I promise this won't be a rant on the podcasting world. I promise this will not be negative sounding in any way. I do promise that if you are interested in taking your podcast to the next level, you will need to seriously consider some of these points as sage advice from a guy who has recorded literally hundreds of podcasts, and I assure you… I have broken all of these “rules” throughout my years as a podcaster.
Lets face it, podcasting isn't easy. You need to learn how be a presenter, a listener, an audio engineer, a web designer, a booker, and so much more. I often tell new podcasters that it takes at least 50-100 episodes to really learn the craft. My big advice to anyone looking at starting their own show is to simply listen to podcasts. Listen to shows in your field and listen to shows outside of your field. Listen to shows from celebrities and search out those podcasts that you see with only a handful of shows that podfaded years ago. The more you listen to, the more ideas you will have when crafting your own show.
Recently, I was working with a group of new podcasters and they asked me about some of the things that should be avoided when creating podcasts. It turned into a very healthy conversation about how to and how not to record podcasts. It turns out that the best way to build a healthy podcasting network, podcasting audience, and podcast recording … sometimes has nothing to do with the question “What microphone do I buy?”
Here are some things to avoid when creating your podcast … in no particular order.
The Universal Rule: Technology Breaks… Don't Apologize For It On Your Podcast
Have you ever listened to a podcast on the way to work and the first 10-15 minutes was dedicated to the host sharing that this was the second or third time that the recording was done because during the first recording the file was messed up? I recently was a guest on a new podcast. We recorded for more than an hour and it was a REALLY good conversation. Sadly after we left our microphones and migrated back to our real lives, I received a phone call from the host apologizing for not having a complete recording. Long and short, we decided to record again the following week, but the one thing we agreed on for the second recording was to not speak of the original recording. Sharing your mistakes, where it does tell your audience that you are human, also points out your mistakes. It's important to know the difference. Just some friendly advice … don't apologize for a bad recording and a missed show. If you feel the need to, simply address it and move on. Don't dwell on it.
Record … EDIT … and Post
I recently spoke with a podcaster about their editing techniques. I was sharing some of my methods for breaking down long audio and then was stopped by the podcaster who told me that they don't edit their material. I asked about the times where something slips during a conversation and I was shocked by the response. I was told that this podcaster accepts that a recording is recorded interview and that anything said during the podcast should be known by both parties that it will be posted and distributed world wide. This was a new podcaster and I tried to drive this person away from this philosophy but then this actually happened to me. I was a guest on a recent podcast and in the middle of the conversation I said the word PAUSE. This is a universal statement by most podcaster which is equilivant to “Off The Record” in the print world.
Something happened during the show, and I said pause to have a brief conversation and then I said UNPAUSE and we kept going. It wasn't more than 10 minutes after we ended the recording that I received an email telling me that the show was up on iTunes to download. I thought about it … and checked out the downloadable file to find that our side conversation was left in and that the audio was put up unedited. When I emailed this host asking about the full recording, explaining how the word “pause” works, I was told that the shows are never edited, but if I would like, I could edit the show however I wished and repost it on my site. Long and short, although I will not expose this podcast or podcaster, when asked, I will not be recommending any one to be a guest on this show.
It's always important to edit shows. It's always important to gain and keep the trust of your guests, It's always important to put your best show out for all to hear and subscribe to.
Set Up Your Feed … BEFORE Submitting to iTunes
I recently published a few blog posts about how a podcast feed gets into iTunes. These are important reads for anyone looking to setup a podcast for the first time because, where it's not impossible, it's not the easiest thing to recalibrate. iTunes recently came out with several new requirements for podcasts and podcasters. I would highly suggest taking a look at these before sending your show into iTunes.
Here are two articles for consideration.
- How to submit your show into the new Podcast Connect
- What Path should your podcast RSS feed take before submitting to iTunes.
Whenever Possible … Have The Same, Or Similar Equipment As Your Cohost
We all listen to the radio in our cars. We know that these professionals are working in large multi-million dollar studios with sound proofing on the walls and professional quality microphones. Everyone in the studio has headsets and there is a crew of engineers to make sure that the radio host has everything he needs for a great interview. Now… who's podcasting studio looks like this?
There are many responsibilities that we have while we record our podcasts. When we have guests on the show, these responsibilities exponentially go up as things get complicated.
While we listen to these radio programs, we completely understand that not all audio is equal and when the radio station takes callers (which is happening less and less these days) we understand that the caller is on a phone and that their sound quality won't be as professional as the studio mic's.
Where does this come in with our podcasting? Several of us have cohosts. It's important that all of the members of our podcasting team sound the same. This, understandably is difficult to fully put into play, but understand where this is coming from. Recently, I listened to a podcast with two cohosts. One was working off of a studio mic that costs approx. $50 and he sounded just fine. His cohost was using a microphone that was a blue-tooth mic that sits above the ear and extends only a few inches. It wasn't long into the podcast that I wanted to give up and change shows. It is very difficult to listen to a show, episode after episode, when the hosts do not sound the same. I totally understand when a guest is coming on the program over Skype, or through a phone connection, but there really isn't much of an excuse when your long term show hosts do not have at least a tiny investment in proper gear.
Can you podcast for free? YES Can you podcast without a mic? YES But, in a world where you are bringing on guests, you should try to have common equipment to get a common sound to your show. Your audience should not notice that you are in different parts of the country. Is this always possible? Of course not, but it's best when starting out a show and planning your budget that you purchase the same type of equipment for both sides of the hosting chair. Additionally, this works for recording equipment as well. When recording, both hosts should have their recording devices on. This creates redundancy and assures that if one recording goes bad, you will have an additional copy to edit and post.
Be VERY Clear of your Publishing Schedule
The debate over having a consistent publishing schedule rages on still to this day. Should you publish a show every Monday? Should you publish a post as soon as you finish editing it? Should you publish once a week, or twice a month? Does consistently really matter?
One of the things that does matter when podcasting is being up front with your guests about your publishing schedule. We all use words such as Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday in our normal speech. One of my favorite things to do in podcasting is record multiple episodes during a week so I have content saved up for those weeks I get busy. This starts to cause a problem if you have SO much content that you are now a month or more ahead of your normal posting schedule.
I was recently listening to a podcast that was newly released. The guest and the host were talking about events that were upcoming on their calendars. I quickly realized that the recording had been done over the summertime because “the future” was actually in September but the recording was released in February. It's always best when recording to give your guests a general calendar of when your show will get processed and released.
So… The Long and The Short
I promised that this post wouldn't be a rant on poor experiences. I also promised you that I have been the catalyst and fault for these experiences myself throughout the years. If these things happen to you weather as a podcaster, or podcast guest, it's important to know that everyone is trying really hard to make their show sound professional. I provide this post to my audience as some friendly advice from a podcaster who has been recording for almost 5 years.
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