Essential Tools to Get Your Podcast Started

Essential Tools to Get Your Podcast Started

John McDougall from McDougall Interactive sits down with John Maher to talk about how to get your podcast started. They talk about the three essential elements of creating a podcast, including how to record the podcast, how to edit the podcast, and where to host the podcast, and they suggest tools to help with each of these three steps.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and welcome to Digital Marketing Madness. Today, our guest is John McDougall from McDougall Interactive. Welcome John.

John McDougall: Good morning, John.

John Maher: So John, what is it that you wanted to chat about today?

How to Record a Podcast With a Digital Audio Recorder

John McDougall: I thought we would share with people three simple tools or steps to start a podcast. Yeah, and I was thinking you could help explain to people the different ways that you have to record via either a disk, or a software tool, so can you explain the first step, is how to do that?

John Maher: Right. So there’s definitely a few ways that you can go about this, the way that I’m doing it, and the way that I’m doing it right now is I actually have a mixing board set up, like you’d be recording a band or something like that, you’ve seen those studios, and I have a small mixing board in my studio here. And that mixing board is then hooked into an audio interface that goes into my computer.

But I’m not recording things directly onto the computer, I’m actually using a separate digital audio recorder. They have these small handheld devices, and it has an SD card in it, just like a camera. And I’m recording the audio onto this digital audio recorder. Yeah, so the sound is coming out of the mixing board, and just getting dumped onto the audio recorder.

And the reason that I do that is because if I could hook this into my computer and then use a software, called Audacity, which is a free software, or you can use a paid software, like Adobe has Adobe Audition, and you have to buy that. But either way, whatever you use, you can use software. I tend to not trust that, and I guess it’s just from, sometimes you have issues with your computer; your software can crash, something can go wrong where you spend this time doing the recording, and then you find out only after you hit, “Stop” that, oh, it didn’t record completely, or there was some problem, something like that. So to make sure that that doesn’t happen, I record things onto this digital audio recorder, and I’ve done that for a long time. So, that’s one way to do it.

Using SquadCast to Record Podcasts

John McDougall: And there’s also SquadCast and other tools like that. Just starting to experiment with SquadCast, seems like a really promising tool. What do you think of that?

John Maher: Yeah, it’s definitely a good tool. Like you said, we’re just sort of starting to get into it and experiment with it a little bit. One advantage that SquadCast has over just recording directly into your audio software that’s on your computer, is that SquadCast records both locally on your computer, and it records in the cloud. So if there’s something that goes wrong with the recording that’s on your computer, you have this backup on the cloud of your recording. So that’s one way to kind of get around that issue where you might have issues with the software.

In addition to that, a lot of podcasts have multiple people, like you and me, we’re talking and we might be remote in different locations. And what SquadCast does is the best way to get audio from a remote conversation is actually to record each individual person separately, and then in your audio editing software afterwards, you can edit each one of those people separately, on a separate track, and then they get blended together in the final recording.

So in the case of SquadCast, they would record, say, me locally on my computer while I’m talking, and then they would record you locally on your computer while you’re talking, but only your track, not me, you wouldn’t hear me on your track, and vice versa. So then what we’d have is, we have a recording track of just me talking, another recording track of just you talking, and then we put those together in the processing afterwards, when we do the editing. And the advantage of that is that, say my volume level is a little bit lower than your volume level. Well, I can just easily just boost up the volume level on my track without it affecting your track, that kind of thing, and you can do that editing after the fact. And you get the best audio quality because I’m recording it locally myself, you’re recording it locally yourself, and then we get those separate tracks.

But again, with SquadCast, they also record sort of a mixed together version of that with both of our voices as a backup. So if something does happen to one of the individual recordings, you can always go to that backup in the cloud of the full recording together, and at least you have that to fall back on, so you don’t lose the whole recording and have to do it all over again.

Tools for Editing Podcasts

John McDougall: Yeah. So, I think SquadCast’s an exciting tool. They also have video now, so there’s a lot of ways, especially with the pandemic, I think people have stepped up their games with options for remote things in general. But so, regardless of how you do it, then you get a file and you have to edit it, so what’s your favorite editing tool?

John Maher: Yeah. So I mentioned Audacity before, A-U-D-A-C-I-T-Y. Audacity. It’s a free program, and it really has everything that I need for just basic audio editing. In general, with podcasts, you don’t have to do a whole lot of really complex editing, you really just need to be able to trim the dead space at the beginning and the end, fix any little mistakes that you might’ve made in the middle, maybe take out some of the little pauses and, “Ums” and, “Ahs” and things like that, that people say when they’re talking, typically. And maybe you add in music after the fact, you can do that in separate tracks. Audacity is a multi-track recorder where you can have multiple audio tracks, you can have music, and then your voice and my voice. And really, there’s not much else to it in terms of having to do any kind of fancy recording stuff.

If we were doing music and recording a whole band or something like that, maybe Audacity wouldn’t cut it, and we’d have to go to something like Adobe Audition, or Pro Tools, or other sort of fancy music editing types of software. But for audio recording, for a podcast where it’s mostly just voice and maybe you’re adding a little music at the beginning and the end, Audacity is fine for me. But again, you could look into Adobe Audition if you wanted to have a paid software that has all the bells and whistles to it.

Where to Host Your Podcasts

John McDougall: And what about hosting? Can you explain that to people, sort of like where the file has to go after you edit?

John Maher: Yeah. So once you’re done with the editing, you want to mix that all down into a final file, an MP3 file, or a WAV file; W-A-V file. And that will get uploaded to whatever hosting platform you’re using. So that that audio file needs to be hosted somewhere, just like YouTube, if you have video, you have to put those videos up onto YouTube in order for people to be able to access it and see the video, you have to have your audio somewhere hosted where people can access it. So there’s a number of different places where you can do that. The one that we probably use most often is called SoundCloud, and I sort of liken it to YouTube in a way; it’s like the YouTube of audio, if you will.

There’s another one that we’ve used for many years called Libsyn. It stands for, “Liberated syndication.” It’s L-I-B-S-Y-N, and that’s another pretty good hosting platform that’s been around for a long time. But if you look into it, there’s other ones, there’s a Buzzsprout, Captivate, and Transistor… there’s also Castos, C-A-S-T-O-S, Podbean, and Simplecast.

So there’s tons of different options, if you just search for, “Podcast audio hosting,” you’ll find all kinds of options. They all do things a little bit differently, or they have different bells and whistles or things that they add to sweeten up their deal, with how much you’re paying for them, what you’re getting out of them, so look into that, and see if there’s something that matches up with what you’re trying to do, but in general, you just need someplace to have those audio files online.

Submitting an RSS Feed to Podcast Platforms

John Maher: And the main thing that you need to get out of that, it’s called an RSS feed. So RSS is just this address that kind of tells where to find the files. And you take that RSS address, and would submit that to sites like iTunes, or Stitcher, or places like that, and then that would allow people to go onto iTunes, find your podcast and when they subscribe to your podcast, they can get every one of your episodes dropped onto their iPhone, say, automatically whenever it comes out. So that’s what you do with the RSS feed, so really, you just need someplace to host your file and then you need the RSS feed to submit to iTunes and Stitcher and other podcast platforms like that.

How to Create a Podcast Transcription

John McDougall: Yeah, that’s great. I think those are three good, basic, but powerful tips, because if you don’t have those things, you really can’t get started. And then from there, just kind of in closing here, I’d say that people should strongly consider getting their podcasts transcribed, use a tool like rev.com, or hire someone to transcribe it, or just type it up yourself, and then put that on a blog post with the podcast player embedded as well, and then you have great content on your blog with the transcript for SEO, and the audio file that people can listen to.

It’s kind of a best of both worlds; you can feed that to social media, so automatically every time you post like that, you’ve got activity on your social channels. So those are a few tips that I hope everyone enjoys. And thanks, John, for a great chat.

John Maher: All right. Thank you, John. And thanks everybody for listening, and like and subscribe to this podcast, and we appreciate you listening to Digital Marketing Madness. We’ll be back again soon.

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