Anyone can create a podcast, especially with the many tools and systems that are readily available. Also, unlike conventional radio, podcasting does not fall under the rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission. The following paragraphs detail the steps a podcaster might take to get his or her podcast up and running.

Choosing a Topic

One of the most challenging aspects of starting a podcast is determining its content. Aspiring writers are often advised to write about what they know. This adage can also be applied to podcasters: They should talk about subjects for which they have a passion or at least strong interest. Many successful podcasts center on topics that appeal to a wide audience—parenting, relationships, popular culture, or current events. Podcasters can also share their knowledge and love of art, music, film, health, science, or education. Other podcasters build successful podcasts by simply talking about themselves and their daily lives, building audience interest episode by episode.

Setting Up a Podcasting Area

Podcasters must have a recording system to create their podcast. Most computers have a built-in universal serial bus microphone or a jack that is compatible to an external microphone. This should be positioned at a comfortable angle to the individual. If the podcast features more than one speaker, then a second microphone is required, as well as a mixing board. A mixing board, which plugs into the computer, allows multiple microphones, recording instruments and sound effects, and other audio options, which makes for a more interesting podcast. It also offers the capability to emphasize one speaker over another or balancing voices. Some podcasters find headphones to be helpful in monitoring the sound of their voice during the podcasting session.

Podcasters can choose from many recording software programs such as Audacity, iPodcast Producer, or GarageBand. Some computers are equipped with recording software programs. An audio card is also needed to save podcasts as separate files. Many computer operating systems already have built-in audio cards of limited capacity. An additional audio card will be needed to store more or larger podcast files.

Creating a Podcast

Podcasters prepare for a recording session by first conducting a pre-show routine. They decide on the topic or topics to be covered in the session and conduct research on the topic as needed. Sometimes, podcasters interview authors, musicians, politicians, or other well-known people. It’s helpful to jot down potential questions or key points to touch on during the podcast.

Many successful podcasters simply talk about everyday life—relationship issues, cooking dinner, parenting, work-related events, and pop culture. This simplicity is appealing and encourages listeners to tune in and follow the podcaster’s opinions about these events.

An opening sequence—music, a jingle, or spoken words—is helpful to introduce the podcast and its upcoming topic. This can be done during the podcast recording or can be edited in at a later time.

Once the podcast’s spoken version is complete, it must be saved as a media file. How the file is saved is determined by the recording software. Most recording software offers the capability of saving podcasts as MP3 files; other software saves the podcast as an audio file, which then require an additional conversion into MP3 files.

Broadcasting a Podcast

Once the media file is saved, podcasters need to launch it onto the Web. The most common way to do this is through Really Simple Syndication (RSS). A RSS feed takes the media file—with specially formatted text explaining the podcast and its subject—and sends it to the Web server. Podcasters also use special applications called Podcatchers, which "catch" new episodes and make them easily available. Listeners can "subscribe" to a podcaster’s RSS feed and automatically have new episodes uploaded to their computer or other electronic device.

Podcasters use iTunes to attract the attention of potential listeners and subscribers.

Promoting the Podcast/Earning Revenue

Podcasters often create show notes for each episode—a quick description of the episode’s content and a corresponding image. Regular maintenance and writing is required if the podcaster chooses to host their podcast episodes on a blog or Web site. Responding to listeners’ posts regarding an episode is another duty for podcasters.

Podcasters earn income from advertisers. For a fee or stipend, these businesses can place their logo on the podcast Web site, and/or have their name, event, or product mentioned during an episode. Some podcasters place a PayPal link on their Web site, which allows listeners to donate money for their work or a particular cause.

Next Section: Earnings

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