If podcasting is something you’ve been thinking about doing just for fun, you should consider the possibility of turning it into a lucrative business strategy. We will be talking about podcasts in general, and what you need to get started making your own.
There is no denying it: podcasts are great! They are the logical successor to the good old radio show. They also have portability on their side. You can fire them up on your phone or music player while you’re pumping iron or doing the dishes. There is no shortage of great podcasts to download from the Internet. It’s pretty much close to guaranteed that you will find a podcast on any subject you’re interested in.
If you are just somebody who is trying to make a mark on the internet, you’re in luck. You don’t need to have your own blog. Anyone can become big through podcasts alone. The good thing about podcasts is that you can make it the main building block to developing your brand. When you have established a big enough following, then you can do other things that will compliment your podcast. You can grow your podcast by building a professional website, link your podcast with social media, and even sell your own merchandise!
If you already have your own store or website, well, you’re in luck! A podcast is a great delivery system when it comes to content. This is important to know in our fast-paced world. A lot of people want their content on the go. This is yet another way for your audience to consistently know what you’re up to.
You will be surprised at how far online media has gone. There is a reason why Netflix and YouTube are more attractive than TV. This is because of their on-demand nature. People can get their entertainment fix whenever they want. The same holds true for podcasts. Take a look at this fun infographic to show how far podcasts have gone:
THE FIRST STEPS
YOUR SUBJECT MATTER
Of course, you will have to decide on what you will be talking about on your podcast. It pretty much boils down to two things: knowledge and passion. If you are both knowledgeable and passionate about what you are talking about, you’re more than halfway there. We believe that passion is the more important of the two. This will definitely increase the lifespan of your topic. We don’t want you burning out by the third episode now, do we? Check out other podcasts that deal with a similar theme to yours. This way you can get a feel for how they work.
Also, don’t try to be unique just for the heck of it. You can try putting a new twist on a well-worn topic. For instance, there is no shortage of gaming podcasts out there. Instead of going through the usual news and reviews route, you can try and feature some promising indie game that you want more people to know about. You can also focus on the history of gaming, and talk about how far it has come. It’s all up to you. Work those creative muscles!
YOUR PODCAST FORMAT
This is where the fun lies! You have full creative control of how your podcast will go. Here are some things that you might want to consider:
One particular style is where the host talks about a topic or several topics in length. It is up to the host to make the stories interesting. This can sometimes be a difficult format to sustain. We don’t want to bore our listeners. But hey, if you really love your topic and know a lot about it, this format can pay off. We will be talking about a great podcast that uses this format in our personal recommendations.
The number of hosts:
Some podcasts can get by with only one host but there can be benefits to having more than just one. With two hosts, there can be interesting trash talking going on between them, as they can play off of each other. This makes it even more fun to listen to for the listener. Some podcasts even go for the “roundtable” format, with three or more hosts. I would be wary of going for this though. The hosts might talk over one another and confuse the listener.
You can invite guests over and sit them down for an interview. Music podcasts sometimes do this with singers and band members. This can provide great insight to the listener. Consider interviews when you can.
Should you script your podcast?
Before you decide to go one way or the other, think about the content that you’re presenting. Should you structure everything? Or should you give yourself prompts about the next section of your podcast? You might find that a little bit of both will do wonders for your podcast.
You will need to consider how long your podcast will be. Do you want it to be short and sweet, or long and epic? The minimum time recommended is 15 to 20 minutes. This timeframe is perfect for commutes. Your listeners will have enjoyed a whole episode by the time they’ve reached work or school. 1 hour is a good middle ground if you wish to cram more content in. Some ambitious podcasters even go for 2 hours or a bit more. I’d be a bit wary of this length though. You must make sure that you are able to hold your listeners’ interest the whole way through. Go for a short length at first then work your way up from there.
You will want to have your podcast listed at ITunes or Apple at some point. This is especially important because this is where listeners will likely stumble into your podcast when they search for a particular genre or subject. Your podcast might also be recommended when it is similarly themed to a listener’s current favorite. Here are some vital pieces of info to include:
This is a no-brainer. Think of a catchy title that lets your audience know what they will be getting into. You can add a subtitle if you want. You don’t have to make it too long though. You can add more information in your podcast description. Here are some examples: “Black Powder: The Antique Firearms Podcast” or “Kiddie Health: Nutritious and Delicious Recipes for Children”.
Like YouTube videos, this is the “thumbnail” of your podcast. Don’t underestimate the power of good artwork. Make it pleasing to the eye. Put some effort into it and your potential audience will likely check you out. Don’t forget to make your text in the artwork legible even at lower sizes. You can try to make the artwork yourself or have somebody do it for you. Whatever you do, don’t be cheap on the artwork.
You can tell your audience more about your podcast in this section. Make sure to include a lot of keywords in your description so that it will be easier for people to find you in a search engine. When you’ve logged enough episodes in, you can also include highlights and special guests you’ve had. This will attract even more listeners.
Are you making a comedy podcast? If so, what kind of comedy are you employing? Is it observational or satire? Narrow it down in the category or subcategory that you want to lump your podcast into.
EQUIPMENT AND SOFTWARE
You will need some hardware and software to record your podcast. The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to get quality equipment. Just make sure to test them out first before you start recording.
You will require a dedicated microphone to record your podcast. Your built-in computer microphone will not cut it, as they are not meant for a professional audio production. Good thing is, there are plenty of decent USB microphones available on the market. The Audio-Technica AT2020 has gotten a lot of positive reviews. It comes in a USB version for plug and play.
Remember that in addition to the quality of your microphone you should also think about the environment where you’ll record your podcast.
You will be surprised at the tiniest noises that a microphone can pick up when you’re speaking. These can be unpleasant to listen to and they might end up on your podcast if you’re not careful. A pop filter will definitely put an end to this problem.
Microphone Boom Arm:
A boom arm will help you set your microphone to your ideal height and distance. This way, you won’t be fiddling around with your hands adjusting the mic while you’re talking. The microphone will be comfortably close to your mouth so that you can focus on covering the content of your show.
Headphones are a must if you are planning to have guests on your podcast. This will help you avoid echoing. Echoing occurs when audio comes out of your speakers and gets picked up by the microphone.
Recording and Editing Software:
On the software side of things, there are three great options available. Audacity is a good choice for beginners. Plus, it’s free! If you don’t mind spending some cash for a more professional piece of kit, then Adobe Audition is the one for you. It has a lot of neat features to help you create a podcast worthy of awards. For Mac users, there is GarageBand. Like Audacity, it’s also free to download. GarageBand has a sleek and accessible user interface that’s worth checking out.
What if you’re interviewing someone who isn’t physically present? There are several software programs available which will let you record audio. A very popular and inexpensive one is Skype. Because the interview is done through Voice Over IP (VOIP) the sound quality is quite high.
Whilst its’ not a part of the equipment you need it is something that you should be mindful of. If you’re recording at your house avoid recording in areas such as halls, or close to where there is a lot of noise, such as a hall or with an open window. Avoid recording facing a wall, as that will generate echoes, as your voice bounces towards the wall.
Think objectively as to anything that might be easily picked up by your microphone. You want to avoid distracting your audience with any unwanted noises.
TIME TO RECORD!
Now that you have everything set up it’s time to make your first podcast! Are you getting butterflies in your stomach? Don’t worry, we all feel intimidated at first when starting out a something we’ve never tried before. The good thing about podcasts is that they’re not live like streams. You can afford to make as many mistakes as you wish on your first take. You can just do over when you’re not satisfied with. Long, awkward pauses between sentences? No problem! You can just edit them out in post production.
Some podcasters start out by recording an intro episode or an “episode zero”. This is a good chance for you to test the waters and get the feel of recording. You don’t have to add too many segments here. Just introduce yourself and let the listeners know what they can expect in the future.
This may seem cliché to you, but this is a very important point to remember: relax and have fun! Listeners don’t like it when you sound robotic or monotonous. Remember, you are having a conversation with your audience. Your podcast should feel inviting to them. Use your own natural voice as much as possible. Don’t try to force a persona you’re not comfortable with. Your audience can tell if you’re faking it. Don’t stick to a strict order. “Next, here’s the news”, “Now is the time for this segment”, etc. It’s ok to have a list of sections to work through but try to make it dynamic. This will make for some fun and unpredictable moments in your podcast.
Have you thought about personalizing your podcast even more? Some podcasts use sounds to engage the audience and highlight a specific segment of their podcast. This is a way to keep your audience engaged, and you can further link to this to give out prices and keep your audience guessing.
Finally, never underestimate the power of a good intro and outro. This can be either a musical jingle or a wacky voiceover bit. You can be creative on this one. Intros and outros add more pizzazz to your podcast and make you stand out from the rest.
EDITING AND SAVING
You will most likely do some cleanup after you’ve recorded your first episode. Lucky for you, the recording software listed above also has the editing tools you need. This is your chance to cut out the awkward pauses that exist in your recording. You will also need to normalize the audio, making sure that the volume is even as much as possible throughout the podcast. Be especially wary of audio “spikes” when the volume suddenly becomes louder. This isn’t a horror movie. We don’t need any jump scares here! Ensure that your co-hosts and guests are heard loud and clear too. Make adjustments as needed.
When you’re satisfied with the results, save the recording as an MP3 file. It is recommended that you save the file as a 128kbps, 44.1 MHz mp3. This is the standard for podcasts. There is no need to go higher in quality unless you’re catering to audiophile listeners. The resulting file will be bigger though, and it will be hard to download for some people. Stick to the file format I just mentioned for now.
You should export your audio file in mono, as this is the preferred method, and stereo mode will increase your file size considerably.
MP3 files also come with what is called an ID3 tag. This is something you should get in the habit of doing. When you upload your audio file to a host website, some information might be lost, and this is a way to associate your podcast file to the correct directory.
When tagging your file be sure to include:
Below we will show you how to edit your file using Audacity:
You can download Audacity from the link below completely free:
Remember that you need to make sure your microphone is connected and recognized, to make sure your voice quality is higher than with your laptop or default microphone.
You can see which audio sources you have setup in this section:
To Record in Audacity, simply click the red circle on the top left side of the window. Here you can start, and stop several recording sessions to edit once you’ve finished.
Practice recording yourself a couple of times to make sure you’re comfortable with your audio, it’s clarity and the volume, before you start your podcast episode.
When you’re ready to start recording make sure you have a silence buffer of about 5 seconds in the beginning and at the end. This is called room tone and it will make it easier for you to cut things such as curse words or background noise.
Keep in mind that when you save your file in Audacity it doesn’t export any audio, it merely saves the process. Once you are finished with your audio you will want to export your file as an MP3.
If you use another program to record your podcast, you can also edit these audio files in Audacity. Below are the steps on how to edit an audio file.
Step 1. Find a File to edit
Audacity can also import common file formats, such as WAV, AIFF< and MP3. If you wish to edit music which you have on a CD, you must convert the CD into an audio file. This is commonly known as ripping.
Step 2. Import audio files into Audacity
You can drag and drop the file into the Audacity Window, or find the file clicking on the File, then Import, and finally Audio File.
This is how it will look once you load your audio file:
The above image shows your waveforms for the left and right channel. The left channel is on top and the right channel is on the bottom.
Step 3: Listen to your audio file:
With the main buttons on the top left side of the window you can control and listen to your audio. Like any music player use the green play triangle to listen to your audio recording.
Step 4: Selecting, Cutting, and Pasting.
This is where you will spend most of your time. You must first select the section of audio you wish to copy, cut, or paste. You must use the selection tool in the top mid-section with this icon:
Next, with your mouse click and hold the starting point of the audio section you wish to edit and drag it right in order to highlight up to where you want to finish editing.
Here you will notice how the specific section is shaded in a darker background compared to the other section of the audio.
Once you have the section of the audio selected you can use the command buttons located on the top, which are familiar to Microsoft Office Icons of Cut, Copy, and Paste. Alternatively, you can use the Keyboard commands of CTRL+X (cut), and CTRL+ V (Paste)
If you only want to take a specific segment of your audio file you can do so with the trim audio button. Select a section of the audio file and then press the trim button. This will remove all of the other audio which wasn’t selected.
Once you’ve done all of your editing, it’s time to export the finished production. In order to export your file, go to File, and then Export. This is where you will be able to save it as an MP3 format with mono sound.
Remember this is the most common extension file type.
Step 5: Saving
We recommend that you upload all of your podcast episodes to a Media Host, to make sure everything is backed up outside of your website, as this will not take bandwidth from your Podcast website.
Your podcast is done! It’s now time to put it out on the Internet for all to hear. The next thing to do is to find a website that will host your file. It’s vital that you do this because this host will give you the RSS feed and it will greatly help in distribution (see next section). Some good hosts are Blubrry, Buzzsprout, and LibSyn.
Be mindful that most of these services aren’t. You will be charged depending on the host you choose and the file space you will need. Nevertheless, do not skip this important step.
We also suggest you upload your podcasts to SoundCloud. This will help you in two key ways: It will save your file in the event that your own website encounters some technical difficulties, and it will also generate awareness to new followers who search about specific topics within the different websites who host audio files.
Remember that, in addition to simply uploading your audio file, you must also draw the audience’s attention by describing what your podcast episode is about. Remember this is a way to draw people into listening to your show, and potentially subscribing to your channel.
In the episode’s description, you should include:
- Introduction: Brief overview of what your podcast episode is about
- Time Schedule: Let listeners know at what particular sections of your podcasts will you cover specific topics.
- Comments/Questions: Reach out to your listeners, ask them what topics would they like to hear you talk about?
- Contact Details: How can they get in contact with you?
For maximum exposure, you’ll have to submit your podcast to a directory. You can do this using the RSS feed you received from the previous section. Think of the podcast directory as a hub for all listeners. This is where they will discover podcasts that they might like.
We highly recommend that you submit your podcast to iTunes. This directory has an overwhelmingly big listener base. There is a good chance new listeners will notice you on this platform.
This is not your only option though. You can submit your podcasts to as many directories as you want. Some podcasters even upload their stuff on YouTube, too. It doesn’t hurt to expand the accessibility of your content.
PROMOTION AND PROFIT
Even after you’ve submitted your podcast you still haven’t crossed the finish line! Make your presence known on the Internet and plug your content into as many channels as you can. Social media is a good start. Talk about your podcast and post links to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Encourage audience participation, and let your listeners rate and comment on your stuff, as well. This feedback will help you immensely when you’re starting out. Plus, you can transform listener’s suggestions and comments into future episodes.
On iTunes, you will notice that the podcast artwork comes front and center. Keep this in mind when you’re setting up your podcast. You might not be featured if you neglect to have artwork. I would even go so far as to hire someone to make some crisp artwork for you.
With regards to making some money: I would suggest that you focus first on improving your craft and gathering a following before you consider monetization. When you’re ready, you can take on sponsors and do ad reads. This is when you plug a product or a service at some point/s in your recording. Regular podcast listeners will be familiar with these ad read sections.
There are a lot of good podcasts available out there. These are some that I enjoy myself.
- Hardcore History by Dan Carlin (http://www.dancarlin.com/hardcore-history-series/) is a great podcast that uses the narrative format. It’s amazing how Dan can hold your attention for two hours talking about stuff that’s not in your history books! You can check out some free episodes on the site.
- The Ricky Gervais Podcast (http://rickygervais.com/podcast.php) is another one to look into if you’re into comedy. There’s a reason that this one broke world records. The conversations with Ricky, Stephen and Karl are good for a laugh when you’re on your commute. I believe the first season is also available for free.
- The Super Best Friendcast (http://superbestfriendsplay.com/series/friendcast/) and Giant Bombcast (http://www.giantbomb.com/podcasts/) are worth a look if you’re into gaming. The inside jokes may fly over some people’s heads, though.
- The Nerdist Podcast (http://nerdist.com/podcasts/nerdist-podcast-channel/) is for fans of geek culture. They have some great interviews over there.
I hope you can kick start your podcasting career with this guide. Don’t worry! Keep at it and you will get the confidence necessary to make your mark in the podcasting world. Happy recording!
If you have any questions, and would like to shoot us an email to bounce off ideas feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org