I’ve been wondering about how to get started recording audio podcasts. Just my luck, TechSoup and NTEN are at their free webinars again this week, with Corey from 501c3Cast, a podcast for non-profits. He’s covering the VERY basics. I need them!!
Great reminder–don’t just start podcasing for the heck of it. Do you know if your audience already listens to digital media? If not, you’ll have extra steps of research and marketing to gain listeners.
Plan: Target your audience, write a script, plan to include music and asknowledgements. If this is something you’ll do on a regular basis, you’ll need a schedule and a plan to allow listeners to subscribe. I’m thinking of podcasts as a way to broadcast information I often repeat (organizational basics, volunteer information–the new breed of 101/orientation video!) They could also be a cool way to capture history and stories from the past–a neat tool to celebrate an organization’s anniversary!
Just like a good outline, your script will need an intro, key points, and a conclusion. Corey suggests having a good strong voice (and not too many of them) and some pacing with effects, Q&A with a guest, or ‘commercials’ to pass along other related info. Every good story has a point of intrigue, emotion or inspiration and a theme. There’s a whole organization devoted to telling digital stories (why am I still surprised at these niches?!)
Recording: Find a small, echo-limiting space. You can buy a headset with a mic that plugs into your USB port for around $30. There are more advanced tools such as a condensing (multi-directional ball-shaped) mic, mobile recorders for ‘on the street’ interviews, and soundboards. I have a USB headset that I use for Skype telephone calls and listening to DVDs, so I’ll start there. .WAV files are the most common to record in. You’ll want to id your ‘title, track, etc.’ in your software so downloaders can save and identify your podcast.
Software: Some basic, free software recorders includde Audacity, Garage Band (for Mac), Levelator, and–funny, I just mentioned this–Skype. Skype plug-ins (available for a small cost) such as Pamela, Hot Recorder, & Audio Hijack Pro record each speaker individually. Audacity has a lot of tools. Start with Selection, Silence, Amplify, Fade, Compressor, Import other audio tracks, and Export as an mp3. Export as 64 or 96 bit, or up to 128 to 256 bits for podcasts; the higher the number, the higher the quality although some people won’t be able to effectively download the larger files.
Hosting: Podcasts, especially regular ones, are large files that can take up a lot of your server space. There are several host sites particularly for podcasts: liberated syndication, PodBean.com, ourmedia, blubrry, switchpod.com–these start at $5 per month.
Share: This topic will need more info, input & research. You can upload to iTunes, Podcast Pickle, Podcast Alley, and to your website; find links to these tools and grab the webiner here. Evidently you need a Flash player there to enable listeners to listen directly from your website. FeedBurner Podcast and hosting sites can track your metrics. There were some great examples of organizations giving tours, explaining little known facts, incorporation music, and generally sharing their experiences with listeners.
Organizations are already podcasting!! HOW do they make the time–to both start, and continue, such an endeavor? What have they given up to be able to get into this new media?