Since starting Entrepreneurship & Art, we have consistently fielded the same question from clients, colleagues, friends – “How do I start a podcast?”
George, Carly, and I started the E&A podcast as a way to stay connected during early quarantine and to share insights from our jobs as marketing consultants, business strategists, and entrepreneurs. This podcast, even though it started as some form of extracurricular activity, is still a reflection of us as professionals. We had to find a way to create the best quality audio production in the most efficient way possible.
This article is a breakdown of our recording, editing, and distribution process. This is, in our limited experience, the fastest way to record and edit a quality podcast without hiring a third party. Once set up, this entire process should take 2.5 times as long as the amount of time you spend recording. Our 80-minute podcast takes 200 minutes to produce from the time we hit record to the moment we publish the final episode.
Now more than ever, all recording has to happen remotely. This default requirement actually opens a lot of opportunities for podcast hosts. George, Carly, and I live in different cities (and different countries), and we record over a Zoom call. While it might be nice to have some form of podcast recording studio for our conversations, we never would have started our podcast if we thought we had to be in the same room to record. Remote recording is the foundation of not just our podcast, but all podcasts that have been produced since March 2020.
Our conversation is held over a Zoom video call. The Zoom call is recorded, and the host must change their settings to capture separate audio recordings for each participant (view how-to). It is essential that the host does not hit record until all participants have joined the meeting. This recording will not be used in the final podcast episode, but it will be used as a guide to align the locally recorded audio. This audio also serves as a backup in the event that someone’s recording equipment malfunctions during the conversation (or forgets to press record).
While the Zoom conversation is happening, each host also records their audio to their own computer. This audio will be a much higher quality because it does not go through the compression and processing on Zoom.
We recommend using a laptop/desktop rather than phone or tablet for recording. Mobile operating systems don’t allow for recording in one app and using Zoom at the same time. Free recording software is available for all operating systems:
The microphone that you use is the determining factor in the quality of recording that you capture. While audio can be edited in post-production, you are always limited by the source audio. That said, there are ways to capture acceptable audio, even with no external microphone.
Regardless of which of the below microphones you choose, you must use headphones while recording. If sound is coming out of your speakers, it will get picked up by your microphone and be recorded on top of your voice (possibly creating a feedback loop).
Budget: Use your Macbook or laptop’s onboard microphone
- Do not use AirPods or Bluetooth headphones as a microphone, as the audio will be overly compressed
Entry-Level: Blue Yeti
- Plugs directly into your computer via USB
- If you are looking for something cheaper, there are several sub-$100 USB microphones on the market that will be better quality that laptop microphones. However, I cannot vouch for any individual model.
Next Step: Shure MV7
- Plugs directly into computer via USB or into an audio interface via XLR
- XLR output means the MV7 can stay in your signal chain even if you upgrade your set up down the line.
Pro Level: Shure SM7B
- XLR output only - you must use an audio interface
Entry Level Interface: Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2x2
Pro Level Interface: Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO
If you are fortunate, someone on your podcasting team has experience editing audio. Even if no one has the experience, it is still possible to edit the audio yourself and get a quality end product.
Following the recording, send the Zoom audio and each person’s locally recorded audio to the editor. The Zoom editor will import all of the audio into their DAW of choice (options below) and use the Zoom audio as a guide for lining up the locally recording audio files.
Entry Level: Garageband
- If everyone has a decent microphone and clean source audio (no clipping, room noise, etc), Garageband will be enough to edit the podcast episode.
- These software options are best if you need to do complex editing with a full suite of plug ins, automation, and audio restoration
Audio Restoration Recommendation: iZotope RX8 Standard
- Import all audio and align locally record audio to the Zoom audio
- Adjust volume, EQ, compressiom, and restore (de-clip, de-noise, de-reverb) each audio track as necessary to get the best quality sound
- Listen to the conversation from beginning to end making cuts or re-aligning audio as you go. The timing of the locally recorded audio can occasionally drift from the Zoom audio and will need to be re-aligned.
- Add music (I recommend audiio.com) and intro/outro messages
- Export as MP3 if the length is under 30 minutes. Export as WAV if over 30 minutes.
There are several distribution services available for beginning podcasters. Entrepreneurship & Art uses Anchor for distribution. Once set up and connected to different services, we’ve found that the upload and distribution process has been simple and quick.
That’s it! It may seem like a lot, but, as you record more episodes, the entire process feels like muscle memory. For example, if everyone uses the same microphones and records in the same spaces every week, you know exactly how to edit their audio and can dial in their settings in seconds. The hardest part of this entire process is recording the first episode.
Of course, it’s not enough to just record and distribute the podcast. You have to promote it as well. Carly, George, and I have written extensively about marketing on our blog (and talked about it on the podcast). Here are some good places to start:
Photo by Jukka Aalho on Unsplash