A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download and listen to. It is often available for subscription so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.
The podcast craze does not seem to be dying down. Probably because everyone can do it easily and become a part of this phenomenon that seems to be growing bigger with time. All one needs for creating a basic podcast is a voice recorder app but for more professional material, this may not be sufficient. The following steps can be followed to create and publish your very own basic podcast and as you proceed in the game, you can slowly improve and learn new things about more professional-sounding podcasts.
The following equipment is a must for starting your own podcast:
- Computer – Of course this one is a must. A good computer will go a long way if you are serious about turning your podcasting dreams into reality. Any Windows computer or Mac will be good enough since podcasts are just audio and do not require a very high powered computer.
- Microphone – Along with a computer, a microphone is another thing you must have in order to realize your podcasting dreams. A basic microphone will work just fine in the beginning. You can move on to a better quality one later on because sound quality does differ. But if you’re new to podcasting, a basic microphone will work just fine. The basic microphone will record an analog audio. To convert this to digital, you will require an audio interface or an XLR recorder. Again, this is completely optional and may be pursued once you’re well into the podcasting arena. For basic users, a basic microphone is all you need.
- Software – An audio editing software is another must. A digital audio workstation or DAW is required and will cost you a little. If you are seriously taking up podcasting, be prepared for a little expenditure in the beginning. But do not go for the expensive software in the beginning. There are DAWs in the market which will not cost you an arm and a leg and are best for beginners.
To get started with podcasting, keep in mind that your time and commitment will make all the difference and that like any work, podcasting requires regularity, focus, and effort. Also keep in mind that initially building your audience will take time, patience and concerted efforts. It may or may not go off well and you should be mentally prepared for that.
The following simple steps are a basic guide to creating your own podcast:
Find a topic your podcast will be about. There are podcasts out there almost about every possible topic and you might feel that there’s nothing interesting left for you. That’s not entirely true. Find a topic for your podcast regardless of what’s already out there. Just pick a topic you feel strongly about and can create a lot of material about. Anything you are passionate about is a great idea, as long as you make it different than what’s already out there. Adding a personal touch to it and your commitment and passion will make all the difference. As long as you can produce something that stands out, the topics are different and interesting, your podcast will go off.
Once you have the computer, the microphone, the software, and have chosen a topic, you need to start recording. Whichever software you use, make sure it is simple and user-friendly as you will be working on it quite often. Also, choose something cheaper in the beginning. Download the software and give it a few test runs, just to get used to it. Whichever software you choose to use, there will be tutorials available on how to use them either on YouTube or may come along the software.
Either way, play around with the software and give it a few test runs just to get going. Record your podcast on the software of your choosing. Adding music is a good idea. It keeps the podcast interesting, makes it sound professional and keeps the audience attentive and prevents them from getting bored. Once recorded and edited, save your work and get ready to publish!
If you think your voice isn’t good enough or doesn’t sound right for a successful podcast, you can play around with the compression and EQ settings on your software in order to make your podcast sound more like radio quality.
Just like creating a blog, a name and cover image is very important especially initially in order to attract an audience and make them check your podcast out. The name and image should stand out, be unusual, something that tempts a person to click and see what it is all about.
Choosing a clear name that does not create any confusion in the minds of the listeners is also important. The name should clearly convey what the podcast is about so that interested audience can easily find and reach it.
An image is equally important because visual impact is more pronounced. The image can both be designed and created by you or you can ask a professional designer to help you out. Either way, by now you must have realized that podcasting is not all fun and games. Serious work and efforts are put into it and successful podcasts require a lot of effort at least in the beginning.
When you are done with the above steps, you need to find a place to host your podcast so that it can be distributed to podcast apps and directories. For beginners, SoundCloud is the best because it offers free hosting. Your podcast hosted on SoundCloud is distributed through RSS feed. Podomatic is another place where you can host. It is also great for beginners and offers free hosting.
There are sites that offer to host for a small sum of money but that is not ideal for beginners. If later on you are serious about podcasting and want to pursue a better hosting site, there are plenty. But initially, it is best to stick to the free ones. Hosts will provide all instructions on how to upload your podcast. The important things mainly are your podcast name, image and the audio file you want to upload. It is best to listen to your audio file once or twice before posting in order to make sure everything sounds right and that you are satisfied with your work.
Once that is done, you can host your podcast on the site you have chosen for the purpose. You should also consider getting listed on iTunes. Although there are plenty of podcast directories, iTunes is the most used and most popular. Therefore, it is important that you get your podcast listed on iTunes.
It is an easy process. Download iTunes and using your RSS feed for your podcast, simply enter your podcast URL into the podcasts option. There is a Submit a Podcast link option there. Simply enter the URL for your podcast and submit it to iTunes. Your podcast should be listed within 24 hours after being reviewed but sometimes it can take longer. Patience is of the essence here as is with the whole podcasting game in general. It requires a lot of patience and perseverance to start, run, and get a steady audience for your podcasts.
It is important that you start a podcast with a clear head. There might be a lot of technical difficulties in the beginning. Your software will require some time before you can ace it. The whole process will require work and not all play as it might seem.
It is best to have a dedicated workstation for recording and working on your podcasts so that when you sit there, you have a feeling that you are there for a reason. Also, having all your equipment ready and in place at all times will keep the stress at bay and will cut down the extra time required for setting everything up every time you are recording.
It is also a good idea to record a few episodes before you publish your podcast. Having some episodes already on hand will make a good first impression on your audience. Being regular is important to grow your audience. It helps make a good reputation for you as a serious and committed podcaster. If you are successful in developing a listener base, you must be regular in order not to disappoint your listeners. Irregularity in posting will eventually not only make your audience lose interest in your podcasts and let your listener base wane, you will lose your credibility as well.
Do not leave your recordings to the last minute. Because as easy and fun as they may sound, podcasts are not all fun and games. Even though it is just audio, it still requires a lot of time and work in recording and then editing your podcast. So, always be regular in recording and publishing your podcasts and have a few episodes ready on the side so that even in the case of not being able to get to work on your next podcast, you will still have something as a backup and keep a steady flow coming.
Lastly, keeping your expectations in check is a good idea for beginners in order to save yourself from any kind of disappointment. Podcasts will not make you rich or earn money over-night. Neither will you become famous and acquire a large audience just like that. All of that requires time and effort. You may make money out of it but only when you grow an audience big enough for advertisers and sponsors to notice you. Unless you have a huge audience, you may not get any offers and you might not make any money out of it.
Same as on Instagram or a blogging site, if you do not have a lot of people interested in the stuff you are publishing, then advertisers and sponsors will not notice you. Even if money is not your aim, gaining a huge audience really depends on what you are publishing, how well you are doing on your chosen topic and how interesting and different it is as compared to the numerous other podcasts out there. If you are successful in really standing out and producing something truly remarkable, gaining an audience will only be a matter of time. Happy podcasting!