So you've decided to make a podcast! We're sure that after reading last week's Slice you know that it will take time, work, equipment, and maybe a green tea with honey to prep those vocal cords.
But the whole long process is worth it when you open your favorite podcast app and see your show waiting for you, ready to be downloaded.
Let's make it happen:
Plan, plan, and plan some more
- Think about it: Many people assume that, once they're in front of a mic, a podcast will just flow. Spoiler alert: It's rare that that works! Before you start, plan out your season and each episode, so it's cohesive. Or, if a season with a theme isn’t your style, at least have a running list of topics so you don’t have a "what am I talking about today?!" moment of panic. Mapping things out will also help you consider potential sponsors and guests, so you have time to book them. Give yourself time.
- Say hello: Consider the podcasts you already listen to. Most have an intro, a sign-off, and some consistent segments or routines that help listeners know what to expect so they can better follow along. Think about what can make your podcast consistent and familiar; you'll definitely want an intro that explains what you're about quickly and simply, but what other fun things could you work in? (For example, Anna Faris uses ridiculous improv games to break the ice!)
- Take some notes: It helps to draft an outline of each episode so you don’t immediately blank when you hit record. But, unless you're a trained actor, you probably shouldn't write out a full script, word for word, of what you’re going to say. Seriously. This should be a conversation! If you're not feeling confident about your outline, practice with a trusted colleague or friend a few times until you're comfortable. (Having a producer or co-host is great for this.)
- Equip yourself: While we use a Zoom H5 with external headphones, find whatever set-up works for you. If you’re on a strict budget and just want to dabble in podcasting, you can even record on your smartphone. Just remember that, in a competitive podcasting world, quality counts. If you're serious, get serious tools.
- Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3: Where are you going to record? Think about a space with features that will muffle sound (closets, carpets, lower ceilings, etc.). Try to avoid rooms with a lot of background noise, even if it's subtle (like cars passing outside). We suggest doing sound tests: take your recording equipment to the room you're considering and record the silence for a minute or two. Then you can listen, really listen, to see what background sounds your mic picks up. Even am innocent refrigerator in the next room over can make more noise than you might realize.
- Get ready... it’s showtime!: Got your space? Great. Get some coffee, and maybe a cocktail. (We won't judge.) Set up your space in whatever way makes you feel like the most energized version of yourself. Do some jumping jacks or maybe even some power poses, because...
- Hit that record button: Start by recording a moment of silence. This helps to both calm your nerves and give you (or your sound editor) the background sound you need for editing. Say your intro and hit the ground running. You got this.
- You don’t have to be perfect: You can say things you don’t want to say; you can take a break; you can say "screw it" and try again later. This is YOUR podcast and you’ll be able to edit. As a rule of thumb, though, wait a few seconds after you say something you want to cut before speaking again. This will make the editing process exponentially smoother and easier.
- Save that file: Don't delete a file once you've recorded, even if you probably won't use it. There might be something in there you could use later, and it's great for helping you hear your weird vocal quirks that you don't know you have. (Everyone has them.)
- Need some music?: Most podcasts use music in their intros, ads, breaks, and outros. You can find royalty-free music (here's more on that), but if you know a musician, why not get something original and feature them?
- Artwork: You'll need cover art, and not just a logo. Get your designer hat on and use these specs to create all the elements you'll need, including a thumbnail version. Brand the heck out of it!
- Edit, listen, and edit again: Listen back to what you've recorded and make some notes on what to cut or edit, and write down the time it happened in the recording, too. Unless you have the time (and interest) to become a sound editor as well as a podcast host, we highly recommend hiring someone who can edit your files and help with other key things like hosting and distribution. (Our go-to is Soundmind Productions!)
- Upload: Once you have your final file, it's time to upload your podcast to a hosting service. A really great sound editor will help you with this, since it can get a little complicated, but if you're interested in the nitty-gritty so you can DIY, start with this guide. We use LibSyn.
- Submit: Want to be on iTunes? Stitcher? Anywhere else? You'll need to submit your podcast for review to any directories where you want to be listed, along with your cover art and show information. A great hosting service makes this easy. Just remember that it can take a day or two for everything to go through, so, again, give yourself time before your launch date.
- Listen up: Remember that audience we talked about in Podcasting 101? Promote the hell out of your podcast to them. Tell everybody, and then tell them about it again each time there's a new episode. Ask them to download, listen, subscribe, rate, share... everything possible to reach more ears and grow your audience.
Enjoy! And get ready to do it all again next week.
Of course, if you don’t want to embark on your podcasting adventure by yourself, we can help. Let’s chat.