October 13, 2020, by Digital Research

Making a podcast

Podcasts are a great way to engage a large and diverse audience.

In this blog, we discuss what you need to plan, record, edit, and publish a podcast.


STEP ONE: Planning

Before you do anything, you’ll want to think about the following elements. They will help you manage your podcast and shape it into something that reaches the right audience.
a) determine your target audience – this fundamental decision will affect everything and ensure consistency across your episodes.
b) decide on the length and frequency of your podcasts. Length can range from short, soundbite-style episodes to commute-length listens or even in-depth, hour-long explorations of a topic. Frequency, for its part, will depend largely on your own availability and work-rate. As one website recommends, however, it is better to have fewer good episodes than more sub-par ones.
c) decide what format you will adopt – solo monologues/invited guests/multiple hosts? You don’t have to stick to one format for all episodes (though you may wish to for consistency). If you plan to invite guests, begin organising their availability early on.
d) plan the number of episodes and their expected content. Having a schedule will help you manage the workload and book invitees.
e) decide on a cool name for your podcast.


STEP TWO: Recording

a) a professional recording device will enhance the sound quality of your podcast. A tripod or stand for your device is usually a good investment. If you are recording outdoors, you’ll want a wind muff. A pop filter can only improve things.
b) there are specific commercial tools, such as SquadCast or Riverside.fm, for recording online conversations. Or you can just record through Teams (you may need to convert the MP4 to an audio format for editing – Audacity is pre-installed on all University computers or can be downloaded for free).
c) try to record in a space with low levels of background noise and no echo. Hard surfaces and large rooms create echoes. If you are recording at home, you can use you duvet to help dampen the sound.
d) when you start recording, allow for some quiet parts at the start or end in order to sample the background noise.
e) don’t forget consent forms from interviewees.


STEP 3: Editing

Hiring a professional podcast editor is an option. Or, you could pick up some new skills and edit the recordings yourself. There are are range of tools that will let you clean, edit, and mix audio tracks.
Audacity is open source and has plenty of YouTube tutorials to get you started.
Alitu is a web-based editor that is very user-friendly (but has a cost) and integrates easily with the major publishing sites.
Adobe Audition is a powerful editor with loads of features. The University’s Digital Transformations Hub has some licenses.
Some basic editing tips:
a) normalise the volume level of the entire recording before you begin editing.
b) reduce ambient background noise before you begin editing.
c) edit out the ‘ums’ and ‘ahhs’.
d) you can also edit out most of the questions asked by the host, especially if you want your invitee(s) to be the focus.
Music and sound effects: Royalty-free music is rare, but you may want to explore e.g. Zapsplat or Pixabay or the YouTube Audio Library.  Another site with a library of royalty-free music and sound effects is Videvo. These sites and the music creators should still be credited.
The Windows 10 video editor is free to download and comes with some background music tracks that you can use. For macOS users, you can use the library of free music loops in GarageBand.


STEP FOUR: Publishing and promoting

The Liberal Arts team have been publishing podcast episodes using Engage (Echo360) – here’s an example that discusses Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. You could also host your episodes on a bespoke website, as is the case for the successful and long-running The Rights Track.
However, if you lack the skills or inclination to manage this step of the process yourself, there are plenty of sites that will take care of publishing and distribution. One popular and user-friendly option is Buzzsprout. They offer a free tier (limited uploads per month and deleted after ninety days) or the basic option at $US12 per month. The latter gets you a customisable website for your podcast, regular analytics to measure impact, and options to distribute your episodes via e.g. Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeart Radio (see the University’s Knowledge, Engaged podcast as an example). Such sites will take care of what many consider to be the trickiest but most important part of podcasting – getting your material out there!


For a wealth of further information, we recommend the Podcast Host website.
You can also speak with a Digital Research Specialist to discuss the options.


Posted in Advice and Guidance