Thursday, December 6, 2012

Podcasting

Back to your regularly scheduled program. I'm sure very few of you have ever wanted to know what goes into podcasting. That being said, I'm still going to do a post about it. Now I'm not an expert as I've only been doing this for 3.5 months or so, but I've been doing it for 3.5 months so I have some idea of what's going on.



Step 1: First things first, you need a subject. Usually it's something you enjoy greatly and wouldn't mind talking a lot about. For example, I love the 90s cartoon ReBoot, so that was the first podcast; I've been looking for an excuse to watch all the DVDs I have, hence the Cinemasters; and after watching the pilot episode of Arrow, I decided we needed to do one on that show.

Step 2: Now that we have the what, let's get to the why. Why do you need to do it? Hopefully it is something you will enjoy doing as you will run into problems. That's the nature of the beast of technology. You will hit some speed bumps such as your feed not working, randomly losing data that you just recorded, or running out of space and bandwidth. So if you want to start a podcast, look into it  and learn as much as you can about it.

Step 3: Finding co-hosts. Now this isn't a necessity as I have heard some podcasts with one host that are actually very well done, but most of the time it just leads to a boring, one-sided show. Exceptions that prove the rule are the Bailey's Batman Podcast where Michael Bailey doesn't always have a guest host, but he's done enough podcasting to know how to keep it interesting by himself; and Taking Flight where Tom Panarese manages to keep it short and sweet while he talks about the adventures of Dick Grayson during his time as Robin and Nightwing in the comics. Now if you still want cohosts the easiest way to do that is ask your friends. My friends are nerdy so it was easy to find people interested.

Step 4: Plan your first episode. Get some notes on what you're going to say and how you're going to say it. If your show calls for it find what segments you can use. Set up your website/blog, an email address, and whatever social media you want and have them at the ready so you can send your audience there to leave you feedback. (It's important to talk about your feedback as it shows the audience you care about them and also encourages other audience to leave their thoughts as well. It's always nice to have open communication with your audience.

Step 5: Whew! Already 5 steps in. Why don't we get to the actual recording? Once you have an idea of how you want to go about doing the podcast and you have everybody, it's time to do the recording itself. Now there are several ways to go about this and it depends on location. If all your co-hosts get together to record in one room, then all you really need is one condenser style microphone with a cardioid or omnidirectional pattern. Using a usb microphone you can then record into the free program Audacity, which is super easy to use and completely free. If they are not in the same room, you can do it over skype or Google+. Skype has a plugin that's not horribly expensive that will record the conversation for you so you can download the mp3 and then edit it from there. Likewise Google+ can do the same thing for free with Hangouts  on air and Youtube. Those are two easy, and inexpensive ways to do the recording. I went and bought a Pro Tools system that allows me to record 2 tracks at once so I record my voice on one track and Everyone else I'm in a Google+ Hangout with. If you want to talk more about this stuff, let me know and we'll make it happen.

Step 6: Editing. Now is where you want to go through the file and put in any clips from the show if you want or to add announcements, tags, or commercials. I usually add a clip or two to separate the segments from each other and enhance the listening experience. Depending on how in depth you go, this process could take a few minutes to a few hours. Once you are finished and have it how you want it, you'll have to convert it or "bounce" it to a different format, usually .wav. Then it's smart to convert to mp3 to take up less space and make it quicker up/download time. This is easily done with iTunes.

Step 7: Once you have the mp3 file finished, it is now time to find a site/server to upload to. This was the most tricky part for me. There are a lot of things to pay attention to. Some sites have a limit to how much data you can store each month and others are even more annoying and limit the bandwidth as well. This is particularly annoying as it limits how many people can listen to and download the podcast. If you are trying to do 1 podcast with only one or two episodes a month, then podomatic.com is a good place to start, but they limit the bandwidth for you. What I am currently using is hipcast which does cost, but the interface works quite nicely and it's easy to use. I've heard the best one to use is libsyn.com, but it does cost more than hipcast so I went for the other option.

Step 8: Now that you have the mp3s properly hosted on the web we can get started with the blogs and the feeds. Most shows have a companion blog to go with them where they can put pictures and other notes about things they talk of, so definitely think of doing that. For some examples you can check mine out in the links on the right side of this page. Feeds on the other hand, are necessary. They are essentially the links to the media that you then subscribe to. A lot of podcast hosting sites have a way to set up this feed by themselves. However it is smart to send it through a site like feedburner.com so
if you need to change hosting sites for whatever reason, it is quite easy to do so.

Step 9: Time to get the word out. Publicize your podcast by submitting it to iTunes, Stitcher and all the other big podcast libraries to get some more viewers. Then send links to all the friends you have to get as many listeners you can. Send feedback to other podcasts and network with them so you can reciprocate some promotional materials with them. Have them give you a shout out and in turn you can shout out to them for theirs.



Some things to remember: Podcasts aren't really a competitive medium, especially at the lower end of the spectrum. Probably the best way to gain audience is to find a podcast with a good number of listeners and have them shout out to you. Podcasting can be addicting, so get settled in your podcast before starting more. I tried to start three at one time after the first one, which almost made me stop them all, so I stepped back and slowed down a bit and now I'm getting into a good rhythm with all three that I currently have.

Anyways, the point is that podcasting is stressful, and sometimes overly complicated, but also quite fun and exciting. So yeah... Podcasts. Check them out on the right. Thanks for reading!

-Daniel Janes

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