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Podcast 101: A Beginner's Guide To Get You Started

Are you already podcast fan? Are you intrigued by being offered the opportunity to have your voice heard? You've somehow stumbled upon the right place as I'm going to give you a simplified breakdown of what you'll need to get a head start in podcasting. If you're unfamiliar with who I am... I actually have a couple of podcasts that have been extremely successful including... The Grindhouse Radio and Within Brim's Skin. I’d be honored if you'd check them out and share any feedback, thoughts, ideas or even just show some love to us! You can listen directly on my site as linked above, or tune in via iHeartRadio, iTunes, Spotify and wherever quality podcasts are heard. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming!

In today’s day and age, content is available pretty much everywhere you look. Creators or creative people in general have a plethora of different methods they can use to put information out into the ether and podcasting has become one of the fastest growing trends. Especially during the recent COVID-19 lock downs and quarantines – people from all over the world have been finding their way to the wonderful world of podcast in order to not only have their voice heard or kill boredom; but to incorporate some sense of normalcy. Audio is cleverly being utilized by small and large businesses, celebrities and even traditional radio in terms of adding more content to social media, websites, blogs and simply connecting with their audiences on a more personal level.

Essentially, podcasting isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Many people have certainly thought about starting your own shows, matter of fact – that is probably why you’re here! That being said, I’ve put together some basic information that will answer some important questions for anyone curious about getting started in this medium.

Why should I start a Podcast?

Starting a podcast comes down to each individual’s specific needs. It offers a unique platform to put your message out into the world. Perhaps you’re an entertainer and want to talk about the industry as a whole, or a fan who wants to rattle on about the newest Marvel movie… podcasting gives the user an opportunity to create an experience that you can adapt to your specific needs. Some business owners use the audio clips to show why they may be experts in their specific field, while some may utilize it as a way to build more clout within an industry. Most though… do it to have fun.

Biggest Fears about starting a Podcast.

Listen, I get it… SO many people have a fear of getting in front of a microphone for any specific amount of time – even if they are alone. It IS truly awkward if you’ve never done it before; but I’m going to teach you a valuable lesson here… microphones don’t bite! Crazy, am I right? Well it’s the truth – and honestly, anxieties aside… it isn’t as scary as you think. Most people catch on rather quickly and even if they sound shaky at first, practice makes a huge difference. There are other reasons that hold people back from getting started including the popular excuses including; but not limited to:

  • “I need everything to be PERFECT!”

Brim's Response: No... it doesn't! Just take the first step and it'll become perfect over time.

  • “I’m waiting for the right time to get started.”

Brim's Response: There is NEVER a PERFECT time for anything! Stop procrastinating!

  • “Eww… my voice sounds strange.”

Brim's Response: Everyone is their own worst critic... I'm sure you sound great!

  • “I am NOT a tech person – How am I supposed to pull off recording, uploading and whatever else comes with the process?”

Brim's Response: Tricky; but today's technology - a lot is plug and play making it accessible.

  • “Who wants to hear me talk for any length of time?”

Brim's Response: Trust me... more than you know.

  • “I don’t have the money to put something like this together.”

Brim's Response: Great news! You don't need to invest a red cent if you don't want to!

  • “Public speaking is NOT in my repertoire.”

Brim's Response: Perfect... you're not in public.

This list goes on and on – I’ve heard it all before and the ONLY excuse that should keep you from starting this type of a project; or anything else for that matter – is that you have no interest. But you obviously do… so let’s move on shall we?

What do I need to get Started?

Honestly, all you need to get started is a computer with a microphone, or nothing more than a smartphone. There are apps that you can easily use in order to record your show.

Free Apps to look into that are highly suggested by my partners in The Grindhouse Radio while doing Podcast 101 lectures include Blubrry, Audacity, Anchor and Garage Band (Garage Band is MAC Only)

There are Paid Options as well including Adobe Audition (PC/MAC). Adobe Audition comes out to roughly $25 monthly and obviously has a learning curve. At GHR, we use Ableton which is a $450 one-time fee and allows the program to be used on a couple of different devices. Ableton also requires some skill to learn; however you can find tutorials online that can walk you through that process.

Now, of course the quality of your podcast will come down to the quality of equipment that you use; however you need to start somewhere! Don’t be ashamed to get started with bare minimum and upgrade over time. Think about it… wouldn’t it be smarter to give it a whirl for a couple of weeks before spending a small fortune on professional equipment? Put your big toe in the water first and see where it goes!

Buying a Microphone & Headphones.

As mentioned earlier… this is a BASIC plan of how to get started podcasting. Now, that being said – your overall audio quality begins and ends with the proper microphone.

My USB microphone of choice is the YETI Pro by Blue which runs around $250. You can also grab the Yeticaster which is a full streaming setup that you can plug and play directly into your desktop or laptop and will run you about $199.99. The quality of audio is fantastic and it is my backup microphone for when I am NOT in my studio. Drawback with Yeti mics are that you can only use ONE on a device – so if you are planning on doing a two or more person show at the same location… it won’t work.

Another decent USB microphone is the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB – this is an affordable option for those on a budget as they run about $80.

Now, The Grindhouse Radio and I are endorsed by Beyerdynamic – their microphones are superior to those mentioned above. You get quality sound for a fraction of the cost in comparison to the other top-of-the-line microphones on the market. We religiously use Beyerdynamic (M 88 TG) microphones at the GHR Studios which run $399 each; however these products are used when utilizing an interface and unable to plug directly into your computer. If you opt to go bigger and better – I suggest picking up these mics as your end all – be all.

The general idea for podcasting is to purchase a dynamic microphone that is front-firing, which in laymen’s terms means it picks up your voice clearly without unwanted sounds of wherever you’re recording.

Furthermore, I’d also highly suggest picking up BeyerDynamic DT 770 PRO headphones as they are extremely sensitive and beyond comfortable when having to wear them for long periods of time. They run for about $159. and well worth the cost. If you are not looking to invest that type of money into a headset – you can get by at the beginning with a basic set of headphones that can be purchased anywhere audio equipment is sold. You can grab them online from All Music, Inc. as well.

Record, Upload, and Promote

There are many different ways to format a show including going solo, co-hosts, guest related, call-ins, so on and so forth. I personally prefer having one or more co-hosts to banter with as I enjoy feeding off their energy. Only you will know what is right for you and there are positives and negatives for them all (perhaps I’ll dive into that another time). Another thing you will need to consider is your content – again… a very personal thing that will be different for each and every one of you. I would suggest having a game plan including a list of topics to discuss for your first few shows until you get the hang of it. Even if you ‘think’ you don’t need it – do yourself a favor… at very least, it is a safety net.

If you are unsure of what to say or how you’re going to come across ‘on-air’ – I suggest practicing in a dark room where it is silent. It may sound silly; but it works. It’s like running lines in front of a mirror when getting ready to film for television or film – but only for your voice. Remember, you don’t need a script – though should have an idea of where you are going with everything as it is very easy to get distracted or take off on a tangent.

I suggest looking up podcast format samples if you’re looking into doing a more segmented and planned out podcast; but again – in podcasting… there is no real right way or wrong way. Do it naturally and from the heart and you’ll be just fine.

Other recording options when working with a remote co-host or guest are video streaming sites including Skype, Zoom or one of my personal favorites Streamyard. All three of these are free… to a point; but you can get a lot of use out of them! Streamyard is what I’ve been utilizing during quarantine to record my web series, QuaranTIME with Brimstone – it allows you to stream on Facebook and take viewers questions in real time. You have the option of pulling the video and audio and repopulating it elsewhere thereafter. Figure out which option is the best for you personally and go with it.

Your final audio can be uploaded to a number of different places including; but not limited to hosting sites like Spreaker (which GHR uses), Libsyn, Anchor, and Transistor. They generate your RSS feed for you and some – like Spreaker, will offer you the opportunity to automatically submit your podcast to a multitude of different networks. Your RSS feed will be what you will use to submit it to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other players – as well as adding feeds to your own site or allowing others to have you attach to theirs.

I could easily get into the nitty-gritty and discuss the importance of naming your show, music, legalities, artwork and so on; but you’ll have to keep checking in for that; or catch The Grindhouse Radio at one of our Podcast 101 appearances.

What other questions do you have about podcasting? If you’re a seasoned podcaster – what questions do you have that would help you get to the next level?

I hope this little session helped YOU out and I look forward to hearing your new show! - Brim

Original Article Credit: Brimstone -The Official Brimstone Website BrimBLOG

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