| ||Podcasting Pointers|
By John Nolt
This week's tech tip rounds out our series on blogs and podcasts. Last issue we covered the basics: what is a podcast and what do I do with one when I find it? If you need a refresher, you can find that article in the eLink archives (by clicking on the link you just skimmed past). Go ahead, I'll wait...Ok, on with the show!
Like the article on "How to Blog," I'm going to start right in with practical matters about setting up and recording your podcast.
Oh, by the way, everything I'm about to show you is absolutely free.
Podcasting in a Nutshell
Last issue I described a podcast simply as an audio file. Actually, for our purposes it might be more accurate to say that one "episode" of a podcast is an audio file, because a podcast is actually a series of audio episodes. So, here are the basic needs for creating and maintaining a podcast:
You can do this all by hand, but it's a chore. Thankfully there are several companies who want nothing more than to make creating and maintaining a podcast really easy. I'll give you a list of some others at the end, but for now let's walk through making a podcast with my favorite—Odeo.
- Create a Web page where your podcast will live
- Create an audio file
- Upload it to the Web
- Add the audio file to the list of episodes on the Web page
Podcasting With Odeo
Odeo is a Web site that's all about podcasting. With Odeo you can listen to hundreds of free podcasts from people all over the world. If you sign up for a free account, you can use Odeo as a "podcatcher" to subscribe to and organize your favorite podcasts. This is all great, but it doesn't end there. Odeo has a sister site called Odeo Studio, which lets you create your own podcast.
Step 1: Don't worry
I should make this a standard disclaimer. If, as you go through the steps of creating your podcast, you find you've created a mess that you're just not pleased with, go ahead and start over. You can delete what you've done, or just set it aside and start over fresh. Remember, everything I'm talking about here is free, and you can try as many times as you like in order to get your blog the way you want it. Just go for it—nothing bad will happen.
Step 2: Create an account on Odeo Studio
On Odeo's home page, a little square in the lower-right corner asks if you "Wanna be a podcaster." Click it to open Odeo Studio. (Or, here's a shortcut right to it.)
Fill out a couple forms and click the buttons needed to create your account. It's really straightforward at this point.
Step 3: Look around for a second or two
Once you've created your account, you'll be presented with the Home page. Take a minute to get acquainted with the options on this page. Notice that a Web page for your podcast has been created for you, listed in a box on the left. You can create more podcasts if you want, and put different recordings in each one. For now, let's go record a podcast!
Step 4: Record an episode
Odeo has a way to record podcasts using your telephone. You call a number, record your message, and it's saved to your Odeo account as a podcast episode. Cool! But�it sounds like you made your podcast through a telephone. Most people are looking for higher quality. Plus, you have to pay for the call.
If you don't want to use the telephone method, you'll need a microphone. And you need to plug it into your computer. (So many people have one already that I almost forgot to mention it.) If you don't have a microphone, you can get one really cheap at most electronics stores. If you're on a budget, get a cheap "stick" microphone like this.
Once your microphone is plugged in, click Create new audio. Odeo has a recorder built right into the Web page. No other software is needed. Just click Record when you want to start and Stop when you're done. Then click Play to hear what you've recorded.
You might have to try a couple times to get a good recording. Don't worry, that's natural. I've been recording for many years and it still takes me a couple of tries to get a good recording. Here's a podcast episode that I recorded using Odeo Studio's recorder. It took about five tries before I got a recording where I didn't make a mistake.
Odeo has some helpful tips for recording, under the Help and Tips button.
Step 5: Add the recording to a Podcast
Once you've got a recording you're happy with or don't hate completely (hey, it's your first try), click Save Recording. It may take a while for the next screen to appear, because the audio you recorded was kept on your computer until you were finished recording. When you click Save Recording, the audio is then uploaded to Odeo.
Once it's uploaded, you'll see a form that lets you enter details about the recording. At the bottom of the form, the Place in drop-down lets you select a Podcast where this recording will live.
Finally, click Save changes to this podcast.
Telling People About Your Podcast
Ok, you've recorded an episode and placed it in a podcast. Once you're back at your Home page in Odeo Studio, look on the right for the My Podcasts box. Click the name of your podcast.
The Edit Podcast page will appear, where you can add details to your podcast. The more information you add the more interesting your podcast might be to people who stumble upon it. Your podcast will automatically be added to Odeo's catalog of podcasts, so people browsing the site may happen upon it.
You can also send people links directly to the podcast. At the top of the Edit page are two links: One to your podcast's Odeo Web page, and the other is an RSS link for people to add the podcast to their podcatchers.
Here's the podcast I made while writing this article: JB's Awesomaganza!
Uploading Audio Files
If you've listened to some podcasts that are kind of like a radio show, with sound effects and music mixed in, you may be wondering how they did that using a sound recorder like the one in Odeo Studio. Well, the answer is they didn't. You don't have to use Odeo Studio's sound recorder to record your podcast episodes. You can use sound recording software to do so, then upload the finished recording to Odeo.
Sound recording software has a pretty steep learning curve, so you should think about how much effort you're willing to put in before you get started. If you decide to take the plunge, I recommend WavePad as a good, free sound recording program. It contains just enough stuff to make a pretty nice sounding recording, but not so much that it will be overly confusing. However, it still isn't easy.
Here's a podcast episode I made using WavePad. You can hear that it's louder and clearer, and I added a little chorus effect to it.
If you have a Mac, use GarageBand. It's really great.
Other Podcasting Web Sites
Odeo is only one site that lets you create and publish podcasts. Here are a few others you might like to try:
And if you'd like to add a podcast to your personal Web site, you can do that too. It's a little more involved, and I think I'll let somebody else explain it. As for me, I'm going to go record another episode in Odeo Studio.