how to podcast
Wheew! After hours of frustration and listening to your own voice. You have your show finished. You have converted the raw audio to a MP3 format, have your intro music and outro music set just where you want it. So, how to you get it you your listeners?
That is the objective for this week. How to make your show accessible to the world. the key is with a little three letter word that now one really knows what it means, Mystery key is called RSS. Most people think it means Really Simple Syndication and others say it is Rich Site Summary or RDF Site Summary. The name is not important other than knowing that it is called RSS. because most Podcast directories will ask for your RSS “feed”.
What is an RSS feed?
According to Wikipedia,
RSS uses a family of standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information: Blog Entries, News Headlines, Audio, Video. An RSS document (called a “feed””web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, and metadata, like publishing date and authors name
In other words it is a file that acts as the town crier for your website. When your site is updated the people who are subscribed to your feed are notified of the update and they can get your information without having to go to the web site repeatedly. The different directories that your podcast is going to be listed on they want to be told when there is a update to your podcast.
There is a lot of information that is in the RSS feed you will not find useful, most of it helps to categorize and sort the information out so that it becomes easier for you to read in your news reader, or your Podcatcher. Yet if you look and are able to understand what you are looking for, you can see some particular information. Like the name of your show, some tags used for iTunes, Location of the MP3 files and much more. For all of this work correctly you will need to validate
Validating your feed
Validating your feed is the easiest way to determine that your RSS feed to going to be read by all the different directories. There are times that the feed will get messed up and cant be read by iTunes or some other directory.Often the cause of problems is using Microsoft word as your editor. This works great for finding misspelled words but not so good for Feeds. this is because of the hidden characters that Word and some other word processors. These are normally associated with the grammatical characters that are used. Word is not the only culprit, the glorious plugin will at times cause problems with other plugins or incompatibilities that affect the WordPress feed. So if you are using Microsoft Word to edit your show notes then after you release the show you will want to check your Feed. Also, Check it if you have recently installed a new plug in. Best way to verify that your feed is good. Use the Feed Validator
Feed Burner – Should you use it?
Now a few years ago the majority of podcasters used a service from Google called Feed burner. This service is an RSS redirector that helped bloggers and podcasters find out how many people were subscribed to their site in very broad and inaccurate terms. The subscriber amount was never very accurate but Feed burner does offer a good bit of help especially if you are going the free route.
A camp divided
There are two sets of podcasters those who are using feed burner and those who did but are now leery of Google and worried about the search engine closing a very valuable service that bloggers and podcasters both use.
Lets first look at the against camp. These people have seen Google recently close some very popular and valuable services. For instance there is Google Reader which was very popular with the bloggers and podcasters because The reader was the source of the news and topics. Yet Google closed this service earlier this year. The reasons are up for debate but either way the shuttering made many people who use feed burner very nervous and have stopped using Feed Burner.
Then there are people who see the closing as something that was needed and was expected., though they do not believe that Feed Burner is in any danger of being closed this year or next, due to the fact that there are so many bloggers that use Feed Burner it would not be wise for Google to close. Yet in the same breath I will refer back to Google Reader. So, it is really at your discretion as to use Feed Burner. You can use it if you like but just know you might one day find your feed gone.
The most important Directories you should submit to.
Apple iTunes – This is the 800 pound gorilla in the podcasting community. They are the first to have a widely accepted podcast directory that followed on the popularity of the iPod and iPhone. Besides being just the directory for iTunes it’s API’s are allow it to be the directory of several podcatchers, iOS and Android.
Zune – This may seem a little odd to have a somewhat dead MP3 player’s directory as an essential. This is because The Zune market place is not just for the old Zune but it is also being converted to the Xbox market place. At the moment the only place that still is using the podcasts is the Zune software but it is still very active in curating thanks to Rob Greenly.
Blackberry – This the podcast directory for blackberry phones and is still used by the remaining phone users
Stitcher – Streaming audio app that is growing in popularity and is now being implemented into cars.
Two Thumbs up – made by the same guy who did Podcast pickle so he has been in podcasting for quite a long time.
Common feed problems
Feed will not validate
This is probably the biggest problem podcasters run into. They run their podcast feed through the feed Validator and it comes up saying that it is invalid. Why?
plug in – This is normally the problem when trouble shooting the issue it is best to deactivate all your plug ins except the Power Press and run the validator. if it work, Great! Keep turning on the other plug-ins and revalidating the feed each time till you find the problem plug-in. if not then it could be one of the other issues
Edited with Microsoft word – If you wrote your podcast show notes with Microsoft word then take your show notes and copy and paste them into WordPad then recopy the notes from Word pad and paste them into Word press. More than likely you have some of Microsoft’s special hidden characters in your notes and they are confusing the validator.
Themes – I have only had this happen once and it was an experimental theme I cam across so very very rare that this could be the cause but it has happened before.
Other ways tell our audience of your show
Mailing list – If you have a mailing list this is great! you have an audience and they will help you be noticed in the new and noteworthy section. If you are starting your show with out a web presence like yours truly! then it will take a little more work and determination. Yet, still create a mailing list. This will become invaluable when you start to expand.
How else to find your audience
Use other directories
Go to your audience. If you are doing a podcast about weight loss or health then think where you can find those people like a gym and go talk to these people but don’t sell to them. For this show I go to a lot of forums that talk about podcasting. I go to other social media sites, like Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like and talk to people who are having different problems. So, now it is time to go find your audience and inform them about your show with out selling to them.
Forums are great in a number of ways one you can meet your audience. You get to know what they like and don’t like. But you also get great topics for your show by listening to what your audience is talking about. This gives you a great opportunity to show your expertise. Word of caution, you have to be careful with how and when you mention your show. Have a link in your signature if the forum allows for it but don’t just start throwing your links around you will be marked as a spammer and kicked even banned. Remember this is a community and you need to prove that you have value in this community before you try to sell them on your goods, and you shouldn’t have to try to sell to them they will come to you if you provide enough of a good service.
News of the Week
As thought there was plenty of evidence put forward that podcasting cant be patented. Unlike what Personal Audio LLC was trying to do while extorting money from popular podcasters. on October 16 the Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a formal challenge to the patent held by Personal Audio LLC. with bits of proof that Personal Audio not only doesn’t create a podcast but also podcasts were being created before the U.S. Patent No. 8,112,504 was filed. EFF uses examples like Geek of the Week, CNN and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A good deal of the thanks go to the fans of Podcasting. With our them pulling together and working together a fine art might have been lost to a non-producing entity. The Podcasting Community also raised over $76,000 through donations.
A quick review.
Before you hit the Record Button…
Well not quite yet there are a few small items to get out of the way before you fire up the recorder and flip the mic switch. The saying the devil is in the details can play true in this step. You don’t have to do these but if you want you show to be well received then you want to follow them. Take it from someone who goofed each of these steps up.
Set your hours
First and foremost, you want to decide how often you want to do your show. This is more important than many people think. This schedule is as important as store hours are for a store. People like to know when they can expect you to show up, and how long you are going to be around. So do you want to have a 5 minute quick and dirty tip show? OR, are you looking at having an hour and a half show filled with detail? The length of your show is somewhat important but it doesn’t really have to be set in stone. You want to have you show length be dependent on the information. If you only have 30 minutes of information you have to share then really don’t need to try to repeat your information over and over just to fill space. Now this is different from reviewing what you have talked about because rehashing your words just to fill space will start giving the impression, at worst, of you not fully believing your own words, or you are just unprepared. But if you find out you have more information that goes past your set time, then there is also nothing wrong with continuing the discussion next week. If you believe you have enough for the next show.
What Days are you open
When are you going to release your show? Are you weekly monthly, or are you aiming at being the next John Lee Dumas and you’re going to release your show once a day? The frequency is important and you want to try to adhere to the schedule as close as you possibly can. People want to trust you. They want to know that every Monday morning at 6:30 they are able to get the newest episode of your show. Think of it like this, how popular would Game of Throwns be, if no one knew when the next episode was going to be aired? Some people may catch it, and some wouldn’t. Yet, because HBO releases an episode right on schedule every Sunday during the season, the fans of the show are able to anticipate the next new episode and will adjust their personal schedule around the airing of the show.
So, pick a time and try to stick to it. If you cant make it you might want to have an episode or two that are evergreen content and keep them for those times you are tied up at work, or on vacation. That way your listeners will be able to keep receiving all that great content you make.
Once you have the frequency of the show make a list of 10 different topics.
This needs to be done for a couple of reasons. One you will always have a list of ideas at your side and you can keep adding as you go. Also this will help concrete your resolve to keep making shows. There is a stat out on the net that if a show can make it past the 7 episode it is twice as likely to keep going. So push past the seventh episode and aim for the tenth and this way your show will have an even better chance of continuing
Decide on the important second episode.
Yeppers the second episode the first one is 99% intro and is just normally a hey this is who I am why I am doing the show and yada yada. So, once you have the how do ya do’s out of the way what to you want that second episode to be? This will depend on you. This is what you feel to be important in your gut. Lets take this podcast for instance. I decided that the first set of podcasts episodes to be release should be an over view of how to get a podcast up off the ground. Is this how most podcasts about podcasting do it? I think so but in the circles I run in the intros are 50 episodes or more older and a few are over 300 episodes. Now some folks go back and listen to all the back catalog and that is great. That is the reason podcasts leave their back catalog up. So that those extremely interested in what is being said can get the full back story of the podcasts shows. They can learn the inside jokes. Understand why that sock puppet is so darn loved. But to get to the inside joke, most people will listen to that second episode, to understand the back story and why a person feels the way they do about whatever the current topic is being discussed. How do you make that second episode great?
Did I just hear the crowd of podcasters groan? I think I did. If you ask any podcaster what they dislike the most about podcasting, they will tell you show notes 4 out of 5 podcasters detest writing show notes. Come on we are podcasters not bloggers. So why should you write show notes for an audio podcast.
- So your listeners can go back and find that link you were talking about.
- You listeners can comment and start a discussion about your topic.
- So Google will be able to find your site.
- Some people like to read while they listen.
Some show hosts will put in just a little overview of the show. while others will actually have their show transcribed and placed in the show notes. This is up to you, just know that the more information you put in to your show the easier it is for Google to find new listeners for you. The links help your listeners to grow as much as your advice and experience.
While working on your show notes make sure you find an image to place in your notes this is for the Pinterest users and gives you a little more traction in Facebook’s Edgerank and if you use Google Plus the image will show there too.
Now you While you are recoding you will want to take notes of links other bits you will want to add to your show notes, afterward this will help your listeners out and if they can trust you will put the links in the show notes that you mention in the show, you will be helping your listeners out and that will provide incentive for them to listen even more. Because you are now creating even more value for them and if you are being of value for your listener they listen and listen intently and will follow your suggestions, and tell their friends about your podcast and your audience will grow. These little details in your podcast show notes are very valuable. Your show notes are valuable.
Podcasting and learning the details of how to podcast are as important as doing the show. You show notes let your listeners know that you are prepared and ready to record. Your podcast show notes show be helpful and contribute to the value of your show. Besides showing Google what your audio file is about. The value of putting your time into your show notes is one of the best ways you can show your listeners that you care and are passionate about your podcast.
*Tip of the Week*
You want to try to make your show notes before you record. Even better if you can make them a day or two before you sit in front of your microphone. This will allow for your creative juices to regenerate after you have depleted them with the show notes. This is actually for two different reasons. First is You will be better prepped for your show when it is time to record. The second reason is you can use your show notes as notes for your show! Sweet you don’t have to write the outline and then turn around and rewrite the notes.
Now if you don’t want to write the show notes first then you might want to use at least an outline. A good tool for writing an outline is workflowy an online outline this will help keep everything in some sort of an order as you talk about different bullet points in your discussion. Yet either way you want to have some sort of plan on what you are going to be talking about.
While working on your show notes make sure you find an image to place in your notes this is for the pinterest users and gives you a little more traction in Facebook’s Edgerank and if you use Google Plus the image will show there too.
Now you have your hosting and domain name set up. You have your equipment ordered and it is on its way. So, this week we are going to talk about getting your site setup and running. For a podcast, you need a couple things to get the show on the road. You need a Content Management System (CMS), and a way to let people and directories know that you have a new episode out. It may sound scary and be getting more technical than you are comfortable with but just stay strong and remember Discomfort is your mind telling you that you are learning. So Just grind through it I know you can. So,When you are ready…
First things first and you have to have a place to enter the show notes and make your website look good for your visitors. This is your home after all, and you want to show off a little bit. So you need a Content Management system or CMS. Easy easy easy Now don’t get worries I am purposely using the big technical word just so you will know it if it comes up again. The best CMS to use is a Blog, and the blogging software I recommend is WordPress. There are eight reason to use WordPress
It is Free
For being one of the most used pieces of blogging software WordPress is also perfectly priced. It is Free and that is it. Free! You can not get any less expensive than that. Talk about a bang for your buck! This is an incredible platform. The versatility of WordPress is astounding many main stream sites use WordPress as their platform. Like who?
- Wall Street Journal
- Readers Digest
- Bill Cosby
- MSNBC TV
- BBC America
- The Rolling Stones
These are a mere scant of a fraction of the sites that utilize this CMS. Don’t think because it is a free open sourced piece of software that it is buggy or not worth your time because if these guys use it then why not you?
Easy to use
WordPress is one of the easiest blogging software to use everything is laid out in front of you when you are logged in you can tell where your posts are, your pages, and all of the other bits of information you will need as you become more familiar with WordPress. When you are entering text you will see that the most common items are available to format you show notes to the way you would like. When I say easy I mean easy. The ease of use is one of the reasons I switched from Joomla to WordPress. And the ease is from installation to putting up your different posts.
when you are setting up your site, you always want to keep SEO in mind. SEO is making your site easy for a Search Engine to read. Word press starts out of the box pretty easy for a search engine to see and understand but when you add a simple plugin like SEO by Yoast or All in one SEO and all of a sudden the mystery of SEO is lifted just enough for you to understand. Thes plugins point out different SEO points that help you get better rankings on Google Yahoo and Bing.
If you are using WordPress and going to podcast then the plugin you will want to use is Power press. This little plugin is your secret sauce. PowerPress is created by Raw Voice a podcast group that is helping podcasting become more mainstream. PowerPress helps your podcast become iTunes complaint pretty much automatically There are some settings you have to make but they are pretty much self explanatory and easy to understand. You are
Plugins for WordPress are the little subprograms you can install on WordPress to customize your site without having to know any coding. As the saying goes there is an App for that, there is an Plugin for that. These plug ins will do everything from behind the scenes stuff to shopping carts. You want it there is a good chance you will find it. If not you can sometimes find a person who will be able to create one for the right price.
These are the clothes you site wears. You can all of those sites look so differently while still using the same underlining software. Themes can be free bit if you want more customized layout you can pay for one or design it yourself. There are programs like Artisteer that can help you get a basic layout with some pretty good customizations. If Artisteer is too rich for the pocket book then you can look for a theme from places like Studio Press or ThemeForest. And if these are to high then you can look at the themes available for free on the WordPress site. You are likely to find something that you will like.
Control Over the Site
You can add many more plugins you your site when you use the full self hosted WordPress software. If you try to use any other place like Blogger or WordPress.com your themes are limited, and you are not able to place any plugin you see fit. These are very limited.
This community of programmers website designers and other users of WordPress come together to make a great support group. If your new or you were one of the first WordPress adopters there is someone here who can and will help you out with what ever problem you are running into. If it is a particular plug in that is causing you angst then don’t sweat too bad. The plugin have their own support groups too.
You can use any of a vast assortment of different options to post your podcast up. You could create your own or use a CMS like Joomla or WordPress. WordPress is by far the easiest to use and with WordPress being used by so many big name sites it stands to reason that it is safe and dependable. The Plugins are numerous as are the themes. Find what you like and use PowerPress and you will have the ideal foundation for your podcast success.
What do you need for equipment? Now you can use a head set with a microphone to start off. This will get you by but if you are serious about growing your audience the you will need to get serious about your equipment. Now content is King but the equipment is the Queen and and she decided how well the King is portrayed. If you excellent content is not coming through clearly and is distorted you may get some listeners but they will not stick around.You can start with just the very basics this is a microphone computer and hosting.
So, What do you need to have great sound and not bust the budget? This is surprisingly easy.
The bare bones you need is
- A Microphone
- Computer but a digital recorder would be even better
These three items are for the bare minimum to start a podcast. You can start that podcast but you will want to rapidly get a better setup especially if you are going to get serious about your podcast show. So, What about these three items do you need to know?
There are two different types of microphones. There are
- Dynamic – normally found where there can be lots of other sounds due to their ability to pick up the sound right in front of them.
- Compressor – considered the mic for studios because of the rich sound you can get from them but they pick up lots and lots of room noise.
Both are good but it depends on your environment as to which one you get. If you have a sound deadened room then you might want to look into a Condenser microphone. If your like most podcasters your studio is in your house, and that house is not known for being a sound deadened. If that is the case then it might be better to use a Dynamic Microphone. But don’t get a microphone just for the price. many times you will find that getting a $500 dollar mic when you just start is not needed. It is just as easy to start with a Audio-Technica ATR2100-(affiliate) this mic is very inexpensive and both USB and XLR so this microphone will grow with you as your podcasting equipment improves.
Headphone are needed part of your podcasting arsenal. This is for one reason and it is sound quality. You want to know what you sound is doing. Does your sound have a crackling noise? Is there an echo? You want to know if something is happening in your sound. Can you can fix it at that time? If not, at least you are aware of the problem and adjust for the sound. You want a good set of headphones or also known as Cans. You can use ear buds but you might miss some details that are in your sound that many people will pick up if they are in a quiet room.
Record your podcast
The final piece of equipment you are needing to have is away to record your sound. Whether this is your computer or you get a portable digital recorder you cant have an mp3 to give to your audience unless it is recorded. Using a computer can cause some problems, many times that problem will happen when you least expect it. More often than not, when you are doing the most important interview you have ever done.
Computers are great instruments, but when you try to do too much computing there can be problems. Sometimes these problems are not detected other times the problem is a program crash and your data is lost. How do you fix that? Many podcaster who use computers will use one computer for only recording. They will turn everything off and close all background programs so that there is no problems. Or you can go to something that its whole purpose is to record sound. That is what a portable digital recorder will do. You don’t have to worry about there being any audio problems due to too many programs running in the back ground. though there are times that a SD card will die and that might cause you to loose your recording but that will happen far less than a program crashing or having bad sound because the computer is over taxed.
A solution that I started off with was the Technical Pro podcast kit (Affiliate) if you keep your eye out you can catch it for $100 which is what I did. or you can get just a simple headset and microphone this is good if you are not sure if you want to podcast.
Equipment is needed to make your podcast but you don’t want to depend on that equipment because your content is what brings your listeners. Yes equipment is important but don’t over do it. Use what you need add equipment to fix a problem. Now that you have your passion and your home time to record.
You need a place to call your home for the podcast. This is a hosting service, true this word may of just scared the crud out of you. Finding a good hosting plan is a truly scary ordeal. You may not think you are technical enough, or spending your scarce hard-earned dough is a rather stressful thought. I understand, I was in your shoes, 4 years ago, when I first tried to podcast. I chickened out for a long time because I could not see spending money on something that was just a virtual hobby. Just remember there is more than one way to de-fur a feline.
You have to have some sort of home for your podcast. This home is important and you really need to pay for web hosting, if for any reason it allows you the ability to control more of your site. There are a few different types of hosting these are
- Shared Hosting – This is the economy class of hosting. Which means your server is packed in too one server with hundred if not thousands of other websites. Your site performance is effected by other people’s sites and your site can affect your neighbors. This is good for starting out for the price and probably the only time you will celebrate that you have to spend more money because you are getting more popular. A good hosting service is Site5 and BlueHost both of these site will help you get set up and going out the gate with very little effort.
- Dedicated Hosting – This is the where your site is the only kid on the block you have a whole server to yourself. If you get so popular that you crash this server then that means you are Amazon. You have pretty much full control but you are still somewhat limited. The prices on this very on your Bandwidth. Other words if you get popular your fees will increase because of how much data you are using.
- Private Server – You make the server you install the operating system, the web server, the database, You have full control. This also means you are in charge if your own security on that server. You have a problem you will have to hire somebody. many times private server are charged by bandwidth also and a fee to connect your server to the network not cheap at all. There is a reason that only the big corporations have their own private server.
- Virtual Private Server – These are cheaper than a dedicated private server but again the price is not for the beginner unless you are starting out with the funds.
So, Why not any Free hosting servers?
This is because if you have ever played around with free hosting servers the big problem is that they are fly by night. Here one minute and gone the next day usually without any warning. Which means your podcast is gone daddy gone. Another problem with Free is they have to make money somewhere and that is usually in the form of ads and guess where these ads appear. Oh you are the smart one… That is right on your web page! you don’t want that.
Ok so no free hosting how about free blogging sites?
These don’t give you the control you really want either many times you are restricted by your themes and plugins you can use. The wordpress.com site you can’t place the Power press plugin on your blog. So again very limited. It is possible, I helped a young woman out on getting her podcast set up on tumblr she does have RSS and I recommend that she go through Feedburner till Google closes it. That way she doesn’t have to worry about changing domains and the problems it causes to your feed.
Be kind to your media
Media hosting is the one item that is required. A person can go free but you do not, I repeat DO NOT, want to do that, you lose most if not all of your control of your control over many important items. Speed of the download for your listeners and fans. Many Free Media Hosts take over your RSS feed and so when you leave, you lose many of your listeners because they are not willing, or do not know how to move their feed to your new site. You can do a 301 redirect but need to have access to your RSS feed and you don’t get that for free. But if you go with Libsyn or BluBrry their hosting is very reasonable in price and created with podcasters in mind
Let me make one change on the earlier statement because there is one media host that is free and will work as a means of hosting because it has byte range requests for iTunes yet you can not remove a file if you find that you messed something up and need to take it down. This media host is Archive.org, Very good host but you are subjected to slow downloads. but it is a work around.
Tip of the Week
Plan for the future, What happens when you stop paying for your site or you pass away? normally your site will fade just as fact as you. So, protect your site and media from no pay deletion and Move your media to archive.org and throw up a mirror site of your information on a free blog site.
This is part 1 of a 5 part series on starting to podcast.
How do you start a podcast? As any podcast, You start with an idea from there you have to get your proverbial ducks in a row.
First you need to have an idea. These ideas can be anything. but there are some keys to help keep you from being like 90% of the other podcasts. That is you need the drive some people call it passion. How ever you pronounce it you have to have to know that it is that lights your buttons. Many times talking about your work will not… well… work because most people do not have that drive.now if you are working at your dream job and you love every single angle of that job then go ahead.
Most of us the best thing to do is to pay attention to what your actions are. and note when you really get worked up about a specific topic. That one thing that really gets your creative juices moving. That topic you just will not shut up about and you eyes shine brightly, and you get jazzed; that is the topic you want to podcast about.
Now The video helps a good bit but it still really doesn’t help explain how to really dig down to find your passion. Many people have to make a few different attempts to be able catch the true essence of what really gets their engien going. Entrepreneur has a great article that throws outseveral suggestions one how to find what you are truely passionate about.
Then the Great Self-help blog Life hacker put out an article on how to find your passion. They throw out in the great way that only Life Hacker can, a wealth of information makes it next to impossible to ignore. Some tips they recommend Read about that topic, and Practice your passion.
Finding that passion can be elusive. You want and should find it. That passion is one thing that halps make you vocation, a vacation and keeps the burn out down to a minimum, and help you to be twice as productive with half the effort.
So Do you know what your passion is? How did you find your passion? Comment below and let us know.