Tools, Techniques and Basics of Podcasting to Play a Long Game

This pic shows the raw background scene right before the recording. I put pillows for better sound quality after I saw a twitter post from Gretchen Rubin!

I have been asked lately several times how I started the podcast, what tools to use to record, edit, and launch, and much more. Here you go!

The podcast “The Nishant Garg Show” took its birth as part of my 2020 experiment in January. I wanted to give it a try for 6 episodes only to see if I really like it and want to continue. If I had set up a big goal for myself, I know I would have given up a long time ago.

I’d cover the philosophy of podcasting in another blog and want to cover the tools and basic techniques to get you started without being perfectionistic and fancy and without quitting in your early days.

Trust me — learning tools and all the basics can be daunting in the beginning. Just know that it’s possible and you just need consistent momentum in the beginning.

I believe in simplicity now and keep improving the process along the way. Small incremental improvements always work and keep you stay active in the game. If you follow this basic hard-to-follow principle, you are much ahead in the game.

It was late last year in 2019 when I wasn’t really loving my Software job that I had loved for over a decade. I thought I’d give myself some time to rethink over the Christmas holidays if I want to continue that job or try something else.

It was 5 am on January 6th. I woke up feeling depressed and I didn’t want to go to work. Super depressed! I had been practicing some mindfulness practices to process my emotions and feelings. I, then, pulled up my journal and wrote down 7 pages on everything I was feeling and experiencing.

I realized —  there must be some folks who feel the same and may not know anything about managing depression, anxiety, or any unpleasant emotions. I asked myself —  what would it look like if I record what I have written and just publish it? What if one person who listens to it feel better and able to move forward?

I picked up my office crappy microphone and simply read all the pages. I had never recorded anything in life — my hands were shaking and my voice was trembling.

I didn’t know how to edit the recording, how to create a podcast, and many other things. I was deep in the ignorance pool of podcasting!

I found Anchor FM to host the podcast which is a free tool. I am still using the same hosting platform to this date. Their mobile app has a feature to record directly in the app without using any other recording tool. I used the Anchor FM recording feature in the first 6 episodes. This feature is OK if you’re doing a solo recording. In case of a guest interview, you have to ask guests to download this app in phones which is an absolute overhead on the guest’s part. They are giving their time and asking for anything more is just too much. Finally, I stopped using this.

I also stumbled upon Tim Ferriss’s blog post “How to start a podcast”, copied some bits and pieces, and finally launched the first episode Monday Morning- Navigating through Anxiety and Depressive feelings. This episode was unedited, without a professional microphone, and you will hear a lot of rawness.

In fact, I didn’t have a professional microphone in the first 6 episodes.

My goal of starting a podcast was to develop skills and relationships with people and still is my goal. Therefore, I didn’t spend too much time on tech and tools in beginning.

If you are just starting this venture, I’d recommend being easy on yourself, start with small, and keep improving slowly. Slow and Steady wins the race!

These are the different styles of podcasting:

  • Solo: you record a given topic on your own.
  • Interview based: you invite a guest and ask them questions.
  • Combination of Solo and Interview: the name itself is self-explanatory.

Whatever style you choose, you would want to learn editing and publishing techniques unless you delegate the whole thing to someone.

I chose the Interview style as I wanted to hone my interviewing skills and build relationships with people.

Choose your style and format that works for you!

Podcasting has various stages:

a) Prospecting: you ask people to be on your podcast. This is just networking and requires some skills.

b) Recording: when you have gotten a “yes” from someone to be on the podcast, then you do the recording. Simple! Prior to recording, invest some time to research and learn about the guest. If you prepare well, you will have an edge and it shows you are professional and respect your guest’s time.

c) Editing: Removing some unnecessary noise, umms, ahhs, or anything which you don’t want listeners to listen to. When I am editing, I imagine myself listening to the episode and If any audio disturbance disturbs me, I just remove that part.

d) Launch: How do you launch an episode? Which hosting platform to consider?

Below are my current gears and tools that I have refined since January 2020. This is not the be-all-end-all list. This works for me. I invite you to try it and if it doesn’t work for you — try something else.

For recording: I use Zoom. It’s free unless you interview multiple folks at the same time. I used Sqadcast once when I recorded a podcast with Guy Kawasaki as he recommends it. There is another tool called Zencaster and other people do use this. My vote is still with Zoom. I might switch to something else later — who knows! For now, Zoom rocks.

As Tim Ferris mentioned in the blog “How to start a podcast” —  he uses Skype call recording —  another option to consider.

I am doing the basic and simple thing so that I keep going and not making it hard for myself, therefore I am with zoom for now.

Microphone: I am using Audio-Technica AT2005USB as recommended by Tim Ferriss. I really like this mic. It’s a professional mic that costs only $80. Also, get a filter windscreen 

Editing: In the first few months, I used a virtual assistant to edit and it was getting expensive for me as he used to listen to the audio manually and then edit via Audacity. There is another tool Garage Band.  Guy Kawasaki recommended a new tool Descript in the podcasting world. It’s a wonderful tool and a lifesaver for me. Super simple to use! I pay $15 per month and that varies on the number of hours you use. This app converts your audio into transcripts(80% accurate with typos). It’s an amazing tool that removes umm, aah… and some noise, and many other things. I love this tool and have rocked my podcasting world.

Post Editing: I use the tool Auphonic which is a paid service depending on the # of hours you use. I pay $20 per month. For 2 hours, they give free service.

Tim Ferris recommends this tool. This is a great tool for sound leveling. Very simple to use and it’s all automatic. I have been using it since the very beginning. Just upload the audio and it does everything in less than 5 mins. I also use it for the guest intro sound mixing. Love this tool! I record the intro on Zoom and then use Auphonic to mix the background music.

After I had launched the first 5-6 episodes — I consulted with a podcast coach Tim Wohlberg. His first session was free and he’s got great skills. You can listen to his podcast on how to start a podcast, what to do, and what not! I listened to almost all his episodes in one week. His episodes are very short of about 5 mins length.

Another great resource to learn the nitty gritty details of podcasting is by Rolf Potts who interviewed Tim Ferriss on the podcast episode. This episode is 2+ hours long and I’ve already listened to it several times. I learned about this Tim Ferriss interview when I had already launched 90+ episodes.

There are many tools in the market. I am just doing simple things so that I can play a long game. It may sound a lot, and it is actually not. These tools work for you and just need to learn to use them. Side note: In 20-30 bucks, you can easily get started.

That’s pretty much. These are paid apps and not costly. I also use paid WordPress to host the site.

Happy Podcasting!

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