This post is part of The 30.000 Word Challenge. See all the articles in the series! 

 

Microphones and intros and guests and schedules and compression and hosts and iTunes…this whole podcasting things sounds too complicated for one person to manage, right? It should be easy – and I’ll clear everything up and help you get started. Read on, dear reader, as I tell you all about how I created a podcast for free, from nothing, and ended up with a book deal.

1. The Reasons I Got Into Podcasting

Sending an email with some questions and getting back the answers isn’t fun. You know what’s fun? Actually talking to another human being, having a conversation, being free and experimental.

I started a blog about entrepreneurs, but I wasn’t one. So most of the “advice” I gave was from other people. About 3 weeks in, I decided to make the shift: I would start my own podcast about entrepreneurs and small business owners. And now, about a year later, I’m launching my second season and I’m starting another one.

I love podcasting for 3 reasons:

  1. You get to know your guest much better.
    I’ve always started with a set of 10 basic questions. But as the conversation evolved, I found many more things to ask. I can’t do that with a blog post interview. And so, you learn so much more about your guest, but also about yourself (how well you react in certain situations, what makes you happy, how spontaneous are you, etc.)
  2. It’s an amazing brand-building tool.
    I’ve been invited to co-host a podcast, I’ve been a guest on three separate occasions and I’ve used podcasting to boost my credibility and authority online ever since.
  3. Not everyone’s doing it.
    I always enjoy being the crazy one, the one that experiments with apps, situations and content. I’m happy to fail and learn. And since there was a lack of Romanian Podcasts, I thought I could be the person to craft it into a viable communication medium. Since then, I’m happy to say the situation has changed – we now have a Romanian Podcasting Network.

When I got started, I was pretty much lost. Didn’t know a feed from a cover, so I learned as I went along. Now what we know WHY I started, let’s take a look at the tools of the trade.

2. The Tools I Use In Podcasting

There are 2 types of tools involved: hardware (microphones, preamps, etc.) and software (audio editing apps, sound recorders, etc.). I’m sure there are a variety of different options to choose from. Pat Flynn has his own setup, Andrew Warner another and John Lee Dumas something else entirely.

The point here is not to copy anyone. Is the RODE Podcaster better than other podcasting mics around? Probably. Will the hardware alone make you a better conversationalist or give you more courage in approaching guests for your episodes? Probably not.

Tools are just that: instruments. Things you use. But you shouldn’t be reliant on them to make your show better. At least not in the beginning.

  • The Hardware I Use In Podcasting

Canyon CNR-FHS04 Basic Stereo Headset
For about $10, this isn’t half bad. It’s no professional USB microphone, but it got the job done. I went from worrying about audio and tools to having my first podcast episode in about 2 days. Since then I’ve upgraded to the LD Systems D1 USB Dynamic Vocal Microphone, that I can’t wait to test in my upcoming Content Marketing Podcast.

  • The Software I Use In Podcasting

iFree Skype Recorder
I’ve done all of my interviews using Skype. It doesn’t have built-in call recording, so you’ll want to use a separate app. iFree Skype Recorder is really simple to use, it doesn’t get in your way and just…works. There’s no point in paying for something when you’re in the starting stages. Try a few other Skype recorders and stick with what works best for you.

Audacity
Great interface, lovely support and amazing pricing (it’s free). It’s also cross-platform, so it works on Windows, MAC and Linux. There are only a few enhancements that I use within Audacity, that you can learn in an hour tops. More on this in the next chapter.

Auphonic (OPTIONAL)
If you’re recording 1 episode/week, with a duration of about 30 minutes, you’ll find Auphonic to be a godsend. It’s an automatic post production web service, that’s free for 2 hours of audio every month. That means you can just upload your recorded audio, choose a few options (reduce hiss, get rid of silence, improve bass and treble) and you’ll get a much better output from it. Without you having to fiddle with settings or fearing you might accidentally overwrite your original file.

Sony Vegas (OPTIONAL)
Since I was looking for the most free host available, I was uploading my audio files as videos on YouTube. Adding a cover and linking back to the original blog post. It was a hassle for sure – converting the audio to video took about an hour and people don’t usually subscribe to audio podcasts on YouTube. But when you’re low on cash or ideas, it’s a great alternative. Plus it’s ad-free.

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3. My Podcasting Framework

Here are the exact steps I used to launch one episode of my podcast – StartUps Romania:

  1. Find my topic/guest.
    If I wasn’t talking about a specific subject on my own, I’d hunt down a possible guest. Either on forums, faceook groups, from websites I enjoyed or recommendations. I can’t emphasise how good recommended guests are. You don’t have to do the work in finding them and since they’re coming from an older guest, they’re usually very high quality.
  2. Set up a schedule using Assistant.
    This step is important, as the guest is your livelihood, if you aren’t talking by yourself about a specific topic. Assistant sends a Google Calendar invitation, but it’s smart enough to convert the times to the guest’s timezone. So you’ll avoid scheduling mistakes. And since entrepreneurs are extremely busy people, this was crucial for me.
  3. Record the episode using Skype and iFree Skype Recorder
    It was difficult at first to have all the moving pieces in place – the first interview I did, I managed to talk for about 30 minutes, without actually recording any of it. The shame in doing that made me more focused and prepared for the future.
  4. Edit the episode using Audacity or Auphonic.
    If I didn’t have any more free time in Auphonic or if the episode was longer than 30 minutes, I’d use Audacity. Since
  5. Convert the audio to video.
    SoundCloud offers limited storage and other hosts had ads, so I used YouTube as the place where people could listen to the podcast in the beginning. I modified the episode cover in Photoshop and added it in Sony Vegas. Then I’d render the whole video to a high quality .MP4 file.
  6. Upload on the YouTube channel.
    The rendering took about an hour. Then there was the uploading and YouTube processing. I’ll be honest – it wasn’t ideal, but it worked and I got used to it.
  7. Promote the episode launch on social-media.
    I mostly shared it on my personal account and on a few facebook startup groups (there aren’t that many in Romania to begin with). I also notified the guest and ask that he/she share it on a specific time.
NOTE: I plan on streamlining this whole framework for my upcoming Content Marketing Podcast.

4. How To Launch Your Own Podcast

When you’re just starting out, you’ll want only one thing: get episodes done. Not get them perfect, just get them done. That way you’ll have a body of work that people can interact with. Just as a writer writes, a podcaster podcasts. You’re supposed to make mistakes, fail and learn from it. Grow and move it. Always looking to the future and having the optimism and confidence that you’re doing something special.

Here are the simple stages you should go through to launch your own podcast:

  • Figure out what you’re really passionate about.
    Maybe it’s nature, marketing, women, cars, the internet in general. Usually, the more specific the better. There are a million podcasts about success, but only a few about success in agriculture or car repair. Focus on a niche you know has potential.
  • Find the tools readily available around you.
    No need to run to the store just yet – if you’ve got a decent laptop and a microphone/headset, you’re pretty much ready to go. Since most modern laptops already have a mic built-in, you basically need just that.
  • Find your first guest.
    If you’re feeling really nervous about talking to people, make your first guest someone you’re comfortable with. Record a test episode with a member of your family or a good friend. That way, you’ll know how an episode should go, where the pauses are and what your format should be.
  • Launch your first episode.
    Package that audio as best as you can and make it known to the world. Share it on social-media, send it to your friends and co-workers. See what happens next and how excited you’ll be.
  • Congrats, you’re a podcaster!
    Time to pop open the champagne. With one episode down, you’re ready to move on to your next. Over time, you’ll figure out tricks, you’ll learn from other podcasters and you’ll find it easier to launch an episode. Keep doing what you’re doing and podcasting will be good to you.

That is pretty much it. Worrying about things that don’t matter in the beginning will cripple you. If you’re constantly thinking about the BEST microphone or the PERFECT intro, you’ll never start your podcast. You’ll be in choice/worry limbo.

Now over to you – do you have a podcast? If not – what’s holding you back from getting started? I’d love to read your comments below!