Advice on starting a podcast, from the Creators of "The Gold Mine Podcast"
Here's a overview of how to start recording your very own podcast, created from the the process we use to make sure our episodes end up looking and sounding great, every time.
First Things First, What's Your Goal?
I know, it sounds cliché, but why do you want to record a podcast? Your goal is going to influence how you want things to sound, look and feel, so it’s good to have it thought out and written down.
We started the Gold Mine Podcast as a way to quickly build community and trust with local business owners by providing a venue where they could sit down for an hour and tell their story in a personalized, welcoming, professional environment. This means we prioritize guest experience and production value over audience size and revenue, because our goal is the guest, not the audience. Your goal is most likely not going to match ours, and so your priorities will be different. You may be interested in sharing your unique knowledge or interests, just want a place to explore concepts in real time, or want a place to just hang out and share your outlook. Whatever it is, write it down so you can reference it as you setup your recording space.
If your podcast is going to feature different guests for each show, you need to devise some sort of system for finding and scheduling guests.
At the most basic level you'll need the following:
- An idea of who you want on the show
- A systematic means of tracking who you've invited and their responses
- A way to screen applicants if you want people to be able to apply to your show
- A scheduler to make finding a time relatively painless
At The Gold Mine Podcast we created a Podcast Application page that’s linked to all our episodes, and a password protected schedule page that we send out once we approve an application. The schedule page is connected to an appointment app that has set time slots, and references our other calendars for conflicts. New podcast recordings just show up in our team calendar when the guest schedules a time slot.
Since most of our guests are local business owners, we often invite people on our show in person. When that's the case, we'll generally just open up that schedule page and get them on the calendar right away.
Want Us To Help You Get Started?
A podcast is primarily an auditory experience, so setting up the sound correctly is a pretty big deal. Now would be a good time to remember your goal, if you’re just producing a podcast for you and a couple friends, you are going to have different requirements than if you are trying to create a business focused or educational podcast. Either way, here are some basics you need to keep in mind:
- Low noise/controlled noise
- Large swings in ambient noise are going to negatively affect your recording as the mics and pc adjust to sounds other than your voice, so find a room you can record in a little farther away from the noise and activity in your environment.
- Carpet/no echo/acoustic panels.
- When you record, you want your mouth to be the only source of sound the mics pick up. Eliminate echoes with a carpeted floor and acoustic tiles on the walls and ceiling. Check for anything that reverberates sound in the room. (For example, when we were setting up the studio we had the metal legs but no top for the table, and the metal tubing that the legs were made of echoed like crazy! Putting the table top on solved the problem, but it’s something to keep in mind.)
- Controlled Lighting (optional for Video)
- If you are recording video, you’ll want consistent light, rooms with a skylight or window as the primary light source make the camera have to change settings to deal with the changing environment.
Don’t have access to a good location but still want to get started? Auburn Business Ventures offers a Podcast Recording Service! Visit our Podcast Recording page to learn more.
- USB Microphones
- Great for a simple setup that requires only one or two mics, you can get some of the best microphones available as USB Mics. Here’s a usb version of the one that we use on The Gold Mine Podcast: Audio-Technica AT2020
- XLR Microphones and Audio Interface
- Have limited ports on your pc and need 3 or more mics, look into getting a set of XLR mics (We use an Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser mic and boom setup, the boom arm is so-so, but the mics are excellent!) and an audio interface (We use a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8)
- Audio Recording Software
- We use Adobe Creative Cloud for our editing needs, so we record the audio directly into Adobe Audition. Once the podcast is recorded, we can edit and export the audio file for upload to our podcast hosting service.
- If you are going to record a video version of your podcast, looking into a decent camera setup is a must. We happen to use a Sony A7iii for our podcast since we already have it on hand for our other services, but down the line when we add multiple camera angles, we’ll probably purchase a set of Sony ZV-1 cameras.
- Video editing software (to merge video with mic audio)
Recording and Production
Once you have your hardware and location setup and your guest scheduled, you'll want to create a checklist you can follow on recording day to make sure nothing gets left out.
Here’s a quick outline of how our production procedure works on recording day.
- Set up recording software and camera
- Train the guest on how to use microphones, etc.
- Start audio recording in Audition
- Start Video recording on the camera
- Enjoy Podcast!
- End recording in Audition and on the camera
- Save audio file
- Export video file from camera onto our editing desktop
And here's our checklist for production and distribution.
- Match video to audio and export video file
- Create a video thumbnail image for YouTube
- Upload files to proper channels (Hosting software for the audio, YouTube for the Video.)
- Extract short, valuable clips and share them with our audience.
Plan on writing out a procedure to help keep track of what’s going on. I’d even recommend printing out a copy of the list for each episode, so something doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and you can focus your attention on other things.
You’ve set up your podcast environment, scheduled your guests, and started recording! The next step making those recordings available to the world. You’ll need somewhere to host your podcast audio files, and you’ll need to publish access to them to the big podcast platforms. There are quite a few Podcast hosting services out there, and they’ll all help you get your audio onto the popular listening platforms like Spotify and iTunes. We happen to use Spreaker as our podcast host, but there are many options. Find a comparison site and see what host makes the most sense for you.
Podcasts need a place to live online, just like websites, and just like web hosting platforms, there are multiple options for podcast hosting. The big players right now are Transistor, Castos, Spreaker, Podbean, and Buzzsprout. They all have a couple key features, including file hosting and distribution to the various public facing channels such as Spotify and iTunes. They also each have some different features at different cost points, so do your research and figure out which one best suits your needs before you sign up. (It’s almost always worth paying the couple dollars/month for the entry level paid plan, the free plans are generally very limited.)
Here's a quick check list of everything we covered above:
- Goal - Having a concrete, written down goal helps in the decision making process!
- Guests - Figure out how you are going to approach, invite, and schedule guests for your show, and write it down.
- Environment - Low noise, acoustic paneling, and controlled lighting for consistent audio and video quality.
- Equipment - Depends on your goal, but spending $100 to $200 on a dedicated microphone is really a must for any voice recording.
- Production - Again depends on your goal, but if you want a good quality experience, plan to learn some production software basics.
- Publishing - Pick a hosting platform that best suites your needs, the rest is pretty simple! (Yay!)
If you have any questions at all, give us a call and we're more than happy to help you out! We offer full service and a-la-carte Podcast recording, editing, and distribution options to best suite your needs. You can schedule a strategy call and we can talk it over with you!
(ABV may receive a commission from links in this article.)