Creating your own online show and podcasting it isn’t as difficult as you might think. You’ve probably seen podcasts rising in popularity lately and it’s time you jumped in with your own.
Wikipedia defines a podcast as s a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication.
Sounds complicated, right. It’s not. A podcast is audio or video that you post to your website and is downloaded later by eager fans. Sound fun. Here’s how to launch your own podcast. (Some links are affiliates)
Create a Podcast Topic
If you don’t have a topic or area of interest, your podcast won’t feel like it’s going anywhere. You have to talk about something and it’s a good idea to keep it fairly focused around a niche. There are successful shows that appear to be general, but when you look closer, they are organized around a topic.
My friend Cliff host a show called Pursuing a Balanced Life. He talks about his family, faith, and business. It appears to be all over the place, but the topic is grounded in his life, and that’s what his listeners want. He’s trying to live a more balanced life, thus the name of his show.
Coach Radio is all about creating a sustainable and profitable business that inspires people and changes the world. I cover a lot of topics from technology to family, but it’s all grounded by a business foundation.
If you host a video show about car audio and begin talking about changing your cars spark plugs, I’d argue you’re a bit off topic, unless of course, new spark plugs will help you achieve better sound from your new system. You could do a show around car batteries since it does power your sweet equipment.
It’s up to you where you go, but the more focused, the better.
Buy Podcasting Gear
If this is your first time, don’t go all out. Audio shows can get by with a $50 headset microphone, plugged into your laptop. My business was started on the side as I flew around the country as an airline pilot. A small headset fit nicely in my suitcase and was the tool I started my first show with.
It really doesn’t matter what microphone you use. If you spend more than $50, you’re probably spending too much. Remember, this is your first show. You might find you don’t even like it, so don’t shell out a ton of cash to get started. I purchased a Logitech headset that I still use every so often. It connects to both Mac and PC.
If video is your thing, you ought to pick up the Kodak PlayTouch right off the bat. It’s usually less than $150 and is the best camera for the money.
My first camera was more expensive. I needed three things and paid more to get them. I was doing a weekly show on an AM radio station and we had little room, so I needed a wide-angle lens. I also wanted to plug in an external mic for better audio interviews. The last thing I needed is something you probably shouldn’t be worrying about just yet – I was broadcasting audio and video of our shows live. The best way to do that is with a fireware cable from the camera to computer.
The Kodak does two of these for you. It has a microphone input and you can get an aftermarket wide-angle lens if you like. The streaming camera I use now is the Canon HV30. Here’s a look at my current studio setup.
A microphone isn’t a necessity, but if you’re recording only one person in your videos, the ATR 3350 microphone will work just fine at less than $20.
Again, if you’re just starting out, get good enough equipment to do your show well, and grow into it. This equipment list is a great start.
To record, I suggest starting out with a free program called Audacity. You’ll record directly into your computer and have the ability to edit.
Determine Your Podcast Outline
Some people start their show and talk until they hit stop. There’s nothing wrong with that model, but give your audience some structure. Tell them what they can expect to hear and what they’ll walk away with.
To break up the monotony of your voice and add some energy, grab some intro and outro music from a place like Music Bakery. Whatever you do, don’t play a popular song you heard on the radio. You could be in big trouble from the record label.
The easiest way to get your music into the recording is after you record your voice. You can drop the intro and outro into audacity and fade in and out to make it work.
When you start your show, tell your listeners who you are. New people will be stopping by all the time, so even if it’s your 50th episode, it’s a good idea to rehash what your show is all about.
Just like you learned in high school speech class, tell your listeners what your’re going to talk about, talk about it, then tell them what you talked about. They’ll remember if, and if they found the topic interesting, it will stick and they’ll hopefully tell their friends.
It’s a good idea to outline your show with some visual notes before you start. I walked into the radio station with five pages of notes for my first show. Let me rephrase that; it was five pages of my exact talk – and I read it all. Whatever you do, don’t read a speech. It’s easy to get nervous, but you need to be real. You can’t be real if you have it all written down ahead of time.
Technical Details of Starting a Podcast
Time to get your hands dirty. You don’t need to be a geek to figure this all out. Here’s a great article about starting a podcast that covers everything you need to know. If it’s all a foreign language to you, there’s even a resource there for hiring someone to do it for you.
You do need a few things that won’t cost you much money. You’ll need a website, a WordPress installation, a few plugins, and a google account. That’s it. The only thing that will cost you some cash is your website. You could set up a free one if you’re not into spending some cash. That’s how I got started many years ago. It’s so cheap to do a good site that I think you should spring for one. Even if you’re not making money from your show, you’re trying to sell your ideas. It’s hard to do that if people don’t take you seriously.
Spread and Market Your Podcast
Up to this point everything has been pretty easy. Seriously, that hardest part about podcasting (or anything for that matter) is marketing and spreading the word.
Great news – this still won’t cost you much (or any) money. The social web is your friend. The only thing required from you is a bit (or a lot) of time.
Everything comes down to being helpful. When you’re helpful you’re spreading things people care about, you’re answering questions, and you’re being an all-around nice person. Be helpful.
Find the forums where people are discussion your topic. Don’t tell everyone about your podcast; that’s called spamming. If you’re helpful and have your website linked on your profile, people will find you.
There are probably questions all over the web that you’ve answered on your podcast. Find those questions and tell people about your answers.
Interviewing people is also another great strategy. If it fits into your show, bringing on a guest is great for you and your guest. Most of the time they’ll help you spread the interview. If they have a large audience there’s no telling what kind of reach you’ll get.
Don’t expect it to happen all the time, though. Make a suggestion and see what happens. Sometimes your guest won’t do anything (very likely if they’re interviewed frequently) and sometimes it’ll end all over the world. The sky is the limit.
photo by theparadigmshifter