Recording yourself talk for an hour or so, uploading it to the interweb and expecting people to not only put up with it but also enjoy it may seem like a monumentally self-indulgent asshole manoeuvre.
And it is.
BUT, we’ve all done far worse things, so what the hell.
If you’re considering starting a podcast, that’s awesome. It’s a growing market – which is to say people are slowly weaning themselves off the appeal-to-the-bottom-rung entertainment of television and are exploring niche areas of interest. You can now learn about hilarious stories from 18th century American history with a snackable sized chunk of banter* on your bus to work – fuck yeah!
As someone who has recently taken the plunge into podding (just throwing out some industry shop talk – please ignore), here’s a couple of things I’d think about, in the appealing form of a list.
Note – if you’re just interested in the tech-stuff (choosing recorders, editing software etc.) – go straight to point 6.
Passion is WAY More Important Than Knowledge
Let’s say you and a mate are tossing up recording a weekly podcast where you discuss this week’s episode of The Bachelor. As a listener who is presumably a fan of the show, I’m there for the hilarious insights and commentary you guys have because you love watching it too. I’m really not worried about you forgetting what dress a girl was wearing or in which order the roses were handed out.
Podcasting is all about exploring an area you’re passionate about and letting other people be a part of that. When my mate Tom and I catch up for the week to tell each other stories about our lives, we try to focus on the awkward/weird/funny/stoked feelings the situations gave us to let a listener feel involved, rather than sweating the tiny details.
You don’t need to be an expert, just be interested… or possibly just be two idiots with dangerous enthusiasm.
Pick a Topic You’ll Stick To
As much as you might like the idea of being a well-renowned podcaster for your regular insights on world politics, this mightn’t be logistically feasible. Heaven forbids one week you sit there and think “Gahhhd I probably should do research for this week’s podcast right now….or….OR…I could just continue living my life.”
You have to enjoy the process of the pod. If you don’t enjoy doing it, chances are people won’t enjoy listening to it, and you’ll get sick of it pretty quick. I didn’t distribute a podcast to friends until we’d recorded 9 of them. That’s partly because we hadn’t done the research on editing, but mainly because we did it just to have a laugh and catch up rather than reach an end-goal.
Two Average Blokes hard at work, enjoying the process. Yeah, guilty as charged with the circle towel.
It’s All About the Listener
Once you get over worrying about the validity of recording yourself talk for others to listen to, it’s important to remember why you’re doing it. The answer to this should always be ‘to benefit the listener in some way’. Making personal jokes the listener won’t get, or otherwise mentioning topics that serve your own interests instead of the listener won’t make for a great podcast.
The great thing about podcasting is it’s optional. People don’t have to listen to you if they don’t want to. It’s not television in the 80s, where the whole family has to sit in front of the TV and choose between ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’ and ‘Sale of the Century’.** There are choices.
What does this mean?
This means you can afford to express an opinion that might offend some people (shock horror!). You’re probably not mainstream yet. People don’t want to hear more of the same stuff. Tom and I are having a significantly smaller listenership than Hamish & Andy afford us the freedom to be a hell of a lot more polarising.
Balance Some Routine…But Keep it Fresh
Many of the best podcasts have recurring segments or running jokes that become ingrained into the listeners’ perceptions of the show. They also become exponentially more hilarious as time goes on. Use these to gain some continuity across episodes and let listeners share the content of the podcast more easily.
I like to develop and reference certain characters who pop up in multiple episodes like Ron from Woolworths, Tina the-soon-to-be Heroin Addict and Charlie the Mesthy Unicorn. The same can be done in recurring segments like ‘Caller Confessions’ or ‘Update on Penguin-Man’.
All the Practical Tech-Stuff
The first point here is that I learnt everything I needed to know about recording and editing our podcasts from a YouTube series created by a guy called Pat Flynn, who runs ‘The Smart Passive Income Podcast’ (highly recommended). Seriously, just go through these. It’s all in video form. Probably takes two hours or so and you’ll be away. However, I’ve put a heavily condensed version of the basic steps at the bottom of this article (ahem…”listicle”).***
From my experience, you can get away with recording on an iPhone and use a few online tools to level the sound. It’s not ideal, just possible. We now use Sony FV220 microphones.
Ok, that’s it. Hope that’s helped in some way. One final thought is that podcasting isn’t for everyone (read: we probably have enough competition as it is!)
Pod on, gents.
Joey is one half of TABOOS Podcast (Two Average Blokes’ Opinions On Stuff) – a weekly clusterfudge of sporadic banter, awkward stories and general nonsense between two mates. Joey & Tom, two increasingly less-young Aussies, catch up in Tom’s girlfriend’s attic to discuss the goings-on of their lives and what it all really means. You can follow them on Facebook here and check them our on their website below.
* Check out ‘The Dollop’ podcast
** If anyone pipes up and says these shows were never actually on at the same time, thanks for being so pod-antic (cheeky pun there folks), but please re-read point 1.
*** Here’s a very brief list of activities for getting your podcast live:
- Record podcast
- Load audio file to Garageband on mac
- Edit out anything you need (little as possible is best), add theme music, add a summary to the start etc.
- Export audio from Garageband onto the desktop in mp3 form. Open in iTunes.
- Convert a file in iTunes to AIFF version (in preferences)
- Download audio adjusting program ‘Levelator’
- Drag file from iTunes into ‘Levelator’
- Open AIFF file in iTunes. Convert back to mp3
- Add tags to the mp3 file in ‘Get Info’ (and this is your finished file)
- Upload final file to your podcast host (we use Libsyn) onto your RSS feed
- Submit RSS feed URL to iTunes, Stitcher etc. (podcast distributors) for approval
- Figure out your website and how you want to distribute your podcast.