Clients come to me in all stages of the podcast-building process. Some have had their podcast going for quite some time and just need my help improving it. Others come to me with a media host selected and a website but nothing else. Others come to me at the very beginning, before any decisions have been made or websites subscribed to.
When that happens many times they want to know my recommendation on everything they will need to start a podcast and why I make those recommendations. That's what I will do in this blog post. In future blog posts, I will delve deeper into each one. Here's a disclaimer before we go further; I've been in podcasting for quite some time but I am ALWAYS learning new things. If you disagree with something I say or recommend PLEASE let me know! I am happy to reconsider and update this list. Without further ado here is the full list:
For someone that is interested in jumping into podcasting and wants to do it for minimal cost I would highly recomend going with a USB microphone. You can plug it into your computer and start recording. I use the Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone but there are more affordable options that will work just fine, like the Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone.
You will need a computer but almost any modern laptop can handle recording software and even powerful production software like Adobe Audition CC. If you are processing audio all the time, (like I am), you will want to buy something a little more powerful then a cheap laptop.
When it comes to hosting audio files my recommendation is libsyn.com. LIbsyn plans start at just $5.00 per month but you will most likely want to go with the $20 per month option with 400 MB of space per month and advanced reporting. Libsyn pricing and plans: https://www.libsyn.com/plans-pricing/
Unfortunately, I'm going to have to go with WordPress here. I say unfortunately because WordPress is much harder to learn, (in my opinion), than a site/builder like Squarespace. Also unfortunate is the fact that many other website builders just don't have the same functionality that WordPress can provide. Whatever you do, DON'T try hosting your media on your website servers. There is plenty of downside and no upside, (other than the small cost savings).
Website Podcast Plugin:
When it comes to podcast plugins for your WordPress plugin there are quite a few good options. Seriously Simple Podcasting is a good one but my favorite and go-to is PowerPress by Blubrry. It's fairly easy to use, extremely robust, and is by far the most popular podcast plugin on WordPress. I've also tried the Libsyn plugin which is supposed to allow you to post each episode just once so you don't have to copy over everything from Libsyn to your Wordpress site. I have to say that at this point I am not impressed. It was pretty buggy and even after finding a couple workarounds it really didn't work the way they intended. I'm sure if I spent a couple hours I could get it right but I do this kind of thing every day. If they can't make it simple enough for me to use then I'm not going to recommend it to my clients. It also wasn't nearly as robust as the Powerpress plugin.
Media Player (on website):
There are a million and one options when it comes to this. You can use the Powerpress option or the Libsyn option if you would like. However, my favorite is the Smart Podcast Player by Patt Flynn of Smart Passive Income fame. This thing is as robust as it is beautiful. Like everything else I've mentioned, I will do a full review of this player in a later blog post.
Recording software (for Skype or Google Hangout etc)
This is where I get excited. There is this (fairly) new website called zencastr.com that allows you to easily record your calls from your browser. Here is the kicker; You can record the call from the host side AND THE GUEST SIDE. This is known as a double-ender in podcasting and allows for FAR superior audio. In the past, this put a lot of responsibility on the guest and required them to have some technical knowledge. NO MORE my friends. This website records your interview from both sides and then uploads the content to Dropbox (as long as you have linked it). Google drive compatibility is coming soon. Big Kudos, (I hate that word) to Josh Nielsen for coming up with a brilliant, simple, and robust solution to this HUGE problem. At the time of this writing, it is still in BETA and is completely free. According to his blog, when it comes out of beta plans will start at $10 a month. WAV recording capability will be $20 per month. I really can't stress how GAME CHANGING this is.
I've had a few clients that have had issues with Zencastr and I have heard of people losing at least one side of the recording. So while I still recommend using the website I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you record a backup using recording software or another method. Hopefully you will never have to use the backup but as the old saying goes it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it!
Podcast Directory Submissions:
The big boy is obviously iTunes. If you don't submit your podcast to iTunes then you will miss out on about 95% of potential downloads. The other one I recommend submitting to is Stitcher. Again, iTunes will generate the VAST majority of your listens.
I generally go to Fiverr and hire someone for this. It usually won't cost just 5 bucks but you can get it done for around $25. Fiverr is really hit or miss since it all depends on the freelancer you hire. I got a guy that is a Rock star but I won't give out his name because I need him to stay hungry. LOL.
Of course, you can do your own VO for your intro/outro but I recommend finding someone else. It's a one time fee and it really brings up the perceived quality of your podcast. I generally use fiverr.com for this as well. Unlike the cover art design, you usually can find someone to do this for 5 to 10 bucks.
I use Adobe Audition 2015 CC exclusively. I really feel it's the Gold standard but it does cost quite a bit. A fairly decent free option is Audacity but it really doesn't begin to compare with a program like Audition. Really the best option is to hire me to do this work for you :-).