How to Start a Podcast For Free

How to Start a Podcast For Free

I’ve started two podcasts now, one about writing and then of course Guinea Pigging Green. For both, I’ve always taken on the role of behind-the-scenes techie to get it up and running and keep it updated. There are plenty of paid services online to take care of the tech stuff for you, but if you don’t have a lot of money to spend yet feel strongly about putting ideas out into the world then I want to give you that power! I really adore the medium of the podcast and am constantly wanting to start new shows myself. The process can seem incredibly intimidating and overwhelming if you’re just starting out, but it’s actually very straightforward once you learn how to do it yourself.

1. Record Your Show

If you’re the only one on the show, you can record using GarageBand which comes built into a Mac or whatever the built-in audio recorder is on your computer. You can get fancy here by adding a microphone, but it’s not necessary. I use the Samson Go Mic which is a great, inexpensive option, but I was making podcast just using my computer’s microphone on and off for 2 years before I made the switch.

If you’re recording long distance, the best way we’ve found (that we just switched to for GPG) is to talk over Skype or Google Hangouts while wearing headphones, and then record your own audio throughout the conversation using your computer’s built in audio recording software (I use Quicktime for this). Then, get the other person to send you their file, and mash them together in Garageband. Each file will have one person’s voice, and pauses while the other person talks, so it should be easy to sync up the audio, especially if you add a clap at the beginning of recording. The result is some seriously sexy audio quality, especially if you’re using a microphone. This method is described more here.

2. Edit Your Audio

How to Start a Podcast For Free

I use Garageband exclusively for some simple editing for our show. I usually just add a short jingle at the beginning for our intro and at the end. Ours was written and recorded by my co-host’s brother, but there are tons of options in the program and even more online. In the past we’ve occasionally had a particularly bad connection and had to stop and start a few times so in those cases I go in and cut things out and edit for smoothness of speech if we get any weird mechanical errors in the audio file. We also sometimes slip up and swear on our podcast, so I’ll either cut it out or add in a bleep (free ones here) – that’s always fun. Once you’re finished editing, export the file to iTunes, which will make it into a finished mp3 file.

3. Upload Your Finished File

As I’ve talked about the blog before, my sites are self-hosted – you can learn how to self-host your website right here. That means that I pay about $6 a month to Bluehost which also gives me unlimited storage. Because I have unlimited storage, I choose to upload my podcast files to a subfolder on my domain which can be accessed by anyone at a link. If you don’t have your own website and don’t want to pay for your podcast, I recommend getting a free Dropbox account and uploading your files there in a Public folder. There’s more about the Dropbox method on this blog along with a great, comprehensive article on starting a podcast.

You’ll also need to create a square image or graphic. I made ours in Photoshop Elements, but you could also just crop down a photo. Just make sure it’s the right dimensions and upload it to your preferred location, ie. your website or Dropbox.

4. Create a Podcast Feed

How to Start a Podcast For Free

This is the part that can seem the most impossible. I know I struggled quite a lot trying to figure out this step before I came across an easy method. I use the PodcastBlaster Feed Generator which is totally free and very simple. You make a quick account and then just fill-in-the-blanks on your podcast’s main page. Each time you want to add a new episode, you fill in the blanks for that too. After inputting all your information, you can download your “XML file” from the website. This is basically an RSS feed, and it’s what you’ll need to submit your show to iTunes or Stitcher.

How to Start a Podcast For Free

One thing I wish we’d done originally is to run our XML file through Feedburner so we’d be able to track statistics. Live and learn, I guess! I actually don’t know how to do this process (though I will be using it if I ever start another podcast) but there’s a great tutorial here. It’s not essential but I would recommend it if you want to get a sense of how many people are listening to you.

5. Submit Your Feed to iTunes

How to Start a Podcast For Free

This is actually the easiest step in the whole process. When you want to add a new podcast to iTunes, the only thing they want is the link to your XML file (RSS feed). If you’ve done it properly, all the information the database needs is in that file, so it only requires the one link. Once you’ve entered it, it’ll usually process the application for a couple of days before your show is live. Once it is, people can subscribe! This process is very similar on Stitcher.

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And that’s it!

A quick note: if you don’t want to deal with all these details and would rather pay a small amount of money, Elise has an awesome post about starting a podcast using Libsyn. That method skips many of these steps and streamlines the process a bit. I actually quite like knowing how to do all these processes and I’m learning new things all the time, but the important thing is to make the content, regardless of how you get there.

If you have a podcast, awesome! What process do you use to record and submit? If you don’t – would you ever start one? Are you a fan of the medium? If you are inspired to create a show, leave me a link in the comments, I’d love to check it out.

1 thought on “How to Start a Podcast For Free”

  1. Pingback: Q&A: How to Edit a Podcast in Garageband » Life In Limbo

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