Hopefully you are familiar with both of my podcasts! The links to the website of both are below, for your convenience.
However, what you might not know is how I went about creating my podcasts (here we are talking the technical side of things), and that is something I am asked a lot about by other young and enthusiastic podcasters. So I decided to put together some notes if you are interested in giving it a go!
And first, here is a little credential… A screenshot of my show when it was in the top 50 on the iTunes Charts. Even ahead of Welcome to Night Vale, which was my first love in the podcasting world.
And without further ado, here is Podcasting with Jesse 101.
I figured I would break this down into segments to make it a little easier to digest:
- Materials required.
- The Process
- Social Media
Podcasting can be very cheap or very expensive. However, no matter the size of your budget, you can probably create some sort of podcast.
Cryptid Creatures cost me about *drumroll* $50 and some time.
Here’s what I used:
- Blue Snowball Microphone ($30)
- Libsyn Podcast Hosting ($5 a month.)
- Bluehost Website Hosting ($10 a year for domain.)
- Audacity Program (Free download)
With The Others podcast I got a little more fancy, using the Rode Podcaster microphone, boom arm, and shock mount which cost about $400.
Also, instead of recording in my closet, I built a “sound booth.” It is 6′ by 4′ and 8′ tall, and only cost about $150. Here’s what I used:
- 9 Ten-foot PVC pipes (1″, schedule 40.)
- 12 elbow joins of various dimentions (see diagram below.)
- PVC Pipe cutter, although a saw will work as well.
- A Grommet Kit (the brass-encased holes you can punch in material… I didn’t know what they were beforehand.)
- 6 Industrial size (72′”-80″ inch) moving blankets.
- A lamp for the inside, along with a table or whatever else you fancy.
- Bag of 100 9 inch zip ties.
Here is the (rough) diagram and a picture from inside.
Basically, the booth is a PVC pipe frame with blankets draped over the top and hanging from the sides by zipties running through grommets. I know, I know, it’s not the fanciest thing in the world, but it is giving me great sound and, like I said, it also cost me about $150 dollars. Try comparing that to the booths on Amazon.
Recap: Podcasting can be inexpensive or very expensive, depending on your budget. Cryptid Creatures cost about $50 to produce. The Others cost right at $650. Other shows can cost wayyy more.
2. THE PROCESS
Basically, here are the steps to making a podcast:
- Come up with idea.
- Write scripts.
- Record an episode. (This can be several steps in itself.)
- Upload website to an RSS feed (in my case, this was Libsyn.)
- Enter the RSS feed url into your website’s installed reader (a free widget.)
- Uploaded podcast will appear on iTunes, etc.
Steps 3-4 are interchangeable, 2 is optional
Unfortunately, that is a lot easier said than done. Thank goodness for you all, however, is that there are a lot more technologically-savvy people on the internet that can help explain some of the wrinkles of podcasting. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead I will send you to the best in the business.
For questions regarding creating a website on Bluehost, I recommend Michael Hyatt, who authored a post about setting up a self hosted wordpress blog in 20 minutes. View it HERE. This should be one of your first steps.
And equally helpful is Mr. Pat Flynn, host of Smart Passive Income. Pat put together a 6 video series of how to start a podcast using Libsyn and a Bluehost website, and this is the very same thing that I used to help launch the first of mine. HERE is the page.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is just as important to a podcast as actually having the podcast itself. At least if you want listeners (and what is the point of a podcast if nobody listens to it?).
Followers: There are a number of ways a podcaster can get followers, but the most important thing I can possibly think of is to not only HAVE a twitter account for the show, but also give it a SHOUT OUT at the end of every show. (“If you like the show, please follow me on twitter @titlehere to keep up with all the exciting updates.”)
Having a base of loyal followers on twitter is crucial to having the show succeed. Your can always tell your friends about the show and have them listen, but twitter is a powerful tool because it is so far reaching: a message can be seen all around the world by pressing a button. If you have a fan base of listeners from across the map, word of mouth is more likely to spread a consistent following.
Still, that leaves the question of how to get followers beyond just giving a social media shout out at the end of the show.There are a couple things that have worked for me.
The first is being a “twitter tramp.” It’s kind of like the name suggests–you follow anybody and everybody who might be interested in the show. It’s not efficient, but it can be effective.
It’s all about niche audiences and finding the people who will be interested in what you are (not) selling. With Cryptid Creatures, for instance, I was targeting people interested in cryptozoology. To find people to follow I would search terms like “Crypt” or “Sasquatch” on twitter and follow people who tweeted about said keywords. About 1 out of every 5 people I followed this way followed me back.
An even more efficient way to find people is to target a podcast that already exists in a niche similar to yours. For Cryptid Creatures, I used Aaron Manke’s “Lore.” Every day for a month I would follow the new followers on Lore, which was usually about 100-150 people, and about 1 out of every 3 followed me back. Maybe this is poaching, but it proved to be highly effective. Those people were already podcast listeners, and not only that, but listeners who were into the same kind of show, so they liked my show as well. Many began to tweet about it, and that’s how Creatures went from 300 downloads and episode to 5K downloads an episode in a month’s time.
The Other way to get followers that proved very effective is something I tried with The Others. I bought 50 postcards on vistaprint.com with the podcast logo on the front and a short message on the back. (“Thanks for the support. It means a lot… etc.) I sighed them, and my voice actor did as well.
During the release of the seven episodes, I would run frequent contests. “Retweet this tweet to win a rare, autographed postcard!” Something like that. And I would be sure to have a direct url to the episode in the tweet as well. People love free stuff, and the retweets spread like wildfire. It drew a lot of interest to the show, and between the postcard stamp and expense of printing the cards, I spent about $0.40 per price. Considering the attention it gained the show and that most of the recipients left an iTunes review, it was definitely money well spent.
Social Media Marketing can be a HUGE TOOL! It depends on the cite you work with and the subject of your show, but I used social media marketing with The Others. As a trial run, I used the same funds on first Twitter and then Facebook. The impressions and interactions are different between the two cites, but I tried to compile the overall results below to share.
First week of marketing:
- Platform: Twitter
- Funds used: $15.
- Listeners before (Ep. 3): 24,220
- Listeners after (Ep 4): 27,831
- Percent Increased: 14%
First week of marketing:
- Platform: Facebook
- Funds used: $15.
- Listeners before (Ep. 4): 27,831
- Listeners after (Ep 5): 33,981.
- Percent Increased: 22%
Thoughts: From episode to episode, I was averaging about a 10% increase, so if you factor that in, then Twitter boosted it an additional 4% and Facebook was a 12% increase.
For just $15 dollars, that is a reasonably good increase in thousands of listeners, and Facebook made it much easier to target an audience. (For example, I set it to program males from age 18-35 who listen to podcasts and interact with adds. Twitter is not that specific.)
Podcasters, in general, are a helpful breed of people. If you are stuck or want to know the best way to tackle a project, just join an online forum of community (Facebook has a great one). It might be flooded with people who are getting 30 downloads a show, BUT those people know about audio nonetheless. They can troubleshoot most problems and offer good ideas. The hardest part is wading through the information overload and trying to select the best pieces of info, but if you can handle that challenge then it will be a tremendously helpful resource.
Also, the first 24 hours of the podcast are vitally important. For iTunes and the other hosts to find the show and start supporting it (referring to the charts algorithm), the show needs to get as many downloads and reviews as possible. That being said, this is where you get to be a “horrible person.” Email/text/facebook all your friends. Send them a link and a plea for a review–trying to sound as not desperate as possible, of course–and kindly ask them to help. Many of them will. Most probably won’t. But if you can get 30 reviews out of 300 friends, it will be well worth your time. Trust me.