Full Guide to Starting a Podcast.
Starting a podcast is a great way to get your idea out into the world, it’s a great way to stay motivated in your life, it could even make you a bit of money if you monetize it. Although, it has never been easier to start a podcast, the process can still be a bit arduous and hard to figure out. This guide will go through everything that you need to know about starting your first podcast!
First step in starting a podcast is getting the equipment you’re going to need. You can do all of this on your smartphone, if you’d like, or you can purchase a few things to make your podcast sound much more high quality!
Before you start recording, you’re going to need something to record into, a microphone! There are a lot of different microphones to look at, but generally there are two types of microphones used when recording dialogue. The condenser, and dynamic microphones, the difference between the two are nuanced but there are some general differences when you are thinking about which one to purchase. If this is your first podcast, and you don't have a dedicated space that is sound treated, I would recommend getting a dynamic mic. They are better at rejecting background noise and picking up only what is in front of them.
XLR vs. USB
When deciding which mic to get, make sure you pay attention to whether the cable is XLR or USB. If it is a USB mic, the following section doesn't apply to you. USB mics have an audio interface and a pre-amp built right into it (pretty cool!). XLR mics are generally higher quality because the external audio interface has a better sound card.
The next thing you will need is an audio interface, unless you buy a microphone with a usb cable, which will plug straight into your computer. There are several reasons to buy an audio interface, the main reason being, it has a better sound card, which gives you better audio in the end. There are also plenty of good options for audio interfaces as well. This will take a bit of research, I will link some great options and some great articles.
When purchasing this equipment, make sure to pay attention to the cables that come with the microphone, whether you need a usb or xlr cable, and make sure the audio interface is compatible with the computer that you plan on using.
A pop filter is very important and not very expensive. This is the little screen you see in front of peoples faces at times, or the piece of foam that’s slipped over the microphone. This helps cut down on those pesky popping p’s and hissing s’s. There is no reason not to have this, as it drastically improves the quality of the recording, and isn’t going to cost you too much.
The last necessary piece of equipment you need, is a mic stand, or a mic arm. Once again there are many options, I believe the mic arms that clip to your desk is the best option if you are just getting started. I will link a few options below. When purchasing a mic stand/arm make sure you pay attention to what mount it comes with, some mics won’t fit in some mounts.
After you have all your equipment ready, and your mic plugged in, you’re almost ready to record! There are plenty of ways to record audio, but if you plan on editing it after you are done recording, then the best option for you would be to record straight into a DAW. DAW stands for Digital Audio Workspace, and that’s just a fancy name for your audio editing software. Choosing a DAW is relatively straight forward, for the beginner who doesn’t want to spend any money on a DAW, there is Audacity. Audacity is a great editing software, that has quite a bit of features for being a free program. While you can’t do as much as you can with other softwares, it’s a great option for a totally free program. This decision will ultimately come down to whichever one you feel like choosing, they each have their own, unique advantages and disadvantages.
Now, you are finally ready to record your first podcast episode! Before you record, there are a few good practices to keep in mind.
Always keep notes in front of you, even if it’s just a few scribbles, or bullet points. It’s always better to have something to keep you focused and on course then not. Take this from someone who started out not having anything in front of him. You end up saying a lot more “Um’s” than expected. So before you even get into recording, make sure you have a good idea of what you’re talking about.
Mark As You Record
This step is mostly for people who are going to have a less edited, more natural sounding podcast. People who don’t want to, or don’t have the time to spend the time needed to listen to the entire episode each time you edit. During the recording process, you might need some transitions between segments, or you might mess up and leave some dead air. There are going to be some obvious editing points, and during those points, something that I have found made my life easier, is to hit the hot key that corresponds to the “Marker” in whatever DAW you’re using. This simple step has saved me a lot of time in editing podcasts, especially with transitions.
Now that you are done recording and have the audio on your computer, you are ready to edit the audio. Of course there are unlimited ways to edit audio, but I will go over a few things I do to at the start of every piece of audio I come across. Before I start, an important thing to note is to keep all the original audio files separate from the edited ones, that way you will always have a base to work from if something gets screwed up.
First thing that happens to the audio I edit, is cutting. This is where I go through and cut out all the “Um’s” and “Uh’s”, and just generally make the audio flow the best it can. This is probably the longest part of the process, but it’s very important if you want a clean sounding podcast. There are a few things you can do to speed the process up, I’ve already mentioned marking the audio as you go. You can also speed up the audio by 2x or 3x, enough where you can still clearly hear the words but will be saving double or triple the time.
Next something I do to all audio I come across is a process of EQ, Normalize, Compress, Normalize, or ENCN. When it comes to the first step of Equalizing, it’s just a light EQ I throw over the track I am working with. This is maybe to add a high pass or low pass filter and lightly tweak a few frequencies to help improve the audio. You don’t want to tweak too much, because after you are done with the rest of this process, it’s going to sound totally different. If you are completely unfamiliar with EQ check out this article for a quick overview!
Next is a quick normalize, this is just to get the audio up to the loudest level it can be without peaking.
Then comes the compressor, again this is just a start, although you can be a bit more deliberate with this. I’m not going to go into too many details about these effects because there are a lot of information on how to use this, and this is more of a general guide. After the compressor, comes another normalization, just to get the levels back up to where they need to be.
That’s just a basic start for general dialogue audio. There are plenty of things to do on top of that to make your audio sound as professional as it can, but this will be more of overview of the process.
Now that you have a finished product, that sounds fantastic, you’re ready to upload that thing! Naturally there are a few steps to take care of before we can do that. First you have to start an RSS feed, then you have to find hosting for that feed, that’s what Apple Podcasts pulls the podcast from, don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds. Most hosting companies offer to start an RSS feed for you.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and an RSS Feed is just a feed on the internet, that people can pull media from, whether that be a blog, newsletter, or podcast. It’s a way to host media, where you can notify people periodically that there is something new on there. You can either start your own RSS feed using XML, or have one of these hosting sites start one for you. The latter is a much easier solution, unless you are adept at coding. Using a hosting site such as Lybsyn, Buzzsprout, or Anchor is very easy to use, just fill in the required information and make sure you copy your RSS feed URL and keep that safe, you will need that to submit to Apple, Spotify, and Google.
After you’ve got all the hosting figured out it’s finally time to submit your podcast to the appropriate podcatchers! First you need to find your RSS URL (which you can find in your hosting platform) and depending on your host (Lybsyn, Spreaker, Buzzsprout, etc.) you will need to go to the 'submit' or 'distribution' page, and enter in the RSS Feed URL. It usually takes about 12-24 hours to review your podcast submission, as there are real people that have to go over everything and make sure it looks good.
There you go! That’s everything for you to get started making a podcast, from what equipment to buy, all the way to submitting it to iTunes. I hope this guide has helped you with starting your podcast. If you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.