Creating a Podcast - The Free Way

Lately on Reddit, there have been more and more people posting about "Would you listen to our game" or "How do I start a podcast about my campaign".  I had these same questions before The Dragon Fisters decided to go digital and open ourselves to the world (all dozens of you).  I did days upon weeks of research attempting to find out the best way to record our sessions, where to upload the audio, how to get that audio out to the public, and what to do once it's out there.  Well, I'm going to make it super-simple for you guys and tell you how I did it all... completely free.

Check out the step-by-step after the break.

First thing is first - How do I record my sessions?  Great question.  The best freeware for this I have found would have to be Audacity.  It allows me to record on the fly (of course using Dave's great Snowball microphone) plugged right into my laptop.  I don't try to place the mic anywhere in the middle of the table or in the optimal echo-centric blah blah blah - I just put it right behind my laptop.  The mic is good enough to pick up every sound I need, and even some that I don't.

That leads to audio tweeking:  First thing you want to do is noise reduction.  Find a 3-4 second clip of complete silence (meaning nobody is talking or making any bag-ruffling or pencil-tapping sounds), or you could even make your party shut the fuck up right before you start.  Next, you want to compress your track.  This will level out your audio, bringing your lows up and your highs down.  Make it pretty aggressive, since you want to make sure that the listeners can hear the rogue whispering yet not get their speakers blown out when the barbarian does her battle charge.  Finally, you can tweak it a bit by amplifying the audio to make sure all of your tracks are on the right level, normalize it so that you don't get any of those high points breaking the noise barrier, and remove silence so that you don't get those uncomfortable "did my podcast just freeze" moments (though personally, i love those and keep them in).  Oh, and export to mp3... duh.

By the way - When naming your episode, keep it simple.  Put your name in the title somewhere (Like Awesome Podcast or AP) followed by the episode number.  This way, it'll be easy for you and the listeners to follow where you are in the queue.  So, you'll end up with something like Awesome Podcast 001 or AP Episode 001 or whatever you feel conveys the information best.

So now you have a podcast track!  But what do you do with it now?  Well, you need a podcast first.  Head on over to Blogger and create your page.  It doesn't have to be anything flashing or fantastic - Just somewhere that you can post your podcasts that you can link back to.

Now that you have your page created, head on over to Feedburner.  This site is what everyone will use to download and/or stream your podcast.  Create your feed (using the easy-to-follow process that Google is known for) that should only take a few minutes (Make sure you click "I am a Podcaster" at the start).  Once this is done, go into your feed details, and get the following info:

Now you want to head back on over to your Blogger.  Head into your SETTINGS and then into OTHER.  Right at the top, you'll see "Post Feed Redirect URL" - Place that feed address right in there.  Now your Blogger and Feedburner are linked:  Everything that you post in your blog will show up in your feed.  This is also the link that people will use to subscribe to your podcast, so make sure you remember where it is.

"But how do I get my recording into my feed" you ask me?  I'll show you.

Best place for this is the Internet Archive.  This allows to upload any media, for free.  It's easy, fast, oh...and free.  All you have to do is create an account, then push the little "UPLOAD" button up in the top-right corner of the page.  That's it.  You select the file you want to upload, then fill out the information.  A little user note - Don't use the drop-in method.  Once you click on UPLOAD, click on SHARE in the same spot and it will let you select the file from your Computer and better fill out the additional information for your file.

Now that you've uploaded your mp3, it will bring you to a link to your media.  Keep this open, because you'll need very specific information from it to put into your Blogger page.

Right-click on that link and copy the link.  Now, switch back to your Blogger.

Create a new post - This is where all of the information for your podcast will be stored..A few things that you want to make sure that you include in the post are:

  • Your title.  Put this right in your subject.
  • A session overview.  This will tell people (briefly) what the episode is about.
  • Contact information.  Where people can visit your site, email you, follow you on Twitter, etc.
  • Any copyright information.  Do you use a song for your opening?  Even if it's free, give them props.
Now that you have your post all filled out, there's one key step:

Remember that link that you right-clicked back in Archive?  Put that in here.  From now on, Feedburner will recognize that there is a media file connected to this post and automatically set it for downloading.  Last step, put some labels on your post like podcast, dungeons, dragons, role-playing and everything that you think is associated with your podcast that can draw people to you.  Publish your post, wait a few minutes, and you have a podcast!

Obviously you want people to be able to subscribe to you through iTunes.  Well, you can go ahead and set up your feed for that by heading into your Feedburner, going to the OPTIMIZE tab and selecting SmartCast.  This is where you'll set up the information that iTunes needs.  Then, you just need to create an iTunes account (I know, painful) and clicking the big Publish a Podcast in the middle of the screen.  After several minutes of filling out forms, it will take them a few days to a week in order to process your submission and get you in the directory.

BONUS!  If you want to publicize yourself, make sure that your name is on every possible surface it can be.  Post in the Podcast subreddit and register on PRG Podcasts.  Also, create a Twitter and just start blasting other people's accounts with your name.  I don't mean in a rude or spammy way, but retweet and reply to them using that handle for a while.  Also, if you already have your own twitter, just start mentioning the podcast account in yours like "Heading to the @DragonFisters session now! #dnd".  Lastly, try to get yourself mentioned on other podcasts - Create a bumper (which is a 10-15 second advertisement for you podcast I have found out) and send it to other podcasts saying "Hey, want to trade bumpers and we can be besties?" or something like that.

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