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Get Started With Podcasting on the Mac

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While publishing and creating a podcast isn't yet anywhere near as simple as posting a blog post or publishing a Youtube video, it has become increasingly easy over the years. Moreover, podcasters now possess the newfound possibility to produce a near-radio quality show for a relatively small initial investment.

In this tutorial I'll show you my method for producing and publishing audio podcasts - from the hardware that's required to the best places to host your finished product - you'll be podcasting in no time.


The Hardware

The hardware you choose to record your podcast with will play the largest role in the quality of your finished product. That being said, while you can easily spend thousands of dollars on a radio-grade studio, most people will be more than happy with the quality of what are considered "prosumer" microphones. Those prosumer models usually run from about $80-300 and require little to no setup or prior audio knowledge if you choose one that interfaces with your computer via USB.

The best USB microphone for podcasting is the Rode Podcaster. While it's more expensive than most other USB microphones, it's the best sounding "out of the box" solution. If you're looking for more affordable options, however, you really can't go wrong with most Blue Microphones, the most popular being the Yeti and the Snowball.

Tip: Blue Microphones tend to go on sale quite often from websites like Woot, so I'd recommend holding out for a good deal.

No matter what your budget, for 99% of podcasters, these USB microphones will be your best option. When I started my podcasts I decided to try and emulate a professional setup and was soon overwhelmed after I realized just how in over my head I really was.

If you are positive that you know what you're doing with professional audio, or are at least willing to put in countless hours learning, than a setup with an XLR microphone and a proper mixer will be your best bet. Dan Benjamin of the popular 5by5 podcast network has a great equipment guide on his website  for people looking to go the professional route.


The Set-up

Whether you opt for a professional-grade microphone and mixer or just a simple USB microphone, your environment will play an extremely large role in determining the quality of your podcasts. First of all, you should be recording your podcasts in the quietest possible space you can find. You'll want to remove any noise that you can by doing things like turning off fans and closing windows; while these sounds are mostly inconsequential in everyday life, they can ruin the quality of your recording.

Secondly, the room you choose to record in should be set up accordingly. You should try to dampen any sound reverberations by either purchasing audio foam, or just choosing a room with lots of soft surfaces. If you aren't willing to spend the money on proper studio gear, simply hanging a quilt on your wall can yield a great return on investment in audio quality. If you're looking to go more in-depth on a proper studio setup, B&H Photo has a great guide which will show you the ropes.


Recording

Now you've got your hardware and your studio all ready to go, you're ready to begin recording your first show. If you're planning to record your show alone, or with guests in the same room, virtually any audio recording application should do the trick. The most popular tool, however, is one that comes preinstalled on every Mac - Garageband. It's actually a pretty robust application which can used for far more than what it's name might suggest. We've got plenty of Garageband tutorials on our site to help you get started.

If you'd like to record a show with remote guests, however, Garageband probably isn't your best bet. While you can hack together a working solution use some third party utilities, I'd recommend using either Piezo or Audio Hijack Pro. Both apps allow you to record audio from applications such as Skype or iChat, the only difference being in their extended functionality.

Piezo basically stops there while Audio Hijack Pro can let you essentially record and produce an entire podcast from within the app. If you plan to do your post production in an app like Garageband, than Piezo should be fine, but otherwise it's probably easier to stick with the all-in-one solution provided by Audio Hijack Pro.



Get Started With Podcasting on the Mac

Once you've recorded your podcast, you'll probably want to do some editing. If you're planning on editing for content, a tool like Garageband should work just fine. Once you're done with that, you can move on to making sure that your audio sounds the best it can. While more advanced users might want to work with levels and EQ's manually, most casual podcasters will appreciate a tiny free application called Levelator.

Simply drag a WMA or AIFF file onto Levelator's main window and it'll do all the heavy lifting for you, there's nothing to configure and the finished product will be something which is much nicer to the ears. This is great for sorting out issues where one person's audio input sounds louder than the other.

Once you've run your audio through Levelator, you'll be left with a gigantic audio file which you'll want to compress into something suitable for web streaming. While there's no shortage of tools that'll do this for you, my personal favorite free option is Miro Video Converter. Just drag the audio file onto it's main window and select "MP3 (Audio Only)" as your file format. This will give you a nice and compact audio file that sounds great.

Once you've processed your file in Levelator, you should compress it before publishing.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Once you've processed your file in Levelator, you should compress it before publishing.

Finally, if you didn't already fill in your tags in Audio Hijack Pro, you'll want to enlist the help of a free application called Tagr. Unsurprisingly, this will let you add the audio tagging metadata which is present in most podcasts. Once you've added those tags, you're ready to publish your finished product.


Publishing

Publishing your podcast is probably the most complicated part of this entire process. The options range from doing it completely yourself to paying someone to do it for you. My favorite option these days is called Buzzsprout. Funny name aside, they'll host up to two hours per month of MP3 podcasts for you at no cost, with paid plans starting at $12 per month. Their hosting is reliable, fast, and includes very decent statistics which are a must-have if you ever plan to sell advertisements on your show. You'll also want to consider routing your podcast through a tool like Feedburner to mask your original feed should you ever choose to switch hosting providers.

Buzzsprout is a great tool for publishing your podcast with one click.
Buzzsprout is a great tool for publishing your podcast with one click.

Finally, now you're ready to publish your podcast to the iTunes directory which is where most people will find your show. To do this, go to the Podcasts section in the iTunes Store and click on "Submit a Podcast" under the "Podcast Quick Links" part of the sidebar. From there you'll be asked to submit your podcast's RSS feed as well as a few other quick questions regarding your contact information. And that's it! Your podcast should be live in the iTunes Store for all to hear anywhere from a day to about two weeks after it's been submitted.


Conclusion

While podcasting isn't the easiest, once you get started it can be a great medium to help get your voice out. With the help of your Mac and this tutorial, you'll be on the road to becoming a master podcaster in no time. If you've followed this tutorial and want to share your results or if you have a different workflow for podcast production, leave a comment below and let me know!

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