My shows that you hear on Spotify and Apple Podcasts go through a few steps before they get to you. I hope this page helps you learn more about how I podcast.
What do you need to start a podcast?
To start a podcast, you need something to say, equipment to record it, and a way to get it online. These steps can get as simple or as fancy as you want, but they’re still just options that get better as we improve as podcasters.
Something to say
A podcast about “anything and everything” is like when I step into the bus and have to hear the conversation of the people behind me. I don’t know if it’s going to be good or bad or interesting to me.
Since listeners have a choice in what they want to hear, make it clear to them what you will talk about and let them choose if they want to listen or not. Then keep the same topic going and they’ll keep coming back. Eventually, they’ll tell somebody and they will too know what to expect.
Equipment to record it
A microphone, a computer (or tablet, or cell phone), and an app to edit your audio. Sure, you can record on your phone, but you’ll hear strange hissing sounds, echoes, and handling noise when you touch your phone so do your best to minimize that. Record under a blanket, don’t touch your phone, be in the quietest place you can find, and find the sweet spot with how far to be away from the phone’s mic.
At first, you won’t know if your quality is good or bad, and I think you can use that as a tool to do what ever you want because you don’t know any better. This is an amazing time that never comes back… please use it to your advantage!
If you have a microphone and a computer with recording software, use that! As you get better at listening for quality of content and audio, you’ll start wanting to upgrading your stuff or improving your content somehow.
Here’s a pattern I’ve noticed as people start getting more advanced:
- Smartphone + headset mic + voice memo app + Garageband/Audacity
- USB microphone + computer + GarageBand/Audacity
- XLR dynamic microphone + audio interface + computer + Hindenburg/Reaper/Audacity/Garageband
- XLR condenser microphone + audio interface + recording studio + computer(s) + Protools/Adobe Audition/Logic Pro/Reaper
You’d be surprised by how many full-time podcasters killing it with audio are on the number 2 area of the equipment list.
Nobody’s checking your equipment or judging you on it because nobody can see it! Just do your thing with the best equipment that you have access to.
A way to get it online
Podcast hosting services make it super easy to upload your audio and have it distributed to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and all other apps. You just upload once and BOOM! it appears everywhere.
These services can range from free to super expensive (ahem, Megaphone and Art19).
I use Spreaker for my hosting and it is so easy to monetize using their tools. I don’t know why people would use any other service as an indie podcaster. If you don’t want to pay or can’t afford a hosting service, there are free ones available, like RedCircle and Anchor.fm.
Podcasting Equipment to Buy
They have these bundles nowadays that have everything you need to get started, including an audio interface, a microphone, and even subscriptions or free software to edit your content! A friend and cohost of a show has the Focusrite bundle, but Shure also has their bundle.
I think that makes it super easy and if I was starting all over again, I’d go for that.
However, when I was starting out, I didn’t know if this was going to turn into a job for me. It was just a fun hobby and an experiment, so I chose the best cheapest microphone I could find: the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone.
I plugged that into the computer and that was it. No fiddling around, no having to learn anything extra. I put my earbuds into the monitoring jack and listened to myself talk. It was so cool.
The audio showed up in Garageband and I edited my sound directly from there after I was done.
Oh, that’s right. I did have to look a few Youtube videos on how to edit audio, but it was literally just cutting the sound into segments, removing what I didn’t want, and doing my best to make it sound ok by using plugins that removed background noise.
Eventually, I got a pop-filter, a Shure SM58 singing microphone with an audio interface, and dedicated editing software. The difference was impressive!
I’d still be recording the same way today, but I eventually started noticing subtle things in audio that I wanted to fix but wouldn’t be able to without different equipment.
My podcasting gear
For recording, I use a different set of equipment from the stuff I use for editing because I do those things in different places. There will be some overlap because there is equipment that can be used for both.
My microphone is an Electro-Voice RE20. I like that it gives me some play to move more during the recordings without sounding like I’m on a boat and all wavy. With other mics, if you move a bit, it begins to sound boomy or faint. This one has a little more tolerance for that, and it’s still a dynamic microphone.
My audio interface is called the Solid State Logic SSL2. It helps me balance out the monitoring volume and to listen for cues (or whenever I look up pronunciations online!) during recording times, easily. Plus, it has a big knob and peak meter lights, which work well in my dark recording area.
The computer that I use for recording is an Apple Macbook Pro (Mid-2012). I know it’s old, but it is a workhorse! I use it only for recording, uploading files, and for looking things up on the internet.
My digital audio workstation (DAW) of choice is Hindenburg Journalist Pro. That thing makes it so simple to record, it is unbelievable. I also use Reaper when I need more complicated automations in audio, but I keep going back to Hindenburg since I’m so used to the shortcuts and interface.
For plugins, I use the Izotope RX De-clicker, the Hindenburg noise reduction tool, and the Magic Leveling thing that the software has installed. To select the music and sounds, I use SoundQ from ProSoundEffects.
Oh! Sounds! I get them from Prosoundeffects, artists licensing out their music, Artlist, Storyblocks, and from libraries like Freesound.org. I’m always looking for music, though.
The windscreen that I use for the microphone is a little metal mesh thing that fits the mic, called the RePop by BSW. It grabs mustache hair if you get too close, so just be careful.
Cables for microphones are from a brand called Neutrik and Mogami Gold Studio mic cables because a random cable once started picking up a radio signal and it REALLY creeped me out. With a little digging around, I found out that it was the cable’s insulation causing everything. These cables do a great job with that. They attach to the Rode desk boom arm that I use to hold the mic.
The acoustic sound treatment is made up of a bunch of layers, so bear with me here. First, I use a recording booth from LA Vocal Booths (4×4 ft model). On the inside, over the door, there’s a sound barrier sheet from a brand called Isole.
For padding on the inside of the booth, I have foam with little pyramids on it, I don’t know what it’s called but they look like the spiky bricks from the Bowser’s castle from Super Mario Bros. I also have some pretty thick corner foam, which is overkill, but I hated the way I reverb-ed in there, so I got those in the corners.
I didn’t know how to properly place the acoustic foam up to an engineer’s standards, so I did the next best thing and covered everything from floor to ceiling. Oh well.
It gets pretty hot in the booth, so it also has an exhaust and intake system to circulate air, but it adds a little bit of hum that I have to remove later.
Equipment for Editing
I use an Apple Macbook Pro with M1 Chip to handle everything from file management, to exporting, editing videos, audio, and recording some voiceover clips.
Attached to the computer are the 3.5 inch Presonus studio monitors and a Mackie Big Knob to control the volume from my desk.
Also attached is the Focusrite Scarlett solo audio interface that is hooked up to my microphone and monitoring headphones, which are the beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (250 ohm). They’re semi-open, so it sounds like I’m hearing my edit from my monitor speakers.
The underrated item here is definitely the mouse. I use an MX Master 3 for Mac mouse by Logitech because it has that sidescroll wheel that makes it super simple to move along the audio timeline when I’m editing. First-world problems, man.
I also use a ton of project management and administrative tools, like Dropbox, Asana, and a ton of other services, but I won’t bore you with those. If you want to know, though, just let me know and I’ll update this thing.
As you can see, podcasting has such a wide range of tools and services you can use. If you’re reading this out of curiosity, I hope it gave you an idea of what the medium is all about!
But if you’re here to get advice on how to begin, how to tell your stories, and what you can do to get started or improve your show(s), you are in the right place.
As a supporter of storytelling, I am all for new ideas, new ways of exploring how you express yourself, and practical ways to be heard.
You know where to reach me! Thanks for coming to my TED talk.