I’ve had two different people within the university I work in approach me for podcasting advice in the past week. I get the sense both of my enquirers were at least a little surprised at my description of my usual process…
I record with a free program on my phone, or sometimes free video conferencing software if an interviewee is interstate or overseas, then I edit using a free audio editing program, and upload for free to my SoundCloud account.
All of this even applies to my podcast Social Media Stories, which is my latest major ‘level up’ in my online presence – although I will soon hit the magic 180 free minutes mark on my SoundCloud account and have to pay a small but very worthwhile fee. Tiff can pay for that with her music royalties anyway.
When I’m approached as somewhat knowledgable in digital media-making, or even with the flawed perception that I’m some kind of ‘guru’ or ‘expert’, it still amuses me. My automatic thought and answer to any query is that ‘I’m still learning myself’ and it’s 110% true. Every podcast I make has come about through learning by doing, a mantra that I embrace as a lifelong learner – something everyone needs to be in this day and age.
Today I was asked by one of the people mentioned above if I would make a video some time in the future about how I use podcasts in my teaching, which I’ve been doing for a few years now on my digitalzones account, for colleagues interested in doing the same. This highlights a growing shift toward the accessible and convenient media form that podcasting is, and perhaps a partial (though only a partial) shift away from what is now a long tradition of building pedagogical content via videos.
Podcasts are already huge and the recent news regarding Google’s ambitions will only make them even more so. Even my long-time vet is now an avid podcaster as one half of the Two Vets Talk Pets team. I’m glad I’ve gotten a headstart on things myself (even though I sometimes feel like I came to things late), but there’s still some way to go. There always will be. In early 2018 I made several videos on the making of podcasts that I thought I might compile these here for anyone interested. I’m sure I’ll come up with some further advice when I next make a podcast, but I hope this helps for now…
Planning and Recording Your Podcast
There is a lot to be said for creative spontaneity and I don’t want to make it sound like I carefully script every word of the content in my podcasts, but planning is a fairly central component of any kind of media-making – even an Instagram post. In short, the more thoughtful planning that goes into your podcast, the more thought-provoking and engaging it will be. In addition to this theme, the following video also provides advice on capturing quality audio by considering your choice of device, environment, and tone.
Editing is a Blessing and a… No, it’s Just a Blessing
I actually really enjoy the editing process, and most of the people I’ve encountered who love making media also get to this point too. As I stress in the following video, editing – whether it be for videos or podcasts – is for the most part a matter of learning by doing. I don’t use many of the huge array of features available on Audacity (so don’t let all the buttons and menu options intimidate you), but I’ll no doubt learn the value of more of them over time. For now, the basics is all I need to put together a really decent podcast – and no doubt get some really decent bloopers in the process!!
Music: More than Just the Icing on the Cake
I remember back when I first started out making teaching videos in 2013, a student (who clearly hadn’t watched any yet) bluntly asked from the back of a seminar room: ‘It’s not just you talking to the camera is it?’ Even back then I knew that a meandering vlog of me sitting and talking to a camera wouldn’t cut it when trying to hold people’s distracted attentions, and I think a similar point applies now to podcasting. If I simply spoke without end or interval, would there really be any difference from me recording a presentation in a semi-occupied lecture theatre surrounded by students half-dozing or flicking through Facebook? A conversation in a podcast arguably affords more freedom for a longer streak of open-ended dialogue, but even here I’ve found a musical intro and outro at the very least can be compelling.
To return to the point with which I began, I’m no expert and I’m looking forward to continuing to improve in all the ways I need to in the weeks, months, and years ahead. If you’re interested in finding our more about my story, my approach to podcasting, and my commitment to learning by doing as a lifelong learner, feel free to check out Episode 1 of Social Media Stories. It’s here that my young niece and interviewee Bella asked the unexpected question ‘Is this poos…??’
I think I may have just discovered another meaning of the question she posed. And my answer is:
No Bella, no. Podcasting is not poos.