“The Making Of”
Several listeners have asked me to talk about the technicalities of podcasting. This blogpost summaries my approach of preparing, recording, editing and publishing the Megrow podcast. As a general rule, I strive to combine a decent quality outcome with the use of relatively modest hard- and software. Note though: many roads lead to Rome!
This blogpost is the (almost) verbatim script of the recently released Megrow Podcast Episode 5. If you prefer listening to it, click on this link or the image just below. Otherwise enjoy the reading.
You do NOT need to spend thousands of dollars on high-tech equipment or rent a professional studio to record a podcast at decent quality. However, some good equipment is needed to produce professional podcasts. Nothing worse than high quality content that loses its impact due to poor recording and shoddy processing!
A decent quality microphone is the single most important investment to make. Almost any external microphone is better than the built-in microphones in your laptop / tablet / PC / mobile phone.
I purchased a Yeti Blue, for around USD 130, because
- all the reviews I read, attested the Yeti a very good sound quality
- the price, whilst not cheap, felt reasonable
- it connects via USB to any computer
- no additional hardware, like sound mixers, needed
- simple plug-in and record, no need to install apps or software
- both the microphone and the stand feel very robust
- micro can be adjusted for solo podcasting or interview-type conversations
- and, I do like the design and the colors
The detailed technical description of the microphone and the color choice is available on the Yeti website. The Yeti is NOT a light-weight!
I also invested 20 USD into a pop-screen. When buying one, make sure it is big enough to cover the entire microphone. Make sure the lock comes with mounting clamps or screws to fix the screen on your mic or the table/stand that you put your recording gear on.
Both iOS and W10 have built-in voice recorders. They work perfectly well for podcasting purpose.
Important: regardless of the device/app you use, make sure it can record with at least 44.1 kHz sampling rate. Most apps have a “setting” or “preference” option where you can adjust audio quality to “maximum” or whatever the terminology of your preferred OS is. 44.1 kHz records sound at excellent quality whilst keeping the audio files at a manageable size.
One thing to note: when using a good quality microphone at 44.1 kHz settings, be absolutely sure that you record in a quiet environment to avoid picking up background noise. Our brains are excellent at filtering out low level noise emanating from air conditioners or cooling fans of computers. However, a good microphone will register fan noise, which will distort your recording. Hence be wary of “silent” noise when recording.
One additional point to note, especially when your recording device runs a different OS than your post-processing device(s). You need to record your audio in a format that the “receiving” OS and software can open and process.
Once you have recorded your ramblings, you may want to do some post-processing to enhance the messaging of your podcast.
Depending on the operating system you use, different options (at no extra cost) are available for editing your recordings. I mostly edit on a W10 machine using DaVinci Resolve 16 from Blackmagic. This editor is extremely feature rich, requires a journey along a steep learning curve and is available as a free download from the Blackmagic website. I use DaVinci because I grew reasonably familiar with it during the early days of my personal YouTube channel.
On the side: iMovie on your Mac will do the job just as nicely.
A voice-only editor is insufficient for me, because I add images, titles, lay-over text, video snippets and music to the voice recording.
Thus far, I’ve had a smooth journey in terms of finding content. I do a lot of Enterprise Risk Management consulting work, hence ERM is a given topic. Let’s hope the creative vibes stay with me for a long time!
I could easily record an entire podcast episode without preparation. However, I prefer to script each episode at great level of detail. Putting my thoughts on paper (aka MS Word) forces some discipline into my thought process. In addition, a script eases content management and instills more focus on the actual delivery. Reading off a script also makes recording quite straight forward.
And lastly, I release an accompanying blogpost on the Megrow website concomitantly to the podcast. The blog is a very close copy of the actual podcast script, so very little work is needed to cover two communication channels in one go.
Episodes usually last for about 10 minutes. I believe that 10 minutes provide enough time to get some detailed content across without “hand-cuffing” listeners for too long.
Once I have an almost final version of the script, I choose the “read-aloud” function in MS Word for proofing. Listening to the computer voice whilst following the text is such an efficient way of spotting mistakes and errors. Additionally, I also record the time needed for MS word to read the entire text – just to make sure I stay within the ten minutes target duration.
I’m obviously not a native English-speaker, so spell- and grammar check is a given.
Once I’m OK with the script, I set up the recording hardware. Mostly, I just put the laptop on top of a cardboard box, place the microphone next to it and fit the pop-blocker in front of the Yeti. It might not look very professional, but this set-up is fast and practical. For best sound quality, the Yeti needs to stand vertical and you need to talk into the microphone from the front.
I record each episode in chapters. Recording in slices makes the process much easier. When I stumble over my own words, I can simply discard the current chapter and re-record it. In addition, bite-sized audio slices also speed up my editing workflow.
My editing process is relatively straight-forward:
- set the editor – DaVinci Resolve in my case – to 1920×1080 Full HD resolution. This is currently the best choice when considering file size and quality
- match quality setting of the audio track in your editing software to the high-quality settings used for voice recording
- add opening screen, the intro and the outro from my templates stock. The intro and outro form the boundaries of the podcast in the editing software’s story line
- mark chapters in the podcast with distinct titles for easy navigation
- add images, URLs and video snippets when needed
- pre-view the episode a few times for final quality control
- export the project at full HD and upload to YouTube
Recorded and edited, how will the world find your podcast and listen to it?
The state-of-the-art publishing process encompasses publication on one of the well-known Podcast feeders, such as Apple Podcasts or “Podcast Addict” for Android (to name just two). I was initially considering going down that route as well, but after a bit of thinking and tinkering, I decided to simply publish the Megrow podcast on YouTube.
YouTube has a very distinctive set of advantages
- it is a very well-known, easily accessible and omnipresent platform
- tagging and onwards distribution/linking to other Social Media channels is easy
- I’m familiar with the platform
- listeners can subscribe to my channel and post comments
- show notes can be added easily
- device and platform independent, only needs a browser
My current method of reaching out to my audience is a five-pronged approach:
- post on YouTube
- announce the Episode on my Megrow Twitter account
- put the link on Megrow’s LinkedIn page
- post link on “my” LinkedIn page
- publish the (almost) verbatim podcast on Megrow website as a blogpost.
I hope my thoughts will be helpful to some of you who are current or aspiring podcasters! Thank you very much for reading this blogpost. Other blogposts are here. You can contact me via the buttons at the bottom of the page.