How to Start your Own Podcast
How to Start Your Own Podcast
There is pretty much nothing that I have done in my life that has helped my own personal growth and relationships as much as starting a podcast.
Not only is it a creative outlet, it's a way to meet awesome people, build friendships, and create a personal brand around what you are passionate about.
Over the last couple weeks, I have sat down with no less than 5 people that wanted tips on gear, software, and basic questions about the podcasting world, so I figured that I'd write down my thoughts on the matter and have a resource that people can visit anytime to pick my (virtual) brain.
As co-host of the Critically Acclaimed Long & Hard Podcast, I know a little bit about this stuff.
It seems that more people are getting into the podcasting community, and that's a good thing - the world needs to hear what you have to share.
So you want to start one?
You came to the right place.
I'm going to do a broad overview of all things hardware, software, platform, and content. At the end of this article, you're going to be a pro.
And, if you want to support this blog, feel free to click the links I share, as I make a small kickback from them, and it costs you notta :).
If you have nothing interesting to say, people probably aren't going to listen. That's why we have guests that have interesting stuff to say!
In all seriousness, if you are passionate about something, you probably can start a podcast about it. We are passionate about Edmonton, so that's why we started Long & Hard
I am passionate about people overcoming deeply challenging life events and traumatic injuries, that's why I started The Invictus Podcast
You can start somewhere, and then go to another topic. And, you can talk about anything you want.
A good friend of ours and past guest Adam Blank has a podcast on Retro Video Games called Remember the Game that is super awesome for example - check it out.
There is probably an audience for anything and everything you want to talk about, so you might as well start!
Once you know what you want to talk about you're halfway there.
Now, how do you record it??
Most people get hung up on hardware, so I'm going to cover that next.
People seem to think of podcasting hardware as the daunting barrier to entry. I am going to tell you today that you can literally record an episode on your phone, upload it, and you have a podcast.
The barriers to entry for this stuff are essentially nil.
We started Long & Hard on Google Hangouts (RIP), and all you need for this is a laptop or phone. No microphone needed beyond stuff you probably have.
Just start today.
That being said, your audio quality is probably going to be subpar at best, downright trash at worst.
That's where podcasting hardware comes into the spotlight.
Level One - Beginner
A direct upgrade to a phone microphone is a Lavelier Microphone
I have this exact mic, and have used it for various recordings, as well as podcast episodes. It plugs directly into your phone (get an iPhone Lightning to headphone adapter if you have an iPhone)
You can get a couple of these mics, plug them into your phone and your guest's phone, and you have audio that you can reasonably use for a podcast episode.
A secondary option (and arguably a step up) to this is the world renown Blue Yeti Microphone.
Loved by streamers everywhere, this mic is quite frankly, dope. It has multiple settings on it that allow you to record just yourself, yourself and a guest, and multiple people sitting all around it. We also used this at Long & Hard Studios in the early days, and recorded over 20 episodes with this alone.
The benefits of this mic are that you only need a usb connection, and that's about it. The quality is really good for just north of $150 Canadian, and it's portable as all heck. I have even recorded an episode of The Invictus Podcast with this mic sitting in a diner here in town.
Level Two - Intermediate
If you want slightly better audio, giving everyone that is being recorded their own mic would be the next priority.
For us, we kept the investment under $100 per mic by going with a packaged mic setup. This is not world class audio, but 1. they sound pretty damn good for your money, and 2. They make the setup 'feel' more like a podcast.
You get a boom arm, the mic, and windsock that will get you going.
We bought 4 of these, and haven't looked back.
Investment: ~$300 for a set of 4 mics
Level Three - Joe Rogan
The dream mic setup. We aren't there yet, but one day, we will be.
If you want to spend a paycheque on microphones, you can easily do that. I wouldn't advise it when you're first starting out, but hey, everyone's gotta have a hobby.
The Legendary Shure SM7B is the mic that pretty much every YouTuber, podcast afficianado, and Joe Rogan himself use.
This is the creme de la creme of recording hardware. Couple this with a Boom Arm from Frameworks like this one, and you are in podcasting heaven.
Investment: The sky is the limit - thousands of dollars.
2. Mixers and Audio Interfaces
Level One - Beginner
You don't need a mixer for any of the microphone solutions I mentioned above. Save yourself the money!
Investment: Go buy yourself a nice dinner instead
Level Two - Intermediate
This is about where you are going to need a mixer.
Reason: If you are using XLR connections, you 1. cannot plug them into a computer without some sort of interface, and 2. you need this for a multi microphone setup.
At Long & Hard, we use a Behringer 4 input Mixer
This allows us to hook up 4 mics without issue, plug in a headphone interface for all of us to monitor, and plugs directly into the computer we are using so that we can record via one USB port.
Frankly, this is a great solution that you might even be able to use on the higher end of setups.
Level Three - Joe Rogan
You can spend thousands of dollars on mixers that allow you to have pretty much as many guests as you could handle, but let's be honest, who wants to listen to a 20 person podcast? I think you can really get by on the mixer in the intermediate Level without issue.
Regardless of this, you will need XLR cables to hook up your mics to the mixer. We like the 10 foot variant because they offer slack and mobility of the mics on the boom arms.
I am going to just mention two levels here. Headphones or No Headphones.
Level One - No Headphones
You don't really need headphones to record a podcast. For those of you just getting started in the space, you can skip these.
Level Two - Headphones
When you are sitting down in a space that you record a podcast episode, headphones are a great addition to bring everyone that is recording into the conversation deeply and effectively. By wearing headphones, you hear what everyone is saying clearly and you're immersed in the conversation.
We do it, and so can you.
Headphones also allow you to monitor yourself, so that you aren't yelling into the microphone, or talking way too quietly. It also allows us to adjust the levels on the mixer so that everyone talking is around the same, allowing for much easier listening back.
You can plug one set of headphones into the mixer with a 6.35mm plug. I have converted my own wireless headphones into wired with this adapter here. But, you can also but headphones with the standard 1/4 inch plugin such as these that we use on our show.
If you have multiple guests and want to have everyone listening via headphones, an interface that allows you to plug in multiple sets at a time will required, as well as a STEREO jack.
Here's the Headphone amplifier we use to plug 4 headphones in:
Don't make the mistake we did and use a mono cable, make sure it's stereo. This cable should work.
After that, your audio setup should be effectively complete, and you are ready to record your podcast and put it out into the world. But, if you want to step your game up, you can add some video...
Video setups for podcasts are becoming more and more common.
The reason for this is that on social media platforms, video gets far more interaction than audio alone. We're visual people, and seeing others talking sparks that interest in us.
We have used this fact to our benefit by clipping up episodes and posting them to Instagram, where people find out about us and come to the podcast.
Again, the sky is the limit with this stuff, but let's talk about the three levels briefly.
Level One - Beginner
Use what you got! I think it's very likely that you have a smartphone with a half decent camera on it.
You can use that and a Cheap Tripod to record your episodes.
Just make sure you have enough storage on your phone, and you should be all good. Frankly, phone cameras are so good these days that they're all you really need unless you're a professional videographer or photographer.
A tip that I would have is change your settings so that the phone is shooting in 1080 @ 30 fps so that you don't destroy your phone's storage. If you're shooting a short episode, feel free to shoot in 4k, but just know that your storage is going to be eaten up by files of this size.
Investment: Probably nothing or less than $30 for a tripod.
Level Two - Intermediate
This is where things get a little interesting. You can buy a used camcorder and go with that, use the DSLR camera you have laying around, or use a webcam.
We use a Logitech Brio 4k Webcam to shoot our podcasts, and it's very solid for what it is.
The issues we had with using a DSLR is that you have a 30 minute record time, and then the camera shuts off. This killed flow of conversation, and it was a pain. Unless you have someone behind the camera or are shooting less than 30 minutes, this option is not one I recommend.
Camcorders are a definite option however, and you can get one used for fairly cheap. Look on your local Kijiji or Facebook marketplace for this.
Level Three - Joe Rogan
You could spend 10 grand on a camera if you wanted to, the sky is the limit here. If you're spending this kind of money, I would assume you have a staff that is helping you edit and produce the podcasts, so you're probably not reading this post.
Feel free to buy a Canon R5 with my affiliate link though! :)
Bonus - Multicam
If you have a few cameras lying around collecting dust, you can do what we are starting to do and create a multi-camera setup.
The best way to do this is to have one camera trained on you, the host, and then another on the guest. This allows you to switch between the cameras when you and the guest are talking, and creates a more interactive experience than just one camera. Add in a wide angle shot of the two of you, and you have a pretty cool setup.
I'll briefly talk about how to set this up with the software in the latter part of this post.
If you are recording video and audio at the same time, you should have a computer that has at least 16gb of RAM and decent internals. Anything less is going to likely be frustrating at best and unable to record at worst.
If you are editing video afterward, you will want these internals as well.
I record Long & Hard and my other podcast on a Thinkpad X1 Carbon. You don't need to splurge on a 3 grand laptop, but the better the specs, the smoother the process.
Start with what you have, then upgrade later, but this will make your life easier.
Here's the best part about podcasts - the software you need to record, produce, and ship them out is free. I'll go over the software I use, and the broad overview of what the programs do. I can write more in-depth stuff in the future about how to use the programs, but there are plenty of videos and articles out there that can get you started. Let me know, and I will definitely write something in the future.
Audio Recording and Production: Audacity
This program is honestly all you would ever need for pretty much all audio production, is free, open source, and you can run it on any operating system without issue. I would argue you could probably produce music on it, it's that good.
This is from my research, essentially podcast industry standard for recording. Lots of prominent podcasters use it.
Video Recording: OBS Studio
OBS is unreal for what it's capabilities are. Most streamers use it as an easy way to stream both themselves and their screens for game play and commentary.
It's not fool proof, but watching a couple videos on how to use it should be enough. The capabilities are pretty endless as well - you can setup your multi-camera setup in the application, switch between camera sources, and stream direct to platforms with proper setup.
I'm a noob when it comes to the fully fledged abilities, but I would say this is the top of the top for recording and streaming video.
Video Editing (Beginner): Shotcut
This software is super capable and easy to learn. I have got a few local podcasts on it as it's really fun, pretty resource unintensive (it can run on fairly basic computers and laptops) and it's a click and drag interface without the frustration of going wrong all the time.
I really like it, and there's a ton of resources out there if you have questions about how to do certain things like add filters, change color grades, do cool effects, and more.
Video Editing (Advanced): Davinci Resolve
I am just getting started with Resolve, but it is the free competitor to Premier Pro and Finalcut Pro. This is industry leading software, and I'll talk about it more when I am actually good at it (I currently, am not.)
The downside is that you need a dedicated GPU for this, it's really resource intensive, and the learning curve is steep. Whoever said that good things were easy?
Hosting and Playback
Finally, I will talk about how to host and push a podcast out into the world.
Who wants to record something that nobody will ever hear? Not I.
I have experience with SoundCloud for the work that I've done. They aggregate the tracks to most other providers like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and all the others, and it all is via your account.
You don't have to do anything after setting it up to push to these other platforms, however setting up the feed in the beginning is a little tedious. Apple has to okay your podcast, for example.
I have heard great stuff about Anchor as a platform, and I would argue that it is likely the place to be for uploading podcasts. Perhaps one of you has some experience with it and can bring me over to the dark side.
I'm just an old dog you can't teach any new tricks, it seems.
Well, there you have it. A pretty comprehensive guide on how to start your very first podcast! I had better see dozens popping up now.
If you have read this post and like it, feel free to tell me in the comments below, share it on your social media platforms, and give me a follow on them as well.
Don't hesitate to send me your new podcast too, I always like to have a listen to new people just jumping into the scene. I can honestly say that I have gotten at least two people to start podcasts. Maybe you'll be next.