Podcasting 101 - How I Started with Zero Experience
Irecently found myself wanting to start a podcast, but there was one problem, I’m a pharmacist. Previously, I’ve had zero experience in podcast production. But, I’m now 60+ episodes in with over 10k listens between two podcasts on SoundCloud and thought I’d share how and what I did to get to this point. It’s been countless hours of research and a couple hundred dollars to get here. But I’m hoping this article would save you a lot of time (and money) and get you ahead of the curve if you’re interested in starting your own podcast.
When I started out, I wasn't sure if podcasting was something I was going to enjoy or do for more than a month. So I started with bare minimum. It’s now been 8 months since I started upgraded to some new thing, but I’ll mention things I started with in addition to what I use now. Oh, and there’ll be links included!
Choose a Mic.
When I first started, I decided to use the Yeti Microphone. It was super convenient and had awesome reviews on Amazon. It comes in multiple colors (I went with the white). It just plugged right into my laptop via USB I was in business! The audio quality was surprisingly pretty good! I recorded my first 10 podcast episodes on it. But, with that podcast having a co-host and a growing listener base, I found myself wanting more than just “pretty good” audio quality. So, I upgraded to two Audio-Technica AT2005USB microphones so each person could have their own microphone.
Which ever mic you choose, if you want to optimize your audio quality you can add a pop filter and/or a shock mount to your set up. Pop filters help with decreasing the strong sounds of letters P or B from a microphone. It can also minimize the sound of normal breathing onto the microphone. A shock mount is great if your microphone is table mounted. It suspends the microphone to minimize sounds the mic could pick up from hitting the table or typing on a computer. By the way, the linked shock mount will fit the aforementioned Audio-Technica.
Get a Mixer
When deciding each host needed their own microphone, I learned the hard way that you cannot just use two USB microphones and plug both of them into your computer. So, after unboxing my new, at this point second, Yeti microphone, I quickly realized there was no way to get my computer to read two USB microphones and record audio. Hence the need for a mixer.
A mixer (or other audio interface) is imperative if you plan to record quality multiple voice recordings, including phone calls, to create one podcast recording. If you wanted to, you could record two people with one microphone (how I started) or even put your phone on speaker and record your voice and theirs (from the phone’s speaker) into one mic. But the quality from these situation are likely be very poor. After hours of research and understanding the clear need for a mixer, I decided to go with the Behringer Xenyx Q802. It was less than $90 and it too had great reviews. Plus, there was a lot of tutorials on YouTube on how to set it up. This was key since mixers look super intimidating, but it actually wasn’t that hard to learn how to set it up.
You could also get an audio interface instead of a mixer. But, the cool thing about having a mixer vs an audio interface is that I can control a lot of the audio quality that is actually being recorded. This is in contrast to an audio interface or an expensive voice recorder because, when you record with these, you have to do a lot of editing after you record the audio. But with the mixer, I can adjust the quality of audio being recorded before I even hit the record button. This was extremely important to me because it saves me time in editing audio later.
One of the best practices of podcasting include using quality studio headphones while recording to be able to adjust audio in real time as necessary. However, for all of my in-person podcasts I don’t like to use headphones. I prefer the natural feeling of the conversation without something on my head. But, I’d highly recommend you listen to your audio as you record to ensure you can minimize and address background noises that you may not know your microphone is picking up. So I went with the Sony MDR7506. Again, great reviews and it was under $100. No need to spend $300+ on a pair of Beats.
Consider Cords for Calls
There are a few cords you’ll need, in addition to what comes with mention products, if you plan to take phone calls for your podcast. Unfortunately, it is the year 2017 and I’ve never needed a Radio Shack more in my life. After wondering why I didn’t do more to save that company before they filed for bankruptcy, I made a trip to my local Sam Ash and found out there are two cords that are necessary to record phone calls for a podcast. One of them they had in store and one was only available online. But to make it easier for you I provided links from Amazon for both. There are other ways of recording calls, but I found the method using these cords to be the easiest.
You’ll need this cord to be able to connect either your computer or cell phone to a mixer to be able to properly record your guest’s audio. This cord will serve as the “microphone” for your their audio into the mixer. You’ll also need this adapter specifically for cell phone calls. It’s not needed for calls from a computer like if you’re using Google Voice. Taking calls was one of the harder things to figure out on this journey, so if you’re interested in getting full details email or DM me on any of my social media profiles listed below.
Creating a podcast can be take up a lot of space on your computer, especially if you’re recording video for some form of vlog in addition to your podcast. So, it may be a good idea to invest in an external hard drive. I went with the WD 1TB My Passport External Hard Drive because… you guessed it, it has great reviews and it was under $100! It works on both Macs and PCs. This model also has the updated USB 3.0 and it comes in different colors.
Download Recording Software
You’ll need a program to record your audio. My personal preference, being a mac owner, is Garage Band. I also use iMovie to edit my episodes because it’s great for features like background noise reduction and I like the way I can edit the audio’s volume, all things I’m sure you can do with Garage Band but I just think it’s easier to do it in iMovie. I’ve found these programs to be extremely user friendly, however, unlike other editing platforms, it may have some limitations if you plan to do advanced audio editing.
Upload to a Platform
Finally, you’ll need to upload your audio files onto a platform that will provide you with an RSS feed. An RSS feed is basically the link that streams your podcast’s audio from the source. I upload all of my episodes to SoundCloud and then use the RSS feed from there to stream it to iTunes and Google Play.
I hope this helps someone who’s been thinking about doing their own podcast! Please feel free to reach out to me and let me know if I could help you to get your podcast up and running.
Thanks for reading!
Richard Waithe, PharmD | Richard@RxRadio.fm