You can also download a transcript of this audio.
Listen to some podcast episodes from different podcasts. Make a note of what you liked about them, what you didn’t, and if any of those things would work for your own podcast. What are the different ways people use podcasts to discuss and share ideas?
If you’re not sure where to start, these are a few podcasts recommended by academics & PGRs at Exeter which have a range of ways of discussing and disseminating research and academic ideas:
One of the benefits of podcasts is how flexible they are – you can make something that really fits with your topic, audience, and style. But that also means it can be hard to know where to start! These questions will help to guide your thinking. You can answer them with a pen and paper, or download the worksheet here and fill it on your computer or print it off.
What will your podcast be about? Try to be as specific as possible. For example, rather than “my research” it could be “Experiences of PGR students during their degree” or “philosophical and theoretical ideas about X applied to current events”. If you’re not sure, write down your general idea and then write down all the different specific ways you could approach it.
Who will your audience be? Knowing who your audience is will help you to form the content of your podcast. For example, you might use very different language when talking about your research with another academic in the same field, than you would with someone outside of academic who has very little knowledge of your topic.
Describe your ideal listener in as much detail as possible – what are they interested in? What do they already know about your topic? What don’t they know? Are they academic or not academic? What else do they enjoy?
Considering what your podcast is about and who your audience is, what format might work best? Make notes about how your podcast might be different in different formats (e.g. interview, group chat, solo). How much technical language or academic terms would your audience understand? How long should the episodes be? And don’t forget to consider your personal style and preferences – what kind of podcast would you enjoy doing?
How often should your podcast episodes come out? Weekly, fortnightly, monthly? How long will each episode take to make (e.g. recording, editing, sourcing interviewees)? How much time do you really have to do all the work involved? What other commitments do you have?
You should now have a clearer idea of what your podcast is about, who you’re trying to reach, what format would work best, and what schedule might work for you. Try to summarise your thoughts as follows.
Before they get started, lots of people focus on the technical side of making a podcast – equipment, editing, and uploading, but the most important thing is the content. Considering what your podcast is about, and how to keep the listener engaged, always comes first. The kind of recording set-up you need will also vary a little depending on what type of podcast you’re doing (for example an interview podcast versus a solo podcast), so you need to think that through first anyway!
You don’t need to buy lots of fancy and expensive equipment to make a podcast. You can record a podcast using your phone or computer, and get good audio quality by using the mic in your phone’s headphones. Start with this basic equipment, and don’t buy any additional equipment until you’ve tried it out and are sure it’s something you want to continue, or that you even need more equipment than that.
A few recording tips for at-home podcasting with basic equipment:
Dictaphone placed on table (no blanket)
Dictaphone placed on table, sat under a blanket
Dictaphone placed on table with a lapel mic (no blanket)
Dictaphone placed on table with a lapel mic , sat under a blanket
If you want to buy equipment, don’t search for “best microphone for podcasting”, because what the “best” microphone is will depend on how and what you’re recording, and where. For example, there is different “best” equipment for a face-to-face interview podcast than a solo podcast, or one where you’re recording podcasts on Zoom.
The Podcast Host has lots of useful information pages, including general guides and reviews on what equipment to use, and this overall guide on different types of mics and recorders. They also have a specific guide on equipment and recording face-to-face interviews.
If you want to improve your sound quality without spending too much money, I would recommend getting a lapel mic (the kind of microphone that attaches to your shirt). You can find entry-level lapel mics from about £15, and you can find ones that work with your phone, a dictaphone, or computer.
If you have an interview podcast and are recoding remotely rather than face-to-face, you have a few different options:
1. Recording locally – everyone records their own audio and then the different tracks are mixed together
2. Recording everyone together via Skype or Zoom
3. Recording via a specific remote recording podcast platform
The great thing about podcast is that it isn’t live – you can cut bits out, re-do the intro, add music, and generally make it sound how you want before you put it out there.
There are lots of different programmes you can use to edit audio. A good place to start is Audacity, which you can download for free here. It’s free, and includes accessibility features such as support for screen readers and keyboard-only use.
Audacity has a lot of features, so can be intimidating when you first look at it. But – you can ignore most of those features and still make a high-quality podcast. This download includes instructions for how to use all the key features you’ll need for podcast editing.
You can also add music to your podcast, for example to use as part of an introduction, or sound effects throughout if that’s your style! You have to use royalty-free music, or pay to use music in your podcast. Thankfully, there are lots of places to find all kinds of royalty-free music – you just need to check the usage rights, for example if they want you to credit the artist or you can use it with no credit.
Some places to find free music:
Download Audacity and the “Basic Editing in Audacity” instructions above and have a play around! Here are some things you can try:
Getting your podcast out into the world can be confusing. You listen to podcasts in places like Spotify, iTunes, Overcast, etc, but that’s not where you upload them. You also don’t upload them to your own website. So what do you do?
The process for publishing your podcast is:
1. Upload to a podcast host
A podcast host is basically a website that stores your podcast episodes (audio files). There are lots of different options, both free and paid-for. For a research podcast, it’s always best to start using a free service. You can always upgrade later if it really takes off or you need extra storage space.
These are some free podcast hosts. Different hosts have different options for free hosting, such as how much you can upload and how often, or whether episodes are deleted after a certain period of time, so check them out to see which would work best for your needs.
You can also upload cover art for your podcast in most of the hosts above. This helps give your podcast an identity and so people recognise it when the episode pops up in their player. Canva is a free website with lots of templates, so it’s perfect for creating some cover art regardless of your artistic ability.
2. Submit your podcast to podcast players
Your podcast is never uploaded to the podcast player (like iTunes), but the player actually links back to the RSS feed created by your podcast host. This means you only need to submit your podcast to the player once, rather than every episode, as all your episodes will be linked to the same feed. It doesn’t cost anything to submit your podcast to podcast players.
If you use a podcast host which also has premium features (like Podbean or Buzzsprout), they will have detailed instructions for how to submit your podcast from them to different players. If you don’t use those services, this is a great guide from The Podcast Host on how to submit your podcast to iTunes, Spotify, Sticher, Google Podcasts, and TuneIn Radio. Most podcast apps link into one of these.
3. Share your podcast
Once you’ve uploaded your podcast episode, you can promote it by sharing the link. You can share the link from key players (like iTunes and Google Podcasts) on your social media, in emails, or on your website. Some podcast hosts also have embed codes or WordPress plugins so you can share the episode on your website if you have one.
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