Congratulations! If you’re reading this blog post, we’re guessing you’re getting ready to start recording your first podcast episode. We’re happy you’re taking the first steps and here to support you along the way. For additional information about how to start a podcast, make sure you check out Podcasting 101 in 2020!
Before you ever press record, you need to set up your equipment in the space you’re going to be recording in. The basics you need are a microphone, headphones, a computer, and recording software.
There are many different options of microphones out there. If you’re just starting out, we recommend that you use a dynamic microphone. Dynamic microphones focus on the sound of your voice and will pick up less ambient noise. Condenser microphones are also commonly used in podcasting, but they pick up a wider range of sound and are better suited to those with lots of experience as well as the proper studio.
As far as headphones go, any kind will be sufficient! Wearing headphones while you record will enable you to monitor your sound levels and adjust as needed. Headphones aren’t absolutely necessary, but we do recommend using them so you can monitor your sound and achieve the best quality sound.
Your recording software can be the same software you use to edit your episode. Two great free options are GarageBand (available only for Macs users) and Audacity (available for Mac and PC users). Audacity is available for download here, and GarageBand is available for download in the App Store.
If you have the budget for it, we recommend purchasing a windscreen or pop filter. Both of these will reduce the sound of your plosives (your “b” and “p” sounds.) You may also want to consider an audio interface box that plugs into your computer via USB. This will make a big difference in improving the quality of your audio.
Note: it is possible to record entire episodes with only your phone. We recommend investing in additional equipment to improve the quality of your show, but if your phone is all that you have available, you can make it work! We understand that podcasting equipment can be expensive, but we don’t want that to stop you from making your show.
Setting Up Your Equipment
Now that you have all your equipment, you’re ready to set it all up! The exact way to set your equipment will vary depending on your specific equipment, but a basic breakdown is:
- Set up your stand or boom arm
- Attach your shock mount
- Place your microphone on the stand
- Attach your pop filter
- Connect your microphone to your computer or mixer. This will likely be with a USB or XLR cable, which should be included with your microphone.
- Connect your headphones to your computer or audio interface box
- If recording into a computer, go into your device settings and select your microphone as the input device.
How noisy is the space you’re recording in? If needed, you can reduce ambient noise with soundproofing. Sound proofing is available for purchase online, but blankets or clothing can also do the trick.
Before You Record
What do you want to talk about in your episode? What do you want your listeners to feel? What do you want them to take away from listening? Answering these questions will help give you a direction while you’re recording. Take a moment to settle in and remind yourself of your overall message.
Do a quick checklist of items that could disrupt your recording. For example, take off any bangle bracelets, reduce the amount of paper you shuffle during the recording, and remove ice from any beverages you might be drinking. If you are recording a guest, remind them of these potential interruptions.
Recording Your Episode
Ready to record? Open your recording software, click the red button, and your recording session is on.
As you record, keep in mind that you want to face the microphone and stay roughly the same distance from it. Moving too much will detract from your audio quality.
While you’re recording, be yourself and have fun! If you’re enjoying yourself, your audience will too. Don’t stress about being perfect- if you make a mistake, take a deep breath and keep going. Remember that you’ll be able to edit your episode, so it is completely okay to mess up along the way. If someone else is editing your episode, pause and identify that you are restarting. It is also helpful to mark the time where you paused for the editor.
Recording your first episode is a huge accomplishment, and we’re here to support you as you grow. Check out our courses for in depth information about starting, growing, and earning revenue from your podcast.