Tips Before You Start Your Podcast
Setting Up Your Podcast
If you want your podcast to be successful, preparation is key. You will receive better results if you spend some money up front to improve the quality, but there are also free alternatives.
Concept. Every podcast needs a concept and an original name. The name needs to be related to your content in some way, and eye-catching. I recommend searching each potential name to make sure it isn't already in use. You'll also need to decide on a short, concise description that clearly communicates what your podcast is about and what sets it apart from other podcasts. Make sure to link your primary social media and any ways to contact/support the show. Here are some examples:
"My Brother, My Brother and Me is an advicecast for the modern era featuring three real-life brothers: Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. For roughly five-sixths of an hour each week, with new episodes dropping every Monday, the brothers McElroy will answer any query sent our way, each fielding questions falling into our respective areas of expertise. We operate like a streamlined, advice-generating machine. It’s both terrifying and humbling to behold."
"My Favorite Murder is the hit true crime comedy podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Since its inception in early 2016, the show has broken download records and sparked an enthusiastic, interactive “Murderino” fan base who come out in droves for their sold-out worldwide tours."
RSS Feed. At some point, you're going to need to dish out a subscription to an RSS feed to get your podcast hosted on most podcasting platforms. I host my podcast through Buzzsprout, which provides great services like stats and video soundbites for a reasonable monthly price. If you've already paid for a website domain/builder or plan to, you can usually create an RSS feed through that service. Some other popular RSS feed services are:
Logo Art. If you want your podcast to stand out, you'll need good logo art. If you can't or don't want to pay an artist for a custom logo, you could use an image from Creative Commons, use a free logo maker like this one, or design one yourself through a digital art platform. I personally recommend spending money on a logo, as it is going to represent your podcast for a long time, and your audience will associate the image with the podcast. You can find an artist to commission through:
And other platforms. I recommend contacting artists directly, and favoring local/independent artists in your search. Not only will your logo be more unique, but you'll also be supporting the backbone of a creative industry.
Platforms and contact info. You'll want to secure an email and other various accounts ASAP, and make sure there isn't already a lot of content with the name you've chosen for your podcast. If you're able, you should secure your web domain for future use as well, and make use of any RSS-feed provided websites. Some accounts I would recommend are:
Audio is, undeniably, the make or break aspect of a podcast. If your listeners can't understand what you're saying, there's too much background noise, or there's too much off-topic conversation, they're unlikely to stick around, and even less likely to leave you a good review and recommend your podcast to others.
Microphone. It's important to have the best equipment you can afford. For starting out, I would recommend the Blue Snowball mic or the Blue Yeti mic. If you want to search for a mic on your own, I would recommend a microphone with a cardioid setting to reduce background noise. If you really want to make an investment, spring for an XLR microphone. Either way, you should also get a pop filter to reduce popping or harsh noises from articulation. If you can't afford a pop filter, try placing a thin cloth of some sort over your microphone.
Recording Space. Your recording space is going to be a big part of your sound. Avoid reflective surfaces behind your microphone, such as walls and monitors. A simple, cheap fix is placing a pillow or sheet in front of a reflective surface. Avoid rooms with loud AC, thin walls, and noisy cohabitants. Use curtains or blankets to cover windows and dampen sounds. Prioritize a space with rugs and upholstered furniture. If you can afford a professional studio, I would highly recommend it. Alternatively, you could buy various sound-proofing products and turn a room into a professional studio.
Audio Editing. If you can afford to pay someone to edit audio, it's a great time saver, especially when you grow in popularity and need to release more content. However, if you want to edit your own audio, pick up a good software like Audacity or Logic Pro. Learn the basics through the manual, YouTube tutorials, and/or searching around online. Here are some tips for podcast audio editing:
- Reduce Silence. Get rid of long pauses and empty space.
- Keep it human. Make sure there are still small pauses between phrases, space to breathe, and time for the audience to take in information.
- Omit filler words. When possible, edit out filler words such as um, ah, like, I'll say, uh, er, ah, okay, right, you know, etc.
- Learn noise removal. Make sure to learn how to remove noise in your chosen audio editing software.
- Experiment with EQ. Play with boosting or lowering certain frequencies through the EQ tool for each speaker, listen for what sounds best.
- Be picky. Remove long, off-topic chats. Only keep in funny moments that actually make you smile. Ask yourself various questions, such as: Is this something I would want to listen to? Does this excessively take away or distract from the core content?
- Be willing to re-do or omit audio. Sometimes, there will be no way to salvage a section of audio with excessive background noise, corruption, glitchy input, or a different issue. Sometimes, the best solution is to replace or omit the audio. It might be extra work now, but failing to do so can cause your quality to suffer.
Music and SFX. Consider incorporating music, ambience, and sound effects in your podcast. It can really set your podcast apart, but will require learning new skills and experimentation. It's also important to not overdo such elements, and make sure it doesn't distract from the core content. There are many resources for public domain sound effects, and an audio editing software often comes with a sound library. In addition, a catchy and memorable intro tune can really set your podcast apart. You may want to pay for a commission, get permission to use a track, or make your own.
I get a lot of my sound effects from Freesound. Make sure you check if the SFX you use are public domain and/or require that you give credit to the author.
*Disclaimer: I am not being paid or otherwise compensated to advertise any of the linked content in this article, the links are simply for your convenience.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Elizabeth Diedrick