If you have kept up with the latest tech and media news, then you know podcasting is a rapidly growing market. In fact, as of last month, there were 48 million podcast episodes, and a staggering 485 million podcast listeners worldwide (source: Statista).
While the majority of podcasts are not (yet) profitable, improved audio advertising technology and demand is beginning to create more opportunities for serious podcasters to profit from their efforts. In fact, podcast advertising spending is expected to rise to $1.33 billion U.S. in 2021 and reach $2.7 billion in 2025.
Whether your interest in creating a podcast is motivated by passion, your profession, or your entrepreneurial spirit, you’ll want to make sure your podcast sounds great and attracts as many listeners as possible.
Nowadays, any high quality laptop equipped with recording and editing software can serve as the core of your podcast studio.
Outside of your laptop or desktop computer, make sure you get a high-quality microphone and headphones so your voice sounds as clear and natural as possible.
If your listeners strain to hear what you are saying, you will lose them. We do not recommend using the computer’s built-in microphone.
When choosing a microphone for your podcast, the first big question is: USB vs. XLR?
USB-connected mics are very affordable and the easy, plug-and-play solution. However, XLR microphones are usually favored by audio professionals. They require additional hardware to connect to your computer, like an audio interface or mixer, but offer a lower noise floor and flexibility that can’t be matched by most USB mics.
A quality pair of headphones are also important for podcasters, because they allow you to monitor your recording as it’s happening and make any necessary adjustments (for example, moving back the mic from the speaker due to popping sounds or humming from an air conditioner).
Notetracks Pro recommends: The Shure SM7B microphone and a Scarlett interface from Focusrite. You can pair it with the Sennheiser HD280 headphones.
First, understand yourself and your goal as a podcaster. What are you trying to achieve with your podcast? Are you trying to inform and educate your audience, entertain, build a community of like minds, spur people to action, or something else?
Once you have clarified your goal, it’s best to stick with topics you know and are passionate about. Building a large listener base can take time, so think of creating a successful podcast as a marathon; not a sprint.
Finally, understand your target market. Just as successful brands do market research to understand the latest trends and consumer interests, the most successful podcasters need to understand their potential listeners.
For example, if you want to start a podcast about home improvement projects, you will want to understand the approximate age and demographic profile of homeowners. Pick a topic around which you can consistently deliver high-quality content.
The world is saturated with content, so consistently high-quality content will be needed to rise above the noise.
There are many different kinds of podcasts with a variety of formats — interviews, individual / monologue style commentary and thoughts, co-hosting, storytelling, or a combination of these. Based on your unique interests, talents and network, choose a format that will work best for your podcast. For example, sticking with the home improvement theme, maybe you have been or work with contractors and have a network of specialists you can interview for your podcast series about different kinds of projects. For example, roofers, garage organizers, paint color experts, garage organizers, and others that could add interest and depth to your program.
Once you’ve decided on a topic and are ready to record, there are a few important things you want to keep in mind. Getting a truly professional recording goes deeper than we can cover in this article, but we’ll highlight a few key things here.
First, make sure you have a quiet space without too many ambient sounds that will be picked up by your microphone. Large, open office spaces, or sitting near a window with street traffic will create many audio distractions.
Ideally, you won’t need to soundproof an entire room, but do run a few tests and try to avoid rooms with a lot of sound reflecting surfaces like marble, tile and glass that can cause reverberation.
Avoid chewing gum or eating, and utilize an outline to keep things natural. Use the outline as a general guide rather than scripting your entire episode: Word-for-word scripting usually sounds less conversational. With guests especially, flexibility is key - you want to allow for creative off-outline moments as long as things don’t veer too far off-course.
Most professional podcasts, like those produced by big networks, go through an extensive editing process. Many of the software options you’d use for podcast recording, such as Audacity, Garageband or Adobe Audition include editing capabilities.
The post production and editing process may include adding elements like pre-recorded intros and outros or music beds, as well as editing out undesirable aspects of the raw recording: extended silence, sneezes, ums and ahs, expletives, etc.
Other software options, such as Notetracks Pro, enhance and enable creative collaboration with your podcast team and/or guests and give them a chance to comment on the episode. With Notetracks Pro, for example, you can easily drop comments on the podcast timeline and suggestions for the post production process. Try it free for seven days.
With so many options available, you don’t need to spend big network dollars to get a professional sounding podcast. Investing a little time and money in the right software and hardware as well as some thoughtful content planning is well worth the effort given the explosion of global interest in audio content.