How to start a podcast quickly, easily and without spending a fortune

Samson CO1U USB Condenser MicrophoneStarting a podcast is easier than ever these days.  You can use some of the free tools that come with virtually every computer these days or make a few modest purchases to improve the quality of your podcast.  I recommend you focus on content creation before buying a bunch of unnecessary equipment.

Here’s are some of the basic elements to consider when launching a podcast for the first time:

What is a podcast? There’s some argument over where the term came from and who produced the first podcast, but i use the definition: audio & video “portable on demand”.  Essentially, this includes new media content that’s available for consumption in iTunes (or another leading podcast hub), directly on your website, or via a mobile device, such as the iPhone.

What microphone should I use for my podcast? Since a podcast obviously involves audio communication, I recommend you use the best quality microphone you can afford or one that at least offers a level of quality your listeners will find acceptable.  I’ve done podcast episodes using my Mac internal mic and my iphone, but when I’m in the office I use the Samson CO1U USB Condenser Mic.(aff)

Where should I deliver my podcast? Any website or blog can have its own podcast.  By definition, a podcast doesn’t need to be on iTunes so don’t let that misconception stop you from publishing audio content.  For example, sign up with AudioBoo and record a show – then paste the html or script into a blog post or a web page.  This is an example of a very simple approach.  You could also set up a WordPress blog, install one of many podcast plugings, and upload audio files from your computer.  I prefer to use the Podcasting plugin, but there are several other WordPress plugins available.

Can I podcast from my iPhonee or iPad? Yes, you can with the Mobile Podcaster iPhone App.

What should I say on my podcast? All of us have something to say; however, podcasting is not for everyone.  My suggestion is that you find a subject you are passionate about and make a list of potential topics you could discuss.  What are the top 5 questions people ask you about your topic?  What are the top 5 questions they should be asking?  There’s content for 10 episodes right there.

Should I do all the talking on my podcast? Some podcasts are run by a single person who does all the talking, while others are two or more people engaged in a conversation.  Some are discussion style, while others are more of an interview.  It really depends on your subject, what you have to share personally and who else you know that can help liven up the discussion.  Ask your listeners what’s working for them and change as needed.

Is there a show format I should follow? I recommend you establish a consistent format or ageneda for your podcast episodes or shows.  The reason is that a consistent format puts the listeners at ease and builds a certain level of expectation over time.  For example: 1)intro music 2) introduction 3) topic one 4) topic two 5) pick of the week 6) closing remarks with call to action and 7)closing music.  That’s just an example — the possibilities are unlimited.

What file format should I use for my podcast? MP3 is the most widely accepted audio file format, but most podcasting hosts will accept a variety of file formats.

How do I get my podcast on iTunes and how much does it cost? Podcast distribution on iTunes is free.  Just be sure you’re using the correct RSS format.  To learn more open iTunes and go to Store>Podcasts>Submit a Podcast.  You may also have readers subscribe to you podcast through iTunes without actually publishing to iTunes.  Of course, this does not make your podcast available to the general public but is a convenience.

How to Podcast with Garageband and Publish on iTunes

Are you thinking of starting a podcast?  What’s holding you back?  Is there something I can help clarify to get you started?

Please leave a comment below or on Twitter @steinarknutsen.