How to get started.
It’s said that every writer should have at least one platform (other than where they sell their books) for potential readers to find them. In this post, we’ll be exploring podcasts.
How to get started.
Tools you’ll need:
A place to record
Music and sound effects
Now, the location of recording is going to have a much greater impact than whatever microphone you use. If you record in a tiled kitchen with very little sound absorption but use a great microphone, then that microphone is going to be great at recording all of your echos.
If you’re just starting out there’s no need to make a big investment in “the right” equipment. See if you enjoy the process first, and then as you grow consider whether or not upgrading your equipment or software programs is right for you.
To create your own personal, easy to set up and low-cost recording studio, go into your closet put and a blanket over the door (to help with sound absorption). Then plug in a cell phone microphone and headset into your phone or laptop. You’re now ready to start recording on the voice memo app that is included in most smartphones or record directly onto your laptop.
Once you’re finished recording your first podcast episode, you could make that unedited mp3 file available to listeners on your favorite podcasting platform, but here are some tips to help you make your podcast sound more professional right out the gate. The best part: it’s free. It’ll only cost you the time it takes to download and learn how to use the software needed.
Download Audacity and Levelator. They’re both free. Audacity is a tool to record and edit audio files, and if you put the final file into Levelator (which is as easy as dragging and dropping), Levelator will make the overall sound quality “level”. In other words, if you’re speaking too quietly one moment, and then screaming with excitement the next, Levelator will help save your listener’s eardrums and their speakers.
For a more in-depth tutorial on how to use these tools, here’s a fun video by the YouTuber, Gingerpale:
His tutorial is on how to make animated YouTube videos, but the audio portion of his process starts at 1 minute and 10 seconds, and he includes more informative videos on the topic in his show notes.
Please note that to put it through Levelator, you have to export the file as a wav file. Once you put in into Levelator, it’ll automatically save a copy as (original name).output, also a wav file. From there, open the new file in Audacity and export it as an MP3.
Want to add sound effects?
Here’s a post listing 10 websites with libraries you can pull from.
If you’re looking for royalty-free sound effects that you don’t have to pay for, then you’re looking for sound effects with a “Creative Commons” license.
But always. Always. Always. Do your due diligence and triple check the licensing agreement before using someone else’s audio in your production. “CC isn’t free for all uses, only some” so triple check.
“[Creative Commons] isn’t free for all uses, only some”
Want to add music?
Here’s the site I pulled that CC quote from: https://creativecommons.org/about/program-areas/arts-culture/arts-culture-resources/legalmusicforvideos/
You can also find music in YouTube’s audio library, but triple check the licensing agreement because some of that music is only free to use for YouTube videos. If you want to use it for your podcast, you may have to contact the creator directly to get permission (assuming the permission isn’t explicitly stated).
Here’s the YouTube channel where they make it easy to find music by mood and genre:
To download the music you’ve selected, look at the links below the video and select the platform you wish to download the song from (iTunes, Google Play, etc).
To add sound effects and music “in post” simply open Audacity. The first “track” is your podcast, so add a new track. From there you can import the music and sound effects and move them where you need them to line up with the content portion. BUT Davinci Resolve is a free video editing software that offers a more user friendly interface when manipulating audio, and they make it easier to make music fade in and out. If you just want to add a clip to your podcast, you can stick with Audacity, if you want to get fancy with it, check out other options.
Remember to export your final piece as an MP3.
Here’s the most up to date video tutorial I could find on how to distribute your podcast to the major platforms:
The creator has a lovely voice and does an excellent job explaining what he’s doing and why. The main takeaway is that in order to make your podcast available on platforms like iTunes and Google Play, you’ll need to set up an account with a host site.
This host site will hold the RSS feeds for your podcast episodes and distribute them to the major platforms where listeners can download the episodes.
While most host sites do charge a monthly fee, there are some free options. To help get you started on comparing the major host sites, here’s a post by Adam Enfroy.
13+ Best Podcast Hosting Sites for 2019 (with Top 5 Free)
Are you dreaming of launching the next hugely successful podcast and sharing your audio content with the world? That's…
He does an excellent job explaining what a host site is, the pros and cons of each, and he gives some free options for those just starting out.
It should also be noted that Patreon is another place you can make your podcast available. While they won’t distribute episodes to other podcasting platforms, if you’re having trouble paying your hosting fees, offering Patreon exclusive episodes could be an excellent way to fund your show.
For more information on Patreon and podcasting, here’s a link to their help page:
How do I set up a Podcast on Patreon?
As a podcaster on Patreon, a great benefit to offer your patrons is an exclusive patron-only feed. Your Patreon page…
Don’t forget to add citation!
Make sure you keep track of where you download music/sound effects. Because you may have to credit the creator in your show notes or mention them on air. When you download anything, there’s normally a pop up where you can copy/paste the credit to the creator info, but sometimes you just have to go back to the site to get that information.
Podcasting can be as easy as recording yourself talk about a single topic for 10–30 minutes and serving that raw audio footage to the consumer, or it can be as complicated as making music fade in and out of an intro and using bells and whistles to mark different segments of a scripted show. The nice thing about choosing this platform as a base for your author brand is that, like readers, there are all sorts listeners and they all have different preferences when it comes to what kind of podcasts they consume.
While sound effects and music can be a nice touch, listeners will be there for you, not the bells and whistles you bring. Extra audio effects done poorly are worse than no effects at all. So if you find audio editing intimidating, do the bare minimum that you need to do in order to produce a distraction-free and engaging show. What one listener sees as “simple”, another will see as refreshing and authentic.
While I can’t say that podcasting is right for you, (I don’t even know if it’s right for me), I hope that this post has helped someone determine whether or not this type of author platform is something that they’d be interested in.
Questions of the day:
If you were to start a podcast to help raise awareness of your “author brand”, what would be your podcast’s main topic(s)? The over arching theme(s) that you’d showcase in most if not all of your episodes.
How do you think your content would differ if you chose to podcast instead of blog? or podcast instead of posting on Medium?
To put my money where my mouth is, I’ll be including a link to an unlisted YouTube video that I’m making as an animation project. While the animation is a work in progress, I did use the process I outlined above to create the audio portion.
I recorded the audio in my closet with an iPod headset and a laptop.
I edited the audio in Audacity.
Leveled it out in Levelator.
And then imported the file into DaVinci Resolve so I could gradually add animated clips as I created them.
While this video isn’t much of a video yet, I hope you find the audio portion encouraging. Not the actual content or words I’m saying, but the fact that if someone like me can record and edit audio, anyone can.