How to Start a Podcast

#4 Record your first episode

October 09, 2018 Season 1
How to Start a Podcast
#4 Record your first episode
Chapters
00:01:07
Always start with an outline
00:05:29
Where you should record your podcast
00:08:50
Tips for speaking into your microphone
00:14:20
Record your first episode
00:20:33
Download the Podcast Checklist
How to Start a Podcast
#4 Record your first episode
Oct 09, 2018 Season 1
Buzzsprout
Record your first episode
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode we cover: 

  1. Why you should always make an outline first 
  2. How to get the best sound quality from your microphone 
  3. How to record your audio

Stuff we mention in this episode:


Download the “How to Start a Podcast Checklist”, a FREE, step-by-step guide designed to help you get your podcast off the ground without feeling overwhelmed. 

Start your podcast for FREE with Buzzsprout



Travis:
0:00
But when you're doing a podcast, nobody can see you.
Alban:
0:02
Not that I have a prom dress, I don't know what I'm talking about.
Travis:
0:06
Alban. I can verify you're not wearing a dress.
Travis:
0:16
Hello and welcome to episode four of "How to Start a Podcast" where you learn everything you need to know to create a podcast from scratch. I'm your host, Travis Albritton, and helping me with the episode today is audible.com's most valuable customer Alban Brooke. Hello Alban.
Alban:
0:33
Hey, what's up Travis? I do like I do love listening to audio books. Though I do want to say I feel like if we keep doing the Alban like facts, we're going to start running into like my security questions on websites. It could be like mom's maiden name all that stuff so.
Travis:
0:52
So in the name of preserving your identity and not letting it get stolen, we'll retire the shtick. That's fair. All right. Well in this episode we're going to walk you through the process of recording your first podcast episode.
Alban:
1:07
Nice.
Travis:
1:08
But before you hit that record button, you'll want to do one thing and what is that Alban?
Alban:
1:13
You've got to have an outline. We sent out an email awhile back to a bunch of podcasters. We were asking them like, what's the biggest mistake new podcasters make? And a guy from copyblogger, Demian Farnworth, wrote back and he said, you know, the biggest mistake is rambling, which amounts to having no focus for your podcast. And I think that is one of the biggest mistakes podcasters make. They jump in, they hit record, and then they start figuring everything out. And so an outline is probably one of the best ways to spend 15 minutes and you'll get a huge return on spending a little time outlining to the episode before you hit record.
Travis:
1:52
And what are some just what are some benefits beyond having a plan and not rambling. Why is having an outline helpful when you're putting a podcast together?
Alban:
2:01
Yeah, it'll give you your episode of better logical structure. You're going to understand where you're going next. You're not going to feel like there's a bunch of downtime. Another big reason is it gives you confidence. You don't feel like you're out there on your own trying to figure it out as you go. Set up another question. Trying to think of something interesting to say. Instead, you feel confident. You have no anxiety because you've got a whole list of great questions. Whole list of things you'd like to discuss before you're even hitting record.
Travis:
2:32
Yeah. When you're starting a podcast, one of the worst things you can do is just try to wing it. Just say, all right, I'm going to hit record. I have an idea of what I want to talk about, and hopefully it'll come out in a way that makes sense to other people. And the reason that's going to backfire on you is that it's going to be really obvious to the people listening that you don't have a plan about what you're talking about. You don't have a direction that you're going, because remember you're trying to keep someone listening for the duration of your episode, and so for the beginning of the episode and the first couple minutes if they figure out you're not actually sure where you're taking this train that they're, they've agreed to be on. They're going to jump off, they're not going to continue listening to the episodes.
Alban:
3:06
Even if you hit a stride a little bit later, you might have already kind of not given them confidence in what you're going to talk about that there's much value there.
Travis:
3:14
Yeah, so having an outline, it's going to keep you from winging it. It's going to give you confidence because you don't have to come up with brilliant things to say on the spot. You've planned those brilliant lines and it's also gonna help keep your podcasts streamlined. So when someone's listening, it's a high quality episode and it's not something that could be 20 minutes, but it's 40 minutes because you didn't plan it. So that's the magic of outlines. Definitely encourage you to use outlines whenever you're putting a show, a episode together. We put outlines together for every single episode on this podcast and probably spend more time doing the outline then actually recording it.
Alban:
3:51
Yeah, absolutely.
Travis:
3:52
Because the more that you can do before you hit the record button, the more successful you'll be once you do start recording, and so a good process to get into as you're starting to utilize outlines or even outline your show, is to write a first draft, write a rough draft. Don't worry about making it perfect, don't worry about everything being exactly where it needs to be. Just get all of your ideas out on paper and then go back and edit it. So don't erase anything when you're first starting. You want to get everything out of your brain. Just do a total brain dump and then tweak it. And that's gonna be where you are able to really shine. And then another thing you might be wondering as well, I've even with an outline, I still don't feel super confident that I'm going to know what to say and how to say it. So you might consider writing out every word as a script, but I would encourage you to try doing the outline first. Number one, it's less work to do an outline then to write essentially a novel and read it as your podcast episode, but then when you have a script written out you, you read it differently than you would in a normal conversation.
Alban:
5:02
Absolutely.
Travis:
5:02
So if you're reading a book out loud, your cadence and how you pronounce words and how you sound is going to be very different than if you're just having a conversation like me and Alban are having right now. And so just be aware that it can come off as a little robotic if you're reading a script. But if that's going to help you get over the hurdle and give you the confidence to record your episodes and start getting your podcast out there, you can absolutely do that. Just know that it's going to be about three to five times as much work as doing an outline. So now that you've got your outline done, it's time to decide where you're going to record your episode, where you're actually going to set up shop and hit record, and where you record, the environment where you record, is actually more important to the quality of your podcast than your microphone, which most people don't even know.
Alban:
5:46
Do you want to sound like you're in a cave? Do you want to have like a lawnmower in the background or kids running, around pets? I'm eliminating some of those noises is going to make it so much easier in that post-production part of the process.
Travis:
6:00
Yeah, but you don't have to install a bunch of expensive sound panels to get clean audio recordings, right? So you don't have to go out and buy a bunch of stuff in order to make it work. One thing is just choose a quiet room in your house. Some rooms are just louder by nature. Your kitchen, it's going to be a loud room because you've got all those hard surfaces, all that tile cabinets, it's going to make the sound bounce around a lot. Choose a room that has a lot of stuff on the walls. Has curtains on the windows. Carpet on the floor.
Alban:
6:30
Big La-Z-Boy.
Travis:
6:30
Yeah. Anything that's going to break up those sound waves is gonna cut down on the echo and make your sound a lot cleaner. Make your recordings a lot crisper.
Alban:
6:39
So Travis, what you're telling me right now, get lots of curtains, get lots of things that dampen sound. One room comes to mind and it's. This may not make sense. I want to hear what you think. Just like a walk in closet.
Travis:
6:54
Absolutely.
Alban:
6:55
If I've got a little space where there's a bunch of clothes hanging, there's a carpet. It's a little weird maybe to go in there and shut the door, but I feel like would be a pretty quiet environment.
Travis:
7:05
Yes. Walk in closets or closets in general or like the, the sneakiest hack to get amazing studio quality sound for your podcast because you think about all the clothes that are hanging up around you and it's typically in a room that's already quiet when it's not in use.
Alban:
7:21
So this probably does it work as much if you're like filming yourself and doing like a facebook live event, you know you'll look a little weird being next year old prom dress or something,
Travis:
7:32
Right. But when you're doing a podcast, nobody can see you.
Alban:
7:34
Not that I have a prom dress talking about
Travis:
7:37
Alban, I can verify you're not wearing a dress, but for instance, you don't know where we are as we're recording this podcast. We could be in the Buzzsprout studio, we could be hanging out in some other part of the world.
Travis:
7:53
We could be in a closet right now and you wouldn't know. So you might feel weird recording your podcast in a closet. It's definitely not how you envisioned it. When you think I'm going to be this awesome person with a podcast and then people find out that you're recording in your closet, but your podcast will be better for it. Right? And if you can't bring yourself to get in the closet, don't sweat it. I don't personally record in a the closet is just a really sneaky hack. If you want to get that extra five percent crispy audio.
Alban:
8:22
Yeah, so it may seem a little bit strange for you to be recording an entire episode of the closet, but if people can't see you, there's really no sweat. It's a great way to get better sound quality. So the next thing you want to do is you found this great spot to record. You're going to need a little bit of help on mic technique. Something you've taught me quite a bit about as we've recorded these episodes. So Travis, why don't you. Do you want to dive in and give us some tips on how to do the old microphone?
Travis:
8:50
Yeah, absolutely. So just like the environment makes a big difference in the quality of your sound, how you speak into the microphone also affects the quality of the recording. And so we're going to assume that you picked up one of the three microphones we talked about in the last episode. Either the ATR2100, the Samson Q2U or the Blue Yeti. All right, so all the tips that we talk about are going to be specifically for those microphones. And Alban, you actually did a poll in the Buzzsprout community? And there was a surprising winter for the most popular microphone.
Alban:
9:21
So we recorded the last episode and I jumped in the community group and I was like, Hey guys, what mic is everybody using? And Blue Yeti like crushed it! I expected it to be pretty close and not as many people were using the ATR2100. Still my pick. But there are a lot of good podcasts with the Blue Yeti setup. So it sounds like it's working for a lot of people.
Travis:
9:43
Yeah, you really can't go wrong with any of these microphones. So regardless of whichever one you chose, if it was the 2100 which we recommended, or the Q2U or the Blue Yeti, all of them are going to do a great job of getting your podcast off the ground. So when you're starting to speak into your microphone, you want to find the sweet spots. Every microphone has a recording sweet spot, which is the location of the microphone related to your mouth. And so Alban, if you just want to demonstrate what it sounds like to be moving around while you're talking.
Alban:
10:15
Yeah. If you want to hear what it sounds like to move around while you're talking. Go listen to episodes one through three. Yeah. So if I've just got to talk it, I move it around just a little bit. Kind of moving forwards, backwards, side to side. You're going to hear a totally different recording sound and we've already seen that as we've recorded a few episodes times where I'm laughing off to the side or something. Totally changes the recorded quality.
Travis:
10:40
Yep. So that sweet spot is where you want to train yourself and be disciplined about every single time you hit record. You want to be in this sweet spots that's going to give you the best sound possible. So with the ATR2100 and the Samson Q2U, you want to be speaking about two inches away from the microphone. You're not swallowing the microphone, but you're very, very close to it. And then another thing that you want to do is speak off axis. So the way that you can visualize this is typically when you see like a a lead singer of a band and they're speaking directly onto the microphone, that would be on access. So you want to have the microphone at an angle to your mouth. So when you're speaking into it, it looks like the microphone is pointing kind of to your cheek instead of directly to your mouth. And what that does is that's going to help cut down on your plosives, the p's and the s's that we talked about in the last episode. And then if you're using the table stand that comes with both of those microphones, instead of holding it in your hand, then you can totally position it on the table. You just want to stay at least within a foot of the microphone. You don't want to get too far away or it's going to sound like you're in a cave and it's not going to pick up a really clean recording,
Alban:
11:49
But it's a little bit different if we're using a Blue Yeti. Right?
Travis:
11:53
So with the Blue Yeti, you don't want to be as close to the microphone as you would with the 2100 or the Q2U and you want to be speaking to the side of the microphone. So you want the label that says Blue Yeti or the label that says Blue to be facing you as you're talking to the side.
Alban:
12:10
Okay.
Travis:
12:11
And so the 2100 and the Q2U, you would talk to them how you would normally think about talking to a microphone. But with the Yeti, you want to be talking to the side of the microphone, not into the top.
Alban:
12:21
Okay. And then you said there's a couple different modes that we can set up for the Blue Yeti. And I guess that's based on whether or not it's just me, you and I. and then like a group of people.
Travis:
12:33
Correct. So you'll notice a knob on the back of your Yeti with some different symbols on it. And each of those symbols represents a different audio pattern. So depending on which one you choose, it's going to isolate sound positionally related to the microphone.
Alban:
12:51
Okay. So right now I've got one and I've got a heart. I've got like a eight. I've got kind of like a circle setup.
Travis:
12:58
Yep. So the heart shapes going to be your cardioid mode and that's for just one person. So that's if you're just narrating into the microphone, you want it on the heart shape setting, which is the cardioid mode, and that's where you have the logo facing towards you. And you're speaking into the side of the microphone.
Alban:
13:14
Gotcha.
Travis:
13:15
The eight shape or the infinity shape is the bidirectional mode. And that's going to be your four year, two person interview where you're sitting across from each other at a table and you're talking to each other with the microphone in the middle.
Alban:
13:27
So both of these, the mic is kind of pointing up towards the roof and we're both sitting at the sides talking into the sides of it, right?
Travis:
13:34
Correct.
Alban:
13:34
Okay.
Travis:
13:35
And the bidirectional mode, what it does is it emphasizes the speech between you and the person you're interviewing and it tries to negate any kind of sounds that are coming from the sides. So that's going to give you a better audio quality if you're doing an in person interview one on one, then the next setting, which is just the circle shape or the "o" shape, that stereo mode, so that's picking up equal sound from all directions, but that is the mode you want to use. If you're talking with three or more people and you're all speaking to each other in a circle with the microphone in the middle, that's gonna be the best mode for you in that scenario. So the Yeti is very versatile in that it has a lot of different ways that it can record sound and you just want to make sure that you've chosen the right setting for your kind of recording.
Alban:
14:21
So now we've found a good spot to record. We've got the team ready to go. We've got our mic set up. I imagine now we're ready to hit record?
Travis:
14:32
Yes. You are correct. So now we're ready to actually start recording the audio. You got your outline, you get your spot picked out and you got your mic technique zeroed in and so when you're using your laptop or your computer, you want to use your audio editing software to record your audio.
Alban:
14:51
And so from the episode that's going to be GarageBand If I'm on a Mac, it's going to be Audacity if I'm on something else.
Travis:
14:58
Correct.
Alban:
14:58
Pull that up. Make sure that the, I imagine first thing is like plug in the mic, make sure it's turned on.
Travis:
15:04
Yes. You want to plug in your USB microphone and turn it on so that way the computer can actually see it and recognize it. And then you're gonna choose your microphone as your audio input in your preferences.
Alban:
15:16
Yeah. And if you don't do this. I've done this before. I started recording and I was like why is the sound quality like terrible? And it's because it didn't notice to switch the mic over. And so I ended up recording just on like my computer mic, which was terrible.
Travis:
15:32
Yep. And then if you're doing a solo recording where it's just you talking to the microphone, you want to plug your headphones directly into the back of your microphone, the Q2U, the 2100 and the Blue Yeti all have a headphone jack. And what that's going to do is that it's going to cut down the delay where when you're recording into GarageBand or recording into Audacity, there's a slight latency, there's a slight delay in the signal, and so you're going to hear an echo of your voice. So if you're just talking by yourself, go ahead and plug your headphones directly into the microphone. But if you're doing an online interview then you want to have your headphones plugged into your computer so you can hear the other person's audio.
Alban:
16:10
Gotcha. And if you're recording in person with somebody, just no headphones are really needed. If you're talking into to a Blue Yeti just to have a conversation like normal, right?
Travis:
16:20
No, you still want to plug your headphones in. That's a really good question.
Alban:
16:24
Okay.
Travis:
16:24
Audio Engineering 101. Always be monitoring your sound. Even if you're sitting across from someone, you still want to have your headphones plugged in because what you don't want to happen is do an entire interview and then find out that your volume was too low and you can't actually hear yourself or there was something wrong. It wasn't plugged in all the way and so the microphone wasn't picking up any sound.
Travis:
16:44
So in GarageBand, when you're ready to hit record, all you want to do is once you open up a new projects, you want to create a new track position, the cursor or the track head where you want to start recording typically at 00:00, typically at the beginning, and then just hit the record button, which is this nice big red dot on GarageBand. If you're in Audacity, it's a little bit different, so you're going to plug in your microphone just like before. You're going to turn it on select it as your audio device in the dropdown menu on the top toolbar. So there's a dropdown menu with a little microphone icon. You're going to click that dropdown and select your microphone. Whether it's your 2100, your Q2U or your Blue Yeti, and so then Audacity knows that's the microphone you want to record with. Again, you're going to plug your headphones into your microphone directly and then you're gonna hit the record button and when you hit the record button, Audacity will automatically create a new track for you and it will start recording at zero minutes, zero seconds, so a little bit different from GarageBand, where in GarageBand you have to create a track to start recording. Audacity does it automatically for you, and then when you're done with your recording in GarageBand or Audacity, you want to export your audio file and that's because you're going to use that audio file in your master mix file, which we'll be talking about in the next episode. So that's a little sneak peek. Yes, you're going to use that as one of the components of your final episode structure, so that's using GarageBand and Audacity. When you're doing online interviews, you're going to be using Zencastr, which is the software that we talked about in the last episode, and Zencastr makes it pretty simple for recording your audio.
Alban:
18:24
Yeah, so when you're using a Zencastr, it's pretty easy process. You log in, create an account, and it gives you like a little link. You're going to send that to the person you're interviewing and when they log in with that link, it's like right into a room. It's just the two of you and both of you could see all the computers are working, everything. Make sure you go through and you've got green lights all the way down like that the mics are set up correctly and everything like that. Once you do that, hit record, record the whole episode and it'll give you a little waveform so you know it's recording right. Then at the end it's just going to upload those audio files to like Dropbox or maybe Google Drive if that's what you're using.
Travis:
19:04
Whatever cloud storage you decide you want to use.
Alban:
19:06
Yeah, whatever one you want to use. And then you've got the two separate audio tracks and those are gonna be much higher quality than if you were just to like record a Skype call.
Travis:
19:17
Yep. And you'll be able to download those separate audio files at your convenience and use them whenever you start mixing your final episode. So just to recap what we talked about in this episode before you even start hitting record, you want to write an outline for your episode, got to have an outline. It's going to help you so much and save you so much time in the long run. You also want to pick the ideal spot in your home or wherever else you're recording to do your recording so that you're not in a room that's going to give you bad sound. You also want to identify the sweet spot with your microphone. So do some practice runs recording yourself in different positions in respect to your microphone to figure out which spot you sound the best in, and then just train yourself that that's where you want to be. Every single time you talk into the microphone and then when you're going to actually record your audio, you can use GarageBand or Audacity and record the audio directly into both of those software programs which are free to download. If you have GarageBand, it's probably already installed on your Mac and Audacity is free for you to just go and download from the Internet. And then if you're doing online interviews to capture your audio, just use Zencastr. It's gonna have everything that you need to be able to record the interview audio and have it as a audio files ready for you to download and use in your final episode mix.
Alban:
20:34
Now, you've probably already done this by now, but if you haven't, go ahead and download the "How to Start a Podcast" checklist.
Travis:
20:40
Download the checklist!
Alban:
20:41
And this is just the one that will help you go through everything so you don't forget any of these steps and it's fill in the blanks. It's a pretty easy process and by the end of it you're going to be launching your own episode and you're going to know that you've covered all your bases for a successful launch.
Travis:
20:57
In episode five, you'll learn how to edit and mix your podcast episode and then upload it to buzzsprout.
Always start with an outline
Where you should record your podcast
Tips for speaking into your microphone
Record your first episode
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