As a big advocate of marketing your brand by leveraging the popularity of podcasts, I wanted to pull back the curtain and give any current podcasters, as well as aspiring ones, a head’s up on what to look for (and what to avoid) when recording shows.
While one of my motto’s is “be good, not great” I can’t help but sound the alarm on these eight items that will drag your podcast into a blackhole, never to be listened to again!
Follow these bullet points and your podcast will instantly be upgraded to a professional-sounding program.
If you have to turn the volume on your device up all of the way to hear you, or, your microphone settings while recording are so loud they’ll blow out a speaker (and sound distorted) you’ll have to adjust levels to make sure your audience can you hear you: and clearly.
There may be multiple areas to look while adjusting your levels and they will be different for each person speaking. The first place to look is if you’re using a sound mixer. Adjust the individual microphone channels, but also the “master” out to make sure you’re not sending an imbalanced signal to your recording device.
If said recording device is a PC or Mac, your operating system may have individual input settings for a microphone “in”. Check this setting next before making further adjustments within your recording software.
Finally, as part of post-production, you can “compress” some of your audio wavelength but be careful to make it still sound natural. Cutting your peak levels to an acceptable high, in the range of -3db, ensures a positive listening experience for your audience.
Following the adjustments made above, make sure that your audio sounds clear and crisp. Poor quality can arise not only from levels, but other pitfalls such as a shoddy microphone or interference from another device.
Be sure to not record near noisy appliances in your home such as a refrigerator or air conditioning unit. If possible, turn off fans to limit any sort of constant “noise” in the background of your recordings.
If you’re recording a podcast at home, you may need to kick everyone out!
Pet owners and parents of small children may struggle to find some quiet time to record a podcast. Be aware of noise from rooms above and below you, as well as the neighbors deciding to mow their lawn or work on a car next door as you’re in the middle of an episode!
There’s a certain level of forgivable noises that your listeners will accept. However, some major ones that have to be edited out, or can be prevented, include loud bangs or a cellphone ringing in the background. Putting your other devices in silent mode will go a long way in making sure your followers don’t shut your show off… perhaps for good.
Achieving a perfect podcast in a single recording session can be difficult. You may get an itchy throat, need a glass of water, sneeze or any number of unwanted noises could disrupt your recording.
Don’t worry: simple stop, save your progress, and continue from where you left off. You can string the individual clips together later with editing software, cutting out the noises you don’t want left for your listeners to hear.
You may also want to snip the beginning and ending of your podcast so it doesn’t take ten seconds of silence before your listeners hear you. This is also true for areas with long pauses. Some natural breaks aren’t the end of the world, but you won’t want your fanbase to believe there’s a technical issues with your program, or worse, shut it off because they think it’s over.
Hand-in-hand with starting your show ASAP, make sure you get to your talking points and the benefits of listening to your episode within the first minute. Make sure listeners know what you’re going to talk about and why they should continue listening.
Too much small talk, or for those of you with sponsors, too much advertising, can ruin a podcast before it begins.
One of my main reasons for having anyone start a podcast is to position themselves as an expert in their field.
So why would anyone say “I’m not good at (insert topic)?”
Avoid saying things like “I’m not an expert at” or “I don’t know this” or “My show sucks” while recording. You’re going to validate why your potential audience should not listen to you!
It never hurts to be honest if you’re not entirely sure of something, such as being caught off-guard in the moment. That’s human of us. However, a pity party is the last thing people want to listen to when they’re searching for advice or seeking an escape by listening to your podcast.
This is an important item to note: you must use show notes!
Show notes appear with your program and are the description of a single podcast episode aside from the title. They don’t have to be elaborate and in many cases, you can copy and paste the same vital information (such as your main website or social media links) within the notes, saving you time.
At the minimum, however, you must make sure you describe what listeners will hear on your podcast. Doing so also gives you an opportunity to increase your SEO by utilizing industry keywords which will help others find your podcast, and potentially become advocates of yourself and/or your brand.
Finally, using copyright materials will harm you in many ways. This should be obvious to most, but in case it isn’t, unless you have permission to use a popular song in your podcast, don’t do it. You can find yourself in a lawsuit, with your archive of shows taken down and all of your hard work lost.
Worse, you could face financial penalties on top of it.
Avoid the temptation of using copyrighted materials. If you’re a news source, you may be able to use small clips within the limitations of “Fair Use”, however, unless you have legal counsel to determine you are using others’ intellectual property legally, I suggest avoiding the risk entirely.
Hello! My name is Joe Kuzma, and if you’re reading this, thank you! I’m pleased to virtually meet you and I hope we get to know one another well throughout this crazy journey of producing content.