I can remember the exact moment I decided I would start a podcast. I was mowing my lawn. It was several months after recording a podcast at the Crawfish Boxes. It was our first podcast where we ranked the players in the Houston Astros' minor league system. I didn't produce that episode but I was excited to take part in more. When more didn't happen I decided to take initiative. I decided to produce the podcast my self.
Five years later I've produced over 200 hours of baseball podcast content. I'm well on my way to replicating that in the information security space. Consistency has been the biggest thing for me. I've managed to produce content on a regular basis. I've done that by getting my process down to a few hours. I prepare, produce, edit, and then release episodes in just a few hours. Getting started took quite a bit more time.
If your week is slammed with different obligations and hobbies reconsider starting a podcast. Starting a podcast is easy. Have an idea and then record it. The challenge starts with distributing and maintaining a podcast. With an emphasis on maintaining the podcast. If there are several obligations that take up time then it will be hard to make a podcast a priority. And that's the key to a successful podcast. The willingness to make it a priority. If you're there, (or at least think you're there) read on.
Have an idea
It took me a couple years before I had my own idea for an infosec related podcast. I didn't want to be like the other security podcasts out there. Talking about the latest news and ideas in infosec. I wanted something different. That's not to say you can't do what others are doing. Your voice is unique enough to do the same thing as others. For me I wanted something that was timeless and would provide value to others.
Once an idea has presented itself, I would recommend writing down the idea and format for the podcast. What is the duration of the podcast? What sections will it have? Is there a co-host? What do you want to cover? Is it focused on a specific topic or more general? What is the description of the podcast? What is the tagline? Who is this podcast for? Answering these questions will help get a clearer picture of what's needed.
My podcast setup is low-cast. I record using a soundcard that has a "What U Hear" function. With this input I record every sound made on the computer. The one sound that doesn't get recorded is my microphone, because it's a separate input. Which is why I use two Skype accounts and hook my microphone up to my laptop when recording guests. An alternative to this is getting a mixer. I've never used one so I can't provide any tips on using that instead.
A solo podcast is much easier to produce. A microphone and audacity is all that is needed. I use the ATR-2100 microphone and Audacity to record audio. The ATR-2100 is a $35-75 microphone that will provide 7 out of 10 quality. The more expensive professional microphones will provide a 9 out of 10 quality. The ATR-2100 provides a 7 out of 10 quality. The ATR-2100 is well worth the money.
Audacity is free and gets the job done. Software is available with a price tag for editing. That decision usually involves improving workflow.
Audacity is where most of my editing occurs. While recording I will use the marker hot key to mark any points I need to review after recording. The default key mapping is CTRL + M. It took me a little time to get used to using it. Once I got used to it, I was able to edit without having to re-listen to the entire recording again. I could just go to the marker and make my edits. When working with markers you have to edit from the end of the episode to the front. Editing from the front will move all the markers.
Of course there is value in listening to the entire episode again. When I first started I would pick-up on things that needed improving on. Some examples include, improving the transition from topic to topic. Do things like reducing "uh" and "um" in our speech.
After editing, export the audio into a .wav file. Then run it through Levelator2. This tool will normalize levels and clean up the audio a bit. This makes listening to the podcast a little more enjoyable for the listener.
Once that's done the convert the .wav file to a .mp3 file for storage reasons. Wav files are big. MP3 files not so much. This will help with storage and improve download times for the listener. I use iTunes to convert my .wav files to .mp3 files. After that's done upload it to storage for distribution.
Store and distribute it
Storage is a cost. There are free options, but those are trickier and add complexity. I've used Libsyn and would recommend them. For me I discovered that I could host and create the RSS feed for my podcast on my own personal site. This made things much easier for me.
The last thing to do is get the podcast setup in a distribution platform. There are a lot of them. The most popular one is iTunes. This will be where you'll see most of your download traffic. Other podcast distributors include Stitcher, BluBrry, and many others. My current podcast is only on iTunes. That is the biggest distributor. I gain a much smaller amount of listeners submitting to other podcast directories. If a listener were to request another podcast directory then I'd submit there.
Submitting to a podcast directory is well documented by each site. You will need an RSS feed. There are many ways to setup one. Most storage providers like Libsyn will create an RSS feed for you. You can also do it yourself. Which is what I did for the four years of the Crawfish Boxes podcast. Currently, I'm using the EIS Podcast page on this site as the RSS feed.
Once submitted it usually takes a few days for the podcast to show up. I recommend having three episodes in the RSS feed before submitting.
Numbers to care about
If a podcaster got past 7 episode he is more likely to stick with podcasting and produce it on a regular basis. I'm not sure how true that is, but I feel like it there is some truth to it. In my experience podcasts stop because they're complicated to produce. Which leads me to my last bit of advice. If you want to keep at it, make the process as simple and as efficient as possible.