A podcast is an episodic series of digital "radio shows" used for entertainment, education, sharing ideas, or as a means of expressing yourself. Podcasts can vary widely in their format and subject matter, but they often include guest interviews, discussions of current events, or conversations about hobbies or niche topics. The act of sharing a podcast online, or "podcasting," represents a combination of the words iPod (although any audio player can be used) and broadcasting. Podcasting is a free service that allows internet users to stream or download podcast audio files (typically MP3s) from a podcasting web site. Unlike Internet radio, users don't have to 'tune in' to a particular broadcast. Instead, they download the podcast on demand or subscribe via an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, which automatically downloads the podcast to their computers.
Want to built your podcasting skills? Click the image below to view a Udemy podcasting training course (available to NAU affiliates).
This How to Guide will help you:
Before you create your own podcast, you should listen to a number of professional podcasts to hear how it is done. To listen to a podcast:
In order to create a professional sounding podcast, you will need the following pieces of equipment:
All of these items are available to the NAU and CCC community in the Cline Library's three Production Studios.
Planning is the initial, often overlooked, stage of making a great podcast. You'll want to spend a good amount of time thinking about 1) why you want to make your podcast and, 2) who you are making the podcast for. Unless you know exactly who you’re making your show for, and why you’re doing it, you’ve got no chance of growing an audience. If you're coming at it from a business point of view, and you're (for example) a personal trainer who wants to make a health and fitness podcast, then your target audience might be people who are interested in healthy eating, weight loss, exercise, or bodybuilding. If you're creating a hobby show – let's say it's based around your love of zombies and post-apocalyptic fiction – then your target audience would simply be folks with the same passion. They might be fans of TV shows like The Walking Dead, video games like Resident Evil, books like World War Z, and films like Night of the Living Dead. Both of these questions are important to keep in mind throughout the entire podcasting process so that you can stay motivated, even when you're finding it difficult to get a show out.
When selecting the topic of your podcast, you want a topic that is focused and targeted. Try to narrow it down to something you can speak about for many episodes (100+) but that isn’t so broad that you won’t appeal to your potential audience. For example, instead of having an “outdoor” podcast, talk about hiking – or even more specific, like hiking in the Flagstaff area. You can always expand your topic later as you get more popular.
Once you have a topic in mind, start to think about what podcast format would best fit that topic. You can create your own unique structure or use one of the five most popular podcast formats:
There are pros and cons to each format so think about the best way to educate your future audience about your topic. Many popular podcasts mix together a few styles over different episodes or through recurring segments. After building your confidence, you can adjust the format as the podcast progresses and experiment with new angles.
You have a lot of freedom when choosing your podcast's name. But no matter what it should convey who you are and what the show is in about 29 characters or less. Concise names typically pack a stronger punch because they stay extremely relevant to their topic. Here’s some handy tips to keep in mind as you brainstorm:
Once you have a topic, format, and name in mind you can begin to plan the general outline of your podcast. Your outline can follow whatever structure works best for your topic, but breaking the outline into short segments helps keep the attention of your audience and move the podcast along. This outline should remain fairly standard for all of your podcast episodes so that the audience knows what to expect each time. Here is an example outline for a 18-20 minute episode:
When we talk about "scripting" it’s easy to imagine an in-depth essay that’ll be read out word-for-word to become your podcast episode. That approach can work, but it’s only for really highly produced, heavily edited shows. The intimate nature of podcasting is far more suited to being a conversation, as opposed to a lecture. Because of this, try to wean yourself away from a fully scripted show and instead focus on bullet points of everything you want to cover. This will become easier over time with practice, until eventually writing a full script will seem unnecessary.
Also, the way you open and close your episodes is really important too!
Recording a podcast is almost as easy as listening to one. Here's how the process works:
The editing process is where you splice in your intro and outro, remove gaps of dead air, cut out your mistakes, and eliminate background noises and those impossible-to-ignore pops. Altering audio files can feel daunting for a newcomer so here are a few key tips:
Editing should enhance your show rather than used as a crutch. Investing resources in planning each episode allows you to spend less time editing and more time creating captivating content.
Audio files, especially podcasts, need to be exported with specific settings to enhance the listening experience. The exporting process will be different in each audio software you may be using, but here are some general things to consider:
On the surface, it may appear all podcast hosting providers are the same. But the better services offer more enhanced features to help you grow, without compromising the basics. When choosing your podcast hosting provider, think about these 5 key functions:
Podcast listening platforms and apps don’t actually store your podcast’s information. Instead, they receive the audio files from a podcast hosting service via an RSS feed. Your podcast’s RSS feed is what will connect you to your audience, so it’s important to choose a podcast hosting service that fits your needs. At the bottom of this page you will find a list of potential podcast hosting services for you to explore.
Once you have selected a host, it’s critical to submit your podcast to as many podcast directories as possible to make it accessible to everyone, no matter which platforms they prefer to use. All you need to do is make an account with each directory and submit your RSS link. The major players are Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, Podcasher, and TuneIn.
Recording podcasts that are crisp and clear can often be a tricky task. Follow these tips to record the best podcast audio possible:
Ideally you want to record your podcast in a quiet, secluded, and sound-proof room. If that's not possible, be sure to limit background noise in your podcast by closely examining your recording space. Turn off unnecessary electronics like lights, refrigerators, furnace/air conditioners, cell phones, etc. Consider hanging blankets on the walls or recording in a wall-to-wall carpeted room to help dampen a live room. Also be sure to record all audio for your podcast in the same room - elements in rooms like carpet and ceiling height will make each room sound unique.
For situations where you can't remove ambient noises (like humming lights) it is important to ALWAYS record at least 30 seconds of background noise before beginning your video take. This "dead time" makes it easier for audio editing programs, like Audacity or Adobe Audition, to remove those tones and distortions from the entire video clip. Not all background noises are the same, so make certain you have a run of background taken on the same day and from the same room in which you record. You'll also want to record at least 5 seconds of "silence" between speakers. This will enable you to insert pauses during the editing phase.
Record the voice/source as loud as possible into the microphone (microphone is best closest to the source). But don't be too close or too far away from the microphone. The appropriate distance between your mouth and the microphone is 6 to 12 inches. This prevents "popping" noises, heavy breathing, and clipping in your recording. If you sound thin and distant, get closer to the microphone. And don't forget to keep your hands off the mic! Put the microphone in a stand to ensure it’s properly positioned for the whole recording session.
Your diction decides how easily your audience can understand you. Remember to speak conversationally, as if speaking to a friend. Sit in a chair and sit up straight. Some tips to remember:
Popping is the extra burst of air that is released from your mouth when pronouncing Ps and Bs. Sibilance is the hissing sound the mouth makes when pronouncing Ss and Fs. Both popping and sibilance are picked up extra clearly in recordings and distract from the audio. Make adjustments to your angle and distance from the mic to the point where the popping and sibilant sounds are the least noticeable.
You will always, always, always want to edit your audio after recording. To help you clean up your audio, if the speaker makes a mistake while recording, have them pause and start the entire sentence over (by starting at the beginning of the sentence you ensure proper inflection in the speaker's voice). This will help make editing out the mistake a lot easier. The Cline Library offers a number of audio editing programs including iMovie, Audacity, and Adobe Audition.