A quick introduction to podcasting and some tools to get started

Podcast Wallpaper by ollyhart

On Friday last at Bond University I co-presented with Associate Professor Michael Rees a masterclass on developing a social media roadmap for business.

We had a great group of people to work with and Michael and I really enjoyed the interaction.

We also had a lot of material to get through and with some topics we inevitably only skimmed the surface. So in the course of the day I promised more information on several topics, one of which was podcasting.

These notes on podcasting are for people who just want to know enough to get started.

Real experts would want you to know a lot more!

According to Wikipedia, a podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication.

In fact, most people restrict the term podcast to audio. (Note: Wikipedia definitions are useful but to be taken with a grain of salt).

I prefer to describe podcasting as Internet radio – I know that is limited and technically suspect, but it helps answer the question “so why would I want to know about podcasting?”.

The answer to that is in another question: “How would you like to have your own radio station?”

“Podcasting may be the ultimate democratization of radio. Anyone with an Internet connection and some inexpensive audio equipment can produce a podcast and make it available online.”

Ed Grabianowski “How to Create Your Own Podcast”

There are lots of resources online.

First, there are sites that are really set up as online broadcast platforms, like BlogTalkRadio and Talkshoe, where all the tech stuff is taken care of and all you have to do is phone in, hit a couple of buttons and broadcast.

BlogTalkRadio and Talkshoe

BlogTalkRadio and Talkshoe are available free and are open to anyone to use – for the free version they have some advertising but it is not obtrusive.

They are both very good. A drawback is that they control the copyright of anything you broadcast, so if you wanted to, say, re-purpose some sessions and sell them on a CD for instance, you would need their permission etc.

For people outside the USA, you need to phone in to a US number. Australians can get a phonecard from GoTalk and in my experience you shouldn’t have to pay much more that $2-3 for a one hour call. Your listeners can access the broadcast via the Internet and can call in via phone if you want to do Q&A or talkback.

Roll Your Own

You can spend as little or as much as you want on a roll your own solution, but my recommendation, for starting, is in three parts: a) download free audio editing software  b) subscribe to an audio hosting service and c) get yourself a free Skype account, a Pamela for Skype account and a headset with microphone, to plug into your computer:

a) Download (open source, free, cross platform sound editor) Audacity

There is a good guide/tutorial here, which also explains how to download the LAME encoder, which you will need if you want to export your audio files as MP3s – and you will! (I’m pretty sure LAME basically installs itself).

If you are on a Mac you may not need Audacity but there is a Mac version. Mac people can use GarageBand which I’m told comes with iLife and the upgrade costs about US$99, AU$120 for 2 years.

b) Audio  hosting service – about US$20 a month.

Is this essential? No. Will it save you a lot of trial and error and generally make life a whole lot easier? Yes.

Audio Acrobat ($19.95 a month – used by many coaches)
BYOAudio ($19.95 a month – used by me)*

Both Audio Acrobat and BYO Audio have affiliate programs so if you recommend them successfully to others you can before long find they are not actually costing you anything.

c) For recording, there are all sorts of microphones and mixers. I have done podcasts, recording straight onto the computer, using Skype audio, which is free, and for recording sessions I have used Pamela for Skype successfully with an around $10 headset (the one with the microphone “boom”) from Kmart. I also have a Plantronics headset from the USA and a new one on the way, the .Audio 470 USB (not available here in Australia, just over US$31 from Amazon).

Pamela has a 30 day free trial. I recommend you then buy the Professional edition for 19.95 Euros, for life, including upgrades etc.

Other stuff about podcasting

There is no end to what you can learn about podcasting.

If the idea of a book about podcasting appeals, there are Podcast Academy: The Business Podcasting Book, by Greg Cangialosi and colleagues, Gigavox Media & Focal Press and Podcasting for Profit by Leesa Barnes.*

There are podcasting networks, like The Podcast Network set up and run by Cameron Reilly.

There are local experts. Glenn Goodman on the Gold Coast, Australia, where I live, has the Aussie Techhead site and is a true walking talking expert on podcasting. If you ask around you will probably find local experts where you live or among your friends and acquaintances.

You can spend a lot of time acquiring knowledge about podcasting, especially about equipment, but I believe you don’t need very much knowledge or equipment to get started.

And if you have already started podcasting or are in fact an accomplished expert, why not share your own tips here?

*BYOAudio link is an affiliate link and book links are to my company’s Amazon Associates site

Image credit: Podcast Wallpaper, by ollyhart, via Flickr with Creative Commons license.

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