The Beginner’s Guide to Podcast Production

The beginner's'guide to podcast production.

Apple Podcasts have topped the 50 billion download mark, and that’s only one platform. Podcasting is everywhere these days and the numbers prove it.

If you’re thinking about jumping on the podcast bandwagon, you’re making the right choice. But it’s not as simple as talking about the weather for 30 minutes a week.

A successful podcast, one that has sustainability and listenership, takes a lot of work and it all starts with the podcast production itself.

If you’re getting worried, don’t be! We’re going to fill you in on everything you need to know to make sure your podcast production is smooth and successful.

Let’s dive in!

It’s Starts with Content

The best podcasts are the ones that have a clear-cut message or fit a niche. You might not find success if you’re going with the “anything goes” podcast mentality. The shows that do work, work because they’re hosted by a comedian or celebrity and that’s their niche. Or, if you’re producing a business podcast, you are talking about a subject that your customers want, or need to hear about.

Once you figure out what you’re podcast is going to be about, you have to decide how long it will be. There isn’t a fixed formula for this. Some shows do well at 30 minutes, while others rank well at an hour. It depends on your content, your guest, and your execution.

Always have an outline for every episode denoting ad breaks, as well as questions for your guest and info about them. Take the time to think about intriguing questions that people will want to tune in to hear the answers.

Equipment Makes a Difference

Having the best podcast equipment makes all the difference when it comes to quality and execution. If you can’t afford studio time, you can still get good sound quality by building your own studio. It’s not as difficult as you might think.

The recording space might be the most important part. You don’t have to soundproof entire rooms, but you should record in a room that’s carpeted to prevent echoes. And move computers, fans or anything else that makes a lot of noise into another room. At the very least move them far away from the microphone so your recording isn’t plagued by background noise.

You’ll also need a few items to get started:

Laptop/Computer

This will be the brains of your home studio. It needs to store audio files, podcast programs, and editing software, so make sure it’s got enough space and a good processor to run them all.

Microphone

A good quality USB microphone is more than sufficient for most podcasters. If the budget allows, upgrade to a professional mic with XLR connectors (you’ll need to study-up to connect one to your mixer; most podcasters should stick with the USB option for simplicity). If possible, get a pop filter for it. This eliminates the hard plosive sounds “p’s” and “b’s” make.

Headphones

Many headphones also include a USB mic built-in. While this option doesn’t usually sound as good as a stand-alone mic with separate headphones, it makes things even simpler and can be a good choice for those with limited technical knowledge. These combination USB headsets can be purchased at Best Buy, Amazon or other well-known stores. Make sure to read the reviews and find one that others have said “sound good” or “are especially good for podcasts”.

Mixer

A mixer is a separate piece of equipment that does a variety of important tasks. It controls levels, inputs, outputs, mix-minus, and other functions. Be aware, mixers are a professional piece of equipment and can require a lot of study time to understand how they work.

The best mixer for a podcast has at least four channels: one for you, one for your co-host, a third for your guest, and a fourth for a connection to an iPod or another device.

If you are using a USB headset/mic combination, it is likely that you will be recording your guests remotely. If so, you can bypass the mixer entirely and use a third party cloud service to record and “mix” your interview.

Research and Book Guests

Unless you come from a radio or another media background, booking guests can be a challenge. If you have a large network, start there first. It’s always easier when you know the person who’s on your podcast.

If you have to cold call, reach out via email. If you don’t know their email address, ask them for it on social media.

Be friendly and complimentary of their work. Ask them how they’d like to be introduced (their title, job description, publication, etc.) and if they’re okay with you mentioning them in a few tweets promoting the podcast.

Research more than your guests’ Twitter handles. Look around and find audio of their past interviews. If you can access them, take the time to listen to them.

Do they have a crutch word or phrase? This means, do they say “definitely” or “absolutely” before they answer every question? Do they pause a lot with “umm’s” and “uhh’s?” Knowing what to expect from your guest before they’re on your podcast makes a big difference in how the interview with go. You can prepare for their quirks and their personality.

When You Hit “Record”

A podcast is a fluid conversation, or at least it should be. Yes, preparing an outline is great, but if your guest goes on a tangent that’s interesting or intriguing, go with the natural flow.

In other words, don’t sacrifice a good conversational flow for the sake of following your outline to a tee. You’ll only end up sounding robotic and that never makes for good content.

Be aware of your own crutch words. Most beginners, and even some pros, struggle with “umm’s” and “uhh’s.”

Don’t chew gum or food while you’re recording. And if you need to take a drink, move the mic away from your mouth.

Coughing and sneezing happen, but hit the mute button (if you have one) to keep the recording clean.

Remember, if any of these occur, many can be edited/removed in post-production which we will talk about next.

Post-Production Is Everything

Post-production is where beginners get stuck. It’s also what separates ordinary podcasts from great ones.

When you finish recording your podcast, the last thing you want to do is listen to it all over again. But you’re not only the host, you’re the producer, and that means your work isn’t done when you stop recording.

Editing is one of the most important aspects of podcasting, yet it gets overlooked far more often than it should. Podcasts that you hear on the big networks go through extensive editing. And those hosts are professionals!

So what content needs to be edited? The obvious expletives and any extended pauses. Fluff that doesn’t add to the conversation and awkward parts of the interview.

Of course, get rid of those pesky “umm’s and “uhh’s”. Now, you can’t edit them all out, but if a guest gets tripped up for a few seconds and says “uhh” over and over, without question, edit it out.

If you’re adding music, don’t use music or audio you don’t have a license for. There are music services available that do have the proper licensing that charge per use or have a subscription service.

Again, do not use copyrighted music or any audio that is not your original work. There’s no “30-second rule” or “10 seconds are fair use.” They’re not, so don’t attempt it.

Post-production is one of the biggest benefits to using a podcast production company or service. They will handle all or a good part of this. They won’t get you sued by an artist and they’ll know the ins and outs of editing.

Publishing and Marketing

Once you’ve finished editing, you’re ready to publish! There are many podcast hosting platforms out there that will fit your needs. Do your research and read user reviews. If cost is prohibitive, consider YouTube to host your podcast. It’s free!

Make sure you add your podcast to your blog or website, then promote it. Social media is great for marketing podcasts, as you have the option of tagging guests or brands. You’re also able to use hashtags to widen your audience.

Podcast Production Made Easy

Having a great podcast is more than grabbing a mic and recording. In most cases, reaching out to a professional podcast production company is your best option for the highest quality podcast.

At AudioFile Solutions, all you have to do is provide the content and we’ll handle the rest. We offer three easy production services tailor-made to fit your needs. Contact us today and let us take your podcast to the next level.

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