To start, you need a decent recording and to make a decent recording, you need a decent microphone. I have a Logitech desktop microphone that didn’t cost that much although I think a decent quality headset – the air traffic controller kind – is a good investment because you could use it for something like Skype as well as recording a podcast. I have seen some nice ones for a few hundred bucks – the more you spend the better the headset will be (usually). A voice recorder will work too. The main thing is to get a clear sound and the file you need should ultimately be an mp3 file. You need software to capture the recording and on a Windows machine. Audacity is really good and free. Audacity can import files if you record them on a voice recorder and transfer to your PC (they will probably be in wav format if you do this) and the software can then export the recording as an mp3. Alternatively you can record directly into Audacity through your microphone or headset and then export the file (the recording will be in Audacity’s file format) to mp3 which is the most universal file format.
It is a good idea to prepare a script for your shows because it keeps you on track and you may tend to make fewer mistakes (which means less editing).
You then need somewhere to put the recordings and make it into a podcast and I recommend Libsyn. They charge for disk space and not bandwidth (which is fantastic) and their prices are pretty cheap. They effectively create a blog for the podcast geared for podcasting so you basically upload your episode to their servers (they will have guides to show you how to do this) as a post on the site. The content of the post will be your show notes. The feed from that Libsyn site will be your podcast feed which you can also run through Feedburner to give you statistics on your subscribers.
Another way to use Libsyn is to just upload to their servers and publish the podcast posts to your blog under a specific category (you can use the specific category feed which you can route through Feedburner and then give out the Feedburner feed as the podcast feed). People can then get your posts (which will include the podcast posts) in your main feed and subscribe to your podcast feed in iTunes to capture the episode straightaway. Depending on how people access their feeds, they may just see that there is an audio file in the podcast posts and can choose whether to download it as a separate audio file as opposed to it being downloaded automatically in iTunes or their podcast software. The first method means the podcast is totally separate and runs through Libsyn (their blog, by the way, seems to run a version of WordPress) and the second method means everything runs through your existing blog and it is just a matter of using the podcast category feed as your podcast feed that people can subscribe to separately if they want to.
Of course this explanation assumes you have a blog already. You can create a separate blog for the podcast (Amplitude is a good example of this) and use the blog’s main feed as a podcast feed. I still recommend routing the feed through Feedburner so you know how many people listen to your podcast and if you decide to move the podcast somewhere, the feed stays the same (Feedburner feeds are containers for the source feed so if you change the source feed it doesn’t change the Feedburner feed – kinda like having one post box even though you may move homes).
Once you have all that sorted out you can also start including audio files (music is a nice addition but make sure it is licensed for your podcast so take a look at “podsafe” music or Creative Commons music files). This methodology also works if you want to create a video podcast. To do that you need to record your video and then publish it in the same way. You obviously wouldn’t use Audacity for the video recording and, depending on your camera, you could probably just save the video recording to your computer and then upload to Libsyn. Another option for a video show is to use YouTube to publish your video blog. People would need to then access your video podcast through YouTube although you can also publish the video on your blog as well.
I hope these tips are helpful if you are looking to start podcasting. Let me know if there is anything I missed or glossed over!
A podcast can be a great tool for business too. We have a few ideas about podcasting for business and would be happy to chat to you about that. Just give us a shout!