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How to Podcast

Read about how to podcast and the items needed to get started.

Podcasting is a way to share audio files with people on the Internet. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Podcasting is a way to share audio files with people on the Internet.

There are many things people should know when creating a podcast—how to create the file, how to syndicate the podcast and how to promote it so others will hear it. According to Oxford University Press, the word "podcast" is a portmanteau of the words iPod, a popular device for listing to audio files, and broadcast. Through podcasting, anyone can share thoughts, talents or information in an audio or video file. Users like it because it allows them to download files to their mobile devices in order to watch or listen to them anywhere.

People create podcasts for many different things. For example, colleges and universities have begun using podcasts to allow the public to view lectures. Independent musicians use it to promote their music. Webmasters and hobbyists may create a podcast to teach others about their specialty. There is really no limit for the reasons to create a podcast.

Creating the File

In order to create a podcast, a user needs a microphone and audio editing software. Some computers come with a built-in microphone, but the sound quality of this type of microphone is not always good. An external microphone is often a better choice.

For audio editing, many people choose Audacity, a free software program available for both PCs and Macs. Mac users may prefer to use Garage Band, which comes standard on their computer. Recordings should be saved in MP3 format.

The University of Virginia offers the following tips for improving sound quality on your audio files:

  • Use a lavaliere microphone or a microphone on a shock resistant stand
  • The microphone should be placed about five to seven inches from the chin
  • The speaker should avoid touching the microphone while recording
  • It is easier to spend a few minutes setting up the microphone for optimal sound quality before recording than it is to try to clean up the file after recording

After recording, it's important to listen to the file and make sure that the sound quality is good. A user can also edit the file to add embellishments or delete any awkward moments.

Uploading and Syndicating the Podcast

To upload a podcast, one simply needs to send it to a Web server, so that it is accessible on the Web. Most people do this through an FTP client, such as the free Cyberduck. It's a good idea to save it in a special folder reserved for podcasts. Then, on a regular Web page, the user can create a link directly to the site.

Some podcast creators do not have their own Web sites and instead use a free service, such as Blogger. These services are created to be user-friendly and allow bloggers to upload a podcast simply by clicking a button.

An RSS feed can help the podcaster to syndicate their podcast, distributing the content to many users. RSS stands for "really simple syndication" and it helps the content to be packaged for different types of technologies, including widgets and mobile devices. It also allows fans of the podcast to subscribe, so that they will be notified of any newly uploaded podcasts.

The easiest way to create a feed is through FeedBurner, which is owned by Google. Feedburner takes care of the technicalities and allows users to syndicate simply by placing code on their Web site.

Promoting the Podcast

Anyone who creates a podcast is hopeful that others will find and listen to their podcast. This means that an individual will need to do some work to promote their podcast. Popular techniques for promotion include:

  • Submission to a podcast directory that lists podcasts according to topic
  • General search engine optimization techniques, which help people find a Web site or podcast through searching the Internet
  • Press releases, which are particularly useful when the podcast includes an interview with a famous person
  • Writing summaries, which helps searchers to understand what the podcast is about and determine if it is something that interests them

Video Podcasting

While a podcast typically involves an audio file only, the next generation of podcasting is video podcasting, or vodcasting. Since many portable devices now allow video, this can be an even more effective way for podcasters to get their points across.

Video podcasts are created in much the same ways as audio podcasts. However, instead of using an audio editing software program to create the file, a user would use video editing software. Of course, the user also needs to use a video camera if they want to show a homemade video, or screen capture software to capture images from the computer screen.

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