Netcasts, now Podcasts, were adopted as a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcast”. The journey of the name and the medium is quite a fascinating one that we encourage you to read here. There are over 500,000 podcasts listed on iTunes alone. Accounting for fringe podcasts on independent platforms, that number is easily greater than 600,000. This level of availability means there is a real market for audio based content (as has been the case since the invention of Radio) and that is always an appealing prospect for advertisers. Moreover, this market is only growing, despite a drop in advertiser investment. It is on track to surpass $113 Billion in revenues by 2022 alone.
Armed with the knowledge that this media is decidedly a major (and growing) part of digital consumption, more and more people want in on that action. However, starting a podcast can be a touch challenging. That is unless you follow these easy steps to lubricate the stages between ideation and execution. This article talks strictly about the technicalities behind launching a podcast. Getting a topic idea and post consistency is a separate brainstorm that differs from person to person.
In short, the end-result needs to be clear sound with no reverb (echo), distortion, or bumps with no lulls (empty pauses). Whatever you can do to ensure this outcome is your ideal configuration. However, if we’re being specific, we need the following:
- Recording room/environment/station
- Audio recording software
- Web hosting
- RSS Feed
You could use just your phone’s internal mic and record it in a quiet room (ideally one where sound doesn’t echo), put it together through your phone’s built-in voice recorder. Or, you could set up a fully functional radio station for your podcasts. Your highest priority, bar none, is to ascertain that you can convey the subject matter with confidence and keep it entertaining.
1. You need a mic
To the average listener, there is very little difference between an expensive high quality microphone and a mid-priced mic. However, if budget is tight, you can start with any standard microphone that comes built-in to a laptop, mobile phone, or even any headphones you might have lying around. Obviously the quality of of audio might not be optimum, but it will be audible enough to get the message across. It is always advisable to establish a minimum viable product (MVP) and simply ship it (hisses, noises and all). We will run another post on how to improve audio quality in the very near future and some of those tips will help restore some life to these recordings without tacking on a cost.
There does not seem to be an upper limit on the kind of mic you can use, as you would ideally like to hear audio just as clearly as you would someone sitting across the room for you. However, to keep things under control, any mic that can record sound well enough to be heard back on headphones without noise is going to be ample. You don’t have to spend a fortune on these either as any half-way decent mic will get you decent results.
An ideal mic will have the following:
- Condenser – to cushion against heavy breathing, hisses and strong winds (if outside).
- Pop filter – to avoid recording any popping or clicking sounds that naturally come out during speech.
- Cardioid function – ensures that sound only picks up within a certain distance.
- When in doubt, a Blue Yeti is always reliable.
Optional: Try and get a recording arm (or boom) as well a shock mount. This allows you to move the mic around without recording bumping and dragging sounds and the mount will provide additional protection from unwanted shaking.
2. You need sound recording software
Once again, we walk upon the path of clichéd contrivances of your options being limited to an arbitrary point located in the sky, i.e. the sky’s the limit. Your options are either to get something simple like Audacity, Ardour, Garageband (mac exclusive) or something more costly like Adobe Audition or Logic Pro X (macOS exclusive). If you are new to sound production/editing/mixing, you might want to look at some online tutorials, e.g. this one for audacity is quite good, you can find specific tutorials for whichever tool you end up using.
3. You need soundproofing
Some podcasts sound like they have a lot of echo, that’s because they are recorded in environments where there is nothing preventing the sound from bouncing off your walls and going right back into the mic. The recording environment has a direct effect on the quality of the output. Traditional sound recording environments have sound dampening padding (sharp foam wedges on walls) to ensure audio fidelity.
The above photographed setup is an example of how you can create a makeshift portable recording solution that can travel with you, if you are on the go, or can’t risk tampering with your surroundings too much.
For a budget setup you can record in a closet even (excellent sound dampening).Or, if you have a better idea, share it with us in the comments and we’ll feature it in the post.
On the other end of the spectrum; if you are running a podcast that involves environmental sounds, e.g. horror, true-crime, cooking, etc. you might want to consider an environment where you capture the right ambiance, so as to save you effort in the post phase.
4. You need a space to host your podcast online
This is where the process gets a touch difficult. You will either need some IT foundational knowledge about web hosting or someone who knows this. You can also outsource the process to companies like BluBrry who charge a small fee to do it for you.
If you can do it yourself, then read on. We assume that you already have a domain on which you will host your podcast. If not, we highly recommend a .com, you can consult with namecheckr to see if your preferred domain/social media identities are available. Once you’ve registered your domain, you will need to host it somewhere.
Hosting focuses on three things, Speed, Security and Support.
Startup Magazine uses BlueHost, which proves equal parts economical and efficient for us. We recommend a private server as it is going to be fast and efficient. If you need a lot of handholding in this process, then you can expect to be charged for that service, or you can figure it out yourself through some helpful YouTube tutorials.
Once that stage is taken care of, upload your audio to the host and create an RSS feed (here is how).
When you believe you are ready to deploy, go to this link and iTunes will check for your RSS feed’s validity. After validation, you will get an approval ranging anywhere between immediately and 7 days. Your podcast will finally be published.
Now your only job is to create podcasts and spread them around.
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