Producing a Podcast - Part I

I've been creating podcasts for about a year and a half and during that time have been asked on a regular basis how I go about doing it. I've provided those who asked the details of whatever setup and procedure I used at the time. I've regularly improved upon the equipment, software, and settings. However, I'm pretty well satisfied with the setup that I have now so thought I'd share what I do and what I use here; that way, I simply have to point people here for all the details.

The most important aspect of doing a podcast is the content. The subject of the podcast series should be something that you know well and are passionate about. You'll be spending a lot of time on it and will need to produce episodes on a fairly steady basis so make sure that you choose your subject area carefully. It should also be a subject that others are interested in and that there aren't hundreds of podcasts on already. You can check what podcasts are available on various subjects by doing searches in the iTunes store. You should plan on creating a podcast episode ideally on a weekly basis but every few weeks is usually acceptable too. Listeners start to develop an expectation of receiving your episodes at a particular cadence so you should try to stick to a steady schedule of delivery. There are times when get out of the regular rhythm but then just get back to it when you can. I was ill recently, for example, and then experienced laryngitis for weeks afterward which prevented me from recording episodes (having a voice is rather important in podcasting). I've heard that 30 minutes is the ideal length of a podcast although an hour or longer may be appropriate especially given panel type formats. A microphone is the most important piece of equipment you'll need. I use an Audio-Technica AT2020 microphone. It is what is referred to as a large diaphragm condenser microphone. It has great sound but you need to also use a pop filter with it (to prevent an explosive sound when you say the letters 'p' and 't'). I use an Apex pop filter. I have both attached to a floor mounted microphone stand that doesn't touch any other surface such as the desk to prevent the picking up of any extraneous noise. I record in a room with broadloom and make sure that anything else that can make a noice isn't in the room or within earshot (even a cellphone on vibrate will be picked up by the microphone). I don't use a script but do make notes prior to the recording, the quotes and top 10 lists in the case of my Life Habits podcast and the list of articles and their links in the case of my UXDesignCast podcast).

Given the amount of material to cover, I'll divide this post into a Part I and a Part II. I'll address the actual recording and post-production software, settings, filters, uploading, and posting in Part II. As usual, feel free to contribute any of your own thoughts, experiences, and/or questions using the commenting capability of this blog.