192,000 new podcasts were launched between January and October in 2019. With a similar story to the video possibilities opened up by the likes of YouTube, the low cost of entry and the accessibility of the form has opened up the world of audio production to a great many more people, which is why you may be thinking about starting your own podcast. Before you launch straight into recording, it’s important that you know your niche and target audience, and have a solid plan for the format of your show. Assuming you’ve already prepared and researched your angle, it’s essential to have a technical plan ready if you’re to deliver the best quality audio.
Recording Your Material
You need very little equipment to record a podcast, but be aware that the more limited your setup is, the more limitations you’ll have in terms of sound quality. The minimum you’ll need is a computer with a USB connected microphone and internet access. Your microphone choice will depend on your budget and on the type of material you intend to record. If you aim to do a lot of face-to-face interviews, lapel mics run through a splitter are a good choice, enabling you and your guest to move around freely without needing to worry about microphone positioning. If you use handheld mics and are recording indoors, use microphone stands to keep the mics steady and the sound even. If you’re recording your material outside, the noise of the setting can interfere with your material, so opt for a unidirectional mic like a shotgun mic, which will pick up sound directly from the source while blocking out background noise.
An alternative to recording directly onto your computer is to use a digital recorder like the Zoom H5. This will allow you to save your material directly onto the device, using a memory card for extra recording space. With a set up like this, you can either record directly onto the recorder, or you can plug in external mics, which is advisable if your show is an interview podcast.
Editing The Episodes
Your computer will need software, both for recording and editing. Audacity is a good starting point, as it’s free to download and easy to learn. Many podcasters use Audacity to good effect, and it’s good software to learn on when you’re starting out. If your computer is a Mac, you most likely already have Garageband, which is a good alternative, although it has fewer functions than Audacity. Adobe Audition is often recommended as a more professional piece of editing software, but there’s a lot to learn and it requires a paid subscription. For the easiest editing experience, try Alitu: The Podcast Maker, which is a web app that automates audio cleanup, the addition of music and publishing to your chosen host.
While the best editing software is quite comprehensive, if you’re new to audio production, it’s a good idea to take a course or explore tutorials written by professionals before you begin. Alternatively, you could outsource the production of your podcast to an experienced audio producer, who will be able to sculpt your material into a final piece according to your instructions.
Publishing Your Podcast
Once you have a finished product, you’ll need to sign up to a podcast host in order to reach your audience. These are services that allow you to upload your audio for audiences to download. It’s a common misconception that you can upload a podcast directly to iTunes or Spotify, but this isn’t the case, and you’ll need to submit your show to their directories once you have a host.
Most hosts allow you to have a website on their site, but you can also direct your episodes to your own website. There are a number of hosts available, so be sure to research the fees and guidelines before you sign up. Popular options are Libsyn, Blubrry, Buzzsprout and Captivate. Most audio hosts have guided submission tools, which will help you to submit to directories like Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, enabling your show to reach more people.
While podcasting is very accessible and all you really need to get started is a strong idea and some basic equipment, the more you know, the better your show will be. Make sure you understand your recording and editing tools before you start, and have a host lined up ready to publish your podcast. From there, the world is your oyster.