SIDE GIGS: STARTING A PODCAST
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Whatever new venture you're embarking upon, there's a lot of work, self-doubt and giddy excitement to be had.
I first dreamed about my own podcast over 2 years ago, but I had no idea how I would ever achieve it. Fast forward to earlier this year when I reconnected with an old Sydney friend and we both talked about our passion for media, social issues and somehow having a voice... "out there".
| “We just never shut up.” ~Aurelia Sophia Roman
The Salty Podcast
Aurelia has been working in radio for 5 years now, so she already had plenty of skills, and the confidence! to get us started. She had me on as a guest on her radio breakfast show and we both knew straight away we'd be able to chat for an hour without stopping, and she was very much the one who said, "what are we waiting for?" I was being a bit nerdy, doing endless research, and helping her out behind the scenes to learn the ropes of interviewing etc. Of course I do have my own skill sets as a photographer, so the branding/imagery side of things was my job, in that regard our different skills sets were a bonus; we've managed to get past a few of the initial hurdles without only minor hiccups. We did a test run recording at my house, that one turned out to be The First Pancake, but subsequent recordings have been great fun. We chose the name "the Salty Podcast" because my daughter calls me salty... usually when I am upsetting her by being a parent, or perhaps ranting about something I've watched online. The 'salt' branding is still a wip but the beauty of controlling your own brand and doing everything yourself means you can easily make changes as you go.
Gear & Equipment
As a photographer I know how easy it is to get sucked into buying gear, gadgets and accessories, and I do my best to avoid that. Luckily the males of our planet seem to love buying expensive toys, especially things in the tech arena, and they love discussing it too, so there are endless sites doing reviews of gear, so spend a little time reading and hopefully you'll find a site you trust and that will help you make your choices. To make it super easy, I've put a link to the #1 recommended microphone. Of course Aurelia wanted the cool retro mics haha, and they are tempting but for various reasons they don't outperform this little one. Perhaps if we go into a video format we'll get prettier looking gear. For now I did buy fun cheap mic foam covers. You'll need headphones too, and again, I just opted for some simple Sony ones, but I've been shopping around for something a bit prettier, and having an extra pair for guests is handy... so yeah, I'm going against my own advice and buying extra gear, ha. You'll be using the microphones and headphones a lot so "buy nice or buy twice" applies here. Also best to get a corded set, not bluetooth, we all know how frustrating bluetooth can be, and you know what works every time, yeah, the corded stuff. There's heaps more stuff you *could* buy, and a few other bits I've left off for now but for a single person start up this is all you need.
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The other piece of equipment you'll need is an external hard drive. Podcast files are MASSIVE (roughly 100MB per10mins) and you'll fill your computer's hard drive in the first month (especially as you have too many copies of everything, eventually you'll streamline the workflow), so it's best to get them onto their own hard drive. I use "normal" external hard drives but am starting to invest in SSD drives too, in non-nerd lingo: they've got no moving parts so are less fragile than the usual one you are thinking of buying, which basically looks like a record player if you crack it open. They are more expensive, like twice the price, eek! For my podcasting stuff, I back up just the raw/original audio files to a standard external HD, which can be risky but my host has all my files too so I'm comfortable with this system. For photography I double back up all my files, so I got through 2 or 3 external hard drives, usually these Seagate ones, per year. Out of the 14 ext hard drives I have 2 that are currently "broken" and my local tech guy couldn't retrieve anything off them :/ Luckily I have them backed up!
When we have guests on the podcast who are also on Aurelia's radio show, we use the studio, but when it's just us we use our blogging cave - pics to eventually arrive once I make it pretty enough to be photographed. The sad truth (photographically speaking) is that most great spaces for this type of work are tiny windowless rooms, ours is in the attic, and that sounds far more charming than it is. Australian homes don't have "attics", it's just the roof cavity that's a bit built-in, not sure how we'll cope in summer! The other tip is to record in your closet/walk-in wardrobe, the small space filled with clothes is the perfect way to stop sound bouncing around.
Editing programs like Audacity (for Pc) and GarageBand (Mac) are free, so you just need to invest a little time to learn how they work, YouTube is your friend! They aren't very difficult programs to master. And once you've recorded, edited and done all your logo and imagery work (I recommend finding a good podcasting how-to group) you'll need to find a podcast host. They store all your 'casts and send them off to the various places, as well as provide analytics and other services. There are a few free ones but we opted straight away to pay, but if you want to test out a few you could try the free sites, seems like a lot of extra work though. It's a tough choice on who to choose, there are so many that look great and honestly I don't think you could go wrong with any of them! I ended up going with Buzzsprout because I liked the interface (ok, and the logo is cute too), and they do everything we need, we can have multiple admins on the account, and we get stats. What's not to love about seeing a world map with your listeners dotted about? I'm sure whatever you choose will work for you, but the nice people at Buzzsprout do offer us both an incentive if you sign up, and for you it's a $20 Amazon gift card when you sign up to a paid plan, and you could buy something funny and ridiculous.
That's a very basic intro into getting started, and I feel a second post about how we research topics and how we juggle doing this with our other work could be in order, but if I write any more I'll have to put a TLDR box in, and I'm not keen on that....
Feel free to ask any questions or share your tips!
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