Tag Archives: RSS

Podcasting 101: Recording

Now that you have your site set up with the proper RSS feed that supports media files via Feedburner, you are ready to record. Of course you have gone through the planning of what your podcast will be about, who the target audience is, how long your podcast will be and the frequency of the podcast.

When you start out podcasting you may not know how long or how often you are going to podcast. From the feedback at Podcamp Toronto I would say to keep your podcast under 30 minutes. As for how often, that really depends on how much information you audience can handle and the big question… will you run out of things to say? The other part of how often is to be consistent. If you start a weekly podcast and skip a couple of weeks, some might think you stopped doing podcasts. Donna Popacosta mentioned the important thing is keep your listeners informed. So if you are going to take a month off to travel, let your listeners know in the podcasts before you leave.

So now you’re ready to record. One of the great lines I heard at Podcamp was “anything worth recording is worth recording badly”. The context of this was that you didn’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to start recording. Some podcasters started with just their laptop, as it had a build in microphone. When you are ready to start spending some money, it was unanimous to spend your money on your microphone. Look to spend $50-$200 for a good quality mic. This will make a big difference to your recordings. The type of mic. used by many is a condenser microphone, which will need an external power source. (look for mixers that have a “phantom power source” for these type of microphones).

Some of the suggested products were:

M-Audio Podcast Factory. This is a good starter setup. It comes with a dynamic microphone, a mini USB mixer and software to record and publish your podcast.

A step up from there were several microphone suggestions.

MXL 990 is a condenser microphone for under $100 and it comes with its own stand and hard sided case.

There are hundreds of other choices from AKG, or Rode. One of the best sources for products is ebay.

Peter O’Connell gives a great presentation at Podcamp. (download the 75MB .mov file here)

There are a few favorites for recording and editing your software. First, there is Audacity. This software is free and is a good starting point. It allows you to have multiple inputs (more than one channel). It also makes it easier to add music or other recorded materials to your podcast.

The next step up from Audacity is Adobe’s Audition or CUBASE. Both are professional level recorders and editors. Audition recently released version 2.0 of their product. (I have heard there are issues with Audition with Windows Vista). The good news about this release is that you can probably get some good deals on the previous version 1.5 which is still a very capable editor. For a demonstration of how to edit your recordings. You can download Mark Blevis’ .mov file here.

If you are a beginner and are using Audacity. There is another piece of free software I use. It is called Levelator from Gigavox. Through a series of algorithms it normalizes and/or compresses your recording; but it does it all automatically. For explanations of these and other terms, you can watch Jay Moonah’s presentation by downloading here.

Some of you may want to record more than just one person, or do interviews on the phone. The best method I have heard for doing this is with Skype. Skype is a free software download that allows you to talk to anyone else with Skype for free. I have several posts below about Skype. What you need to know for podcasting is how to record Skype. There are many choices for this. There is one thing you should look for in this software. As you progress in your editing knowledge, you will want to have your voice and the other’s voice on separate channels. This will allow you to add some effects to the other voice to correct any issues. The 2 packages I am aware of with this feature are Powergrammo (paid version does 2 channels), and PrettyMay. Other Skype recording software is Pamela, HotRecorder and Skyperecorder.

In Jay Moonah’s presentation above, they also discussed a “double-ender” This is where both sides use the software above to record their voice. Then your interviewee sends you the file. You match the 2 files up in your editor and you have a pristine sounding recording, almost as if the 2 of you were in the same room.

The next step up, from a hardware point of view is to a mixer. 2 of the most popular are the Alesis Mulitimix 8USB or the Behringer UB802. If you are looking for something portable. Belkin has their Tune Studio mixer that uses an iPod as the recording device.

One last point about the recording. When you make your recording, always choose to record in a .wav format. This is uncompressed and will be the best sounding format. When you have completed all of your edits. Then you can convert to .mp3 to post onto sites.

And…this is where this post ends, and the next post will be Podcasting 101: posting your podcast on web sites and directories, including iTunes.

Podcasting 100

 This is the first in a series of posts to explain how to start podcasting 101. This is the pre-post about the things you need to do before you start podcasting. I recently attended Podcamp Toronto. This was a fantastic event where 300 people got together to share their knowledge and experience about podcasting.

The key phrase is web presence. You could have the greatest podcast on earth, but if you don’t have a presence, then no one will be able to find it, or you for that matter. Julien Smith was one of the speakers at Podcamp Toronto. He gave a fantastic presentation on Giving Your Podcast A Google Presence. You can download the video (80 MB) here. Julien make some tremendous points about Google and podcasting. Basically, Google couldn’t care less if you have a podcast. Google knows text…not audio. In order to help Google out, you need to start with a blog, or a web site. You should put the podcast notes on your site and/or get a transcript done. This will help Google when it searches you site.

Your Own Domain:

First, decide on a domain name. I could spend a post or two about how to choose a name, but Bill Sweetman gave a great presentation (40MB) about this at Podcamp. Once you have a name picked out and you have registered the domain; find yourself a good web hosting service. I reccommend this over any of the free services from Blogger, or WordPress. I have seen too many people who have lost their blogs because of some technical issue. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a Blogger blog, or WordPress blog. Both offer their software for free to put on any web hosting service you use. This blog uses WordPress software and my hosting service is 1 & 1. Neither of the steps are expensive. To register a domain costs about $10 a year and a basic web or blog hosting service can be as low as $5 a month.

RSS Feed:

Next you need to create a feed. RSS is a standard format (XML) text file that allows many other readers see your posts. Now most blogging software will create an RSS feed. However, Feedburner.com will allow you to publicize your feed and add several extra features at the click of a button. For podcasters, the most important feature to turn on is the SmartCast feature in the Optimize tab. This will automatically add the tags required to put your podcast on iTunes and add media tags when you post an mp3 file to your site.

Ping’s The Thing:

Once you have created somthing new for your site. You need to tell the world that it is there. The easiest way to do this is tell all the search engines, blog directories and podcast directories that you have created something new. Pingoat is a great service to do this. Once you have filled out your sites information you should add the site to your links group in your browser. Then all you have to do is click on the button in your browser and Pingoat will start telling all the services that you have new content.

Of course to help Google to search your site, you should have a site map. There is a WordPress addin that will create the site map and ping Google to come and search your site. You can download here.

Tags:

Tags are keywords that will help others to find your posts or podcasts. Technorati is the largest and most popular site for tag searching. You will need to “claim” you blog on their site. Once that is done, you can add some tags in the profile page to help others find your blog and podcasts. You should also tag your posts. You can see my Technorati tags below next to the green icon. Most blogging platforms support Technorati tags. For WordPress there is a plugin called Ultimate Tag Warrior. This adds an entry bar right under the posting page to add your tags. It also allows you to list related posts from your blog. This helps people to find your other posts on the same topic. Lorelle gives a great tutorial on using Tag Warrior in this post.

Community Sites:

Now the next thing is to get yourself published on some community sites. Such as mySpace, Flickr, Linkedin, Facebook, Friendster and StumbledUpon. Chris Penn from The Financial Aid Podcast gave 2 presentation on these tips and tricks. Podcast Marketing: Five tools and strategies to grow your audience TODAY (60MB) and notes. Plus, Podcast 401 – 5 steps to a bigger audience and slides.

Now you’re ready to start recording! In the next few posts I will discuss the various hardware and software required to start your first podcast. Plus, how to post it on iTunes and other services so the World can subscibe to you. As always, if you have any questions, just send me an email or leave a comment.

Creating Podcasts

It is rather simple to create Podcasts. You simply record a conversation. That conversation could be in person, over the phone, or in many cases over Skype.

Where it becomes difficult is processing the recording. As anyone who has tried to post a podcast in its raw state, it can be very difficult to follow due to the varying volumes of voices. There are 2 tools out there that can help with this process.

One of of the most popular open source products is Audacity. This is a complete recording studio for Windows, Mac or Linux. It is available for download here.

A new product is out in Beta called the Levelator from Gigavox Media. It is simpler, yet more complex. Audacity will level the volumes, but does it in real time as it is playing the track. Levelator creates a map of the full track first, then applies some algorithms to level the volumes.

Tags: , netcast, , Levelator,

Online Web Applications I Use

I have noticed that more and more I am turning to online applications as opposed to desktop applications. As I work on 3 different computers; work, home and notebook, it just makes things much easier. There is no synchronization required, everything is just there when you open it and you can start where you left off. Here are some of the applications I use to keep myself organized.

First there is 2Go SyncIT. This is a small application that runs in your system tray. It automatically will synchronize your Bookmarks in real time as you add or delete them. This is one of those amazing applications that you never know is there and simply works all the time. I posted about it a couple of months ago. They also have some other great features that saved my butt once. Somehow my favorites folder got corrupted and I lost all of my bookmarks. The downside of having all your bookmarks synchronized is that if you lose them all on one PC, you lose them on all PCs. Now I don’t know about you, but my favorites have evolved over the past 5+ years. I emailed 2Go and asked if there was some way for me to retrieve my bookmarks; all 700+ of them. Turns out that one of the standard features of the product is that it keeps all deleted bookmarks from the last 30 days. I just went into their utilities and restored all of my bookmarks.

Next is keeping track of To Do’s. For simple lists I use Ta-da. This simple application allows me to keep multiple lists. I can add the different todo lists to my Links folder in my bookmarks. I also did a post on this. This allows quick access from any computer when the thought strikes me. I use this for personal todo’s for work around the house (this list is shared with my wife…not sure that was a good idea 🙂 and for blog topics. Since I use the SyncIT program above, when I add a todo list on one computer, it is replicated on all of my computers.

Another new offering in this simple todo list application is WallNote. This application is both an online app. and a desktop app. at the same time. What it does is reads your todo list online and keeps a list on your desktop wallpaper.

Ta-da is great for simple todo lists. For lists that are a little more complicated there is activecollab. This is an open source, on line mini-project manager.

One of the other online apps that I have been using is Bloglines for my RSS feeds. As you can see in my toolbar above I have 2 links in my bookmarks. One is for adding a new feed to Bloglines and the other is for reading my feeds. Bloglines also has some other features for bloggers. if you notice down the right side of my blog, there is a section called Blogroll. This lists all of the feeds that I read. Bloglines makes it easy to quickly scan a large number of feeds. As it is an online app. when I read a post on one computer, it is flagged as read. So when I pull up my list at home, I only see new posts.

One of the new online apps. I am going to try is the new meebo online instant messenger. Everyone knows about instant messengers. Yahoo, MSN, AOL all have their own version. With meebo, you can login to all 3 at the same time and never have to install any software on your computer. This is great for users who work at companies who have locked down their systems, or Internet Cafes.

Use Bloglines to read your feeds

I have a number of tools that I have used over the last year to read my RSS feeds. The one that I am using now is and online tool called Bloglines. I like it for a number of reasons:

  • I can read my feeds on any computer without installing software.
  • It keeps track of the articles I have already read and only shows me new ones.
  • It has a neat little tool to show others what my feeds are. (see my Blogroll on the bottom right)
  • It lets me read all of my feeds in one newspaper style page
  • Subscribe with Bloglines

So give it a try.

RSS Feeds

I mentioned RSS feeds 2 posts ago. They are an amazing way to save time reading about technology, or most any other topic. You can pick and choose what you want. Of course you will need an RSS reader. You can go here at CNET to find the one you like. I was pleased to see that my favorite, Desktop Sidebar, is the #1 downloaded reader. Then you can do one of two things to collect your feeds. As you surf the web, you will see little orange buttons with either XML or RSS. This means, that what you are reading is available as an RSS feed. You simply click that orange button and you will see a screen of what is called XML code. Don’t worry, you don’t have to understand it. With Desktop Sidebar, you click on the same orange button in the Internet Explorer bar and you have added that site to your feeds. The second method is to go to RSS sites and choose from the many topice. Here is an example of Yahoo’s . Another site is Syndic8.com. Many of the Home Page we bsites have the same feature, such as Google, Yahoo and MSN. This will consolidate all the news that you’re interested in reading. And none of what you’re not interested in reading. RSS feeds are a big part of blogging. Rather that going back to check a site every day to see if there is a new post, you can add the blog to your feed. Then as new posts are added, you will see them in your reader. The marketing potential for RSS gets very interesting. Rather than sending what we think the customer wants, imagine them picking the feeds that they want. Every time something changes on the web site. It automatically changes the information for every single customer who has signed up for that feed.Â