Podcasting is a great way to get your message to busy, mobile audiences. It doesn’t require a large investment or professional help. You can record and publish your first podcast today!
I’m assuming that you already know what podcasting is. You should also be familiar with blogging, RSS, and uploading files to servers. If you aren’t, there are many fine articles available on each of these subjects. Wikipedia is a good place to start learning. I’ve included specific links in Further Information.
- Recording and Editing
- Get the Word Out
- Further Information
First, you’ll need a way to record your material. A simple microphone headset, the type many people already have, should be fine if there will only be one person speaking. You can find USB microphone headsets in most stores for $20 to $50. Of course, you can spend far more money on headphones, microphones, and mixers, but you don’t need to do so to get started.
If you don’t want to podcast from your computer, you can use any voice recorder to do the recordings, as long as you have a way to upload the recording to the Internet and convert it to an MP3 file.
You’ll need software to create and edit the recordings. If you use a computer, Audacity is an open-source, cross-platform program with near-professional capabilities that meets the needs of most podcasters. Again, you can spend a lot of money on audio software, and there are products designed solely for podcasting, but Audacity will work nicely. If you’re a Mac user, Garageband is free and works very well for producing podcasts. I haven’t tried to produce a podcast on a mobile device, but it’s certainly possible. Here’s an article for iOS users and another for Android users.
Now you need a place to put your audio files, so your audience can download them. If you already have access to a web server that includes RSS-enabled blogging software such as WordPress, that will work nicely. If you don’t, or if you are concerned about exceeding the bandwidth restrictions on your current server, consider opening an account with Libsyn. Their accounts cost as little as $5 a month for unlimited bandwidth, and they provide excellent support. Podbean is another option.
Now you’re ready to create your material. You don’t need to write a script since you want to avoid sounding as if you are reading. If you would use note cards as a reference while giving a speech, make up similar notes in a document for yourself. Using actual cards leads to shuffling noises.
Try to limit your podcast to no more than 30 minutes. Many listeners put podcasts on their phones and listen to them while commuting. File size and the length of time required to hear a full podcast are important.
If you want to use music at all, make sure that you have permission to do so. Blubrry has a great article that includes a list of good sources for music for your podcast. Remember to allow time for the music when you’re calculating the total length of the podcast.
Set up your recording environment. You want to limit background noises as much as possible. Ask housemates not to interrupt you while you’re recording. Turn off or mute your phone. Close any software that uses audible alerts. Put pets in another room. Close windows and doors. Turn off fans or other machinery.
- Record your material at a sampling rate of 22050 MHz for voice, but go to 44100 MHz if you include music.
- Try to stay natural and casual. Again, you don’t want to read the material to your audience. You’re having a conversation, not giving a lecture. If you have to stop and start again, or repeat phrases, don’t worry—you can edit out the pauses or duplicate material later.
- Edit the audio file. Audacity makes it very easy to do editing, with a cut-and-paste interface that will be familiar to most computer users.
- Convert the file to MP3 format. An encoding rate of 128 kbps stereo is safe for any type of file, although you might be able to use 64 kbps for a file that does not contain music. Be wary of sacrificing sound quality for file size.
- Upload the MP3 file to your server.
- Test it with any phone or MP3 player to make sure that the file is accessible and sounds good.
- Write a “show notes” post in your blogging software or Libsyn site, including links to any websites or other materials you referenced in the podcast. Include the audio file as an attachment, so that your listeners will be able to download the file easily through the RSS feed.
- Publish your post.
- List your podcast in podcast directories and submit it to iTunes (you’ll need your Apple ID for that), so that prospective listeners will have a chance to find you. I’ve listed some of the major directories below. You also want to put it on Spotify and Google Play. Here are some of the directories to which you may want to submit your podcast.
- List your web site in Google and other search engines to help listeners find your show.
The following resources may be helpful if you need more information or run into problems.
- Podcasting Course
- Podcasting Manual at Blubrry
- Podcasters’ List at Yahoo! Groups
- Creative Commons Podcasting Legal Guide
- Beginners Guide to Podcast Creation
- Wikipedia’s Blogging Introduction
- Understanding RSS Feeds