Podcast usage has doubled in the past decade and the number of listeners is only expected to grow. Everyone’s starting a podcast. You probably are too!
It may seem daunting at first, but the process of starting a podcast is quite simple. It’s time for some podcasting tips for beginners!
Tip 1: A good intro is essential
According to NPR, podcasts lose 25-30 percent of listeners in the first five minutes.
The intro is key to establishing the connection between you and your listeners. It should be an expression of who you are and make it clear to listeners what they are about to experience.
Effective starters are:
- ask a question that listeners might want the answer to.
- a comic jingle
- an immediate dive into the story you’re telling
Tip 2: Stick to a regular Publishing Schedule
When you have an idea of how you plan to structure each episode, you can start figuring out what release format works for you. Generally, podcast episodes drop once a week on the same day.
Regardless of how prolific your output is, consistency is key to building your listener base. Stick to a regular publishing schedule so that listeners have an idea of when they can expect a new episode.
Tip 3: Make it whatever length you want, then ask your audience
People will give you all sorts of advice about the ideal length of a podcast. I tend to think it should be 25 minutes. But the fact is, audiences are different and topics and formats have different needs in terms of length.
The best advice I ever heard was, to choose the length that feels right. Then, after you develop regular listeners, ask them. They will tell you how long it needs to be.
Tip 4: Invest in a Quality Mic and Interface
A few bits of gear will be necessary. Beware of false economy here. To get started, we recommend going for the free options on your DAW and cheap options on your computer and headphones.
That said, don’t go cheap on your microphone or your audio interface. Doing so will only result in one of the following scenarios:
- The end of your podcasting dreams
- After frustrating nights of trying to make your sad mic and interface sound decent, you end up buying the gear you should have bought in the first place.
Essential gear for podcasting:
- A Microphone – The Shure MV7(USB or XLR) or the Blue Yeti X (USB) are both great options for beginners and seasoned podcasters. See here for more info on Mics for Podcasting. Your microphone will have the largest effect on the final audio result, so this should be the bulk of your gear budget.
- Audio Interface – An audio interface is the hub of your podcasting studio that will convert the analog signal of your microphone into a digital signal that your computer can understand.
All XLR mics will need an audio interface to connect to your computer. XLR mics generally sound better than USB mics. The Blue Yeti is the only USB mic that we would recommend. All other USB mics that we have tried, cannot deliver quality sound.
- Headphones – Essential gear for podcasting but you can probably make do with whatever you’ve got lying around. If you’re looking for an ideal pair of cans for podcasting, we would recommend the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pros. See here for more information about choosing the right headphones.
- Computer – We assume you’ve got a computer and that you know how to find one that suits your needs. Nothing special is required here.
- DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) – The software you use to edit and record your podcast, or your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), will become the primary tool in your podcast shed. GarageBand (for mac users) and Audacity (mac or pc) are some of the most popular free options out there. Cakewalk by Bandlab, Live 10 Lite by Ableton, or ProTools First are also great free options.
- Audio interfaces sometimes come with starter DAWs. For example, Universal Audio interfaces come with the LUNA recording system, which will serve most any beginner well.
When you know what you’re doing a bit and you want to have a bit more control and power over your workflow, invest in one of the major DAWs out there: Logic Pro X, Steinberg Cubase, Avid ProTools, or Ableton Live. But don’t do this before exploring the free options out there.
Tip 5: Publish with a Hosting Platform
It can be overwhelming to consider all the different places that you may want to upload your podcast.
Due to the way most podcast hosting platforms operate, however, you don’t have to choose. You can easily upload your episodes to several different streaming platforms at once.
The first step toward publishing your podcast is to choose a host platform. In the same way that websites store digital content on a host site, podcasts store the audio files for distribution with a host.
There are loads to choose from. Podbean, Sounder.fm, or Buzzsprout are some of the most popular. If you’re at a loss for ideas, just choose the one your favorite podcast uses.
Each platform has a wide range of features, and some even help with the marketing of your podcast as well as the publication.
Your platform will send the episodes to all the major streaming services for you (Including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts and others).
They do this using what is called an RSS feed to publish your content. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and that’s what it does– it syndicates, or combines, all the available podcast streaming platforms into a list.
If you’re interested in publishing without the services of a platform, you can also create your own RSS feed. There are several RSS feed generators available online, as well as tutorials about how to use them to distribute your content.
TIP 6: Remove Background Noise
For a quality podcast, you need silence. The silence when you’re not speaking, rather than hiss or background noise is the key to a clear, professional sound.
This tip is a bit more advanced, a bit gourmet, but it still applies to beginners.
Using gating and expansion tools in your DAW, you can seriously lower any background noise that may have seeped into your recording.
Noise gates drop a ‘gate’ on the recorded sound allowing only sound above a certain decibel threshold through. Sound below the set threshold is turned down or eliminated.
Noise gates can be a bit too aggressive, sometimes clipping beginnings and endings of sections out, but using adjustments like look-ahead and subtle use of the threshold will give you a desired result.
Expanders work like compressors in reverse applying gain reduction to noise below the threshold. Expanders are less drastic sounding than noise gates. They work for turning things down (like breathing) without drastically eliminating the sounds.
A healthy combination of the two will give you the sweet silence you’re longing for.
Most DAWs will have plug-ins to remove background noise. If your DAW does not come with an expander or noise gate, you should be able to install a 3rd party plug-in.
Here’s a quick tutorial on removing background noise using these tools.
We hope these tips are helpful. Happy Podcasting!
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