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Podcasting For Dummies®

To view this book's Cheat Sheet, simply go to www.dummies.com and search for “Podcasting For Dummies Cheat Sheet” in the Search box.

Foreword

Your people are out there. Waiting for you. Whether you want to podcast about pop culture, marketing, bass fishing, or vintage wooden button collecting, you will find an audience if you stick with it and produce a quality show by following the advice in this book. The audience is probably bigger for a marketing podcast than a vintage wooden button collecting podcast, but you never know — there’s probably less competition for the button collectors.

When the Sirens lure you to the dangerous waters of obsessing over your listener stats, imagine your listeners all sitting together in one auditorium. Listening to you. It’s probably more people than your voice has ever reached in your whole life (unless you’re a professor teaching a freshman weed-out class). It’s amazing and a little frightening, and there’s nothing like the thrill of getting your first message from a listener in China, New Zealand, the Philippines, Egypt, or some other distant land you’ve never seen.

There’s something especially intimate about the listening experience too. Listeners imagine what you look like and where you are, and it’s usually better than the reality. They feel like they know you because in their imagination, they have created you.

Now, instead of thinking of them as your audience, think of them as your community. Ask them what they want. Ask them what they like (and what they don’t like). Feature them on your show.

Go beyond the microphone and make things for your listeners, and let them make things for you. Meet them in person, and once they get over the disappointment that you aren’t the perfect person they’ve imagined (it happens quickly), your lives will be enriched. If you want it to be, a podcast is a magical gateway to a community.

When people start asking questions about podcasting, it’s usually about the equipment. What microphone should they use? What software is best? Do they need a mixer? Tee and Chuck will answer these questions, of course, but they’ll also address the bigger and more important questions — the questions you don’t even know you should be asking, but that will make the difference between a good podcast and a fabulous podcast that you’ll look forward to producing and that will become part of your listeners’ regular media diet.

I used to tell students and conference attendees that the online world is so crowded — filled with so many people vying for attention — that you need to be relentless because nobody will miss you if you stop posting or publishing, but I was wrong. Podcasting is different. On the rare occasion when I have (gasp) accidentally released my show late, people have pinged me. They have checked to make sure I’m okay. They are my people. A community.

Lots of people start podcasting, and many continue, but for a few people it becomes a lifestyle, a job, or even a small addiction. “I’ll start just one more,” they think. Tee and Chuck have been podcasting for more than a decade and literally wrote the book on podcasting. You will benefit from their years of experience.

—Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl and founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network.

Introduction

Maybe you’ve been casually surfing the web or perusing your newspaper when the word podcasting has popped up. You’ve heard the word before, but lately, it’s been coming up again and again. Podcasting. Steadily, like a building wave that would make champion surfers salivate with delight, your curiosity continues to pique as the word podcasting echoes in your ears and remains in the back of your mind as a riddle wrapped in an enigma, super-sized with a side of fries and a diet soda to go.

Podcasting For Dummies, 3rd Edition, is the answer to that super-sized riddle-enigma combo, and it even comes complete with a special prize. Beginning with the question at the forefront of your mind — What is podcasting? — this book takes you through the fastest-growing technological movement on the Internet. By the time you reach the end of this book, the basics will be in place to get you, your voice, and your message heard around the world — and you can even have a bit of fun along the way.

About This Book

Asked by best friends and lifetime technologists, this question continues to crop up over and over again, immediately after the word podcast lands in a casual conversation. Just the word podcasting carries an air of geekiness about it — and behold, the habitual technophobes suddenly clasp their hands to their ears and run away screaming in horror lest they confront yet another technical matter. Too bad. If they only knew how technical it really isn’t. When you peel back the covers and fancy-schmancy tech-talk, it’s a pretty simple process to make your own podcast. You just need someone pointing the way and illuminating your path.

This is why we’re here: to be that candle in the dark, helping you navigate a world where anyone can do anything, provided people have the tools, the drive, and the passion. You don’t need to be a techno-wizard or a super-geek — you need no wad of tape holding your glasses together, and your shirt tail need not stick out from your fly. Anyone can do what we show you in this book, and often more than not people do. Anyone can take a thought or an opinion, make an audio or video file expressing that opinion, and distribute this idea worldwide. Anyone can capture the attention of a few hundred — or a few thousand — people around the world through mobile devices or smartphones, strapped around biceps, jouncing in pockets, or hooked up to car stereos.

Anyone can podcast.

Podcasting, from recording to online hosting, can be done on a variety of budgets, ranging from frugal to Fortune 500. You can podcast about literally anything — including podcasting for its own sake. As blogging gave the anonymous, the famous, the almost-famous, and the used-to-be famous a voice in politics, religion, and everyday life, podcasting adds volume and tone to that voice.

Podcasting is many things to many people — but at its most basic, it’s a surprisingly simple and powerful technology. What it means boils down to a single person: you. Some have likened it to online radio but it can do — and be — so much more. Podcasting is communication on a global platform, transmitting your voice and its message around the world without using public airwaves. It is connecting to the Global Village in ways that the creators of the Internet, RSS, and MP3 compression would probably never have dreamed. It is the unique and the hard-to-find content that can’t find a place on commercial, college, or public access radio; but sometimes when a chord is struck, podcasts go beyond their humble beginnings.

You’re about to embark on an exciting adventure into undiscovered territory, and here you will find out that podcasting is all these things and so much more.

How to Use This Book

Podcasting For Dummies, 3rd Edition, should be these things to all who pick up and read it (whether straight through or by jumping around in the chapters):

There will be plenty of answers in these pages, and if you find our answers too elementary, we give you plenty of points of reference to research. We don’t claim to have all the solutions, quick fixes, and resolutions to all possible podcasting queries, but we do present to you the basic building blocks and first steps for beginning a podcast. As with any For Dummies book, our responsibility is to give you the foundation on which to build. That’s what we’ve done our level best to accomplish: Bestow upon you the enchanted stuff that makes a podcast happen.

This book was written as a linear path from the conceptualization stages to the final publication of your work. However, not everyone needs to read the book from page one. If you’ve already gotten your feet wet with the various aspects of podcasting, jump around from section to section and read the parts that you need. We provide plenty of guides back to other relevant chapters for when the going gets murky.

Conventions Used in This Book

When you go through this book, you’re going to see a few ⌘   symbols, the occasional  ⇒   , and even a few things typed in a completely different style. There’s a method to this madness, and those methods are conventions found throughout this book.

When we refer to keyboard shortcuts for Macintosh or Windows, we designate them with (Mac) or (Windows). For Mac shortcuts, we use the “Command” symbol (that funky cloverleaf symbol found on the “Command” key) and the corresponding letter. For Windows shortcuts, we use the abbreviation for the Control key (Ctrl) and the corresponding letter. So the shortcut for Select All looks like this: ⌘  +A (Mac) / Ctrl+A (Windows).

If keyboard shortcuts aren’t your thing and you want to know where the commands reside on menus, we use a command arrow ( ⇒   ) to help guide you through menus and submenus. So, the command for Select All in the application’s menu is Edit ⇒   Select All. You first select the Edit menu and then Select All.

When we offer URLs (web addresses) of various podcasts, resources, and audio equipment vendors, or when we have you creating RSS feeds for podcast clients, also known as “podcatchers” such as iTunes, Downcast, or Juice, we use this particular typeface.

Bold Assumptions

We assume that you have a computer, a lot of curiosity, and a desire to podcast. We couldn’t care less about whether you’re using a Mac, a PC, Linux, Unix, or two Dixie cups connected with string. (Okay, maybe the two Dixie cups connected with string would be a challenge; a computer is essential.) In podcasting, the operating system just makes the computer go. We’re here to provide you tools for creating a podcast, regardless of what OS you’re running.

If you know nothing about audio or video production, this book can also serve as a fine primer in how to record, edit, and produce media on your computer, as well as accessorize your computer with mixing boards, professional-grade microphones, and media production software that will give you a basic look at this creative field. You can hang on to this book as a handy reference, geared primarily for audio, though we do include some information on video, in podcasting. Again, our book is a starting point, and (ahem) a fine starting point at that.

With everything that goes into podcasting, there are some things this book is not now, nor will ever be, about. Here’s the short list:

For that matter, to dispel one of the biggest misconceptions of podcasting, you will not be told to run out and get an iPod. You do not need an iPod to podcast — or to listen to podcasts for that matter.

If you are looking for a terrific start to the podcasting experience, then — in the words of the last knight guarding the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — “You have chosen wisely.”

How This Book Is Organized

The following sections give you a quick overview of what this book has to offer. And yeah, we’re going to keep the overview brief because we figure you’re eager to get started. But the fact that you’re reading this passage also tells us you don’t want to miss a detail, so here’s a quick bird’s-eye view of what we do in Podcasting For Dummies.

Part 1: Podcasting on a Worldwide Frequency

Part 1 goes into the bare-bones basics of how a podcast happens, how to get podcasts from the Internet to your computer, and how to host a podcast yourself — ending up with a few places online that offer podcast feeds you can visit to sample the experience and (later on) to let the world know “Hey, I’ve got a podcast, too!”

Part 1 also helps you pick out the best hardware and software you need to start podcasting.

Part 2: The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Podcasting

Consider this part of the book Inside the Actor’s Studio — part TWiT, and part WKRP (with your host, Dr. Johnny Fever … boooouuugaaar!!!). This is where we offer some techniques the pros use in broadcasting. Podcasting may be the grass-roots movement of homespun telecommunications, but that doesn’t mean it has to sound that way (unless, of course, you want it to sound that way). From preshow prep to setting your volume levels to the basics of audio editing, this is the part that polishes your podcast.

Part 3: So You’ve Got This Great Recording of Your Voice. Now What?

The audio file you’ve just created is now silently staring at you from your monitor (unless you’re listening to it on your computer’s music player, in which case it’s just defiantly talking back at you!), and you haven’t a clue what your next step is. We cover the last-minute details and then walk you through the process of getting your podcast online, finding the right web-hosting packages for podcasts, and getting a good working handle on the RSS and XML used in podcast feeds.

Part 4: Start Spreadin’ the News about Your Podcast

“I wanna beeee a part of it. Podcasting, babeeeee …

If I can get on Daily Source,

Then I’ll have no remorse for pod—cast—in … podcasting …”

Sorry. Sinatra moment.

Anyway, you have the podcast recorded, edited, and online, but now you need to let people know you have this great podcast just waiting for them — and that’s what we explore in Part 4. With the power of publicity — from free-of-charge word-of-mouth (arguably the most effective) to investment in Facebook Ads, you have a wide array of options to choose from when you’re ready to announce your presence to the podcasting community.

Part 5: Pod-sibilities to Consider for Your Show

The question of why one should podcast is as important as how to podcast. We cover some basic rationales that many folks have for sitting behind a microphone, pouring heart, soul, and pocket change into their craft each and every day, week, or month. What is the endgame? Sponsorship? Patreon? Or just for the love of it? These questions have no right or wrong answers, but our hope is that this part offers pointers to convey you safely through the thought process behind podcasting.

Part 6: The Part of Tens

Perhaps the toughest chapters to write were these: the For Dummies trademark Part of Tens chapters. So don’t skip them because we’ll be über-miffed if you fail to appreciate how hard we busted our humps to get these chapters done!

Right — so what do we give you in our Part of Tens? We give you a list of the most influential people in podcasting, some of them still podcasting to this day. We also offer suggestions for the beginning podcaster — such as what kind of podcasts should be on your MP3 player, just to give you an idea of what’s out there, how they sound, and how you can benefit from them. And we wrap it all up with a list of reasons why you should podcast — we’re sure you’ll find something that resonates with you.

Icons Used in This Book

So you’re trekking through the book, making some real progress with developing your podcast, when suddenly these little icons leap out, grab you by the throat, and wrestle you to the ground. (Who would have thought podcasting was so action-packed, like a Daniel Craig-Bond movie, huh?) What do all these little drawings mean? Glad you asked.

tip When we’re in the middle of a discussion and suddenly we have one of those “Say, that reminds me …” moments, we give you one of these tips. They’re handy little extras that are good to know and might even make your podcast sound a little tighter than average.

remember If the moment is more than a handy little nugget of information and closer to a “Seriously, you can’t forget this part!” factoid, we mark it with a Remember icon. You’re going to want to play close attention to these puppies.

warning Sometimes we interrupt our train of thought with a “Time out, Sparky …” moment — and this is where we ask for your completely undivided attention. The Warnings are exactly that: flashing lights, ah-ooga horns, dire portents. They’re reminders not to try this at home because you’ll definitely regret it.

technicalstuff These icons illuminate the “So how does this widget really work …?” moments you may have as you read this book. The Technical Stuff icons give you a deeper understanding of what the wizard is doing behind the curtain, making you all the more apt as a podcaster. But if you want to skip the nitty-gritty details, that’s perfectly fine, too.

Beyond the Book

In addition to what you’re reading right now, this book comes with a free access-anywhere Cheat Sheet. To get this Cheat Sheet, simply go to www.dummies.com and search for “Podcasting For Dummies Cheat Sheet” by using the Search box.

This book also comes with a companion podcast. Go to your browser, surf to http://podcastingfordummies.com, and subscribe for free weekly audio commentary from Tee Morris and Chuck Tomasi about concepts in this book explored in greater detail, from the difference between good and bad edits, when too much reverb is too much, and the variety of methods you can use to record a podcast.

Where to Go from Here

At this point, many For Dummies authors say something snappy, clever, or even a bit snarky. We save our best tongue-and-cheek material for the pages inside, so here’s a more serious approach.

We suggest heading to where you’re planning to record your podcast, or just plant yourself in front of a computer, and start with Chapter 1, where you're given a few links to check out, some suggestions on applications for downloading podcasts, and directories to look up where you can find Tee’s and Chuck’s (many) podcasts, and other podcasts that can educate, inspire, and enlighten your ears with original content.

Where do we go from here? Up and out, friends. Up and out …

Part 1

Podcasting on a Worldwide Frequency

IN THIS PART …

Understand the fundamentals of creating, uploading, and distributing your podcast for others to enjoy.

Explore various podcast directories to find content that interests you, and compare and contrast how others produce their shows.

Find the right hardware, software, and accessories that fit your budget.

Take your podcast recording on the road with mobile devices and processes.

Chapter 1

Getting the Scoop on Podcasting

IN THIS CHAPTER

check Finding out what podcasting is

check Creating a podcast

check Finding and subscribing to podcasts

Sometimes the invention that makes the biggest impact on our daily lives isn't an invention at all, but the convergence of existing technologies, processes, and ideas. Podcasting may be the perfect example of that principle — and it's changing the relationship people have with their radios, music collections, books, education, and more.

The podcasting movement is actually a spinoff of another communications boom: blogs. Blogs sprang up right and left, providing non-programmers and designers a clean, elegant interface that left many on the technology side wondering why they hadn't thought of it sooner. Everyday people could chronicle their lives, hopes, dreams, and fears, and show them to anyone who cared to read. And oddly enough, people did care to read — and still do.

Then in 2003, former MTV VeeJay Adam Curry started collaborating with programmer Dave Winer about his enhancement to RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) that not only allowed you to share text and images, but media attachments which included compressed audio and video files. Soon after, Curry released his first podcast catching client. Thus, the Age of Podcasting began.

Podcasting combines the instant information exchange of blogging with audio and video files that can be played on a computer or portable media device. When you make your podcast publicly available on the Internet, you are exposing your craft to anyone with a computer or mobile device and a connection capable of streaming data. To put that in perspective, some online sources report the global online population is over 3.4 billion users. In the U.S. alone, more than 198 million people own a podcast-ready device, and every one of them can play your content!

This chapter is for the consumers of the content (the audience) and those who make the content (the podcasters) alike. We cover the basic steps to record a podcast and lay out the basics of what you need to do to enjoy a podcast on your media player.

If you're starting to get the idea that podcasting is revolutionary, groundbreaking, and possibly a major component of social upheaval, great. Truth is, some have made their marks in society. But not all podcasts are so deep. In fact, many of them are passion projects inviting you to join in on the experience!

Throughout the book, we discuss audio and video podcasts. Don’t be alarmed when we refer to the audience as listeners. We’re not leaving out viewers intentionally. It’s a bit like that gender-neutral pronoun for he/she. Unless otherwise stated, the information we provide is applicable to audio and video productions.

Deciding Whether Podcasting Is for You

Technically speaking, podcasting is the distribution of specially encoded multimedia content to subscribed devices via the RSS 2.0 protocol. Whew! Allow us to translate that into common-speak:

Podcasting allows you to listen to stuff you want to hear, or watch stuff you want to see, whenever and wherever you want.

Podcasting turns the tables on broadcast schedules, allowing the listener to choose not only what to listen to, but also when — often referred to as time-shifted media. And because podcasts are transferred via the Internet, the power to create an audio program isn't limited to those with access to a radio transmitter.

The simplest reason to podcast is that it’s just plain fun! We’ve been podcasting since the beginning, and we’re still having a blast, continuing to get out messages to our worldwide audiences and challenging ourselves with new tricks and techniques in creating captivating media. So, yeah, for the fun of it? Heck of a good reason.

The following sections cover other reasons podcasting is probably for you.

You want to deliver media content on a regular basis

Sure, you can include audio, video, and PDFs content in your blog if you have one. Many bloggers record special media segments and insert them as links into the text of their blogposts. Readers then download the files at their leisure. However, this approach requires manual selection of the content blog hosts want readers to download. What sets podcasting apart from blogging is that podcasting automates that process. A listener who subscribes to your podcast is subscribed to all your content, whenever it’s available. No need to go back to the site to see what's new! Once you subscribe to a podcast, the content is delivered to you in the same way as when you subscribe to a print magazine. New content, delivered to you.

You want to reach beyond the boundaries of broadcast media

In radio, unless it is satellite radio, the number of people who can listen to a show is limited by the power of the transmitter pumping out the signal. Same thing with broadcast television, depending if you are using antenna, cable, or satellite dish to receive programming. Podcasting doesn't rely on or utilize signals, transmitters, or receivers — at least not in the classic sense. Podcasts use the Internet as a delivery system, opening up a potential audience that could extend to the entire planet.

No rules exist (not yet, anyway) to regulate the creation of podcast content. In fact, neither the FCC nor any other regulatory body for any other government holds jurisdiction over podcasts. If that seems astounding, remember that podcasters are not using the public airwaves to deliver the message.

warning Just because the FCC doesn't have jurisdiction, you're not exempt from the law or — perhaps more important — immune to lawsuits. You're personally responsible for anything you say, do, or condone on your show. Additionally, the rules concerning airplay of licensed music, the distribution of copyrighted material, and the legalities of recording conversations all apply. Pay close attention to the relevant sections in Chapter 5 to avoid some serious consequences. When it comes to the legalities, ignorance is not bliss.

You have something to say

Generally, podcasters produce content that likely holds appeal for only a select audience. Podcasts start with an idea, something that you have the desire and knowledge, either real or imaginary, to talk about. Add to that a bit of drive, do-it-yourself-ishness, and an inability to take no for an answer. The point is to say what you want to say, to those who want to hear it.

Podcasts can be about anything and be enjoyed by just about anyone. The topics covered don't have to be earth-shattering or life-changing. They can be about do-it-yourself projects, sound-seeing tours of places you visit, or even your favorite board games. There are a few rules and guidelines in common practice, but there may be times when you find it necessary to bend the rules. (That can be a lot of fun in and of itself!)

Some of the most popular podcasts are created by everyday people who sit in front of their computers for a few nights a week and just speak their minds, hearts, and souls. Some are focused on niche topics; others are more broad-based.

You want to hear from your listeners

Something that is a real perk with podcasting: accessibility. On average, most audiences have a direct line of contact between themselves and the podcast’s host or hosts. Podcast consumers are more likely to provide feedback for what they listen or watch than for a favorite radio or television show. That’s probably traceable to the personal nature of a podcast. Podcasts offer their audiences — and makers — more control, options, and intimacy than traditional broadcast media can. Of course, the radio is much harder to talk back to than a computer with an Internet connection and email.

remember When you ask for feedback, you're likely to get it — and from unusual places. Because geography doesn't limit the distance your podcast can travel, you may find yourself with listeners in faraway and exotic places. And this feedback isn’t always going to be “Wow, great podcast!” Listeners will be honest with you when you invite feedback.