Have you ever wanted to start a podcast?
I absolutely love podcasting. I’ve had my podcast for over a year, and I’ve really enjoyed both producing it and learning about how to make it better. Over time I’ve invested in parts of it, but it’s still produced on a shoestring – and when I first started it wasn’t eve on a shoestring!
If you’re thinking about starting up a podcast you might feel like it’s too hard to do; like you need to buy expensive equipment and hire someone to edit it and so on. While you can do that, and it’s probably advisable to spend a bit of money on equipment and so on if you want it to sound professional, it’s entirely possible to set up a podcast on a tiny budget of a couple of pounds a month. You can test the waters, and see how you feel about doing it long term. Here I will show you exactly how I started up my podcast, and how easily you can do the same. I’m going to take a deep breath and reveal that my podcast is really just a bloke behind a curtain, pulling levers and pretending to be a Big Deal…
When you’re setting up a podcast, you need three basic things:
Something to record on
Something to edit with
Somewhere to host it
Recording your first podcast
I used to have a short weekly slot on Wave 105, where I would talk about “5 Things You Need to Know This Week.” It went out on a Sunday evening, and the host, Simon, kept on at me that I should record a weekly podcast. I thought he was bonkers; after all, while he had years of experience in twiddling knobs in the studio, all I did was come in and chat into the microphone once a week. There was no way I could do it… was there?
The idea stayed in my head, and I kept thinking about whether it would be possible for me to host my own podcast. Simon suggested that I should just record something on my phone to see how it felt, and if I wanted I could send it to him and he would give me some feedback.
The important part of that last sentence is the part where I just record something on my phone. I downloaded a voice recording app, and recorded myself talking. I sent it to Simon, and to a few other people and when they responded positively I decided to just go for it and start my podcast. That recording became my first ever podcast:
I was getting over an awful chest infection so couldn’t speak in long sentences without getting out of breath; I jabbered on about nothing much; there were lots of ums and aahs. It was very unprofessional. But I’d made a start!
The first few podcasts were random jibberings about my life with my daughter. I hosted them on my personal blog and talked about whatever popped into my head each week.
After a while (a very long while!) I invested in a microphone, and figured out how to just record the podcast straight into my editing package…
Editing your podcast
I work on a Chromebook, which has no software on it except for Google Chrome – so I couldn’t download the software Simon suggested I use for editing podcasts. So I basically just Googled it, and came up with Twisted Wave. I use the online version, and do it entirely online. It costs $5 per month, and for that you get online storage for your sound files – which means you can upload a “bumper” to use at the beginning and end of your podcast, and keep it there so that it’s ready to use each week when you’re editing.
The actual editing itself seemed completely beyond me; I had no clue what I was doing. Essentially all you do is highlight the bit you don’t want and hit Delete. If you want to add something in, you open that file, highlight it, copy, and then paste into your file. It’s that simple. I bought a cheap pair of headphones so that I could hear exactly what was going on, and got to work.
To start with editing took me ages. I didn’t know what I was doing, and kept having to hit the Undo button! I also had a lot of umms and aaahs to delete which was tricky. Eventually though as I became more confident in what I was talking about the ums and aahs stopped – and I also became more confident in the fact that people would probably be ok listening to me talking with the occasional mistake or pause.
One thing I learned to do was to just keep recording. If I fluff my lines, I’ll shout loudly into the microphone, then leave a gap. That way when it comes to editing, the loud noise shows clearly in the sound waves, and I know I need to delete that part.
Now, editing takes me hardly any time at all and I try to get my podcast done in one “take” without stopping to re-do anything.
Hosting your podcast
I uploaded my first podcast straight to my blog as a sound file, but I soon realised that the more you host on your site, the slower and more clunky it will get. So I started looking around for somewhere to host it. Again, good old Google came in and I settled on Spreaker. You can host a fair amount of files on Spreaker for free, before you need to pay. And when you do start to pay, it’s only $4.99 per month.
The great thing about Spreaker is that you can easily link it with all of your social media so that when you post a new podcast, it automatically updates. It automatically makes your pocast into a YouTube video, and there’s also a way to have a tab on your Facebook page where people can listen to your most recent podcast. None of this is in any way difficult.
Over time, my podcast has changed. After taking a break this time last year, I decided to relaunch my podcast and make it about social media and blogging. In August I rebranded it from Single Mother Ahoy to VickyCharles.com and moved it< over to this site – though all of the podcasts are available on my Spreaker profile.
I also got a friend to record a bumper for me, just a little doo-be-doing on the piano. Until that point I’d been using random recordings of my daughter jibbering, but since I’d decided to take the podcast in a more professional direction, I thought I needed a more professional bumper.
If you’ve been thinking about starting your own podcast hopefully this post has helped you to see how easy it can be to get going. You can start a podcast with virtually no budget and still get it out to an audience using your social media. If you’ve been inspired to begin recording, do let me know where I can find your new podcast!