Dana Hawco (aka WankerGirl) podcasts away.
I have a confession. My name is WankerGirl and I host my own podcast.
So what is a podcast? There are many definitions online, but essentially a podcast is an audio show posted to the Internet. It’s like a radio show, but available around the world for you to download and listen to at your leisure. Podcasting has been around in geek circles for a while, but it really started to take off a few years ago when Apple added a “podcasts” section to iTunes. With Apple’s support, podcasting moved from the underground to the yuppie mainstream. Hell, even Oprah has a podcast.
I started podcasting around two years ago. I recorded my first show in my basement on a crappy microphone with limited sound editing knowledge. I am proof positive that anybody can create and host their own show! I’m still not sure why I started podcasting in the first place. All I know was that I had some stupid things to say and I needed somewhere to say them.
Podcasting offers complete freedom, because there are no rules or standards. Unlike mainstream media, podcasting offers people a venue to voice their uncensored opinions, and unleash all of their secrets in anonymity. It’s this freedom that makes me love podcasting. With a podcast you can express your views on current events, tell the world about the best music that no one is listening to, or use your show as a personal diary. Cry, scream, whisper or rant… you can do it all.
So have I inspired you? Do you want to change the world with your show? Do you want to start a revolution online? Or maybe, like me, you just want to talk about boobs and bums online? Trust me, there is an audience for all topics.
The first step is the most important.
Defining Your Content
There are thousands of podcasts and they touch on every subject imaginable. There are shows that will teach you how to speak French, shows that will discuss the minutiae of Harry Potter, and shows that will tell you everything about sex. Finding a distinct voice in this crowd can be difficult. Before you start recording, figure out the purpose of your show. Decide on a format and then figure out who your listeners will be. At the end of the day, you may not care to have a massive audience, but cultivating a dedicated group of listeners can be both satisfying and motivating.
The Right Equipment
You will need three basic things to start podcasting – a computer, a microphone and some sound editing software. Mac users can use GarageBand for sound editing, and PC users can download Audacity for free (www.audacity.sourceforge.net). Some computers already have microphones built in, but if you don’t have one, or want to use something that will produce a better sound, you can buy an inexpensive one for as little as $30. I use a Logitech Desktop USB Microphone and it works perfect for me. Most computers will automatically detect your microphone and you can simply adjust its volume options to find what setting works best for you.
Recording and Editing
Once the microphone is plugged in and your software is up and running, all you have to do is hit the record button and start speaking. I advise making a few notes about your topic before recording and do a few test runs until you feel comfortable. Since you have huge control over the audio, you can edit out what you don’t like and add background music and effects. Initially it will be a learning process, but be fearless and play with the sound. Even the most basic computers can pump out some really cool sounds these days, so aim high. You can download free and “podsafe” music for your show at www.music.podshow.com
Getting it on the Web
Once the recording and editing is complete, save your file as an MP3. Now you’re ready to post it online.There are several websites that will host podcasts for free, for example mevio.com or blubrry.com. These sites will host your MP3 files and automatically manage the technical stuff—like setting up the feed that will allow your listeners to access the shows using iTunes or other software. If you’re feeling ambitious you can set up and host your own website. It sounds scary, but it offers you better control over your web presence. Try wordpress.com if you want to go that route. I use it and I love it.
Finally, you will need to promote your show. You can do this by listing your show in the iTunes directory. Just open the iTunes store, click on the Podcast link and scroll all the way down to the bottom. You’ll see a section called “Submit a Podcast”. Additionally, there are several websites that act as directories for podcasts. Check outpodcastalley.com and podcastpickle.com.
As well, start listening to other podcasts and get involved with the podcasting community. E-mail comments, join discussion boards and get other podcasters to talk about your podcast. All of this will direct more people to your show.
So now it’s your turn! Go make a podcast! Tell the world what is on your mind. You’ll be amazed at who starts listening.
Illustration by Kira Sheppard.