Learn to Start a Podcast

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The biggest lie in podcasting is that it is easy.

Anybody can podcast.

All it technically takes is the ability to speak into a microphone and upload a file after your finished recording.

It can be as simple as that.

Sure you need to know how to use a computer. You need to learn the basics of some software and equipment. It isn’t rocket science.

But podcasting isn’t easy.

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Table of Contents:

Getting Started:

Pick a topic for your podcast
Find your Avatar for your podcast
You will need a podcast website
You will need media hosting for your podcast
Who will host your podcast RSS Feed
You need to learn audio editing software
Record interviews with skype or zoom
Podcast Gear
MP3 Conversion and ID3 Editor software
Do you need a webcam?
Do you need to set up a home studio space?
Co-Host / Partnership Agreement

Podcast Workflow:

Researching episodes
Podcast production process
Marketing your podcast

First, you need to pick a topic.

Then you need to niche down further.

When you pick your topic you will most likely pick a topic that is too broad.

For example, if you love technology you may decide to do a Tech Show. This topic is too broad and unless you already have a huge following in the niche you will find it difficult to attract an audience.

The general tech niche is being served by the Tech Celebs and the huge technology blogs who have also launched podcasts.

But a tech podcast that focuses only on iPhone productivity apps will stand out to those who are very interested in this specific space. In order to compete, you really do need to niche down.

The riches are in the niches. I don’t remember who said this. But it is true… at least at first. Over time as you build a large audience you can broaden your focus if you feel the need to.
When coming up with your podcast topic consider how you can stand out from the crowd by utilizing a Blue Ocean Strategy. Don’t be another me too podcast that is a carbon copy of an established show.

A Blue Ocean Strategy for your podcast

You need to determine who your ideal listener is.

When identifying who your listener is, the wrong answer is everyone who likes Technology.

You need to identify exactly who you speaking to. Jeremy and Jason from Internet Business Mastery call this process, defining your Avatar. John Lee Dumas, the host of Entrepreneur on Fire, also advocates having a super specific person in mind.

Once you know who your avatar is, you are speaking to him or her directly while recording your show.

Your goal is to meet their needs and it will come through in your voice and in the energy you release when you’re speaking. It will be more natural and comfortable.

You have to set up a website to host your show notes and serve as your show’s “home on the web”.

This is very important.

No matter what else you do with your podcast you will want to have control of your own online real estate. You need to send your listeners back to a website that you control.

Would it have been a good idea to make your Facebook page your main webpage? No.

The bottom line is you will need your own website.

  1. You could set up a free Blogger or WordPress.com account and set it up on your own domain.
  2. You could also use your Media Host (like Blubrry) as your home on the web. But you will have to trust them because if you want to leave they will have to allow you to redirect the feed.
  3. You could also set up your own self-hosted website using WordPress or another CMS.

I recommend WordPress because of the flexibility it offers with plugins and it has podcasting support that is well supported. For example, the PowerPress plugin is a powerful plugin that allows you to manage your podcast effectively.

If you decide to go with a self-hosted WordPress site you will need web hosting. I use and recommend Bluehost, they have great customer service and are competitively priced.

Shared hosting will do when your first starting out but as your site becomes popular you may need to upgrade your hosting package.

>>> Click Here to Get the Podcast Monetization Mind Map <<<

You will need Media Hosting.

Your podcast files are syndicated over the web. This means that people will be playing them from iTunes, the iOS Podcast App and dozens of other sources.

Because they can be played from anywhere your website hosting company probably doesn’t want you using their service to host your podcast media files.

Read >> Do you really need podcast media hosting?

If you do upload your podcast media files to your web host you might get away with it for a while but as your show gets more downloads it will affect the speed of your site.

You may even get your account suspended and get the eviction notice! 😉

You can use Archive.org, Libsyn, Blubrry, SoundCloud and many others.

You must decide who is going to host your RSS Feed?

The RSS Feed is the magic technology that makes podcasting possible.

An RSS Feed allows your podcast episodes to be pushed to subscribers as soon as you publish your show… automatically!

It allows listeners to subscribe to a show once and get the content delivered to them instead of them having to remember to come to your URL.

One of the most important decisions you make when starting your podcast is… Who controls your RSS Feed? If it isn’t you then don’t use that service.

The bottom line is this: 

If a company owns your RSS Feed and you leave you will lose your audience if you can’t get a permanently re-direct.

Now… you may be able to get them back over time but it is a major hassle.

Treat your RSS Feed like gold and be careful who you trust it with.

The safest bet is to control your own RSS Feed by hosting it on your own website.

In the past Podcasters and Bloggers used Feedburner to manage their feed. It was a great service and still has a lot of its functionality intact but as Google has been shutting down many services including Google Reader its days may be numbered.

You will need audio editing software.

There are a lot of options for audio editing software. But no matter which option you choose you will be able to produce a great sounding show.

Audacity and Garage Band are free audio editing software and both work well. I have used both but prefer Audacity as I am more familiar with it and like the interface better.

I am considering switching to Reaper which is not free but is reasonably priced.

This software allows you to record in multi-track and I’ve been experimenting with Voice Meeter which is a very cool virtual mixing board that can output audio in multiple channels. Audacity doesn’t support this out of the box.

Adobe Audition is another audio editing suite and it is considered by many to be the best in class software for podcast audio editing.

You will need Skype and a way to record Skype calls.

If you are recording into a computer without a mixer and you want to interview people you will need to have a way of recording the Skype call. Pamela, Powergramo and Audio Hijack Pro are all able to accomplish this.

You have to be careful about upgrading your Skype to the latest version though. You need to use the older version of Skype for these software tools to work.

I’ve used PowerGramo in the past and it worked well for me. However, I haven’t used it since I purchased a mixing board (years ago) because I can manage all my Skype calls through the mixer.

Voice Meeter will allow you to connect Skype calls and other audio sources and output them to your recording software each in their own tracks. You can even do a mix-minus with Voice Meeter.

There are some drawbacks to recording into software though so keep that in mind.

You may need a mixer depending on your show complexity.

If you are recording multiple people in person and want to bring in more than one person via Skype or Google Hangouts then a mixer is the best choice.

If you want to use XLR microphones you definitely need a mixer or an audio interface. I like the Behringer U Phoria UMC404HD.

Once again, Voice Meeter may be an option as a virtual mixer but I haven’t tested it yet and can’t recommend it at this time.

You may need an audio interface and/or a digital recorder.

If your mixer doesn’t have a built-in USB interface you will need an audio interface to take the audio out of the mixer into your computer (if your recording into software).

If you don’t want to risk recording into software you will need a digital recorder which can also double as a field recorder while at trade shows and events.

You will probably want to use Google Hangouts on Air.

Google Hangouts on Air is a fantastic way to conduct interviews with the bonus of getting a Youtube Video of your conversion as soon as you’re finished.

Of course, you will need a decent microphone or two!

Choosing a microphone is a very personal thing. I won’t go into too much detail here other than to say I prefer Dynamic Microphones for Podcasting.

You can spend as little as $50 for a very good microphone or as much as… well… thousands if you really wanted to.

The Blue Yeti microphone is popular but as a condenser microphone, it isn’t ideal for most home podcast studios.

The ATR2100-USB Microphone is a great starter microphone for podcasters.

Is this the podcast standard microphone?

The Heil PR40 is a more expensive microphone that is popular with podcasters.

And good headphones and possibly a headphone amp.

While recording your podcast you will need to monitor your audio. A good set of headphones is highly recommended. I went through three cheaper headphones (broken headband) before picking up some good quality, heavy duty headphones which have served me well ever since.

A headphone amp is necessary if you want to have all your co-hosts monitoring the audio with their own volume control.

Headphone Amplifier for podcasters

You will need cables and connectors.

You’ll be surprised by how many cables you will have.

If you want to go really professional you may opt for a hardware compressor/limiter/gate.

I use the MDX 4600 but isn’t necessary to record a good show. It does give you a little bit better quality sound if you know how to use it.

>>> Click Here to Get the Podcast Monetization Mind Map <<<

You will need an external hard drive and online backup if you want to keep archives of your files.

You will build up a big back catalog over time and you will have to decide how much you want to save. Just the final MP3’s, the original WAV files, the Audacity (or other) files? These files can be very large.

You will need software that will convert your file to mp3

I won’t go into too much detail here but I will say that there are a few different audio encoders to choose from. You can use iTunes or Audition to convert your files.

Some podcasters don’t recommend that you use Audacity and LAME encoder due to quality issues. Daniel J. Lewis covers this topic very well over at theaudacitytopodcast.com.

Podcasters also need ID3 tagging software.

MP3 Tag for PC and ID3 Editor for Mac. iTunes and other programs can do this too. If you use Blubrry’s hosting service you can tag your MP3’s right from within WordPress as you publish your show.

As a podcaster, you will probably want an audio cart program.

An audio cart program allows you to play audio files at the touch of a button. The files play instantly without any lag time and you can play multiple files at the same time.

These functions are important if you are recording live to hard drive.

You will use the audio cart to play voicemail feedback, sound effects, intro music, outro music, testimonials and more.

If you’re live streaming your show you will need a good webcam.

Do you want to have a live broadcast of your show so people can watch or listen live and comment in a chat room or participate in the show?

We produced the Bunker Project podcast on location in the back of a Pub with a Google Plus Hangout on Air which allowed us to interact with people in real time. We could also bring people into the show if we wanted to.

A good webcam is important for live streaming.

And don’t forget good lighting.

If your recording video lighting is as important as your camera. Possibly more so.

You will need an area in your home to set up your studio.

Even if it is a temporary space that you set up and break down when you record. You will need to think about where is the best place in your home or office to record your show.

You may want to get some audio panels.

Will you need to use audio panels to treat your studio space? We use moving blankets at The Bunker Project to help with the room noise.

You may need to choose a co-host.

Are you going solo or are you going to have a sidekick?

And write up a partnership agreement.

If you are going to have a co-host it is a good idea to have an agreement on what happens if there is money coming in or if there is a disagreement.

You may need to identify interview candidates.

Make a list of all the people you would like to interview. Look at other podcasts and see who is doing interviews. Public Speakers, leaders in your niche, celebrities, other podcasters, and your existing Rolodex is a good place to start.

And you’ll have to pick up the phone and call them…

Once you identify your list of interview candidates you will actually have to call them, leave a message, follow up, book them, reschedule them, etc. It is a lot more work than you might think.

You’ll want to set up separate Social Media accounts for your show.

Do you want your show to have its own Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google + page? Consider carefully… for Social Media Marketing to work you have to work. Do you want more work or can your personal social accounts to the job.

You will have to come up with a marketing plan for your podcast.

How to use pinterest to promote your podcast?

And you haven’t even recorded your first episode yet.

Podcasting isn’t easy.

Now let’s get ready to record our first show.

You need to research your episode topic.

  • Compile some sources and references.
  • Map out the flow of the content.
  • Decide how to transition between segments.
  • How do you want to open the show?
  • How do you want to close the show?
  • Do you have any updates to share?
  • readings?
  • Voicemail feedback. (Speak Pipe is a great tool)
  • Email or Social Media Questions?
  • iTunes or Stitcher Reviews?

Tools that can help:

To research, outline and organize your content OneNote or Evernote are great tools. I use and prefer OneNote but Evernote is awesome too.

For intros and outros check out Music Radio Creative and Intro Machine.

For voicemail, feedback Speak Pipe is a great service that makes it easy for your listeners to leave you feedback.

HootSuite is a great Social Media tool that helps to organize your Social Accounts.

My Podcast Reviews will send your iTunes and Stitcher reviews so you don’t have to go looking for them.

Once the show is recorded you’ll need to edit it.

You will use your audio editing software that you selected but may not realize that it will take you a couple of hours to edit a 40-minute show. Depending on how polished you want your show to sound. You’ll be sitting at your computer for a while.

Then you may want to run some audio processing.

Once your show is edited you can run it through some audio processing in order to improve the quality of the finished product.

Then you’ll need to convert the file to MP3

This doesn’t take long but it is another step in the workflow and it can be tedious.

Then you’ll tag your files with the ID3 Tag software of your choice.

You will use your ID3 Tagging software to attach the proper information to your audio file. You will put the Show Name, episode number, episode title, Episode Specific Album Art and more. If you skip this step you won’t look as professional as you should.

Now you’ll need to upload it to your Media Hosting company.

Again, this is easy stuff but it is time consuming and tedious work.

>>> Click Here to Get the Podcast Monetization Mind Map <<<

Next… take the episode file link and enclose it in your RSS feed.

I used to use custom fields and to place the direct download link from Libsyn in the enclosure field. It worked well but there are several advantages to using Blubrry’s Power Press plugin.

Now your show is live.

Yippee… test your show to make sure it plays and sounds normal.

Now you need to promote the episode.

And promotion is another workflow entirely…

There is a good reason why the average podcaster podfades after just 7 episodes.

What is Podfading?

Podcasting is not easy.

But it is true that anyone can podcast.

Once you’ve mastered all these steps it is easy to run through them. And if your podcast is profitable or if it is tied to a business you can outsource almost all of this work.

Podcasting is technically easy once you’ve mastered the hardware and software and have practiced the art of producing a show. Despite all the blood, sweat and tears that goes into what we do, at the end of the day it is worth it.

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Andrew McGivern
Andrew McGivern

Andrew McGivern is a podcaster, blogger and mobile tech guy. Father of three awesome little ones. Interested in Social Media Marketing, New Media and Podcasting, Technology, Natural Health and Green Energy.

Add your thoughts

    12 replies to "The Biggest Lie in Podcasting"

    • John Lee Dumas

      Epic Post! Really enjoyed 🙂

      • Andrew McGivern

        Thanks John, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • BrandonUttley

      I agree–anyone who says podcasting is easy is a liar! I talk about many of the challenges in my new book coming out in December, Pod Castaway. Thanks for the great tips in this article.

      • Andrew McGivern

        Thanks for the comment Brandon. Podcasting, like any worthwhile activity is hard work. Congrats on your new book. I love the name!

    • geeknews

      Thank you for your look at PowerPress for folks starting out be sure to use Simple mode to setup. Once your ready to start podcasting you can post – upload – publish from within PowerPress to Blubrry Podcast Hosting.

      You can check out the hosting at Blubrry.com,
      podcasters can try us for a month for free by using the promo code

      Thanks for the write up

      • Andrew McGivern

        Thanks for the comment and the promo code Todd!

        I like what Blubrry is doing with the Android one touch subscribe and the long tail podcasting feature allowing podcasters to change their intro and outro message on old shows without extra storage fees.

        Blubrry is doing some cool things in the podcast space.

      • Kimberly

        PowerPress is awesome! We use it for all of our podcast clients 🙂

    • Michelle Whelan

      we fell into the trap of podcasting… oh that’s easy…. well no…. we found it hard to get started, we did months of research on equipment, web sites, host, and our name, oh and what we wanted to do. we run a film critic podcast… and its broad, but after months of months of trial and error, we did finally found our niche. This was a good article to read, and as I was reading I was ticking off the boxes of we fell into that trap and this trap.
      But then again if podcasting was so easy, it would be like Vine!

      • Andrew McGivern

        Thanks for the comment Michelle! I guess the old saying is true… anything worth doing isn’t easy! And I’m glad podcasting isn’t like Vine!

    • Serena Travis

      It’s lies! All lies!! Ha, ha – good article – starting a podcast is NOT to be taken lightly. There are many more things to consider than simply having a good microphone and a catchy name. Thank you!

      • Andrew McGivern

        Thanks Serena! It looks like you’ve got some cool podcasts – all with catchy names!

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