Use a folder system like Google Drive, or an application like Trello to gather and organize ideas, materials, sounds, links, scripts, etc.
There are several free options available for recording. The two most used are Audacity (Windows, Mac or Linux) and GarageBand (Mac Only). The computer labs also offer access to Adobe Audition. If you are using a Chromebook, you may want to download SoundCloud for Chrome which allows you to record audio, and either download it to your Google Drive to edit on another device or upload it directly to SoundCloud. For information on how to get started with these tools, select a link below.
Once you pick a tool, get the feel of it by practicing with it. Make a "sandbox" project and add some tracks, practice recording, practice importing music/effects, and play around with volume and mixing. Once you feel comfortable with the software, record your project. Be sure to save your work.
Once you have recorded your podcast, you'll want to save your recording or export it directly into an online hosting service. GarageBand offers the ability to share directly to your iTunes or SoundCloud account. You may also save the file to your computer and upload it separately by using the Export Song to Disk option in GarageBand. Audacity gives you the option to export your creation to different file formats such as MP3, WAV and others.
When saving your podcast SoundCloud recommends you upload using one of the following formats: WAV, FLAC, AIFF or ALAC with a bit depth of 16 bit and a sample rate of 48 khz.
For more information on getting started with SoundCloud, consult the SoundCloud Help Center.
The two basic things you need to start are a computer and microphone.
You can use the built-in microphone on your computer to record your podcast, but an external microphone is a preferred option and will give you better sound quality. Setting up an external microphone with a microphone stand will further help sound quality and won't require you to contort your body to adapt to a strangely placed microphone. You'll also want some over-the-ear headphones to listen to the sound quality as you are recording. ITS offers microphones and headphones for checkout.
It's best to find a quiet place without a lot of ambient noise (fans, traffic, etc.) in the background. Test out different locations to see which produces the best quality sound.
Podcasts often appear ad-libbed and unscripted, but many of them use scripts for at least parts, if not all of the episode. There are some real benefits to scripting a podcast – you'll know exactly where the show is going, what content you'll cover, how long each section will take, and you'll have a chance to reduce long pauses and cut out all of those pesky "ums" and "ahs". This strategy can help you come across sounding professional and polished.
The negative side to creating a script is that you may sanitize your podcast to the point that it feels stiff and unnatural. Good podcasts often seem unscripted and free-flowing, but as The Podcast Host website reveals, most good podcasts use what is called an Invisible Script – a script that comes off naturally to the listeners. The steps used for this technique include the following:
For more information on how to create an invisible script, read the blog The Art of the Invisible Podcast Script.
After you've picked your recording software and are ready to sit down and actually record, there are some key points to help with the quality of the recording:
Distance and Position – Try out the microphone using different distances and positions. Don't be afraid to get close to the microphone. Adjust the microphone so you don't have to strain. If you don't have a stand, try to arrange the microphone on top of books or a box so that it allows you to speak into it without straining. Be sure to use over-the-ear headphones to monitor the sound quality in real time.
Levels and Loudness – Make sure that you try to keep your audio levels consistent.
Music, sound effects and voice should be at about the same level so people don't have to raise and lower their own volume when listening to the podcast. Typically, when you record, your voice should be in the upper green area – don't let the sound go into the red. Same for music – you don't want it too loud. A little added volume at the beginning and end for intros and outros is acceptable.
Multiple Takes vs. All in One Sitting - When you are recording, it is best to record your podcast all in one sitting. It can be difficult to get the same sound quality during different recording sessions. It can also be hard to match up tone, volume and quality.
Also, try to avoid stopping and starting the recording. Optimally, record the entire podcast without stopping. It's typically easier to edit out flubs or long pauses, rather than to try and recreate your exact tone and volume. Editing multiple tracks together can sometimes cause the recording to sound choppy and inconsistent.
It is best to have separate tracks for each part of your podcast. Ideally the layout should have at least four parts:
Additional tracks may be inserted if it makes sense to your particular podcast.
Practice makes perfect. Try different locations, test the microphone, and do a few practice runs to get the feel of the equipment and software. If more than one person is going to be involved in the podcast, sound check them also. Be sure to listen to yourself during recording, and playback the recording to see where improvements can be made. Practicing and preparing can help you have a successful podcast.