From some of the feedback that we've gotten, it sounds like many of you out there might be in the same boat when it comes to podcasting; you want to start one, but have no idea where to start. So, that's my goal for today's post--to show you where + how to start in order to create a basic podcast.
I'm no techie, I don't know much about audio mixing or editing, and I didn't want to spend a ton of money on expensive equipment for this venture that I wasn't sure would work out, so when we decided to start our podcast, I did it in a very simple and affordable way.
Here's how I created Starr Struck Radio (logistically) and some of my favorite resources that I discovered as I plodded through the creation process...
1. Equipment: The very first thing that I did when we decided we wanted to create a podcast was order mics. I did a bunch of research about what affordable mics were the best for podcasting and decided on the Logitech ClearChat Comfort USB Headset. I bought two because both Ben and I needed a pair. [Later, when we had our first guest, I bought the Blue Microphones Snowball USB Mic, which we'll use any time we have more than two people and/or when traveling.]
Something to note here is that I made the decision to only have in-person guests on the show (meaning, no phone or Skype interviews). Many podcasters do long-distance interviews and it's great, but I chose not to for a number of reasons that I won't go into here. If you want to do an interview show, most people go the Skype route and use their computer's internal mic to record the interviewee, but that's something I don't know as much about at this point.
2. Software: Next, I decided what recording and editing software I would use. I have a Mac, so after reading all of the reviews of GarageBand, which comes with a Mac, I decided to go that route. If you don't have a Mac, I would use Audacity for recording and editing. It's free to download and the reviews are great. Oh, and I should note here that I had no prior experience with GarageBand, just figured I would learn as I went.
3. Hosting: Once you start accumulating audio files, you need somewhere to host them--meaning, someplace to store all these large files so that people can download them. Again, after doing lots of research, I decided to go with Libsyn (Liberated Syndication) for this. Libsyn is not free, and although there are lots of free hosting services out there, from everything that I read it seemed like Libsyn was the way to go if you're at all serious about making your podcast a long-term thing. I started with the basic, $5/month plan, but quickly upgraded to the $15/month plan because I needed more space. If you do a shorter podcast, or just 1-2 episodes per month, you can probably get away with the most basic plan.
4. Title + Logo: In order to get your show out into the world, you need a show title and logo. We decided to go with Starr Struck Radio, so that it would stay in line with the branding and bring people back to the blog. However, we played with a bunch of other names and had a lot of fun thinking about what we would call it if we didn't call it SSR. Once we had a title, I created the show logo/artwork in Photoshop. This is one stage where you might need to get some help if you don't have any design software and/or design experience. I recommend paying attention to this aspect of your podcast, as I hear that having eye-catching artwork for your podcast is an important part of being noticed on iTunes. Plus, it makes your podcast look more professional. If you don't have many ideas here, a lot of podcasters just go with a professional pic of themselves and their show title/logo above. Can't go wrong with simple and sophisticated!
5. Music: After we came up with the show details, I decided to pick out our theme music. There are many ways to go about this, but the most important thing is this: You can't just use any old song that you like, as you don't have the rights. You need to use music that is marked as "creative commons" and doesn't require a license to use, or, you have to buy the license, which for most music can be pretty expensive. My fave source for creative commons music is an artist named Josh Woodward, who has a HUGE library of songs that he's created for anyone to download and use for free. He's great. Since I was going to use his song in my podcast that could someday (perhaps) make some money, I decided to be safe and pay for one of his commercially licensed songs, for $20. Totally worth it. There are many other places to find creative commons music (freesounds.org is one of them), and you can also just use a song file provided in GarageBand, if you'd like.
6. Recording: Once I had all of the logistics in place, we decided to record our first episode! Since I was totally new to GarageBand, I had to do a lot of googling to get things set-up to record. Since there were two of us, I had to figure out how to create a "multi-track recording" and get both of our mics set-up as "input devices." I know, it sounds confusing and it was at first, but there are tons of online tutorials and forums that help with this stuff. Here are the best step-by-step guides that I found for recording in GarageBand:
- Recording a Podcast on GarageBand by Donald Sinatra
- Tech-Ease Podcasting Video Tutorials (they have videos on both recording + editing with GarageBand)
- If you're a Lynda.com member, I definitely recommend using their videos (I'm no longer a member, so didn't, but am sure they're amazing!)
8. Uploading + Applying to iTunes and Stitcher: Once I had my very first file, I uploaded it to my Libsyn account (host), added a title and description, and then hit 'publish!' I had to do this in order to apply to iTunes and Stitcher, but I didn't announce that the show existed until it was accepted by iTunes (which took about 2 days). Applying to get your podcast accepted to each of these apps/platforms is very easy, just follow these directions: iTunes | Stitcher.
9. Promote: Once the podcast was accepted to the above platforms, I needed to promote it! After all of this, your podcast needs a home--a place where people go for shownotes, to listen on their computer or device without downloading, and to learn more about you and your guests. You can create a free show website through Libsyn, if you want (here's what my Libsyn page looks like, although I don't use it), but if you already have a blog or website, that's the best way to go. Your host will give you an embed code so that you can insert a player into your blog post or website, which makes this very easy. After I posted our first episode to the blog, I shared that post to social media (multiple times) and let everyone know that it was live! It was very exciting watching the downloads come in ;)
10. Posting Schedule: I wanted our podcast to be as successful as possible, so I decided that we would put out a new episode every week, which is one of the things that I look for in a podcast that I listen to (I want as much content as possible!). I think a regular publishing schedule is important, so recommend deciding how often you can post a new podcast at the beginning, so you can set up expectations. If you want to publish just once per month, that's fine, but make that clear to your audience and let them know when to expect it.
There you have it! As you can see, starting a podcast does take some work up front, but once you've learned the basics and have everything up and running, it's fairly simple to create new episodes on a regular basis. Plus, it's SUPER fun.
Hope you find this helpful. Feel free to post any questions to comments and happy podcasting!
Oh, and look for a new episode of Starr Struck Radio tomorrow ;)