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PodSchool Podcast | The four things you need to start a podcast

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Retro-style podcast microphone on table

What can you not live without?

The question on everyone’s lips if they’re new to this podcasting game is “What do I need to start a podcast?”

Do you need a mixer?  Will your computer microphone do?  Do you have to buy special headphones or can you use the ones that come with your phone?

Search Google and you’ll have a shopping list of items as long as your arm.  But the truth is you only need four things to start a podcast…

iTunes Google Podcasts Stitcher Spotify

The bare essentials if you want to start a podcast

Microphone(s)

You definitely need a microphone if you want to start a podcast.  In fact, you’ll need one for every voice on your show.

Unfortunately, your computer’s inbuilt microphone isn’t going to cut it unless you want it to sound like you’re broadcasting from a toilet.  So, if you’re going to invest money anywhere a microphone is where to do it.

It’s also a good idea to get a pop guard, which is a little foam sock that stops people ‘popping’ when they say words that start with a harsh consonant like ‘p’ or ‘b.’  These sounds can be really grating for your audience and fixing them in the edit can be a fiddly job.  So, it’s best if you can avoid them when you’re recording.

What are the best podcast microphones?

Read

Headphones

This is the next thing you need to start a podcast and it’s also one of the most important items in your podcast kit.

There are so many sounds that can affect your recording or (heaven forbid) render your audio unusable.  Most of the time you won’t pick these up with your ears so it’s essential you’re wearing headphones.  You don’t need to buy expensive ones, in fact, when you’re starting out you can use the earbuds that come with your phone and upgrade later.

It’s also a good idea, if you’re doing a show with guests, to pack a spare pair. Just make sure they’re the type that go OVER your ears because no one wants to put some random person’s earwax in their earholes.

Why you need to wear headphones on your podcast

Read

Audio Editing Software

Item number three on the list of things you need to start a podcast is somewhere to record and edit your audio and that’s where audio editing software comes in.

The good news is, if you’re on a budget, you don’t need to pay for it because there’s a free program called Audacity that works just fine.

While there are a lot of podcasters who still use this program after they’ve ‘gone pro’ I find it a bit clunky.  So my recommendation is Adobe Audition which you can purchase for a monthly fee.

Ultimately your choice of audio software will come down to personal preference. But you want a program you find easy to navigate and that you enjoy working in.

Do you need to edit your podcast?

Read

A Podcast Host

When you’ve recorded your episode and exported it to MP3 the next thing you need if you want to start a podcast is somewhere to house your MP3s.  The place to do that is inside a podcast host.

Podcast hosts are an essential part of getting your show into people’s ears because they’re the link between you and the podcast directories (this is where listeners find your show).

There are a bunch of different ones out there so again it will come down to personal preference.  But here are some of the more popular ones…

Libsyn

This is one of the longest-running and most trusted hosts.  I started out using them and never had a problem but I decided to upgrade to Whooshkaa because I preferred their tech and player design.  There are a lot of really successful podcasts that use this platform so if you go with them you’ll be in safe hands.

Blubrry

Another long-running host that a lot of podcasters recommend.  I’ve never used them but I know podcasters who have.

Omny

A popular host with a nice player design and a simple interface to navigate.  Unfortunately, their players currently don’t play natively in Facebook or Twitter which is a bit of a bummer.

Whooshkaa

This is the host I use for my personal shows.  They’ve got great tech and I love the design of their embedded player.  Their sharing capabilities are also much better as their players play natively in Facebook and Twitter which is something other platforms don’t do.  You can also opt-in for them to put ads in your podcast which means you might also be able to make a little bit of money (it’ll probably be very small at the start).

How to submit your podcast to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify

Read

And those are the four things you need to start a podcast.

If you’re just starting out it’s ok to get the bare essentials and build up your kit as time goes on.  But if you just had these four things you could still create a professional sounding show that will stand the test of time.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to the show. Today I'm going to be talking about four things that you need to get your podcast from your head into people's ears. There are a lot of other things you can add to the equipment you have but when you're starting out you don't want too much paraphernalia. Just start out with these four things and that will be enough to get your show out into iTunes without too much hassle and fuss.

The first thing is a microphone. It stands to reason if you want people to hear you, you have to have a way to get your voice recorded so you're going to need a microphone. Your computer microphone (the little holes on the front of the laptop) is not going to cut it. If you record into that it's going to sound to your audience like you are recording on a toilet because you'll be too far away from the microphone. It also picks up everything including echo and room noise so ideally you'll need a microphone you can get up close and personal with so that you can get as intimate with your listener as possible. This is how you build a connection with the person on the other side of the headphones, so getting decent quality mic is very important if you want your show to sound good. A great basic mic is the ATR2100 by Audio Technica. It's a USB mic as well as an XLR mic. If you're not sure of the difference between the two you can head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and type "XLR" into the search bar. I have an episode of this show about that. But if you are just starting out and you want things to be as simple as possible the simplest way to hook a microphone up is to plug it into your computer. That's where a USB mic comes in handy. A USB mic plugs right into the USB port of your computer so you can record right there. That will be the simplest way to do things when you're starting out.

The other thing that isn't technically on my list of four things (so better make it four and a half) is a pop guard. That's the little foam sock you put over the top of your microphone that helps take away some of the harsh P and B sounds that are called "pops." It can be quite grating for your listener and it's good if you remove those. But if you've ever tried to remove them in post they're annoying because you have to go right in there and slice them super finely. So rather than having to do that after the fact it's always nice if you can avoid as many of them as possible in the record and a little pop guard will help you do that.

The second thing you need is the most important member of your podcasting kit and that is your headphones. You need to be able to hear everything that is recorded exactly as your listeners will hear it because you will not pick up things with your naked ears that you will pick up when you're hearing things with headphones that are coming through the microphone. Stuff like air conditioning or wind noise, things that you will kick yourself about when you hear them in the edit because it'll be too late to fix them. You need to make sure that you can adjust things in the moment when you're recording to avoid you having to go back and record again. This is particularly important if you have guests because you don't want to be ringing anybody saying "You know how it took me like nine months to book you? Well the funny thing is I can't record things properly so I need you to book time in your diary again, come back and pretend we didn't just have that half an hour conversation." You do not want to be doing that so you need to wear headphones so that you can tell if there's any noise that's making the audio sound bad. If your guest isn't on mic then you need to get them to get a little closer to the microphone so that they can be properly heard. If you're not on microphone that's important to correct and those are the things you can't tell unless you're wearing headphones so make sure they're part of your podcasting kit. You can of course just use the earbuds that come with your phone, you don't have to buy snazzy Dr. Dre Beats or anything like that. You can get away with earbuds quite easily and then as time goes on if you want to upgrade, go for it.

The third thing you need is audio software. If you are going to plug your microphone into your computer (and that's the simplest way to start) you need some software to record that show into. You don't have to pay for this software either because you can use a free program called Audacity. I will put links to this and everything else I refer to on the show notes page, just head to PodSchoolPodcast.com and type "equipment" into the search bar. Audacity is a program that a lot of podcasters swear by. I personally find it a little bit clunky so I use Audition and that's about $29 a month but if you just want to start out and give things a try, it does all the things you will need it to do so you can just download the free software online and give it a crack. You might love it because the other thing about audio software is that sometimes it all comes down to personal preference. You might use Audacity for ages and think "Well this is just the way I'm going to record my show" and if you don't have to do many complex things it can be really great to use for the life of your podcast. So audacity is the free version, Audition is a slightly more expensive version.

The fourth thing you need is a podcast host. When you record your audio you will be exporting your show to MP3 file and you need somewhere for those little MP3s to live. You do not want them to live in the media section of your website because your website will run like an old mule. The more files you have on there, the more people listen to them the more they're eating up your bandwidth and your website will be slow so you want to keep all of the audio and all of the giant files out of your backend and in the hands of people who do this for a profession. It's not very expensive to get a podcast host. Libsyn is one of the more popular ones is about five dollars a month. I use a platform called Whooshkaa. They are free but they also pop ads on to your content if you want them to so you can make a little bit of money from that. No matter who you go with it's not a huge investment but it is absolutely the smartest way to go when you create a show. The podcast host will create an RSS feed for you which is basically just a fancy way to say a URL that you copy and paste and give to iTunes and then everything happens automatically. I will pop a link to an episode about how to get your show into iTunes so that you can go into more detail if you want more information on that. The podcast host is essentially the link between you and iTunes or any other podcast directory you want to be a part of and it just makes things really simple. You create a new episode, put your title in and your description and its very very easy to use.

So those are the four things you need to start your podcast - a microphone with pop guard, headphones, audio software and a podcast host. I will post links to all those things and examples of each in the show notes page at PodSchoolPodcast.com.

It doesn't need to be super complex, you do not need 700 things and if people are starting to say to you when you're starting out you need a mixer or anything else fancy don't fall for the hype. Start simply, work out whether this is for you, work out whether you want to commit to this and do it every week and then as you grow your show and you grow your skills then start to build on the equipment and choose things that you like and you need. You'll start to get used to using things a certain way and then you'll be able to make more informed decisions. But in the beginning if you just have those four items you will still be able to get your show into peoples ears.

I hope that's helped you. If you are finding these tips useful I am always very happy to receive your reviews in iTunes or wherever you listen to this show. A little 5 star rating never goes astray. And as always you can check out my online podcasting course PodSchool at PodSchool.com. I'll see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

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WANT TO START A PODCAST BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW? THIS GUIDE TAKES YOU THROUGH ALL THE TOOLS AND TECH YOU NEED TO GET GOING!

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