The 5 Questions New Podcasters Ask

What new podcasters need and want to know

Female blogger using laptop standing by table with microphone at home
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New podcasters have many questions, but there are common themes that always emerge. Most are curious about what equipment they will need, how to put a podcast on their website, the best hosting options, how to record the podcast, and how to publish the podcast. Here, you'll learn some of the most common questions and get some quick answers that should help newbies get their show started.

What Equipment Do I Need?

Equipment can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it, but having a good microphone and a quiet room can make your audio editing so much easier. At the very minimum, you will need a quality microphone and recording software. At the low end, you can use a USB headset or lavalier microphone. The lavalier microphone is a small microphone that clips on your lapel. You may have noticed these on guests on talk shows.

Great for fast, portable in-person interviews, these microphones can be plugged into your digital recorder, mixer, or computer. They are even making ones that can be plugged into smartphones for true on the go interview spontaneity. A quick note about recording on smartphones: this is a fast lightweight way to go, but phones can ring, crash, and interrupt with notifications and updates. A personal recorder is a better option when it comes to lightweight dependability.

Other microphone options are one of the many made by Blue such as the Blue Yeti or Blue Snowball. The Audio-Technica AT2020 USB microphone is another very popular option. The Rode Podcaster Dynamic microphone is another good choice. If you have a permanent recording studio, you can go with something high-end like the Heil PR40. Throw in a pop filter, shock mount, and boom arm and your setup will rival the pros.

As for recording software, you can use something like the free Audacity software or Garageband for Mac. If you are conducting interviews, you can use Skype with eCamm’s Call Recorder or Pamela. There are also more high-end recording options like Adobe Audition or Pro Tools. It’s really a matter of weighing the learning curve, ease of use, and functionality.

Depending on the type of microphone you use, you may also need a mixer. A mixer is an electronic device that helps change the level and dynamics of audio signals. If you have a high-end microphone like the Heil PR40 then the XLR connection will require a mixer. One of the cool things that you can do with a mixer is record on two separate tracks. This makes editing a guest interview much easier because you can isolate background noise and cut out parts where the host and guest talk over each other.

How Do I Record My Podcast?

Once you have your equipment set up and you’ve chosen your software, the next step is to record the podcast. You can use your chosen software to record the podcast directly onto your computer or you can use a portable recording device. Many podcasters record directly onto their computer and have no problems. The pros of using a separate hand-held recording device are that you don’t have to worry about background noise from your computer or hard drive. Also if your computer fails, you still have your recording. These devices are also great for quick interviews on the go.

Once you have chosen your software and your recording method, you just need to make a recording. When it comes to audio quality, you want to create the highest possible audio quality. This usually means reducing background noise by recording in a quiet place and shutting doors and windows. Also, be sure to turn off the air conditioner or other loud equipment and use sound dampening material where appropriate.

To make it easier to remove background noise during your audio editing, record a small section of audio before you start speaking. This can be used as a baseline for background noise cancellation. It’s also a good idea to adjust the sound levels on your mixer or software when you begin recording. This can help prevent sounds from being too high or too low.

A podcast is only as good as the content and the delivery of that content. Speak slowly and clearly. Enunciate, so that your listener understands what you are saying. If you smile while you are podcasting, people can hear it in your voice. A calm relaxed well-planned out show is the basis for a great audio recording. If you are interviewing a guest, you may want to have some pre-interview banter to lighten the mood and get to know each other a little while setting the context for the recording. 

What Is the Best Podcast Hosting Option?

The main reason you don’t want to host your podcast on your own website is the lack of bandwidth. Audio files require bandwidth. People will be streaming and downloading these files, and they need to be quickly accessible on demand. A service that specializes in hosting podcasts is the best option. The most popular podcast hosting services are LibSyn, Blubrry, and Soundcloud.

LibSyn comes especially well-recommended. They are one of the oldest and most popular podcast hosting services, and they make publishing a podcast and getting a feed for iTunes a breeze. Still, it doesn’t hurt to explore the available options and find the one that suits your needs best.

How Do I Put My Podcast on My Website?

Even though you are hosting your podcast at a podcast hosting service, you will still want to have a website for your podcast. A podcast website can easily be built with WordPress using a plugin like the Blubrry PowerPress plugin. The PowerPress plugin is one of the oldest and most popular options for publishing a podcast website using WordPress, but there are some new player options too.

The new plugin Simple Podcast Press is another great option for adding podcast functionality to your WordPress blog. Once this plugin is installed on your site, it will create a new show notes page for each of your episodes. Each page will also include a call-to-action button and an email opt-in page to get you more subscribers.

One of the benefits of having a podcast website is the opportunity to reach more listeners and provide a way for them to interact with you through comments and for you to interact with them through email. Once you install this plugin, enter your iTunes URL and it will go to work populating your site.

The player is also mobile friendly, so it will look good on your responsive website. If you are using an existing player such as PowerPress or the Smart Podcast Player you can upgrade to Simple Podcast Press with one click or add functionality like publishing automation, clickable timestamps, subscribe buttons, and email opt-in boxes.

If you already have an existing website, you can add a podcast page or category and use it to feature your podcast episodes and show notes. If you don’t have an existing site, it is not difficult to set up a new WordPress website for your podcast. You can either use one of the above players or purchase a WordPress theme that was designed for podcasters. These themes usually include the functionality that is required for podcasting such as a built-in player and clicks to tweets or other social functions.

Some major things to consider when choosing a theme are speed and ease of customization. You will also want a theme that is well coded and will run fast if set up properly and hosted on a decent server. And you want the theme to be responsive, which means that it will look good on any sized screen.

How Do I Publish My Podcast and Build an Audience? 

You will want to publish your podcast in iTunes. This is the biggest podcast directory and has access to the most podcast listeners. Thanks to the ubiquity of the iPhone and other internet-enabled devices iTunes is often the go-to directory that podcast listeners search.

To submit your podcast to iTunes you just need to enter the URL of your feed. This feed will be created by your media host if you are using LibSyn. Then every time that you upload a new podcast episode to your host, the iTunes feed will automatically be updated with your new episode. If you are using Simple Podcast Press, a new podcast page will be created for that new episode, and all you will need to do is go in and edit the show notes.

There are quite a few moving parts when first starting a podcast, but once everything is set up all of the separate parts work in unison. Thanks to the power of RSS and feeds, your host, iTunes, and your website will all update simultaneously.

Building an audience is probably one of the most difficult and most desired podcasting tasks. Once you do everything possible to get your podcast out there on directories like iTunes and have a functional website, it is up to you to grow your audience. Having great content can keep listeners subscribed and coming back for more, but initially getting the word out about your show can take more effort.

Using appropriate social channels and leveraging the power and audience of your podcast guests can be a good way to get your show in front of new listeners. Start small with your interviews and work your way up. Be available to be interviewed on other podcasts and have something compelling to say and prepare a call-to-action or bonus for potential new listeners. Starting out can be a challenge, but your work builds over time.