Podcasting, do it right the second time.

In a recent post I talked about the struggles to start a new podcast. Today I’m going to walk you through your first recording of that “Episode Zero” and give you some tips on making Episode One be one of your better episodes, or at least a good start to something awesome.


Preparing for your Episode Zero is going to be easy. You have the name of your show, you have a reason as to why you want to podcast, now you need to come up with a topic idea. Topics are fun to come up with, take a few minutes to think of some things that you would want to hear someone else discuss. Since you are an expert in this field (this is the reason why you are the host of the show) put your own spin on it and write that down. If you have a co-host, think of how you can incorporate them into this episode topic then write that down. Work out a few more ideas and build a list. Out of all of those ideas you came up with, which one will start a story that can continue on for a few episodes? Being able to go from one topic to the next will allow you to carry these topic ideas between episodes. Now that you have a few podcast episodes worked out, you can record… nothing.

Sit down and record nothing, I dare you.

I’d imagine you’ve played with your recording equipment a bit. You’ve figured out your levels, you popped open Garageband and messed with echo and all other effects. You’ve listened to a few recordings and realized that the fan in the back of your room is loud and your mic is picking it up. If you haven’t hit record and just sat there and recorded “white noise” give it a try. Don’t mess with the filters or the gates or any of that. Just hit record, you’ll end up recording some noise in the room. For me, my biggest problem was the heat in my room and the need to have the window open. On many episodes I recorded, there was the sound of crickets in the background. Until a listener brought it to my attention I didn’t notice it, even after editing the recordings my brain never thought of it as a distraction. It’s funny how your mind works and has learned to filter out that crying baby or the darn crickets that just wont quit. I ended up having to either record with the window closed or record earlier in the day with the window open a bit.

Record a few minutes of white noise and then play it back, let someone else listen and see if they hear anything. Turn off a few of the electronics in your recording area that you don’t need then record your Episode Zero.

Episode Zero

Why do I call this Episode Zero? As I stated in my previous post The 10 commandments of podcasting that work:

So you think you can podcast? I did too and I recorded a few “Episode Zeros” before finally recording my Episode 1. Doing a few trial runs will help you with ironing out some problems, but don’t try to polish this too much because at some point you’ll need to release something! Share this episode with a few close friends and ask for constructive criticism. Be happy you hit the record button, that’s the first step!

Six years ago we recorded episode one of GeekFit:

As you can hear the audio recording was rough, I was using a bad mic that made me sound like I was underwater, I over processed and edited it way too much, but we recorded it any way. It goes back to another saying I introduced you to, Crap In, Crap out. Back then I didn’t know about Episode Zero, but I did know that if we didn’t record something, we’d never record anything. Take a few minutes and see what you can do about your environment, it will save you time in editing and you won’t end up sounding like you were underwater!

Ask the opinion of total strangers

A few paragraphs back I instructed you to ask someone you know to listen to your recording of nothing. This time I’m asking you to put out your episode zero and let total strangers listen to it. At the end of the recording, ask for suggestions and let them know where to send them. If your show is a video podcast and you plan to put it on YouTube, you’d have a good chance of getting tons of comments about how bad it was, that’s the nature of YouTube and you shouldn’t be discouraged by it. Once you have your opinions from folks, whittle it down to some things you can fix. You can’t fix your voice, but you can turn off the AC so its rumble isn’t in the ears of you listeners. Try to solve the things you can fix. Outside of the audio quality, ask about your topic idea. Did you get much of a response back from it? Maybe your topic wasn’t the best choice or maybe you tried something new, whatever it is trying to slowly fix the things you can over the next couple of episodes.

Don’t be discouraged but.. just so you know even Oprah quit podcasting.

Back in 2008-2009 podcasting was in its heyday things were taking off. One of Oprah’s people must have the idea to have her start a podcast, later she ended up doing 6 different podcast shows: Spirit, Money, Health and Wellness, Relationships, “A New Earth After Show” and her world-famous Book Club. The Harpo team hit the podcasting floor running and then for whatever reason they just stopped after a year of putting out episodes. It was a different time back then, people weren’t making money off podcasts and the when you told someone about a podcast they had no clue what you were talking about. Podcasts now are like DVR’s radio programs and lots of people understand how podcasts work, or at least know how to listen to one. It is interesting to see the relics of her podcasts sitting in the iTunes store after all these years.

Just because Oprah quit podcasting doesn’t mean you have to. You have an idea, you have a show name, now get out there and hit record. In the comments below leave me the URL to your show I’d love to listen to it, even if it is your Episode Zero.

Photo by visual.dichotomy