Are you interested in getting into podcasting? Maybe you have a blog that has taken off, and you are looking to maximize your potential? Or – perhaps you have always longed for a career in talk radio? There is almost an unlimited number of reasons why you might want to start podcasting, but it can be a pretty daunting task for those that have never done it before. You need to make sure that you have a solid understanding of what it is that you are looking to create, and the tools that you need to create it.
Luckily, there are a good number of podcasting tools that are available for absolutely free. Most provide the functionality that you require, while others might require a bit of an investment.
Before attempting to start your podcast, consider some of the following essential podcasting tools, and determine how they might be able to help you get your podcast off the ground;
The first and most important thing that needs to be taken into consideration when creating a podcast, is where you are going to be hosting it. Audio files aren’t that large, but streaming files for your users can really eat away at your bandwidth over time. You need to find a solid podcast hosting service first, and weigh the pros and cons of hte different options that you have available to you. Some of the better podcasting hosting options include;
- Host It Yourself – This option is probably only realistic for those that already have a successful blog or website. Podcast audio files can eat up a lot of bandwidth, particularly if they are 20 or 30 minutes long a piece. Also keep in mind that your target listening audience might have a hard time finding your podcast if it is only hosted on your own website. Not all podcast listeners like to read blogs. If you plan on hosting it yourself, my recommendation would be to also host it another place for others to easily find and expand your reach. If you do choose to upload your podcast elsewhere, remember to back everything up! It would be a shame to lose your hard work because a third party site went down unexpectedly.
- LibSyn – LibSyn is an excellent host for your podcast. Their plans start at just $5 per month, and provide you with up to 50 MB of storage. All plans come complete with a podcast RSS feed (which is required to post to iTunes), an HTML5 Media Player, your own podcast page, and other publishing tools. More advanced plans also provide you with some advanced analytics so you can better monitor your listeners.
- PodBean – PodBean is currently the most popular podcast hosting site online. They are currently home to more than 700,000 podcasters, with more than 4 billion downloads served in total. While I wouldn’t recommend using web based tools for podcast creation – they make those available, which is a great feature for those that are just looking to get their feet yet. PodBean boasts a large number of listeners, and are an excellent choice for iTunes sharing. Their most basic plan gives you 100 MB of space, and 100 GB of bandwidth per month for just $3. Like LibSyn, they give you access to your own podcast site, a number of excellent themes, embedded players, and apps for both Android and iPhone. PodBean is an excellent, cheap place to start for those that would like to get their feet wet in podcasting.
- SoundCloud – SoundCloud is the largest audio social networking site in the world. While they are not primarily targeted toward podcast creators (and instead feature musicians), it can be a great place for reliable hosting and marketing opportunities. SoundCloud allows for easy following, networking, and commenting on audio uploaded by others, which is a great way to build your podcasting network. They offer both free and paid plans, and are relatively reasonably priced.
- Podomatic – Podomatic is a little newer than some of the other items on this list – but that doesn’t mean that they don’t provide a high quality service. They have millions of podcasts available to listeners completely for free, and also have paid plans available. Many of the podcasts hosted here have actually gone on to become quite popular on iTunes. You can use their RSS feed to share your podcast on iTunes.
- BuzzSprout – BuzzSprout offers both free and paid plans, and is a relatively new service that has garnered a lot of attention as of late. their paid plans start at $12, which is a bit more pricey than the rest of the competition, but their speeds have been shown to be a bit faster than others. Additionally – they offer an excellent blog chock full of excellent podcasting resources to help you get your foot into the door.
Podcast Recording Software
Every podcast requires recording software to create, edit, and ready your podcasts for public consumption. There are many different types of podcast recording software that are currently available, and the one that you choose will depend on the functionality that you are looking for, and the budget that you have to work with.
- Audacity – This free, open-source audio recording and editing software is by far the most popular that is used today. It is used for a huge variety of different audio tasks including podcasts, but is also widely used by musicians around the world. Audacity is a great starting place for those that are looking to get their feet wet in the podcasting realm.
- ePodcast Producer – ePodcast Producer is an excellent piece of software, mostly targeted to established podcasters or those that are willing to jump in head first. It comes complete with many radio-style features to give your podcast that professional feel, and allows you to avoid a lot of post editing for a more natural feel. It offers an on-screen teleprompter, DSP voice effects, phone interviews through VoIP and Skype, and keyboard-binded sound effects that truly make your podcast feel like a real, live radio show.
- Propaganda – Propaganda is a full featured program that is excellent for those that want to jump in head first. Propaganda mostly focuses on the distribution of your podcast, and is able to generate XML, HTML and MP3 files directly after recording. It is a straightforward piece of software with a wide range of features – appropriate for newbies and seasoned podcasters alike.
When it comes to podcast microphones – really any microphone that is built for voice capture should be good enough. Some are built to have a warmer, more inviting sound than others. The quality level is generally reflected by the price. A podcasting microphone anywhere between $50 and $500 should be good enough to do the job, with the more expensive options usually providing a richer, more inviting sound. Keep in mind that a lot of the “warmness” depends upon your voice and the effects that are added in post editing. Some of the more popular Podcast microphones include;
- Rode Podcaster – Built specifically for voice applications and podcasts, the Rode Podcaster is a high quality, albeit pricey choice for new podcasters. It offers broadcast sound quality, 18 bit resolution and 8-48 KHz sampling. It is an excellent choice for those that want to jump head first.
- MXL990 – The MXL brand is one that has been trusted for decades in the microphone industry. This condenser microphone is excellent for podcasts, providing a rich and warm sound that is often associated with talk radio. Keep in mind that condenser microphones user XLR inputs, you may need to purchase a preamp to go with. At less than $100, you really can’t go wrong with the MXL990.
- Behringer PodcastStudio USB FULL SET – This is what I recommend to beginners. This provides you with your microphone, interface, and headset – which combined with free software like Audacity – is really all you need to start podcasting. Although not the highest quality, for less than $100 you can be set up and ready to go and decide whether or not you want to upgrade at a later date.
This should be enough to get you going on your first podcast! These tools are all popular among podcasters, and provide an excellent range in terms of price and quality to fit all budgets. Remember that podcasts are more about the content provided, and less about the quality. We just want to make sure that they are listenable!