Starting a podcast: what I've learned

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Over the past year I've gone from being someone who only listens to Russell Brand podcasts (I'm obsessed, yes we know), to binge-listening a whole series of a podcast in a working day.

So naturally, I wanted in on the action! But me being me, I overthought it and did a lot of research before taking the leap. Why would people want to listen to me, and what could I add to the conversation that would be useful and hadn't been done before?

Then, I just decided to go for it.

In less than a week, I came up with a concept, recorded my first episode and uploaded it, as well as gathering the courage to ask some amazing ladies to be guests on my show.

Here's what I learned:

Make sure you have something to say and make a schedule

Why would you want to create a podcast if you don't have something to say?

The good news is that you almost definitely do have something to say, something that you're passionate about, that you could go on about all day. There are podcasts about every subject under the sun, so don't be afraid to be a bit out-there.

Decide how often you want to upload, and make a little calendar for at least the first few episodes. You don't want to upload once a week for a couple of weeks and then have a month-long break, it's good to be consistent.

I knew that I would feel overwhelmed if I said I'd share a podcast every week indefinitely, so I decided to stop at 10 episodes. This took a lot of the stress away, and allowed me to create a "series" that was in an order that made sense.

I also wrote a skeleton script for the episodes I do on my own. You don't have to do this, but it means you know exactly what you're going to talk about beforehand, and gives you less editing work if you're like me and say "erm" every other word.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

I work with a marketing manager occasionally (part of an EU business help programme) and he gave me the task of asking five people to be on my podcast, because I was freaking out about asking people for their time.

He bet me a cup of coffee that all five people I asked would say yes, and guess what - they did!

They were also quick to offer their help and support in both promoting the podcast and the technical side of things, which has been invaluable and I'm so taken aback and grateful for the help they have given me.

People are nice

As well as the above, my audience have been so generous when it comes to the podcast, sharing it on their social media, suggesting new topics and sending some very kind words my way.

It's scary to put a new project public, but on the whole, people want you to do well.

If you are feeling some self-doubt next time you're about to put that blog post, video or podcast in the public domain, be assured that people follow you because they like you and want to see you do well, and will be excited to get their hands/eyes/ears on a new piece of your content!

It's actually pretty easy!

If I'd known how easy it was to make a podcast, I would have started months ago!

If you're recording on your own or with someone in the same room as you, you literally hit record and start talking. Then afterwards, you can edit it and add music if you want to.

If you're talking to someone via Skype etc. it is a little more complicated as you'll need software to record both yourself and your guest. My friend Holly recommended a programme called eCamm to me to do this. I now use a software called Zencastr, which I'll talk about below.

Upload it to your host of choice, and voila!

You can also submit your podcast to iTunes, which some people have had issues with, but I can honestly say it was a very straightforward, pain-free process for me.

What I use

 

Microphone: Blue Snowball Ice

If you really want to start a podcast, I do recommend investing in a proper microphone, as all the focus is on sound and most people listen to podcasts using headphones, so it is pretty important that the quality is high.

The Blue Snowball Ice sounds like a delicious slush drink but is in fact a really good, reasonably priced microphone. It's super easy to use - you literally plug it in, make sure your computer settings sync up with it and you're ready to go! I got mine quite cheap on eBay..

Recording: Zencastr

Zencastr is a high quality audio recording software. I record both my solo and guest episodes using it.

The guest recording feature is where it really stands out. It's much higher quality than Skype, and you simply send your guest a link to a webpage where you can start recording. Once you have finished recording, the software downloads separate tracks of you and your guest so you can save them and mix them together when you edit.

You can also run automatic postproduction, which mixes you and your guest's tracks together, but when I've done this I've found it made us both speak at the same time, if that makes sense.

It stores your tracks for each recording, so if you lose one you can go into Zencastr and redownload it.

The only slight downside is that you and your guest have to keep the browser page open while the tracks download, which usually doesn't take long but can take a while if the internet is slow.

Editing: GarageBand

I've tried a few programmes for editing podcasts, but GarageBand has been the easiest and quickest for me.

You simply add the tracks you need and can split, delete and add tracks where necessary. Once you're done, export it to MP3 and save it to your computer.

Unfortunately I believe it's only available on Apple products, but I have also used a programme called Audacity which was recommended to me by my friend Cat, who uses it to edit her own awesome podcast.

Hosting: Soundcloud

This really wasn't a thought out decision - Soundcloud was the only podcast hosting platform I knew of, and it's free, so I uploaded there.

It's very simple, all you need to do is create an account, click upload, write a title and description and off you go! It also goes directly to iTunes once you've submitted your podcast to them.

And that's pretty much it!

Are you thinking of starting a podcast, or do you already have one? If so, please send me a link - I'm always on the lookout for new ones to listen to! Here's a link to mine.