After writing my post about starting a podcast, I wanted to create a walk-through of how to edit together a simple podcast, especially if you have more than one audio file to mix, want to add a jingle, or create an introduction.
For our podcast, we recently began using a system that is totally free but gets us better audio quality for our listeners. It’s outlined in detail on this blog, but the basics are:
We talk to each other using a program like Google Hangouts or Skype.
We all wear headphones while recording.
Each person records their audio on their own computer using a simple voice recorder such as Garageband or Quicktime, which is what I use. The resulting audio doesn’t pick up the other people’s voices, so each one is crystal clear and it is easy to synchronize them.
The editor blends the 2+ files together using an audio editor such as Garageband and exports to create a single mp3 file.
This process, while it seems complicated, is actually really straightforward to put into practice. But if you’re just starting out on your podcasting journey (yay you!) then I’d encourage you to just use whichever system is easiest and most straightforward for you, even if that means simply recording the other person talking through your computer’s speakers. We used an inefficient, roundabout method that was not ideal until only about a month ago! The important thing is to just start, and add in the more complex things later. If you’re ready to take your podcast to the next (albeit still fairly simple and straightforward) level, then check out this little tutorial.
The video walkthrough is about 11 minutes long, and contains a step-by-step of how I edit a podcast from start to finish. You will see how to synchronize two separate audio files and export a finished podcast. I try to include lots of helpful tips such as how to fade out different parts of your audio, add a jingle to your intro and outro segments, work with different file formats, and add a beep if you accidentally swear. You’ll also get a chance to see how the various controls on Garageband are used and an idea of the settings I work with to create the best files I can. The tutorial is specific to the built-in Mac application Garageband.
I hope you find it interesting and helpful, and as Seth Godin would say “most of all, I hope you do something with it.”
Thanks for watching!
If you have any questions for me, I’d love to hear them in the comments below or through Twitter or Instagram.
I’ve started two podcasts now, one about writing and then of course Guinea Pigging Green. For both, I’ve always taken on the role of behind-the-scenes techie to get it up and running and keep it updated. There are plenty of paid services online to take care of the tech stuff for you, but if you don’t have a lot of money to spend yet feel strongly about putting ideas out into the world then I want to give you that power! I really adore the medium of the podcast and am constantly wanting to start new shows myself. The process can seem incredibly intimidating and overwhelming if you’re just starting out, but it’s actually very straightforward once you learn how to do it yourself.
1. Record Your Show
If you’re the only one on the show, you can record using GarageBand which comes built into a Mac or whatever the built-in audio recorder is on your computer. You can get fancy here by adding a microphone, but it’s not necessary. I use the Samson Go Mic which is a great, inexpensive option, but I was making podcast just using my computer’s microphone on and off for 2 years before I made the switch.
If you’re recording long distance, the best way we’ve found (that we just switched to for GPG) is to talk over Skype or Google Hangouts while wearing headphones, and then record your own audio throughout the conversation using your computer’s built in audio recording software (I use Quicktime for this). Then, get the other person to send you their file, and mash them together in Garageband. Each file will have one person’s voice, and pauses while the other person talks, so it should be easy to sync up the audio, especially if you add a clap at the beginning of recording. The result is some seriously sexy audio quality, especially if you’re using a microphone. This method is described more here.
2. Edit Your Audio
I use Garageband exclusively for some simple editing for our show. I usually just add a short jingle at the beginning for our intro and at the end. Ours was written and recorded by my co-host’s brother, but there are tons of options in the program and even more online. In the past we’ve occasionally had a particularly bad connection and had to stop and start a few times so in those cases I go in and cut things out and edit for smoothness of speech if we get any weird mechanical errors in the audio file. We also sometimes slip up and swear on our podcast, so I’ll either cut it out or add in a bleep (free ones here) – that’s always fun. Once you’re finished editing, export the file to iTunes, which will make it into a finished mp3 file.
3. Upload Your Finished File
As I’ve talked about the blog before, my sites are self-hosted – you can learn how to self-host your website right here. That means that I pay about $6 a month to Bluehost which also gives me unlimited storage. Because I have unlimited storage, I choose to upload my podcast files to a subfolder on my domain which can be accessed by anyone at a link. If you don’t have your own website and don’t want to pay for your podcast, I recommend getting a free Dropbox account and uploading your files there in a Public folder. There’s more about the Dropbox method on this blog along with a great, comprehensive article on starting a podcast.
You’ll also need to create a square image or graphic. I made ours in Photoshop Elements, but you could also just crop down a photo. Just make sure it’s the right dimensions and upload it to your preferred location, ie. your website or Dropbox.
4. Create a Podcast Feed
This is the part that can seem the most impossible. I know I struggled quite a lot trying to figure out this step before I came across an easy method. I use the PodcastBlaster Feed Generator which is totally free and very simple. You make a quick account and then just fill-in-the-blanks on your podcast’s main page. Each time you want to add a new episode, you fill in the blanks for that too. After inputting all your information, you can download your “XML file” from the website. This is basically an RSS feed, and it’s what you’ll need to submit your show to iTunes or Stitcher.
One thing I wish we’d done originally is to run our XML file through Feedburner so we’d be able to track statistics. Live and learn, I guess! I actually don’t know how to do this process (though I will be using it if I ever start another podcast) but there’s a great tutorial here. It’s not essential but I would recommend it if you want to get a sense of how many people are listening to you.
5. Submit Your Feed to iTunes
This is actually the easiest step in the whole process. When you want to add a new podcast to iTunes, the only thing they want is the link to your XML file (RSS feed). If you’ve done it properly, all the information the database needs is in that file, so it only requires the one link. Once you’ve entered it, it’ll usually process the application for a couple of days before your show is live. Once it is, people can subscribe! This process is very similar on Stitcher.
And that’s it!
A quick note: if you don’t want to deal with all these details and would rather pay a small amount of money, Elise has an awesome post about starting a podcast using Libsyn. That method skips many of these steps and streamlines the process a bit. I actually quite like knowing how to do all these processes and I’m learning new things all the time, but the important thing is to make the content, regardless of how you get there.
If you have a podcast, awesome! What process do you use to record and submit? If you don’t – would you ever start one? Are you a fan of the medium? If you are inspired to create a show, leave me a link in the comments, I’d love to check it out.
Just over 3 years ago, I changed over from WordPress.com to self-hosting my blog and it’s safe to say that I’ve never looked back. Hosting my own blog has given me tons of freedom, including the ability to also host my own personal website and the podcast website, with the option to add an unlimited number of more sites if I choose to. By self-hosting, I can also embed many more widgets and add advertising options to my blog. Not to mention I am able to design my websites to look exactly the way I want them to using CSS and HTML. Obviously, hosting costs more than using a stellar free service such as WordPress.com, but for me it offers enough advantages to be worth it. If you’re interested in making the switch too, here are the steps you’ll need to take.
1. Choose a host
This is definitely the most important decision you’ll make regarding your blog. The host you choose will store your website on its servers, while allowing you all the freedom you want in terms of design and content. A host works behind the scenes to ensure that everything on your blog is running smoothly.
My hosting service has always been (and probably always will be) Bluehost. They offer unlimited storage and unlimited registered domains (ie. as many websites as you choose to have). They also have 24/7 support, if you ever need help with your site. I’ve only ever had one serious issue with my site since I’ve been self-hosting – I accidentally left my blog in a state of permanent maintenance mode – and I was able to resolve it over the phone in only a few minutes with a very nice Texan man. He was friendly, smart, and most of all very efficient in solving my problem.
And the best part about Bluehost? It’s so well priced. If you sign up for 12 months, it’s only $7 a month, or $84 a year. If you sign up for longer, as I intend to do the next time I need to renew my service, it can be as low as $4.95 a month. You can learn more about their pricing options here.
I did a lot of research before initially choosing my web host, and I’ve always been very happy with my choice.
2. Register your domain
The next step is to register your desired domain name. “Domain name” is just a fancy way of saying the URL of your blog. Mine, for example is “lifeinlimbo.org”.
One of my favourite things about Bluehost is that I can register domains from inside my dashboard and don’t have to use a third-party service. It’s very easy, and if your desired domain name is taken, they show you other options and their prices right away. I love having all that information at my fingertips. It can be dangerous though – I’ve gotten carried away registering a few extra domains for future projects and endeavors!
Domains usually cost about $12, but can be much more expensive depending on how popular the name is. I also personally purchase domain name privacy protection for my sites. Legally, you must provide your name and address when you purchase any domain, and that information is searchable online. For $10 a year, Bluehost allows you to protect your private details by masking them with their own information. You can learn more about domain privacy services here.
3. Install WordPress
Once you have secured hosting and a domain name, all you really have is a blank webpage. To turn it into a blog, I recommend using WordPress. It is hands down the best website software available, and it’s totally free. Once installed, you can have a gorgeously designed blog up and running within a few minutes, literally.
Through Bluehost, you can very easily install any platform you choose, including WordPress, in only a few minutes. It’s very simple and straightforward, and you can access the installation page from your account’s homepage like in the screenshot above. If you are using a different host, you can download the WordPress software directly from their website and install it yourself.
Once installed, you’ll have a link to a WordPress login page, ex. “http://yourblog.com/wp-admin” where you can sign in and access your WordPress dashboard. Once you’re signed in, you’re in an easy-to-use backend of your blog where you can easily install plugins, see stats, choose a theme, add widgets, write posts and upload photos.
4. Choose a theme
Now for the fun stuff! WordPress offers thousands of free themes, most very customizable, available to browse on their website. You can also find them in the “Appearance” panel of your WordPress dashboard.
There are many other awesome themes on the market, and most are fairly inexpensive. I personally use a heavily customized version of the free Brunelleschi theme on this site.
Choosing a theme can take some trial-and-error, so play around with it and don’t be afraid to switch it up. I’ve changed my theme many times over the years, and I always love a good redesign! If you’re just starting out, I would recommend resisting the temptation to buy a theme, even if it is only $30. Some themes are really worth it (though they tend to be more like $100), but most aren’t much better than a good, customized free theme.
5. Install plugins
A plugin is a program that runs behind the scenes on your blog to add on features. There’s a (free) plugin for almost anything you can imagine! My favourite plugins are:
Jetpack: a package designed and updated by the WordPress team that offers everything from site stats to awesome widgets to custom CSS.
LinkWithin: displays other related posts at the bottom of all my blog posts.
WP to Twitter: automatically tweets the title and link of published blog posts.
I do have others not listed here running in the background of my site for other tasks, but these ones would be my top picks for someone starting their website from scratch.
To install a plugin, go to the “Plugins” menu on your WordPress dashboard (right below “Appearance”, see the previous screenshot) and select “Add new”. You can then search for any plugin you wish. You can also browse plugins on the WordPress website.
6. Customize your theme and add widgets + buttons
Most themes these days have tons of customizable options, including the number and position of sidebars, which can make a huge difference in a site’s overall design. Most blogs have one sidebar on the right, for example:
I’d suggest taking some time to explore your favourite blogs and make notes on what you like and dislike about each of their site designs. It depends on your theme, but this option usually comes built into your “Theme Options” page.
After that, it’s all about the widgets! “Widget” is the WordPress term for a little box of code that lives on your sidebar or footer and displays content. On my blog, that’s everything you see in the right hand column, from my “Welcome” photo all the way down to my affiliate links and what I’m currently reading. Take some time to explore the widgets that come built into WordPress, such as ones displaying your most Popular Posts, site archives or categories.
Most of the widgets you see on my sidebar are pulled from other websites (ex. Mailchimp) or custom coded by yours truly in HTML. Knowing even a little bit of HTML is immensely helpful when installing or creating widgets, but that’s a topic for a whole other blog post. If you don’t know any HTML, the w3schools website is a great resource. You may also want to check out their tutorials on CSS if you want to do anything like changing the fonts, site colours or link styles from the default theme options.
7. Get blogging!
Realistically, this is the most important step on the list. You could stop after getting hosting, WordPress and a theme, and just get to the point of the whole thing and start creating content. Over the years, my site has gone through a ton of designs and themes and they’ve all built slowly on top of each other as my knowledge has grown and my style has developed. But the one constant is the writing. One of my all time favourite blogs, The Trephine, has one of the most simple blog designs I’ve seen, but she’s gained a tremendously loyal, interested following because her writing is amazing and true. And really, that’s the whole point of blogging.
So ultimately it doesn’t matter if you’re on Blogger or WordPress.com or hosting your own content – the important thing is to write true things down, reach out to others and stay passionate. I absolutely love that John Irving quote: “You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed,” and nowhere is that more true for me than when it comes to my blog. I’ve been blogging (aka spewing my thoughts) for a very long time. The earliest blog post I can find that’s still in existence (it’s on Livejournal and you’re never, ever finding out the name of it) was December 2006, and the post itself refers to two previous blogs that I, in the words of my 15 year old self, “grew out of”.
Safe to say, I’m obsessed and have been for a very long time. Like all things, my interest ebbs and flows, but if I’m ever away for too long I start to feel like I’m not myself anymore. Blogging doesn’t have to be that thing for you, but if it is, hold onto it and forget about what your theme looks like or what widgets you need to choose. You’ll get there over time. If you’re in it for the long haul, it doesn’t really matter how fast you figure it out.
If you have any more questions about blogging and self-hosting, or widgets and themes and plugins, feel free to let me know in the comments below. Best of luck and have fun!
Please note that affiliate links are used in this post. If you purchase any products recommended, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are absolutely and always my own.
Over on Guinea Pigging Green today, I’m answering 10 very random questions about myself and asking Laura 10 of my own (very random) questions. We love recording the podcast together, but for the past few weeks our schedules have not aligned because of vacations and my summer work schedule and of course, the 13 hour time difference between us. So I had this totally wacky idea for us to record the episode separately, answering questions we’d sent each other in advance.
In the end, I think it worked out pretty well, all things considered! One of the best parts of having this podcast is being able to have fun and try new things. We are the ones running the (very small) show, so we get to try out different ideas and be silly and experiment and see what happens. More often than not, we end up learning more about each other and the world, learning how to collaborate better, meeting amazing new people, improving ourselves and hopefully doing our small part to inspire others to lead happier healthier lives. The podcast is definitely sometimes a lot of work, or a hassle to develop ideas and record every few weeks, but I am absurdly grateful for this tiny fun creative venture. I know I’m building skills that will help me in the future and I’m so glad I get to do so in a way that’s positive and which inspires me.
We asked each other some pretty fun questions and got some pretty funny and interesting responses. You can find out more about the episode by reading the shownotes over on our blog or of course by tuning into the show at the link here or by subscribing on iTunes. Thanks for listening!