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How to record a successful Podcast in 7 steps

By 8 April 2020 May 20th, 2020 No Comments
Podcasting microphone and headphones

In these uncertain times for business, digital communication is the key to staying in touch with your customers and teams – so if you’ve been thinking about learning how to record a podcast, now might be the perfect time. In this blog, we’ll cover planning, gear, recording and editing, hosting, directories and marketing basics, to teach you how to make a successful podcast.

Let’s get started!

Podcasts are a commitment

Like any episodic or formatted series, podcasts work best when regularly scheduled; you retain subscribers by giving them fresh content that’s consistently released. So while starting a podcast is fun (and exciting!), remember – it takes work to build and sustain a dedicated audience. The first step? Planning high-quality content.

Step 1: Choose your topics

A lot of audio or video podcasts (vodcasts) centre around people’s expertise – so if you’re a brand, your subject matter authority is an easy way of determining where you can add value. This is also true of individual podcasters, though it’s also possible to use your content to learn more about topics of interest e.g. by interviewing experts. Either way, ask yourself:

What might your target audience want from your podcast?

Think about:

  • What they care about in day-to-day life
  • Their passions
  • Their pain points
  • Any questions they might have for you

If you’re in marketing, it might help to look at any keyword research and note timely, relevant ideas to explore in your future podcast episodes.

Step 2: Get your equipment

When learning how to make a great podcast, gear is everything – particularly for audio podcasts, as all you have is sound. Here’s a list of must-have equipment:

Audio podcasts

    • Microphone

      • Mobile phone: In a pinch, you can also record straight from your mobile phone. Pro tip: these in-built mics do pick up background noise, so make sure you’re in a quiet spot.
      • Condenser microphone: These mics are industry standard for professional broadcasters, so you can easily record multiple speakers. At Shootsta, we use the RØDE Wireless GO, a cordless omnidirectional condenser mic with high audio quality that records from the transmitter and wirelessly sends to the receiver. It’s a multi-tasker, as you can also plug in a lapel mic for video, as well as being hands free. Just plug into your computer (or phone) via the headphone port.
        • USB microphone: USB mics are another plug and play option, designed to connect to your computer and just work. Blue’s Yeti, the world leader, is another condenser mic with multiple modes for sound, depending on how many speakers you have.

Video podcasts

    • Video camera

      • DSLR DSLR video cameras are the standard for filming non-Hollywood videos. They shoot high-quality footage (even 4K, if that’s your thing), and for beginners, they’re generally user-friendly and easy to learn. At Shootsta, we love Sony’s video technology, so these are the cameras our clients use.
    • Microphone(s)

      • Lapel mic: Lapel (or lavalier / lav) mics are again the broadcast standard, as they’re discreet and allow speakers the use of their hands. At Shootsta, we use the RØDE smartLav+ for professional, high-quality audio while filming on camera.
        • You’ll also need a transmitter and receiver; the transmitter plugs into your mic, and the receiver plugs into your camera, pairing your audio with your footage
      • Wireless microphone: We recommend the RØDE Wireless GO (see above); it’s a complete and incredibly compact wireless transmitter and receiver set, with a high-quality mic built into the transmitter.
    • Lighting

      • We use LED lights to supplement available natural light when required. These can be fitted to a camera tripod or gorillapod.
      • Check out our Shootsta Kit for more information on video equipment

All podcasts

    • Computer

      If you don’t need a computer to record your podcast, you’ll certainly need one to edit it. Both Windows and Mac are capable of handling your audio podcast files; for video, raw files tend to be quite large, so you’ll want to ensure you’ve got the hard drive space to accommodate them (or an external drive). Editing video footage also commands a higher-performance computer, so keep this in mind when sourcing your video equipment.

Podcast editing in Adobe Premiere Pro
    • Talent

      While not strictly ‘equipment’, talent (someone who loves talking) is a must-have when it comes to audio or video podcasting – especially for audio-only content, as your host’s voice and personality are going to be the main drawcards for brand awareness and recall. You’ll also want someone with a strong editorial style to give your podcast its unique flavour.

Two men sitting at a table to record a podcast

Step 3: Plan your episodes

To script or not to script? Podcasts, for most people, are about tuning in during downtime, so the format generally follows authentic, laid-back conversations. As a result, unless your niche favours densely-packed information, you’ll want to steer clear of over-scripting your episodes; mainly as it hinders banter and spontaneity. Which, let’s face it, is what usually makes podcasts awesome!

That said, not scripting doesn’t mean not planning. Know your format – if you have a templated intro and outro that varies based on content every week, make sure you have the key points you need to cover off. If your podcast is longer and has multiple segments, with their own intros / outros / segues, note points for these too. And don’t forget interviewing – do your due diligence and come prepared with questions for your guests e.g. how they got started in their careers, if they have any advice, and what some recent accomplishments are. It also helps to close your podcast with a call to action, like asking people to visit your website, in order to help market your brand (or personal) products and services.

Woman planning a podcast on a notepad next to a laptop

Step 4: Record your podcast!

Don’t be put off by the idea of needing a studio if that’s unrealistic for you. You can still create a great recording space with:

      • Table and chairs: The more relaxed and comfortable you are, the better you’ll look and sound. Padded chairs with back support and a table for your gear, notes, water etc. go a ways to facilitating the right environment.
      • Quiet:
        • Acoustics:If you find yourself in an echoey room, create makeshift sound panels by draping blankets across every big, flat surface you can find: windows, doors, walls, floors if they’re polished, the works. Curtains, carpet and soft furniture like sofas help dampen sound waves – otherwise, you risk sounding like you’re recording in a bathroom!
          • For an audio podcast, quiet is essential, as additional noise detracts from your speakers. With a video podcast, you’ve got more leeway; consistent background noise is your next best option, if you can’t have silence.
        • Cues: Help others, help you by telling people when you’re recording. You can either do this with a sign – ‘Quiet please, recording in progress’ is easy to make and print – or if you’re filming a video, “Rolling!” is your cue for everyone to be silent. Don’t forget to ask people to switch their phones to ‘do not disturb’ or ‘airplane’ mode.
      • Natural lighting (video podcasts): Here, lighting issues from direct sunlight / fluorescent lights, and excessive shadowing, can often make or break a video. Our advice: leverage natural light by facing a window (avoiding direct sunlight), in environments that are interesting, but not too busy.
Person recording a podcast

In terms of podcasting software, you can use Audacity to both record and edit your audio podcast – or even the native Voice Memos app on your iPhone. For video, you’ll need a camera and mic(s) as a bare minimum – check out our blog on how to shoot videos like a pro for more information.

* If you’re shooting on a mobile phone, you might also be interested in our recent blog post, ‘6 Tips For Filming On Your Phone’.

Tips from our CEO, Mike Pritchett on how to record a podcast

Step 5: Edit your podcast

Your editing process will depend on whether your podcast is audio or video, but either way you’ll need software to polish your content e.g. editing mic bumps / stumbles / outside noises like sirens etc. If you’re editing audio, you’re looking at programs like Pro Tools (paid) or Audacity (free); if you’re editing video, your main options are Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X, both paid editing software. Once edited, you can export audio files as MP3 or M4A files, and video files as MOV, MP4 or M4V files, plus PDFs for text-based support like transcripts.

If your company doesn’t have the skill set, you can also leverage editing services like Shootsta, where our in-house professional editors take care of all the post-production for you – from cleaning up audio to cutting your video, and packaging the final product as branded content.

We edit your podcasts

Up to 1 hour duration

72-hour turnaround

Multiple
speakers

Advanced
sound design

Step 6: Host and distribute your podcast

After exporting your audio or video podcast, you’ll need to host and distribute your files. Distribution via podcast directories is how you’ll reach your target audience, so think about where this audience consumes podcasts online. Also, most distributors don’t offer file hosting – so it pays to know your technical considerations. Let’s examine these aspects in a little detail.

Podcast hosting

For anyone wanting to list their podcasts on directories like Apple or Google Podcasts, you’ll need a file hosting partner as they don’t provide this service. Some paid options are Libsyn, Blubrry and Whooshkaa, who have both audio and video capabilities. Soundcloud, an audio host and distributor, also has a freemium version you can try – good for brands piloting their first podcast.

If your podcast is internal-only, you may simply be able to host your files on your company’s intranet. However, you’ll want to ensure the website has a secure hosting server that supports Transport Layer Security (TLS, which replaces Secure Sockets Layer or SSL) to protect the internal transmission of data.

So why pay a hosting partner? Your RSS feed URL a.k.a. the most important thing outside your actual content. This xml-coded link is what you submit to directories to reach your audience, and without the help of a host, you will need to create this file yourself (using an RSS Builder). So if you or your team isn’t super technical, hosting is definitely worth the investment e.g. Libsyn has a plan for USD $5 / month.

Podcast distribution

Once you’ve hosted your files and you have that all-important RSS feed, you can distribute your podcast. Without a doubt, the fan favourite for distribution is the Apple Podcasts app (previously ‘iTunes’). Apple’s podcast directory lists 800,000+ free shows in 150+ countries and 100+ languages, which is a lot of reach – and lists both audio and video podcasts. Apple’s podcast submission process works by: you submitting a RSS feed URL (preferably HTTPS) via their Podcasts Connect platform; your podcast is then reviewed for approval by Apple in five business days, and once approved, will go live following email confirmation and be searchable in-app within 24 hours. You can learn more about podcasting with Apple here.

There’s also Google Podcasts – which for the marketers out there, has obvious SEO benefits. Like Apple, Google’s submission process has a five-business-day turnaround (view guidelines); once approved, you’ll receive an email confirmation and find your podcast on Google Play Music. There’s just one thing – Google Podcasts are currently only available in the US and Canada. If that’s you, however, you can find more information here.

Last but not least, you can also distribute audio podcasts on Spotify, which boasts over 250 million listeners in 75 countries. So for the audio-only podcasters, Spotify is also a viable option. Check out their Spotify for Podcasters FAQ.

Step 7: Market your podcast

Once you’ve launched your podcast, you’ll want to promote it to your target audience – so don’t forget basics like:

  • Cover art: Aim for uncluttered yet eye-catching. Remember, your artwork needs to be effective as a thumbnail image – so use large fonts, contrast, and images relevant to the tone and content of your podcast.
  • Description: What’s in it for your audience? While your artwork might form the first impression, your copy should seal the deal. Briefly summarise your content and make a point of headlining VIP guests or hot topics / trends.
  • Home page: Some distributors require a podcast homepage as part of their submission guidelines e.g. Google. A simple, responsive web page (with app badges to subscribe at the top) is a good start.
  • Trailer: Just like YouTube channel trailers, podcast trailers help audiences understand what you’re offering and why they should subscribe. Pro tip: hook people in the first 3 seconds, and keep your trailer under two minutes long.
Two women recording a podcast interview

Congratulations, and welcome to the world of podcasting! We hope this blog post helped you create a successful podcast. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’d love to help.

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