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Podcasting Made Easy with Steve Hart

Podcasting Made Easy with Steve Hart

Author: Steve Hart

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Podcasting Made Easy is presented by Steve Hart, author of the successful paperback and eBook Podcasting Made Easy.

Steve's background is in broadcasting, but in 2009 he began podcasting for the first time. In his book, and in these weekly podcasts, Steve shares his experience, and offers credible and realistic tips and tricks for both the novice and experienced podcaster.

From recording and distribution, to artwork, marketing, websites and turning podcasting into profit is all covered.
12 Episodes
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Hi, and welcome to the podcasting Made Easy podcast. My name is Steve Hart, author of Podcasting Made Easy. Today I would like to talk a little bit about reverb. You can do a quick test for reverb by clapping your hands in your home studio. Clap and listen for the reverb.Now reverb is something most of us who podcast from a spare bedroom or a room in our home can suffer from – when we've got hard flat surfaces. This might be the ceiling, the walls, windows and the door. And perhaps you might have a hard floor instead of carpet.And these hard surfaces do not absorb sound, they bounced the sound right back at you and into the mic.I know nothing about the mathematics or the frequencies or anything like this. All I know is that I've done my level best at home to put stuff on my walls, and put heavy curtains across my windows, so that when sound hits them, the vast majority of it is absorbed into the material, and therefore doesn't bounce around the room.So what can you do to help yourself short of spending a king's ransom to reduce the reverb and improve the acoustics of your recording environment.?I guess the first thing you should be looking at is what can you do to break up the hard flat surfaces in your room. You could put a bookshelf in there and fill it with books. And just the fact of a bookshelf being in there with ornaments on the top and books in the bookshelf...they will disturb the way sound is reverberating in your room. And the paper of the books would even absorb some of the sound. It's a way of dispersing the sound so it doesn't go onto the wall and come straight back.And any ornaments you might have on your shelves will all help dissipate the sound a little bit.Now I know some people poo poo the square foam tiles you can buy. Some people will say 'They only really work or help the very low frequencies'. And yeah, I'm sure they are right as I am in no position to argue. But I would say that if you've got a hard a flat surface and you pin up a few dozen of these foam tiles then it's got to help. Sure the shape of the foam might reduce certain frequencies because that's what they are designed to do. But the fact they are there means you haven't got a hard flat surface.Something else you could do is hang material on walls. That again will just stop one more hard surface being in your room.If you've got blinds across your windows then they're not really going to help you too much, so you ideally need to put heavy curtains over your windows. Now just go off on the tangent slightly here as is my want. There is a difference between improving the acoustics of your room, and soundproofing. And if you're at home in a domestic environment, there's probably not a lot you can do to reduce the amount of sound that's coming in to your space.So if you're worried about the birds tweeting outside, or the planes going over, or next door's motorbike or lawn mower or the dog barking...yes, heavy curtains will help a little bit. But it's very hard to keep those sounds out because they come in from under the floor from above via the roof. And if anyone's got a window open elsewhere in the house, it's going to come in there and come through your door. It's hard to have a soundproof environment. Unless you're lucky enough to have a basement and you can go down basically into the earth and have a quite a room down there. But if you're above the above ground, you're probably on a loser trying to keep the sound out; but you can go a long way to improving the recording acoustics of your room. Okay, any questions about making a podcast? Do let me know just use the contact form – I'm always happy to hear from you. And always happy to answer your questions. Okay, that's it for this week. Have yourself a cool weekend. See you next time around.
There are plenty of podcasters who do well just sharing their expertise and knowledge via their podcast without having to interview someone else.But if featuring guests on your podcast is something you want to do then that can be very interesting for your audience.It's quite common that people will make contact with you and ask to feature in your podcast, and that's all fine – so long as what they want to talk about aligns with what you are doing. If not; then it is often better to let them know that there isn't enough common ground...and let them down gently.It is often better to do your own research and identify people who will add real value to your podcast and be of genuine interest to your listeners. You can start with other people's podcasts to see who they are featuring in their shows, look for authors who may have released a new book that aligns with your show, write to trade bodies, search YouTube.Perhaps there are some interesting speakers at a conference near where you live, or they might be visiting your place or work or a local school. See if you can rock up with a mic and portable recorder and get a podcast recorded.But once you find them then you need to write including full details about your podcast and explain why you think they are a good fit for your show. Be prepared to let them know how many downloads you get if they ask.Once they agree to take part then book them in by setting a time to record the interview and then start researching so you can ask interesting questions. Asking good questions is where the value is for your listeners; and it shows respect to your guest. It shows you have put real effort into the conversation and that you know what you are talking about. In fact; having done the research you will feel a lot more confident talking with them. If they have written a book then read the book before the interview.Some guests may ask to see your questions before the interview so they can prepare 'better answers'. I'm not in favour of this because when people get questions ahead of time they prepare stock answers and it leads to a lack of spontaneity. Avoid this at all costs. I have declined to interview people if they insist on that condition; most have then agreed to proceed anyway and it's all turned out fine.Should you pay guests? Absolutely not. No way. If a guest asks for payment then politely decline and move on. In 30 years of interviewing people for all manner of stories I have been asked to pay anyone and nor would I.Once the podcast is published then send a link to your guest and ask if they would share it across their social media network. See EP10 for press release marketing.
I learned a long, long, time ago that having a great product doesn't automatically translate into great sales or popularity.Those of a certain age will remember the format war between VHS and Betamax home video systems. Betamax was the superior system offering better quality video than VHS – but VHS built the stronger market share with advertising and killed off the rival system.For a while movies were being released in both formats; causing the movie industry a huge headache. I won't tell you what swung it for VHS, those films are not for family viewing.The same is true for podcasters. You may offer great content that's delivered to broadcast standard, but if no one knows about it then you are wasting your time.Sure, you'll be on all the podcast distribution sites – along with everyone else – but still...how do people know to look for you?Marketing is the key. But it has to be more than a mention on social media. You are absolutely wasting your time telling other podcasters about it (unless your's is a podcast about podcasting).Okay, let's look at shownotes. They are hopefully written up and posted on your website for search engines to index should someone be looking for what you talk about - great.Now, let's grab those shownotes and do something more. Let's write them up as a news story with a brilliantly interesting intro; engaging quotes from your guest and make it into a really interesting press release.Get it down to about 300 words so it really is a snappy read. Remember, we are selling the sizzle, not the sausage (mmm sausages).With your press release checked and ready to go send it to publications and websites that report on the things your guest talks about; ideally with a photo of you or your special guest. Include a link to your site and the podcast of course. Perhaps also include the podcast player embed code. And don't forget trade bodies linked to the subject of your podcast.Also send it to press release distribution sites. Some do charge for distribution, but there are some free ones too. Send it anywhere that might publish it (we all know the media is always crying out for content).The truth is you need to put as much work into marketing as you do producing content; especially in the first year of podcasting while you get established. But solid and consistent promotion via press releases will pay of – particularly if you become known to editors looking for your type of content.
When a company makes a box of soap their job doesn't end once the boxes are packed up and placed in the warehouse. That's when the real work starts – advertising and marketing.It's no different than when people are giving away free samples; or free podcasts. They still need to be placed into the hands of consumers who want them or who could benefit from them.In this edition of the Podcasting Made Easy podcast I explain how you can promote your podcast for free and hopefully do a little better than releasing your podcast and crossing your fingers.To be a successful podcaster you need to promote and market every podcast you make – leaving no stone unturned.
While it's all very nice sitting at home making podcasts, there's nothing more exciting than actually getting out to events such as trade shows to interview people.They can be people such as experts in their field who are visiting your town, people you might not normally get to meet. Or maybe you want to do a vox pop asking random people in the street their opinion about something.Whatever the reason, how do you free yourself up from your studio to go do this?I can tell you that it is easier than when I first started in radio when I would have to lug a reel to reel tape machine to interviews. Remember the Uher anyone?Today you can use your phone or a digital recorder; but there are some tips and tricks you'll need to know to get great results. Listen to my podcast for advice on recording interviews on location.The Uher 4000 Reporters tape machine.
We've all seen the heated debates online about which microphone to buy; but the truth is there is no correct answer.In this episode of Podcasting Made Easy I look at the many factors to consider; the recording environment, the budget, and whether you should use a condenser, dynamic or USB.I say don't buy any - use what you already have and do it anyway. But if you need to buy a microphone then my preference is dynamic.
Anyone who thinks the future of podcasting is in decline, or that there are too many podcast, need to think again.In life, as in business, one always has to follow the money and so it is interesting to see that Apple is now trying to sign up exclusive distribution deals with podcasters and to also fund podcast production too.In this episode of Podcasting Made Easy I look at a report from Bloomberg that says Apple is approaching mainstream media firms to buy exclusive rights to podcasts, and perhaps even fund podcast makers. The news sent shares in rival Spotify down 2.7%. That is big news.It's all starting to look like Apple might be the Netflix of podcasts and that could mean exclusive content is presented to Apple Podcast app users ahead of content that's available everywhere.It might be time to rethink how independent podcasters connect with their audiences.
Hello and welcome to this episode of Podcasting Made Easy. I have always been in favour of brevity. I guess it is due in part to my training as a journalist to report news in as few words as possible.It was a hard lesson when I first started out as my editor would tell me to cut my 1500 masterpeice to 450 words. Cut, cut, cut, cut!There is no such demand from anyone when it comes to podcasting; people do ramble on and on for hours at a time in some cases. But frankly, I don't have the time to listen to them all the way through and I wonder if you do too.So when I am asked "how long should my podcast be?" my answer is that there is no rule, how long is a piece of string? But ultimately; make it as short as possible.Share your information in as few words as possible; while also keeping in engaging and entertaining and understandable.According to a report out this week by Megaphone, the trend – based on a review of top podcasts listed by Apple – shows that the duration of podcasts on average is getting shorter. The report shows there has been an increase in podcasts running for between 2 and 5 minutes (and this could be down to show promos – but not always).According to Luke Riley's report the most successful podcasts run for between 30 and 70 minutes. The most popular serialized podcasts have a duration of 15 to 50 minutes, he slao says the vast majority of podcasts over 60 minutes are episodic talk shows. "Despite this difference, both the most successful serialized and the most successful episodic shows are still in the same 30–70 minute range," he writes.According to data featured in his report, in 2014 there were zero podcasts that were shorter than 15 minutes. The majority were between 30 and 90 minutes. This year 16% of podcasts are under the 15 minute mark, 18% are between 15 and 30 minutes, and 39% are between 30 and 45 minutes.Shorter podcasts are growing in popularity. The trend is your friend.
If you are blessed with two fully working ears then everything you hear is stereo. By default you will likely record stuff in stereo. In this episode of Podcasting Made Easy I explain why it's natural to want to produce podcasts in stereo. But there are some reasons why you shouldn't.Size does matterStereo MP3 files will be twice the size of a mono version. This is because only half the data is needed to reproduce a mono recording than a stereo one.It's also worth noting that because each of us have only one mouth that when we speak it is in mono. When you release a podcast you want the MP3 file to be as small as possible for lots of reasons. You can (roughly) upload twice as many mono MP3s than corresponding stereo ones to your hosting plan (saving space may save you money).Not everyone has fast and unlimited internet services; so small files mean less data use for your listeners and faster downloads.Keeping your MP3 file sizes as small as possible is not just about them being mono. Look at the bit rate (KBPS) too. While 128kbps is the lowest bit rate you can use to keep music sounding anywhere near listenable; with a mono recording of a voice you can go down to 96kbps or even 80kbps. Experiment: Create a new mono 44.1khz file in your recording app, record you voice and export at 80kbps and 96kbps. Play them back and listen for any quality issues.Don't use music though, music played back at below 128k will sound rotten.If you have already uploaded your podcasts in stereo at a higher bitrate then - so long as you keep the file names exactly the same - you can replace them with versions of a smaller file size.Just by the by...I used to record all my podcast as WAV files and then export to MP3. I had gigabytes of raw podcasts and thought this was crazy. So now I record my podcasts at 128k mono and export to 96k for distribution.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to designing your podcast artwork.In this episode of Podcasting Made Easy I say that restraint is a key requirement as it is ideal to keep the logo simple and restrict yourself to no more than 2 colours plus black or white. Ideally...use one colour.If you already have a company logo then your job is basically done; you just need to use the existing colours, logo and fonts to create your podcast artwork.If you don't have this then you have a free hand to do what you want. But keep it simple.Remember also that colours do have meaning. Racing green or navy blue are used by banks and more conservative organizations. Light blue is fresh, water. Orange is used by PayPal because the colour is trusted.Some fonts have curly ends (serif) and others are square or rounded (san serif). Choose a font that will remain clear to read at any size – from very teeny-weeny to as big as Ben-Hur. Your artwork will need to work at different sizes and shapes for each of the podcast libraries (Apple, Stitcher, Spreaker...) And you may want to adopt it for clothing, car stickers, trade signage, or a business card.And of course, your logo needs to be reflected in the colours used on your website to keep everything married together – coherent, consistent.So check out the podcast libraries, take a gander at the artwork other people use and while you can't copy it wholesale you may get some good ideas. And do a search for the meaning of colours so you choose the best ones that reflect the genre of your podcast.No matter what you do, always ask why? Why these words, colours, fonts, shape.
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