03 How to start a podcast – interview with Andy White – Podcast

by Heather Cowper on June 26, 2011

I recorded this interview about How to start a Podcast with Andy White also known as @DoctorPod at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference where Andy was a speaker on the topic of Podcasting. I’m a big fan of the Internet Marketing Podcast that Andy co-hosts so I was really thrilled to meet the man behind the voice and get some tips on how travel bloggers might get in to podcasting. As you’ll hear, it doesn’t have to cost a lot at the beginning and this interview will give you all the information you need to get started. I hope the interview will encourage you to give podcasting a try and see where the inspiration leads you.

Heather Cowper and Andy White at Travel Bloggers Unite

Heather Cowper and Andy White at Travel Bloggers Unite

Planning for your podcast

Before you start it’s good to consider what you want to achieve with your Podcast and Andy recommends writing an Outcome Statement asking yourself  three questions; 1.Who is the audience for your podcast? 2.What do you want them to think & feel when listening? 3. What do you want them to do as a result of the podcast? Asking yourself these questions will help you decide what to include in the podcast. Having said that, there’s a lot to be said for just starting to record something and see where it leads.

Podcast Equipment

If you already have a laptop, the zero cost option is to record straight into your laptop using the built in microphone. The audio quality won’t be great, but this is fine if you just want to practice.

For free software that is widely used, you can download Audacity from Sourceforge – an excellent free programme to record, edit, mix and process your podcast. You can record into Audacity using the inbuilt laptop microphone or improve the sound quality by using an inexpensive USB or headset microphone to plug into your computer. Andy recommends that you don’t spend a lot of money to start with but once you find you enjoy podcasting you can invest in better equipment.

Record Podcasts with your iPhone

If you are travelling and plan to record sound-scenes or interviews with interesting people you meet, you may want to invest in a portable audio recorder. If you have an iPhone or other smart phone you could use this to start with although the audio quality won’t be great. The iPhone has a built in microphone and audio recording capability as a standard feature. For additional recording functionality, you could download an iPhone app such as the free  Blue FiRe iPhone app from Blue Microphones and possibly buy a microphone that is suitable to use with your iPhone.

Zoom and Edirol Portable Audio Recorders

Zoom H2 Audio recorder

Zoom H2 Audio recorder

If you want to buy an audio recorder there are many different ones on the market that will be suitable for recording while you travel. This interview was recorded on my own Zoom H2 portable audio recorder which features 2 pairs of stereo microphones so you can record with 360 degree sound. Andy uses a Zoom H4 (now superceded by the Zoom H4N) with stereo mics and inputs on the back and Zoom also make the entry level Zoom H1 model. The Edirol RO9HR is also a popular, high quality audio recorder used by many professional podcasters but is more expensive than the Zoom models.

Recording interviews over Skype

When recording interviews with someone in a different location you can use Skype and record your call. You have the option to either make the call Skype to Skype or you can use Skype to call landline numbers for the cost of a local call. The simplest way to record the Skype call is to use software such as Pamela for PC or Audio Hijack Pro for Mac. Both have a free trial version, but for calls over 15 mins (Pamela) and 10 mins (Audio Hijack Pro) you will have to buy the paid version.

Whatever you use, Andy recommends you record in the WAV format which is uncompressed and will produce higher audio quality and also try to record in stereo with the interviewer on one track and interviewee on the other track which will make it a lot easier to edit in post production. You also need to set the bit rate to 44,100 to ensure the best audio quality. You can do this by going into the software settings & menu options as the default settings will not necessarily give the best recording.

Microphones & other equipment

If you want to improve the audio quality further you could invest in a better microphone such as the Shure SM58 which is very robust and use it with an interface such as those made by Edirol. The interface allows you to plug a microphone 3 pin XLR connector into the interface and then plug the interface into the USB port of your computer. The Interface also has volume and other controls and it digitises the sound, bypassing the sound card in your computer for improved sound quality.

Andy suggests that the likely costs for upgrading to this kind of equipment will be around; £100 for a decent microphone, £15 for the cable, £160 for the interface, £15 for a stand £15 and £15 for a pop filter (a disc with stocking like material stretched over it to stop any popping sounds when you sound your p’s). Even with all the best equipment, you still need to set the Pamela software to the correct bit rate of 44,100, or the quality of the microphone will not make much difference.

Recording with Audacity

You can record straight into your computer using Audacity although some people don’t recommend this for fear that the computer will crash in the middle of the podcast. To avoid this, Andy suggests that you don’t have anything else running the the computer while you are recording in Audacity. Make sure that Audacity’s input is set to pick up whatever microphone or device you have plugged into your computer to record from.

Audacity can also be used to edit the audio file, for instance removing parts of the recording you don’t need and cleaning out any umms and ahhs – simply highlight the parts of the recording that you don’t require and then delete them.

You can also use Audacity for basic sound processing such as Normalising or Compression. Normalising means to making the sound file as loud as it can be without distortion. Compression reduces the difference between the loudest and softest parts of the recording and the end result sounds fuller and easier to hear when there is a lot of background noise. Typically you would first edit the recording, then normalise & compress and you can do this in Audacity. You can also add an introduction and ending to the podcast, that you have recorded earlier, mixing the different clips in different tracks within Audacity and fading clips in and out.

Music for Podcasts

Adding music to your podcast will make it more professional and give you a ‘signature’ that listeners will remember. You can also record any music you hear when travelling to add local colour to the podcast.

If you use other people’s music on your podcast you should be aware of copyright rules – that you need to seek the permision of the copyright holder before using their music. The way around this is to source music from websites that have already cleared the copyright with the artist and this can work in different ways. At Opuzz.com you can find royalty music that you can pay a flat fee to use.  Ioda Promonet has great music from independent artists that you are allowed to use free of charge once you have joined the network and add a badge in your shownotes with details of the music. Musicalley.com has Royalty free music which is free to use as long as you credit the artist in your podcast and shownotes.

Add your podcast to iTunes

Once you have your podcast, you need to get it online. Most travel bloggers will have a WordPress or other blog site where you can present your podcast. For WordPress users there are plugins such as Podpress or Blubrry Powerpress that will create an audio player to make it easy for people to play the podcast on your site. Some players include a download link, or you may need to add a download link yourself as this will enable listeners to download the podcast from your site, and also play the podcast on players such as iPod that do not support Flash. You will also need to add some shownotes in your blog post to tell people and search engines what the podcast is about.

You can host your audio files on the same server that you use to host your blog, but this is not ideal once your podcast is getting a lot of downloads as it will slow your site down. In this case you should consider hosting your audio files on a paid service such as Libsyn.

You will also want to ensure that your podcast is listed on a directory such as iTunes so that people can find your podcast and download it from there. To do this you should first take the RSS feed for your podcast (if you have a multimedia blog like mine you may want to make a separate feed just for podcasts). You need to put your RSS feed for the podcast through Feedburner which will give you more control before submittting it to iTunes. Once you have a Feedburner feed, you can take that feed and submit it into iTunes. Open up iTunes on your computer, click on Podcasts from the top menu bar and in the right hand menu of links there is a Submit a podcast option. You can now add your podcast feed to the page but before you finally submit, ensure you check that the details and the artwork are correct as they may take a long time to update in iTunes if you need to change them later.

Tagging your podcast

Tagging is a way of adding tags, information and artwork to your podcast which you can do in different ways. iTunes will normally pick up the tags you have added to your Feedburner feed but you can also add tags within the individual audio file. This is important as other MP3 players may not pick up the feed tags and so your podcast will appear on the player with no indication of artist, album etc to organise it. You can add tags to your individual audio file with free tagging software such as MP3 tag.

Final advice about podcasting

If it sounds too difficult to make the perfect podcast – don’t worry and take Andy’s advice – don’t overplan and just go for it and see where it leads you.

Products mentioned in the Podcast

The Amazon Links above are affiliate links – if you decide to buy through these links I will get a small commission which helps support this blog.

Places you can connect with Andy White

My thanks to Andy White for sharing his great tips to help you start podcasting. Andy is a professional podcasting producer, podcasting coach and consultant and you can connect with Andy at;

Podcasting Advisor – Andy’s own podcast about podcasting
On Twitter @DoctorPod
Internet Marketing Podcast at Sitevisibility.com
Wire World Media is Andy’s Business site

More useful information about podcasting

Free and low cost equipment to record audio podcasts for your blog
How to find Free music for your videos and podcasts
Tips for preparing a perfectly polished podcast interview

This article is originally published at My Blogging Journey

You’ll also find lots of great travel stories, videos and podcasts at our travel blog at Heather on her travels .

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