My “ask geekmummy” post this month is inspired by Becky from Family Budgeting and Hayley from Downs Side Up, who have both asked how to go about starting a podcast. I’ve recently rediscovered my love of podcasting, and over the summer launched my new show, Parental Geekery, which is a joint venture with my husband.
What is a podcast?
A podcast is a multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc. Most podcasts are audio only, but there are also an increasing number of video podcasts. In most cases the podcast is published in a way that allows its audience to “subscribe” and automatically download new episodes when they become available.
The great thing about podcasting is that it gives you a new way to deliver your content to your audience. It’s becoming easier and easier to listen to podcasts as all smartphones these days have apps you can use to download the latest episodes, and you can use software such as iTunes to download podcast content to your portable MP3 player as well. Those who have long commutes find the journey goes much quicker when you have a phone loaded up with audio content.
What do I need to make a podcast?
To create your podcast you need two things: a way to record (and edit if you wish), and a place to put it online so that other people can download it. There are many different ways to make and host a podcast, and in this article I will tell you about the things that work for me.
How to record and edit your podcast
There are a huge number of different ways of recording your podcast, so I’m just going to touch on some of the more common ones. Your goal is to record your podcast and then save it in mp3 format, which is the format that can be played on most different devices.
- PC users – attach a microphone to your PC (or you might have a built-in one if you’re using a laptop) and use the free Audacity software to record and edit
- Mac users – most modern Macs have a built in microphone and come with the free Garage Band software for recording and editing. You can also get Audacity for Mac which is free.
- iOS users – For very simple voice recording, DropVox is great – it has a very simple interface and allows you to record your voice and save the audio file to your DropBox storage for easy upload. If you want to be able to edit your audio I would recommend Pocket WavePad which has full recording and editing functionality. And if you fancy trying a more adventurous podcast with sound effects and intro/exit music then you should check out Bossjock Studio, which isn’t cheap but makes to addition of music or other sounds to your podcast ridiculously easy.
- Android users – whilst I’m not an Android user myself, my Andoid-using friends who know about audio recording recommend RecForge Lite which has full recording and editing ability.
Bear in mind if you use a built-in microphone it will pick up room sounds as well as your voice. Try to keep your recording environment as quiet as possible as background noises will be distracting for your listeners. You will get better quality if you buy a dedicated microphone for recording.
Where to host your podcast
Again there are large number of options here, but there are two services I recommend for hosting your podcast. Both Libsyn and Blubrry have been in the podcast hosting business for many years, and are trusted by a great many podcasters. Neither service is free, unfortunately, but with prices starting at $5 per month they’re not cripplingly expensive either. Both of these services allow unlimited downloads of your podcast, but limit the amount you can upload each month. To help you work out how much storage you need a good rough calculation is that the storage required is between 0.5Mb and 1Mb per minute of audio. Both of these hosts will give you a feed URL which your subscribers can add to their podcatcher of choice and that you can submit to the various podcast marketplaces like iTunes.
A special note for self-hosted WordPress users
If you are on self-hosted WordPress you can use the excellent PowerPress plugin to integrate your podcast episodes with the rest of your blog. You can also use this plugin to provide a feed URL for your podcast which uses your own domain name, rather than the libsyn or blubrry URL. This can give you the flexibility to change your podcast host in the future, should you wish, without have to got through the hassle of changing your feed address in all the directories.
Any more questions?
In this post I have just skimmed the basics of getting started with podcasting. Is there anything else you’d like to know about it? Leave me any questions in the comments below, or head over to the Podcasting and New Media group on BritMums.com. Do you produce a podcast already? Leave me a link in the comments below – I’d love to listen. And if you enjoy listening to podcasts I recommend you check out the Raising Playful Tots and Family Budgeting podcasts – both make excellent listening.
Do you have any other questions you would like me to answer in a future edition of “Ask geekmummy”? If so, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help.