Friday, May 17, 2013

Podcasting 101: Creating A Podcast Website

In this installment, I'll help you to understand how to create a single episode of your new podcast by taking you through the steps I follow. We will assume that you've already recorded, mixed and exported the audio.

First things first, though, you'll need to create a blog for your podcast. Then we will setup a Feedburner redirector for the podcast so that, should you ever need to move the podcast to a different hosting site, you won't have to force your listeners to manually change their feed location.

Creating The Podcast Blog Site (With Blogger.com)

I choose blogger.com for no other reason than I use it myself for both of my shows. Though I'm sure the steps I describe will apply to other sites later.

If you have a Google account already, you're halfway to creating your blog. If not, register for one by signing up for Gmail.

Go to blogger.com. There you will see a button in the upper-left corner that says "New Blog".

Click it.

Hopefully you've chosen a decent name for your podcast, something catching, creative and fresh. For now we won't worry about creating a podcast domain name, so in the field marked "Address" enter a unique, simplified version of your podcast's name.

Click "Create Blog!"

Now we have a way to share the episodes.

Adding Your Custom Domain

On the blog list screen, click on the blog's name, and you will see a page with options such as "Post", "Pages", "Earnings", etc. Towards the bottom of this list is "Settings".

Click it.

Under the "Publishing" heading you'll want to click "Add a custom domain". This will open an input field that will let you put in the hostname you've setup (instructions are in a future installment) for your podcast's blog site.

For example, at A Little Dead Podcast our blog's hostname is http://blog.alittledead.com. So, in this field, I have "blog.alittledead.com". What this does is tell Blogger that it should make all pages and blog posts use a URL relative to the address entered.

If you don't understand what that means, it's okay. You can trust me on this.

Now you have an address you can share with listeners to tell them where to go to find your show.

Setting Up A Feed Redirector

Feedburner is a great, useful tool for podcasters. It lets you see how many times your episodes have been downloaded, from what countries the downloads have occurred, and more.

Here, though, we're going to setup the redirector itself. But there's a lot more than Feedburner can do for you, which we will explore in another installment.

In a separate tab on your browser, go to the website: feedburner.google.com

You'll see the text "Burn a feed right now" along with an input field and a checkbox that says "I am a podcaster".

Mark the checkbox.

In the input field, enter the URL for your podcast. If you don't have a custom domain and used Blogger then this is the name of your podcast followed by .blogger.com.

So, for example, if you gave your blog the name "testcast2" in the earlier step, then here you would enter testcast2.blogger.com.

Click "Next". If you entered the right information then you should be presented with two options under the title "Identify Feed Source":
  • an atom feed, and
  • an RSS feed
You want to select the RSS feed here, and click Next. On the next screen enter the title for your podcast redirector, and also pick and address for it. For this latter entry, pick something simple, like the name of your podcast's abbreviated name on your host site. So, again, in this example, since I named the podcast "testcast2" on blogger.com, I would enter "testcast2" as the feed address.

Click Next.

On the congratulations page you'll see a feed URL at the top that looks something like this:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/testcast2
Copy this address and go back to you blog's setup page. Under the Settings->Other->Site Feed section, click Add for the "Pod Feed Redirect URL" and paste the URL into the input field shown.

Click the "Save Settings" button in the upper-right corner.

Back on the Feedburner page, click through all of the the Next buttons until you're back to the main page.

There! Now you have a podcast blog as well as an active feed. To verify the feed as working, copy the feedburner URL into your browser. If everything is setup correctly then you should see page that shows you an empty feed.


Future Installments

In a future installment, I'll show you how to configure Feedburner to do things like alter your RSS feed for iTunes, inserting elements that Apple specifically wants to have present, how to register the podcast with iTunes, how to change your feed to track statistics for episodes entries separately from non-episode entries on your blog (we post news that I want to view separately when looking at the audience breakdown).

Also how to use Project Wonderful for making the podcast's website help pay for itself while growing your audience.

Till then, have fun with your new website!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Podcasting 101: What Are The Things I Need?

The first question, and probably the most challenging one for the new podcast host, is what are the things I need to create and share my show?

What you (minimally) need is:

  • equipment to record and edit your episodes
  • a means of posting the episodes themselves online
  • a way of letting listeners/viewers know that the new episodes are available
Here's what I use for my shows. I'm not going to talk about video equipment since that's a whole world different when it comes to recording and editing than audio equipment. I'll talk about that in a future installment.

Recording Equipment

Software

To record episodes, you'll want something that allows you to record multiple tracks of audio.

For normal recordings I use Audacity, available here. It's free, available on Linux, Windows and the Mac, and supports all standard audio formats. It uses its own format for locally storing a project, but you can export the audio to MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, etc. Though for podcasts I recommend MP3.

And during exports, you can add most ID3 meta data to the episode.

In a later installment I'll talk about how to use Audacity in more detail.

Microphone

Don't skimp on this piece, but do pick something in your budget. Remember: you get what you pay for, and buying a cheap microphone results in bad audio quality. You want something that produces a warm sound. A decent USB headset with built-in microphone (like my Microsoft Lifechat LX-3000) works great for this, and you can use it for other things such as recording interviews, which is another installment.

Other Equipment

If you want to use a standard studio microphone (which is what I do for normal episodes), you'll want to also get a USB mixer. A certain cohost of mine gave me a very nice microphone and mixer setup that matches what he uses for his segments. And I found that it provides the best audio quality to date for the show.

Posting Episodes Online

After you've produced your episode, you need to put it up online so listeners can get to it.

The cheapest way to do this is to post the episodes on archive.org. The only caveat is that you need to release your audio under some sort of free or unencumbered license. My shows are all released under Creative Commons Share-Alike Non-Commercial (CC-SA-NC) licenses. People are free to take the audio, cut it up and use bits of it, so long as it's for non-commercial results (they can't charge for the results), they have to give a reference back to us and they have to allow others to take their work and do the same.

After you've uploaded your episode to archive.org, you can then get a link directly to the MP3 file that you would put into your podcast feed. That way listeners can download the file. More on that in a later installment.

Notifying Listeners

To notify listeners that you have a new episode available, you have to create an RSS feed, which is simpler than it sounds. The first step is to create a blog, and the second is to add it to podcast aggregators like iTunes, which will also be a later installment.

Another thing to do is to setup a feed redirector, such as Feed Burner, and tell listeners to subscribe to that. Setting that up is also a later installment.

The cheapest thing is to create a blog on a free site like Blogger.

After you've uploaded your MP3 file to archive.org, you create a new blog entry on your site. In the lower-right corner where it says "Links" you copy the MP3's URL (being sure to change "https" to "http" if your URL has that) into both the "Title Link" and "Enclosure Link" fields, and setting the mime type to "audio/mp3".

Once you publish the new blog entry, anybody who is subscribed to the RSS feed for the blog will be notified that a new episode is available.

Conclusion

Setting up a podcast feed is pretty simple IF you have the right tools and services in place. With these first few steps you're now well on your way to being a podcaster.

Podcasting 101: How To Do A Podcast For Little To No Money

My two podcasts (A Little Dead Podcast and The Zombie Mob) recently joined a network of other podcasters called The 76th Street Network. And after talking with a few other podcasts, I found that not everybody is as familiar with the tools and services that are available.

So what I'm going to do is, over time, write up a series of blog entries here for how to take advantage of those free services and tools and also the little tips and tricks that I've developed over the past four years of hosting my own shows.

Keep an eye out here for episodes installments as they're posted.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Flock To Fedora

From the website:
For eight years, Fedora users and developers have gathered at an event named for them, the Fedora Users and Developers conference (FUDCon). But we’ve grown, and it’s time for a new approach: Flock.
Flock is a brand new conference where Fedora contributors can come together, discuss new ideas, work to make those ideas a reality, and continue to promote the core values of the Fedora community: Freedom, Friends, Features, and First.
Fedora and the people who participate in the project encompass so much more than just an interest in Linux. Flock is where you meet with other members of the Fedora community who share whatever your interest is, whether that’s the kernel or the cloud, hardware or UX design. We also want to embrace and invite the growing open hardware community so that we can learn from one another and create better things together.
The first flock will be held 09-12 August in Charleston, SC. For more, click on the link above. And if you want to present at the conference, please go here and submit your topic.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Close Windows, Open Doors

Microsoft wants to keep you locked in to Windows so that it can take your money, your personal data, and your user freedom. They don't want you to know that you have a choice of better operating systems; operating systems that respect your freedom. There are tons of free "as in freedom" software operating systems that you can download and install at no cost. And when they're improved, you can choose whether or not you want to upgrade, without a corporation breathing down your neck.
It is time to upgrade your computer, but not to Windows 8. Pledge to free your computer today!
Close Windows, Open Doors