Welcome to Part 2 of the Podcasting with Heart series. Today I’m opening up my podcasting toolkit so you can see exactly what equipment, software and hosting I use to create my podcast episodes.
Creating your podcasting toolkit does not need to be expensive but it does require a few necessary tools to create the best-quality sound.
Let’s dive in.
If you’re planning on going it solo and recording host-only episodes, then you’ll really only need one small piece of software – Audacity. The good news? This guy is free! Available to both Mac and Windows users, Audacity is an audio recording and editing software. It’s perfect for recording host-only episodes and it’s also the program I use for post-editing and episode collation.
If you’re going to kick-it with a guest, then you’re going to need Skype. The program is free and generally reliable if you have a relatively decent internet connection. In fact, while I was travelling around Australia, I actually recorded interviews from the back of my campervan by hot-spotting to my iPhone and then making the call through Skype. It worked surprisingly well. Instant podcasting studio!
ECAMM CALL RECORDER FOR SKYPE ($29.95)
If you’re a Mac user, Ecamm Call Recorder* is brilliant for recording your interviews through Skype. Your calls are automatically saved into Ecamm Movie Tools where you can then easily export the files for post-editing. One of the things I love about Ecamm is that you can split the audio recordings into two different tracks, leaving your voice on one track and your guest’s voice on another. This becomes really useful during post-editing.
* I am an affiliate for Ecamm Call Recorder because I LOVE it!
PAMELA FOR SKYPE (starting at $21.99)
If you’re a Windows user, you’ll want to check out Pamela for Skype. As a Mac user, I haven’t used this program but it does come recommended by many other podcasters. Just like Ecamm, Pamela allows you to record your interviews through Skype and has the functionality to split your audio tracks ready for post-editing.
I recommend grabbing yourself a copy of OneNote. A free program, available to both Mac and Windows users, it’s super useful for taking notes. I use this program to keep all my podcasting notes and details in one area. I record my podcast vision and goals, a list of guests I want to interview, episode plans plus all the information my guests send through to me – their bios, contact links and questions. When I’m editing episodes, I take notes using this program and collate my show notes here, too. I love that everything I need for podcasting is kept in one place.
ID3 EDITOR ($15)
ID3 Editor allows you to tag your episode audio files with metadata such as the episode title, number, podcast name and artwork plus loads more. ID3 tags ensure the important information about your episode is captured and stored against your audio file. Apple describes this information as your “product packaging” which is actually a really great way to look at it. If someone downloads your file and it doesn’t contain ID3 tags, they are not going to know who created the podcast, what it contains, or how or where to find you.
I use iTunes to convert my final audio file into a suitable format and size for publishing.
I’ll be completely honest and say when I first started podcasting I simply just used my iPhone ear buds to record. Yup. No fancy microphones here. Sure, it didn’t create the most profesh sound quality but they worked and they were cheap. This probably goes against everything any other podcaster will tell you but don’t let the idea of having to have the best microphone out there stop you from getting started. It’s totally okay to start with what you have and can afford.
If you are ready to invest in – and have the budget for – something a little more high-end, I personally recommend the Rode NT-USB microphone.
This guy plugs directly into the USB port on your laptop. It comes with its own stand and a built-in pop filter (which minimises plosives such as ‘B’, ‘T’ and ‘P’ harsh sounds when your mouth is too close to the microphone). Most importantly, it produces a really great sound at an affordable price. You can pick one of these guys up for around $170 AUD.
If you’re using a microphone, you’ll want to connect your headphones into the headphone jack on your microphone. This will prevent audio feedback which occurs when your microphone pics up sound coming out of your laptop speakers. I just use my simple iPhone earbuds for this purpose. Depending on your budget, you may choose to invest in a higher quality set of over-the-ear headphones so you can better hear the sound, especially during post-editing.
Your podcast host is the location where you will upload your episode audio files. Think of your podcast host as a big storage area designed specifically for holding and distributing your episode files.
A common question is: why can’t I just upload and store my episode files on my own website?
This is a pretty big no-no in the podcasting world. In the first few days after publishing a podcast episode, that file is going to be in high-demand, generating a lot of traffic and being downloaded by anyone wanting to listen in. This puts a lot of strain on the server (aka the storage area) hosting your episode files.
While your podcasting host is designed to manage and handle this strain and will do so easily without a problem, a website host is not designed for this. If you use your website to store your episode files this can result in a myriad of problems ranging from your listeners not being able to download the file to your website host suspending your account.
In a nutshell: don’t use your website to store your episode files. Always use a dedicated podcast host.
Libsyn is the host I use for both She Makes Magic and Untangled. It’s very intuitive, inexpensive and extremely reliable. Libsyn’s knowledge base contains easy-to-understand and detailed instructions where you can find answers to almost any podcasting question. I love it. There are also opportunities to partner with Libsyn and monetise your podcast once you have a large following and a bulk of good content.
Plans start at around $5 / month for 50mb upload. To give you an idea, one 45-minute audio episode for me normally equates to a file size of around 25mb. So at $5 / month you would have enough space to publish about two 45 minute episodes. For an extra $2, you can get basic download statistics per day, month, year and episode.
Bonus tip: You can get great deals by using a promo code from one of the many Libsyn affiliates. Just Google “Libsyn affiliate promo code” before registering. For both She Makes Magic and Untangled, I got the first two months of hosting free.
So there you have it. The complete list of all the tools I use to create my podcasts. If you have any questions at all, just hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.