I started the Strocel.com podcast almost a year and a half ago now, which makes me something of a veteran in the podcasting world. In spite of my tongue-in-cheek post last week about how to mess up a podcast, I’ve actually learned a few things in my time as a podcaster. If you’re wondering how to podcast, or how podcasting works, you’ll want to read on because today I’m sharing some tips and tools to get you started with your own podcast.
How to Podcast
Tip One: Use Skype
Many of us tried Skype a few years ago, found it kind of flaky, and gave up on it. I’m here to tell you that Skype is way better than it used to be. In fact, the sound quality of Skype-to-Skype calls is outstanding. Plus, it’s free, and many people have it. So download it, or update it, and get familiar with it. Plus, you can easily call phones with Skype for a couple of cents a minute, and you can also easily set up audio conference calls.
Tip Two: Skype MP3 Recorder
You’ve got Skype up and running you’re ready to make calls, but you still need a way to record those calls if you actually want a podcast. This is the biggest question I get in terms of how to podcast – what do I record my calls with? I use a free tool called MP3 Skype Recorder. Once someone is on the line and ready to go, I start the recorder and we have our conversation, then I stop it when we’re done the recording and we can have a quick de-brief. This tool is also really handy if I’m interviewing anyone for any other reason, as well, because it allows me to refer back to our conversation later and saves me having to type furiously.
Tip Three: Get a Headset
A headset is going to improve your call quality considerably. Plus, it’s going to allow you to move around without losing audio. I’ve gone through a couple of headsets – my current is this one. It was bought on sale, not after an exhaustive search, but I like it. It’s a USB headset, which is better than the non-USB set I had previously. We went with a gaming headset, because according to my husband the gadget guru, they’re cheaper and offer the same quality. If you can’t afford a headset right away, I recommend at least wearing headphones, which will eliminate any audio feedback on your end.
Tip Four: Get a Podcasting Plugin for your Blog
I use podPress for WordPress to publish podcasts to my blog. This allows me to set up a custom podcast feed (which is important when you’re submitting your podcast to iTunes, which I’ll discuss next), and makes it easy to embed audio files in posts. I’m sure there are other ways to do all of this, but this tool allows me to avoid a lot of the technical nitty-gritty involved in setting up a podcast on my blog, which is why I use it.
Tip Five: Set Yourself up on iTunes
It’s free to list your podcast on iTunes, and that’s the main place people go in search of podcasts, so it’s worth your while to set it up. Apple has detailed online instructions for how to podcast through iTunes. It can be a bit fiddly but once it’s running you don’t need to do anything. Now I just make sure that I set the category correctly on my podcast posts and they automatically show up in iTunes within 24 hours.
Tip Six: Invite Guests
A podcast isn’t much of a podcast if you don’t have someone to talk to. I’m pretty good at filling up time, but who would want to listen to me rattle on for 30 minutes by myself each week? Probably not many people. Spend some time thinking about who you’d like to speak with, and invite them on. Be bold – I’ve been surprised by who has agreed to be on my podcast. Not everyone will say yes, of course, but you need to issue the invitation to find out. I usually say something like, “I think you’re cool, I’d love to chat, if this sounds like your thing let’s set something up.” And I mean it when I say it – my guests are cool!
Tip Seven: Plan Your Podcast
We’ve covered the basics on how to podcast from a technical point of view, but now it’s time to actually record something. There are three tips I use to make things easier. First, I plan my introduction and write out my questions in advance. Sometimes interviewees request questions in advance, but even if they don’t writing them out helps me to stay on track and avoids awkward silences while I try to think about what to ask next. Second, I make sure to ask the interviewee if there’s anything they’d like to highlight, so I don’t miss anything. Third, I try to schedule podcasts for a time when my kids are out, or at least occupied and happy, and I’ve learned not to do more than one in a day for the sake of everyone’s sanity.
Tip Eight: Edit Your Podcast
I’m a dedicated PC user, mostly because I was a programmer for years, and programmers use PCs like artists use Macs. However, when it comes to podcasting, a Mac really is better, and luckily I’m married to someone who owns one. I use Garage Band to edit my podcasts. I don’t do a lot of editing, but I do remove obvious mistakes and add music at the beginning and end. It keeps things reasonably polished without investing too much time and effort.
There you have it – eight of my tips and tricks for how to podcast. Is there anything you want to know that I didn’t cover? Leave me a question and let me know!