Figuring out what to buy when you get started podcasting can be really confusing. Just like photography, everyone has their personal preferences and styles. Hopefully I can help you figure things out in this post.
Ryan asked me on Twitter:
@iChris What tools (Mac) & hardware would you recommend for a first time podcaster?
— Ryan Smith (@rsmith) January 21, 2015
Try Before You Buy Anything
My first bit of advice is to not buy anything. Try a recording with Garageband. Or fire up QuickTime and start a new audio recording:
Hit record. Talk through a pretend script of your amazing new podcast (here’s my notes for a recent Daily(ish) episode to use as a guide if you want). Then press the play button. Do you like your voice? Is it painful or fun to hear your voice back? You’re going to hear a lot of it when you edit, publish and promote (if you want) your podcast.
You Don’t Hate Your Voice
Assuming you don’t hate hearing your own voice enough to move forward, here’s what I’d recommend. The gear you buy now is not the gear you have to use forever. Just like guitarists and trumpet-ists (??), there’s always going to be better gear on the horizon. Start small and grow. You can always sell your old gear to someone else who’s just starting out when you upgrade.
Remember – you’re just starting out. Don’t worry about that $350 Heil PR40. Start with something that won’t break the bank without giving you decent audio quality.
- It’s not too expensive ($60 – $80) but gives great audio quality.
- It has both USB and XLR connectivity so it’ll work now without an expensive mixer or interface but can also be used down the road as a second mic if/when you expand.
Technically you can use your Apple ear buds to listen back. But you’re better off getting some sort of over the ear, noise cancelling headphones so you can know whether what you’re hearing is coming from the mic/recording or just outside noise.
At this point, unless you’re an audio nerd, you likely won’t be able to tell much difference between different headphones.
Editing software is helpful for adding intro/outro music, editing out flubs or boring sections of discussion or adding in a sponsor message after you’ve recorded your podcast. As with everything else, there’s a progression in both cost and complexity. Choose your own adventure.
Macs come with Garageband which has grown increasingly hostile towards the simple act of recording a podcast. But it is powerful enough to edit and produce a podcast. I’d recommend starting with Audacity and work your way up.
- Audacity is free. It’s a great place to start, especially if you’re on a limited budget.
- Logic Pro X is Apple’s $230 jump up from Garageband.
- Adobe Audition is software you may have already if you’re paying for their Creative Cloud subscription and would be on par with Logic Pro X.
If you plan to interview/chat with people over the internet, you’ll need to grab a piece of software depending on whether you want to use Skype or FaceTime:
Call Recorder allows you to record the person you’re talking to on Skype on one track, and your own voice on the other track. This means you can take each audio track into your audio editor of choice from above and adjust levels independently. If both you and your guest are on the same track, its much harder to edit out your guest’s cough while you’re in mid-rant about mismatched socks.
Skype is by far the most commonly used service for podcasts. It has it’s flaws and issues – I don’t know if you can call yourself a podcaster if you haven’t sworn at Skype at some point – but it’s what we’re stuck with. It’s available on Windows and Mac and most people have an account already.
FaceTime can work in a pinch and especially if you’re dealing with someone who’s not at their computer and has an iPhone/iPad that they can call you with on a decent internet connection.
I haven’t talked about things like how to actually use any of the gear, software or how to actually get your podcast audio from your computer out to the
thousands millions of people who want to hear your thoughts about mismatched socks. You’ll need:
- A website, possibly using Squarespace, WordPress, or Soundcloud. A future video in my free tutorial series will cover using WordPress to publish your podcast so you could subscribe to that if you’re so inclined.
- Submit your podcast to iTunes and other listing services.
- Promote your podcast via social media.
- Start planning for episode 2 of your amazing podcast on mismatched socks.
I love podcasting and think it’s a vastly under-utilized medium. I’m taking on clients to help them get started using podcasting – contact me if you’re wanting one-on-one help with any aspect of podcasting.
Feel free to leave a comment below or ask me on Twitter if you have specific questions and I’ll do my best to answer all questions in a future post or a video.