So You Want To Start A Podcast

I get asked a lot about the best approach to start a podcast and I love that people are continually getting interested in this relativity new medium. So I decided to do a series on the what, why and how of getting your show going. Feel free to ask me anything on Twitter that you think isn’t covered here.
How?

The how part of is probably the easiest part of this process. The audience wants good audio quality, you can get away with somethings but if you don’t sound professional it’s a big turn off. The good news is technology has caught up and for you and your co-hosts this is very attainable.

Recording Software

For my Mac users, there is nothing more you need other than GarageBand I think it’s perfect for podcasts. Unlike music projects where using Logic or Pro Tools wins out every time it’s not necessary for a podcast, unless your goal is to have really intricate audio cuts in between what your are discussing (i.e Radiolab). For my PC users, Audacity is free and easy to use recording software and along with GarageBand has tons of ‘How To’ videos on YouTube to give you the basics.If there is something out there that you prefer over these two choices, that’s totally fine. If you want to spend the money on Adobe Audition (which is a radio industry standard) or Cool Edit Pro there are some benefits to editing through those platforms. But when it comes down to it, the hardware will always make the biggest difference.

Microphones

Besides the concept and format of your podcast, the microphone is the most important piece of equipment you are going to buy. I personally have a 14 channel mixing board where I run my Blue Mouse microphone through. Do you need a setup like this? Absolutely not. USB mics are perfect for podcasts and these are some of my top choices for around or under $100. Everything below is plug and play, no setup and nothing to download.

  1. Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone $60-$65 (Silver or Black)

    Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 3.25.18 PM.pngFor the price point and quality, I really do think this has the best bang for your buck. I currently use these for BGN Radio and I couldn’t be happier. Everyone has very nice clear tone when speaking through the Meteor and I haven’t experience any kind of crackling even when someone’s levels are too high. The only draw backs to this is that it’s not adjustable so you are pretty much stuck with having to stack books if you need to this to be a little higher. I would also say there is a bit of a muffled low end with the Meteor, something I had to adjust with the equalizers when editing in post. It’s a pretty easy fix though and after a few adjustments you can save that audio template for future recordings.

  2. Blue Yeti USB Microphone $100-$120 (Silver or Black)Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 3.38.23 PM.png

    This is the Cadillac of USB mics for me. It sits perfectly on your desktop and although you can’t adjust the height of it either, it has great horizontal movement that feels like a mic stand. We also use these for BGN Radio and it has been the best investment so far. Everything is crystal clear, forget all of the other USB condenser microphones you are looking at and buy this immediately if it’s in your price range.

  3. CAD U37 USB Condenser Mic $35-$40

    Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 3.49.39 PM.pngThe U37 were some of the first microphones we used and for the price point these are perfect if you are a tight budget. There are some obvious limitations to the sound you can get out of them. If you or one of your co-hostsare going over the peak volume, it is ear piercingly noticeable. The other problem with these is that at some point during our recordings it would give someone at robot voice after about 45 mins or so. It doesn’t happen every time, but it was pretty frequent. It is however a very quick fix as you will just unplug the mic from the computer and replug it back in. Very rarely did it keep happening more than once in during one recording session

        

  4. Samson Go Mic $35-$45Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 4.02.45 PM.png

    This is a pretty interesting one. I would actually recommend this if you are doing a lot of in person interviews, going to see bands etc. Much like the CAD it has it’s limits but it’s also good as a stationary mic. It’s the size of a digital camera so you can take it with you anywhere, which is great. The Go Mic is pretty sensitive and has some of the same peak issues as the CAD but it’s a little more forgivable.

 

Recording Over Skype & Skype Recorders

 

If you are lucky enough to be within walking or driving distance of another co-host, you can skip right by this part and head on down to some more info. I would just add that if this is your situation, go get yourself a USB hub. Most computers won’t allow you to record with multiple USB mics in different ports, this is the best way around it.

If you are like me and all of your co-hosts are all spread out, Skype is your best friend. There is a couple of different things you can do to get the best recording possible. My first suggestion is for you and your co-host to use Skype just so you can hear one another and everyone records their voice on their own computer. This is going to give you the best sound possible because everyone is recording directly into their computers and it eliminates any internet gremlins that pop up during a Skype session. I think a lot of people tend to think that this creates a longer process when you are editing, but it makes it so much easier. If you get into a heavy back and forth with your co-host(s) and are talking over one another it allows you to still hear everyone talking. If you are recording your Skype session it really becomes a muddled mess because it’s all recording on one signal. You are more than likely going to have to edit a lot of those parts out (even if it was a great convo) because it’s unusable. When recording with this way, I always recommend everyone do a synced “1,2,3 *clap*” countdown at the beginning of the show. This makes it a lot easier for you when editing the episode so you know when everyone started recording and you can sync up everyone’s audio a lot faster.

Now, if your co-host doesn’t have the greatest computer and can’t run two programs at the same time or they are simply confused on how to use any recording software at all, there are plenty of Skype recording options. For my Mac users Audio Hijack is the absolute best recorder on the market. This not only allows you to record your Skype sessions but anything else that you see on your computer. Need a quick sound effect from YouTube? Did you want to grab something someone said in a press conference? Need a snippet of a song? Audio Hijack does all of that for you. I have been using it for four years and it is a $49 life saver. For my PC users Total Recorder does a lot of the same things that Audio Hijack does and even has some video recording features as well. I would highly recommend this as well for their $36  price point. More importantly whether you are recording through Audio Hijack or Total Recorder for your podcast there a lot of different plug-ins, equalizers, effects and gain switches so you can get the best quality of sound when you are recording.

If you are on a tight budget and just want something for free, Skype has listed a few that they recommend. Although I haven’t personally used them, I am sure most of them are fine for what you need. You won’t be able adjust the levels as you record, so you’ll just have to have your editing fingers ready to rock and roll. And that’s not a bad thing either, you can learn a lot about editing and boosting audio which is important moving forward.

Which every option you choose, I would still recommend that you (assuming you are the main host of the podcast) record directly into your computer along with recording your co-hosts through Skype. You still want to try to achieve the best sound quality especially if you are the main host. There is a little bit of extra work doing it this way since you are have to edit out what the Skype recorder picked up when you were speaking, but the payoff is completely worth it. If you are using Hijack or Total Recorder however, there are options there so your mic doesn’t record during the session and then it becomes very easy to sync up in post.

 

Getting Your Podcast On iTunes

 

You’ve got the next big thing, you’re going to put Bill Simmons and Marc Maron to shame when people hear this masterpiece… So how the hell do you get this podcast out to the masses?!

Do you need a website? Absolutely not. But if you do there is usually a lot of different plug-in widgets where you can create an RSS feed and submit it to iTunes that way. However, in my experience it’s still a big pain in the ass. That’s why I would recommend using:

SoundCloud – Free to $15/month

For a long time SoundCloud was primarily for musicians to share their music until about 3 years ago when they started offering RSS feeds to podcasters. Thank god they did.

The SoundCloud player on it’s own is very embed and blog friendly. Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 8.49.51 AM.png

You can put it anywhere and this is important when distributing your podcast. If you are writer for a blog you can put this at the bottom of every post you write and that will always be a reminder to your audience to listen. If you don’t have a website or blog you write for, SoundCloud integrates so well with Twitter. A little mini-player is displayed for instant listening on their phones and they can continue to interact with their followers, another big plus for me.

The main thing that is important here is that RSS feed which SoundCloud provides for you. After you sign up, you can find this in your settings under the ‘Content’ tab

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.11.23 AM.png

Simply copy the RSS Feed, open up iTunes, go to iTunes Music Store, click Podcasts at the very bottom under ‘Explore’

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.14.55 AM.png

Then in the top right corner, find ‘Submit A Podcast’

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.16.05 AM.png

Enter your Apple ID and it should prompt you to this screen:

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.17.55 AM.png

Paste your RSS feed and hit ‘Submit

Done. You are now on iTunes and ready to make millions of dollars. The only thing that iTunes requires is that the picture you use for your podcast has to be 1400×1400, so if you get an error for some reason this is most likely the case.

There are some other podcast hosting sites that I think are good (and also cheaper) like PodBean and Lysbin but the advantage that SoundCloud has over that it already has a large following, allows great interaction with your audience and has an app that is setup of perfectly for listening on your phone. Anyone that follows you on SoundCloud and has the app on there phone, it will alert them every time you post a track. The other podcast hosts don’t have that and another reason why I think it’s a great investment for the extra $8/month

Now that you are iTunes you are going to have a major following now, right?!! No. The biggest misstep for a lot new podcasters is that they don’t understand iTunes does nothing for you to grow your audience. It’s simply there as a tool of distribution and so is Stitcher (which I also highly recommend uploading your podcast on). That’s why I lean so heavy on SoundCloud, because like I said before you can put that player anywhere. People don’t want click the iTunes link, download it and listen they want to listen to it right away. Give it to them so it’s one click and not a process. If they like it enough they will follow you on the platform they prefer.

Podcasting is all about the audience seeking you out but make sure they know you are there. Don’t be afraid to continue reposting the episode until you feel the material is dead. People see things in 2o minute windows on social media, so although the ‘ICYMI’ posts might be annoying and uncool it gets your stuff out there.

Next week I will get into the what and they why of podcasting to help guide your content, give you guidelines on timing, subject matter and a lot more!

NEVER. STOP. RECORDING.

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