After last week’s post Minimum viable product or excellence? I took the MVP concept to the extreme this week by deciding to start a podcast and then 1 day later having it live. Here is how to do it yourself if you want to do the same thing.
Step 1 – Lower your standards
When I do something I always want it to be perfect. The problem is, if I waited for everything to be perfect I would never deliver anything.
When you are dealing with a new medium like podcasting and you are trying to do something on a budget the absolute most important thing is you ship something.
When I look back to my first videos on this site, they are terrible (see WordPress Menus). I knew they were terrible at the time but I put them up anyway. My most recent videos (see tech tips) are significantly better. They still aren’t perfect but the point is when you are doing things yourself it’s impossible to get it right before you start and still deliver something within a reasonable amount of time and budget. It’s much much easier to improve as you go.
Also on this point what I often so is set my standards very low and focus only on getting the product up. This keeps me motivated with a realistic end goal in mind. Then when it’s up, that is the point when I’ll get picky. In some cases I’ll re-do a good chunk of it but I still think it’s better to stay motivated and ship something. Then once you can see it you will easily be able to spot areas for improvement.
In the case of the podcast, I recorded one episode where it was just me and got that up. Then I replaced it with one where I interviewed Jamie Marsden and I liked that a lot better but it was still me doing the audio intro and the voiceover. I then replaced that one with a version with a professional voiceover (all within 1 day mind you).
Some may call it inefficient but it’s a process that works for me.
Step 2 – Learn a little but not too much
I downloaded Dan Lyons’ ebook podcast like a radio DJ (great ebook and he’s Aussie too!) and I skimmed this on my iPad while I was making myself lunch.
I picked up some great tips in here to do with audio sound effects, podcast hosting and marketing (I probably spent 10 minutes max reading it – sorry Dan).
I also validated some of this stuff by Googling some info on hardware and software and let a few people in my network know that I was starting a podcast.
Step 3 – Document your show ideas
I thought about the podcasts that I love such as:
- The Lifestyle Business Podcast
- This week in Startups
- Adsense Flippers
- Small Business Big Marketing
- Freedom Ocean
And why it was that I liked them (see this post from a while ago on this exact topic).
I used Evernote to document all of my ideas and before long I knew what the show would be and I had a few ideas for future guests and topics (as well as a topic for my first episode).
Step 4 – Hardware and software setup
I mentioned this was going to be a 1 day job right? So don’t get too carried away with hardware and software. There’s plenty of time to invest in a pimpin studio setup down the track. For now let’s keep it simple (note I got most of these ideas from Dan’s ebook or just from Googling).
- A USB Mic or headset (free if you have one already, probably $20 for a cheap one) – I had a logitech one, not the best quality but it will do for now. I’ve heard the Blue Yetti is better so I might get one of those soon if I’ve got some spare coin.
- Audacity (free) – An audio editing program for Mac or PC. I find it slightly annoying on the mac (doesn’t support the swiping, kind of tricky to move around without scrolling etc) but it’s free and it damn well does the job.
- Skype (free) – You probably have it installed already, I’ll be using this for my interviews.
- eCamm Skype recorder ($20) – This lets me record Skype calls (records to a video file and then it lets you split the file into MP3 files and if you want to you can split the caller’s audio and the receiver’s audio into separate files). I didn’t bother with the multi-file thing for the first show but you would get better results if you did and you either had some audio expertise or you were particularly patient (I am not). This is a Mac app, check out this post that I found in Google for other Windows options.
Step 5 – Audio setup
- Who is going to do the final edit and pull everything together for the show. I did this myself in Audacity and I think for a reasonably computer literate person this is achievable (although not especially easy). You could look for someone cheap on Fiverr, Odesk or Elance or find a local audio engineer that specialises in podcasts. Another good idea is to contact some of the shows you like and ask them who does their audio (a lot of times they will mention this on air because the person may be doing it for free or at a reduced rate for them).
- Are you going to have a professional voiceover intro. I decided to go with a guy on Fiverr for this – here is the gig. I think it’s pretty darn good for $5 but the options above apply here too.
- Depending on what you did with step 1 and 2 you might also want a few sound effects. I chopped up the audio I got from the fiverr gig and used it in different places throughout the show and threw in a little DJ scratching nice that I found here (I chopped it up a bit in Audacity, not exactly CD quality but it works ok to start with).
Pulling it all together is a bit of work the first time but it will be a lot easier next time. At some stage you’ll hage to think about whether you want to outsource it or do it yourself each time.
Step 6 – Record and publish
Depending on the idea of your show you might be just recording yourself or you might use Skype like I did to record a guest.
I put a thread up on a forum I’m part of asking if anyone was keen and I had a taker within 20 minutes and within an hour or so I’d called him on Skype and used the eCamm recorder software to record the call.
I pulled it all together in Audacity and added in the sound effects and the pro-voiceover as well as my own sections (I introduce the episode briefly at the start and have a tech tips section that I do myself at the end).
When you export the MP3 file from Audacity you’ll end up with 1 file (it merges all the tracks for you) and that is the file you use to upload to your site.
Step 7 – Set up your website
Depending on what you decide you may want to include your podcast in your existing site or you might want a totally new site. In my case I had given my show a name and I want to build it up as it’s own identity so I registered webdomination.co, pointed it to my server and used the Softaculous 1 click WordPress install to set up a blog (Check out my other site createafreewebsite.com to see the exact steps).
I chose a theme from WooThemes (aff link) and installed it on the site and set up some basic pages.
I didn’t get too carried away with configuring the site but set up links to my other businesses, my social accounts etc.
I set up a little widget to subscribe in iTunes (and linked it up after I set up my podcast in iTunes see below).
Step 8 – Upload the podcast (your site and iTunes)
This step sounds scary but it’s pretty easy once you know the best way to do it.
Step 1 – Buzz Sprout
Sign up with buzzsprout.com (free for 2 hours a month) to host your audio files. They will give you an RSS feed to add to iTunes when you add the podcast to iTunes.
Note I tried to host my files with Amazon S3 because I already had an account but iTunes didn’t like it.
Optional step – Feedburner
I also set up a Feedburner account for the RSS feed on the site and an additional feed for the podcast audio feed. This is an optional step but with feedburner you get more information on your subscribers and it also means I can track my subscribers in my dashboard app Web Control Room.
So the process for me was copying the RSS feed given to me by BuzzSprout and pasting it into Feedburner then setting up the podcasting options in Feedburner and copying the resulting feed out of there (it’s the feedburner feed that I pasted into iTunes). If this is killing your brain then skip it.
Step 2 – WordPress Plugin
You need a WordPress plugin for showing the audio files up on your site (if you aren’t using WordPress, Buzz Sprout will give you some embed code).
- Both use a player that uses Flash (boooo). But the Buzz Sprout one gives a download option if you don’t have flash and plus most people will be accessing it via iTunes.
- With the TSG one I didn’t really like the plain audio player and it didn’t automatically add in an option to download the audio file (this is pretty easy though, you can just copy the MP3 file URL from Buzz Sprout and link to it in the editor in WordPress).
- I found with the Buzz Sprout one my episodes don’t display immediately in the selector when you go to add them to a post. I had to wait for the first one to go in there and from there I just copied the code and changed the episode ID (it appears in the address when you look at the episode in Buzz Sprout). If you don’t want to mess with this then you might want to just stick with the TSG one.
Step 3 – iTunes
Simply open iTunes, click on Podcasts and choose ‘Submit a Podcast’. The first thing it will ask you for is an audio feed. If you are using Feedburner you will use the one given to you by Feedburner. If not you will use the one given to you by Buzz Sprout.
Assuming there are no issues with the feed, iTunes will accept it and take you to a new screen to add in the details.
They will also ask you for a cover shot which is a 300 x 300 pixel image. I mocked mine up quickly using the WordPress theme from Woo Themes.
When you submit the podcast you will get an email from iTunes saying they have received it and will notify you when it’s published.
It took overnight for them to publish my show and it started appearing in the iTunes search.
I won’t cover marketing the podcast in this post but I may do at a future stage. As you can see, setting up a podcast doesn’t have to be a long time consuming process. While the quality of my show needs some obvious improvements I’m happy I could get it up and running in 1 day and without spending much ($20 on the eCam recorder software was the only cost I think).
Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts on this and please check out the show!