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It’s actually easier than you’d think!
I won’t really get into the “why’s” of podcasting here – there’s a bunch of good reasons to do it (people like listening more than reading, easy way to build a brand, easier to syndicate, works great on mobile devices, fairly low production costs, and so on), but I want to focus on the how.
There’s three areas to cover: Production, Syndication and Promotion. Unfortunately none of these will tell you how to make a good podcast – that’s left as an exercise to the reader 🙂
First, you need a decent setup with which to record audio. The entire production is audio, so going for higher quality and less distortions/background noise are key.
Having a good microphone is essential. Doesn’t need to be the best, but it does need to deal with ambient noise in your recording environment, while clearly picking up the full range of your voice.
A typical USB headset designed for calls would work well for this. Depending on your budget, you could get standalone microphones for anything from R399 to R1895. While you can get USB microphones with on-board soundcards, you might also consider getting a standalone XLR microphone with a dedicated external sound card – this will give you studio-quality audio (and your environment becomes even more important!).
Then you’ll need software to do your actual recording with. I recommend Audacity unreservedly – it’s great software, completely free of charge, which works on both Mac and Windows. Using Audacity, you’ll be able to record your own microphone, as well as compose in any other audio streams.
Another really useful feature – if you have an MP4 video file, you can extract the audio from it in one go. That’s actually what we’re using to produce the podcast audio files for The Noscript Show.
If you plan on doing more conversational-style podcasts, and routinely use something like Discord or Skype for calls, the next best option is OBS Studio. While it was originally designed for video streaming, the composer is really easy to use, and you can mix in audio from other calls + your own microphone into one file.
To add a little extra personality to your podcast, you might consider editing in an intro and exit sound. Just a few seconds of music on either end will make for a more polished production. AudioJungle is a great place to buy short clips like that, and they’re usually licensed for exactly this sort of use.
Finally, the artwork. You’ll want to design something that represents your podcast (much like an album cover), but this doesn’t need to be professionally done. Between the free Photopea for editing and Unsplash for free images, you can whip up a good selection of options really quickly!
So now that you’re set up to record your podcast, the next step is syndication. Basically you need to put your podcast online, and make sure that your listeners can get ahold of it.
There’s a huge amount of options to go for here. If you’re the developer type, you can really just do this all on your own server: Make the files publicly accessible and assemble an RSS feed.
In my case, I ended up going with a paid Libsyn account. They’re the oldest and most reliable game in town, and have worked out the difficult stuff involved in getting your podcast out there. Specifically, they understand what each provider (Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, etc) requires, and makes it really simple to provide the correct information.
There’s a huge amount of podcasting services out there. If you don’t like Libsyn, you can try PodBean, BuzzSprout, Blubrry, SoundCloud, Podomatic, Spreaker, BlogTalkRadio, Castos, Firesize, ZenCast, Simplecast, Audioboom, Whooshkaa, Podigee, Pinecast, Pippa, OmnyStudio, Podiant, and more.
So out of the box, Libsyn provides a hosted webpage where all the episodes are listed, and you can subscribe here with an RSS reader to be notified of new releases. But we can do better.
Once you have a working RSS feed, you can submit it to:
- Spotify: http://podcasters.spotify.com
- iTunes: https://podcastsconnect.apple.com
- Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/podcasts/publish
Each provider has their own requirements and rules, but the same deal generally applies: You provide the RSS feed, they read it, ensure it has all the information they need, and will then pull new episodes into their platforms as they arrive.
This is way better for your users. You can tell them to use their existing music app of choice, simply searching for you there. In South Africa that means iTunes and Spotify, with Google Play yet to make podcasts available here.
And finally: Getting word of your podcast out there!
Honestly, my favorite thing about podcasting is the potential for creating a community. We’re already seeing it with Noscript Show – the people that enjoy our content end up subscribing for more of it, sharing it with their friends, and join us in our community Discord.
So all the usual tactics apply here. Produce good work on a regular schedule, share it out on social media, set up a memorable brand, make your stuff easy to find, and most importantly: Interact with your listeners.
That’s what ends up building the initial community, and it gives you a better idea of what your listeners want from you – especially important if your podcast focuses on a particular industry, skill, or insight.
This question inevitably comes up once you start researching podcasts – mostly because you’ll find stories about how people are making millions of dollars off theirs.
Podcast monetization is pretty much identical to radio monetization. If you’ve listened to any public radio station, you’ll have noticed two variants:
- Ad segments
- Endorsements read out by the producers
In those respects, podcasts are the same. There are platforms that will let you insert ad slots into your podcast, then sell that inventory on your behalf (like a website). Or you could do direct deals with sponsors, and agree to read out a sponsored message (or play a clip) directly in your content itself.
But there’s a third option, which is where podcasts have radio beat: You can paywall your podcast, and charge people to listen.
Right now I have no interest in monetizing the one podcast I am doing, so I can’t offer much more advice than that. What I can say is that paywalled podcasting will require specialized hosting – there’s no point in paywalling it if anyone can just look it up on Spotify.
So there, it’s more likely that you’ll ship out your podcast as a custom mobile app, or via a mailing list with listen links that are connected to individual subscribers.
Lastly, there’s always the donation route. If you produce a good, free public podcast and you get lots of listeners – but aren’t concerned about generating an income – opening up a channel for donations can be mutually beneficial: You get some money, and your fans will feel good about helping to keep you on the air.
Are you going to podcast in 2019? Let me know – I’ll be your first subscriber 🙂