Podcasting 101

 

Let me preface this with a disclaimer before you read even one word of my opinion: I am a guy. By saying that I’m not attempting to reassure you that I am of the male gender, rather I am trying to say that I am just some guy with his own experience and opinion and I am NOT an expert. I run a podcast which I love and which I consider to be very successful by my own standards. In the process of creating, growing, and expanding my show, I’ve learned a lot from both my own actions and from the many, many people I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the industry. So, if you are interested in getting into podcasting and care to listen to my thoughts on the subject, you have come to the right place.

 

Gear

 

You do not need the latest and greatest audio equipment to get started. It’s very expensive and you don’t know how long your podcast will survive. However, I do not buy into the common advice that you can start with just talking into your cell phone with a recording app and eventually get equipment. You COULD do that, however your initial quality will be very, very poor. When podcasting, you should continually seek to make your podcast audio quality better. However, these should be small differences over time, not taking a huge leap from talking into your cell phone’s mic straight to actual equipment. Even if you have to start with a usb mic for around 30 dollars, run it into a computer, and use a free audio editing software...it’s still a way better start than a cell phone.

 

The Gear I Use

 

A lot of podcasters like to talk about audio equipment and love to hear about what each other are using and how their setup works. If you are just here to learn about podcasting you probably won’t care and can just skip ahead to the next section. But, for those of you who want to know, here it is.

 

Host mic: MXL 2008 Condenser Class A fet

Guest 1 mic: Sterling Audio SP150

Guest 2 mic: Sterling Audio SP50

Pop Filters: InnoGear Updated Dual Layer

 

2 DI’s: Livewire PDI Double Shielded Heavy Duty Passive Direct Box

Headphone Amplifier System: Behringer Microamp HA400

Headphones: Tascam TH-02

 

Mixer: Behringer XENYX 1202

Interface: Scarlett FocusRite

Audio Software: Ableton Live 9

Here is a diagram I made of the setup:

 

Untitled_drawing_1_.jpg

 

Additional Information

Cables from Mixer to DI:

  1. Pig Hog PD-21406 Dual 1/4" Mono (Male) to Dual 1/4" Mono (Male) Dual Cable   
  2. Hosa YPP-118 1/4 inch TRS to Dual 1/4 inch TRSF Y Cable

 

Each DI goes into one channel of the interface via very short XLR cables.

 

Most podcasters would send the Skype audio into the mixer to allow for live audio control. While I see the benefits in that, running it into a separate channel input on the audio interface allows me to record the skype audio and the mixer audio on two separate tracks in Ableton Live. This allows me to edit and add effects to each separately. This is especially valuable since the Skype audio quality varies due to guests using various microphones.

 

You may have noticed that there is no audio going from my mic into the Chromebook.This is because the chromebook’s built-in mic gives good enough audio quality for my interviewees that I don’t need to figure out a new method. Simpler is always better. Plus, my chromebook doesn’t allow audio input anyway so….yeah. It is what it is.

 

Aim High

 

By episode 11 I was on the phone with Keanu Reeves’ publicist trying to get him on the show for an interview. Keanu, not the publicist. There was virtually no chance of that happening. But, when I started my podcast I set rules and made promises to myself. One such promise was that I would aim high with the guests that I wanted on my show. I opened a GoogleDoc and started making a list of everyone I would want on my show. This list consisted of people varying from my friends all the way up to people like Keanu Reeves and Ted Nugent. So, I set a rule for myself. I would reach out to every person on that list via a phone call or email no matter how much it felt like a waste of time. I got some, I didn’t get most. You may have noticed Keanu Reeves hasn’t been on my show. But I don’t regret the time I spent reaching out, because the few that I got I leveraged to get more. Networking is key in this industry.

 

The Rule of 10

 

I did not think of this on my own, it was something I read or heard somewhere before I started my podcast. The Rule of 10 says that any new podcast that makes it to episode 10 will likely survive. Most new podcasters (I’d say 80%) quit before episode 10. Because of this, when I got to episode 10 I was very excited.

 

Don’t Do it for the Money

 

The money is great, but unless you are the next Joe Rogan you probably won’t feel that it is enough to compensate the amount of time, energy, and resources you put into your show. Don’t quit your day job.

 

Be at Episode 5 before you are at Episode 1

 

Plan ahead. Have ideas for enough content to get you a few episodes in before you even record your first episode. In my opinion, if more people did that, more people would make it to the 10th episode. The first few episodes are brutal because everything is new and you are not only focusing on the content but also the technology. Therefore, create outline notes for the first 3-5 episodes before you start. If possible, keep planning another show and you will always be 3-5 shows ahead. This is a lifesaver if you ever have something come up where you don’t have time to plan for a show (and you definitely don’t want to miss an episode, consistency is key).

 

The 80/20 Rule

 

Roughly 80% of your downloads will come from having your podcast in the iTunes directory. The other 20% will be from all other platforms combined. Get on iTunes.

 

Getting Started Online

 

In case you are unaware of how a podcast works, here is a very brief explanation. You will first need to find a hosting site. Most require you to pay, some are free. Examples include: Podbean, Libsyn, etc. This is where you upload your mp3 audio of your shows so it can be stored and sent to all of the platforms you want your podcast on. You never actually submit your audio files to the different platforms. Your hosting site sends your podcast feed there. When you add a new episode to your hosting site, your podcast automatically updates on all of the different platforms that your podcast is on. How does this work? Your hosting site gives you what is called an “RSS Feed”. This is a link that you give to whichever platforms you want your show on. I’m not sure how well I explained that, but that’s how it works. Here is a diagram just in case.

 

Untitled_drawing.jpg

 

Finding guests

 

As I said before, create a list and put people on it like I did. But, how do you come up with people to put on that list? Here are some ideas and techniques that help me:

 

  1. Other Podcasters - Other people that host podcasts in your content area will sometimes like to be on other podcasts. It can be mutually beneficial: you get a guest, they get their name out to your audience.

 

  1. Amazon Books - Pick a topic. Then go to amazon books and search that topic. Then refine the search on the right side of the page to “publication date”. This will organize the search results based on the dates that the books are published starting with the newest. The newest will be books that are on pre-order and haven’t been published yet. Authors that have books coming out are usually trying to do everything they can to get the word out about their book. Contact them and say that you would like to interview them on their new book coming out. Getting their contact info might be difficult. You will likely need to do some serious Google digging.

 

  1. Networking - Meet and make connections with as many people as you can. You will be surprised at how opportunities open up out of nowhere.

 

  1. Phone calls are usually better than email. When you do use email, be professional. This includes putting the name of your show under your name at the end of the email. Also, don’t use your private email. Create a new email address that has the name of your show in it, even if it’s just a free yahoo email account. Just some things to think about.

 

  1. Be enticing. Make sure your potential guest sees the benefits and ease of coming on your show. Since my show is not live, it can be recorded on any day and at any time. I tell this to all of my potential guests so that they know scheduling will not be a pain. I also emphasize (but briefly) the attention their book/company/product/etc. will receive as a result of the interview.  

 

Have fun

 

If you don’t love what you are doing, you won’t make it. The audience size and the money both take a long time to come. Progress is slow, and podcasting requires so much time and energy. So many emails and so many phone calls. So much planning and so much research. BUT, if you love your content, if you love being creative, if you love meeting people and being adventurous...then you will probably make it to episode 10. And from there, who knows. Have fun!

 

-Matthew Disher