Podcasting, huh? Someone said to you that you have a great voice and you should be behind a microphone, so what now? Well, Podcasting is a great option for you. With this medium, you have the opportunity to share your thoughts to the world with minimal upfront cost.
One of the main reasons that I’m writing this is because I still feel like I started 2 years too late but “I started”. Even now, as things get more refined in New Media, you may arguably have more tools at your disposal than I did. My goal at the end of this is to save you time and maybe some money.
I would have never purchased so many microphones to get to the one that I use now – ATR2100. It would have been nice If someone shared with me that this microphone is really all I needed then and even 340+ episodes later. Why? Because the ATR2100 is a USB and XLR microphone, it grows with you, handles sound well and is durable. The problem was that I was very arrogant (working on that), thought I knew everything and bought other microphones including the Blue Snowball. Now, the talent isn’t on the microphone but the mic will give you good audio in so when you’re doing your post production you have a cleaner sound to work with. Also, having a more expensive microphone doesn’t make you a better podcaster, It just means you spent more and you really didn’t have to.
So now that you have your microphone, what software should you use to record? Audacity is great. It is a solid multi-track audio software. When I started out in 2009, I used the turnkey solution called BlogTalkRadio. The audio quality then was bad. I know that they are making strides to make it better. The challenge with this was that my brand was overshadowed by their branding and marketing tools. They did everything for me (sounds good) but when I got ready to leave their services to be more independent, I lost most of the listeners and I couldn’t move my RSS feed to another platform. The lesson there is to make sure you’re using a service (libsyn or blubrry) that won’t highjack your feed.
While we’re on Audacity, let’s talk about editing. Editing to me is the student who is striving to master calligraphy. There is a fluidity to it. Those who have a better understanding of it because of diligence can tell you where you need improvement. Some leave the ‘ums’ and ‘you knows’ in the final edit. Others remove them. Some leave the breath before the words while others remove them. What you decide to leave in and remove will come with time as you begin to define your voice.
Nowadays, I keep some of the ‘ums’ and ‘you knows’ in and even some of the breaths. Why? Its speaks of keeping the human portion in the production – we’re not robots. I will edit for fluidity and context. Sometimes I’ll even say ‘I’m leaving that in the pod’ to remind myself that I’m leaving this bit of audio in there. Whether you draw, paint or craft, you are the creator with an awesome canvas which will inevitably reach many ears.
Let’s touch on show format, this is mine:
Music – Intro – Content – Outro – Music
Within that format, if I have ads I’ll pre-record them and insert them where I deem appropriate for the flow of that episode. Currently, I have Audible, Bluehost, ProXPN and Blue Apron as affiliates. So, depending on the length of the episodes, I do in-line ads. In-line ads (my definition) are ads that are placed in the show without any bumpers. Bumpers typically are sounds that introduce the next segment or thing. Affiliates give your listeners the opportunity to support your show while you are promoting the things that can benefit them. Affiliates do not make you a better podcaster, nor does it may your show better, it may just mean that you had enough clout (or numbers) for the company to approve your request to partner with them.
The Show is a Tech, Gaming and Entertainment podcast so when it comes to music, It’s usually inspired by one of the topics from that episode. I look for the stuff that says ‘download’ on Soundcloud or free gaming music so I don’t have any legal matters later on. These tunes are on-brand for me. Find what is on-brand for you and run with it.
Intro music should be 15-35 seconds or less. You should be introducing or saying something within 8 seconds while keeping the music level steady and fading out by the 20-30 second mark. You don’t have to do it this way but this format has its rewards later as you grow. For the outro, I’d fade in the music when you give your outro cue and fade out the music completely after you bid farewell. Don’t let your music run if your content it was done. If your content ends at forty minutes, you shouldn’t have an extra 3 minutes of music. But you want 3 minutes of music? Hey, up to you.
Export your project as a .wav file (uncooked steak). Run it through a little program called levelator. This program brings all of your levels to par so your listener doesn’t have to turn their volume all the way up to hear your masterpiece. If I have to keep doing that for any pod, I unsubscribe. I’ll give them at least 2-3 episodes though. Let’s say your file is called im-new-here.wav, after running it through levelator (which only accepts .wav) it will give you a file called im-new-here.output.wav (uncooked steak).
You then take im-new-here.output.wav and save it as a 64kbps Mono MP3 file (cooked steak). If you have lots of music, you export it as a 96kbps Mono MP3 file (cooked steak). Things I wish I knew when I started. Speech doesn’t need that much kbps if your original audio is pristine (thanks, ATR2100). After getting your MP3 file, tag your audio file. Tagging is an identifying mark when your audio is downloaded on a player that cannot do Itunes or Google Play but can still read MP3s with tags – rare but it still happens.
Let’s run some numbers and this assumes that you have a PC already:
ATR2100 – $40-75 (goes on sale, could catch it at $40)
Audacity – Free
Content Research – Your Time (categorize with Feedly)
On-Brand Music – Free (most artists just want the mention)
Intro – Free (If you’re doing it)
Outro – Free (If you’re doing it)
Levelator – Free
Audio Hosting – $7-20/per month depending on the host.
Hope this helps. I don’t have all the answers but I’m willing to share my experiences. If you have any questions or comments, hit me up at [email protected].