Friday, September 17, 2010

Guest Post: Philippa Ballantine with Tips on Getting Started Podcasting

When I was a young podcaster….

we lived in a discarded microphone box, and recorded using a contraption of cans and string.

Yep, things were different back at the beginning of 2006, and it seems really hard to believe that it’s been over four years. Back then, Podcasting for Dummies had only just come out, and I still had very little idea what I was doing—but I knew I liked it.

Along the way there have been microphones developing weird buzzes, new programs to master, hundreds and hundreds of hours spent splicing audio together, and maybe more than a little bit of swearing at computers. But there has also been connection with people all over the world, friends made, and yes… even an award for podcasting. It’s been a blast.

So, when Susan asked me to put together some tips for new podcasters, it was like jumping in the TARDIS and heading into the time when I first started.

But here we go

  • Find the best place in your house to record—and by that I mean the quietest. It is always easiest to have a quiet environment rather than spend hours futzing around trying to take out sound.

  • There is a good reason that many podcasters record in their closest—all those clothes add as a baffle. If you’re like me and have a tiny wardrobe, then the other thing you can do is hang a comforter on the wall in front of your mic to do just the same thing.

  • Slow down. This is the ultimate newly hatched podcaster mistake. You’re uncomfortable with the sound of your voice, you just want to get the recoding done, and so… even if you think you are speaking slowly, most likely you are not. Relax. Take a breath. Imagine you are talking to your friend, not into a mic.

  • And speaking of best friends—buy the best microphone you can afford at the right time. If you are just starting out and don’t know if you are going to keep podcasting, then don’t splurge on an expensive mic. (I’ve upgraded my mics three times) The exception to this is if you are doing a podcast novel—you can lose listeners with sub-par sound—so in that case start as you mean to go on. Buy the best you can afford. (I use a Rode Podcaster mic- USB mics are generally not that good. But this and the SnowBall are pretty good)

  • To make up for spending money on hardware, the software is free! Yep, after four years I am still using GarageBand on my Mac. For those PC inclined Audacity is also free.

  • Get yourself one of those clickers they use to train dogs. When you make a flub or trip over your own tongue, do a double click, wait a beat, and continue on. Those spikes in your audio will be super easy to find when you come around to editing.

  • If you are going full-cast for an audio production, triple the amount of time you would have used for a straight read. It can be worth it, but be realistic.

  • If you are doing a podcast novel then do give yourself a buffer of episodes in the can before you start releasing. I’ve had a buffer and I’ve not had a buffer. Believe me, having one is better!

  • Finally podcasting has a wonderful community—make the most of it by networking. You’ll not only get support, but also some people to play your promos, and maybe supply voicework. Get in there and don’t be afraid to talk to these folks—they are generous individuals. Use Twitter and Facebook and other forms of social media to enhance your podcasting reach.
Podcasting has enriched my life in so many ways. It’s why, despite some bumps on the road I keep doing it.

Philippa Ballantine is a fantasy writer hailing from Wellington, New Zealand. In the coming year she will have three books hitting the real and virtual shelves. The first of which a supernatural fantasy, Geist that will available in late October 2010—just in time for Halloween. Find out more at and

1 comment:

  1. Good points. One other that I would make? Check out Cliff Ravenscraft at His info is excellent and his podcasts offer not only great tips but also a example of what a quality podcast can sound like. Agree or disagree with his theology and viewpoints, you can escape his expertise.