So you wanna start a podcast?

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Mindset

  • Get into it for the money
  • Do it for the fame & glory
  • Expect a ton of listeners right away
  • Focus on making something you would want to listen to — it helps to talk about something you can’t shut up about. Harness your compulsions and/or obsessions — whatever your family and friends wish you’d shut up about already is probably fertile ground.
  • Set your expectations really low for engagement — like expect-to-give-this-100%-and-get-nothing-low. That way you’ll only have up to go!
  • Share something that is of use to people — have your show be of service in some way, even if that person is just you. Odds are good if it’s useful to you in a real (read: non-superficial way, ie. a healthful catharsis), it will be useful to others

Recording Quality

Sound quality in a podcast is like height requirements on roller coaster rides: you just have to be tall enough to ride.

Blue Yeti microphone
YouTube: Best voiceover mic for beginners (also please subscribe to my channel & let me know what podcasting tutorials you wanna see, thank you!)
Zoom H6 recorder
Shure SM58
  • Audio interface: Focusrite 18i20 1st generation ($200–$350 used) — for the particular and ever-expanding needs of Wolf 359, I need to be able to record more than 4 people at once and had the opportunity to buy one of these puppies second hand. Would’ve probably gotten the more recent generation if I bought new, but savings were more important to me than marginal quality gains.
  • Microphones: 2x Shure SM7Bs ($400 each) — the SM7Bs are what we use on Wolf 359. They’re great — it’s the same microphone model that Michael Jackson used on Thriller. Yeah, it’s a classic. I like that it has a strong proximity effect, which means the quality is responsive to how close or far from the mic your mouth is. It takes some getting used to and is not great for people unaccustomed to talking into microphones. The not-great part being that you’ll sound significantly quieter the further away from the mic you talk, which can ruin a great interview, in a way that the ElectroVoice RE-20 is much more forgiving.
  • Mic Activator: 2x Cloudlifter CL-1 ($110 each)— this product helps with dynamic mics like the SM7B. If you have no idea what a dynamic mic is, you can read more about it here, but the biggest thing to know is that they’re significantly quieter than other types of mics (namely condenser mics) out of the box. In a fancy studio, you’d plug your dynamic mics into really expensive pre-amplifiers. Mic activators are basically the budget option for folks like me who can’t afford a great pre-amp yet, but want more gain, or volume, out of their dynamic mic.
  • Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x ($150) — a much better bang-for-your-buck than the Sennheiser or Bose cans* you can get for the same coin. *Audio-nerd slag for headphones.
  • Mic stand: 2x On-Stage Stands MS7701B Tripod Boom Mic Stand ($25 each) — nothing special here. Does exactly what you want it to and is a solid brand that balances quality and cost, in my experience.
  • Mic: Electro-Voice 635A Handheld Live Interview Mic — if you can hammer in a nail with a Shure SM58, you can build a house with this mic. I’ve dropped mine a half dozen times running around New York City and it still sounds as good as when I got it off eBay in near-mint condition for $80 ($140 new). Handling sounds are fairly noticeable, especially compared to the more expensive Electro-Voice RE50N/D-B ($200), which has a shock-mount built inside the mic unit. The smaller size of the 635A makes it a no-brainer — just hold it steady while you’re recording and you’ll be fine.
  • Recorder: Tascam DR-10X Mini Portable Recorder ($110) — this gem is the only clip-on XLR recorder I can find from a name-brand audio company. It pops on the bottom of any XLR microphone and is great for a portable, high-quality recording setup. You’ll need a micro SD card and I recommend you keep it under 32GBs, otherwise, the boot time slows down a ton (no idea why, but apparently it’s a known issue of audio prosumer audio recording gadgets). I use a 16GB card. It is plenty of space and the unit boots straight into recording in 6 seconds.
  • Custom clamp stand: Stage Ninja MIC-12-CB Mic Clamp Mount ($6) + On Stage MY200 Universal Microphone Clip ($35)— this combo will allow you to turn any clip-able surface (ie. a table) into a mic stand. Great for recording interviews in coffee shops or turning your hotel room into a studio. Much easier to carry around than a regular mic stand.
  • Headphones: Koss PortaPro Headphones ($40) — can’t beat the quality for the price and form factor. Not equivalent to a good pair of over-ears, but will give you a sense of whether your recordings are blown out or otherwise problematic while fitting comfortably in a small bag.

Editing software

Adobe Audition CC 2017 & May 12th, 2017’s episode of focused.af

Seriously. Don’t overthink the software. Find something that works and put it to work making great work.

Sound Effects & Music

How the radio pros of the 1930s got their rooster sound effects: live & in stereo

Hosting Services

Branding

Monetization

“Get into podcasting for the money” said no one ever.

  1. Don’t launch too early. It’s hard to make asking people for money exciting and you only get to launch anything once. Relaunches are super useful, but they’re different beasts entirely. We waited until we were seeing about 10,000 downloads a month for Wolf 359 before we got our shit together and started making our page, mostly because people were straight-up asking us how they could pay us. We also knew that we were about halfway through the show at that time, so there was a “now or never” aspect to our decision as well.
  2. Don’t think of Patreon backer rewards like Kickstarter backer rewards. We ran into the issue that our rewards created another part-time job that we needed funding to justify doing. Keep it simple. Think of Patreon as a membership platform and your show as a miniature NPR. Look for repeatable, non-time intensive things. One of our best rewards for Wolf 359 is by far our monthly live stream AMA. It gives us a way to provide something of value — answers to questions — in a way that doesn’t take us off task from making the show we’re getting supported for, unlike our Behind the Scenes podcast, which we’re often late with because of how much time it takes to make. Use this amazing article by Kevin Kelly to generate new ideas (and share ’em with me!). If you get one thing out of this whole post, make it that article.

Audience Building

The most important thing is consistency and specificity.

Calm as F*ck is a guided meditation segment I do once a week on Focused as F*ck

The #1 thing I see people get wrong about social media is treating it like a one-way megaphone.

If you’re trying to break through the ever-growing noise of podcasters, be afraid not to be vulnerable.

You now know everything I ever did about podcasts.

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Creativity, self-care, media, & technology. Check me out at http://zachvalenti.com.

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Zach Valenti

Zach Valenti

Creativity, self-care, media, & technology. Check me out at http://zachvalenti.com.

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