Introduction: How to Podcast for Free (or Cheap)
Podcasting can seem pretty difficult to do, but with a little guidance its a breeze. There are several key steps in podcasting, and this tutorial will cover the absolute basics. If you're looking for how to do a live broadcast, a videocast, or anything that isn't bare bones audio and rss, I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere. This tutorial will cover:
Hosting the File
Creating an RSS Feed
Submitting the Show to iTunes
The first step- so basic it doesn't even get its own page is making sure you have a microphone. You'll need to have one that sounds decent, but don't go overkill on a top-of-the-line set just yet. Personally, the microphone built in to my Dell laptop works great, but that doesn't mean all laptop mics do. Test yours out, and make sure it sounds good enough to use- the last thing you want is a weird sounding you- right?
Interested in checking out my show? www.contracast.blogspot.com
Follow me on Twitter, if my tweets are of interest to you. www.twitter.com/contrapaul
Step 1: Recording Audio
There are a few ways to do a podcast, and although you could opt to record just your voice, this tutorial is meant to show you how to record several people at once. The two key components I use are Skype- the free VOIP service, and MP3 Skype Recorder- a free Skype recorder. Download both programs, and set up Skype first, then the recorder. The recorder needs access to Skype, which you will have to approve. Assuming you plan to record the show with others, you will need to get them to download Skype as well, but they have no need for the recorder. Once you all add eachother as contacts, you're nearly ready to begin recording. Set the destination of the recorded file on the recorder, and set the recording mode to mono, and you're all set. Set up a conference call, make sure the file is being recorded properly, and talk away!
Step 2: Editing the Audio
After you finish recording your show, you will be left with an Mp3 file, that can be used by itself for the podcast, but may require some trimming, or augmenting. There are 2 programs I use for this business, and they are both free to try- but there is no limit on how many times you reinstall and "try" again. They are NCH Software's Wavepad and Mixpad. Wavepad is a single file sound editor, and is great for trimming the start and end of a show, cutting out of bleeping any unnecessary content, and making any audio adjustments. Mixpad is a multi-track audio mixing software, and is useful for Adding intro music, putting seperate files together, etc. Combined, these two applications make quick work of what could be a tedious editing process. Once you finish editing your show, save the file as an Mp3, 128kps is good quality, but if you want a smaller file go 64kps. After this has saved, open the properties of the Mp3 and modify to the metadata to reflect the title, and type of file among other things. Its important to label the show as a podcast within the metadata, or else it might get lost among music Mp3s.
Step 3: Hosting the File
Hosting the Mp3 file seemed difficult to do for free when I started out, but I quickly found a great solution that works for both on-site playback and RSS feed access. That source is Archive.org. You simply create an account for free (no serious personal data collected), and start uploading.
Step 4: Creating an RSS Feed
Creating an RSS feed can be more daunting than recording the show at first, but a little research and dedication makes it easy.
Step 1: Set up a blog for the show on Blogger.com. While my primary blog features the show, it was more convenient for me to set up a show-specific blog. The most important thing to do is create a direct download link in each entry to the podcast file. Basically- just a plain link that when clicked downloads the Mp3. Without this, the RSS feed will see no media items, and be worthless.
Step 2: Use Google's Feedburner service to set up a podcast feed. Follow the instructions carefully, and use the Podmedic tool to check for media file enclosures.
Step 3: Thats it. Simple. You now have completed the step that essentially takes you from Mp3 file uploader to podcaster.
Step 5: Submitting the Show to ITunes
Submitting a podcast to iTunes is sort of like getting approval to sell your niche product at Wal-mart. Its a great way to get your show out there, and hopefully gain you something of a reward. Simply download iTunes, create an iTunes store account, go to "podcasts", click "submit a podcast", and paste the RSS link we just created. Now wait a few days, and you're show will likely be available through iTunes.
Step 6: Helpful Tips
Here's a few tips I recommend for a little more success with your show.
1. Spend time conference calling with your prospective co-hosts *before* the show. The difference between people who know how to have a conference call and the people who don't is night and day, and its tough to listen to the latter.
2. Design some *awesome* cover art to use in the RSS feed. Cover art is the difference between people skimming past your show, and people downloading it.
3. Be unique.
4. Write decent show notes and distribute them to everyone recording prior to the show. This adds structure, and tells people whats coming.
5. Have fun!