So, You Want to Podcast

I need to start this document by stressing this is not the end all, be all knowledge of creating a podcast.  These are my personal thoughts based on my recent experience, coupled with information others have passed my direction, and filled in with a lot of trial and error.

I began this journey by listening to Swing with Michael and Holli on Playboy radio which was aired on Sirius XM radio.  In fact, this was the program that originally got me and Jennifer to discussing the lifestyle.  However, from what I understand there was a dispute between Sirius and Playboy and Playboy Radio left the Sirius network.  I was devastated.

I had never heard of podcasts, or at least I was not interested in what I thought was there, but I began to wonder if I could find Swing on iTunes.  Unfortunately, it was not there (it is now) but I did find a world of other lifestyle related podcasts and eagerly began consuming them.  It was not long before Jen and I discussed putting our own lives on a podcast and sharing our experiences and offering our thoughts and ideas to those in the lifestyle.

I have almost always worked in the computer industry but there were some things about podcasting that I did not quite understand.  After speaking with some folks who were podcasting, they pointed me towards Cooper Beckett, with Life on the Swingset (among others I believe).  I knew that Cooper had helped a lot of these podcasts get off the ground and I have never been one to intentionally pester someone so I wrote him an email and just said something like “ Hey, I love your podcast. I want to start one if you have any suggestions please feel free to share them”.  His short repose was all I needed which basically said “I would use WordPress and Blubrry.”

I want to keep this introduction short and get to the meat of this how-to but first I want to explain that there are at least a couple different versions of WordPress.  There is a version that you download and install on either your personal server or a hosted server or a version that is hosted by WordPress and you have less access to backend of the software, but a simple GUI to blog and podcast.

I found the first method pretty complex and while I may revisit this later, I used the second method.  If all you are wanting to do is podcast then its all you need.  The WordPress website lets you create a presence so that others can find your contact info and you can point them to your podcasts.  You probably wont want to host your podcast files there (more about that later) but it also gives you an online place to store your files as a backup.

I will explain all of that and more in what follows, but that should give you an idea of my perspective and how I ended up in this world of podcasting.

-JIm

The Hidden Swing

www.hiddenswing.com

At mostly-minimum you are going to need the following to begin podcasting

  • A name
  • An email account
  • Your URL
  • Something to record into
  • Mixing and editing
  • Artwork
  • A wordpress account
  • A host for your podcast files
  • More?

A Name

Your name is going to be your online presence for your podcast.  It should reflect your subject.  Since this is geared towards those that are in the lifestyle, you might want your name to be something that is easily found among all the other podcasts.  We chose The Hidden Swing because it has the word SWING in the title, its catchy, and it depicts the idea of a playground of fun that has to be kept secret from all the other people.  Which is, the way we feel about our geographical community where we live.

Once you have chosen an appropriate name, you should search for that name on as many internet search sites as you can possibly try.  At this point, you are wanting to find that name being used by someone else.  Better to find out now than when they send you a cease and desist order.  If you cannot find it after REALLY trying, it probably doesnt exist.

An email account

When we first began, I had intended to have something like jim@thehiddenswing.com as my email address.  This would have worked fine if I had used the more complicated method of using WordPress on my own servers.  Since I chose to have WordPress host my account, it wasn’t an option for me. So, to avoid spending MORE money on this hobby I chose to use a free Google account and I was able to get thehiddenswing@gmail.com.  Perfect, except that my URL (more about that in a minute) was hiddenswing.com and i was afraid the use of thehiddenswing in some parts and hiddenswing.com in others would be confusing.

Your URL

When you create your WordPress account, they will give you an option of paying some extra and getting your personalized URL.  I think I paid $99 a year for my account.  I chose hiddenswing.com and register that.  I also created an account at godaddy.com using thehiddenswing.com and used a redirect to point that to hiddenswing.com.  Doing so fixed my problem of people getting confused by the addition or subtraction of the word THE.

Recording

There are many ways to record, and it would seem that the more money you want to throw at that the better sound you are going to get.  But since this is sort of guide on how to do it and keep it simple I would suggest either using an iPhone or and iPad.  We used GarageBand at first but that was difficult because you could only record about ten minutes at a time.  We downloaded an app called “Record”  I believe and it works fine.  I would suggest recording in a room that is smaller because large living rooms tend to make the sound very echoy.  You can do some trial and error and find a place that is suitable for your needs.  Our best version happened in our hotel room.  It was perfect for recording but I’m not going to pay the sixty bucks every time we want to crank out a show.  Some of the shows have music in the beginning and ending.  The only caution I would give you is to be wary of copyright laws.  We went to Soundclick.com and searched for music until we found one that we really liked.  There was a user agreement to use the music, and just to make sure we contacted the artist and asked his permission.

Mixing and Editing

I thought I would include a few short tips about mixing and editing.  We use PC software called Audacity.  Audacity is free on the internet and fairly simple to use.  Make a copy of your raw file before editing (at least at first) so that you dont end up damaging your master file.  You can get fancy and record an intro and outro and make them separate files so that you can include them in each and every episode.  That would save you time in creating that work every time you have a new episode.  Some people like to record those different in each episode, and its just preference.  Do it how you wish.

Artwork

You also need to think about artwork.  This will be a file  that will be used on your WordPress site, the iTunes store, Twitter, Facebook, and all those places you want to promote your “business”.  I found a simple graphic of a swing and used some cheap software to write The Hidden Swing around it.  I didnt make it difficult and its easily recognizable.

A WordPress Account

A WordPress account will be used as your podcast website.  As mentioned before you can use a personal URL or you can go the free route and you’ll end up with something like www.wordpress.com/thehiddenswing.  Its not much more to get a personalized URL and it really makes you look a little more professional.

We like to blog, or rather, I like to blog and so I keep information such as this on our wordpress website.  We also keep copies of our audio files on the site.  Someone could technically go there to get the podcast, if they wish.

A Podcast Host

This was the most difficult part for me, although it really ended up being one of the easiest things.  You do not upload and keep your podcast files on iTunes.  iTunes uses an XML RSS feed to get the information it needs and points to your files which have to be stored somewhere else.  If you do it my way, this will be the largest part of your cost.  File storage costs money.  But you also want to store your files in a location that is not down all the time, understands that you are a podcast, understands that you will have listeners that are downloading your podcast, and understands that you will be generating a good deal of traffic IF you are very successful some day.

Cooper (read above) suggested blubrry.com but I am sure that there are other hosting companies.  I would NOT use anyone by blubrry myself.  Here is why.  First, there is so much automation that goes on behind the scenes at blubrry that literally all I have to do is upload my file and it does all the work for me as far as creating the informational file that iTunes needs to add my podcast.  Rather, I created the file the FIRST time and it updates it from there.  Now days, I simply upload the file.  Second, they have a great user support community and technical support that is very helpful if you have issues.  Third, they have some simple statistical tools so that you can monitor how successful you are becoming and what states or countries are downloading your podcasts.  Lastly, they are a hosting service that is based on podcasting.  Podcasting is their business and you can even find educational materials on their website to teach you about successful podcasting.

The downside is that blubrry is about twenty a month.  I dont know how that compares with other and i am satisfied with paying that price.

More?

This last section is just some random odd information.

Dont forget to create all the promotional accounts you can.  We created a Facebook page (Not on our personal Facebook, our lifestyle Facebook), a Twitter account, etc.  Use these accounts to network with other podcasters and they will help their listeners FIND your podcast.  But dont be annoying.  Overselling, in my opinion, will only get people to block you and that is the last thing you want.  Be a good steward of the podcasting world.

Be consistent.  One of my friends, and fellow podcasters, said that the key to a successful podcast is to be consistent.  If you are going to be a monthly podcast, then once a month on about the same day, get your podcast out there.  Which leads me to another point, dont get in over your head.  You will likely spend hours recording and editing.  If you are the editor, you might hear each episode six or seven times before you ever upload it.  My suggestion, do NOT do a weekly podcast unless this is your full time job!  LOL  We decided on once a month, and occasionally we expect to get out an extra episode.

When editing, listen to the raw recording with a pad and pen in hand.  Mark down the times and details of anything you hear that you dont really want on the final mix.  You’ll notice times you cough, sneeze, silences, and say things you probably did not want to say.  Writing them down will help in the editing process because you will know where the deletes need to happen, although I would still listen to it again, and then maybe again before you publish.  When you go to implement your changes start with the item at the furthest point.  Audacity will adjust the timeline as you make changes, so if you started from the beginning then the times further into the podcast would not be as you had written them down.  By starting at the end and working your way to the beginning you will know where those changes are.  Thanks to j@averageswingers.com for that tip.

Also when editing, I would listen with headphones so you can hear more details.  True, your listeners might be in a car and cant hear those details but the more you clean up the better it will be in the end.

In Summary

In summary, have a good time.  It does take some work in the beginning to get all of this organized but there is a reward factor in the end when others are listening and telling you that they enjoy your podcast.  There will NEVER be too many podcasts because each person has a different story and way of telling it.  Some listeners will enjoy you and others will decide that something is better for them.  So, never think that there are just too many podcasts for you to put one out there.

If I have left anything out, you have a suggestion, or if you need more help then please contact me at thehiddenswing@gmail.com.

Jim

@hiddenswing

www.hiddenswing.com

thehiddenswing@gmail.com

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