Podcasting 101

Lots of people want to get their own Podcast going. Having a successful podcast for 2 years now, I can tell you it can be a lot of fun. But it’s only as good as the content you share within it. Podcasts are typically shorter in nature because you have very little time to capture the listener, and they MUST be filled with good content to keep them listening. So breaking up the content into manageable, valuable chunks is a good idea so you can keep them coming back.

So to get a podcast going here are some items to tackle.

Equipment & Software

  1. Software – there is plenty of software out there to record podcasts (click here for some examples). The easy answer (if you have a Mac) is GarageBand. It has all the basics you need to get going.
  2. Microphone – This is much more important than people give credit. You don’t want to skimp on your mic. It will be evident to your listeners. You don’t need to get a “Studio” mic for podcasts (meaning a professional condensor mic). You will do just fine with something along the lines of a Heil PR 40 dynamic mic. This mic and others do very well for podcasting. Be careful of the mics targeted for podcasters that are very inexpensive. You get what you pay for, even though they look like they will do the job nicely (i.e. the “Snowball” USB Mic from Blue).
  3. Interface – You either need USB mics that plug directly into the computer, or you will need an interface that plugs into the computer and your instruments or mics plug into the interface. Unless you are doing very “simple” podcasts, I recommend the interface route because there are times you will want to plug other instruments into the podcast through the interface, although it’s a more expensive route.

Sounds

  1. To spice up your podcast, it helps to keep it lively with different sounds throughout it. Whether they be sound effects, or music to transition topics or whatever. Build in some stuff to mix it up.
  2. You can get large libraries of sounds online that have about any sound you can dream of. A couple of examples are Blastwave FX and Pro Sound Effects (here’s a sample of Blastwave Starter FX).
  3. Do an intro and ending jingle with voiceover. Make it exciting or whatever you need to match the theme of your podcast.

Recording Strategy

When doing a podcast, you can produce it one of 2 ways. First, you can do it “radio talk show” style where you just talk and record, then produce and publish the end result (with minimal extras and editing).
Second, you can take more time and do a section at a time, work in sounds, and put the pieces of the puzzle together so it turns out just as you want. Clearly the quality of this method can be better, but it takes more time as well. The goal of your podcast will help determine which route you take.

With the 2nd method, you should utilize 2 different tracks for each participant, so when you need to make a correction or a re-take, you can pickup where you left off and continue without having to do a lot of “punching” in or out.

Try it out and publish it to get feedback. The key to a good podcast is continual feedback and improvement to keep it fresh.