Anyone with a microphone and something to say can make a podcast. In this article, I’m going to give you some podcast technical tips for creating and distributing your own.
Nothing spoils a good podcast like poor recording. You can typically get away with using a modern computer’s built-in microphone, but you may end up with subtle fuzz in the background.
This example was recorded with a Lenovo Thinkpad T530′s built-in microphone. It’s decent, but not great.
This is a clip of the audio, showing how the “silent” part in the background actually has a bit of interference:
This one was recorded with an inexpensive USB microphone. If you have good speakers, you’ll be able to hear the difference.
Note the flat line during silent parts:
Microphones aside, you can attempt to fix sub-par recordings in a program such as Audacity by employing the equalize and normalize filters. You can also compress the audio to permit only the vocal sounds to come through. If not used carefully, though, compression can result in a tinny sound.
If you’re recording a group show with people in remote places, I recommend using Mumble for its high sound quality and low latency. Recording is a built-in feature.
Music and Sound Effects
Many professional podcasts include a jingle at the beginning, and sometimes also at the end, to keep the theme consistent from episode to episode. A jingle is also good for branding.
If you don’t know what I mean by a jingle, this sample demonstrates the concept:
If you can make your own jingle, great! If you’re like me, who have no sense of rhythm or melody, you might be better off finding one online.
Several websites stock freely-licensed music, samples, and sound effects. Some of these include:
Hosting Your Podcast
While Podbean was once a wise choice, the site has been down for some time. PRX.org is a viable alternative, but it limits free accounts to two hours of audio.
One of the most important podcast technical tips is to host your own using WordPress, because it’s very easy to do, and there’s no data cap except for that set by your hosting provider. Another advantage is that it automatically creates an RSS feed for your content, and RSS is nearly a requirement if you expect people to listen to your podcast offline. WordPress even generates an Atom feed
While you don’t strictly have to use a plugin to host audio content on your WordPress blog, doing so can make it simpler and prettier. The plugin I’ve chosen to use for my podcast is called Podlove Web Player. Podlove Web Player is part of Podlove Podcast Publisher, which is a more complete solution for podcast hosting.
Podlove’s options will show up in your sidebar after you’ve installed and activated the plugin:
The problem I found with Podlove Podcast Publisher is that it makes use of the custom post type that will not show up on the main page by default. This means that visitors may struggle to find it. I chose to post my podcast episodes as regular posts using just the Web Player component of Podlove (via shortcode).
To use the Podlove Web Player, upload an episode of your podcast; you can use WordPress’ media library or host the file somewhere else. All you need is a direct link. Then, in your post, use the
[podloveaudio] shortcode to embed your podcast. The most basic example looks like this:
For a nicer-looking podcast, I recommend using some more tags to add metadata. A complete list of supported tags can be found here.
This is an example of a podcast post I made, using an album image and audio file from my WordPress media library and including a description:
[podloveaudio src="http://podcast.rujic.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/metapodcast-02.ogg" poster="http://podcast.rujic.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/ruji.gif" title="The Meta-Podcast: Episode 02"] In this episode, I record audio with my USB microphone (Blue Snowflake) to show how there is less interference from background noise.
The description will show up in smart podcast clients such as Miro, as well as on the WordPress page itself:
Feedburner is a free RSS management service. If you already have a feed for your podcast, you can convert it to use Feedburner; this will give you access to subscription statistics and other features that you won’t get with a regular WordPress feed.
To get started, all you need is a Google account. Sign in and visit feedburner.google.com. Feedburner will invite you to “Burn a feed right this instant.” Just enter your WordPress (or other) RSS feed, check “I am a podcaster,” and click “Next.”
Feedburner will guess your feed’s title and address, which you can change:
If you chose a feed address that wasn’t already taken, you’ll get a success message. Just follow Feedburner’s instructions to configure advanced settings.
If your podcast is on WordPress, you’ll need to tell your WordPress installation to redirect your feed to Feedburner. You can do this with a plugin such as FD Feedburner Plugin.
Install and activate FD Feedburner, and then, in your WordPress dashboard, go to “Settings -> Feedburner” and enter your Feedburner address:
Now you can visit your Feedburner page to track all your feed’s analytics.
Getting Your Podcast Out There
If you want the public to find your podcast, you’ll have to list it in some directories. Here are some major ones you should take a look at:
If there’s one last podcast technical tip I have, it’s, “Just do it!” The technical details matter, but they aren’t as important as just jumping into it and getting your feet wet. In my opinion, everyone should have a podcast!
So what’s your present or future podcast about?
Image credit: Open Clip Art Library
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