Established podcasters make it look so easy, or better yet, they make it sound so easy. Every episode they release is flawless, great rapport with their guests, witty banter, nice sound quality and their blog posts featuring each episode totally rock. And you may be left wondering how to create a podcast of your own.
I have the answer for you. It’s not as easy as it looks, and they have a podcasting checklist. And they check it twice. Many of us have learned lessons the hard way, and that just makes the resulting podcasting checklist even more thorough and valuable. So here’s my 15 item checklist that I run through for each episode, before recording and through production, to ensure the highest quality product for my clients, and myself.
1 – Have Your Podcasting Equipment
No duh, right? But if you travel to meet your guest, to record on location, it’s quite possible that over the weekend, you took your podcast equipment out of your car, set it down in the garage to make room for a baby stroller, luggage or game equipment. And now when you show up on Monday for your podcast appointment… yeah, you forgot to put it back in the car! Make sure you know where your equipment is!
2 – Take Your Time On Set Up
This may be true for many more subject than just preparing for podcasts, but when you’re ready to set up your equipment, take your time. If you have to set up and tear down for each guest, if you aren’t lucky enough to have a recording studio, move slowly and deliberately as you prepare your microphones, cables and computer. If you hurry, you are more likely to hook your equipment up incorrectly, or set your recording levels poorly… just take your time and get it right.
3 – Test Equipment
Perhaps testing your equipment belongs with Step #2, but for me, I prefer to think of it as a separate step. Once I’m set up, hopefully a few minutes before my guest arrives, I’ll sit in each seat, and test the microphones to ensure they are working well. And then I’ll check my computer to make sure it’s recording properly. I’ll even listen to the recorded mic check, adjust as needed, and I should be good to go and ready to focus on my guest.
4 – Chit Chat With Guest
Even as large and as popular as the podcasting field has gotten over the past few years, I’ve found that most small business owners still have no idea what a podcast is. Which is why is doubly important to take a few minutes before you start your recording to explain the process to your guest, and start to build a little rapport. If you jump right in to recording, your guest will likely be nervous and unsure, resulting in a less than spectacular episode. Tell a story, ask a question, crack a corny joke, simply be a real person and ease into the podcast instead of rushing it.
5 – Record Podcast Episode On Garageband
This is not to say that Garageband is the only software capable of recording a podcast. Not at all. But you need to record your conversation, and I happen to use Garageband, but feel free to use whatever piece of equipment or software that works for you. My point is that you need something to actually record with. Make your choice, know how to use it, and then don’t forget to press that “record” button!
6 – Copy To DropBox
So far so good, right? Your guest carved out a piece of time for you to interview them, you set up your equipment and recorded your episode, perfect! You know what would really ruin this moment? If you lost your file! It’s unlikely, yes, but losing an entire interview (it happens) is a real bummer, and one you can avoid. Back it up. I use DropBox, but it doesn’t really matter what service you choose. Once your interview is over, double check that you recorded it properly, and then back it up. Before you pack it up. Seriously.
7 – Edit Your Podcast Episode
Nice job so far, you’re back at home or your office, and you have an audio file on your computer, now what? It’s time to edit, trim it up a little bit to make it sound nice and professional. Every podcaster I’ve met has their own comfort level with how much editing should be done to reach their standards. I find that I’m comfortable with the conversation sounding natural and most files usually require only minimal editing.
However, long pauses get taken out so as not to interfere with the flow. And obvious mistakes, coughing fits, bad language, etc… all get cleaned up. And this is the time that you’ll want to add your intro and outro if you have any, as well as any transition music you have. This is alone time at your computer to tweak your audio recording to make it sound like something that won’t embarrass you!
8 – Export To MP3 File
This step is very easy, but necessary… once you’ve edited your podcast file, you’ll need to export it out of your software. When you export the file, make sure you choose the MP3 file extension. It’s quick, it’s easy, but it’s also very important.
9 – Order Podcast Transcript
At this point you’ve closed Garageband or whatever editing software you’re using, and you have an MP3 file on your computer desktop. This is when I usually opt to upload my file to a transcription service. There are several to choose from, and they almost all require you to simply upload your audio file, in MP3 format, to their service. And then a day or two later, they will email you a full transcription of the episode.
This is an optional step, but I like the flexibility that having a full transcript offers me. When it comes time to build out a blog post around your podcast, having a fully transcribed episode is very handy.
10 – Order Show Notes And/Or Summary
Also an optional step, your podcast can exist without either a transcript or show notes, but to allow for maximum public enjoyment of your labor, I suggest getting one or the other, or both. You can write your own show notes or summaries, or there are a few services out there on the inter-webs. Whichever route you take, the goal is similar to ordering a transcription… when it comes time to write your blog post, having show notes already prepared will make a ton of difference.
11 -Prepare File With iTunes
This step always sounds worse than it really is, please stick with me, because if you want to learn how to create a podcast, you have to learn how to add ID3 Tags to your file. It’s easier if you just think of ID Tags, you need a way for people and podcast services to be able to identify your podcast, and this is how you take care of that.
Add your file to your iTunes software, I keep a playlist for each podcast I’m working with, and then you’ll edit that song. You’ll need to name your episode, artist, album and choose your album cover art. That way, when you upload your file to your podcast hosting service, all of these tags go with it, and that’s how people search in the iTunes store for podcasts.
12 – Upload To Podcast Hosting Service
Your podcast has to live somewhere, so that people can listen to it whenever they want, and leaving it on your computer won’t achieve that end. So you need to have an account with one of the few reputable podcast hosting services out there, such as Libsyn, Amazon S3, Sound Cloud and a few others. Think of it like YouTube, but for podcasts. You upload your content here, and then you can embed it on your website for people to consume.
When you log into your hosting account, you’ll need to upload your file, and fill out just a few fields of information, such as title and description of your episode. You’ll also get to set a publish date, which is when your episode gets pushed out through the iTunes store to all of your subscribers. It doesn’t mean you have to have a blog post on your website on that day, it just means that listeners will be able to find your episode through iTunes on whichever date you pick.
13 – Build Blog Post
I know I just said that you don’t have to publish a blog post on the same day as your episode goes live, but I almost always choose to do so. I don’t HAVE to, I just LIKE to.
So what does my blog post look like when it’s built around a podcast episode? Well, we’ve been collecting the building blocks of a great blog post along the way. Up top I usually start with the embed code of my podcast, which I get from my hosting account. Then I add in my summary or show notes. And below that, when possible, I add the full transcript of the episode. Yes, it’s a really long blog post. But it sure beats trying to sit down and write a 4,000 word blog post!
14 – Add Pictures
If your blog post is built entirely of your podcast show notes plus the transcript, it is going to really long, and visually unappealing. So make sure to add a few pictures in. Believe it or not, especially when dealing with niche industries, you’re likely to have as many podcast “readers” as listeners, and you should take them into consideration when constructing your blog post.
If you visit your guests when conducting interviews, remember to grab a few pictures to include. Perhaps your guest already has a few photos they’d love to share, it’s free publicity for them! Sprinkle your photos, which should be optimized for size and seo purposes, throughout your blog post to make it all pretty and sparkly.
15 – Publish Your Podcast!
That should be about it. Your podcast episode is set to publish on your hosting account on a certain day and time. I would set the blog post on your website to publish at the same time, and then you’re done, congratulations, that’s all you need to know on how to create a podcast!
Remember, not every step is vitally important, it’s possible to create your own podcast using fewer steps. Or more, you can certainly make it more detailed and complicated if you choose to do so.
It’s important to know yourself and what your strengths are, so work to your strong suits, and make your podcast the best it can be! Any questions about how to create a podcast? Let me know!