Digital Skills Training: How To Start A Podcast
Guest Blogger, Ankita Narayan: “Ankita is an English Literature Postgraduate whose passion for stories propelled her to start writing her blog and later, host her own podcast: (featured as one of iTunes’ New and Noteworthy podcasts in 2017); and in three years of blogging, worked as a Google Create India Partner. Her podcast interviews real life heroes, sharing stories of how they got to where they are today, and Ankita has made appearances on BBC Asian Network, Awaz FM, Deccan Chronicle and Islam Channel. It’s her love for stories that has shaped her career so far, which continues with the Google Digital Garage.”
The most important thing for how to start a podcast is to an idea of what you want to share with your listeners and having the commitment to release content at a regular cadence. Assuming that this is already in place, here’s how you can execute your idea:
Considering your audience will spend most of their time with you listening to your voice, it’s important that you ensure it’s a pleasant experience. For that, I’d recommend investing in a good quality microphone. I personally started with the Blue Yeti Pro, my co-host started with Blue Snowball and we’d both happily recommend either for simple podcasting work. Obviously, there are a lot more great microphones out there, but you’re better off getting a USB microphone like the Blue Snowball or Samson Meteor as it’s easier to get started with. Using USB microphones are as easy as plugging them into your PC/Mac’s USB port. They don’t need special drivers and should be automatically recognised as recording devices.
Recording the source audio for a one-person podcast should be fairly straightforward. Connect your microphone to your machine, open up your favourite audio editing software, and just start recording. It gets a bit trickier as more people get added into the mix – the usual way is to connect everyone via voice calling software (like Skype) and have one person record all the audio. But this approach can cause audio quality issues as one person could be on a different continent with bad internet – meaning poor audio quality and random audio delays. This is why for my podcast, I get everyone to record their own audio themselves into high-quality uncompressed formats (like WAV), which means that I have high-quality audio recordings for each person on the podcast. You shouldn’t expect guests on the podcast to always have great microphones and special audio recording software, but at the very least, if they use headphones and the default recording software available on Mac/Windows you should be able to get a decent audio recording from them.
If you’re just getting started out, I recommend using Audacity software for all your audio editing needs. Audacity is a free and open source project that has a huge online community generating plenty of video tutorials. So, it should be easy to learn how to use the software to edit your podcast. Right now, I have someone helping me with the editing, and he uses Adobe Audition.
If your podcast is just you, it should be pretty straightforward to record directly into your audio editing software, clean up the audio, make your voice have a similar volume throughout the episode, and add music intros and outros. If there are more people in your episode, you’ll have to align the speech in the audio source tracks before you get started and ensure that everyone has the same volume. A little trick I picked up to make this easy is to get everyone to clap at the same time after a countdown after recordings have started. It both helps you align the speech easily and acts as a nice little icebreaker.
Now that you have an episode ready, you need to be able to host it somewhere that your listeners can access it. There are a lot of solutions out there that let you do this like SoundCloud, PodBean, and FireSide. I started with SoundCloud because it begins with a straightforward but limited FREE plan. Today, I use a service called AudioBoom that also adds dynamic advertising to my podcast. You can always directly host on the cloud (like using a combination of S3, CloudFront, and a custom domain name) and auto-generate your podcast RSS feed and website, which would be the cheapest option, albeit being very manual and technical.
Once you’ve hosted your podcast and have an RSS feed URL for your first podcast episode, you need to get your podcast listed in a public podcast directory. At the minimum, you need to get it registered in iTunes, but ideally also in other popular directories.
And, that’s some digital skills training on how to start a podcast … happy podcasting!