Do you remember taking your first steps in pro audio? Maybe you learned in a class. Perhaps you poured over textbooks or dug into the deepest archives of an industry blog. Things have changed. Every year there are more ways for people to find the information they need. And now you have something you want to give back to the pro sound community yourself.

One overlooked way of sharing knowledge is through podcasts. Yes, most people Tweet, blog, or vlog. Podcasts are different. They’re comparatively more rare, giving you an opportunity to shine. They’re mobile. They can be heard in the car or the gym. And through the power of your voice, they offer a chance for a deeper, more personalized connection with fans.

Sold? Great. All that’s left is record your podcast. Let’s get started.

 

What You Need to Begin

You’ve seen polished podcasts in Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Don’t worry. Getting started podcasting isn’t difficult. To start, make sure you have the gear and a good idea.

 

Podcasting Gear

To start podcasting, you’ll need:

  • A microphone.
  • A recorder or audio interface.
  • A computer.
  • Headphones.
  • Software.
  • Accessories.

Let’s look at each.

 

Microphone

 

Microphone - Blue Snowball

 

Aim for the best microphone you can afford. Why? A microphone has the greatest impact on a podcast quality. Fancy sound editing can fix errors and enhance vocals. With a poor microphone, this task is much harder. Aim for a directional microphone that focuses on your voice and has good sonic rejection for everything else.

Microphones range all the way from mobile phones up to film studio-calibergear. Yes, if you have nothing else, even an iPhone can capture audio (especially with the Anchor app); don’t let your lack of budget prevent you from creating. If you do have extra cash, USB microphones are a good choice. They’re convenient; options like the Blue Snowball, Samson Meteor, or Shure MV5 plug directly into your computer without any hassle.

Some microphones use XLR connections instead of USB. They’ll produce higher quality sound. Examples include the Audio-Technica 2020, Røde Procasater, and Electrovoice RE320.

 

Recorder or Audio Interface

 

2 - Audio Inerface - Scarlett Solo

 

USB microphones will connect directly to your PC. For all others, a “middle-man” is needed to get the audio from the microphone into your computer. One option is to use an audio interface. These will allow an XLR microphone to connect to the USB inputs of a computer. Common options are the Focusrite Scarlett Solo, Zoom UAC-2, and Behringer UMC22.

Another idea is to record to a portable recorder. This will capture audio to a separate device. So, your work will need to be moved to a computer after recording. The benefit of this extra step? Portable recorders such as Zoom’s H4n Pro or H5 will record better quality. Many of these can double as an audio interface as well, giving you more bang for your buck.

 

Computer

Both PCs and Macs can create podcasts. Look for something made in the past 5 years with USB inputs.

 

Headphones

3 - Headphones - Sony MDR-7506

You’ll need headphones to monitor your recordings as you speak. They’re also essential when editing your sound files, later. Look for headphones that are “neutral” or have a “flat response”. The idea is that you’ll be hearing precisely what was recorded, as opposed to enhanced bass, for instance.

Good options are a pair of Sony MDR-7506 or Audio-Technica ATH-M30x headphones.

 

Software

4 - Audacity Logo

Once you’ve recorded the podcast audio, you’ll need to remove any errors and stitch the rest together into a final, polished track. Good free starting options are Audacity and Apple’s GarageBand.

 

Accessories

Don’t forget to pick up microphone and USB cables and microphone stands to round out your equipment.

You can enhance your set-up with wind protection for your portable recorders, or microphone pop filters to lessen rumbling blow-outs. Professional microphone stands, microphone boom arms, and shock mounts also help make life easier.

 

An Idea

Gear alone won’t make a memorable podcast, of course. It’s absolutely essential to begin your podcast with a valuable idea.

If you’re considering making a podcast, you likely have an idea of your topic already. Enhance it by adding a twist. Your podcast should offer something different or new. Scan existing podcasts on listenontes or podcasts.com and add your own slant. More specific topics are better. It doesn’t matter if you are an expert, or a beginner sharing your discoveries. What’s essential is that you take chances. Provocative ideas that challenge people and make them think are far better than bland topics. 

5 - Website - Listennotes

Overall, you’ll find listeners if your podcast solves problems, helps them with their struggles, or adds value to their lives.

All set? Let’s get to work actually creating your podcast.

 

Steps for Creating Your First Podcast

 

Step 1. Draft an Outline

While some natural speakers can ad-lib for hours on end, for beginners it’s always best to create an outline before starting recording. Create a bullet-point list of what you plan to discuss. Be careful though: avoid writing a script and reading every word. Listeners are engaged when you speak naturally. Dictating pages of text doesn’t make for enjoyable listening.

Take your time with this step. Effort invested here pays off during recording.

 

Step 2. Install Software

Download and install audio editing software. GarageBand is installed on all Apple computers. Read instructions for installing Audacity for Windows and MacOS.

 

Step 3. Recording the Podcast

Each editing app records audio differently. Overall, though, the broad strokes are the same:

    • Connect your equipment. Plug in XLR microphones to your audio interface or portable recorder. Connect USB microphones to your PC.
    • Select your recording device. Set editing app preferences to detect the microphone or audio interface:
      • For Audacity, this is done in Preferences/Devices.
      • For GarageBand, click the Smart Controls knob (upper left), and select the device from the Input drop-down menu at the base of the screen.6 - Recording the Podcast Step 2b - GarageBand Arrow
    • Arrange the microphone. Spread your hand and place the tip of your pinky finger on the microphone. Set the microphone at the tip of your thumb. This is a good starting distance for your microphone.
    • Set your levels. Test your audio levels by speaking into the microphone. Adjust the gain in Audacity, GarageBand, or on your audio interface. It’s best to set levels conservatively to avoid distorting the sound with loud swells of sound.6 - Recording the Podcast Step 4a - Audacity Arrow
    • Record. When you’re ready, click the record button to begin, and click the stop button to end.

Recording to a portable recorder instead? The idea’s the same. Connect the microphone to the recorder, set your levels, and record. Then, when complete, copy the sound file from the recorder to your laptop and add it to Audacity or GarageBand.

Remember to speak naturally. It’s ok if you stutter or stall. These can be fixed in editing later. The beauty of podcast recording is that you can try as many times as you want to get it right.

 

Step 4. Edit the Podcast

By the time you finish your first podcast you’ll likely discover errors. Common ones include:

    • Sibilance. Hissing sounds from strong “s” and “f” words.
    • Popping. Blowing sounds from “b” and “p” words.
    • Lip smacks. Mouth and lip clicks.
    • Clipping. Loud, distorted audio.
    • Quiet audio. Dialogue spoken too softly.
    • Bad performances. Stumbling over words.
    • Filler words. Unnecessary words such as “um,” “like,” “er,” and others.

These are normal. The good news is that careful sound editing can fix many of these. Chop out bad performances and filler words, re-join the clips, and add a cross-fade to ensure the transition is smooth. Do the same with lip smacks.

If you’d like to try advanced techniques, find less sharp “s” and “f” sounds and paste them over the sibilant ones, and try a similar approach to blown-out “p” and “b” sounds. Plug-ins such as the ones from Accusonus and iZotope can fix clipped takes, as well as sibilant and blown-out audio. They have free trials you can use.

 

7 - iZotope De Click

 

Want to avoid the pain of editing and cleaning your dialogue recordings? Services like Castmate and Alitu do the heavy lifting for you, for a price.

Once the dialogue is good shape, enhance your podcast with sound fx from Soundsnap. Add intro and outro stings or music. Each of them adds a more professional quality to your podcast.

 

Step 5. Export the Podcast

Once you’re finished editing, export your podcast as an MP3:

    • Audacity: select your podcast audio and choose the File/Export/Export Selected Audio menu item. Select the destination location and file type in the following Save as type drop-down menu.
    • GarageBand: select the Share/Export Song to Disk… menu item. Choose the location and format from the following window.

 

Step 6. Add MP3 Tags

8 - MP3 Tags

After exporting the podcast, add helpful MP3 ID3 tags to the file. You can write ID3 tags by adding the final MP3 to Apple Music or Windows Media Player, right-clicking the file, and selecting “Get Info” or similar. Ensure you complete these fields:

    • Title. This is the episode name.
    • Artist.
    • Album. This is your podcast’s main name.
    • Track. Your episode number.
    • Year.
    • Genre. “Podcasts,” of course.
    • Comment. A brief description of the episode.
    • Artwork. At least 1400 x 1400 pixels.

Another method: use the macOS app Forecast to add this information, as well as MP3 chapters.

Once you finish, the tags will automatically be embedded into your MP3 file.

 

Step 7. Share the Podcast

Your podcast is packaged and ready to go. It’s time to share it with the world.

There are many options for adding your podcast to the Web. Websites such as SoundCloud and HearThis allow a limited amount of storage for free, and allow you to create players you can embed elsewhere. Another option: make a video with the audio and static image and add it to YouTube.

9 - Soundcloud Upload

There are also dedicated podcasting hosting services:Libsyn, PodBean, Blubrry, Podomatic, Fireside, Buzzsprout, Spreaker, and others. They offer a mix of free and paid podcast hosting, as well as metrics, analytics, and automatic integration with podcast directories, at a price.

After you’ve uploaded your podcast, grab the RSS link to your podcast page. Share it with podcasting directories such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Blubrry to reach thousands of fans.

You’ve done it! Your first podcast episode is in the can and in the wild. Your next step? Keep it up. Record an episode next week, and the week after that. Keep going. Your fans are waiting.