Image courtesy of Cowomen via Unsplash
Starting a podcast can be challenging, but thankfully it’s an area primed for growth. Compared to YouTube’s 31M channels, the podcast scene at only 1.5M is a much less competitive space.
But how do you get started? What do you need – and what can you skip?
Nova Observer spoke with some people who really know the business of podcasting to spill the tea on starting a podcast.
Andrew Torrez, host of Opening Arguments has over 13 million total downloads, on average that’s about 100,000 listeners per week.
According to Torrez, the most important things are, “ One, always script and research your shows – prove to your audience that you are in fact working hard at giving them the best content. Virtually every bad podcast I know will ask me about equipment, etc. and the simple answer is that their content would be terrible coming out of a world-class recording studio. Two… develop a schedule and stick to it.” Torrez explains, “Opening Arguments drops twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. We’ve released 438 episodes over the last four years. During that time we have NEVER missed an episode, even when that Friday is the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatever. Record a few canned episodes in case you get sick. Take time to record when you’re on vacation – I took a 3-week cruise last year but we still kept our schedule.”
“Three, Gear. I think you need to look at what tier you’re in,” Torrez explains when getting into the tech side of hosting a podcast. “Pretty much all USB mics sound the same (i.e., bad) but consistent with points one and two, I did the first 28 episodes of our show with a shitty snowball USB mic. Then I upgraded to a Scarlett Solo audio interface (they’re down to like $100 now) and the Electro Voice RE20 mic ($400). I’ve used that combo for the past three years.” Torrez warns, “I don’t think it makes sense to try and split the baby and get a so-called “high end” USB mic, but to be honest I am not a big audio guy (my co-host is). I can hear the difference between mediocre USB mic audio and the way it sounds now.”
And Torres reminds us that “other shows in your field are the COMMUNITY, not the competition. Reach out to people who do the same kind of show you do and are trying to reach the same audience. Listen. Vet the shows that are doing it well and reach out to them. Go on their show. Have them on yours.”
The Light Inside Us Jeffrey Besecker shares that when starting out it’s important to, “learn the difference between a dynamic mic, a cardoidal mic, a butterfly mic and a lavalier mic.”
“Dynamic mics are more direct in how they pick up sound, generally. They will usually not pick up as much outside noise.
Cardiod Mics have a heart shaped sound pickup pattern and allow more overall sound to pick up. Also more reverb from a room.
Lavaliers tend to be lapel mics- but can be either directional or cardoidal depending on their purpose.
And, Butterfly Mics pick up sound from EVERYWHERE.”
Becsecker explains that those are the basic concepts, “Mic makers have different purposes for each mic they make. Dynamic mics are the easiest to use and offer fewer sound problems but are not as clear under most uses. Always study what a mic was designed to do. READ. Everything you need to know can be found by searching google, watching facebook and other boards or by asking someone in sound design.”
“As a principle of our essential being- we NEVER focus any of our attention on counting numbers,” Becsecker stresses. “We focus and guide the intention of our programs based on how well they serve others.” The Light inside us is available on 9 different podcast stream RSS hosts- most of the majors, including Apple Podcast. Besecker explains that they host for free on Anchor, “because it gives us additional budget to spend on other things that require investment.”
Becsecker also hosts his website independently, “ we do all of our own design on Godaddy- paid hosting and web design subscription. We have usage of every feature we feel connects our listening community effectively and builds value…We use canvas to create audio grams and social posts. We subscribe to Adobe Creative Suite- well, for everything…” Becsecker shares that they do all this for one major benefit, “we have COMPLETE ownership of the copywriter material we create under our name.”
Yaya Podcasting’s Carrie Caulfield Arick is a podcasting hero to many. She provides resources for podcasters, podcast editors and produces and edits podcasts for brands.
Sound quality is important. “Ideally you want a good, DYNAMIC microphone and small, soft, quiet recording space. (Because you can’t fix it in post),” shares Arick.
“To capture your recording, the easiest solution is your computer, with a program like Audactiy (which is free),” explains Arick. “You can also use Quicktime (Mac) or Voice Recorder (PC). If you have access to the Adobe Creative Suite, you’ll be able to use Audition to record and edit your content. Audacity also allows you to edit content. “
But sometimes you’re out and about, in those instances, “for recording in a pinch, recording into the voice memo app on your phone is perfectly fine (and often a solution for larger podcast productions),” Arick dishes.
While it’s not all about gear, Arrick recommends, “You definitely also want a great pair of headphones– called studio monitors. What you’re looking for is the flattest frequency response possible. Audio Technica makes great, affordable studio monitors. Their ATH m30x monitors are a great entry-level pair that won’t break the bank.” She also thinks someone looking to take podcasting seriously should, “…invest in a program like iZotope RX8 Elements. The voice de-noise feature is worth it. It often goes on sale for under $50 in the spring and around the holidays.“