I recently had the opportunity to explore a new area of social media that I had never tackled, and it has been quite a learning experience. No, clearly podcasting is not “new” but getting it set up was new for me. There are so many different options for podcasting that it could confuse even a tech savvy person.
Parameters: (1) I was looking for the simplest means possible. My client who wanted to do a podcast will freely admit she is NOT tech savvy. And because I am not present each week to help record her episodes, it absolutely HAD to be as easy as possible. (2) We needed to keep it relatively inexpensive, especially since we wanted to make sure this was something my client enjoyed doing before investing lots of money into this venture.
This article will not attempt to be all inclusive and discuss all options for podcasting. However, I will present a fairly simple way to record and publish podcasts, to make this easy for future podcasters.
There are two major functions that need to be accomplished in order to publish a podcast: (1) Recording and Editing your show, and (2) Hosting and Syndication.
We started with this tool because a previous client of mine had used it. BlogTalkRadio seems a hybrid which incorporates both recording and hosting. Also, you could do live call-in shows, which was pretty unique. I’m sure with an actual studio with tons of equipment, live call-ins are standard. But… we didn’t. The interface seemed relatively simple, and although the sound quality wasn’t the best (even though my client purchased an inexpensive microphone that came with good reviews), we were satisfied.
BTR also hosted the shows… within a few minutes of an episode being completed, it was ready for listeners to come to her channel and listen at any time. At $39.99 per month, it seemed like an excellent, simple solution to our early forays into producing a radio show.
However, we soon discovered a big problem. When we recorded her most recent episode last week (I was the guest), it kept cutting us off while we were live and on the air. We next realized BTR doesn’t have any phone support or chatting. Instead, we were required to send an email requesting assistance, and then had to wait for a few hours for a response. When it came, the answer was “it’s some problem with your Wifi and here are suggestions for fixing it.” We made the adjustments and tried again, but BTR kept cutting us off.
So then my client came to my house the next day and we recorded the episode here… no cutting us off, but this time, the sound quality was so awful, her fans kept commenting, “I can’t hear… the sound keeps breaking up.” When we contacted BTR again about the problem, we got the same answer… it was my Wifi.
All I can say is that if we have two different households in different parts of the city, and neither of them have Wifi which can support their service in a consistent manner, this was clearly not the service for my client. And so, I went back to the drawing board.
Recording the Show
The most obvious solution for recording shows is to purchase software to record. I had some friends recommend Audacity (a free mixing/recording software) and Acid Pro, and my computer came with Garage Band. Another colleague recommended Adobe Audition, and she said that for people to call in, they would have to call in on Skype. I reviewed all of them, and while I’m sure I could have easily learned how to use them, they just did not seem simple enough for my client. I kept envisioning her head spinning as she looked at virtual dials and sound levels, and tried to get her caller’s voice to come in on Skype.
I was also recommended a new app called Anchor, which allows you to record podcasts on your SmartPhone. Also, Anchor would host your shows and syndicate by sending them to iTunes. It seems fairly easy, but the problem was that the episodes could only be in 5 minute increments. You can upload audio recordings that are more than 5 minutes, but Anchor cuts it up into 5 minute sections and then “pieces them together.” My client’s podcasts last anywhere from 20-30 minutes, and I just wasn’t confident in the technology, so that wasn’t going to work either.
Finally, I found the answer… and it required a little thinking out of the box. We signed her up for a free service called Uber Conference Call. You can have up to 10 people call in at any given time, and you can record the call. Afterwards, you can download the episode as an MP3. This is so unbelievably simple. We opted for the free service, since we wanted to try it out and see if we liked it, although if we had wanted more bells and whistles, it would only have cost $10 per month. After our first few tests, it was unanimous. We loved it. The sound quality is excellent, and there are no dials or devices measuring sound. We just know it sounded great.
The one problem we have encountered with Uber Conference Call (for our purposes anyway) is that when she is producing an episode where she is not having a guest, there is no function that allows her to record the call. And so, on those days, she can either call me or her mother (and on our end, we will press the Mute button), and then she will hit “record” and begin her show.
Oh also, we can’t do live call-ins, but nobody had called yet, so I don’t think she is missing out on anything.
Editing Your Show
Once again, we needed to keep this simple, stupid. My client has a jingle which she uses at the beginning and the end of her podcasts, but she didn’t know how to make it play on her computer. Also, Uber Conference Call adds a little message at the beginning of the show which says, “This call is being recorded.” And so, I found two incredibly simple, free online tools to help with my editing.
(1) In order to remove the message at the beginning, I use a tool called Toolur. It couldn’t be simpler.
(2) In order to add the jingles, I had to make 2 copies of the jingle… one called “Intro” and one called “Close.” Then, I used a tool called Bear File Converter. I uploaded the “Intro” jingle, then the file that had just downloaded from Toolur (the episode), and finally the “Close” jingle. Then you click “Merge” and voila! You now have your episode! But… now what do you do with it?
Hosting Your Podcast
I did some research and found an awesome YouTube video by a gal named Jessica Stansberry, and she basically taught me everything you will see in the rest of this article. She talked about a hosting website called Blubrry. You can use Blubrry to do nothing more than host all of your files (and it works in conjunction with your already existing website), or it can be used to create a website solely to be used for the purpose of hosting your podcast. Because my client already had a website, we didn’t need Blubrry to create one for us. By the way, there ARE other hosting sites such as Libsyn and SoundCloud which basically do the same thing. So why did I go with Blubrry?
It has a WordPress plugin called Powerpress. This makes hosting and syndication so incredibly simple. AND… it’s cost effective. Hosting packages can cost as little as $12 per month. So, I set up the account with Blubrry and uploaded her episodes, and I also installed the Powerpress plugin on my client’s WordPress site.
One final thing… you must create a WordPress category that is only used for the podcasts. You will understand why in a moment. And you should keep it simple… I created a category called, “Podcasts.”
Setting Up Your Feed for Your Podcasts
I wasn’t entirely new to feeds… I routinely set them up for my clients to help with RSS syndication. But for the uninitiated, the feed is the conduit which tells all of the different podcasting platforms, “Hey, there’s a new episode for this podcast and you need to add it to your platform.” So it’s really a must to have a feed.
I do understand that PowerPress has a way to create a feed for your podcast within the WordPress settings. But, the easiest way to set up your feed is to go to Feedburner. You will need a Gmail account in order to set up your feed on Feedburner. Jessica’s YouTube video provides specific instructions for how to set up the feed, and I suggest you watch it because it can be kind of tricky. But as you create the feed, you will tell Feedburner to look for items on your website with the designated category… so on my client’s site, any time Feedburner sees a post with the category “Podcast”, it will immediately pull that item onto the feed.
You will also want to optimize your feed using Feedburner… including uploading your cover art. The cover art needs to be 1400 x 1400 pixels, and remember, while it looks HUGE while you are making it, it’s going to shrink down significantly on iTunes and the other services. Services such as Canva can help you create a beautiful, professional looking cover.
Syndicating Your Show
Before applying to the different podcasting platforms and submit your show, you need to have at least one show recorded and all ready to go. Then you go into WordPress and create a blog post about your episode. The title of the blog post will be the title of your episode as it appears on all of the podcasting platforms. The comments you list in the text box will be the show notes, describing to readers what you are discussing in each episode. Finally, you will go over to Blubrry and get the URL for the episode you are about to produce… you will go to the section of the blog post about podcasting and input the URL you just got from Blubrry. Be sure to click “Podcast” (or whatever category you have chosen for your podcasts)… this is critical because otherwise, your newly created feed won’t get the message that there is a new podcast ready to be sent out to all of the podcasting platforms. Then, hit publish and you are all done!
iTunes/Apple Podcasts – podcastsconnect.apple.com – log in with your iTunes information, fill out the forms and submit.
Google Play – https://play.google.com/music/podcasts/publish – log in with your Gmail account information. You will need your cover art
Stitcher – https://www.stitcher.com/content-providers.php – You will be asked to create an account, and then you can fill out the form.
I think it took 24 hours for my client’s podcast show to be accepted by all 3 of these services. And boy, were we happy to see those acceptances come rolling in!
Up and Running
I realize this seems like a TON of steps, and yes, it kind of is. However, even though it’s a lot of work at the beginning, now that it is set up, it’s pretty easy. All I have to do is upload the newly edited episodes to Blubrry, create a new blog post with the “Podcast” category clicked, and publish. And the episode is automatically sent to 3 podcasting platforms. THAT is easy!
It has been such an education, teaching myself all about podcasts while seeking info from others who have already done it and doing a little crowdsourcing. My client couldn’t be happier that we have migrated to Blubrry and that we have set her podcasts up to be shared on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher. If you would like to see the end results, please click here to visit my client’s website… specifically the page called “Podcasts.” To see how seamless the process now is, I suggest you review the “Featured Show” and click on the “Listen to the Show!” button. You can also see the cool audio player Blubrry automatically adds to your post when you connect the URL link to the post.
I feel confident that my client will be able to proceed in the easiest way possible with her podcast, and for a cost of $20 per month. If you have other ideas or comments for how to improve the process, please comment below!