Podcasting is back. Big time!
In the last few years, podcasting has experienced a resurgence; after a period when it was considered buried, people are loving it again.
I think in large part this is due to the progress of the iPhone and users' ability to download their favorite podcasts directly to their devices. Before this development in iOS, we needed to sync our devices to iTunes and get latest episodes that way.
But now we have all this great content available immediately. Apps like Stitcher Radio and Soundcloud allow non-iOS device users get access to content previously only available on iTunes.
All of this increased appetite for content on the go is changing how marketers, bloggers and content writers are creating content and it has opened up a big opportunity for you.
Podcasting 101: Some Things To Consider Before You Start A Podcast
Before you get started there is a couple of things you should consider:
Firstly, podcasting is a technical undertaking and it will not be suited to everyone. If you want to start a podcast and you are not very technically minded then you’ll need to hire someone to do it for you.
The second thing to consider is that not everyone will be comfortable behind the microphone; it takes some getting used to. But if you are willing to get your hands dirty and learn the ropes it can be very rewarding.
You must do the research. I must have spent six months researching and reading articles and watching YouTube videos on the subject before I launched. That may seem like a long time but I needed to go through my process of learning before I jumped in.
The good thing about podcasting, I have found, is that once you get into the flow of it, it’s just like blogging, only easier.
So How Do You Get Started With Podcasting?
The following is what I recommend you do to start your podcast. We could go into lots and lots of detail around the process, enough to cover a whole series of posts or a ebook, so consider this an introduction.
1. Okay, Numero Uno: Do The Research
As I mentioned above, I did lots and lots of research. I got great value for this series of posts from Pat Flynn and also this series of videos from Ryan McClane from PodcastFast.
Another good resource that you guys can check out is Cliff Ravenscraft over at Podcast Answer Man. He has been around from the start of podcasting and has a lot of valuable information.
My process is a kind of hybrid of all the information I digested during my research.
2. Basic Podcasting Equipment
You really don’t need a lot of equipment to get started podcasting. But I believe in getting the right gear to produce the best job I can, and I was totally certain I wanted to get into podcasting, so I spent a good few bucks on equipment.
If you’re not entirely sure if it’s for you then I’d recommend that you go with the following equipment to get you off the ground.
- A good quality USB mic
- A laptop
- Audio software
I’m not going to overly complicate things here by giving you a ton of options to choose from. There really is in my opinion only one USB mic worth using. The AudioTechnica ATR2100-USB will do the job nicely for you.
This mic is $60 on Amazon, comes with a small stand and plugs directly into your laptop USB connection. It also has an XLR connection to allow you integrate with a mixing desk should you want to take things further later.
It has a mic jack on the end so you can plug in headphones and you can also adjust the volume to the headphones. Sound quality is very good, but you will need to stay close to the mic while recording.
Nothing much to say about the laptop computer other than if your machine is a dinosaur, get a new one. A sluggish or troublesome machine could mean losing those valuable recordings.
You have several options when it comes to audio software, but to keep it simple, I’m only going to offer you two.
Audacity is available for both Mac and Windows and is free. Many podcasters use it and swear by it but I don’t use it because I just didn’t like the look and feel of the software. If you are on a Windows device then it’s the only reliable free option I’m aware of.
If you’re on a Mac you’ve got the option to use GarageBand, which comes free with your Apple machine. If you’ve never used Garageband or Audacity before then you’ll need to spend the time learning how to. But trust me, it’s not that difficult to get the grip of.
Setting Up The Basic Equipment
The setup of your basic podcasting equipment is very simple.
- Power up your laptop and launch the recording software you have chosen to use
- Plug in your ATR2100 mic via USB
- Click the record button on your audio software and start recording your podcast to your hard drive.
Once you’ve recorded a sample episode you can jump into the process of making it available to the general public. This is where is can get a bit tricky and why taking your time to do the research is so important.
Using the basic equipment setup will allow you get to grips with the process at an entry level and experiment. If you like it and want to get more professional about podcasting then you can take the equipment to the next step.
How To Get Your Podcast Recording On iTunes
Step #1: Edit the MP3 File Meta Details
Once you have your first episode recorded, it’s time to add the meta tags and description to your file. iTunes and other programs use this information to identify and show others what your show is about, so this bit is critical to get right.
- When you’ve recorded your first episode, save it as .mp3 format in a new folder on your computer named Podcasts >> Master Files. It’s important to have a good file structure so you can file your podcasts properly. Naming your file is also very important because it will set the tone for your recordings going forward and you will need to remain consistent with titles etc.
Here’s how I name my episodes “CMP001 Podcast Episode Title.” I use CMP at the start of every episode title, then the number to represent the the episode number I’m on.
It might seem like I’m stating the obvious here with some elements, but I found that these finer details are missing from some instructional videos and tutorials out there in Internet land. So I’ll include them for you.
Here’s an example of my podcast file structure.
- Next, open iTunes and create an empty playlist called podcasts. (The public doesn't see this playlist; it’s only so you can add meta details to your file)
- Drag the .mp3 file into your playlist. At this point the file has no meta details so you need to add them.
- Right click on the file and select “Get Info” from the menu.
Here’s an example of how I do it.
- Add the artwork for your episode in the artwork tab. If you don’t add artwork for each episode the episode will show up absent of artwork in iTunes. I use the same artwork for each episode as I do for my main show artwork. You can create your show artwork in Canva very easily, or get a graphic designer to do it for you.
- Once you’ve added the meta details, and artwork for your podcast episode, hit save.
- Then, drag the .mp3 file with edited meta details, from iTunes to your desktop.
Now your file is prepared to be uploaded to your podcast audio host. If you need further help with tagging your audio file, check out this video by Pat Flynn which I found very helpful:
Step #2 Choose Your Audio File Host
Again, I’m gonna keep it simple for you here. I use Soundcloud to host my podcast files. What this means is, in order to publish your podcast from your own website, submit your podcast to iTunes and other podcast players, you need to have a feed URL.
This feed URL is unique to your podcast and is effectively the address where your podcast files are hosted. This should not be on your own WordPress site; it needs to be elsewhere, like Soundcloud.
Check out this great instructional video from Ryan McClane from PodcastFast on how exactly you need to do this. Ryan goes into all the details and it’s what I used to get started with Soundcloud:
Lots of podcasters use Libsyn but I prefer to use Soundcloud because you can get a free account. It does take a couple of days for your application to Soundcloud to come through but it’s worth it.
Once you have your Soundcloud account set up, they will e-mail you with your RSS feed URL. You will also have this feed URL available in the settings area of your Soundcloud account.
Step #3 Publish Your Podcast On Your Own Website
I’ll assume you have a website and that it is built on WordPress. If your site is built on another platform then you will need to consult with a web developer to move things forward from here.
- Go download and install the Blubrry Powerpress Plugin for WordPress on your website.
- Next, I’m gonna refer you to another video tutorial by my friend Ryan McClane because he does such a comprehensive job of explaining the process. This tutorial will take you through the process of adding the Blubrry Powerpress Plugin. It’s very helpful if you have little or no experience with WordPress.
- The next step is to leave your WordPress site (just for a bit, we’ll need to go back there shortly) add an episode of your podcast to Soundcloud. Check out this instructional video of how to do this properly.
- Once you’ve added at least one episode to Soundcloud, it’s time to configure it. Follow this tutorial video to properly configure Blubrry Powerpress Plugin.
Step #4 Syndicate Your Podcast To iTunes
Once you have completed all the above steps and you have a post created (but not published) on your WordPress site, you can go about submitting your podcast to iTunes.
- Go to iTunes and select iTunes Store from top navigation menu.
- From within the iTunes Store, go to the podcasts section.
- In the right hand column, click on “Submit A Podcast” and you will be taken to the following screen:
- If you are using the RSS feed URL directly from Soundcloud and not from a WordPress site using Blubrry Powerpress Plugin, then go to Soundcloud and grab the feed url from the settings section within Soundcloud.
- If you are using WordPress with Blubrry Powerpress Plugin then in the admin section of your site go to Powerpress >> (Advanced Mode) Feeds >> Podcast Feed and copy the RSS feed URL from there.
- Paste the RSS feed URL into the field in the iTunes submit podcast window that you opened earlier.
You will then be presented with an opportunity to review the information you had set up earlier in the Blubrry Powerpress Plugin configuration in step # part 4 above.
If it’s not correct or you want to change it then hit cancel and go back into the Blubrry settings and make the necessary changes.
If you happen to save it and submit without changing anything, but want to do so later, that’s not a problem. Every time iTunes goes looking for new episodes on your website it will pick up the edits you make.
Again, my friend Ryan McClane makes a very good job of explaining the process for you in this video.
iTunes will take a day or two to approve your podcast.
Once you been approved you will need to go back to iTunes and grab the iTunes podcast URL for your newly approved podcast.
- Go into iTunes and select podcasts
- Find your podcast by entering the name of it in the search bar
- When you locate it, and after your initial euphoria, right click on the title and copy the url
- Go back to your WordPress Admin >> Powerpress >> (Advanced mode) iTunes Tab and paste the iTunes URL in the box provided.
- Hit save
That’s it. Congratulations, you’re now live on iTunes.
You should also submit your podcast to Stitcher Radio and you can see how this is done by continuing to watch the remainder of Ryan’s video.
I happen to love podcasting. I really enjoy the process of sharing the skills and knowledge I’ve managed to gather over the years with others, and it may be a great medium for you to share your stuff too, so if you’re thinking of it then certainly give it a shot.
There’s lots of other details that you will need to learn, such as editing the track and cutting out the ehm’s and eeh’s from your recording.
There's even more stuff, like adding intros and outros. Monetizing your podcast and learning how to interview people for your podcast, but it’s exciting and it has a new lease of life these days so I definitely would encourage you to start and give it a bash.