Tuesday, 13 October 2009

the hip and the fun part 1: podcasting 101

Last week, I got trained in social media. Quite a strange situation, what with being a blogger, twit and all that. Yet I know that there's a lot out there that I don't use and actually feel rather uncomfortable using. How about video or podcasting? It gives me the shivers, and all seems so very complicated.

Yet, when I blogged about our Wee Shots project, and then googled for Wee Shots with the intention of getting the original youtube files, I was gobsmacked at the search engine result: My little blog, the one with 49 followers (now 50, thank you babyrambles!!!) was first up.

Why? Google loves blogs (because they are regularly updated) and google loves video. Google gets all excited about blogs that have videos on them. Give them the right tag and you're way up there in the search engines.

So, time to have a look at podcasting and video blogging. I'll start with the audio bit in this post, video blogging will be part two. The third part will be about bespoke social network platforms.

Podcasting - the technical bit:
I was amazed at how simple podcasting is. So I'll keep this short and you can all just go out and give it a go. What you need is a gadget which will record audio files. I'm sure a microphone attached to your computer would do, if you want the mercedes benz version, you'll go for a handheld device, such as an Olympus recorder. Add a decent microphone and a set of headphones, and you're ready to go.

Your software requirements are all free for download: Jodix to convert your audio file to the editable MP3 and Audacity to edit your MP3 file and export it to a suitable format.

To host your podcast, you can use the free online platform Odeo, from where you can embed your podcast in your blog.

Here are the basic steps: Record. Convert your file to an MP3 using Jodix. Edit in Audacity. Export (in Audacity) to MP3. Upload on Odeo. Get the embed code and blog it. That's it. Podcast can be RSS'ed which is a plus.

Now, I'm sure you all want to have a good quality podcast. So to make it a good one, look at content first of all.
  • Do give a personal, a new perspective.
  • Do use some background noises that bring the topic alive. So if you blog about the trials of motherhood, screaming baby in the background would be nice. Just an example, you don't of course have to make your child scream for the sake of a podcast.
  • Do keep it short. 1-2 mins is plenty.
  • Do keep it to the point
  • Do keep it informal and conversational
  • Do make sure you don't make assumptions of knowledge: Explain terms, name check people you interview all the time, and anything else that makes it easy for your listener to follow your interview without the benefit of vision
  • Do take control of interviews, interrupt if your interviewee rambles, you're in charge!
  • Do add an image to your podcast upload, it engages and brings it alive
  • Do create a mental image in the interview, some sentence that calls up an image, this will stick with listener
  • Do record some sounds of the location to mix in later

In Audacity, you can edit the track. Remove bits you don't like, add silence etc. You can add wild tracks (other sounds, like music or sound clips) and with the washing line tool, you can fade music in and out. It makes it so much nicer to have a bit of music with the podcast. Import music (instrumental music is best, and it should suit the mood you want to create in your podcast) or other sound effects - you can do this for free on podsafeaudio or Royalty Free Music. Soundsnap is good for sound effects.

Audacity has lots of easy to use tools, and you can find out how in the online tutorial. It's really easy, you can get a fab podcast just by using some editing which will take you about 15 minutes or so even as a beginner. For a polished post, it may take you 30 minutes with just a little bit of practice. It's intuitive, you can undo changes, and it's all good really. Do make sure to listen to your podcast everytime you edit it, because you can only ever undo your last change.

Editing is fun by the way, I loved it and even the not so social media savy in our course got into it big time.

Do you podcast? Have you got any additonal tips to share?


Melitsa said...

I think you'd love vlogging then. I love podcasts and started a topic about this on BMB. There are a lot of guides out for podcasting. There's an explosion in the US with it. It can be frustrating if you're not technically minded my like blogging there is a learning curve. Some podcasts you love and some you can't listen just like bad blog design ( remember music when you load a new page or black backgrounds with white writing?) Blog talk radio is a big network for an easy start.
There are even multimedia VA now where you can just concentrate on the content and the VAs tinker with everything and pretty it all up.
Good luck. Would love to see your comments too. :)

Mwa said...

Great post! I'm looking forward to the next installment already. These things all seem so scary if you don't know where to start.



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