Are you on the fence about starting a podcast? Have you sometimes been talking to your friends, laughing about your latest adventures when someone said “We should make a podcast”? Did you at first reject the idea, thinking it would be too much work for an inexperienced person? But then, did that idea cozily make its home in your brain, refusing to leave, invading your every thought with pictures of fame? Do you find yourself thinking about making a podcast more and more often? Can you no longer think about anything else?

My name is Heberto Moreno and I’m here to tell you how to start your podcast now! Here at Maniak, we have some experience producing and putting podcasts online. I’ve been hosting and producing Podcastination, our flagship podcast for about a year and a half. Right now, we're making four podcasts including Podcastination. The podcasting space has never looked better and every day more and more people take the leap to starting their own show. I have personally found it to be a very rewarding experience. But how does one go from thinking about having a podcast to being in every podcast platform?

First of all, you’re gonna need a computer. You’re probably reading this on a computer right now, unless someone has printed this blog post out for you, which I doubt. A computer is a wonderful machine in which everything is possible. You can play games on it, do your taxes and chat with your loved ones. You can also chat with people you do not love. The computer will not care.

Second of all, you’re gonna need a microphone. This can be your headphone microphone (if you don’t want anything too fancy, but it’s probably gonna sound like crap) or a dedicated condenser microphone (which is usually what big podcasts and radio shows are recorded on). There are some microphones that can be connected directly to your computer by USB, like the ones Yeti makes. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to connect your microphone using an XLR cable, which is the industry standard. Maybe you’ve got a microphone lying around your house from when you were a burned out folk singer. That works, but where will you be connecting it? Your laptop probably does not feature a built in XLR input. If it does, please send me an e-mail telling me where you got it. That sounds very useful.

You’ll need an external audio interface. Basically, this is a little box to which you connect audio cables (like XLR or instrument cables) and it converts the signals into something your computer can understand and use. Usually, these are connected to your computer via USB.

This is my interface. It's a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 and I love it to death. 

Some interfaces do a lot of things, and some of them do not, but they’re all there to transform your voice into ones and zeroes so that you can put them on the internet and become famous. If you’ve already got an idea for a podcast and know how many people you want to record simultaneously, take that into account when buying an interface. When buying an interface, look at how many inputs it can handle. The number of inputs is the number of microphones you can hook up to it. There are many options and they all come with different bells and whistles, so do your research about which ones exist and what your needs are.

Finally, you’ll need a software in which you can record the sounds. Professional audio products are usually recorded, edited, mixed and mastered in programs called Digital Audio Workstations; referred to colloquially as DAWs. There are many options for DAWs, from free to very expensive alternatives. Here are some of my favorites:

Garageband

If you have a Mac and you don’t want to pay any additional money, this is your best bet. We started recording our first podcast on Garageband, and it’s very easy to learn and use. You can have separate tracks for recording each person on the podcast and apply basic plugins like EQ, compression and more. Also, it's a great tool for making songs and it features a bunch of digital instruments out-of-the-box, so if you're making your own intro music it could be useful.

Audacity

Also super free. Audacity has been around for a while and it’s a common choice for first-timers. It has a tougher, uglier interface than all the other programs here, but it features great tools like silence removal and many exporting options. In terms of entry-level software, you could go way worse. I've personally recorded albums on Audacity. It's a great tool and we are all lucky it exists. Sorry, I got emotional thinking about Audacity. I always do. Moving on.

Adobe Audition

Are you going all in? Are you looking for an industry standard that has all the tools you need and want? Are you ready to learn a LOT? Well then go for the Maniak choice. Adobe Audition is state of the art and includes plugins for everything. Like Garageband and Audacity, you can use it with plugins(A plugin is a computer program for affecting sound. Like autotune, reverb and echo.) developed by other companies (and believe me, there’s a lot of them). Also, it is one of podcasting’s favorite tools and there’s a million tutorials out there to help you get started. You can get it as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud, which means you get it and a bunch of other programs for $20 a month. It's a pretty good deal.

Ableton Live

I’m including this one because it’s the one I personally use. Ableton Live is a great option for making and mixing songs and really making any sort of audio product. This one is a music-first sort of program, so it includes a lot of plugins and tools to make music-making easier. However, you can also very easily record your podcast on it. If you're also a musician, this would be a good option as you can practice recording and mixing while making your podcast. The downside is it’s super expensive. Like $700 USD expensive. Is it worth it? Sure. Will you pay for it? That’s for you to decide.

Once you have the four things mentioned above and have gotten familiar with how they interact with each other, you’re ready to record any kind of sound and put it on the internet. You are no longer limited by your equipment. Podcasts are just some of the things that you can record. You could get a band together! Tour the world. You could record your grandmother singing, dogs barking and birds being born. You could go to the sea and record the sea! Stick your microphone inside the sea and listen to the coral reefs singing (don't actually do that unless your microphone is water-proof).

In Part 2, we will explore what each person in a podcast team does, as well as how to get your podcast on the internet and into people’s cell phones, cars and homes.