Have you made music that you want to play to the world or written stories that you want everyone to hear? Perhaps you’re a budding radio presenter or just like to chat a lot about your favourite subject. A podcast could be perfect platform for your creative musings to be heard by many.
What’s a podcast?
A podcast is an audio file usually in MP3 format that you can listen to on the internet or download onto your computer or portable MP3 player. Podcasts are usually free and you can subscribe to them which means that they will download automatically whenever a new one is made; this is called a syndication feed.
Usually a podcast will sound like a radio show with speech and music elements but because you download them you can listen to them wherever and whenever you want.
Coming up with good ideas can be the hardest part of creating your podcast. Have a think about what you are interested in and what you chat to your friends about. Maybe you have your finger on the pulse of the latest celebrity gossip or the latest music tracks or maybe there’s a TV show that you like to watch. The best topics are those that you are interested in.
You could also create a podcasts about a school or sports club that you belong to, or perhaps you are in a band and want to get your music heard, or you may have an excellent imagination and like creating stories or comedy sketches.
Once you decide your topic try to make a plan of what you’re going to do by making a list of what audio you need and in what order you are going to record it. You may want to record interviews, make your own sound effects or collect music. You may want to start with an introduction and end with a closing comment.
If you are going to use music remember that most music is subject to copyright which means it is illegal to use it for podcasting. However there are other options such as making your own music, asking a friend to use theirs or using copyright free music. The Podcast Safe Music Network has a big selection of music that you can use for free.
Try to keep your programmes short, perhaps no more than 10 minutes long so as to keep your audience’s attention.
If you want to record out and about you’ll need something to record onto. Many portable MP3 players have a built in microphone that you can record into, though with some you may also need a microphone. You don’t need to spend massive amounts of money to get decent quality microphones and MP3 players, so there’s no point in breaking the bank.
If you are just making the podcast at home, you can always just plug a microphone into your computer and use free software such as Audacity to record into.
Don’t despair if you don’t get your recording right the first time, even radio professionals sometimes get it wrong, just record it again until you’re happy with the result. However don’t worry about the little mistakes as “umms”, “errs”, false starts, long pauses or silences can always be edited out later also using software such as Audacity or Garageband. Don’t be put off by the look of the software it is very simple to use even if you have never used audio editing software before.
Once you have edited out the mistakes, save your recording in MP3 format which is the standard for podcasts.
You’ll also need a computer with an internet connection so that you can upload your finished programme.
In order for people to hear your recording you will need to post it onto a website so that others can download it and subscribe to it. If you don’t have a website you can always create one for free through sites such as Blogger or Digg.
Once your podcast is on a website you may need to create a feed which your friends can subscribe to. Once subscribed their computer will always automatically check to see if new podcasts are available and download them if they are, so they will never miss an episode! iTunes and Feedburner are some of the most famous sites for podcast feeds.
Listen to your audience! It might be worth trying out your podcasts on immediate family first and getting their opinion. Perhaps your podcast is too long or some of the recordings not clear enough. Learn from the feedback you get and use this to improve your podcast.
Remember to spread the word and before you know it you could have a very captive audience.
Do you produce your own podcast? Write and tell us about it and we may feature it in the next newsletter.