Showing posts with label how to podcast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label how to podcast. Show all posts

Thursday, September 1

Make Your First Podcast: Interview or Topic Based?

This is a question I’ve agonized over. That I’m still agonizing over!

I want to create a podcast, but what kind of podcast should it be? Should I have a co-host? If I do it by myself, should I do interviews with different writers/publishers or do something focused on a topic?

I’m going to examine these questions in more detail in a moment, but first I would like to acknowledge my debt to John Lee Dumas and his (free) Podcasting course.[1]

John’s podcast doesn’t have to do with writing or publishing but he has a successful daily podcast that I stumbled upon a couple of weeks ago and which has become one of my favorites.

What I’m going to talk with you about today is inspired by his lesson #9: “Interview vs Topic, Frequency and Length.” I couldn’t find a direct link to his podcasting course, but if you head over to and look for “Free Podcast Course with John Lee Dumas” you’ll find it. Okay, on with the post!

Interview vs Topic Based

I listen to a lot of podcasts. It’s my primary form of entertainment these days (I finally cut-the-cord on the TV) and I’d say that about 30% of the podcasts I listen use an interview format, 30% have a topic based format and the rest are a mix. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, Let's look at the pros and cons of each:

1. Interview Based

As I’ve mentioned, even though it’s not about writing, one of the podcasts I like listening to is John’s Fire Nation podcast. Why? In every podcast he interviews entrepreneurs and asks each of them the same series of questions. For example:

What is your worst entrepreneurial moment?
You’ve had a lot of ‘ah-ha’ moments, what is one of your greatest?
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

And so on.

The answers are always different, usually interesting and often helpful. His is one of the most effective podcasts using the interview format I’ve listened to.

Advantages to using the interview format

i. Provide value to your audience

The aim of any podcast, or any blog post, is to provide value to your audience. Each person you interview will have achieved some sort of success and will likely have knowledge you lack. Not only will your audience learn something new and of value, but you might too.

ii. Grow your audience

Your guests will likely have an audience of their own, one they will share their interview with. This helps your podcast acquire new listeners.

Disadvantages of using the interview format

i. Tricky finding guests

In the beginning it can be difficult to find people to interview. No one will have heard of your podcast so you can’t wow them with the number of your listeners.

ii. Scheduling

Even if you are able to get guests for all your podcasts, you’ll have to schedule them. That can be a nightmare.

iii. Repetitive

Asking the same sort of questions every episode might get repetitive for some listeners.

2. Topic Based

The other option is to do a topic based podcast. For me, the epitome of a topic based podcast is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. And it works for him. In a big way. Dan Carlin's podcast was the first time I listened to a three hour podcast and enjoyed every minute of it.

Advantages of a topic based podcast

i. You can talk about what you like

You get to set your own agenda since you provide your own content. You can talk about whatever you want. And you don’t have to schedule interviews!

ii. The podcast will be your baby

When you do a topic based podcast, you know that folks are listening to the podcast because of you, your ideas.

iii. Independance

You don’t have to rely on anyone showing up for an interview!

Disadvantages of a topic based podcast

i. You are responsible for all the content

YOU need to curate whatever content you use in your podcast.

ii. You are responsible for being entertaining

YOU need to be interesting. Entertaining.

iii. You alone are responsible for growing your podcast

YOU are responsible for promotion and content. For growing your podcast.

iv. Your podcast will be limited by your own knowledge

Since you’re the only one providing content to the podcast there is the danger of it getting repetitive. Whatever you discuss will, necessarily, be limited by YOUR knowledge of the topic. In an interview you have the advantage of being able to draw from the perspectives, the knowledge, of your guests, but when it’s just you and a topic you are drawing from your own reservoirs every single podcast.

That’s it for today! Next time I’ll discuss your podcasting schedule. How frequently should you release your podcasts? How long should they be?

Until then, good writing!

Monday, August 22

Make Your First Podcast: Intro and Outro

This post continues my series on how to start a podcast. Last time (Make Your First Podcast On Your iPad) we talked about what software you might want to use. Today we're going to look at something almost as important as software: the podcast format, specifically the intro and outro.

Podcast Format: Intro Text

Every podcast I've listened to has an intro and outro. Here—thanks to Albert Costill and his article The Definitive Guide to Podcast Intros—are the common elements of an intro:

  • Podcast name *
  • Episode number
  • Episode title *
  • Music/sound effects
  • Domain name
  • Your name and (if applicable) the names of your co-hosts. *
  • Subject of podcast: The idea here is to let your listeners know in one or two sentences what this episode is about.
  • Sponsors: If you have sponsors, this is often a good place to mention them.
  • Warning: Give your listeners a warning if the episode is going to be not safe for work.
Every podcast intro won't contain all these elements! I've marked (*) the ones every podcast I've listened to has (your mileage may vary).

Here's what this might sound like:
Hello and welcome! You're listening to my podcast, [Podcast Name], episode [Episode Number].

Today we're talking about [Subject of Podcast], so let's get started!

[Intro music for 2 or 3 seconds.]

Hello everyone. My name is [Your Name]. If this is your first time listening, it's good to have you with us. For everyone else, welcome back!

[Podcast Name] is produced every month and show notes can be found over at [Domain Name], forward slash podcasts, forward slash [Episode Name and/or Number]. If you enjoy listening to [Podcast Name] please consider subscribing so you don't miss an episode. You can also find me, [Twitter Name], over on Twitter/Facebook/etc.

Now, on with the show!
After that, launch into the podcast proper.

Outro Text

The outro is even simpler. From my own listening experience, here are some common elements of outros:

  • Podcast name *
  • Ask to rate the episode on iTunes
  • Plug a sponsor
  • Tell listeners other places they can connect with you (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, iTunes, your website, etc.)
  • Tell listeners what the next episode is going to be about.
  • Ask listeners to comment and submit their own answers/opinions/observations for a question you answered in the podcast.
  • Give listeners a challenge to complete.
  • Tell listeners where they can download the show notes. *
  • Thank listeners for listening. *
  • Tell your listeners when the next podcast will be released. (e.g., I'll chat with you in a few days time.)

Here's what this might sound like:
You've been listening to [Podcast Name]. If you'd like to comment on any of today's topics or subscribe to the series, find us at [Domain Name], forward slash podcast. Tweet us at [Twitter Name]. Find us at forward slash [Facebook Name] or search [Podcast Name] on iTunes.

Thanks for listening to [Podcast Name]. If you like what you hear I would love it, if you have a moment, to head over to iTunes and give us a review or a rating. It really does help other folks find the podcast. Thanks for listening, chat with you again in [a few days/a week/etc.].
Well, that's it for today! Thanks for reading. This coming Thursday I'll blog about what options exist for the beginning podcaster in terms of hosting a podcast. Yes, this part can be pricy, but I've discovered a few options that—in the beginning at least—are either free or cost very little money, and by "very little" I mean one or two cents a month.

Stay tuned and good writing!

Other articles you might be interested in:

Write Now: 4 Tips For Growing A Readership
How To Record An Audiobook At Home
Aaron Sorkin On How To Write A Gripping Monologue

Thursday, August 18

Make Your First Podcast On Your iPad

I LOVE listening to podcasts—I think it's fair to say that, apart from reading and writing, podcasts are my primary form of entertainment. Podcasts on nature, science, technology and, of course, writing. I've flirted with the idea of creating a podcast of my own, but how does one start? It seems there is SO MUCH one needs to know and do.

So, in an effort to educate myself about how to go about creating that first podcast, I've begun this blog series. Today we'll skim over what one needs to do to create a podcast—all the steps—and then, in this and future blog posts, we'll do a deep dive into each one. Today we'll talk about what recording software you might want to use as well as what your intro might look like.

 If I haven't covered something and you'd like me to, please do leave a comment.

Elements of a Podcast

I'll be going over each of these points in more detail, later.
  • Recording software: One has to choose a software package (or packages) for editing audio files that both fits your budget and does what you need it to. Then one has to install it and get comfortable using it.
  • Home studio: It's also a good idea to set up—even temporarily—a home recording studio. Obviously, if you buy professional equipment the resulting audio will sound best, but there are inexpensive improvisations that can make a marked difference in sound quality.
  • Music/sound effects: The key is to be sure that the music you use isn't in any way pirated. The rule of thumb I use for art is this: If it's not clear how the item is licensed then I don't use it. Happily, it turns out there are quite a few places on the web where one can find public domain music and sound effects. I'll list the links to the ones I've found.
  • Podcast format: Every podcast has what is called an intro and an outro. What information should they contain?
  • Hosting: After you finally have your finished audio file you need somewhere to host it. There are a number of different solutions and we'll go over the most popular.
  • Create your finished audio: You'll want to make sure that the sound is uniform throughout the podcast. You don't want your voice to be soft—encouraging your listeners to turn up the volume—and then blast them.

Recording Software

About the matter of sound quality, certain podcasts are created in recording studios—for instance, This American Life, Freakonomics, Nature—and the audio quality is, as expected, top notch.

Other podcasts, especially in the early days before the creators knew their efforts would be profitable, were recorded in carefully constructed home studios. Inevitably, the quality isn't as good but still okay. The question is: Is "okay" good enough?

 I think it depends on your audience. If care is taken in setting up a home studio, chances are most folks won't notice unless they stop and think about it. Hopefully, they'll be too engrossed by what you're saying to focus on the quality of the audio. Second, I don't think folks expect as much from a podcast as they do from an audiobook.

 I could be wrong, though. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!


Let's face it, there are a LOT of choices. Just google "podcast recording software." If I was doing the recording on my iMac I would just use Audacity. It has a lot of features, is easy to use, has been maintained over the years and—this is important, especially in the beginning—it's free. Also, the manual is actually helpful. I've used it for years and will continue to use it. Highly recommended. 

That said, we're interested in recording on the iPad (or iPhone), and unfortunately Audacity doesn't have a version for the iOS.

 I've experimented with several apps and, honestly, the only one I can unreservedly recommend is GarageBand. It's not free, but it is relatively inexpensive at $6.99. I have no doubt that there is better software but chances are it costs a lot more money. My goal here is to help those who—like myself!—have never podcasted before to get up and running relatively inexpensively.

Using GarageBand

Not being musically inclined, when I first launched GarageBand I was a bit bewildered. Fortunately, I came across an excellent YouTube tutorial entitled, "Recording a Podcast with GarageBand for iPad" by Skip Via. I've embedded it below.


 I worked through the video and ended up with a recording that wasn't completely terrible.

 A couple of things:
  • Turn off the metronome: Settings > Metronome Sound > Visual Only. I also set "Metronome Level" to 0.
  • Start/Stop Recording: Press the round red button.
  • Set "Song Sections" to automatic: There's a small "+" in the upper right hand corner, under the "?". Tap it and then select "Section A." Set it to automatic. This will let you record for as long as you have space to record.
Here's the recording I made (see below). Keep in mind that I recorded this on my iPad Air without using an external microphone. I think if I used a microphone the sound quality could be improved.

By the way, the quotation I read is: "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work," by Stephen King.

 If you would like to edit the audio (and chances are you will) you could edit on your iPad using an app like iMovie or you could use, as I did, Audacity on your Mac.

That's it for today! Sorry for the long post. I've been working on this one for awhile. I hope you find it useful. If you do (or even if you don't!), please let me know! I would be interested to learn what worked for you and what didn't.

The next article in this series on how to make your own podcast:

Ever been curious about the structure of a podcast? Read on! Make Your First Podcast: Intro and Outro.

Other articles you might find useful:

Write That Story! Don’t Let Fear Win
Don’t Write, Bleed
Getting Motivated To Write

Tuesday, May 1

Mur Lafferty: How to Podcast

Here are some terrific tips how-to tips on podcasting from Mur Lafferty, a finalist for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer.
Mur Lafferty is an author and podcaster, creator of the podcasts I Should Be Writing and the Angry Robot Books podcast.

She is the editor of Escape Pod, the premier SF podcast magazine. She has written for the gaming magazine Knights of the Dinner Table, Games Quarterly, Suicide Girls, and Anime Insider. She is also the editor of the new Worldbuilder project for Angry Robot Books.

Called the "podcast SF doyenne" by Cory Doctorow, Lafferty has been bringing award-winning commentary and SF to the podcasting sphere since 2004.

Based in Durham, NC, She enjoys running, kung fu (Northern Shaolin five animals style), Skyrim, tabletop games, and the Durham Bulls.
- Writertopia, Profile of Mur Lafferty
Without further ado, here are Mur Lafferty's tips, taken from Jim C. Hines's interview with the author:

 6) You run or work with several different podcasting sites (Escape Pod, I Should Be Writing, Princess Scientist’s Book Club, and the Angry Robot Books Podcast), and have podcast at least one of your novels as well. What is it that draws you to podcasting?

I was drawn to podcasting in the beginning, 2004, when it was a new medium - that excited me. I wanted to play with all the new ways of storytelling. I didn’t need NPR to publish essays, I didn’t need the BBC or a US radio station to do an audio drama, and I didn’t need a publisher to make an audiobook. I was able to build an audience for my work well before I got a book deal. Podcasting has been instrumental for building my career, when I never expected it to.

7) For anyone who might want to get into podcasting, what resources would you recommend, and what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about doing a successful podcast?

Microphone: Start small. A  $20 mic from the store will do just fine.

Software: Windows - Audacity is free. Mac - Garageband is free. (Aside - Audacity is also available for the Mac, but crashed a lot for me, so I got Amadeus Pro, which is quite affordable and much like a stable Audacity.)

Host: - The first podcast host, designed to handle the greater demands of large audio and video files.

Other resources: Tricks of the Podcasting Masters, by Lafferty/Walch (Come on, I had to!), Podcasting for Dummies, by Morris/Terra

Advice: Interact with your listeners. Give them a place to contact/follow you and respond to them; when your voice is in peoples’ ears, it creates an intimacy not found in providing text.
-- Cambell Interview: MurLafferty

Thanks to a friend who, very kindly, sent me a link to Mur Lafferty's interview.

Related Articles:
Joanna Pen: How to Podcast
Podcasting on the iPad
How to record an audiobook at home

Campbell Interview: Mur Lafferty
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists
  Jim C. Hines

Photo credit: Podible Paradise

"Mur Lafferty: How to Podcast," copyright© 2012 by Karen Woodward.