How to start a podcast (Part 1)

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Given the current climate during COVID-19, we believe this article will be of use for you during this challenging time.

In the first of a two-part series, we look at the tools and technical abilities you will need to set up your own podcast. 

There are now over 700,000 podcasts in production, with thousands more cropping up every month.

Every conceivable topic now seems to have at least one podcast of its own, from espionage to Egyptian mysticism, and finance is no exception.

In fact, a growing number of Australian financial advisers are now turning to podcasting as a means of attracting new clients and connecting with existing ones.

Paul Benson is one such adviser. His podcast, Financial Autonomy, looks at financial independence through an Australian lens and has now broadcast more than 100 episodes.

Benson says setting up the podcast wasn’t daunting because his initial goals were modest. “For me, it helped that the early podcasts I was making were just my voice,” he explains. “They were essentially blog posts that I then turned into audio versions.”

Here is his step-by-step guide to launching a podcast.

1. Purchase a microphone

Although most computers, whether desktop or laptop, contain built-in webcams with microphones, Benson says you’ll need to buy a mic of your own. “The microphone that’s on your webcam or laptop won’t provide good audio quality,” he explains. “You will need to get a dedicated microphone that plugs into the USB port on your computer.”

Stand-alone USB mics can be purchased at most mainstream consumer electronics stores, “It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money,” Benson says: “I think my USB mic might have cost $150.”

2. Download recording software

“I record straight into a bit of free software that you can download called Audacity,” says Benson. It’s not the only option: there are dozens of free audio-recording applications available online. But Benson recommends Audacity because it was easy to use, even for a podcast newbie such as himself. Save your audio file in MP3 format for easy distribution.

3. Distribute your podcast

Once you’ve recorded your first episode, it’s time to share it with the world.

First, you need to sign up to a podcast hosting site, which stores your audio files online. Then, you need to share a special content feed for your audio files (known as an RSS feed) with a podcast directory such as Apple Podcasts.

Most podcasters begin by distributing their content through Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes) because it is by far the most popular directory for podcast listeners. Apple provides a step-by-step guide to getting your podcast online. You can also share your podcast on other platforms, such as Spotify, or create your own website.

4. Develop your podcast

Although Benson began by recording simple monologues, he soon wanted to include other voices in the form of interviews. “If you’re interviewing someone remotely, you can do it through a computer program like Zoom or Skype and record into Audacity,” he explains. “But if you want to record interviews in person, then you’re going to have to spend a bit of money on equipment: you’ll need some sort of portable recording device and a couple of handheld mics.”

Benson also added theme music to his podcast. “You need to think about copyright,” he says. “The same rules apply to podcasts as they do to other forms of online distribution.” So, how did Benson manage it? “Actually, my son recorded a jingle for me,” he says. “He’s pretty musically inclined!”

Important: This article has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial or taxation situation or needs of any particular individual. Before acting on the information, you should consider its appropriateness to your circumstances and if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. Any information used in this article is for illustrative purposes only. Paul Benson is external and not a member of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Group of Companies (the Group) and the content or any view expressed by Paul Benson does not represent an endorsement, recommendation, guarantee or advice in regard to any matter. CBA, nor members of the Group accept any liability for losses or damage arising from any reliance on external parties, their products, services and materials. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.