The first question I am always asked by people when I tell them what I do is “What’s a podcast?” The second most common question I get is “How do I make my own?” Up until this point my go to answer has been a five minute sermon on how easy it is and that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to do it either. Inevitably though I always miss something out so I thought it was about time I put it all down on paper. Well, internet paper anyway.
I made my first podcast in 2006 as part of a project at university. Back then most UK podcasts were simple listen again versions of popular radio shows with the music removed. Radio 1’s Chris Moyles Breakfast Show was one I listened to regularly and is still available today, albeit in it’s new guise of the Radio X breakfast show. My project was to repeat this idea with shows from the university’s student radio station, mostly my own.
Since then I have evolved the way I produce podcasts and having been involved with around five different regular shows since 2018, people now think I know what I’m talking about. Which I like to think as well as it happens.
Before I get into the equipment and all the important stuff, it’s best to know that this is just my way of making a podcast and that there are probably multiple blog posts out there that will tell you differently. They aren’t any more right or wrong than mine, they’re just different ways of doing the same thing.
Of course I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out the other way of creating your podcast which is to have me do it for you! Just send me a message through my contact page.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE A PODCAST?
There are many reasons why you should have a podcast (I outline some of them in this blog post) but you need to have an idea of what it will be about.
Once you have your topic you need to decide on your format. How do you want your podcast to sound? Does an interview fit? Or maybe a double headed conversation with regular hosts? How about a solo show where you make an audio version of your blog?
Deciding how you will approach your subject is also worth considering. It could be a news bulletin outlining everything that’s happened that week. Would a more in-depth documentary, focusing on one topic in detail be more appropriate?
Whatever you decide, don’t worry about it too much as you can always change it but do think about how you’d feel if your favourite podcast changed it’s concept.
That’s right! You don’t need a really expensive, gold plated microphone endorsed by Beyoncé to make your podcast. What you do need is a high quality microphone that can plug straight into your computer or laptop. Something like the Blue Yeti or, if you can afford a bit extra, the Røde Podcaster. I started out by using a Yeti and it hasn’t failed me once, plus it comes with a stand at no extra cost.
On top of the mic, I do advise you get a pop shield and/or filter. This will just help to make your voice sound nice and soft, without making anyone’s ears bleed. We wouldn’t want that now.
If you are planning on recording with someone else in the same room as you, you’ll want something like a Zoom H4n or H6 digital recorder. Whilst these are expensive, they are well worth the money if you can afford it. Both the H4n and the H6 allow you to plug in multiple (at least 2) external microphones or use the built in mic and point it at the person who is speaking.
If you’re not planning on being in the same room as your guest or co-host then you’ll need….
Another frequent question I get asked is how I record my guests. A lot of them are based in other parts of the world to me and if it wasn’t for Zencastr I’d be racking up a huge phone bill, probably. It’s a lot like Skype but specifically designed for podcasting and allows you to make a phone call and record the conversation.
The reason I use Zencastr above all the other options that are available is that it is free and incredibly simple to use. Just make sure your guest is using Chrome or Firefox as their internet browser and press record.
Once you have finished your conversation, press the record button again and both your’s and your guest’s side of the recording will upload to the website and your Dropbox account. You’ve now got yourself your recording and a backup, how about that?
Top Tip #1: I always recommend that you record your conversation through your editing software as well. Ask your guest to do the same at their end too so you have a backup for your backup. You might not ever need it but the one day you do will be the day you didn’t do it.
Top Tip #2: Make sure your USB mic is selected as the audio input in Zencastr’s settings, not your in-built laptop mic. Ewww those things can be rough!
My personal recommendation here goes to Adobe Audition. It’s a premium software that I first learned to use back in 2003 when it was called Cool Edit Pro. At £20 a month it is more than you really need but I love it and I can’t use anything else. I’m still not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing?
Don’t worry though, there are free alternatives, I have just never used them. First up is Audacity. If all you need is to remove your ummm’s and errrr’s, add some music and turn it all into one .mp3 file, Audacity is a podcaster’s dream. If you have a Mac, GarageBand is usually pre-installed and does exactly the same job.
For both programmes, if you find yourself needing more than just the audio version of cut and paste, you’ll need to buy plug-ins. There are always sales on for these additional pieces of software so my advice is to never pay full price for them.
Top Tip: New to audio editing? Check out Mike Russell’s YouTube channel. I’ve been using Audition for over 15 years and I’m still learning lots from this man!
Once you have your first episode recorded and edited you’ll need somewhere to put it. A podcast host is a website that gives your podcast a home. I use audioBoom but there are many, many different options out there, from paid to free.
Whatever one you choose, they all allow you to upload your audio podcast, create an RSS feed and then distribute it to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and all other podcast platforms.
Now where have I heard that sentence before?
Again, each site has it’s own way of doing this and will walk you through it so don’t panic!
What does a podcast sound like if there is no one there to hear it?
You probably already have one. Your clients? An e-mail list? Your Grandparents? Whoever it is, you need to know who they are. Not anything that will get you into trouble with the GDPR police of course, but if you make your podcast all about cooking meat whilst your audience are vegans, it’s not going to work very well.
I wrote a post about making engaging podcast content where I talk about a made-up podcast that tells the funny stories of divorce. Think about what will entertain your audience and how your podcast can engage with them. Once you’ve got that down, you’re onto a winner.
Oops! Maybe this should have been a little higher up the list. Not to worry, I know many podcasts that started out being called Project X or My Podcast before it’s name was finally decided upon.
Whatever you choose make sure it’s not already taken. Do a search through the podcasts section of iTunes for your chosen name. Then do the same on Google. The last thing you want is to have to compete with another podcast with the same name. Also make sure all the social channels are available.
Got your name? Good. Now you need your artwork. This is the picture that will appear in the podcasting directories like Spotify and Apple Podcasts. You want it to stand out from the crowd as well as being clear when shrunk down to the size you see when you open up your phone’s podcast app.
For iTunes you need 3000x3000 pixels, 72dpi, JPEG or PNG.
You can make your own through a website like Canva or do what I did and pay a designer to do it for you.
Top Tip: Make individual artwork for your podcast’s individual episodes. This will help you to stand out from the crowd.
Some podcast hosts like PodBean and SimpleCast provide these as part of their package but you may already have a website that you can add your podcast to. The important thing is that your podcast has a home. Somewhere that you can direct people to for more information on your guests, episode topic and even you.
Having a website will also make your podcast appear in more places on the internet. Adding a blog post to the website for each podcast episode will mean Google will pick it up from the website as well as the podcast directories. Great news if you’re wanting to build a bigger audience.
There are some fantastic website building websites out there like Wix and Squarespace. Have a look around and see what works best for you.
Top Tip #1: Want a promo code for that website building site? Listen to (pretty much) any podcast or watch any YouTube video.
Top Tip #2: Can’t afford a website yet? Make a Facebook Page.
A PROMOTION CAMPAIGN
Making your podcast is the easy bit. Getting people to listen is where the real work begins.
Share your podcast through your social channels as well as the ones you have created specifically for your podcast. Ask your friends, peers and colleagues to share it too. Often they’ll be your first listeners anyway so you may as well get them to help you promote it.
Join online communities and groups that are about the same topic as your podcast and ask the owners or admin if you can post a link to your episodes. Checking the group’s rules will often tell you if you can’t.
Repurpose your podcast content by turning your episode into a blog post for your website or a video for your YouTube channel and make sure you add a call to action to listen to the original. The more places you put your podcast remember, the more places there are for people to find it.
So there you have it. Everything that I think you need to make a podcast.
Of course, if you want help with doing anything then I am here to help. Whether it’s a quick question or you want me to make your podcast with you, just click through to my contact page and send me a message. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!