Everyone has a podcast. There are podcasts about movies, computers, fashion, art, and everything you can dream of. They’re a way that you can communicate with your users in a more personal way – through voice rather than text.
We’re going to help you create your first [solo] podcast in this new three part series. We’ll show you the software to download, the hardware to buy, and the accessories to make. It’s easy, I promise. Here at Oratos Media, we do a few podcasts ourselves using these methods. Pretty soon, you’ll be on your way to “podcast pleasure” as well.
Get the details after the jump.
The hardware you’ll need
For a solo podcast, things are incredibly easy. All you need is a simple microphone- mine cost $14 at the local WalMart.
Note: You’ll be heavily compressing your audio in step two anyway, so you don’t need to worry about the less than stellar quality.
Of course, if you are looking for a broadcast quality, you can use a USB microphone. Most microphones connect through the 1/8th inch jack that’s located in the back of your computer, but USB microphones take up a (you guessed right) USB port. This gives them slightly higher quality, though in the end only the true audiophiles will notice.
Plug your microphone into your computer (an d install, if need be).
The software you’ll need
Audacity is a fantastic program (I’ll be reviewing it in more depth sometime this week). It’s free/open source, and has a feature set that, in many ways, compares to professional software. You can use effects, encode and decode in several formats, and easily hack up your audio.
Download and install Audacity (if you don’t have it already) from its page at Sourceforge.
As soon as you’ve installed the program, open it up and create a new project (see the screenshot on the right). I know Audacity starts with a new project open, but you’re best off living by the motto “better safe than sorry.” Wouldn’t want any content lost!
Now we get to test and see if your microphone is working properly. Set up your microphone in the desired position (my setup is below).
Note: the setup below uses a special “pop-screen”. These are crucial if you’re looking for pro quality audio– I’ll go into detail on how to build these sometime this week (or next week!).
Be sure that it’s positioned comfortably, so you don’t have to reach for it. If you do, you may strain your voice and that won’t make podcasting any easier. You’ll likely want easy access to your computer too, so make sure that it is easily visible.
Now that your microphone is set up, you can begin recording. In Audacity, press the round red recording button (seen on the right). This will start Audacity off recording. Make a few “pop” noises in your microphone. If the wave on the timeline spikes, you’re in business. See an example of this in the screenshot below (I just said “pop” a few times).
It’s your turn now! As the caretaker of your podcast, you get to do all the talking. Great if you are an extrovert, good luck if you are not. Here are a few suggestions:
- It’s your first podcast. Introduce yourself! We’ve never heard your beautifully crisp voice before, why not tell us about the person who creates it (you)?
- Ask for audio comments. They’re all the rage. Heck, why not point your readers to this post so they can learn how to record them (hint, hint)?
- Talk about the weather. (if nothing else)
Once you’ve covered all of that, it can only get better.
Save, wait, wait more
Congratulations. You’ve just recorded your first podcast. How does it feel? Refreshing, huh.
Now you have to save it. The reasons are twofold – first, you should always save your work: early and often. (I learned this the hard way when I lost twelve minutes of edited video in Sony Vegas, but that’s a story for another day) Second, you’ll be ready so you can do all the exciting editing when I write part two of this tutorial.
I recommend using some sort of preset folder hierarchy when working on media projects such as your podcast. As you get more and more audio (and in other projects, pictures and video) dragged in for editing, things can get complex. I recommend the following:
- Parent folder
- Episode One files
- Episode Two files
- Global Files
This is the structure that I use, but you could choose something totally different (heck, you could throw everything into one folder and just give your files descriptive names). Whatever works for you.
If you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to render your file and put it online. In step two though, we’ll cover:
- Noise reduction
- Trimming audio
- Inserting an introduction
- ID3 tags
Please join us next week for part two. Until then, post in the comments if you have any trouble, and the Oratos team (and any others who are in the mood) will try to help you out.