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For years, I’ve dreamed of starting a podcast. The format always appealed to me because it seemed like it involved sitting in front of a microphone and talking. And talking is something I’m very good at (just ask every single one of my teachers from K-12).
What I was missing was a few very important things.
- The subject matter. I can talk about almost anything. But to have something interesting and, at the very least, entertaining to say is a whole different story.
- A co-host. I knew that I would never want to go it alone on a podcast because who wants to listen to one person talking to themselves? On the other hand, I don’t always play well with other.
- All the podcasting knowledge. Seriously. I know what a podcast is. I love listening to them. But I didn’t know all the magical things that happened from the microphone to the play button on my iPhone.
Deciding On Your Subject Matter
This was the hardest thing for me. I felt like I had to have an idea that was really unique or that I could put a really unique spin on.
Take Serial, for example. Produced by NPR, it’s a brilliantly done episodic true crime story that sucked people into the podcast but also served as a gateway to other podcasts in general. It was unique for the platform and propelled it to a new level.
But I also love My Favorite Murder. It’s kind of like a true crime podcast but it’s just a bunch of really funny women sharing murder stories that they find really fascinating. It’s bizarre and entertaining at the same time.
I didn’t think I could be brilliant or funny or even knowledgeable enough to talk about anything.
Then I met my podcasting partner, Shannon. We sat around talking about our favorite shows, movies, and actors and answered questions like we ask each other on Facebook, “What should I binge next?”
Entertainment was something I was already interested in and writing about. So why not talk about it for fun? And that’s how Stinger: The Entertainment Podcast was born.
As we’ve developed our podcast, we’ve learned that there is more to it than just talking! More on that below.
Finding a Co-Host
When looking for a co-host, you really want to be looking for a podcasting partner. There’s a lot more work to be done than sitting around chatting in front of a microphone for an hour.
In my experience with partnerships, it’s essential to find someone with the same level of interest, commitment, and, most importantly, work ethic. I’m so glad I found Shannon. We knew each other online but it was our desire to branch into podcasting that really brought us together.
Not only do we mesh well when we’re talking our way through an episode but we’ve got a really good working relationship. We both contribute ideas – either encouraging them or shooting them down as needed. And we have an excellent division of labor that naturally utilizes each of our talents.
We record each episode together (more on how we do that below) and then split the production into two tasks.
- It’s my job to download and edit each episode and let Shannon know when our final audio file is ready for distribution.
- Shannon writes up the show notes and uploads our file for distribution.
We’ve talked about how much time it takes each of us and it turns out that the labor is pretty evenly divided. And we’re both happy with our duties.
As for the marketing of the podcast, that’s simply a team effort because we both feel passionate about what we’re doing!
(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Podcasting
Since we launched our podcast in August 2017, we’re clearly experts in what we’re doing.
We’re actually so not experts but we have learned a lot since we started planning our podcast in March 2017. I find that my friends who are interested in starting a podcast all seem to have the same questions so I thought I’d give you a quick list of what you need to know (based on what we’ve learned).
Pick a name for your podcast.
Well, duh. It should be catchy and it needs to fit nicely into a square logo. And you should be able to grab all of the associated online names. Luckily, you can usually have good luck by adding the word “podcast” to the end of your title.
Design a podcast logo.
A few things to remember – you’ll need very high quality graphics for your podcast artwork when submitting it for syndication. The minimum size is 3000px x 3000px. But that little square has to shrink to a tiny little square on someone’s phone. Don’t have too many words and don’t make the text too small.
Secure your website and social handles.
Yes, you should have a podcast website. iTunes actually has a place to link to your podcast website. It’s really just a place to house your episode links, post your show notes, and give people multiple ways to listen and subscribe to your podcast.
Figure out the Big Three: Recording, Editing, and Publishing.
For recording, you need good equipment. You’ll read about top of the line mics and “make do” ear pods. Just trust me. People don’t have much of a tolerance for poor audio. Invest in a decent mic. We both use one that was recommended to us.
Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Dynamic Microphone – easy to use, plugs into your computer via USB, includes a stand
Foam Ball-Type Mic Windscreen – you’re going to need this to keep you consonants from ‘popping’ when you speak; order it as an add-on item when you order your mic (it’s super cheap that way!)
Audio Technica ATH-MX20 – I started with ancient headphones but ended up winning this in a Facebook contest with Blubrry!
You’ll also need recording software. If you are recording with anyone that is not physically sitting next to you, you’ll need software to record your audio tracks. Everyone has an opinion and there are plenty of free options. But we’ve opted to use Cast for a few reasons. At $10 a month for our level of usage, it’s an affordable option. But mainly I love that it records my voice and Shannon’s voice as two separate tracks. Something that’s very handy when editing.
For editing, I can only speak to the Mac users out there. Cast does have the ability to record, edit, and publish all from their interface. I prefer to download the tracks and do it locally on my computer so I use Garageband – a free app that’s part of the Apple operating system.
There’s definitely a learning curve and I purchased a nice tutorial that gives you the basics if that’s something you need. (In fact, you’ll find a lot of great podcasting tutorials here if you’re looking for some resources to get you started).
Audacity is another free software download that many people use in podcasting but I don’t have any experience with it.
For publishing, we’ve been absolutely thrilled with Blubrry Podcast Hosting. You’ll hear of others, primarily Libsyn, but we liked how easily Blubrry integrated with WordPress and made the distribution of our podcast episodes, once published, super easy.
Is Podcasting Really Different From Blogging?
Here’s the big question. There are the obvious answers like – blogging is a written form, usually done independently; podcasting is an audio form that can be done solo or with others.
But if you are a blogger looking to leap into podcasting, you’ll definitely have a few advantages.
- You know about websites. Yes, I still believe that you need a website for your podcast. But it’s as easy as setting up a WordPress site. If you’re a good blogger, chances are you’ve done that at least once.
- You get social and you probably already have a presence online. You already know the importance of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You know how to use these platforms. And you can use your blogger account to promote your podcast and vice versa.
- You know how to write. I mentioned “show notes” earlier. Think of these as an expanded outline of everything you talked about during your podcast. Create a blog post on your site and pop in your show notes for each episode. And… instant SEO!
- You can expand on something you’re already recognized for. I tend to write on this blog about travel, entertainment, cars, beauty, and family. It made sense to pick an area where my audience already has interest and expand on it.
It is a different beast, though. While you have advantages, there are plenty of things that are different.
- Not everyone knows what a podcast is. My mom will read my blog but she won’t listen to my podcast because she doesn’t quite get everything that goes along with it. That’s why it’s always good to educate people on what a podcast is and how to listen to it like we did here.
- Not everyone is interested in listening to podcasts. Most people will read your updates on Facebook. Some of them will actually click through and read your blog. And even smaller number will be interested in your podcast. It’s just not everyone’s thing. So you can take advantage of your current audience but you’ll definitely need to find new fans.
- It’s a totally different community. Are you pretty well known in your blogging community? You’re probably going to be a nobody in the podcasting community. There are different people, different Facebook groups, different conferences. But the good news is that I’ve found it to be a smart, engaging, helpful community and I can’t wait to dig in deeper.
My final challenge is learning how to market our podcast. You can ask people to listen but you really need word of mouth recommendations and awareness. No buying followers. No chore threads. No “you listen to mine and I’ll listen to yours” kinds of promotional strategy. That’s where my focus lies next.
I’d love to hear if you’re thinking about starting a podcast or if you’re already well on your way. I’d love to hear your advice as well!