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.