How To Create A Podcast

Podcasting is a brilliant way to reach people with your brand, whether it’s through interviewing experts in your niche or podcasting your novel. Multi-media posts also enable people to get to know you in a more personal way. People need to know, like and trust you in order to buy your books so it’s critical to find some way to be more personal on your blog. Not many authors are doing podcasts either so it can be a way to stand out plus you can build some brilliant relationships within your genre/niche.

The Creative Penn podcast now has 80+ episodes, that’s over 40 hours of free audio on writing, publishing and book marketing based on interviews with experts from all over the world. I can truly say that podcasting has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. You have also sent me some brilliant feedback and the podcast now receives around 2000 downloads per month.

I’ve had a number of emails recently asking me how to create a podcast so here is how I do it. There are heaps of different ways but this is my process. You can use BlogTalkRadio or other free hosted solutions but I don’t think the quality is very good and iTunes is a great stand-alone market so it’s worth having your own feed. This post gets quite technical with the different software so please leave questions in the comments if you need further info.

What is a podcast anyway?

A podcast is just an audio file that you can stream and distribute over the internet. Podcasts can be talk shows or radio shows, interviews, university lectures, novels/audiobooks or anything else you fancy. The advantage of podcasts is that you can download the audio anytime instead of radio which is played at a specific time of day. You can also subscribe and have episodes download automatically to your player. The most common is iTunes but there are lots of different ways to listen. I love podcasts and listen to them in the gym, doing chores, commuting etc. There are millions of free podcasts out there, many of them amazing quality so I urge you to visit the Podcast area on iTunes as an introduction.

Step 1: Plan your podcast

I plan my interviews months in advance by contacting people with interesting stories and proposing an interview. I usually create a relationship on Twitter first and read their blog for a while, or I find an interesting interview with them on another site and contact them directly.

After arranging a time and date to call (across multiple time-zones), I email a week prior to the interview with the intro and questions for them based around the topic of the interview. I may veer off into other topics but it allows them time to prepare and gives me focus. I usually do interviews with Americans at 6am Australian time so advance planning helps!

Podcasting is an indirect form of marketing, it is more about awareness and I make sure my podcast is always focused on giving you actionable tips and information. However, I realize that people want to promote something at the same time, so I always ask the interviewee for their website address and to share more about what their books or products.

If you want to podcast your novel, check out Podiobooks.com which has some great resources (and lots of audiobooks).

Step 2: Create audio

I primarily use interviews for my podcasts and Skype is invaluable. If you don’t know already, Skype is free worldwide to other users and very cheap for calling phones with. I only use Skype for international calling and it has significantly reduced phone bills. You need an add-on piece of software/plug-in for recording.
For PC: Use Pamela.biz
For Mac: Use eCamm Recorder

You can also get the video recording version of either software, which is how I now do video interviews. It’s dead easy! You can also record your own audio in the editing software below. I use the computer’s internal mic as I am doing videos but also have a middle priced Logitech headset for audio interviews.

Podcasts usually have an intro and outro with some music and introduction, at least with the name of the podcast or the host saying hi. You must use royalty free music or creative commons licensed. I used Soundsnap to find my intro music. You just need a ‘loop’, a very short piece. Then record audio as above and save these mini-files to add into each podcast beginning and end.

Step 3: Edit audio

Firstly, podcasts are understood to be amateur i.e. you don’t need effects and fancy stuff unless you want to get that technical. You can just record with a good microphone and then edit the bad bits out. I leave umms, ahs, and little mistakes in as this humanizes people but I remove what I don’t want you to hear or if there are any technical problems (like lawnmowing noise!)

Editing software for PC or Mac: Audacity – free software and excellent to use
For Mac: Amadeus Pro

Both of these are easy enough to use. You just need to highlight and cut segments, drag and drop files. Then save as .wav or .mp3.

I usually save as .wav and then convert it to .mp3 in iTunes where I also add the meta-data (right click Info) which means you see “The Creative Penn podcast” on your iPod instead of just a file-name.

Now you have a finished .mp3 file.

Step 4: Publish podcast

I use Amazon S3 (with Bucket Explorer) to host my finished files so I upload the file there first. This gives me good download speed as my number of listeners increases as well as backing up the files on a secure environment. I also back up video and important files this way. It’s incredibly cheap cloud hosting.

I use the Blubrry plugin for WordPress blogs (free) to create the play button and also the download link. You just paste in the URL from Amazon S3 and it does the rest. Easy! Blubrry has it’s own feed service to iTunes and you can easily follow the steps in the plugin or Blubrry has great help. You get the initial iTunes feed by submitting to iTunes directly.

Then I listen to the final file and create the show notes in a blog post. I do this because transcription was too expensive to have done weekly, some people like to read it first to see if they want to listen and I like to get the extra SEO from having text in the podcast.

That’s pretty much it.

It takes me around 30 mins to prepare, 45 mins to do the interview and around 1 hour to edit and do the post. This is quite a bit of work on a weekly basis but podcasting it’s definitely been worth it for me.

Do you have any other questions re podcasting or feedback on The Creative Penn podcast? I’m considering spinning off a new product teaching people how to do it with videos etc. Let me know if you’re interested.

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Comments

  1. ryan says

    Thanks for the post! I’m using AWS S3 for the first time and have hit a big issue. It seems that my postcast, when streamed through itunes on an iPhone or iPad, is “get”ing the file over and over again the whole time they are listening. So, when someone listens to a 50 min podcast, it is resulting in HUNDREDS of “get” calls and my data transfer is out of control. Have you had a similar experience?

    • says

      Sorry Ryan, I haven’t heard of this error but I do know that the forums are very helpful. I use Blubrry plugin and they have good forum help. I hope it gets sorted – I know how painful some of these tech experiences can be :)

  2. says

    Thanks Joanna for sharing all these invaluable tools. I try to apply all your techniques since I decided to publish my own novel on amazon. In France, we don’t have a lot of writers who share you know. It’s a wonderful adventure but also a lot of hard work. So Thanks again for your advice that really help me everyday.

  3. says

    Hi Joanna
    I am using S3 we as well but for some reason, I can not get my MP3′s to play using blubrry.
    I can see the player, the MP3 is public but will not play.
    Did you have to do anything on the S3 server for it to play besides making the file public?

        • says

          David, I was a bit puzzled by this myself when I first started podcasting, but there’s a simple solution:

          When you copy and paste the S3 URL link into your website or wherever, just delete the ‘s’ from ‘https’ and it works fine.

  4. says

    Podcasts are not a highly utilized tool for marketing. I will keep them in mind, however, and hope others will too. I would be very interested in a continuing stream of posts on this subject so we could all learn more.

    Thank you.

  5. says

    Hi Joanna, thanks for all the useful info. I’ll be doing some podcasts myself soon about AH Men , the true story behind it and the AH Men Helpine which is reaching out across the world to help partners and families who are affected by men who want a sex change, which is a growing problem. I am also a relationship coach and do my coaching by skype video. I don’t write novels , but songs , music and scripts. I feel that there may be ways that we can collaborate but not sure how yet. For now I thought to drop by and introduce myself. I’m a member of Women Unlimited.

    Love
    Lynne

  6. says

    Too funny! I decided a month or so ago to do a podcast, used Fiverr for the intro/outro and cover art (great results), then let it sit for a while. Finally got back to it this week, using S3 and Blubrry. Took a little figuring out, but after an hour or so, it was set. iTunes approved the podcast in a day, and it was up. I use Audacity to edit.
    Then I get your email today, and it was pretty much what I stumbled through. If only it had come 4 days ago. . .
    Anyway, great info. I hope it saves a few other souls some frustrating moments.

  7. says

    WOW, i did everything you indicated and outlined for creating and hosting the podcast. I now have my MP3 playlist on iTunes and signed up for Amazon S3 storage and have installed the WordPress plug in you recommended. Now i am signed on to the Bucket Explorer and have no idea how that works. Even the “extremely SIMPLE” videos and demos do not come close to any sense of clarity. Plus it looks confusing and that they want to charge for the confusion. Hmmmm… Any tips or ideas on how to get through that Bucket Explorer or a better easy to use and not paid service? Is there a simple technique for the uploading and hosting the MP3 podcast files to Amazon ?

  8. says

    Thank you for your reply :) I finally got my MP3 files uploaded to AMazon S3 and I have 4 MP3 files that make up my podcast. I am going CRAZY trying to find “the URL” as you indicated, (You just paste in the URL from Amazon S3 and it does the rest.) Any tips on where this mystery URL is located? Also is it possible to make my podcast with multiple individual MP3 files or do I need to somehow combine them into one MP3 file? WOW, what a load of work. I appreciate your help, thank you!!!!

    • says

      Hi Cheryl. My Bucket Explorer has a button called ‘Web URL’ and once you’ve clicked that you can use the HTTP or HTTPS setting (the latter is secure so don’t use that one unless it is private).
      You will need to merge your Mp3 files – you can use Audacity or Amadeus Pro or any audio editing program to do this.

  9. says

    I am having major confusion on how to link Amazon s3 to iTunes. It’s simple to to get the url etc. But when creating an RSS feed I keep getting an error? I am a computer guy, but this has me stumped.

  10. says

    Hi Joanna, I can recommend Cuckos’ Reaper as a much more feature-laden audio editor than Audacity. It is very low cost and you will be able to produce better edited and better sounding podcasts with it.

    Also, have you considered using soundcloud for hosting your podcasts? It also provides an incredibly simple widgit sound player to embed in your blog posts in seconds.

  11. says

    Yes, John, now that you mention it, I recall that when I went through all those hoop jumps to get mine all set up, and posted, I too received an error message from the RSS feed at iTunes. I never took the effort and time to go back and investigate or try it again. Terribly time consuming the entire ordeal. Although I do have about 12 more of these to do over the next year. ;/

    • says

      Well, I have made some progress, and just shared this helpful page with a friend who is also interested in podcasting. Here are my first five podcast episodes if you’d like to take a gander and check ‘em out! The topic is about healing the world through music. http://healingtheworldthroughmusic.com/podcasts/ Thank you again for all of your help and your conscientiousness, Joanna. P.S. I like your theme. It is really clean and easy to read and write.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] section on creating a podcast, so I am not going to repeat that here. I am going to refer you to her site page on the topic. Link to this post! This entry was posted in Articles and tagged book, ebook, marketing, [...]

  2. [...] Set up your own online podcast. You don’t have the time or experience to do that? Hire an intern who has experience with setting up, recording and editing podcasts. Make it just a weekly, hour-long podcast, and place it on your author website. Have guests for the first 30 minutes then talk about recent events and tie in your book or read a few excerpts of your book. [...]

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