How Do I Conduct Podcast Interviews?

Ready to be the next Maury Povich or Oprah Winfrey? Then it's time to incorporate interviews into your podcast. Interviewing experts and other interesting individuals is a great way to provide fresh content, to increase your visibility, and to make you an expert by association.

Audio interview can be conducted by phone or Skype. Video interviews typically require you to be in the same locale as your guest. Most of the steps below will apply to video as well as audio interviews:

1. Line up interviewee. Brainstorm a list of experts or “names” in your field whom your audience would enjoy hearing from. Don't be afraid of shooting too high and going after some of the big guys – they need publicity, too! After you've put together a short list, start contacting them and tell them the basics about your show, why you think it would be a good fit for them, and what topics you're interested in covering. Because podcasts can be pre-recorded, ask them when it would be convenient to talk; the more that you can adjust to their schedule, the more likely they'll be to give you an interview. 


2. Figure out questions. Some interviewers pose a set list of questions to all their guests, while others create custom questions, based on the interviewee's field of expertise. Either method works fine, it's just a question of your comfort level. If you're newer to interviewing, you may be more comfortable with a standard set of questions you can refer to. Once you have these questions in mind, send them to your guest so he or she can prepare. 


3. Choose taping mechanism. One of the easiest ways to interview guests is via the telephone on a free conference call service like FreeConferenceCall.com. You both call in to a joint line, you initiate the recording, and then later you can download it as an audio file and incorporate it into your show. Other people rely on Skype (skype.com), or phone recorders. Others opt for AudioAcrobat.com. Choose what's easiest for you and fits your budget.


4. Conduct the interview. This is the fun part! Interview your guest, remembering to include an introduction at the beginning. Don't stress if you make mistakes; the beauty of podcasting is that you can edit out the rough parts. Remember that your audience wants to hear your guest, so refrain from talking about yourself, saying “I” too much, or interrupting your guest. Let them do their thing! 


5. Edit as necessary. Using your software, cut out any verbal missteps or awkwardness, but don't go overboard. You don't have to sound flawless; in fact, people like to know you're a real person who makes mistakes. Learn to laugh at yourself and make your guests feel comfortable. When editing, make sure not to edit your guest's meaning; let them speak in their own words.

Following these steps will put you head and shoulders above other podcasters, and will make sure you and your guests are both prepared for your interviews. Interviewing is a valuable skill you'll find will carry over to other areas of your business, too, as you establish partnerships and other business relationships.
 

How Do I Improve My Podcast?

Now that you've got the basics covered and you've discovered some ways to refine your podcasting skills, you may want to know what other steps you can take to upgrade your podcast. In addition to practicing, here are the next elements to address that can make an immediate improvement in your podcasting:

1. Microphone. Upgrading to a more professional microphone will make a big difference in your podcast quality. A great microphone can be had for around $100, and should be one of your first purchases when you're ready to make an investment in your podcast. Some favorites of podcasters include the Blue Yeti (http://www.bluemic.com/yeti/), the Snowball (http://www.bluemic.com/snowball/), and the Samson Q1U (http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1879&brandID=2). Any of these options will provide a smooth sound quality.


2. Music. Adding intro and extro music is an easy way to make your podcast sound more professional. But before you go taking clips from your favorite CDs and adding them to your track, be aware that most music is covered by copyright laws, and the music industry is notoriously nasty with infringers. Instead, go for royalty-free music options. If you have GarageBand, many sound tracks are available with the software. There are dozens of royalty-free music sites, too, such as Royalty Free Music (royaltyfreemusic.com), Freeplay Music (freeplaymusic.com), Music Bakery (musicbakery.com), and Shockwave (shockwave-sound.com). 


3. Sound adjustments. Invest a little time in learning to use your editing software so you can control sound levels, eliminate dead air, fade your intro and extro in and out, and control volume for different speakers. A few minutes of editing makes a huge improvement in the quality of your final product. If you're shooting video, the same is true: Eliminate dead spots, create transitions and effects, and more to generate a polished finished product. 


4. Quit Popping. One of the most annoying things for podcast audiences is the popping of the Ps and Bs on a podcast. As a podcaster, you may not even notice these little exhalations, but your audience certainly does! The solution: Buy a microphone screen (http://www.popfilter.com/) or make your own (http://www.jakeludington.com/project_studio/20050321_build_your_own_microphone_pop_screen.html).

5. Create a dedicated website. You can make yourself look like a “big deal” by creating a dedicated website for your podcast – or by moving your podcast from a free service to your own blog. Include upcoming show topics, RSS and iTunes subscription links, and contact information. For each show, create a direct link to the download, and include “show notes,” which is a list of information and appropriate links for that episode.

How Do I Improve My Podcasting Skills?

There's that old joke about the New York tourist who asks a local how to get to Carnegie Hall. “Practice, practice, practice!” replies the old-timer.

The same advice goes for podcasting: The way to get better is to practice. Nothing substitutes for hours in the seat, working out the kinks, getting used to the equipment and the process. But there are some tips you can implement to help you ramp up to “expert” status faster:

1. Figure out your goals. It's tough to know what to do to make your podcast better if you're not sure what you're trying to accomplish, so your first step is to figure out what your podcasting goals are. Do you want to get new customers? Do you want to provide information for your existing customers? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert? Do you want to network with others in your field? Determine your goals so you can monitor your progress and see how close you're getting to them. 


2. Practice speaking aloud with inflection. One of my favorite ways to practice speaking aloud is to read children's books – to kids! They are a tough audience and will let you know right away when you've lost them (they start hitting each other or asking for juice). By the same token, you know when you've got 'em; they look at you with their mouths slightly agape, totally enthralled. There's not a better audience to test your stuff on, anywhere!


3. Ask for input. After you've recorded a few test podcasts, ask for feedback from colleagues and friends. What do they think of your volume, inflection, and pace? What about the length and topics? If you're recording video, what do they think of your demeanor and setting? Tell them you want blunt criticism (and put your shields up – this is no time for being sensitive!).


4. Document the process. Write down how you create each podcast, including the keyboard shortcuts and tools you use in your editing software. This way you can refer to this cheat sheet over and over again until it becomes second nature. By writing it down, you also may be able to pinpoint places where you can speed up the process.


5. Listen to great podcasters. One of the best ways to learn is to listen to the “masters.” Listen to others in your niche, as well as those in other fields. See what they do, what they don't do, how long they are, how they break up segments, etc. What can you adapt to your own podcast?

Refining your podcasting skills is an ongoing process. Great podcasters know they've never reached their pinnacle of success, and they're constantly trying to achieve the next level of expertise or success. Get used to the “shampoo, rinse, repeat” process; it's your real key to success!
 

What Equipment Do I Need For My Podcast?

Podcasting can be as equipment-intensive (and expensive) as you choose it to be. You can start on a shoestring, or – if you're the gadget-loving type – you can invest in all the latest bells and whistles and spend a nice chunk of change. That's your choice, of course. The good news is that you don't need to spend a lot to get started. If you're not sure whether you want to podcast, or you want to test it out before you invest in a lot of equipment, or if you just don't have the spare cash, you can be up and running for virtually nothing.

In fact, there is a free way to start a podcast. Go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com.

According to their website:

BlogTalkRadio.com allows anyone, anywhere the ability to host a live, Internet Talk Radio show, simply by using a telephone and a computer.

BlogTalkRadio’s unique technology and seamless integration with leading social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Ning, empowers citizen broadcasters to create and share their original content, their voices and their opinions in a public worldwide forum.

Today, BlogTalkRadio is the largest and fastest-growing social radio network on the Internet. A truly democratized medium, BlogTalkRadio has tens of thousands of hosts and millions of listeners tuning in and joining the conversation each month. Many businesses also utilize the platform as a tool to extend their brands and join the conversation on the social web.

As you can see, there are benefits to using BlogTalkRadio.com (since tens of thousands currently host their shows there). Even the great marketers like Willie Crawford use it. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/williecrawford) It's easy and their most basic plan is free. (They offer “premium” plans for a monthly or annual fee.)

However, you may wish to have more control over your podcast and, more importantly, keep your listeners on your own blog, rather than sending them over to BlogTalkRadio to hear your message.

If you choose not to go with BlogTalkRadio.com, the basics you need are:

  • A recording device (a way to record the audio)
  • Software to edit your audio or video (unless you're planning on publishing it unedited and “raw”)
  • A podcast hosting service (a place to store the audios online)

That's it! Let's look at each of those in turn:

A Recording Device. If you are doing an audio podcast and have a computer that's less than a few years old, you're in luck! Chances are the computer system you have already has the ability to record audio when paired with an external microphone (Note: though many computers have built-in microphones, these are not particularly clear or of high enough quality for a podcast. You will want to purchase an external microphone if you don't already have one).

If you're planning to have guests on your show, you might check out AudioAcrobat.com or FreeConferenceCalls.com. Both of these services help you to record your phone calls and will also convert them into mp3s for you and are easy to use.

If you're opting for a video podcast, first check your computer to see if it has a built-in video camera. If it doesn't, some cell phones and digital cameras take passable video. Do a test-run and see what you think. If you need to purchase a video camera, the Flip is a much-loved, popular option for around $100.

Editing Software.
You're in luck when it comes to software! There's no need to sink hundreds or even thousands of dollars into fancy-shmancy editing packages; everything you need is available for FREE. Don't you love that?

By far, the industry standard for free audio editing software is Audacity (available for free download at Audacity.sourceforge.net). If you have a Mac, GarageBand is very similar to Audacity, and is pre-loaded for free.

For video editing, we recommend Windows Movie Maker on a PC and iMovie on a Mac for free video-editing software.

You'll want to play around with these to figure out how to record and edit your podcast, but suffice to say that it's pretty darned simple to do. An hour of research on the Web, and you should be ready to go.

A Hosting Service. Just like with your blog, you need a service to host your podcast files and serve them to your audience. There are several free and low-cost options, including PodBean (podbean.com), My Podcast (mypodcast.com), and Ourmedia (ourmedia.com). Basically, these services store your files and allow people to download and listen or view them easily.

AudioAcrobat.com also stores files as part of their service.

Many podcasters are using Amazon S3 which is a very affordable way to store large files, but it's a bit tricky to set up the first time. So, if it's intimidating to you, then you might start with the sites listed above.

As you become more sophisticated and your audience grows, you may want to upgrade your podcast components and services, but thousands of podcasters have made their mark in the Internet world with just these simple tools.

4 Reasons Why I Need a Podcast?

Think back to the time you first heard of blogs. Or Twitter. Or FaceBook. You probably asked yourself, “Why in the world would I want to do that?” And now you may be wondering the same thing about podcasts – what's the point? Well, wonder no more! Podcasting can do everything from making you into a world-renown expert, to adding some cash to your wallet. There are several main benefits that podcasting can bring to your business:

1. Exposure. By creating a high-quality podcast, you are offering another way for people to find out about you. Individuals who might never discover your website or blog can find you on iTunes, for free. (As of today, reports show that there are over 160 million iTunes users. That's a significant audience.) Plus, it's always smart to offer another way for customers to consume your information. You can appeal to those in your audience who might not be interested in reading your blog or website. For instance, commuters who listen to podcasts in the car or walkers and runners who listen while out in the fresh air. In sum, podcasting helps get you in front of more people who can buy your product or service.


2. Expertise. Speaking regularly on a topic you're familiar with is a fantastic way to cement yourself in people's minds as an expert. After all, if you're delivering great content to them, month after month, and you sound like you know what you're talking about, you must be an expert, right? Also, interviewing other experts gives you “expertise by association.” Just think about Oprah – she's become an expert on everything from weight loss (over and over again!) to women's undergarments. Her expert status comes not from years of research and training, but from interviewing OTHER people with years of research and training. 


3. Networking. What better way to make a connection with an industry mover and shaker than to offer them a platform to share their information? Interviewing people is a great way to connect with them and to establish a relationship. And while you can interview people by email, doing so “live” on the phone takes the relationship to another level. 


4. Money. Though money probably won't start pouring in the second you record your first podcast episode, podcasting does provide several ways for you to make money. You can sell advertising and sponsorships, you can review products for a fee, you can charge subscribers to listen to your podcast, and you can sell your products or affiliate products on your podcast. Obviously, the larger your audience, the higher potential for earning.

Convinced that you need a podcast to promote your business? Then let's move on and talk about what you need to get started recording in our next blog post.
 

What is a Podcast?

In simplest terms, “podcast” is typically used to refer to an electronic audio or video file delivered via download on the Internet. Here are the most common questions newcomers have about podcasts:

1. Who can podcast? The world of podcasters is as wide and diverse as the world of bloggers. There are popular podcasts on everything from technology to sports to gaming to weight loss. Just like with a blog, you can start a podcast on virtually any topic and publish it, if you have the desire to do so. 


2. How do people create podcasts? You can create a podcast with very simple audio or video recording devices or recording software. Some podcasters record with Skype. Other podcasters just use the telephone. The media file (usually a mp3) is then uploaded to the Internet for download and is made available for listeners.

3. Do I have to pay to create a podcast? Again, just like with blogging, there are free and paid options for creating and hosting your podcast online. You do not have to pay to create a podcast or have it listed in the major directories, such as iTunes, but you may choose to pay for software, recording devices, and/or online hosting. 


4. Will my audience need an iPod to listen to my podcast? Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have an iPod to listen to a podcast. Your audience can listen directly on their computer with an interface like iTunes, or download the file to an MP3 player and listen on the go. They can even burn podcasts to a CD or DVD if they prefer – and many do. 


5. Do listeners pay to download podcasts? Most podcasts are free, but you do have the option to create a pay-to-play podcast. Obviously, your podcasting goals will help you determine whether or not you charge listeners, and how much you ask them to pay. 


6. Can people subscribe to my podcast? Listeners can subscribe to your podcast via an RSS feed, which allows them to receive the latest episodes of your podcast directly to their computer. This means your podcast gets pushed automatically to your dedicated listeners. 


7. How often do I release new episodes? Podcasts can be daily, weekly, monthly, or any other interval. The most successful podcasts are released on a regular schedule. Some podcasters create a certain number of podcasts in a series – say, a series of 10 or 12. Others podcast in perpetuity, for as long as they choose to keep publishing new episodes. 


8. Can I make money podcasting? Just like with blogging, most podcasters don't make money, but it is possible to do so. There are several different ways to make money podcasting, from charging for your podcast to finding advertisers and sponsors. Also, podcasting can help you to drive traffic to your products and services – which is where most podcasters realize profit.


Now that we've covered the basics of what podcasting is, our next blog article will be: Why podcasting is good for your business.