The 10 Technology Items You'll Need to Start a Podcast
Ready to start your podcast? While many people think that podcasting is an expensive and complicated venture, the truth is that it doesn’t have to be.
Related: Should You Really Start a Podcast?
Launching a podcast is relatively straightforward, and you won’t need much to get started. In fact, you can start with just a microphone, headphones, recording and editing software and a publishing platform to share your work. Of course, you can get a bit more fancy, and chances are you may want to splurge on a few bigger ticket items, because they can, and will, make life easier, but that’s really all you need to get your show on the road.
So, for your podcast, here are the tools, in both the gear and software categories, that you’ll want to consider before you start.
1. A good microphone
Audio is one area that you won’t want to cut corners with. Your audience will be able to overlook a number of issues with your podcast -- but poor audio is generally regarded as unforgivable. You’ll want to avoid the mic that comes built into your computer and, instead, opt for something like the Audio Technica ATR-2100-USB or Blue Microphones Yeti USB. Or, you could spend a bit more and choose a dedicated XLR microphone -- like the Samson SAC01, and a mixer, for superior quality and better control over the sound. If you choose this option, don’t forget to grab an XLR cable to connect the mic to the mixer.
Your headphones don’t have to be top of the line, but you will want something that’s up to the job. You’ll need to hear what you’re saying -- and what your guests are saying if you’re doing Skype interviews, so choose some good, on-ear headphones, like the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x. Steer clear of headphone and mic combos; their sound quality is usually extremely poor.
3. A pop filter
When talking directly into the microphone, your b’s and p’s will sound amplified. You can avoid this by speaking to the side of your mic, rather than directly into it, or get yourself a pop filter. They’re cheap -- but priceless.
4. A boom
Though they're not strictly necessary when you’re first starting out, a suspension boom to hold the mic for you is necessary if you want to become a podcasting pro. Aside from saving you from arm cramps, a boom is also great for sound quality, as you won’t have to worry about the mic drifting away from you as you speak into it.
5. A Skype account
If you’re going to be doing interviews on your show at some point, you’ll want to use Skype. This program has excellent sound quality, plus it’s free, which also helps. If your guests don’t already have a Skype account, it’s easy enough for them to set one up.
6. Recording and editing software
You’ll need a way to edit your audio. You can start with a free program if you’d like. Adobe Audition is is an outstanding tool which gives you a lot of options for post-production. GarageBand is yet another good choice and comes pre-installed on Macs -- so if you’re an Apple user, you already have it.
7. ID3 Editor
Most podcast and recording software will allow you to tag your podcasts using ID3 tags, but if not, you can easily do it with an ID3 editor. This will allow you to store important information such as the title, track number and artist in the podcast -- and will allow the album art to appear when people download it.
8. A podcast hosting account
Don’t worry about podcasts eating up your bandwidth; you don’t have to host on your website. There are a number of extremely affordable media hosts that you can use instead. Libsyn is one of the more popular hosting and publishing options, although you can also check out Soundcloud and Blubrry, two more great options.
9. Design software
This one’s not entirely necessary -- but again, it’s a very good idea. One of the best ways to extend your podcast’s reach is by listing it on iTunes. If you do this, you’ll want to have a sweet-looking image next to your show’s name -- your cover art. This is the photo that people will see when browsing through shows or listening to yours -- so it does matter.
Buzzsprout offers some great tips on how to create the ultimate image, including size constraints, copy and color suggestions, as well as tips on where to find decent images. If you’re not able to do your own design, you can always hire someone on 99designs or Upwork to do it for you.
10. A vanity URL
Finally, if you’re serious about growing your podcast, you’ll want to make it easy for listeners to leave you reviews. One of the best ways to do this is to snatch up a vanity URL, discussed at sites like this one sponsored by Apple. Vanity URLs are links that you can use to redirect to your podcast’s reviews section on iTunes. This will save you from having to give out a long and complicated website address, simplifying the process for your listeners.
When it comes to starting a podcast, you really can spend as much or as little money as you’d like to get started. Set your budget up-front, decide how serious you are, then get your gear together. As a minimum, though, I recommend purchasing a great mic and headphones; you’ll have a hard time growing your listener base if your broadcast has inferior sound quality.
I would also spend the money each month for a dedicated hosting site rather than try to host podcasts directly on your website. This asset will make life easier for you in the long run.
Ready to start your podcast? What gear are you planning to get?