I have a crush. A crazy crush on someone I’ve never met. But she talks to me often. Okay. Maybe not me directly. But when she speaks, I listen.
Her name is Sarah. Sarah Koenig. She’s the host of the hit NPR podcast, Serial.
Each season is a true story told episode by episode. Koenig is an incredible storyteller. She’s a topnotch journalist who takes her listeners methodically through her investigative process. It makes for enthralling listening and has been credited by many for igniting massive interest in podcasts.
Serial is several episodes into its second season, so people have been hopping on the podcasting bandwagon for awhile now. That space is crowded. But it doesn’t mean libraries can’t jump in and make a splash. We have incredible stories to tell and launching a podcast can give you highly engaging content to promote through your social media channels. (Just make sure your podcast has a sharp focus and appeals to a niche audience. You’ll have more success that way. More about what to cover in your podcasts in a future post.)
We recently launched our very first podcast at my library. It was something all of us in our marketing department wanted to do for awhile. We shared a lot of high-fives when the podcast was accepted on iTunes and Stitcher – which means it is now available to anyone with a computer or smart device.
Here’s what I learned producing this first podcast – my best effort at making my main squeeze, Sweet Sarah, just a little proud.
Use decent equipment.
We’re lucky at my library. We opened a MakerSpace a little more than a year ago with several tech stations, including a recording booth. We used the equipment there to record our podcast. But I get not everyone has that advantage. However, MakerSpaces are becoming really popular across the country. If your library doesn’t have one, you may find a nonprofit or commercial space running a MakerSpace. My advice? Play the Library Card and see if you can use the equipment for free. If not, invest in a microphone. Hook it up to your computer and use free software like Audacity to record your podcast. Be sure to record in a quiet space. If you’re in a very empty room, add some pillows or foam around you to help absorb the echoes.
Edit out the junk.
For simplicity’s sake, you should try to record your podcast in one try, as if it were “live.” This will make the editing process much easier. However, chances are your hosts or guests are going to cough or stumble or mess up somewhere along the way. These small bloopers can easily be edited out using the same software (Audacity) that you used to record. (I use Adobe Premier. If you can spend some money on software, this will give you a more robust editing platform. But if you’re not familiar with nonlinear editing, there is somewhat of a learning curve.)
Find a place to store it.
You’ll need a method of hosting your podcast. Either on an in-house server or something like SoundCloud. I used SoudCloud because it makes it really easy to submit your podcast to iTunes and Stitcher – the two big places you’ll want to accept your podcast. (More about that below.) The SoundCloud account is free for the first 180 minutes of uploads. (Nine podcasts, if you keep them to 20 minutes each.) Beyond that, there are some affordable options for hosting more hours:
Get your podcast out there.
You’ll need to generate an RSS feed link to submit to places like iTunes and Stitcher. These sites will push your podcast out to listeners who can then subscribe to your channel and continually get all your latest episodes. If you use SoundCloud, which I suggest you do, you’ll only have to make a couple clicks to get that RSS link. (The SoundCloud help section has more info.)
You’ll need to create an account for both iTunes and Stitcher before you can upload your files. Also, you’ll need to make sure your podcast has cover art. (Minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels.) Again, SoundCloud makes it really easy to upload your cover art.
Promote, promote, promote!
Now that your podcast is out there – you need to tell people about it. Hopefully you have a Facebook page. Promote it there for starters. You can copy and paste the SoundCloud link into a Facebook status update. Facebook will automatically format a nice link that makes it easy for your customers to listen. Tweet short quotes from the podcast to tease it to customers. Use a call to action with the link: “Listen here for more.” Use a free design site like Canva to design some visuals that promote your podcast. You can jazz up those quotes or add photos of the people involved in your podcast. If it’s an author, a head shot will work nicely. Consider taking some photos during the recording of your podcast and promote them on Facebook as a “behind the scenes look.” Increase your social media engagement by asking users questions and asking them to leave comments about the podcasts on your social media posts. The possibilities are endless. Once you have the podcast, you’ll find promoting good content is easy.
Good luck jumping into this brave new world! Tell me about your adventures in podcasting in the comments below.
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Opinions are my own. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of my past or present employers.