Podcasting – how to
Podcasting seems to be pretty hot right now so it stands to reason that you would want to get either yourself or your business in on some of that good good exposure. Well, let me help you on your road to being the next podcast sensation.
What do you need?
First and foremost, you don’t need anything super exciting to make a podcast, a relatively quiet room and a mobile phone is MORE than enough for you to bang out a reasonable quality production, if you want to step it up some more, then I would suggest that a decent USB mic for your laptop should do wonders, but that said, you certainly don’t need some insane mic, certainly not to get started, I have a Zoom H2n which was a relatively cheap mic that delivers exceptional value for money in my opinion (you can also take it portable too so you don’t have to be linked to your pc – though I use it cabled into my computer). That’s basically it from a hardware point of view, sure, there are many ways of expanding your podcasting setup, but certainly that should get you going. If you want to have a podcast with multiple people etc, then things might start to get a little more difficult, or expensive, but even then, you could do a two person podcast with one mic, you might just have to be creative around your seating positions!
What software do you need?
Well, I suppose this kind of depends on how you are going to approach your podcasting, I would certainly suggest that you could totally sound out a target audience quite happily using just your phone, and I don’t even mean your phone and your pc, I mean literally just your phone – you can do that by downloading an app called Anchor, I have got two podcasts going currently, one of them is hosted on this very website and another hosted on Anchor, and to be honest, had I known how easy Anchor was to use, I would have probably gone straight for them, however, I think its valuable to know a number of ways of doing things and then you’re not at the behest of a single platform. None the less, you can record and edit and upload your podcast from your phone using the anchor app and let me tell you this, its pretty damn easy in comparison to the other solution I’ve looked at, which is self hosting.
If you want to use your computer and some funky mic set up, perhaps do some advanced editing etc, then you have a heap of options at your disposal, now I am not going to go into paid options here, because, to be quite honest, I really don’t think you need them, certainly not to get yourself up and running (remember, the content of your podcast should be your defining factor, not dropping the bomb on it like your Tim Westwood or something). With that said, you cannot go far wrong with Audacity, which is free and works on pretty well every platform known to man, and also on pretty low end systems too. Now, its certainly not the nicest looking piece of software, but plenty of people use it so if you get stuck, there is a multitude of sources for help. So if you’re not going the phone route, I would suggest downloading a copy of Audacity, if you have another recording software you would rather use, then by all means, so long as it will output an mp3 you can really use anything, probably even windows sound recorder (though I can’t say I have tried).
If you want to do a kind of mixture of both, then you could do worse than downloading either the Rode Reporter app or Griffin iTalk which are both free and will allow you to transfer a sound file to your computer once you have recorded it and edit it in Audacity or your editing software of choice.
Where should I host it?
Well, again, you have many options and I’ll cover a couple here as in reality your options are nearly limitless depending on your technical skills.
Anchor, if you are using Anchor, then you can simply press upload and it takes care of it for you, which is super nice, if you are doing it from your phone and your phone alone, this is a real bonus as, whilst you ‘could’ mess around with ftp and stuff on your device, you’d probably add transferring it to your pc which is just another stage of effort that could be avoided.
If you are not using a service to host your podcast, you can do it yourself, which is what I do with the ‘Not Average’ podcast, it’s hosted on the very server that is hosting this site that you are reading now. After I record and export the podcast, I have to upload the file using cyberduck to my server and do some jiggery pokery to get the RSS feed for the podcast to be right. Now, when I say do some jiggery pokery, that’s not really true, this site is made using WordPress, pretty well the biggest CMS going and by virtue of that, home of some excellent plugins. I use a plugin called PowerPress, it has been around for… well, ages, I used it back in 2009 when me and my workmate first dabbled in the podcasting game and am using it now, pretty well unchanged. I simply take the location of the file, add it to the bottom of my wordpress post into the PowerPress plugin section at the bottom and it does the hard stuff for me. I believe if you pay for the BluBrry (the people who make Power Press) premium service, that you can upload your episode directly though WordPress, which, thinking about it, I am almost entierly convinced you could do just using the ‘Media’ tab and using that link… anyway… I think I just blew my own mind as to how that could be done there… my files are ~60mb each so I am ok still using SFTP, but I guess you ‘could’ do it without. In this isntance, your podcast will be hosted on your server, so make sure its up to the job, if your server has no space or is horiffically slow, then you might want to look at alternatives. Once you have that sorted out you want to get your podcast onto some services!
How to get your podcast published?
So now you have recorded your amazing podcast and got it hosted, you’re done right? Wrong! Nobody is just going to randomly find your mp3 file hosted in the ether, that’s madness, you need to get the fruit of your hard work onto some platforms, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Play Podcasts, there are many more too, if you are making a podcast, maybe you are listening to podcasts, if so, wherever you listen to your podcasts, that too is somewhere you might want to add yours!
If you are using Anchor, again, this is super easy, you can just go to the distribution tab and it takes care of it all for you, to many different platforms, without you so much as having to do anything, this is really nice because each platform can have its own little ways of doing things and this just really saves time getting your podcast out there!
If you are hosting your podcast yourself using PowerPress or some other method, you will need to get your RSS feed and add that to whatever services you want to add it too, so in my case, I have added ‘Not Average‘ to Apple Podcasts and Spotify, the PowerPress plugin gives you pretty thorough instructions about how to get your podcast on Apple Podcasts, but they seem to want to charge for doing Spotify, no problem, there is nothing stopping you from taking your PowerPress generated RSS feed (this is basically the text feed that describes your podcast and its location to the service) and adding it to whatever service you want. That being said, I tried to add my podcast to Acast and it said the RSS was invalid but gave no further information, which seemed strange being as both Apple and Spotify worked fine with it.
One thing that is worth considering that I think can be easily overlooked is the artwork that you are going to use for your podcast, its pretty easy to have a scout about at the top ten podcasts in various niches and have a look at their artwork and take some inspiration from them, its like ebooks though, if your cover art is terrible, then people are probably going to skip it, so if you can’t put together an image for your cover art, find someone who can do it for you – if you have some money you want to invest in a cover image, ping me a tweet and we can talk :).
Promoting your Podcast
So, you’re done right? You’re on your road to influencer nirvana and before long lucrative advertising deals will be winging their way to you for a feature on your podcast? Umm, no. Whilst you have massively increased your chances of being discovered by getting yourself onto these services, its fair to say that you will need to direct relevant listeners to your content. A key word here is relevant. Whilst I 100% recommend that in your early days you try and get some feedback and listens from friends and family through maybe posting your podcast on facebook, you have to remember, that you are doing this podcast for YOUR audience, not just any tom dick or harry (or Auntie Maureen) who wants to listen, if their feedback is ‘Yo, the sound quality is TERRIBLE’ then, yeah, maybe listen to them, but if its about your content topic etc, maybe consider ‘are these people really who I am trying to reach’ and treat feedback appropriately. So, once you have something that you want people to listen to, I would recommend getting it out there, find relevant hashtags on twitter, and post links to your podcast hashtagged appropriately, join facebook/linkedin groups that are relevant and drop a link, maybe even a subreddit. So long as you are not really annoying and spammy and are relevant to the communities that you post in, you can actually get quite a bit of traction in this manner, and if not, people may well give you more relevant feedback that will allow you to make your next episode more valuable to the community to which you are trying to reach.
Like everything though, success and recognition are unlikley to come over night and even then, your success is likely to be a direct relation to how much work you put in, in terms of both the product, in this case your podcast, and your efforts at promoting it.
With all that said, it can just be nice to have an outlet and get some conversation going, or just to document your thoughts, I know that from my original podcast its hilarious listening back to them, hearing how certain we were that the iPad was going to be an absolute flop etc, so I think the main thing is to have fun, if you’re not having fun making a podcast, then I find it very unlikely that anyone will have fun listening to you, and I mean that even if you are intending to make a podcast to promote your business or services etc, nobody is going to enjoy listening to a joyless advertisement, but a conversation that they can relate to that just so happens to revolve around a product or service can be enjoyable and promote equally.
Have a go, see how you get on, the cost is pretty low in both cash terms and time terms.
If you make a podcast after reading this, send me a link on twitter @charlesgreig and I’ll give it a listen, like wise, if you want to hear one of my podcasts, I’ll put the links below.
Spotify : https://open.spotify.com/show/1z526fjjXqvB2xce7UP3rT
Apple Podcasts : https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/not-average/id1441956815
A really long video I made showing setting up PowerPress in WordPress :