Podcasting 101 – simple steps to launching a podcast

Are you listening to podcasts? Have you thought about starting a podcast?

Here are some simple steps to recording and launching a podcast.

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1. What’s it all about? – First things first. You need to decide on a theme/subject for your show. Sure, you can just turn on the microphone, and start rambling, but you’re not going to get many repeat visitors if you’re offering a scattered, unfocused podcast. Finally, if you’re starting a podcast to help promote your business, don’t just talk about yourself! For example, if you’re a realtor, record a podcast about the 3 Steps To Buying Your First House.

2. Equipment – An inexpensive USB, headset microphone will work perfectly in the beginning. Once you’ve recorded a few episodes, and you know that podcasting is for you, then you can upgrade to a more expensive microphone to get a better sound.

3. Software – Again, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. If you’re a Mac person, you can easily record and edit your podcast via Garageband. If you’re on a PC, Audacity is probably the most popular software for recording and editing podcasts, and it’s free.

4. Hosting – This is the issue that I had a hard time understanding initially when I started a podcast. If you’re small business, and you don’t have unlimited bandwidth, you need to find a host for the actual Mp3 files of your podcast episodes. Why? Every time someone downloads your Mp3 file, you’re using a sizable chunk of your web hosting bandwidth. If 50 people download your podcast, then multiply that one download fifty times.

Don’t worry though. There are several, low-cost hosts for your podcast. I recommend Libsyn. Their basic plan is cheap – $5 per month, your bandwidth is virtually unlimited, and Libsyn currently hosts tons of podcasts, including many well-known, heavily trafficked podcasts such as Grammar Girl. Once you finish recording and editing each podcast episode, you sign in to your Libsyn account and upload the file to Libsyn.

5. Blog/website – Again, you can do this for very little money. You can start a blog at Google’s Blogger or WordPress.com. After you create your blog, you can write a Post announcing the first episode of your podcast, including a link to the MP3 file hosted at Libsyn. Note - this is something that confused and frustrated me initially, if you register your podcast with iTunes (so that it will show up in the iTunes podcast store), iTunes will use the title of your blog post for the title of your podcast episode. So, if you want the title of your podcast to be “Episode 1 of the Exciting Podcast,” then you need to title your blog post exactly that, “Episode 1 of the Exciting Podcast.”

6. iTunes – it’s easy to register your podcast with iTunes. The first time you submit your podcast to iTunes it will take 2-3 days for them to review your podcast and add it to the iTunes store.

7. RSS Feed – I recommend that you use Feedburner for your podcast’s RSS feed. Feedburner offers you lots of great stats about your podcast feed.

I look forward to hearing your podcast.

Photo by Duchamp on Flickr.