Ever heard of podcasting and wondered what the heck it’s all about?

Podcasting is your opportunity to broadcast content through your blog or a social network. Podcasts can be audio only or done on video. Think of it as your own private radio station or television network where you decided what’s “On the Air.”

Bob Garlick and Kim Plumley outside the Garlick and Plum Jam Podcast Tent at Social Media Camp
with guest Sean Moffitt (centre).

If you love to talk with people, then podcasting is a great way to get your message out there. Podcasts can be a single person on mic or on camera sharing what they know. But even better is when two or more people come together to record a conversation. The energy, playfulness and interaction between podcasters can really liven up a conversation. If you’re new to podcasting, check out Kim Plumley and Bob Garlick over at Garlick and Plum Jam - they know how to have fun with their guests and weave in lots of great advice about marketing and social media.

If you want to jump into podcasting, you can start with the tools in your computer already – the built in mic, the built in camera. But if you want to produce something a bit higher quality then you’ll need some equipment beyond your computer.

  • Buy the best quality headsets you can afford. Sennheiser and Plantronics are among the best brands for sound quality. The set I use is from Sennheiser and it cost me about $100.
  • A portable, pocket size video camera that you can take with you anywhere is great way to start video blogging. I use Kodak’s Zi8 (last year’s model) and look forward to upgrading to a Kodak Playtouch soon. I know other folks, including the fabulous video podcaster Rebecca Coleman, prefer the Flip camera. All of these are available for somewhere between $100 and $200. The key is to get a camera that records in HD, offers good sound quality and plugs into a USB port for easy connectivity.
  • A handheld, unidirectional microphone is also helpful. You see me using one in the photo below where I’m interviewing author Jack Whyte. Moving the mic back and forth captures better sound than the video camera’s onboard microphone. This is especially important when there’s lots of background noise. Again, you’re looking at another $100 investment but it’s worth it.

  • Software is also important and I use two free tools – Audacity to record and Levelator to balance sound levels. Have a look at the software already on your computer and see what works for you.

Of course, these tools are not the high end. If you want to you buy a level board, mic booms, spit catchers, lighting, directors chairs, a pop-up backdrop and even book time in a professional recording studio by all means open your wallet. How much you invest has to do with how complicated you want to make your podcast recording process and where your brand sits on the “polished to guerilla spectrum”.

My pal, Peggy Richardson, has taught me much of what I know about podcasting and I subscribe to Peggy’s philosophy that sound quality matters (a lot!) but sometimes you have to capture whatever you can in the moment. So, if I was lucky enough to meet Hugh Jackman on a busy street, I’d gladly record an interview (if he was willing) and compromise sound quality in favour of the unique interview opportunity. The quality you choose to publish is entirely up to you.

One quick word of caution before we wrap up this issue. Recording is easy. So easy, in fact, that you can record lots and lots and lots of content. However, it takes time to upload and edit the content and still more time to create the blog post and share the podcast through Facebook, Twitter, etc. I want to encourage you to give it a try but maybe go slow while you figure out what podcasting set-up works for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=890140281 Yomar Lopez

    I LOVE the polished-to-guerilla spectrum.  I’m definitely more towards the latter end and, personally, I appreciate a more raw podcast than one that has “high production value”.  I feel like folks that focus on the message over the fluff have something more worthwhile to share.

    That said, I can’t wait to get back into podcasting.  I was doing a podcast with a friend but he was more on the polished side of the spectrum and wanted to play it safe..  As such, he stuck with a mundane, look-alike format.  I guess you could only expect as much when the show’s name is “Mundane Chatter Podcast”.  He’s a great conversationalist too so it’s a shame.

    My advice is to just get out there and do it.  Once you mete out a general concept, or niche if you prefer, just go out there and do it.  Don’t worry so much about sound quality, unless you have too much background noise and popping going on.

    I also think people starting out should be realistic.  Stick to a monthly or bi-weekly recording schedule and see if you can commit to that consistently for three months minimum, THEN expand to weekly or daily, if you dare.  Like you said, the post-production stuff can be quite involved.  Not just that: you really want to spend more time promoting your show versus actual production.

    Just looking around at all the wonderful podcasts out there, I see shows that have ran for years and still can barely make ends meet.  Sure, your podcast may not be there for monetizing but, if people can’t even find it, it almost feels pointless.  I like the natural flow of Inbound Marketing, bolstered in major part by SEO and social media (of course).  You want to make things as simple and automagical (have to borrow that from Dino Dogan LOL) as possible so you can just enjoy making shows.

    Much like blogging, a top-down approach helps A LOT.  Think about the topics that interest you most, where your expertise and specializations seem to focus, then break that list down to granular topics.  The next podcast I do will be a humorous show with educational stuff and cool guests…  People like you, Angela!

    Which reminds me, where is my autographed book?  You never answered my tweet..  but I saw your Skype message.  I know how it is.  Catch-up mode sounds good to me right now. ;o)

    Talk to you soon!! =oD

  • http://laurindashaver.com Laurinda Shaver

    I have a dream.  And its to podcast.
    For many reasons.
    -I love to talk.  In fact, I can’t stop talking about what i’m passionate about.
    -It forces me to be even more on my game about the industry at large into order to talk about it.
    -Its fun… if you have the right partner (Yomar… are you reading this?)
    -And its all about the community you build around it.  The comments, questions and feedback.

  • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

    I just started podcasting about a month or so ago. Love it!

    Do you like what I’m doing?

    Do you love strongly? And other social media DOHs. http://wp.me/pbg0R-nY

  • http://www.beachcombercommunications.com Angela Crocker

    Yes, indeed, Stan. I like what you are doing. I especially liked your remarks about being a whole-hearted person – that’s something we should all strive for. I also liked what you said about deciding whether or nor to live on mute – I know I couldn’t!

  • http://www.beachcombercommunications.com Angela Crocker

    What’s holding you back from your dream, Laurinda? Loving to talk and being the amazing communicator I know you are sets you up for podcast success. I hope’ll “just do it” and invite me to the party when you do!

  • http://www.beachcombercommunications.com Angela Crocker

    Yomar, thank you. You’ve added some great points to this discussion and I find myself saying “Yes, Yes, YES!” as I read your comment. Focusing on what you love and setting an achievable pace are essential! I do hope you will podcast soon and I’d be honored to be your guest. Although, i’m usually funnier in writing. :)

    As for the book, um, I’ve gotta get on that! Have faith – I will surprise you one day!

  • Leona Morrison

    I really enjoyed this blog, I would love to have my own radio show. This was great!. Leona 

  • L Hansen08

    That would be great to have your own radio show

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