long time to do this, so be prepared to sit for a while.
Promote Your Podcast
Once you are up and running create a 30 second promo recording. It should say what your podcast is, what it is about, and where to find it. Send this to all the other podcasts that cover the same subject matter as you. Ask them to play it on their show. Most people won’t turn you down and it is a great way to get some listeners fast. Don’t be shy.
Well, that is about it. I know this looks a bit overwelming, but I wanted to give you all the information I have. Don’t hesitate to email me with any corrections, suggestions, or questions. As I get more information I will update this page, so check back.