Beginner Podcaster . . . ?

Everything begins somewhere. If you’re a beginner podcaster, you need a place to start and today’s world makes it easier than ever for you get a good start on your chosen subject or subjects.

There is hardware and software — some inexpensive and some not — that can turn out just about any quality of production you desire. Free stuff is available, whether it be information or programs or sites, and it is easier than ever to be syndicated.

There are so many people out there in the world that are creative in many differing ways and their ideas for podcasting (both audio and video) cover the spectrum from “the ridiculous” to “got to have it daily”. I am quite amazed at how much diversity really is available. Some of it I like and some of it is absolutely useless. (Oops, there I go getting opinionated again.)

If you are a beginner, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research on the history of this popular medium called podcasting. You don’t have to let that keep you from getting started, but it is always good to know the roots of your chosen interest. This will help you understand where it came from, but more importantly, it will help broaden your vision for the future. This is a relatively new industry and it is looking to go forward and not repeat the mistakes of the industries that preceded it and yet take the best things from those predecessors and build on their positives.

If you think it is easy to turn out a quality product without forethought and effort, you can rest assured that your stay in this arena will be short. Whether you offer daily or weekly broadcasts similar to radio or TV, or information on your favorite handy tip for around the house, you will soon recognize that quality is going to become more and more important. People want to listen to a good sounding program or see a good looking video product. That is why you will want to experiment with different hardware and software to find what works best and easiest for you. Spending a little time with some demos could possibly save you a bundle in the long run, when it comes to investing in those products you want to, or will, use. Reading about or listening to some veterans’ thoughts on the type equipment that can work best for your situation is always a good investment.

It is work (although it can be a lot of fun) to turn out a product that will cause your audience to want to return again and again. That is why it is so important to enjoy what you are doing. When you’ve had a rotten week and the world has crashed down around your shoulders, your podcast can be a sanctuary for you. It can be the place you forget about all of the problems and stresses and just enjoy doing whatever it is you do and offer people a place to come and enjoy that very same thing.

Beginning at the beginning seems to be a good place to start BUT it doesn’t have to hold you back. Spending some time studying and listening to the veterans will make your advancement take place more quickly because you won’t have to stumble around in the dark, looking for the right equipment and software to turn out your best product.

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)That is why I do highly recommend this book, Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions). It is a wealth of information and really is a “Complete Guide to Podcasting”. If you are a beginner in podcasting you won’t regret the investment. The same holds true if you are an advanced podcaster. It is a good investment!

See ya next time . . .

‘Free Stuff’ vs. ‘Pay Stuff’

Everybody likes ‘free stuff’. I am no exception for, you see, I like ‘free stuff’ too. There will always be ‘free stuff’ available and it should be that way. ‘Free stuff’ is good, but, not always the best. ‘Free stuff’ is sometimes free because it has little or no value or, it’s free because the info is somewhat outdated and only useful to attract your attention to newer ‘stuff’. At other times, some ‘stuff’ is really good and very valuable but it is free just because the person that makes or owns it wants to give it away no matter how much value it has.

Now, even though I say free stuff isn’t always good, I do have a great resource spot you need to check out. It is free and, even better, it is good. It is made for beginners in podcasting as well as helping the experienced podcaster make his/her podcast even better. You really should give this place a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. You can find it at, studio.odeo.com/create. If you want to create something new or just listen to others let loose their creativity, this is a ‘must do’ place. (Besides, it’s f-r-e-e, so what do you have to lose.)

I was introduced to this site by a very good friend of mine named, Christer Edwards. He is a very knowledgeable internet marketer and educator. (You can, and should check out his blog at www.christeredwards.com. It is full of great! information, and, by the way, he has a vast amount of technical knowledge and skill and is more than willing to share it.)

Now, getting to that ‘pay stuff’. When someone has something they (or we) perceive as valuable, we are willing to pay for their knowledge or product. If we don’t perceive it as valuable, we may find their asking price too high or their knowledge lacking in some fashion. Either way, we as the customer (or audience) make the choice as to how much value is placed on the product(s) in question which determines its monetary value and “staying power”.

This is also the way it should be. The question now becomes, “Who and what should we be willing to pay for and how much is that information or programming worth?” If we are making our product available for free, does it contain value for those that receive it even though it may have a sort of ‘hook’ attached to it? When it comes to podcasting, it is my personal opinion that ‘value’ is a very “key word”.

See ya next time . . .

“Podcast Solutions”by Michael Geoghegan and Dan Klass … This Months Book Review/Recommendation

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)(click on the pix to get it quick!)

This is my recommendation for the book to read for the month of February if you are a beginner looking to get started, or simply like would like some great info for making or improving your podcast.

I realize there are a lot of books on the market for podcast beginners and advanced users. I think this book is well worth the investment whether you are a beginner or an old pro, (maybe even a young, old pro). Because there is so much in this great book I just want to tell you a little of what it contains. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t be metioning more about it later, it just means I want to tell you a few things about it at this time and hope you will pick it up as a valuable resource you will be able to refer to on a regular basis. These guys KNOW what they’re talking about.

From the pages of this book you will harvest a wealth of information on things like:

  • How to use “podcatchers” like iTunes, iPodder Lemon, and iPodderX
  • Secrets of creating the perfect podcast
  • Expert advice on how to design a successful show
  • How to set up an effective studio in which to record your podcast
  • Includes the complete “Podcast Studio Buyer’s Guide”.
  • Everything you need to know about recording, editing and encoding
  • Everything you need to know about uploading your podcast
  • Information on using music “legally”
  • Attracting sponsors, advertisers and other evenue sources for making money with your podcast

Michael Geoghegan and Dan Klass are pioneers in podcasting. (You can find out more about them by clicking the links in “Podcasting Quick Tips #2” This book a not just something you will want to have for one read. It is something you will want to refer to often even though podcasting is a technology that is changing rapidly. This book is jam-packed with great information and I like the way they offer the important information and yet keep it simple and straightforward. They present it in an understandable way and that is a BIG plus for those that pick it up to get a great headstart on podcasting even though they may be absolutely new to the technology.

Now here’s another thing about this book I really like. It comes with a CD, (worth the price of the book by itself), packed with useful programs, although mostly trial versions, for getting started in podcasting. Even though some of the programs are trial versions they will give you a good feel for the programs BEFORE you invest your hard earned money and that can help you get started on a shoestring and move up as you progress or start up without having to go at the programs ‘cold’.

All in all, I guess you can tell I like the book. I would rate it at least four and a half stars.

See Ya Next Time . . .

(Podcasting Quick Tip #2) Try this. . .

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)There is a lot good stuff going on the software and hardware areas of Podcasting these days. I am always looking for ways to make things easier for myself and I am favorably impressed enough with this piece of software that I am willing to recommend you try it.

First, let me tell you how I came across it. There are millions of search results for anything to do with podcasting. So I don’t generally go that route. I tend to use people’s sites that I have come to trust over time. One of those is Paul Colligan. I visited his site again a few days ago, (something I do quite often), and he mentioned this software that is available from GigaVox media. It is called the “LEVELATOR” by GigaVox media. (Although it is free for personal use at the moment, there will probably be a reasonable charge in the future for those that will be using it commercially.)

It is the “podcasters dream” as they say. It is able to take uneven audio (like when you interview someone over the phone or in another type situation and your audio is not at the same level for both speakers) and it levels out the audio (bringing the two into a much closer reference level). It should be used before you convert the file to mp3 and it only works with WAV files.

I tested it with a very bad beginning to a taped seminar. To add a slight twist to this particular test, I had to convert the mp3 file back to WAV (which I did with ‘audacity’) and then run it through “Levelator”. I have to admit, the result was quite acceptable. I was very pleasantly surprised and pleased, I will admit, it wasn’t miraculous, (it could not bring back what wasn’t there) but it did a good job of what it was made for. Give it a try. I really think you will like it.

By the way the book shown above is co-authored by Michael Geoghegan (CEO of GigaVox media) and Dan Klass (“The Bitterest Pill”) . It is a good source for podcasting because it covers the whole world of podcasting, whether you’re just a listener or a podcaster. (Just clickon the picture above to purchase it) Be sure to visit the GigaVox media site for more info on the “Levelator”. They are also a great source for info and all kinds of related ‘stuff’ to podcasting.

See ya next time . . .

(Podcasting Quick Tip #1) Try this . . .

If you’re just beginning in podcasting, or just want a low-buck startup option, here is a way that could get you started without too much expense.  In one sense, this may not be the least expensive way to get started, but it may be worth a try and, if you have some of the equipment laying around that you need to try it, you could get at least some practice sessions in to see how you do before investing in something more sophisticated. 

This process requires the following items:

  • A computer– PC or Mac– with sound recording capabilities (with at least a mic input)
  • Some type of portable recording device (even an old hand-held cassette recorder)
  • Download a free software program (in this case, “audacity” from http://audacity.sourceforge.net )
  • Cable(s) for connecting your portable device to enter your recording into your computer.

(Although this will work with either a portable device or directly recording to your computer, this example is based on remotely recording with a portable device and then loading it into your computer later.)  If you don’t have any of the above hardware, that will determine how expensive this could be.  (If you don’t have a portable cassette recorder, they can still be found and are relatively inexpensive.)

The quality you can produce in this manner depends on how well your portable recording device records sound.  I suggest you record at the highest quality available on your particular device.  It cuts down the amount of time available for recording on your chosen media, but, higher quality recording is an essential.  (If you don’t already know that, you will find it out soon enough.)  Here’s how easy it can be:

  1. Go to the above address and download “audacity”.  (Be sure to read what plugins you need along with it.)
  2. Record your self talking or conversing with another on your portable device
  3. Hook up to the mic input of your computer and download your recording into “audacity”
  4. Once it is in “audacity” you can edit it.
  5. With the additional plugins, you can export it to an mp3 file (or other types)
  6. It is ready to send or upload to your friends or site

Although this sounds (and is) relatively simple, it will probably require some practice and experimentation to achieve the best results.  At any rate, you can have some fun playing around with it while learning the “audacity” program.  It is a neat little program and works well.  (Besides, for now, it is free!!!!).  Have fun with it.

See ya next time

Podcasting, Anyone? and Everyone?

If you listen to what many people say concerning this new and exciting broadcast medium, you will often hear the words, “anyone and everyone can, and should, have their own podcast.”  I really can’t say I agree with this.

Although anyone can have their own podcast, I am of the opinion not everyone should.

Now that I’ve said that, I guess I should clarify.  I don’t mean to stand in anyone’s way or step on their rights of free speech, but there needs to be more to an audio podcast that just having something to say.  You need to say something that people want to listen to, (or see, when talking about video podcasting.)  Otherwise, why take up space in the virtual world. 

Although it is true anyone can rant and ramble on about any subject that interests them, it is my opinion, (and I have to be blunt), if it doesn’t appeal or interest others . . . there won’t be a soul there to hear what you have to say . . . so in my book . . . what’s the purpose.  (Maybe you don’t care about this or just want to get on your soapbox and go off on a rant to get it off your chest.)  My answer to that is, go ahead, but, don’t get upset when nobody shows up to listen to you or they click away to something else before you even get to the heart of your matter.

If you listen to those in the know about podcasting, you will find they recommend you do testing to see what your audience really wants to hear or if they really want to listen to you say it.  You may want to have some of your close and trusted friends listen to it first, but keep in mind, you need good, solid, constructive critique of your product and you need to be willing to listen to what those you’ve asked to give their input say, or, at least, weigh what they say in good faith and use it to better yourself and your “webcast”

See ya next time . . .

What Is Podcasting . . . ?(my view – pt 2)

So, does podcasting only represent the ability to listen to or watch stuff at a more convenient time?  Of course not.  Podcasting, as everyone is coming to know, is a way for people to be heard and seen.  You don’t have to have any special abilities, (although certain ones do help), you merely need a passion for what you want to talk about or present.  (It also helps to be able to grow and hold an audience).

A simple definition of podcasting is:

The publishing of audio or video programming to be distributed via the internet and listened to, or viewed at the listener’s discretion.

A little fuller, more complete, definition would be:

A method of publishing audio or video broadcasts via the Internet, that allows users to subscribe to regularly updated feed of new files.  Podcasting is unlike most other online media because of its subscription model.  Podcasting usually uses a feed (such as RSS) to deliver an enclosed file, although not all podcasts require subscription. (from “Podcasting Made Easy”)

Am I telling most of you something that you don’t already know?  Probably not, but I am aiming this at people that may be relatively or entirely new to this extremely new and rapidly expanding medium.  The following statistics on the growth of podcasting I also offer from the ebook, “Podcasting Made Easy”.  

  • In September of 2004, Google had less than 25 hits for podcasting.  
  • One year later, in Septemeber of 2005, Google had more than 61 million hits. 

Wow! does that make a statement about explosive growth.  In fact, the medium is expanding so rapidly, yet so new that it is experiencing growing pains even though it is still in somewhat of an experimental (or experimenting) stage much as radio and television were in their infancy.  That being the case, it is quickly becoming more and more popular while still a blossoming mode of communication.

I was listening to a podcast of Leo Laporte talking about this very subject at the “Podcasting and Portable Media Expo” in September of 2006 at Ontario, CA and I can’t help but add my two cents in agreement.  I also believe it is important to remember that we don’t need to repeat, or even duplicate, what television (or radio for that matter) have become.  It is extremely important that we all take time to consider not only the possibilities, but the ramifications of the direction(s) podcasting can and should take.

See ya next time . . .

What is Podcasting . . . ?(my view – pt 1)

Is there anyone that still doesn’t know what podcasting is?   I seriously doubt it.  Some may know it by different names, but, they use, (or have used), the technology in some form or other quite often over the years.  I’m sure this adds to the meaning of the burning question on everyones mind, “Is there anything new under the heavens?”  (In my opinion, not really, just new and improved ways to ‘get it done’ and/or get it out.)

Recording devices  of differing kinds have been around for a long time.  (If you do just a little research, you will find that the first were related to audio recording and reproduction).  At first they were bulky and non-portable.  Over time, they became smaller and more portable and got easier and easier to use. 

We’ve all heard of a thing called a VCR?  (You know, the thing before TIVO.)  In its time, it became one of the most popular time shifting devices ever and was eventually used by the masses to adapt their favorite program viewing to increasingly busy schedules.  It was a wonderful device (as long as you could figure out how to set the clock) but, it did have its drawbacks.  Over the years, manufacturers tried their darndest to make it as simple to use as they possibly could, but, it still had its shortcomings.  I list some of them below:

  • What does this flashing 12:00 mean?
  • Do I have enough tape for this program?
  • Did I set it to the right record speed to record my programs for the week I will be away?
  • Did I remember to set the timer to on?
  • What if the power goes off?
  • Did I rewind that old tape I’m using for the new recordings this week?
  • What did I do with the tape I haven’t had time to watch yet . . . ?

(Since I used to be in the TV/VCR sales and service biz, I know there are many more but let’s move on.) 

With the advent of the affordable cam-corder, people began to use their creative talents to capture the events of their lives (and others) and expanded the use to creating their own movies and/or generating laughter, interest (and some generated large profits) according to their ability to communicate with the media.  Some used it for good; some did not.

It is my view that in reality, podcasting (whether audio or video) is another way of being able to listen to, or watch, what we are interested in at a time that is convenient for us.  Many have been doing it for years under the old names and with the old technology, but now the technology is changing (drastically) and it is time to leave the old ways behind and enter into the future.  As we enter in,  we have very few limitations and a great many opportunities before us.  We will still be able to time-shift our favorite stuff and we have new and exciting ways to express ourselves creatively as well.  (This we will talk about later.)

See ya next time . . .