In this article, we take a look at exactly what a podcast is, and how you can create one as a budding entrepreneur.
What is a podcast and why is it a useful tool?
The basic definition of a podcast is “an episodic series of downloadable audio files a user can listen to”. Users generally subscribe to a podcast and will receive new episodes automatically through a syndication service or email.
A podcast could contain practically anything – radio shows often make podcasts to summarise their shows, businesses might make a podcast series to explain their products, or TV producers might make a podcast to provide additional info to fans about their series for example. Since their inception in the early 2000s, podcasts are steadily gaining traction and more individuals and organisations are starting to see their potential.
In business, a podcast can serve as a useful marketing tool. It can also help provide customers with additional information about your business. Furthermore, a podcast series can bring humour, fun and a likeability factor that other types of media and marketing sometimes can’t. Finally, it creates a sense of loyalty amongst your customers – they will subscribe to your podcast service and become invested in your business at a deeper level than simply watching a TV advert for example. Aside from promoting customer loyalty, a podcast can also just be a huge amount of fun!
Creating a podcast Phase 1 – the tools you need
Before you actually record your first podcast, there is a myriad of tools you will need to start the process. This is not something that can be done off-the-cuff or without any forethought – an impromptu and improvised podcast could be fantastic, but you still need the tools to record it! Now that you understand how a podcast can be beneficial and fun, you should understand what is required to create one. The following is a short list of considerations and tools you will need to start your very own podcast series:
An interesting and worthwhile idea
This is obviously the most important tool – you need a subject to create a podcast about! Whilst a podcast of someone simply talking about anything and everything for 30 minutes can be fun if done right, it can also be insanely counterproductive and useless. We believe that having a firm idea for your podcast is much more preferable. What can you create a podcast about? What subject can you discuss?
If you are creating a podcast for your business, you will be able to think of ideas easier. For example, you could create a podcast that explains in-depth about a new product you are releasing. Or you could create a podcast that contains interviews with customers that have used your product/service. You could even create a podcast that gives customers insight into your business and how it operates on a daily basis. There are many ideas, but you need to choose a theme and stick to it!
Before creating your podcast, it is prudent to draft an outline for several “episodes” or even a whole series, maybe 4-5 different topics for example. Create a title and points of discussion for each episode and use this as a framework for recording your sessions.
A recording device/setup
Once you have created an idea for your podcast series, you need the physical equipment to record it. Luckily to create a podcast you don’t need a huge array of expensive recording equipment. At a push, you could even record your podcast on a smartphone, although the quality may not be very good! The following is a basic list of equipment you may need to record your podcast series:
- Microphone: Preferably a dynamic microphone, not a condenser microphone
- Mixer: Mackie is a great company that makes high-quality mixers
- Headphones: Something higher-quality than bog-standard iPod headphones for example
- Digital Recorder: This only applies if you aren’t recording through a computer
- Cables: You can get the required audio cabling, such as RCA to 3.5mm from hardware stores
Unfortunately, we cannot recommend a wide variety of recording hardware, but if you search Google you can find plenty of useful articles and links. We found this article extremely useful in deciding what podcast equipment is essential for example. Do your research, purchase your equipment and create a setup for recording your podcast. Ensure you have a dedicated area where you can record without being disturbed, and that your equipment is in place.
Podcast recording software
Aside from physical hardware, in most cases, you will also need some recording software for your desktop PC or laptop. This software is a vital component as it is what allows you to record your voice and translate it into a media file that can then be edited and compiled into a podcast. Common media files include Mp3, WAV, WMA and MPEG.
Podcast software can be broken down into two categories – recording and editing software. Recording software is a program that records your audio and as mentioned above, converts it into an audio file type that can be edited on a computer. Editing software is a program that allows you to manipulate said audio file – you can chop and change the file, cut pieces out, swap segments and even alter audio features like the tone and pitch of your voice. Some podcast software allows to you both record and edit, others specialise in just one. We have listed below some popular pieces of software used in creating podcasts.
Audacity – Recording & Editing
This free piece of software was released in 2000 and is hugely popular among podcasters. Audacity allows you to record your podcast and then fully edit it afterwards. You can remove background noise, change the audio levels and also add cool features such as music, adverts and intros.
Adobe Audition – Recording & Editing
This is part of the Adobe Creative suit and does have a monthly subscription cost – you may only want to consider this software if you are serious about earning revenue from your podcasts. As with Audacity, you can record and edit your audio files fully, mix audio elements and even create podcast templates. Adobe also has some useful guides on podcasting which are worth a read.
Logic Pro – Recording & Editing
This piece of software is a fully fledged audio recording and production suite. Although the price tag sits at a one-off payment of approximately £200.00, once you have paid that, you have full access to the product and all its features. Logic Pro has a host of features and you can import audio files from other sources too. For those who are serious about their podcast venture, this software should be given serious consideration!
Creating a podcast Phase 2 – recording your first show
Now that you have gathered your recording equipment, installed out editing software and developed a podcast idea, you can finally record your first episode! The following are the main steps involved in creating a podcast:
Creating a script
Some people may skip this step and simply make up the content of the podcast as they go along, but we feel it is prudent to create a script before recording. You don’t have to create a word for word script, but you can at least outline the different subjects you wish to talk about, and questions for any interviews you may have for example. If you have some form of script, however basic it may be, your podcast should flow naturally and you will be more prepared.
Recording the show
Once you have created a script and arranged your setup you can start recording! Do as many takes as you want and most importantly have fun! Creating a podcast shouldn’t be a chore – it should be an enjoyable experience that you have fun doing. If you enjoy creating your podcast, your enthusiasm will show and will create a more enjoyable end product for your listeners.
Be sure to use your script, but don’t be afraid to ad-lib. Make use of interviews and try to entice listener interaction by asking questions or even having competitions. Finally, be sure to set your recording device properly and ensure that your podcast is translated into an audio file! You don’t want to spend hours recording a podcast, only to find that you have forgotten to press the record button!
Editing the audio file
Once you have gained all the recorded footage you need, you can then look at editing the audio file and creating the final podcast edit. Use the editing software you have either purchased or downloaded for free that we mentioned above and start to create your podcast episode. The first step should be to check the quality of the recording, edit out any background noise and generally clean up the quality and levels of the audio.
Next, you can look at chopping and changing – cutting pieces out you didn’t like, and moving sections around to create a smooth flowing episode. Don’t disregard any piece of audio completely as you may be able to use it in the future. Consider adding in introductions, outros and other in-between pieces that add additional content to your podcast – you could even reach out to other businesses and include adverts. In short, edit your audio recordings to create a finished podcast that you are happy with!
Now that you have created your masterpiece, you are ready to share it with the world! There are actually several different ways that you can publish and promote your podcast, but most importantly, it must be hosted on the internet somewhere for listeners to download and subscribe to!
If you have a website, you can simply upload your podcast audio file to a location on your web server. Otherwise, if you don’t (and you should really consider getting one!), there are a range of third-party podcast hosting services such as BlogAudio, Buzzsprout and Spreaker. Once you have uploaded your audio file to a web server or hosting service, you can publish your podcast in the following methods:
- Create a link or a page on your website promoting the podcast
- Create links and posts on your social media accounts promoting the podcast
- Creating an email campaign promoting your new podcast
- Create an XML feed containing info about your podcast and a link
- Submit your podcast to iTunes, Feed Shark and Podcast Alley
As you can see, there are a variety of different publishing methods. Try to use as many as possible and get your podcast out in the wide world through as many sources as you can – if you have more outlets of promotion, you can appeal to a greater audience.
What should you do after creating your podcast?
The work doesn’t stop once you have created your first podcast. From here onwards you can work on creating your next episode and planning out a whole series of podcasts. As you progress and create more episodes, you will refine your technique and the process should become infinitely smoother.
Aside from promoting your podcast and creating new episodes, you should also take time to gain feedback from listeners. Reach out to your listeners and ask for their honest opinion – what did they like about your podcast? What do they feel you could have improved? Were there any sections they thought were weaker? Use this feedback to alter your next podcasts and to improve your finished pieces.
Hopefully, you now have the tools and knowledge to create your own podcast! Why not give it a go and see what you can produce? A podcast is a fantastic way to promote your business, have some fun and make use of a different form of media that is sometimes overlooked.