How to Podcast: What You Need

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The other day, my daughter Sophie and I were talking about how people probably think we’re very strange. We’re a very strange unschooling family, different from everybody else. And Sophie said, “Mum, people would think you’re even stranger if they knew that every week you spend an hour in your bedroom talking to yourself.”

That does sound strange, doesn’t it? It felt strange when I first started podcasting. I didn’t really know if I could sit talking to myself for an hour at a time. I didn’t feel comfortable at all. But I think I’ve got used to it now. I just imagine all the people out there, all my friends who listen, and for some reason, I can just chat away. It’s not a problem at all.

So people might think that I’m strange talking to myself, but what I find strange is the thought that my voice travels all around the world and it ends up in other countries. I’m not there in that other country but my voice is. That really is quite a fascinating thought.

I transcribed these words from episode 55 of my Stories of an Unschooling Family podcast: How All Kids Are Amazing . Recently, my voice travelled to Oklahoma and Alison heard this episode, and then she stopped by to leave me a very encouraging comment. And now my thoughts have turned to podcasting. Perhaps I should start planning my next episode.

But before I begin recording new podcasts, I want to share how I make them. A few friends asked me to write a how-to-podcast post. I don’t think I can cover everything in one post so I might have to write a short series.

Of course, I’m not a podcasting expert. I learnt how to podcast the unschooling way. I did some research so I knew basically what I needed to do, and then I jumped in the deep end and recorded my first episode. I made plenty of mistakes but continued learning as I recorded further episodes. Yes, my earlier episodes are definitely not as professional sounding as my later ones. But listeners have been patient and kind while I’ve been working on my technique, so it hasn’t mattered that I’ve learnt on the go.So would you like to hear what I’ve learnt? Are you ready to go on a podcasting adventure? You’ll need certain things before you can make your first episode.

What You Need if You Want to Podcast

1. A software program that will capture your recording and allow you to edit it.

I use Audacity which is a free downloadable program.

Audacity® is free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sound

I have started a trial of Reaper which is supposed to be a higher quality option:

REAPER is a complete digital audio production application for Windows and OS X, offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset.

You can try Reaper for 60 days for free. If you like it, you can buy it for ‘not so much’ (around $60). I haven’t yet worked out how Reaper works. (It looks complicated.) Audacity probably has all I need, but Reaper might be a better option for my daughter Imogen who is recording piano and singing tracks to use in her music videos.

2. An external USB microphone

 

I started with an old mic I found in a drawer at home. It worked okay. Now I have a iSK CRU-1 USB Studio Condenser Microphone – Recording PC Mic. I also have a weighted stand so I can set it up on my desk.Sometimes I use Imogen’s mic, the one she uses for recording her singing. It’s part of her home studio record audio package. Even though I like using this mic, a simple cheaper one is perfectly adequate.

3. A pop filter

 
I recorded my first few podcast episodes without a pop filter and so my recordings contained lots of irritating popping sounds. A pop filter, placed between my mouth and the mic, solved this problem. I made my own filter from a stocking and a coat hanger. It took me only a couple of minutes to make it, and it worked fine. I used my home-made version for quite some time before buying a ‘real’ one. This article has instructions for making pop filters.

4. A podcasting platform

 

Once you have recorded and edited your podcast, you’ll need a site to upload it to, so people can listen to it. I use Podbean but there are lots of other options.

With Podbean, you can create professional podcasts in minutes without any programming knowledge. Our user-friendly interface allows you to upload, publish, manage and promote your podcasts with just a few clicks of your mouse.

On the home page of the Podbean site are the words: Free Podcast Hosting. Don’t be fooled. It’s only free until you reach a certain upload limit which is very low. You can certainly try Podbean out for free, There’s enough bandwidth for a free episode or two. After that, you’ll need to subscribe to a plan. There are various options. I chose the unlimited audio plan which costs me around $100 per year. (I think I need a sponsor!)There are other hosting platforms, but I haven’t tried them.

5. Something to talk about

Before starting your podcasting adventure, you’ll need something to talk about. This might seem obvious, but even if you have lots of ideas, it can help to think about the following questions:
Why do I want to podcast?
Who am I trying to reach?
What do I want to say?
How am I going to say it? What’s my particular angle? Personal stories? Interviews? Provide information? Will I need to do any research?
How long will each episode be?
Of course, if we want our listeners to feel excited about our podcast, we need to talk about something we’re passionate about.

6. A sense of adventure!

You don’t have to do things perfectly. Just aim to have fun. Like me, you’ll get better with time. (I’m still working on my presentation!)
So if you want to try podcasting, gather all the things you need, and next time I’ll tell you how you can record  your very first episode!
 
Of course, you might not want to make a podcast. You might prefer listening. If so, do you have any favourite podcasts? And if you’re not a podcast type person, I’d love to hear about the last big thing you learnt how to do. Did you do a lot of research first, or did you just jump in the deep end and learn on the go?




Update: The other posts in this series are:
How-to Podcast: Recording an Episode
How to Podcast: Editing an Episode
 
You can find my Stories of an Unschooling Family podcast on
PS: Kids can podcast too. Sophie has had a go!
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Comments

  1. Reply

    At this point, I'm more interested in listening to podcasts than making my own ; )
    Some of my favorites are: Happier, Hidden Brain, Story Collider, and well, Stories of an Unschooling Family! Also, The Unschooling Life. Although it doesn't run any more, it's a great resource. And they're working on starting an Unschooling Kids podcast! Currently they are raising money to make it happen.

    1. Reply

      Larkin,

      I've listened to some of the episodes of The Unschooling Life. Yes, a good podcast! I hadn't heard about the Unschooling Kids one. That does sound interesting. I'll watch out for it. I'm going to look up the other podcasts you mentioned. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for listening to my podcast too!

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