Podcasting is a great way to get your message to busy, mobile audiences. It doesnít require a large investment or professional help. You can record and publish your first podcast today!
Iím assuming that you already know what podcasting is. You should also be familiar with blogging, RSS, and uploading files to servers. If you arenít, there are many fine articles available on each of these subjects. Wikipedia is a good place to start learning. Iíve included specific links in Further Information.
First, youíll need a way to record your material. A simple microphone headset, the type many people already have, should be fine. You can find USB microphone headsets in most stores for $20 to $50. Of course, you can spend far more money on headphones, microphones, and mixers, but you donít need to do so.
If you donít want to podcast from your computer, you can use any voice recorder to do the recordings, as long as you have a way to upload the recording to the Internet and transfer it to an MP3 file.
Because most people do use computers to create podcasts, youíll want recording software. Audacity is an open-source, cross-platform program with near-professional capabilities that meets the needs of most podcasters. Again, you can spend a lot of money on audio software, and there are products designed solely for podcasting, but Audacity will work nicely.
Now you need a place to put your audio files, so your audience can download them. If you already have access to a web server that includes RSS-enabled blogging software such as WordPress, that will work nicely. If you donít, or if you are concerned about exceeding the bandwidth restrictions on your current server, consider opening an account with Libsyn. Their accounts cost as little as $5 a month for unlimited bandwidth, and they provide excellent support.
Now youíre ready to create your material. You donít need to write a script, since you want to avoid sounding as if you are reading. If you would use note cards as a reference while giving a speech, make up similar notes in a document for yourself. Using actual cards leads to shuffling noises.
Try to limit your podcast to no more than 30 minutes. Many listeners put podcasts on their portable MP3 players and listen to them while commuting. File size and the length of time required to hear a full podcast are important.
If you want to use music at all, make sure that you have permission to do so. The Podsafe Music Network is a good resource for finding a wide variety of music licensed for use by podcasters. Remember to allow time for the music when youíre calculating the total length of the podcast.
Set up your recording environment. You want to limit background noises as much as possible. Ask housemates not to interrupt you while youíre recording. Turn off or mute your phone. Close any software that uses audible alerts. Put pets in another room. Close windows and doors. Turn off fans or other machinery.
Recording and Editing
- Record your material at a sampling rate of 22050 MHz for voice, but go to 44100 MHz if you include music.
- Try to stay natural and casual. Again, you donít want to read the material to your audience. Youíre having a conversation, not giving a lecture. If you have to stop and start again, or repeat phrases, donít worryóyou can edit out the pauses or duplicate material later.
- Edit the audio file. Audacity makes it very easy to do editing, with a cut-and-paste interface that will be familiar to most computer users.
- Convert the file to MP3 format. An encoding rate of 128 kbps stereo is safe for any type of file, although you might be able to use 64 kbps for a file that does not contain music. Be wary of sacrificing sound quality for file size.
- Upload the MP3 file to your server.
- Test it with any MP3 player to make sure that the file is accessible and sounds good.
- Write a ďshow notesĒ post in your blogging software or Libsyn site, including links to any web sites or other materials you referenced in the podcast. Include the audio file as an attachment, so that your listeners will be able to download the file easily through the RSS feed.
- Publish your post.
- List your podcast in podcast directories and submit it to iTunes, so that prospective listeners will have a chance to find you. Iíve listed some of the major directories below.
- List your web site in Google, the Open Directory Project, and other search engines to help listeners find your show.
The following resources may be helpful if you need more information, or run into problems.
- Articles at Podcasting News
- Podcastersí List at Yahoo! Groups
- Creative Commons Podcasting Legal Guide
- Beginners Guide to Podcast Creation
- The Ultimate Guide to Podcasting
- Wikipediaís Blogging Introduction
- Understanding RSS Feeds
Here are some of the directories to which you may want to submit your podcast.
Last updated May 11, 2008