How To Start A Podcast
Daniel Darnell – Originally posted Monday, August 17, 2009
For a lot of us, podcasts have become a standard part of our lives, whether it’s in the form of a sermon podcast from you favorite pastor or a technology podcast featuring rumors and reviews from geeky gadget gurus. Maybe it’s time you started your own podcast if you haven’t already. Here are a few tips to get you going in no time.
1. Getting the Right Gear
The cheapest way to record your podcast is with your computer’s built-in microphone and free audio recording and editing software such as Audacity. If you’re a Mac user, your machine comes with a microphone built in and Apple’s GarageBand installed, which nearly automates the entire process for you. For those of you looking to record a pastor’s sermon, connect your soundboard’s output to a computer’s line-in and record the audio directly to the computer using your audio recording software of choice.
If you’re looking for a step up in quality, a handful of companies offer podcast starter kits for a reasonable price. For example, M-Audio offers a Podcast Factory kit that includes a microphone, USB interface, and software for around $100. This type of setup tends to be the standard for most podcasts, but there are other higher-end options out there if you have a bigger budget. (Hint: Sites such as www.MusiciansFriend.com are good places to look for podcasting gear.)
2. Editing the Podcast Audio and Files
Simple editing techniques such as adding intro jingles and voiceovers, or just trimming the length of your episodes, will help separate your podcast from the rest of the pack. Also, if you have the ability to normalize your audio (balance the audio levels), do so—listeners are easily annoyed by having to constantly adjust the volume on their iPods or car stereos.
Next you’ll need to convert your podcast files into .m4a, .mp3, .mov, .mp4, or .m4v format so they are compatible with iTunes. Then import each converted file into iTunes and edit its file information (title, author, image, etc.) before you upload it to the Web. (Hint: Click – File > Get Info to edit the file’s information.)
3. Preparing the XML File
Once your podcast is recorded, edited, and converted, it’s time to share it with the world. One of the most important, yet complicated, things about a podcast is creating the XML file for iTunes and other RSS readers to read. For those that want to stay away from XML language, there’s a free Mac program, VODcaster, that does the heavy lifting for you. For Windows users, there’s RSS Feed Creator. There are also paid services such as Sermon.net that will help walk you through the process. If you manage to get lost along the way, apple.com has a walkthrough of the process featuring step-by-step instructions. (Hint: While making that XML file, make sure you use the proper iTunes category, tags, author, etc.)
Next, you’ll need a place on the Internet to store both your XML file and media files so others can access your podcast. I suggest you use your personal website’s server or your church’s server to host these files. (Hint: Every time you create a new podcast, make sure to update the XML file on the server or it won’t show up in iTunes!)
4. Creating a FeedBurner Account
Once the files are in place, your next step is to create a FeedBurner account at feedburner.google.com before you publish it to iTunes. With FeedBurner you can see how many people are subscribed to your feed, how many people have downloaded a certain episode, and what application they’re using to keep up with your podcast. All you need to know is your XML file’s address and FeedBurner does the rest. Now you’re ready to publish your podcast!
5. Publishing the Podcast
With the XML file created, the audio file uploaded, and FeedBurner set up, you can now submit your podcast to the iTunes directory. To publish a podcast, open iTunes and select iTunes Store in the source list. On the iTunes Store home page, click Podcasts, then click Submit A Podcast(iTunes link) at the bottom of the page and complete the form.
Use the FeedBurner RSS link you received when you set up your FeedBurner account as your Podcast Feed URL. Now all you have to do is wait for iTunes to approve it, and you’re done! (Hint: You may have to wait a day until your podcast shows up on iTunes, so be patient.)
6. Tracking Your Stats
With your free FeedBurner account, you can now track your podcast’s success. (Hint: Make sure to tell your congregation or friends about
While podcasting may not be a simple, three-step process, I hope these steps help to get the ball rolling as you start podcasting. If you’re still lost, visit the websites below for helpful tips and support.