Introduction to the course
Congrats on taking the first step towards a persuasive podcast. At this point, we’ll nail down some terminology, get you setup with the gear you need, and help you pick a starting point.
A quick bit of terminology
It’s pretty common for people to refer to single blog posts as simply “blogs”, and individual podcast episodes as “podcasts”. For our purposes it’s important to distinguish between the two, so throughout this course, when we refer to a “blog”, we’re talking about your whole body of written work, and when we’re talking about a specific piece, we’ll refer to that as a “blog post”. The same rule applies to “podcast” and “episode”.
Where to start?
If you’ve been writing a blog consistently, you may have built up a considerable back catalogue. Don’t feel like you have to be a completist and record everything from post #1 if you’re not up for it – just start with your most recent handful of posts, then in any free time you’re able to squirrel away, go back through your posts in order of popularity, as the posts that garnered the most engagement in written form are likely to be the most impactful when read aloud.
What you’ll need
Persuasive storytelling is based on trust, which involves a level of intimacy. The best way to go from ears to brain to heart is by creating a warm sound, free of reverb (what many of us think of as echo) and other distracting noise.
You don’t need to isolate yourself in a sound proof booth to achieve this, though. Starting off with a good quality USB mic with a pop filter to capture all those popping P sounds will work well, and the closer you get to the mic, the warmer the sound will be, and the closer you will be to your listener.
It’s also important to wear headphones while you record and edit your podcast. They don’t have to be fancy headphones, but closed-back ones – ie those with big plushy cans that fit over your ears – are better because they produce less sound leakage, so if you’re called to be a podcast guest or you choose to use them for your next Zoom call, your mic won’t pick up the sound of the other person speaking through your headphones.
Did you know: if you listen to the end of Beautiful by Christina Aguilera, you can hear a tinny version of the timing track? That’s because the sound from Xtina’s headphones bled through and was picked up by the mic. Don’t believe me? See for yourself!
Don’t use Bluetooth headphones for recording or editing. For one thing, you can’t plug Bluetooth headphones into your mic – we’ll come to that – but when it comes to editing, the delay between when you press the spacebar to play and when the sound reaches your ear will drive you nuts. When you’re recording a podcast conversation with a remote guest, Bluetooth headphones also add an extra bit of delay which distances you further from your guest and makes the conversation a little more awkward.
- The Samson Q2U is a great starter mic. It costs less than $100 (less than £100), and the Podcasting Pack comes with everything you need. Samson Q2U Recording & Podcasting Pack
- The Røde NT-USB is a little more expensive, but solid, dependable, and works great for close-quarters recording and for doing Zoom calls or other video work
- Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones
- Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
- When we say “blog” or “podcast”, we mean the whole series, not an individual post or episode.
- Start with your most recent post and work back through the more popular ones.
- Get a decent mic, like the Samson Q2U or the Røde NT-USB.
- Always remember to wear headphones, even cheap ones.